Conan O’Brien and the 35th Anniversary of G.I. JOE

Greetings Gooney Fans! Last week the nation celebrated Veterans Day and recognized those who served in the Armed Forces. To commemorate this occasion, we uncovered some interesting information relating to a national contest Kenner/Hasbro held to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the G.I. JOE action figure line! The contest was entitled “The Search For The Real-Life G.I. JOE Spirit”. In 1999, as the contest was just underway, Conan O’Brien visited Hasbro/Kenner in downtown Cincinnati. Bob Kling, Director of Boys Sculpting at the time, has fond recollections of the event. He was kind enough to provide some details about his involvement with the segment.


conan-roughBob writes: “Okay, yeah that visit by Conan O’Brien was a lot of fun. I guess I wasn’t alone in thinking his entourage would be larger; it was just a camera guy and Conan, no producer or director, not even a grip or go-fer if I remember correctly. I don’t have a firm recollection. For my segment Conan walked in cracking wise and giving directions about lighting and camera angles and  pans. Within a few minutes he had it blocked out and we began. We talked for about 15 minutes, of which they used what?  less than a minute. He was funny and engaging and I don’t recall most of what was said except this: I was showing him how we go from a rough clay sketch to a final wax by using dental alginate to make a fast and easy and non-toxic mold. I told him it was so safe that you could eat it. He said, “go ahead.” I said, “no, you could eat it.” As I recall he dropped both hands to his sides and sighed as if to say, ‘come on man, I’m the comedian here,’ and of course that part was left out.”

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real-joe-scp           Kenner/Hasbro would go on to recognize National Guard Veteran and Baltimore Police Officer Charles Bury Jr. as the contest winner. It was the heroism of Charles saving civilian lives, not shooting enemy soldiers, that qualified him as “The Real G.I. JOE”! This newspaper article gives account of Charles experience during the contest and highlights some of the events throughout his career in the service.

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All reference photos and media related materials provided by Bob Kling.

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Until next time! It’s Kenner! It’s Fun!

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Ira Gobler and the Star Wars Toys That Never Were

Greetings Gooney Fans! Have you ever heard the story of Ira Gobler and Gobler Toys? Imagine for a moment that there is a prequel to the story we already know of Kenner securing the rights to the franchise just one month before the release of the film. In fact, the seemingly unknown Gobler Toys was the first to pitch their concepts to George Lucas! So, let’s take a ride in Bill and Ted’s Phone Booth and head back to the year 1976 to learn about Ira Gobler and the Star Wars toys that never were!

Now, if you are interested in learning the true story of Star Wars toys and how those events transpired, check out Brian Stillman’s Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys.

 

KennerGooney_line1Until Next time! It’s Kenner! It’s Fun!

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Cincinnati Toy Show and Kenner Mural Review

toy-show-bannerGreetings Gooney Fans! Grab your Bubbl-Matic and hop on the Daddy Saddle, because we are traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio – home of Kenner Toys! Last weekend collectors traveled far and wide to experience one of the hobby’s finest toy shows. Described by many as a “Mini Star Wars Celebration”, the CTS Promotions Cincinnati Toy Show has drawn quite a large audience in recent years. After nearly a decade of successful venues in the Columbus, Ohio area, show promoter James Ford decided to reintroduce Cincinnati into the show lineup. 2016 marks the third consecutive year CTS has organized a toy show in the Cincinnati market. steve-dwyerThis year, however, collectors visiting the area were treated to a new “must see” location that coincides with the former Kenner facility location tour dubbed “The Kenner Tour”. Cincinnati based foundation Artworks completed it’s latest Mural project and the subject is none other than Kenner Toys! The mural has quickly drawn crowds anxious to see the monumental painting located on 23 West Court Street, just a few blocks away from the Kroger Building (formally shared with Kenner Products). The massive mural was designed by artist Jonathan Queen of Artworks and was the brainchild of Kathy and Darren Murrer, former owners of the Earth Toy Mall. As collectors began making the pilgrimage to the area, Facebook feeds began showcasing collectors from all across the country (and globe) posing in front of their 3-story sized childhood toys!


rooms-sales1  14642409_1239394286132284_1459628479385499823_n  14641893_594321740750192_8696732829333783638_n            Room Sales! Room Sales! Room Sales! It has now become an annual tradition that the Saturday night before the open of the show, collectors congregate at the La Quinta Inn, Sharronville in hopes to add a few new items to their collections. This is really where the show begins as old friends catch up and new friends are made. It is always refreshing at these events to break through the cyber walls we reside behind and finally put faces to the familiar names!


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Sunday morning the showroom floor was covered with vintage Star Wars, Super Powers, Real Ghostbusters, M.A.S.K. and many other familiar Kenner collectibles. It is always surprising to see so many rare and high-grade items available at shows like this! Overall, another successful Cincinnati show is on the books! The future looks promising for the future of toy shows. Many thanks go out to CTS Promotions, La Quinta Inn and Suites Sharronville and the staff at Smokey Bones Bar and Fire Grill in West Chester, Ohio. For upcoming show announcements, visit www.ctspromotions.com for more information!

