Friday, April 09, 2010

Buckle your seatbelt for TGIF Toys!

We're starting up a new weekly feature here at the BRBTV News Blog, and we're thinkin' it's going to be a tidy bit of fun. Every Friday morning, bright and early (6 a.m. EST time in the U.S.!) we're going to be bringing you a photo -- and often a description! -- of a toy, or toys, relating to one of the shows covered by the various BRBTV reference guides. We're calling it TGIF Toys, because we all work hard during the week to play with our toys on the weekend, now don't we?

First-up on TGIF Toys, we draw from the extensive (did we mention mammoth?) collection of merchandise of our beloved "The Dukes of Hazzard." 'Round about 1981 or '82, the "Dukes" toys really exploded on the store shelves, and then again for the 2005 movie, so we could probably staff this new Friday feature with just "Dukes" stuff for years, we reckon. (But not to worry -- we'll be mixin' it up! We did just add Scooby-Doo to the BRBTV family at the beginning of this year, after all!)

This week's installment comes from our buddy Will "the Voice Man" Rodgers of Tennessee, who's really a part of BRBTV to begin with, because he's collaborating with BRB on three new reference book projects right now, as we speak. Will is an avid collector, so besides having an extensive repertoire of "Dukes" character voices at his disposal on a moment's notice, Will also has quite a lot of "Dukes" merchandise!

For this inaugural edition of TGIF Toys, Will staged the first scene from the very first "Dukes" episode, "One Armed Bandits," above. Here are our two Duke boys, Bo and Luke, with ole Cooter in a Hazzard squad car. These three handsome guys are from Mego's 3.75" line. So tell us what we're lookin' at, Will ...

Before Mego went into bankruptcy, one of, if not THE, last toy lines they did was "The Dukes of Hazzard." Sadly though, because of the time, we did not get all the toys of the "Dukes" that Mego could have made. Mego produced four (or technically six) 8-inch action figures and that was it! In terms of the 3 3/4-inch line, Mego gave us more. We had eight figures (technically all 11 characters) and four vehicles for the figures to fit in.

Mego gave us a better variety when it came to the smaller toys as far as the "Dukes" line went. And it was my favorite "Dukes" collectible as a kid. The General Lee with small figures of Bo and Luke Duke. The General did not exactly look like a Dodge Charger, but believable enough. But the only way to get the figures in and out of the car was a hatch opening on the roof, so the Confederate flag was a square shape instead of rectangular. The figures of Bo and Luke were built the same as the G.I. Joe figures of the '80s with three pieces held together by an O ring. These figures broke easily when the O rings came off. The original head designs resembled Tom Wopat and John Schneider. The coloring of the figures resembled their season one appearances.

Then, Mego began packaging the Bo and Luke figures on individual cards as well as Daisy, Boss Hogg, and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. At the same time, Mego also made the Dixie Jeep with a Daisy Duke figure. They also made the Hazzard Police "chase" car with Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. While it was nice to have the sheriff's car, the Mego marketers got the car wrong. Instead of a Plymouth Fury, it's a 1950s model Chevy with one red siren. A poor subsitute for the real thing.

As a kid, I wanted a white Caddy with Boss Hogg and never got one, I assumed because it was never made. Au contraire! It turned out Mego did make it, but it was only available in Canada. But unlike the Hazzard squad car, the doors didn't open and it had a sticker with Boss Hogg's face on both doors. Boss fits in the driver's seat, but barely in the back. I have used the Wild Bill figure from G.I. Joe as Boss' chauffeur. Fortunately, I was able to find this collectible back in the '90s through a magazine called Toyshop. This was, of course, before eBay.

Finally, Mego made figures of Cooter, Uncle Jesse, and Cletus to round out the characters. Unlike Bo and Luke, the rest of the cast are figures whose legs don't bend. They are built differently. Rosco and Cletus have two different body molds: one with their arms bent and the other with their arms straight down. Cletus had more of a slimmer look and this figure can also double as Enos. To make them look different, I took the Cletus with the bent arms and colored his hair black with a pen and added eyebrows to make him into Deputy Enos Strate.

Thanks to eBay, I have two of the Hazzard Deputy figures, to have both Cletus and Enos, and I have two of the Hazzard squad cars. One for Rosco and the other for the deputy dipsticks!!

Finally in 1982, Mego began selling the General Lee by itself and it came with a slip to send away for the Bo and Luke figures at no extra charge. But these figures had bigger heads and the Luke figure looks more like Vance Duke. It's these versions of Bo and Luke that are easier to find. The original Bo is hard to find and the original Luke is semi hard to find. I had my friend Mike take the second variation Bo and Luke and turn them into Coy and Vance by switching their heads.

-- Will Rodgers

Visit Will's "Super Friends" site and experience more of his geeky expertise!

Photos by Will Rodgers, too; please email before copying

Next week: Mego's 8-inch "Dukes" line!

No comments: