KennerCollector.com Fun Map pays tribute to Cincinnati’s Kenner legacy

Kenner Collector Fun Map Poster

KennerCollector.com is excited to announce our exclusive Kenner Fun Map, a poster showcasing the company’s many historic Cincinnati locations and toy lines.  The poster measures 18″ wide x 24″ tall, and will be limited to only 350 pieces.  The Fun Map poster will be available free as an exclusive to attendees of the Star Wars Collectors Archive Party II on April 16, 2015 at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim.

I first approached fellow collector Josh Blake in May of 2014 about an idea for a t-shirt I wanted to create as a give-away for Celebration Anaheim.  He loved the idea of working together on something, and soon convinced me a poster was the way to go.  Over the next several months, Josh and I poured our hearts into this poster as a thank you to Kenner, the toy company that has provided us with so many years of enjoyment, both as kids and adults.  Josh was the artist and designer on the poster, and I was the creative consultant and technical advisor.

Kenner Collector Poster Brothers

The poster features many iconic Kenner Cincinnati locations including Kenner Street, 912 Sycamore Street, 2940 Highland Avenue, 1014 Vine Street, and the Oakley complex.  There are also a few hidden surprises in there that seasoned collectors will want to search for!

Kenner Collector Poster Building

Here is one example of the many original sketches Josh did to get the detail just right.  This is of the Oakley complex, home of the famous Kenner Museum and Morgue:

Kenner Collector Fun Map Original Art Sketch

Even though Josh had several Celebration Anaheim projects on his plate, he was able to knock it out of the park with this poster and come in way ahead of schedule!  After the poster was completed, Josh was still willing to take time to reflect on and answer a few questions about the project:

Dan – Tell me a little about your history as an artist and graphic designer.

Josh – My parents said I began sketching at the age of 3 and I had always expected to pursue art as a career.  My mother had success as a commercial artist in the 1970’s, having designed the main character for the advertising campaign that would eventually become the Long John Silvers Pirate.  Although I had intention of attending art college, my circumstances led me to a liberal art institution where I studied other disciplines.  Art design eventually made it’s way back into my life when I took a job in the printing industry in 2008.  Life has a funny way of working things out and I now use both my college education and experience in commercial printing for running my graphic design business.

How long have you been a collector? What Kenner toy lines do you collect?

I can’t remember a time that I did not collect.  Star Wars was definitely the first of many things I collected, but I moved around from one line to another throughout the 80’s and 90’s.  The two most prominent lines I have found most appealing is the 1982 Star Wars Micro Collection and the first series Real Ghostbusters line.

What has been your favorite part of working on the Kenner Cincinnati locations fun map?

My favorite part of the project was coming up with the gags for each of the characters and how they would interact with one another.  The decision for going with a “Fun Map” style, typically found at theme parks and vacation resorts, is that it opened up complete artistic freedom to render pretty much anything we imagined.  The idea was for it to appear wonderfully cluttered with Kenner toys!

Examples of a Kings Island Fun Map from Josh’s collection:

Kenner Collector Kings Island Fun Map Poster

Kenner Collector Kings Island Fun Map Poster

How many hours do you think you have in the poster all together?

I lost track, but I would guess somewhere between 1200-1500.  That’s a conservative guess though.

How excited are you about the fact that the poster will be exclusive to the Star Wars Collectors Archive’s Celebration Anaheim Party?

I truly am thrilled that the project has evolved to this point.  A project of this scale requires a lot of eyes and ears, and I was fortunate to have excellent support throughout every phase of the job.

Pretty cool to think of something you designed could be hanging on fellow collector’s walls.

I almost feel that it’s a bit presumptuous to think that someone would want to hang my art on their wall, but the thought is completely flattering.  I just hope that collectors will enjoy this print as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Josh was also kind enough to add a few words about working together on the project.

About working with Dan.  Dan’s role as a technical adviser was crucial in the concept phases to help me gain a visual of what this should, and would look like.  After a bit of convincing that a poster was the best choice of canvas, we developed each area together taking every single detail into account.  Like myself, Dan is a perfectionist and his attention to detail kept me on my toes and served as the perfect soundboard for great ideas.  Working with Dan was a true collaboration and I know he enjoyed this project as much as I have!

