The History as told in our own book The Encyclopedia of Marx Action Figures
To get the full History with orig pics, check out the full Encyclopedia
! Also check out our Modules!
We have three new modules MANY more details to add to history.
Intro / Military
In Memory of...
DEDICATION: This book is being dedicated to my father, the late Donald F. Heaton, who passed away on April 4, 1998. My original intent was to dedicate it to my son Tyler. Under the circumstances I want to dedicate it to both of them. I have had many Marx items from my dad, and shown below is one of about three Marx Big Wheels he had assembled for me. I spent hours watching Western's like Wild Wild West, Gunsmoke, Bonanza etc. with him while I played with my "Johnny West stuff". I hope to do the same with Tyler. On a fun note, at the age of two, Tyler could say and identify most of the Best of the West figures. Someday he will read this book and see the spark he had given me to re-collect my childhood and write this book.Tom
The rebirth of my childhood started in the fall of 1996. I was "surfing" on the web and found "The Big Red Toy Box", maintained by Don Thompson. He had some information on Marx figures and some great reference pictures. After finding some information, I then started digging up some figures from my childhood in storage. Soon there after, I went to a local toy show in Rochester N.Y. There I found and saw a few more Marx figures, and purchased them. From that day on the "FEVER" hit me like it does many other collectors. It started first with figures I had as a kid, then it quickly escalated into wanting every type and variation out there. I have corroborated with many collectors and dealers and have searched for any reference material I could find on these collectibles. To no surprise, I found very little on Marx figures. I stumbled on some inaccurate price guides, but other than that, I found little to no full reference books on this subject with pictures offering all the different variations. The only reference I found with color pictures was a guide written by Susan and Paris Manos. It was this guide that exploded my interest to do a more specialized book as well as collect Marx figures. In early 1997, I spent hours calling people researching Marx figures and buying toy magazines. In April of 1997, I started my own web site called "The Marx Toy Room", which in a matter of a year became what we all better know as The Vintage Toy Room. I offered reference information with plenty of pictures, as well as surplus figures for sale/trade to promote this newfound hobby. On a routine basis, I received email from new Marx collectors excited about the information I have posted on my home page. I felt happy to share this but I realized a problem. Many people could not get this information or see the pictures. I then decided to put an article in the Toy Shop magazine, and write this illustration guide(The Encyclopedia). I have many people to thank for this book. First of all my wife Kim, and kids Mike and Tyler. I spent many hours locked away doing "The Vintage Toy Room", and without their cooperation, I would not have had the time to dedicate to the hobby. Next I have to thank in my opinion the technical leader in Marx Figure knowledge, Glen Ridenour of "Fun House Toy Co.". Glen provided great details and specifics on Marx figures. Glen was truly the information leader. Lastly I want to thank the following people for their support. The list includes: S. Allen(RIP), C. Bird, T. Breezee, D. Cober, N. Coop, R. Faust, J. Gilbert, B. Goodman, J. Harnish, B. Irwin, D. Johnson, G. Kershner, G. Morandi, T. Marsden, M. Marr, T. Mathison, S. McLaughlin, J. Medirous, K. Merkley, S. Sawchuk, J. Schoonover, C. Reed, R. Richardson, D. Richmond, G. Tancer, F. Turner, L. Turzynski, B. Waite, D. Whitman, C. Yates. They have supplied me with either hard to find figures, accessories and or have given information and support on this subject. In some way, most of these people helped me early on to get me started in collecting. There were many more people I have spoken to regarding Marx as well; the list would easily hit the 100 mark. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to talk "Marx" and share their collecting stories with me. I hope this book will save new collectors from long hours on the phone, and chasing down Marx information. Please remember all this information is based on what was passed from collectors, the facts here are to be used as a guide, not Gospel. I learn new information all the time. Just when I think I have heard it all, I hear about something new. Thanks to everyone who has shown interest in this unique hobby of collecting Marx Action figures.. Tom
Glossary of terms
1 st , 2nd issue, etc.- Refers to the box issue number.
Accs- Short for accessories.
BOTW- Best of the West Series. Used to describe the later 1974 Johnny West BOTW Series.
Campfire box- Used to describe a 1970 Johnny West box with a campfire shown in the lower left part of the box. Many MOD figures use this box. I.E. Jimmy West, Johnny West, and Dangerous Dan.
FAF- Fort Apache Fighters.
HP- Hard Plastic. PolyStyrene material used for some Marx accessories. I.E. usually horses, animals' etc., HP is usually brittle and can break easy.
HK or H.K.- Hong Kong. Marx had some items produced there.
HTF- Hard to find. Figure is hard to locate today as a collector.
JWA- Johnny West Adventure Series, 1975.
Litho- Used to describe lithographed boxes. In most cases they were artist drawn sketches in 2-3 colors. Many 1 st issue's, and shipping boxes were litho's.
MIB- Mint in box.
MO- Mail order.
MOC- Mint on (blister) card. On “Card” also refers to this.
