My name is Jason Halstead, I’m the new guy here and a self described toy freak! As a 38 year old who still actively buys, sells, and trades 70’s and 80’s action figures, I think I’ll have some fun stories to tell and some insight on the state of each individual market currently. Over the coming months I will talk about all of the top lines, including G1 Transformers, Star Wars, GI Joe and He-man (the Masters). But let’s start with a little history.
My 9th birthday (July 23, 1982), was perhaps my favourite birthday of all time! I didn’t get a lot of toys, but I sure got some cash! Nearly $100 for a 9 year old in 1982 was a bonanza, and the way my parents were, not caring if I saved any, I was allowed to spend it all. Where else to go but my favourite place, Eatons Department store?
You have to remember what 1982 was for a 9 year old boy. In my mind, quite possibly the greatest action figure assortment of toys in the history of boys toys! Not only did you have the massively popular Empire Strikes Back Star Wars assortment, you also had the second year assortment of He-man and his Masters of the Universe, as well as those tiny little swivel armed greenbacks and terrorists, GI Joe!
But this story is about the debut of those very familiar 3 and ¾ inch Joes that I saw for the first time in April/May of 1982. I fell in love with them instantly. I mean a motorcycle with a huge gun side-car, a massive tank with an angry ‘good guy’ driver, and don’t forget dreaming about driving in a vehicle with no doors (the Vamp). I wanted them all. Sadly, I was still buying Star Wars at a frantic pace (didn’t want to miss one), so I missed most of the first wave. But soon I was able to purchase the HAL, the Polar Battle Bear, and many early figures including Snake Eyes and Rock & Roll!
Sadly, I was into everything back then, and another line called the Adventure People caught my eye. I ended up trading my small (but close to my heart), Joe collection for 2 big boxes of Adventure People. But these characters couldn’t move like Joes (who by now had swivel arm battle grip), and I lost interest in them almost immediately. I ended up giving away my Adventure People probably within 3 months of acquiring them.
Not too long afterwards (perhaps the next year), I was sitting with my buddy Jimmy and his mother in their kitchen. As a surprise, Jimmy was given 2 new GI Joe figures (as he had a huge collection by this time). The figure that caught my eye, and got me right back into them, was the deadly Scrap Iron. I told Jimmy and his mother that I wanted to start collecting Joes again because of this incredible figure packaged with a missile launcher! His mother made a comment to the effect of, “don’t bother, you’ll just end up giving them away.” Imagine a 10 year old kid having to sit through that abuse! It just made me more determined, and added to the already pack rat mentality (sickness), I had. I fought Jimmy from then on to see who would be the first the find the new figures. It wasn’t until he failed the next grade when we fell out of touch (“grade 5’s didn’t play with grade 4’s”—again, his mother told him this, but that’s a story for another day). But I was entrenched, and for the next 3 years, every figure I asked for I got, although I never did get a FLAGG (blame my mother for that one)!
So there you have it, my foray into the sickness we call collecting. Up until that point, I played with all my toys. I had a really mint collection that I actually gave away in the early 90’s for a girl—can you believe that? 30 years later, there is no change (although I try not to give too much of it away), and I will continue to write about, and collect, the things I love!