Thanks again for all the hard work Josh!

One especially cool detail on the poster is the Kenner Products style shipping label at the bottom.  Josh drew inspiration from an actual Kenner shipping label used to ship Star Wars Micro figures to one very lucky individual back in 1985.

Kenner Collector Kenner Products Star Wars Micro Shipping Label

Did I happen to mention there are a lot of different Kenner toy lines featured throughout the poster?  Favorites like Star Wars, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Easy-Bake Oven, and Alien just to name a few.  How many can you find?

Kenner Collector Poster Toys

I hope everyone enjoys the poster as much as we have enjoyed making it!  See you at the Celebration Anaheim Archive Party!

If you are interested in working with Josh Blake on a project of your own, contact him here on Facebook!

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Kenner Terminator 2 John Connor prototype hard copy figure and mock-up motorcycle 

Kenner 1992 Toy Fair Catalog Terminator 2 John ConnorKenner 1992 Toy Fair Catalog Terminator 2 John ConnorHere is a hand painted resin hard copy prototype for the John Connor Terminator 2 action figure, along with a hand painted mock-up motorcycle.  Hard copies were one of the earliest stages in the development of an action figure at Kenner.  Initially a figure would be sculpted, probably out of wax similar to this example, then a silicone mold would be created for the different pieces of the toy.  Resin was then poured into the silicone molds, creating the hard copy prototypes.

Hard copies had various purposes.  Some would be assembled using metal or plastic pins for the joints, and then painted.  The painted examples might be displayed at Toy Fair or photographed for catalogs.  Other unpainted hard copies might be used to transfer the details of the action figure to the steel tooling in order to produce the plastic injection molded production toys.

Kenner 1992 Toy Fair Catalog Terminator 2 John Connor

This particular hard copy shown on the left, has many differences when compared to the final production toy on the right.  The design was most likely only used for presentation purposes.

Kenner 1992 Toy Fair Catalog Terminator 2 John Connor

 

Kenner 1992 Toy Fair Catalog Terminator 2 John Connor

The motorcycle on the left is a repainted Zylmex/ZEE Toys brand motorcycle, hand painted to create the mock-up.  The production version of the motorcycle on the right is significantly different.  It’s interesting to see the Kenner designers use a non-Kenner toy in the catalog photography.  Maybe they figured since it would only be seen for a limited time in the Toy Fair catalog, and it was partially covered up in the image, that nobody would notice.

Kenner 1992 Toy Fair Catalog Terminator 2 John Connor

 

Kenner 1992 Toy Fair Catalog Terminator 2 John Connor

 

Kenner 1992 Toy Fair Catalog Terminator 2 John Connor

Based on various paint details on the figure and the motorcycle, I believe this is the exact same John Connor and motorcycle used in the 1992 Kenner Toy Fair catalog photography seen below.

Kenner 1992 Toy Fair Catalog Terminator 2 John Connor

 

Kenner 1992 Toy Fair Catalog Terminator 2 John Connor

 

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Kenner’s Star Wars figures used to bring Atari games to life

Kenner Atari Customs

Dan Polydoris of Chicago Toy Collector has taken some of Kenner’s vintage Star Wars figures and customized them to look like characters from classic Atari 2600 games.

As someone who grew up playing these games, seeing the box art brought to life is pretty cool.  In game they were never more than a few pixelated blobs.  Thinking about all the adventures these figures could have had ghost busting, helping defend Boulder Hill or fighting against the Empire in a galaxy far, far away is fun to think about.

More pictures can be found on his Flickr page along with other custom action figures he has made.

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Universe Expanded: Kenner’s 1998 Star Wars Action Figures book on Kickstarter

Kenner Collector Universe Expanded Kickstarter Star Wars Action Figure Book

Philip Reed from battlegrip.com has launched a new Kickstarter project for a 96 page hard cover book focused on Kenner’s 1998 Star Wars Expanded Universe toy line.  This will be the author’s fifth toy related book.  There’s just something cool about holding a nice hard cover, toy book in your hands.  I encourage everyone to support these kinds of projects so collectors can continue to have a physical library of toy related reference material.

