Archive for the ‘Toys’ Category

A short history of the Lone Ranger

July 2, 2013

A short history of the Lone Ranger

The Gore Verbinski/Johnny Depp version of The Lone Ranger opens in the USA on July 3rd.

The character has been around for eighty years, and is a solid part of pop culture.

Before I give you a chronology, let me talk a bit about the Lone Ranger. If you know nothing about the character, it’s possible that you might consider some of this as spoilers, but I think that’s unlikely for most people. I have not seen the movie, so this won’t reveal anything specific to that production (which looks like it is going to take a different approach).

The future Lone Ranger was one of the Texas Rangers, along with his brother. The group rode into an ambush set by the Cavendish gang. All of the rangers except for the one who would become The Lone Ranger (in the original series, his first name was not given, but he is generally now thought of as John Reid) were killed.

The future Lone Ranger was rescued by Tonto. Tonto buried the other rangers (including the future Lone Ranger’s brother), and made an extra grave for the future Lone Ranger, in order to fool the Cavendish gang and give the future Lone Ranger a chance to recover.

After being helped back to health by Tonto, he becomes the Lone (the last left alive) Ranger. He dons a mask, made from the bullet-ridden vest of his brother.

There is a wild stallion that he later names Silver. It may not be appropriate to say that he tames Silver, but they do become a team.

Traditionally, the Lone Ranger doesn’t shoot to kill his opponents. In fact, he avoids gunplay. That’s why he uses silver bullets…it’s because they are rare, expensive, and difficult to get. That means he will always think twice about using one. Obviously, there is also symbolism here, as seen in naming his horse Silver as well.

The Lone Ranger travels around, helping build the West. Tonto travels with him. It’s important to note that the Lone Ranger generally treats him as an equal, and the audience is expected to do the same. While Tonto does encounter a great deal of prejudice, it’s from other characters (townsfolk, bad guys), and the audience believes the prejudice is wrong.

There are other things associated with the Lone Ranger. “Hi-yo, Silver, away!” starts a ride. When the Lone Ranger leaves an area, after having saved someone, they might say, “Who was that masked man? I wanted to thank him.”  The William Tell Overture, used in the radio show and the TV show, is also closely linked to him.

The Lone Ranger is someone who has sublimated his own identity for the greater good. He believes in the individual and helps others. He tends to side with the less powerful against those who abuse power and who might dictate the way the West develops.

To quote the show, “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…

Timeline (click links for information and content, including the original radio shows)

January 31st, 1933: the first Lone Ranger radio show is broadcast (there is some suggestion that it might have played on January 30th as a test, but the 31st was the official debut). It would run for close to 3,000 episodes, and become a national show and sensation

1936: the first Lone Ranger novel is published. Seventeen more in the series will follow through 1956. The Lone Ranger Rides

Late 1930s: a serious silent cartoon version is produced

1938: Parker Brothers released The Lone Ranger boardgame Board Game Geek listing

February 12, 1938: Republic releases the first chapter of a 15 chapter serial, just called The Lone Ranger Watch at YouTube

September, 1938: A Lone Ranger comic strip starts, and will run through 1971. Lone Ranger comic strip

January 7, 1939: The Lone Stranger and Porky, a parody with Porky Pig (and directed by Bob Clampett) is released Watch at YouTube

February 25, 1939: A Republic sequel (again, fifteen chapters) is released: The Lone Ranger Rides Again Watch a restored version at YouTube

1947: As a premium for Kix cereal, kids can get a Lone Ranger Atomic Bomb ring…which reportedly actually contains a radioactive isotope Tracy’s Toys

1948: Dell Comics begins a Lone Ranger comic book, originally reprinting strips, but later including original material. It will run for 145 issues

1948: Cheerios prints special editions of the boxes with 9 different paper card model sets, in honor of the 15th anniversary of the show Board Game Geek listing

September 15, 1949: The Lone Ranger becomes an early hit for TV with Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. New episodes run through June 6, 1957 The Renegades episode of The Lone Ranger

1951: Dell publishes a Tonto comic book series…it runs 31 issues

1951: Dell adds a Silver comic book series…it runs 34 issues Silver comic book

January-February, 1953: Mad Magazine does a parody: Lone Stranger!

