Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#526 THE SETTLERS OF CATAN with SEAFARERS and 5-6 PLAYERS EXPANSIONS (1995 and 1997)


I have neglected a little bit the board games in this blog. There is one main reason for this, and is that my blog very very rarely talks about toys made after 1995, and board games made before 1995 are not especially good... The best "Euro" board games are the newest ones; each time, board game designers are making better and better games or updating old ones. If you have a big game collection at home, you usually only play the newest ones, while the oldest ones are just catching dust in some shelves or have been moved to the attic.

The Settlers of Catan is one of those exceptions, that has been now played for over 20 years, and it is being released and sold year after year. There is many chances that, if you like board games, you have played this one.

The game simulates the management of villages on an island. Each village produces different goods: clay, stone, sheep, wheat or wood. With this goods, you can upgrade the villages to cities, build new villages or roads, or buy special cards that brings you special advantages. Personally, I don´t like the game much. Due to the game mechanism, it is easy to predict who will win after just a few rounds, sometimes just after the initial placement of villages. If you leave apart this small detail, most people have a lot of fun with this game, since the goods can be traded anytime and there´s a lot of interaction.


I have one of the earliest german editions of the game, the first one didn't have the "Spiel des Jahres" logo on the cover, but son afterwards, the box was changed to improve sales. It is a game that can be very easily found on flea markets and I have bought it a few times, although earlier versions are more scarce, and more difficult to find. The first box is the basis game, and is still unused. The first editions had pieces made of wood, and the box inlay is made of carboard. Later editions included plastic pieces and the interior was improved to host all components more efficiently.



The game is for 3 or 4 players, which is a bit of a limitation for this game (and for any game in general), so the author Klaus Teuber expanded the game with a few more tiles and pieces for a fifth and sixth player. I also own this expansion and it is also unused.

There are dozens of expansions more for this game. The first one of these was released two years later and is called "Seafarers". The expansion consist of new tiles (many of them water tiles) so you can form some kind of ocean with smaller islands and ships, that are actually like roads but built over water.




The expansion does not add much to the game, but makes everything a little more challenging: if you are block by ground, you can always try to sail to a near island to settle and produce more goods.
The box I own is again a very old version, probably the first one, and the game has been played, but is complete and in very nice shape. Again, the ships are made of wood, which in my opinion is much nicer to touch and has a nicer feeling during the game than plastic.




The Seafarers expansion also had a (supra-)expansion for 5 or 6 players, which I also own, but never needed it. It is still closed and it will remain like that for a while.


This is a more modern versión, which is the one I use. Most pieces are made of plastic (villages, cities, roads, thieves)




FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: THE SETTLERS OF CATAN, SEAFARERS, EXPANSIONS FOR 5-6 PLAYERS
  • Alternate Names: DIE SIEDLER VON CATAN (German), SEEFAHRER (German), LOS COLONOS DE CATÁN (Spanish), NAVEGANTES (Spanish)
  • Year:1995 and 1997
  • Company: Kosmos (Germany)
  • Size: approx. 30 x 30 cm (game box)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

#525 ZYLMEX – MINIBIKES: BRIDGESTONE 10 SPEED (H381) (Around 1981)


This is a rather particular toy, I had seen some of its kind years ago, but this is the only toy/scale bike I own. I bought it recently for very little money.

The bicycle is made by Zylmex, probably by the early 80s, although I must admit, this is not a very educated guess,

The toy itself is a die-cast bicycle, it is made of many different parts, and the assembly must have been laborious, note that the seat, pedals, handlebars, tyres… are separate parts. Some are made of plastic, but they are only a few and do not affect the sturdiness of the bike.

The most impressive detail are of course the operating pedals that move the rear wheel, that means, the bike chain (which is made of rubber) transmits the movement of the pedals to the wheels, and from the wheels to the pedals. The handles of the handlebars are painted black. Also nice are the few stickers (four pieces) that the bike has.