MOD- Refers to either – (1) U.S. Packaging for 12” Marx figures in 1970-1973. Boxes usually had Quaker Oats name on it, Wide irregular bands of solid color in the background, and many had a “cactus” shown next to photo of the figure. (2) MOD was specifically used by Canada to describe odd mold color variations of figures and accessories from the Johnny West series.
Pics or Pic- Pictures.
Poly-plastic- Polyethylene material used for Marx action figures and accessories. I.E. usually semi pliable accessories, and figures themselves.
U.K.-United kingdom. Marx had produced many items in the U.K. I.E. Swansea.
Varga- Also is referred to as Vargas, used to describe early issue Jane west boxes.
Window Box- Refers to a Box with a clear cello window on face of box. The U.K. Erik the Viking is an example. Also see The Ready Gang Horses.
The Military era, The Beginning. (1964-1968).
It all started in 1964. The giant toy manufacturer Louis Marx Inc. of U.S.A. was faced head to head with the introduction of GI Joe. To "combat" Hasbro, Marx used their state of the art plastic injection technology to build a 12" poly-plastic articulated figure. This figure was called "Stony Smith, the Battling soldier and Stony Smith the Paratrooper". This figure can be seen in Sears Christmas catalogs shown for release in 1964. Stony started out with non-articulating legs, and did not perform to well against GI Joe. In 1965, articulation was added to Stony's legs, still, it did not compete well with Hasbro. Special deluxe Stony sets were added. "Stony The Sky Commando", which included a tent, a cot, a large set of Stony gear with a HP footlocker Scaled for Stoney. Boxed paratrooper accessory sets were also sold with complete Stony accessories like the "Sky Commando", except with no figure. A cardboard locker large enough to hold Stony was also produced separate with a full set of Stony accessories. This item can be found in various mail order catalogs slipped in with G.I. Joe items. Stony's gear contained between 54-76 green poly-plastic accessories based on what set version purchased. For the most part they were not that pliable and lacked detail like GI Joes accessories had. I have heard some Stony accessories made in Mexico where black colored. A Jeep set was also produced. Special editions contained a trailer and search light much like that of GI Joe's. These sets are hard to find today, especially boxed with trailer and light. Lastly Marx released the All-American Fighter or "Buddy Charlie". These figures were molded quite like GI Joe; they were nude and fully clothed in uniforms made in Hong Kong, complete with dog tags. These styles varied from a combat soldier in fatigues, a sailor, an airforce airman and a marine. The "Buddy Charlies" had a solid vinyl head with typical Marx styled soft vinyl hands. Buddy Charlie's are tough to find in their original boxes today. All Buddy Charlies had the same head mold to my knowledge. Many confuse the Stony Smith or Johnny West mold as being the same as Buddy's, but in fact they are totally different. Stony Smith had the same head as Johnny West with the exception of lighter hair color. Marx produced another similar made Hong Kong figure like the "Buddy Charlie". This figure was a totally different head mold and was fully suited in a Generals uniform. This was the General Dwight D. Eisenhower figure. Lastly another military figure produced was called Spencer. He has a stamp on him dated 1964. This was a lower quality doll made in Hong Kong and clearly did not show the Marx technology like the others. I find this to be a rare Hong Kong piece but have seen little to no demand for it. Packaging is also rare. Many collectors may not even realize it was Marx produced. Spencer reminds me of a Gomer Pyle looking figure as he has the same tan outfit on with hat and tie. To my knowledge, the Spencer doll was not made to tie in with neither Stony Smith figures nor Buddy Charlies. I mention him just to cover all Military articulated figures I am aware of in the military category. Despite Marx's efforts, none of the military figures did well in the action figure market. During the production run of the Marx military figures and sets, they were diligently planning a counter attack with the production of a new line of action figure toys. These would become Marx's largest sellers with a very long production run of 10 years..
Early Western / Cavalry
The Western Series "Johnny West" 1965-1973.