December 1953 – January 1954: Mad Magazine does a parody…sequel: Lone Stranger Rides Again

1956: Parker Brothers releases The New Lone Ranger boardgame Board Game Geek listing

1956: A theatrical release is done with Moore and Silverheels

1956: Lisbeth Wirthing releases The Lone Ranger and the Silver Bullets boardgame. It is reportedly later pulled due to licensing issues Board Game Geek article

1958: Another theatrical release with Moore and Silverheels, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold

September 1964: Gold Key begins a Lone Ranger comic book series

1965: Bill Cosby’s album I Started Out As a Child features a Lone Ranger routine audio clip on YouTube

1966: A Lone Ranger animated series runs, with Michael Rye as the Ranger. It is reportedly a darker tone than might be expected at the time

1966: Milton Bradley releases The Lone Ranger boardgame, apparently based on the cartoon series Board Game Geek listing

1973: Gabriel Toys released a line based on the Lone Ranger Skooldays article

1978: Warren Company releases The Lone Ranger& Tonto boardgame Board Game Geek listing

1980: The Tarzan/Lone Ranger (later Zorro was added) animated series. William Conrad (Cannon) voiced the Ranger. Ran through 1982

1980: Milton Bradley releases a Lone Ranger board game, The Legend of the Lone Ranger Board Game Geek listing

1981: A big budget version is made…with Christopher Lloyd as Butch Cavendish. A controversy at the time is Clayton Moore, TV’s Lone Ranger, being prohibited from wearing the mask in public appearances (so as not to conflict), and switching to sunglasses

1994: Topps comics does a four-part Joe R. Lansdale miniseries

July, 1991: Konami released a Lone Ranger videogame for the NES

February 26, 2003: A TV movie with Chad Michael Murray as the Lone Ranger IMDb listing

September 6, 2006: Dynamite Entertainment begins another comic book series

2013?: Lego releases a series of figures and sets connected to the new movie Lego

June 6, 2013: Disney releases Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer inspired characters for Disney Infinity L.A. Times article

July 3, 2013:  The Johnny Depp version opens

Lone Ranger collectibles

The Lone Ranger search at Amazon

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Chronology of the Planet of the Apes

August 9, 2011

Chronology of the Planet of the Apes

This weekend, I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

My involvement with the franchise goes back considerably before that, though. I thought it might be interesting to show some of the chronology*, which began close to fifty years ago.

1963: La Planète des Singes by Pierre Boulle is first published in French in Paris by Juillard. There are significant differences between this and the first movie, but significant elements are preserved (including some character names)

June 1963: An American hardback is published by Vanguard Press, with a translation by Xan Fielding. This version is entitled Planet of the Apes

As early as 1963, Rod Serling begins adapting the book as a screenplay

January 1964: A British hardback (using Fielding’s translation) is published under the title Monkey Planet by Secker & Warburg. Apparently, the word “singes” in French is like “non-human primate” in English…it doesn’t specify apes or monkeys

November 1964: Signet publishes a US paperback copy for fifty cents

1965: Serling submits his script. It will be two years before the funding is raised. Michael Wilson, another screenwriter, also works on the script

1966: Penguin publishes a paperback version (still called Monkey Planet) in England

Up until this point, it doesn’t seem to have made a mainstream impact in the US.  There were a couple of reviews in the 1960s before the movie.

May 1967: Filming begins

February 8, 1968: The movie debuts in New York

April 3, 1968: The movie opens wide in the US. It becomes the third biggest US grossing movie of the year, behind 2001: A Space Odyssey and Romeo and Juliet

1969: John Chambers receives an honorary Oscar for his make-up work on the Planet of the Apes movie

1970: Gold Key releases a one-shot comic book of Beneath the Planet of the Apes

May 26, 1970: The second movie, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, opens wide in the US. It isn’t anywhere near as successful as the first movie in the US, but that doesn’t stop the sequels

July 1970: a novelization of Beneath the Planet of the Apes by Michael Avallone is released

May 21, 1971: Escape from the Planet of the Apes is released, with Roddy McDowell returning to the series

June 30, 1972: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is released

June 15, 1973: Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the last of the original series is released in the US. It’s profitable, since it reportedly cost under $2 million to produce (it made about $9 million in the USA…at the time, that’s a good showing)

1973: The “Go Ape” movie marathons show all five movies in movie theatres

1974: Milton Bradley introduces a Planet of the Apes board game

January 1974: A novelization of Escape from the Planet of the Apes by well-known science fiction author Jerry Pournelle is released in paperback by Award

February 1974: A novelization of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes by John Jakes (North and South) is released in paperback by Award

Summer 1974: Mego introduces its line of Planet of the Apes toys

August 1974: Marvel begins a comic book series with original stories…it runs 29 issues, ending in February 1977

September 13, 1974: The live-action TV series, called just Planet of the Apes, debuts. It will last until December of 1974, with some episodes re-cut into TV movies

September 6, 1975: The animated series debuts…it will last until November 29, 1975

October 1975: Marvel begins a comic book adaptation of the first two  movies.  It runs for 11 issues, ending in December 1976′

September 6, 1998: American Movie Classics celebrates the 30th anniversary of the first movie, and shows a new documentary, Behind the Planet of the Apes