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Until next time, It’s Kenner! It’s Fun!

 

 

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Cincinnati Toy Heritage Mural Features Kenner Toys!

The Toy Heritage Mural in progress. Photo courtesy of Artworks.

The Toy Heritage Mural in progress. Photo courtesy of Artworks.

After many hundreds of hours over many long, hot, summer weeks, the Toy Heritage mural by local artist Jonathan Queen is now finished.  Located at 23 West Court Street in downtown Cincinnati, an official dedication is set for this Saturday, October 1 at 10:30am.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley will be on hand for a few remarks.  Special guests include former Kenner executives Ginger Kent and Pete Kelly, as well as ArtWorks CEO and Artistic Director Tamara Harkavy, and artist Jonathan Queen. Corky Steiner, son of Kenner co-founder Phil Steiner, will emcee the event.

From the Artworks website description of the event:

“Cincinnati’s rich toy history is being celebrated on this Towne Properties building on West Court Street. The legacy of Kenner Toys, a Cincinnati-based toy company founded in 1947, is documented in this work of art which showcases some of the most popular toys that were designed by the company. Marvel at the surreal renderings designed by local artist Jonathan Queen. Passersby will enjoy his use of adored characters and toys like Care Bear, C3PO, Easy Bake Oven, Spirograph, Strawberry Shortcake and many more.”

This mural was made possible thanks to support from The Hassenfeld Foundation, Towne Properties, and The Plant Trolley.

If you plan to attend the dedication, please RSVP at the Artworks EventBrite Site. Admission is free.

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Rebates and Munch Mates: The Kenner-Cheerios Poster Offer – The Star Wars Collectors Archive Blog

kenner-cheerios.JPGOur friend at the Star Wars Collectors Archive, Ron Salvatore, has written another great blog post today.  This installment details the General Mills Fun Group/Kenner/Star Wars connection along with a special shout out to one of our sentimental favorite Kenner concepts, the Munch Mates.

Great read, Ron!

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Super Bowl 50: Pizza, Beer, & TOYS

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Ahhh the Super Bowl. Does a greater sports day exist? The championship game, the commercials, the food. Damn, the food. Pizza, beer, wings, nachos – it’s a day where anything goes and is the biggest day of indulgence for Americans.

But I digress, back to the matter at hand. You may have noticed that there are no Panther figures pictured. If you’re wondering why (and no, the reason is not because I’m a Bronco’s fan…Go Bears!) it’s because there were not many Panther SLUs produced.

The Carolina Panthers team was formed in 1995 a mere five years before Starting Lineup ended production of their iconic toy collectibles. As is the case with most new teams, the Panthers roster lacked the super star status that was necessary to generate the toy company’s interest. In total five players were selected: Kerry Collins, Lamar Lathon, Mark Carrier, Frank Reich, and Kevin Greene. However, a total of eight figures were produced. Kerry Collins was the only athlete to have more than one SLU made in regular production (three in total), but Kevin Greene did have a Gridiron Greats in 1997. A quick eBay search will provide a list of Panthers figures for sale ranging in value from five to fifteen dollars.

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The Denver Broncos however, tell a much different story. Originally formed as an AFL team in 1960 they later merged with the NFL in 1970. Fifty-four Starting Lineups donning Broncos jerseys were produced right up until the final distribution in 2000. Some of the more notable figures include Shannon Sharpe, John Elway and Terrell Davis. Although all three of these players been inducted to the Hall of Fame (or are well on their way to being inducted) their figures hold little value, ranging from five to fifty dollars. Arguably the most valuable Broncos figure is 1990 Simon Fletcher because it was released only regionally making it more difficult to find. It carries a hefty price tag of one hundred fifty dollars.

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And for the all the Peyton Manning fans out there looking to complete their collection with a SLU of him in his Denver Broncos jersey, I hate to disappoint you, but it’s not going to happen! While there are many Peyton Manning SLUS available all feature him in either a home or away Colts Jersey. Your closest option to getting him in orange is to pick up a specialty SLU produced in the Quarterback Challenge Classic Double from 2000. This exclusive figure features him wearing his University of Tennessee jersey.

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Regardless of who you root for and whether you watch the game solo or with friends, I hope you relax, enjoy the day, and embrace the last day of the 2016 football season!

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The MASK ’87 Invitational Flag

The MASK 87 Invitational Flag

This is an invitation for The MASK ’87 Invitational, Kenner’s release party for the 1987 MASK product line.  The party took place at Kenner’s year-round showroom in Manhattan’s Toy District.  MASK stands for Mobile Armored Strike Kommand and the toy line ran from 1985-1988.