Marx realized they would need to take a different spin if they were truly going to put a dent in the action figure market. Marx went after TV show themes. One of the firsts was the figure "Daniel Boone" which was a tie in to the TV series. The head mold carried a Fess Parker look, the body was molded in caramel tan and the accessory packs were molded in chocolate brown hard poly-plastic and brown/fudge colored soft vinyl. This figure also did not have articulating legs. To my, and many other collector's knowledge they made no other versions of Daniel Boone with full articulation. To further branch into these TV themes, i.e. Wild Wild West, Gunsmoke, Bonanza etc, Marx entered into the western world. Marx went full force into production, building a 12" cowboy action figure named "Johnny West" with complete articulation. They quickly used the pre-existing Stony Smith head mold, and tooled a cowboy body to go with it. This marked the beginning to "The Best Of The West". They originally were also going to produce a figure called "James West" based on the character in "Wild Wild West", but for reasons unclear to me they pulled the idea. The "Robert Conrad" head mold and James West Body would prove to be useful in future Marx character molds, (i.e. Captain Maddox, Cowboy Kid and Jimmy West for the head, Sam Cobra and Sheriff Goode for the body). After all that tooling and mold making, surely Louis Marx Inc. could not let it go to waste. Another figure pulled from production was Jesse James also based from a TV show. Several dealers / collectors have told me it was also never produced for resale, until re-used for other character molds, (i.e. Bill Buck and Sheriff Garrett for the body, and Zeb Zachary, and Jimmy West for the head). It is interesting to add, since this book published, A new figure was developed by Noah and terri Coop at CXR. The mold was derived from a test shot jesse that surfaced on the internet. Also in 1965 along with Johnny, an Indian "Chief Cherokee", and a western range horse "Thunderbolt" were produced. Thunderbolts came complete with 15 pieces of tack, and started a Palomino colored. All horses were molded in Hard Plastic (HP). Horse packaging and accessories will be covered in more detail in the illustration guide. The "Chief", like Johnny, had full articulation. First issue figures had initial packaging with an artist drawn lithographed photo with "Action Cowboy, or Action Indian" titles. First issue Chief Cherokees and Johnny's had straight hands verses the standard curved hands Marx went to after a short production cycle. Also quickly changed was the word "Action" which was replaced by "Movable". One note on lithographed 1st issue style boxes is some versions had Registered markings while others had TM (trademark) stamps. In my opinion these boxes are basically the same but I wanted to point out that technical difference for those of you who want "every" style. Johnny West had a combination of brown soft vinyl and hard poly-plastic old west accessories. The Chief had a mixture of brown soft vinyl and hard poly-plastic Indian accessories. These figures played a key role in the accessory packs and future character molds used. Future figures I mention include the same accessory molds as Johnny and the Chief, with the exception of some figure variations and color differences. In 1966 a cowgirl was added, her name was Jane West. Jane had two head variations, the first being a tough looking cowgirl, with a more rounded head. This version was only produced a short time, about a year. Marx changed the first issue head into a more "Barbie" slender looking face and hairstyle in 1967. The first variation seems to be more desirable due to it being a little less common. Jane's initial vinyl line of female accessories were mustard colored, to eventually a cream colored soft vinyl. She had the same hard poly-plastic pieces as Johnny West. Jane's first box is known today as the 1st issue "Varga" box by many. Eventually Jane was joined by "Flame" the brown or palomino colored non-jointed "trotting" position horse. Other figures and accessories added to the Johnny West line include animals, more horses, and kids! Three other types of horses were added. These include brown or black Thunderbolt(s), brown or palomino Thundercolt (s), and a Storm Cloud Pinto (usually sold with Indian figures). I have mainly seen Storm Clouds that were brown with white spots and a black tail. Some literature shows a white w/ black spotted Pinto as well. Very few people claim to have this piece. I have seen the white molded version in pictures but not in my actual hands. I did run across another unusual Storm Cloud version. It was reddish or chestnut horse with white spots, but many believe it to be unintentional by Marx. This version of Storm Cloud appears to be a horse intended for the Covered Wagon or Bravo the Knight's horse and perhaps used in error. A final large horse added was Buckskin. He was available in brown or palomino. This horse had fixed legs but articulation in the head and neck. It was further used in another series, (The Vikings and MOD Knights) that I will be discussing later. Buckskins are quite collectible today. All large-scale horses had either brown or black tack, the black being the most HTF. Marx also added kids to the Western scene. These include two boys Jay and Jamie west, two girls Josie and Janice West, and a Pancho pony for the kids. The boys each had the same male cowkid accessory packs made with all soft fudge vinyl pieces. The girls likewise had the same girl cowkid accessory packs molded all in cream soft vinyl. The Pancho ponies were made for the kids and came in palomino or chestnut color. They had a different set of tack than the large horses with only eight pieces, which were in fudge brown black or light caramel molded colors. Also added were a wild buffalo made of HP, two dogs Flick (shepherd) and Flack (Setter) both made of (HP), brown or palomino Thundercolts, a horse and rig (buckboard, covered or rare surrey wagon(s)) were added, and lastly the cardboard "Circle X Ranch" playset. The ranch had furniture, porch, and a set of cardboard corral fencing for the stable. Be sure to have room to set this monster up, as it is nearly 64" long when assembled! Over the next few years Sears added many combo western sets. Some examples are: a Chief Cherokee with teepee and accessories set; a Jane West with corral, Flick and accessories; a Johnny West combo with a ranch jeep, trailer, horse and Johnny all with accessories; a surrey square top wagon with Jamie West doll and accessories; a Flame horse with tack and corral set, etc. In the late 1960's, around 1967, Sears had an exclusive cardboard carry case for some of these sets. I will show one later in the illustration guide. Lastly, another example of a set sought after which I have to mention is the HTF Johnny West and wild mustang set! This has been a tough combo to find. The mustang horse is molded in palomino color for this combo; other color versions were used in different non-BOW sets. The mustang is definitely NOT to scale with Johnny, as you will see in this guide. Still, many collectors favor this combo for both packaging and uniqueness. Many more combos' exist and are based on exclusives set up by Marx for various retailers. Many of these items were also sold as individual pieces and are found today boxed individually a little more readily. Up to 1970, most packaging styles stayed the same for the West family. Johnny West had one of the first illustration changes in the late 1960's through 1970 to a "campfire" box. Most others stayed basically the same. As far as stamps on figures and horses? I don't give much weight to them. I have seen different dates in the same version of packaging. I don't know if this is factory related or simply mix-ups with handling by dealers, collectors' etc. I know for a fact, I have opened sealed 1975 issued items with 1973 stamps on them. Look at a Jed Gibson stamp, and you most likely will see MCMLXXIII
The For Apache Fighter Series (FAF) (1967-1970).