July 27, 2001: The Tim Burton version is released in the USA: it grosses over $180 million in that country, and over $360 million worldwide, on a budget of about $100 million. Rick Baker leads the make-up team…and doesn’t get an Oscar nomination

September 19, 2001: Ubi Soft introduces a Planet of the Apes videogame for PC

November 21, 2001: Ubi Soft introduces a Planet of the Apes videogame for GameBoy

September 2001: Dark Horse comics begins a new comic book series

August 5, 2011: Rise of the Planet of the Apes opens in the US, using motion capture rather than makeup. It is the number one movie of the weekend and gets good reviews

There you go! I couldn’t find a year that Don Post introduced their Planet of the Apes masks (I had one), but it was in the 1970s. I was a bit surprised not to find an official Planet of the Apes role-playing game…that seems like a natural, with different character types and abilities. I found quite a bit of discussion of the idea, though. I haven’t listed many reprints of the novel: you can get more detailed information in the links below. Do you have a nostalgic memory of PotA? Feel free to let me know.


Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) on PotA

Big Comic Book Database listing for PotA

Hunter’s Planet of the Apes Archives

Planet of the Apes Wiki at Wikia

The 6 Best (and 6 Most Ridiculous) Pieces of Planet of the Apes Merchandise

PotA Wikia on Ubi Soft PC game

Board Game Geek

Mego Museum

Planet of the Apes Wikia on the Ubi Soft GameBoy game


* Note: for a chronology of the events within the Planet of the Apes stories (caution: here be spoilers!), see


This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Flash! Fisher-Prices introduces remote-control Bigfoot

September 12, 2010

Flash! Fisher-Prices introduces remote-control Bigfoot

Do you remember the Great Garloo?  I do!  Oh, you might not remember the name.  It was this really cool giant green robot guy with a fin on his head and a leopard loincloth.  You had a remote control (with a cable), and you could make him roll forward, bend over…even pick up stuff!  Here, this commercial might help:

What’s the modern day equivalent?

Well, the folks at Imaginext (part of Fisher-Price) have introduced

Bigfoot the Monster

Of course, things have changed since 1961.  The remote control is wireless, for one thing.  Bigfoot raps, exercises, even has emotions!  You can see all those demonstrated in the

Watch the Demo

button on that Amazon product page…it’s not a very obvious button.

Of course, Garloo only had one emotion…angry!

It’s interesting that they are gearing this (at least partially) to kids who are too young to read…they used pictograms for the buttons.  They say 36 months to 8 years old…I’m not sure I want a three-year old driving her or his own sasquatch.  😉

Bigfoot’s been kid friendly before…remember Bigfoot and Wildboy?

Nah, that’s okay if you don’t…I knew that would be a stretch.  😉

Oh, and there was Quatchi, one of the mascots for this year’s Winter Olympics.

 Gee, I wonder who would win in a fight between The Great Garloo and Bigfoot the Monster?  I don’t know, but I’m guessing Bigfoot would be a sore loser…or get fined for celebrating after the win.  😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

I predict the American Idol top ten eliminations…in order

March 28, 2010

I predict the American Idol top ten eliminations…in order

First, let me say…I’m not that confident this year.  My record has been picking 9 out of the top 10 eliminations in order, but I doubt I’ll hit that this time. 


Well, there’s some real mushiness in the middle.  There are a couple that I think will go early, a couple I expect to see at the end, but the middle is kind of…middling.

The way this works is I’m going to map out the rest of the eliminations.

I’m not basing this on who I think should go, but who I think will go.

One of the key factors to me is who will get the votes of an eliminated contestant.  I assume that a large chunk of the voting public votes every week (in the beginning).  I think those tend to be younger people (and may be more female).  As the show gets closer to the end, I think you get people voting who haven’t been voting…and they may be older. 

In the beginning, if one person gets eliminated, I think their votes tend to shift to another contestant…in some cases, their fans may stop voting altogether, but I think that would be the minority of fervent watchers.

Of course, if I’m wrong on somebody, the whole remaining lists gets thrown off, so I may adjust the prediction. 

I’m also going to let you vote this time…we’ll see if the group is better at this than I am.  🙂

Week 3: I think Casey, Katie, Tim, and Didi are especially at risk this coming week.  I’m going to predict that Tim, Casey, and (in what will be a surprise to some) Didi) are in the bottom three.  My guess is that we’ll say good-bye to Tim Urban.  My suggestion for him after the show?  It sounds like his family would make a good reality show.  Ten homeschooled siblings, at least one cute singer in that group, and presumably, classic family values.  It might play well on Ion, for example.  Aaron picks up some of Tim’s fans.

Week 4:  people are again surprised when Lee is in the bottom three.  Casey and Katie join him.  Casey is eliminated. 

Week 5: Casey’s fans go largely to Lee.  Aaron, Andrew, and Didi are in the bottom 3.  Didi goes home: her fans partly blame Siobhan, and partly blame Katie.