The invitation is made of sewn white nylon and the details are screen printed on.  It measures 15″ wide by 12″ tall and reads:

JOIN US IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE FOR COCKTAILS AND HORS D’OEUVRES

RACE- THE MASK ’87 INVITATIONALDATE- OCTOBER 15, 1986
START TIME- 4:30 P.M.
CIRCUIT- FIFTH FLOOR KENNER SHOWROOM
1107 BROADWAY NY NY
TO ENTER- RSVP: XXXX XXXXXX (212)337-8632

If you are a fan of MASK, be sure to check out Albert Penello’s great The MASK Page.

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Kenner Collector’s history of Kenner toys exhibit at Cincinnati public library

Just in Time for Holidays Kenner Library Exhibit

Edit: Just a reminder that this is the last full weekend to check out the Kenner toy exhibit at the Cincinnati library!  The exhibit will run until January 16th.

Kenner Collector is proud to present a new exhibit called Just in Time for the Holidays: Kenner Toys, located on display at the main downtown branch of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  The exhibit features Kenner toys and historical items spanning the entire life of the company, beginning with the late 1940’s all the way through to the company’s final days in Cincinnati.  The exhibit will officially open on November 20th, and run through January 16th of next year.

This will be a great chance to see lots of fun and rare Kenner toys and collectibles from the glory days of the beloved Cincinnati based company.  See your favorite toy lines from your childhood including Star Wars, Strawberry Shortcake, Easy-Bake Oven, and many more!  Some of the rare items on display include Kenner’s first toy, the Bubbl-Matic gun, the infamous Daddy Saddle, and the Pigtail Play-Wig, just to name a few!

Kenner Collector Cincinnati Library Exhibit

Kenner Collector Cincinnati Library Exhibit

The library is located at 800 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.  The exhibit is on the third floor of the main library, in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room.  Check the website for hours.  You can even visit the famous Kroger building (home of Kenner from 1976 to 1992) while you are there!

Kenner Collector Cincinnati Library Kroger Building

The Gooney Crew responsible for the display:

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Pictured from left to right: Josh Blake, Joe Ilagan, Dan Flarida, and Steve Meister

The Kenner Collector toy exhibit is only one part of the Kenner and toy related activities the Cincinnati library has planned over the next couple months.  From the library:

Another Kenner exhibit, Beloved Toys, will be located on the first floor in the Popular Library Exhibit Area and will take a fun look as people’s childhood memories of their favorite Kenner toys. On other floors in the Library, display cases will contain Kenner toys catalogs from 1966 to 1990, depicting the company’s marketing strategies of their products throughout the decades. Also featured will be a special case that explores the origins of Star Wars toys, with images of the first prototypes created by Kenner and presented to Star Wars filmmakers in March of 1977. Images are provided by Jim Swearingen , the principal conceptual designer for Kenner’s original line of Star Wars toys.

Smaller displays will focus on other Cincinnati toy companies like, Doepke Toys, which made toys of steel in the 1940s and 50s, Stuart Toys, which produced western miniatures and science sets in the 1950s and 1960s, and Poynter Products, which made humorous toys such as the Thing Coin Box and Uncle Fester’s Lightbulb. Both toys were featured on the 1960s’ show The Adams Family.

There will also be toys on display by Bang Zoom Design, a Cincinnati product invention company that carries on the spirit of toy making here in the Queen City. Bang Zoom, based in Eden Park since 1991, has made many designs for toy lines including Elmo, Monsters University, and Dora the Explorer.

Finally, learn the origins of three toys that got their start here in the Greater Cincinnati area: the Magic Eight Ball, Uno Cards, and Pound Puppies. All exhibits start on Friday November 20th and run until Saturday Jan 16th.

Also, save December 12th on your calendar for Kenner Day at the Cincinnati Library!

On Saturday December 12th the Main Library will host a day-long symposium with Kenner employees and executives who will give an insider’s look into this innovative company. Also showing will be the documentary Plastic Galaxy The Story of Star Wars Toys which examines the history and pop-culture impact of Kenner’s Star Wars toy line.

Complete details can be found here at the Library website.

 

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Kenner Internal Video: Sentimental Journey

When Kenner closed their doors in Cincinnati in 2000, it was an end of an era.  Hasbro had obtained Kenner in 1991 and after 9 years, the time to close the Cincinnati office had come.  Many employees would move on to Hasbro’s Rhode Island headquarters, some would retire, and some would find themselves looking for new opportunities.

On December 2nd, 2000, Kenner held a farewell party at the Regal Cincinnati Hotel. The partygoers were treated to this 25 minute video, which summarizes Kenner’s storied history, famous products and the people who made them.  It’s a bittersweet tape to watch for Kenner fans and those who worked there, but it demonstrates how proud they all were of their history and how sad they were to see it coming to an end.

If you worked at Kenner, or if you are in this video, contact us using the icon on the right of this page, or leave a comment below. We would love to hear about your memories and experiences at Kenner.

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New toys for Christmas 1976

News story from 1976 showing the hot toys for Christmas.  Fun to see Kenner’s Stretch Armstrong, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman getting some love.

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