1967-1968 brought many other characters. Marx branched out further from the cowboy theme by bringing in The "Fort Apache Fighter" Series. This series brought in the Cavalry theme and more Indians (reminds me of the re-run days of F-Troop). Figures added included Captain Maddox, Zeb Zachary, the now rare and HTF Bill Buck, Geronimo, the Fighting Eagle, and lastly General Custer. Zeb Zachary and Bill Buck were produced for only a few short years. Bill Buck had a partial poly-plastic accessory pack molded in brown like that of the other Calvary figures and his soft vinyl accessories were from the Daniel Boone molds. The figure was molded in caramel tan. Zeb Zachary was a blue Calvary figure with standard black and yellow hard plastic and black soft vinyl Calvary accessories. Prices of these two pieces are on the rise today, especially a boxed Bill Buck. Zeb seems to be creeping up though judging by prices in the retail market. Bill Buck still rates the scarcest out of the two. Other Fort Apache figures included General Custer, a royal blue figure, and Captain Maddox, a steel blue figure molded like Zeb Zachary. They had the standard Calvary accessories like Zeb other than a hat variation for Custer (he had a Generals hat) and Maddox got a set of Captains bar epaulet stickers. To move down the list, the Fighting Eagle was a flesh colored Indian with the same accessory pack(s) as Chief Cherokee. Geronimo was molded in off white and came with the Chief Cherokee accessory pack(s) with the exception a 37th piece was added, a yellow headband. Two horses added were the brown and tan/palomino Comanches. These were fully jointed and are notorious today for having loose joints and don't stand and display well as a result. They included the same set of tack as the other large horses except they had a special cavalry saddle. The tack was available in black or brown. These horses also crossed over with Johnny West in some mail order combo's as well. Other playsets added included a full-scaled size of Fort Apache. The fort was made out of cardboard much like the circle ranch and as a result is tough to find today due to deterioration. The Fort contains a command post, tower, fencing, furniture and a cardboard teepee.
Quaker Oats changes (Post 1970-1974).
Around 1970, Marx had corporate changes. Quaker Oats company took over and updated figure construction, added some sets, changed packaging, and eliminated a few items. First of all the figures were built with more rivets. External rivets were added to the shoulders and on both legs. This ultimately made them stronger to allow for tighter spring tensions. Another change in the early 1970's was the addition of two figures, Sam Cobra "renegade, bad man" in 1972 and Sheriff Garrett in 1973. The Cobra had a unique box unlike the typical MOD "cactus" type. It was red with a white circle picture in center, with a photo picture of Sam standing outside the circle holding a gun. Most I have seen appear in rough shape, as do most MOD issue boxes. The Sheriff packaging had the MOD styling with the infamous cactus on the cover with bright blocks of dark colors in the background. The Fort Apache Fighters boxes were basically the same picture as first issue boxes, but had scaled down package construction on the covers. By this time, Geronimo, Custer and Maddox were the three FAF figures left in full production. Other changes include The Fighting Eagle and Chief Cherokee going to "MOD" cactus boxes. They are very rare and HTF today. The "MOD" issue of The Fighting Eagle marked the change of body color to caramel poly-plastic instead of the flesh color. Quaker Oats also added some new sets. One was the Johnny West camping set. I assume this was to offer not only western themes but to update Johnny West to current settings. The camping set is relatively uncommon as well. This set had a hard plastic Yellow/orange Jeep with camping gear and has "Mountain Masher" written on it. The Rocky Mountain Gear Chest was another set. It was made much like the Stony footlocker. It is constructed of cardboard with a metal latch, and has a combination of Johnny West, Cavalry, and Scout equipment. This piece too is rare in my opinion. I have only heard of a few besides the one I have shown in this book. There is also apparently a Johnny West Chest with Johnny accessories, though I never actually seen one. Many other sets or combo's were made as well I am sure. I hear of new sets all the time. Like I stated before, Marx made specialty sets for different retail outlets, as well as test runs of items in different marketing areas.
The "Best of The West" Series (BOW) 1974.
