This year, we wanted to give this longtime Denver institution some love by highlighting some of the most notable toys and collectible ephemera. Some of these things were purchased while we were taking the photos; some might have survived until the next time. For now, enjoy these blasts from the past.
Most Expensive: Batman Pin-Up Original Production Art
The most expensive thing at the Toy & Doll fair wasn’t even a toy or a doll – but it’s hard to argue with the appeal of this 70s Batman pin-up. It’s production art , which means it was created through the original printing process, but it is not original art. If this were original art by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, this piece would cost at least ten times the asking price here, which is already incredibly high. This piece of bat history will net one lucky collector $2,500. Holy pocket change, Batman!
Most Surprising: Deadpool’s Disembodied Motion-Sensing Head
Much like everyone’s favorite Merc-with-a-Mouth from Marvel Comics (not to mention your local theaters), this guy just wouldn’t shut up. He had something to say to everyone who passed by. Time Warp Comics stand (that’s Wayne Winsett behind good old Wade Wilson). We stood and listened for a while, and Deadpool here never repeated…so his belt pouches must be stuffed with one-liners as well as bullets. Sadly, that’s not Ryan Reynolds’ voice, but then again, that’s not really his head either.
Most educational: Superman’s official 8-piece junior quoit set
Apparently, back in the day, people commonly referred to “ring throwing” as “quoit.” Who knew? It pays to enrich your speaking power, children. Watch Superman encourage these two kids to play his game. It’s 1956 and her name is definitely Betty. He looks a bit like a Phil. Superman must have been big on these types of games – you can see the box for the “Superman Official Junior Rubber Horseshoe Set” just above, where it looks like Supes are using the same base and peg sets. Phil and Betty think Superman is enthusiastic, but he’s also kind of stingy.
The most nostalgic: Fisher-Price Play Family Farm
If you were one of the millions of kids who had this toy in the 70s, then you’ll definitely remember the “moooooo” sound when you open those barn doors. You might also remember that there’s a chicken on straw behind those attic doors. One of the many ways Fisher Price essentially printed money in the 60s and 70s.
Most Impressive Functional Item: The Six Million Dollar Man Metal Wastebasket
America was very concerned about waste in the 1970s. Ecology was big, and there were Italian actors paid to mourn American Indians on TV. And we had pop-culture trash cans in all the catalogs. This one is Steve Austin from 1976, who will use his bionic eye to spot any trash, then his bionic arm to help you throw it into the box. Here’s an excuse to use that bionic “tsch-tsch-tsch-tsch-tsch-tsch” sound all the time.
Most interesting combination of vintage and modern: Star Wars
Okay, in the foreground you have the ginormous Millennium Falcon, which was released in 2008 as part of the Legacy Collection. Its size isn’t its only selling point, though it was cool to finally get to see both Han and Chewie in the cockpit, where they belong on a team. But it’s also the detail, from the audio to the sculpting and painting, that has made it a classic. If you zoom in, you can see the equally huge price tag: $638, which actually isn’t bad for an aftermarket item that often sells in the $750 range. But the booth also contained a vintage Star Wars curtain from 1978, when there was only one movie. A pair of these curtains sold for $30. There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere, but we’re too busy wanting to focus it all.
Most Moved Seller: Renewal by Andersen
When we saw this board we wondered if maybe they went to the wrong show…but it turns out Andersen’s Renewal rep is just another fan . And from the look of the pile of completed forms in front of her, it seemed like there were more than a few toy and doll lovers who also needed window and door replacements.
Most niche item: Video-Man
One of the tables had window stickers with various nerd-related connections. This one is interesting because you really need a deep knowledge of 80s Saturday morning cartoons to know who this is. But those of us who loved each other a little Spider-Man and his amazing friends (Iceman and Firestar, natch) also remember this guy, who was inexplicably in more than one episode. Video-Man was a version of the arcade game craze of the early 80s and was a gaming nerd named Francis who transformed when a coin he was playing exploded. Thus was born Video-Man, who would eventually become one of the X-Men. Kind of.
Most unintentionally sad posting: GIJoes
Maybe it’s that all those heroes and villains of syndicated cartoon magic in the 1980s seem to have been given the Han-Solo-in-Carbonite treatment. Or maybe some are posed to look as desperate as possible. Perhaps it’s best to remember that these toys have all been used and hopefully will be used again. And as GI Joe has always said, “Knowledge is half the battle.”
Scariest Doll: Regan
Some dolls are scary simply because their glassy-eyed stares seem to pierce your soul. Others have a disturbing smile or look one way or another. But this Regan doll from The Exorcist wasn’t made for sitting over tea or being rocked in a miniature cradle. She is nothing but pea soup and nightmares.
Most Eclectic Collection: The Whole Darn Show
In the end, there was almost too much to look at. One table was full of old tin toys, another of die-cast cars, another of vintage stuff, and another of recreations that could be bought on the cheap. It was games, it was toys, it was cards, it was comics – it was the joy of childhood that became the happiness of adults. Something to think about for the next Toy & Doll Supershow – and a good reason to bring a pocket full of cash.
Get updates on the upcoming Toy & Doll Supershow scheduled at their website.