Cheap toys that break easy; Truly one of my biggest pet peeves as an adult. Even when I was a kid such items were quite heartbreaking. So with that said I can’t help but find the irony in the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this 144 page tome dedicated to some of the cheapest hunks of plastic that were ever made.
Rack Toys by Brian Heiler is a fantastic collection of toys that you either never knew existed or broke so fast that you forgot about them until your subconscious kicked in while looking at these beautifully laid out pages.
For the uneducated Brian Heiler is the mastermind behind Plaid Stallions.com celebrating 70’s catalog cheesiness and of course the co pilot of the Mego Museum (second only to founder Scott Adams). Brian is a fantastic example of someone who truly enjoys his geekdom. I mean that in the most respectful way.
His passion for the aforementioned websites has led to the creation of some of the coolest collectibles I personally have ever been privy to. Specifically the Brick Mantooth / Super Collector Re-Mego figure and the 1978 Re-Imagined Mego Catalog (and of course the new Megozine) Brian and his collabrative pals have taken quite the personal hit for the team of fanboys and girls (like myself) to have a little extra fun with our hobies. For that I salute you all proudly as I get another paper cut thumbing through the item at hand.
Having acquired this particular copy through Amazon for a mere $19.99 (free shipping with your Prime membership kids) I have been imbibing each and every page. The brief write ups are just enough info on the provided specimens that actually speak volumes all by themselves. From absolutely terrible tie-in’s such as a Superman with parachute toy (really? Superman needs a parachute?) to the most vulgar water gun I’ve ever seen featuring the likeness of Batman I simply can’t get enough of this book. I have made mention on other sites about how I knew I would like this book but didn’t realize how much I would appreciate it.
The work that obviously went in putting this collection together is awe inspiring considering its audience is such a niche and limited one. But then again is it really? (Here’s where the appreciation comes in).
While the primary subject matter and title would lead the casual shopper to think “Oh. A book about crappy toys? Yay.” But to the persons who thumbs through the first couple of pages will see that there is so much more going on here. The art that was used on these packages are fantastic examples of a brilliant time in advertising and marketing. Mind you this long before Photoshop and digital laser printing. This is real, hand drawn art, lettering and coloring from talent folks that offer tons of glimpses at the styles that influenced the most celebrated digital artists of today. So who does that open the audience up to? Let’s do the breakdown: Artists: Marketing Professionals: Graphic Designers; Pop Culture enthusiasts; and even History Buffs. And that’s only five of I’m sure many others who would loose themselves in this collection if given the chance.
Back to my personal experience with “Rack Toys” I gotta tell ya, their magic is still potent. While gazing at the photo of the original “make your own Spiderman spider webs” the 8 year old in me was again staring at the package wanting to tear it open so I could make these webs and subdue bad guys before I went swinging off into the horizon. The Superman slide puzzle however still pisses me off. Thanks for reading, Now, Go Play! – Jim 02/18/13