After 10 years of 12" poly-plastic action figure production, Marx brought out another series in 1974. This was "The Best of The West" series. It offered an across the board packaging change for all figures and horses. The Best of the West line to my knowledge and (shown on color brochures), contain the following figures and or sets: Johnny West, Jane west, Sheriff Garrett, Sam Cobra, Captain Maddox, General Custer, Geronimo, Fighting Eagle, Chief Cherokee, Jay and Jamie west, Josie and Janice West, the same fleet of horses; Thunderbolt(s), Pancho ponies, Storm Cloud Pinto, Comanches, Buckskins, covered wagon and buckboard sets, a travel case, and finally a new piece, Princess Wildflower. The princess was a female Indian figure about Jane West's size that had a mix of turquoise/blue and salmon/red-orange soft vinyl accessories. Being a newly produced Indian figure in 1974, she is less common than all of the other western female figures in circulation today. All other Best of the West figures contained the same colored accessory packs as in previous versions and many combos were made like previous years. One Combo example is the Storm Cloud Pinto horse w/ corral fence set. This set was shown in doll sections of 1974 issue Christmas catalogues. BOTW packaging only lasted a year until yet another change was ahead. This would not only change boxes and instruction sheets, but figure colors, accessory colors, and in some cases the figures themselves. BOTW packaging is HTF mint, but I like the color action poses on the box. In general, BOTW packaging appears to demand a slightly higher price in the collecting market.
Johnny West Adventure (JWA) 1975.
In 1975 Marx Western / Calvary packaging and figures changed yet to another new and final series. They became the Johnny west Adventure Series, a.k.a. JWA series. In this series boxes changed more to watercolor lithographed pictures, with a one-piece construction which opened with a top flap that was glued shut. In many cases, the flap was ripped off; hence, many found today have badly damaged tops and or bottoms. The back of all JWA boxes shows the complete set of figures and accessories available for the JWA line. JWA offered big color changes to the standard blues and caramel tans. First of all, Johnny West and Sam Cobra changed. In the beginning of JWA series Sam Cobra was molded in black, with black Accessories. Johnny had the same tan body, but different accessory colors than normal. They were blue/tan colored soft vinyl and silver poly-plastic. These JWA Pieces are rare today! They were quickly replaced by "Quick Draw" versions. These had a right arm, controlled by a lever in their backs, which would allow the two figures to draw their "special" pistols out of their "special" holsters! The Johnny body changed to light blue; Sam stayed with his "bad man" black color molded clothing. Other figures to change included Jamie West was molded in light blue and had light and dark fudge accessories; Jay West was molded in chocolate brown with yellow and red accessories. Josie west was molded in green with red and white accessories. Janice West was molded in red with yellow and white accessories. Chief Cherokee went to a lighter caramel color with red and brown accessories with an extra factory hand painted full white headdress. General Custer and Captain Maddox both were now royal blue, as opposed to Maddox being steel blue. The cavalry figures came with dark blue soft vinyl, yellow and silver poly-plastic accessories. I have been told inverse colors may exist on the Maddox and Custer. I have only seen one Canadian steel blue Custer. I have seen no proof they ever made a JWA steel blue Custer on purpose other than a few stray auctions. The royal blue JWA Maddox figures exist but in very limited quantities. The silver and blue accessories are even a bigger challenge(Be careful for reissue silver produced in recent years). Geronimo went to an orange body mold, and had brown poly-plastic and yellow soft vinyl accessories. The Fighting Eagle went to lime green soft vinyl accessories. Sheriff Garrett went to strictly a royal blue body mold with White Soft vinyl and blue hard poly-plastic accessories. Princess Wildflower stayed the same unchanged. Jane west went to an orange/salmon body mold color with white and blue soft vinyl and brown or silver poly-plastic accessories. Horses stayed for the most part unchanged from the BOTW. Finally.The most sought after JWA figure was developed. Jed Gibson was the black cavalry scout and is quite hard to find today. Many collectors want this figure and as a result top dollar is paid for him. He has brown and cream soft vinyl accessories and gold hard poly plastic pieces. Boxed Jeds are extremely rare and as a result, prices escalated into the $600-$1200 range in the 1999-2003 timeframe, mint and boxed. Loose were in the $300-$500 range based on accessories and demand. I actually have seen more boxed Jeds for sale than JWA Garretts, or JWA cavalry figures. After Marx filed bankruptcy, most molds were eventually sold off. Some re-issued figures are out there today, but I personally like the vintage stuff. You be the judge on these. Some Marx items were produced in Mexico. Many figures and accessories came in strange color combinations. Overall they are fair, but still lack the vintage look and feel in my opinion. Reissues can be spotted by unpainted face detail, unpainted rivets, and distortion on the body molds, cracks, etc. The accessories are easily distinguishable by the rough edges and non-pliable softness to them. It is virtually impossible to put chaps on some reissue Mexico figures I have seen. The Johnny West Adventure (1975) and earlier produced figures marks the end to me as far as vintage collectibles. I advise collectors to beware and know what you're buying, or you might get disappointed. There have been figures reproduced after this book, post 2000, that are decent quality. Again, research what you buy.
Some Foreign Differences
The U.K. / Canadian differences.