Week 6: Katie, Andrew, and shockingly, Big Mike are in the bottom three.  Katie gets eliminated.  Katie shows up on the Disney Channel and in parades, and eventually does a Broadway show.

Week 7: Andrew, Aaron, and Siobhan are in the bottom three.  Andrew’s story finally fails him, and he is sent home. 

Week 8: Aaron, Crystal, Lee, Siobhan, and Big Mike are left.  It’s Aaron, Lee, and Siobhan in the bottom three, and fans are surprised when Siobhan is sent home.  She seems to be essentially okay with it, though.  Aaron and Lee are warned to step up their games by Simon.

Week 9: Crystal is the only one not in the bottom three.  Aaron goes home.

Week 10: Lee, Crystal, and Big Mike give us a good mix for the duets.  They are all commercial, all have different sounding voices (and audiences).  Lee has finally been really connecting with the audience, after a particularly emotional performance that has a deep personal meaning for him (related to something with his family, most likely).  Crystal has been remaining true to herself, but has broadened her range a bit.  Big Mike continues to switch up the genres.

The rest (I’m not sure how they’ll do the last few competitions): I’m torn between people being blown away with Crystal going home at number three, or Lee going home.  Lee and Big Mike would make a very interesting finale, and Lee has more mainstream appeal than Crystal, I think.  I”m going to reluctantly say Crystal goes home.  Then, it is Big Mike and Lee.  Lee is clearly seen as the underdog in this match-up.  Lee has a great performance in the last competition, but it is Big Mike who wins.

Like I said, I’m not that confident.  Lee could win it all, even though I don’t personally like him as much as some of the others.  I think his voice is good, but I don’t see the audience connection.   I probably like Crystal the best, in terms of the singer to whom I would listen, but I don’t think she’s as mainstream (which hurts at the end).  She’ll have a career as a singer, though.  I do like quirky, but I’m not a Siobhan fan.  I think she sees herself as an outsider, and that can alienate people.  I’m also not a fan of the shouting, which is not like Adam Lambert, despite what some people may say.

Okay, here comes the poll (remember, you are predicting who goes home, not saying who you like the best or worst):

Step right in, folks…here we go.  🙂

This post originally appeared in The Measured Circle blog.

SOPCA #1: Taylor Lautner to star as Stretch Armstrong

February 21, 2010

Signs of the Pop Cultural Apocalypse #1

Taylor Lautner to star as Stretch Armstrong

That’s nothing against Taylor Lautner…I assume he’s a worthy guy.  Hey, I liked Lon Chaney, Jr…I even remember him guest-starring on The Monkees!

It’s just…this seems like taking the toy to movie thing a little far.  What’s next?  Whoopi Goldberg as the eponymous cushion?

Maybe the timing just wasn’t right for me, but I didn’t realize there was a pent up demand for drama du Stretch.  Turns out I might be wrong, though.

First, there is the Stretch Armstrong World website.   I mean, anything that has a website devoted to it must be importa– never mind.

I guess there’s a mythology.  Stretch is the good guy.  Then there were bad guys…Wretch Armstrong, Stretch’s brother.   Clearly, their parents had confused the dictionary with the Baby Name Book.  On the other hand, these were true names of destiny!  There was also a reptilian guy named…Stretch Monster!  Oh, and a dog named (you guessed it), Fetch armstrong.  I suppose they spent the name research budget on corn syrup.

Yes, according to various internet sources (and would could be more authoritative?) that weird stuff inside Stretch was…corn syrup!  Yeah, that must have been some development meeting…”What else can we put in a doll?”  On the other hand, maybe it was one of those accidental discoveries…some chemist accidentally spilling a bottle of corn syrup on their kid’s Barbie doll?  Anyway, this leads to a likely indisputed claim at SAW:

The Original One and Only
Corn Syrup Filled Action Figures

Yeah, I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of horses in that derby.  😉

So, is this some super-low budget, direct-to-download studio that bought the rights for a hundred bucks and a pair of those souvenier Winter Olympics mittens?

Nope, this is a major movie.  It’s written by Steve Oedekerk, scribe of the Jim Carrey hit, Bruce Almighty, and the Thumb movies (like Thumb Wars).  He also starred in Kung Pow!, and will reprise his role of The Chosen One in Tongue of Fury.

The movie’s producer is one of the most successful in Hollywood: Brian Grazer.  He’s been nominated for four Oscars, winning for A Beautiful Mind.  That seems like a natural progression, right?  Schizophrenic Nobel Prize-winning economist to…corn-syrup filled action figure.

Oh, and did you even have to ask?  It’s being made in 3D…

Ladies and gentlemen, some respect, please…I got through this entire thing without saying “It’s a stretch” even once.  😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

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