From the author:

I love books. Over the last few years I’ve used Kickstarter to produce four hardcover books about toys, and each time the supporters have been wonderful to work with and have made it possible for the books to be top quality and wonderfully printed. I’ve had so much fun creating books about toys that I’m doing it again. Universe Expanded is for all of you who have an interest in the Kenner Star Wars Expanded Universe subline of 1998.

Kenner Collector Universe Expanded Kickstarter Star Wars Action Figure Book

About the book:

Universe Expanded will follow the same physical format as my two recent books about action figure marketing — Each Sold Separately (Kickstarter page) and Action Figures Not Included(Kickstarter page) — because holding those finished books in my hands felt very rewarding. The landscape format, hardcover binding, and colors in those two books were all wonderful and I look forward to shelving the finished copy of Universe Expanded right beside those books.

You can back the project at several different levels here on Kickstarter.

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Kenner Starting Lineup 1996 MLB Cooperstown Collection sample card/proof card

Kenner Starting Lineup Cooperstown Collection Proof Card 1996

Here is a nice unused sample card for Kenner’s 1996 Starting Lineup Cooperstown Collection Baseball set.  These kinds of unused cards are also sometimes referred to as proof cards.  Proof cards or sample cards served many different design purposes including things like final approval of the packaging or mock-up packaging for presentations.  This example came directly from the printing vendor contracted by Kenner, and is the same quality and thickness as the final production cards.

The cards measure 8″ wide by 9″ tall.

Front:

Kenner Starting Lineup Cooperstown Collection Proof Card 1996

Back:

Kenner Starting Lineup Cooperstown Collection Proof Card 1996

 

 

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Kenner’s Police Academy Cadet Set role playing toy

Police Academy Title CardPolice Academy: The Animated Series was a cartoon based off the successful movie franchise of the 80’s and early 90’s.  The cartoon followed the shenanigans and adventures of the officers from the movies and chronologically falls between the fourth and fifth movies.  It amazes me that this franchise was made into a cartoon and then spawned a toy line for kids.  If you remember the movies at all they do carry a lot of adult themes and situations.

Police Academy Front

 

Police Academy Back

I recently was able to add the Cadet Set to my collection.  This is yet another toy I had when I was younger that I didn’t realize was made by the noble house of Gooney.  It came with a foam nightstick, a hydrohat, a radio, and a badge.  The radio would hold water and when you squeezed it water would shoot out of the hat.

Police Academy ContentsI was lucky enough to find a set that still had the instructions, cardboard insert, pack-in catalog, and all its contents still sealed.  I remember running around my neighborhood with all my friends and we would play cops and robbers for hours.

Being able to put this on a shelf in my toy room brings back a lot of awesome memories!

 

 

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Kenner Star Wars variant comic book covers look so good you want to open them up!

Personal Comic CoversMarvel has brought us back to a time when we wanted to collect every variant cover of our favorite books.  From foil covers to holograms to lenticular images and even polybagged, it feels like the 90’s!  One cover variant in particular will interest any Kenner vintage Star Wars fan.  I am talking of course of the action figure variant covers.  Above are examples from my collection of the covers released so far.

These covers pay homage by replicating the look of a vintage Kenner Star Wars carded action figure.  Everything about these covers look good enough to hang on store pegs.  Artist John Tyler Christopher has done an amazing job bringing these covers to life and not missing a single detail.

So far we have had Luke Skywalker and Han Solo released for the Star Wars series #1 and #2 respectively.  Darth Vader’s was released in his own title series.  Also confirmed Obi-Wan Kenobi will be a variant for Star Wars #3 and Princess Leia Organa will be released as a variant for her self titled series.  Leia’s series will be released on March 4th, while Star Wars #3 will hit shelves March 11th.  I am personally hoping that at least the first 12 will be released.