Through the years the U.K., like Canada, has contributed some varying combinations of Marx figures. Many of their figures were basically the same as US versions, but packaging was interesting. An U.K. version of Chief Cherokee is shown in this book. Note the "Wagon Train" box litho is totally different than the U.S. Cherokee graphics. The U.K. produced a blue Johnny with a Maddox style head. This piece is known as "The British Cousin" or "The Cowboy Kid". This piece was reissued in the 1990's. Marx U.K. produced another odd version of thunderbolt. It was mainly all black, and was targeted for girls. This piece was called "Black Beauty". This horse came with special soft vinyl caramel riding tack with unique chrome spurs. Marx also made a unique Flame horse in the U.K. It was molded in a chestnut reddish color, with factory painted symbols on it. Another HTF accessory piece was the riding canoe. This is a very HTF piece. I am not that sure if it was ever produced in the U.S. or not. Illustrations are shown in this book. The U.K. was responsible for various knights, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and The Lone Ranger series. I will cover all of these in later chapters.
Canada had some very interesting contributions in the Marx action figure arena. Around 1970, Canada made the boxes with the labels "made with MOD colours". For instance they produced a "Mod" Jane West. She was Dark Maroon color with pink soft vinyl and silver poly-plastic accessories. The MOD coloured Jay and Jamie West kids were molded in black with white or corral soft vinyl accessories. The MOD coloured girls were molded in royal blue verses turquoise, and had white or mint green soft vinyl accessories. The MOD Johnny West had a green color body. I have seen different shades of the green as well, and some Johnny's came with dark olive green soft vinyl accessories. Many Canadian Johnny's had (2) brown stars with accessory packs. It appears obvious Marx used accessory molds from the U.S. Sheriff Garrett for other figures using this accessory mold. I am sure I have not seen all of the Canadian figure / accessory colors and or variations verses U.S. made figures. Next lets cover the Canadian exclusives. In Canada, their Sheriff was Sheriff Thomas Goode, not Sheriff Garrett. Sheriff Goode was essentially a Sam Cobra body molded in white, with a blonde haired Johnny West head. Sheriff Goode had black or silver Sam Cobra type accessories, silver being the most HTF. Sheriff Goode was also given gold or silver Stars, (stickers), and had two box variations as far as I am aware. The 1974 version "Best of the West" graphics, or a newer issue with a blue / orange box produced around 1975. Sheriff Goode is quite HTF MIB. A second HTF Canadian Marx figure is Dangerous Dan. Dan had a light blue molded body with a Maddox head. The interesting part of this figure is his hair and beard. Dangerous Dan had a fully flocked fuzzy beard and head of hair! It was similar to the infamous G.I. Joe fuzzy heads. I have also found several blue body figures with Cobra heads and one with a Sir Gordon the Gold Knight head. I do not know why some of these Dangerous Dan's had the alternate heads, other than the molds not being available in Canada at times when needed. Dangerous Dan had the same accessories as the U.S. Sheriff Garrett, minus the stars. Box packaging is also extremely hard to find. The box features a modified picture of Johnny West with a hand colored beard! I have seen two versions of boxes; one has the MOD label while the other has French text in that same area. In both cases, it was a "campfire" modified Johnny box. A third unique figure to Canada is Jimmy West. Jimmy basically is a Chocolate mold colored Johnny West type body, with either a Zeb Zachary or Captain Maddox head. I have seen them with either head style, I am not aware of either one being more common than the other is. Like the Flocked Dangerous Dan, the collector preference is the Zeb head for Jimmy. I also have seen a Zeb style head version with brown hair. This appears to be quite unusual for Jimmy. I am not sure why, but I do know it is a factory head. Jimmy came with HTF bronze soft vinyl and silver hard poly-plastic Johnny West type accessories. Again, he might have had other common color styles; I have not seen enough to draw any lines here. I have also seen Jimmy like some green Johnny's wearing dark olive green colored vinyl accessories as well. Horses and animals were very similar to the US. I have seen thunderbolts in a darker tan color and Comanches in palomino. U.S. seems to be the opposite. I have also seen Canadian tack in a light caramel color as opposed to the standard brown color. I have heard from Canadian collectors / dealers that various odd colors of Buckskins exist as well, but I have not seen them myself to draw any conclusions. From time to time I find and see new Canadian items. They interest me like JWA items and odd test shot colored figures and accessories. Much more detail can be found in our Canadian Module! Check it out!
Spys / Knights
Secret Agent Series
The Secret Agent / Spy Series. (1966-1967)
1966 also brought a pair of secret agent action figures. "Mike Hazard, Double Agent" and "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E." Both characters possessed lots of spy gear. Mike had everything from disguises to weapons including pistols, exploding bags, tear gas pen, a working rocket launcher and sonar recording machines. The accessories were molded in black poly-plastic and tan or flesh colored soft vinyl. Mike is the only solid poly-plastic Marx 12" action figure (other than Military figures.), to come with Clothing. Mike came with a trench coat with belt and buckle, with secret pockets inside to hold some of his accessories. Mike is one of the accessory leaders in the Marx figures made with a total of 62 pieces!