The box looks great, with a nice desing from the late 70s depicting two cyclists. Each box was “customized” with one sticker according to the model inside the box. The bicycle is firmly fixed in the box by means of a plastic inlay.


There were at least one redesign of the box, that could be even older, since some carry the Zee logo.
The available models in the Minibikes Series by Zylmex were:
  • H381 Bridgestone 10 Speed
  • H382 Huffy Tradewind
  • H383 Royce Union
  • H384 Motocross

This series seems to be like a “spin-off” of the Motorbikes Series also by Zylmex, which used the same package design, and that also featured famous motorbikes in 1:24 scale, like Guiloy (see #31 and #103) or Mercury (see #2).

FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: BRIDGESTONE 10 SPEED (H381)
  • Scale: 1:20
  • Year: Around 1981
  • Company: Zylmex (Hong-Kong)
  • Size: approx. 10 cm

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#524 COMICS SPAIN – FLASH GORDON and TERMINATOR (1990 and 1992)


The Terminator figure is one of the most interesting figures in the whole Comics Spain catalogue. It does not belong to any series of figures, it is the only figure made from the Terminator movies. The cast is great and represents Arnold Schwarzenegger as seen in the movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day from 1991: black leather outfit, face half human, half machine and shotgun on hand.

The figure is licensed by Carolco, and has a copyright from 1992. It is not very easy to find nowadays. Being a cult carácter from a very famous film, it is very sought-after.


Flash Gordon is another carácter that does not belong to any series in particular, it is again the only figure made of him. It is difficult to identify at first sight, because he seems to be wearing a different outfit, than the one we usually see in the movies or in the comics, maybe the reference was the Revell model from 1965 shown here. The figure carries his helmet on one hand and has a pistol in the other hand.

This figure is copyrighted in 1990 and is licensed by K.F.S. (King Features Syndicate).


More information about Comics Spain/ Comics Figuras is coming to light in the last months. The guys frorm Star Wars Spanish Stuff uploaded this video in February 2014. It explains some facts about the company, shows the facilities located near Barcelona, and also explains how did they build the figures: from casting to painting. In the final part of the video, there is a parade of several figures that were available back in the days.


FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: FLASH GORDON and TERMINATOR
  • Year: 1990 and 1992
  • Company: Comics Spain (Spain)
  • Size of the figures: Around 7 cm (between  2’’ and 3’’)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

#523 JOAL – RENAULT 10 (Ref. 104) (Around 1969)


I always considered the miniatures from Joal to be great reproductions.



In some cases, Joal copied the models from Corgi or other major manufacturers from other countries. I think some are also based in Mercury models. The Italian die-cast manufacturer had many reproductions of Fiat cars, which were, of course, very interesting for Spanish manufacturers, since Seat models were equal to the Fiat models.



In this case, the car is similar to an old Norev model, although I cannot assure it because I cannot compare them. The quality of the Joal model is rather high, considering that it was made in the late 60s by a Spanish company (which had not the latest technology of that time). If you pay enough attention, you'll be able to see some imperfections.




The car is still in its green and white original box, the first model used by Joal. The same car was available at least in white, brown, blue and green. The original car was made from 1965 to 1971 (in Spain it was manufactured from 1966 to 1970).



 
FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: RENAULT 10 (Ref. 104)
  • Scale: 1:43 (approx.)
  • Year: Around 1969
  • Company: Joal (Spain)
  • Size: approx. 10 cm
 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

#522 DINO RIDERS - PTERODACTYL with LLAHD (1988)


The Pterodactyl is the smallest dinosaur in the first wave of Dino-Riders, it is slightly smaller than the Ankylosaurus, and not articulated, although both boxes were the same size. Maybe intentional, or not, is that the dinosaur comes with a figure that represents a child instead of a man, around one head shorter and with thinner extremities.