Obi and Leia Variant Covers

My local comic book shop, Downtown Comics still has a few of the released covers available, so find your closest shop and collect them all!!

 

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Kenner’s Gooney Bird now available in new Kennerflex foam!

Kenner Kennerflex Gooney Bird

I’ve been known to play favorites when it comes to certain items in my collection, but if I had to play the “what would you grab if your house was on fire” game, this would be the thing I grabbed first.  Please don’t tell my wife that.

This is a foam representation of Kenner’s famous Gooney Bird, made from a material called Kennerflex.  Feels pretty much like painted foam to me, but hey, who am I to question the marketing minds of Kenner.  The bird measures approximately 13″ tall x 10″ wide.

The Gooney Bird is packaged in a clear plastic bag with the words BENDABLE, WASHABLE, and HUGGABLE printed on it in red.

Kenner Kennerflex Gooney BirdKenner Kennerflex Gooney Bird

The top of the cardboard packaging wrapped around the bird is printed with: “made of new KENNERFLEX… soft, washable, durable foam,” and “TWIST HIM, BEND HIM, HE STAYS” on the lower section.

Kenner Kennerflex Gooney Bird

The pop-up sign by his feet reads Kenner’s GOONEY BIRD AWK AWK.

Kenner Kennerflex Gooney BirdKenner Kennerflex Gooney Bird

The taller end of the cardboard packaging shows a Gooney Bird logo with the famous slogan “It’s Kenner It’s FUN!,” the copyright info © 1964, KENNER PRODUCTS COMPANY, CINCINNATI, OHIO, and No. 280.

Kenner Kennerflex Gooney Bird

 

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I’m Batman: A look back at some of my favorite Kenner Batman figures

Now that Gentle Giant is coming out with a new Jumbo Batman Figure lets take a look back at some of the original Kenner Batman figures.  I’d like to thank Dork Dimension for the nice images of these figures.

Lets start with the 1984 Kenner Super Powers Batman figure. This is one of my favorite figures that I had when I was a kid.  I remember watching Super Friends sitting in front of the TV with my Batman and Robin figures trying to act out the scene that was on the show.  This was a 3.75” with 7 points of articulation and came with a cloth cape.

batman1984    batman2

Super Powers Batman from the 1984 Kenner Toy Fair catalog:

Kenner Collector Toy Fair Catalog Super Powers 1984

Next we have the 1993 Kenner Batman: The Animated Series Figure (This is the one that  Gentle Giant will be using the scans from for the new jumbo figure ).  The figure was a 5” with 5 points of articulation with a cloth cape.

batman4    batman5

Batman: The Animated Series from the 1993 Kenner Toy Fair catalog:

Kenner Collector Toy Fair Catalog Animated Batman 1993

Last we have the 1998 Kenner The New Batman Adventures Figure.  This was another 5″ figure with 5 points of articulation with a plastic cape.

batman7    batman8

There have been more then a 100 different Batman figures produced by Kenner over the years, so tell me what was your favorite one?  There has to be at least one that perked your interest to shell out your hard earn money for one.  I know I did!

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Super Powers is back…again!

Koto Super Powers

Update!  Pictures added from Toy Fair 2015.

Announced on the Kotobukiya Facebook page, they have teamed up with DC to re-imagine the Kenner Super Powers line!

Kenner Collector Super Powers Kotobukiya Toy Fair

Kenner Collector Super Powers Kotobukiya Toy Fair

Kenner Collector Super Powers Kotobukiya Toy Fair

Kenner Collector Super Powers Kotobukiya Toy Fair

Kenner Collector Super Powers Kotobukiya Toy Fair

Kenner Collector Super Powers Kotobukiya Toy Fair

Here is the announcement from their Facebook page.

“Return to the classic era of action figures with the DC Comics SUPER POWERS COLLECTION, a vintage-inspired line of ARTFX+ statues from Kotokukiya! With features such as “Power Action” stances, multiple points of non-articulation and real cloth capes it will feel like the 80’s all over again! Remember…only you can decide the battle of good vs. evil!”

It appears that not only Mattel is pulling on our nostalgic heart strings.

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