The second Spy figure is April Dancer, "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E." The Girl's equipment focused more with vinyl clothing disguises but I did find the grenade bracelet interesting. She too of course had the usual pistols and radio equipment that any good secret agent would need. April's vinyl clothing was molded in pastel turquoise, coral, yellow and tan. Her body was molded in peach and made to look like she was wearing a leotard and tights. She was a very uniquely molded piece by Marx. Due to reasons unclear to me, possibly trademark rights (?), the "Girl" was sold primarily in the UK. A very small volume of the "Girl" was produced which makes her that much more rare today. Special licensing was obvious due to the box that clearly shows the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. symbol with copyright 1966 Metro Goldwyn Mayer Inc. a.k.a. MGM. It is in my opinion she is one of the most valuable Marx figures and can be priced anywhere from $600 to $1500. Keep in mind on the value, though she is worth big dollars, there is a narrow band of collectors that would pay prices that high. Not too many Marx collectors would shell out $1500 for a "Girl from Uncle" piece. Note these prices have dropped down post 2005. Boxed girls are $400-$800 in recent years. 2010..
A final spy piece I am aware of is The Secret Agent Locker. This was similar to the Stony Smith Locker in that all of Mike Hazard's weapons and disguises were kept here, and no figure was included. It came with standard Mike Hazard accessories except they were molded in a darker brown color. I have yet to find this piece. The Locker stood upright like a gym locker. This set was sold on a semi-limited basis and is uncommon as a result. I know very few collectors who have seen this piece.
The Noble Knights.
1968 brought out the Noble Knight series. In the U.S.: Sir Gordon the Gold Knight, Sir Stuart the Silver Knight and in the UK: Sir Cedric the Black Knight, Sir Percival the Gold Knight, Sir Roland the Silver Knight. In the U.S. the horses consist of Bravo the Gold Knights horse, and Valor the Silver Knights horse. In the U.K., They are Valiant the Black Knights horse, Victor the Gold Knights horse, and Valour the Silver Knights horse. The Sir Gordon came molded in a dull green/gold, Sir Stuart was molded in gray, and lastly Sir Cedric was molded in poly-plastic in a dark blue/purple color. All knights contained 28 pieces of body armor, and adding weapons, hats etc. they had 56 pieces total. With the exception of a feather, flag, and staff, all knight accessories were molded in poly-plastic to match respective knight color. Looking back I am surprised they were toys due to the flimsy nature of the armor clasps, bow, arrows etc. It is quite common today to find the Knights with broken armor pieces, missing arrows (they are small), torn flags and no plume (feather) etc. I bought roughly four of each before I could complete perfect ones. Do yourself a favor and pay the extra to get a near complete one in the beginning. I see collectors all the time trying to find loose pieces here and there, and one problem is mold shades can be off in color. For example some gold armor is very metallic looking while others are dull gold color. The black Knight, Sir Cedric, is the toughest knight to find today due to it being an import from the UK. Boxed Black Knights can start retail at $500 and higher! Loose black armor pieces and weapons are even tougher in the U.S. Sir Cedric is unique in that his flesh is molded in orange color like the Indians! He can be found with either Sir Gordon or Sir Stuart head molds. I have been told some black knights have white flesh but again most collectors want that unique orange flesh color. The Knight(s) horses were basically modified from Thunderbolt horse molds. Bravo was the Chestnut colored Thunderbolt with wheels used for the covered wagon with Gold armor. Valor was the palomino colored horse with wheels used for the buckboard set with silver armor. Lastly Valiant (UK) was a gray and white horse with wheels with black armor to go with Cedric. Valiant is a hard to find knights horse with all 17 pieces of poly-plastic armor. I recently acquired Valour, Sir Roland's horse. This too is very unique in that the horse in molded in black with wheels! To my knowledge it's the only black molded horse by Marx with wheels.
The Mighty Vikings.
1970 also brought out changes and additions to the Noble Knights. Box styling changes were made by Quaker Oats to correspond to the mighty Vikings box artwork. Again this is referred to as MOD box styling. The success of the Knights led to the creation of the Mighty Vikings. There were two: 'Odin The Viking Chieftain" and "Brave Erik The Viking Son". Odin was molded in caramel tan and had cream soft vinyl accessories, and Erik was molded in light mint green with brown soft vinyl accessories. Both Vikings had the same black colored poly-plastic accessories. The Vikings came with two buckskin horses with wheels and special Viking tack! Odin came with a brown Buckskin and Erik came with the palomino version. To further finish of the interesting series Marx added a Castle Playset. It was full size for the 12" figures, ready to have your knights' guard and protect the fortress against the attack by the Mighty Vikings Erik and Odin. This set is a popular accessory today. The Vikings are in high demand due to the short production run. The Knights, who had a (2) year head start, are obviously in greater supply. MOD Packaging of the Post 1970 figures (Both Knights and Vikings) is HTF due to their flimsy nature. I encourage the knights for collecting. I have been emailed by many people stating the history and detail of the Knights and Vikings is extraordinary.
The 7.5 " Production Run.