The flying sauria is made of the same plastic as other dinosaurs, but being so thin in the wingsm, neck, paws and so on, the plastic is a bit flexible. This flexibility is lost with the time if the dinosaur was conserved in harsh conditions of heat or light exposure. In many cases, the Pterodactyl is missing one of its paws or some of its legs. They were simply broken while playing, maybe many children thought the plastic was momre flexible than it actually was.



The harness is quite simple: it consists of a delta wing harness fit to the dinosaur with a peg that had to be inserted in the dinosaur´s belly. The peg is also fragile and could be broken in used toys. But even more fragile are the two tiny missiles that attach to the harness tubes and that, in some cases are "stretched" and their handle do not fit any more the tubes very well, making the missiles somehow "loose".  In other cases, the missiles are simply lost. So easily lost and fragile, are quite difficult to find, maybe one of the most difficult parts to find in the entire first wave.

The harness do not attach very firmly to the dinosaur, maybe that´s why Tyco decided to include a smaller, lighter figure instead of the ordinary, big ones. Interesting, however is that the two handles to fit the figure to the handle bar are designed to be used by a big figure.

There is a variant of this toy in which the figure included is not the child-Llahd, but an adult-Llahd, a figure with a different cast, but similar colours. The adult-Llahd version is considered to be rarer than the child-Llahd version. I have both, os you can compare both in the next pictures.



We have unintendedly used the word dinosaur for the Pterodactyl, but technically it is no dinosaur, but a flying sauria. I always like to make this clear when I write about "dinosaurs" that are not "real dinosaurs".


FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: PTERODACTYL with LLADH
  • Toy Line: Dino Riders (Wave 1)
  • Year: 1988
  • Company: Tyco (U.S.A.)
  • Scale of the dinosaur: 1:24
  • Size of the figures: 2½’’ or 6,5 cm

Monday, March 9, 2015

#521 FX SCHMID – PIPPI LANGSTRUMPF and PIPPI LANGSTRUMPF IM TAKA-TUKA-LAND (nr. 609 20 and 608 20) (1971)



I once showed a deck of cards made by Naipes Comas from Spain that had Pippi Longstocking as the main character/theme. That deck of card was actually a reissue of an original German deck of cards that I want to show today.

There is no doubt, that Pippi is a fascinating character for children all over the world. Even today, you can notice this if you visit Astrid Lindgren´s World in Vimmerby, Sweden. There, the actress playing Pippi has to walk from one side to other (without stopping) not to be obstacled/surrounded/grabbed by very small children chasing her and shouting "Pippi, Pippi". This image was very surprising to me, I found it almost scary.


No matter what, Pippi had a first real action TV series shot in 1969 that was translated to many languages and became very popular everywhere where it was shown. The main character was played by Inger Nilsson. Some movies were made after and before the series, and, of course,there were many books written with her adventures. I guess this may vary from one country to another, but being Pippi a character intended for rather small children, the TV series and movies have had more success than the books.






This is an example of merchandising and licensed items. In this case it´s two decks of cards made in Germany (where Pippi was also extremely popular) that sold very well durign the 70s. Probably, two of the best selling decks by FX Schmid.

The first deck is simply Pippi Langstrumpf, and the next one is Pippi Langstrumpf in Taka-Tuka-Land, where Pippi travels to a pirate island and gets back a treasure stolen by pirates. Both are based on the movies with the same names (1969 and 1970).


Both decks were reedited a few years later, and in the case of Pippi and the Pirates, I own two versions. They are actually the same except for the cover card, that has a more modern (70s!) design, and the back of the cards are printed in another shade of blue. The color of the pictures in the cards are also a bit different, but this may also vary among decks in the same issue.



 And to finish this article, all cards from the second set plus "Facts and Figures"






FACTS AND FIGURES:
 •Name: PIPPI LANGSTRUMPF and PIPPI LANGSTRUMPF IM TAKA-TUKA-LAND (nr. 609 20 and 608 20)
•Year: 1971 (plus reedition from the late 70s)
•Company: FX Schmid (Germany)
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