In 1967-1968, Marx had a group of 7.5 " figures it produced. Some were carded and some were boxed. Allegedly there were 10-12 figures in this size. They included the following: First lets cover the NASA Astronauts Johnny Apollo, Jane Apollo, Mark Apollo (made in the UK). The Johnny was also available in the Johnson / Kennedy Space center boxed sets. Johnny's accessories were metallic gold and Jane's were molded in white. They were all poly-plastic accessories. A HTF set made from Johnny and Jane was The Space Expedition Set. This included both Johnny and Jane with their accessories along with a Space Crawler and Space buggy mobile. As far as Mark Apollo goes, I have never seen him. I am told he is orange (?) in color. Mexico also produced these as well. I am told they too are in different colors than the standard U.S. white / blue colors. I actually recently picked up a Mexican version of Mark Apollo that had a Sam Troy head (from the Rat Patrol series). His poly-plastic accessories are molded in silver as opposed to the gold color. Other odd colors would not surprise me either. The lack of detail and non-painted rivets are again characteristics of the Mexican issued items.
Marx also produced another set based on the TV show called "Rat Patrol". Besides the sought after Desert patrol Jeep, this set contained (2) figures, Sgt. Sam Troy and Sgt. Jack Moffitt. The figures were uniquely molded in desert tan poly-plastic, and came with the same sets of tan soft vinyl accessories. The Jeep was made of HP and had a set of HP weapons. Any of these figures are HTF and are a higher end Marx piece. To my knowledge there are no reissues or Mexican versions of the Rat Patrol figures, though nothing would surprise me.
Two Combat Soldiers were also produced, Sgt. Baker and Sgt. Starr. The solders were molded in green poly-plastic with accessories all molded in green soft vinyl. Their bodies were molded differently unlike the Rat Patrol set which had the same mold style. The accessory molds were identical to the Rat Patrol figures. Mexican issues were molded in a darker green with black poly-plastic accessories. I have both original U.S. versions, and a Mexican version of Sgt. Baker shown for comparison. The Sgt. Starr is the most HTF in my opinion. I have never seen any military figures carded.
Marx also made more western type figures. These included: Chief Red Cloud Indian, Dusty Slade Cowboy, and Johnny Kolt Cowboy. To my knowledge they were never paired with horses, though some other vintage horses made by Marx would work. Some of these figures were also produced in Mexico. Mexican versions are in different colors. I have a blue Chief Red Cloud, and a White Johnny Kolt shown for reference in the illustration guide. Mexico made the accessories out of poly-plastic verses U.S. that used soft vinyl. Many of the original U.S. made caramel figures are not easily found because of breakage. Like Caramel 12" figures they break at the joints like glass. Mexican versions may be your only hope of finding them intact with some accessories.
The next set I am aware of is the Big Mike Service Station. This set contained Mike the mechanic, jeep, pickup, cardboard station, play mat and tools. Apparently it has some of the accessories that came with the "Big Bruiser Tow Truck" also made by Marx. I have been told big Mike is a blue molded figure in overalls. This is very HTF today and I have not seen one personally. I passed on one listed for $500 (ouch!) in an ad about a year ago. Maybe it will prove to have been a bargain.
Lastly, Some smaller "cheaper" constructed poly-plastic figures were developed in Hong Kong. They were called All-American Fighters, were 5.5" in height, and were sold on blister cards. These were lower cost action figures made and contained scaled down accessories like Stony. I have seen a few of these figures and found them to be less than stunning in quality and appearance. It is not molded or jointed like the standard Marx 7.5" figures.
All and all, I have seen most of the 7.5 " line of Marx action figures. I would like to see original packaging on the U.S. versions, but it will be a long road. They are quite scarce to say the least and therefore are quite costly. I would gladly welcome more information on many of these. If they are not shown in my guide, fill me in on any information!
The Safari Adventure Series
In 1975, Marx introduced another series. This series was called the "Safari Adventure Series." To start with there were three figures. Buck Hunter the leader, Sgt. Kojo the guide and Kim the photographer. All figures were molded in Marx poly-plastic, and had cloth jackets and belts. They all had felt hats, and poly-plastic accessories molded in orange. Some unique features of these figures are they are only 7" tall, and Kim actually has rooted hair. No other Marx poly-plastic figures have the rooted hair. Note "The Ready Gang" has a totally different nude hollow body style, not the solid poly-plastic mold like these. Another strange feature that characterizes these is a dial on their backs that raises and lowers their arm. Some accessories include two vehicles. The first was a pursuit truck. This was made to carry yet another accessory called the capture cage in the back. A second vehicle to the set was the jungle jeep. The jeep could pull the cage as well. It came with a camera, a radio, and a winch to hook and capture wild animals of the jungle. These animals could then be put into the capture cage. Animals were also a big piece to the Safari Adventure Series. The complete set included: tiger, rhino, gorilla, lion, crocodile, and elephant. Another accessory to the set was a lookout tower. This was designed for the safari team to spot these creatures of the jungle. The tower also came with numerous accessories such as a telescope, radio, flare gun, chainsaw, plus more to aid the team in the jungle. Lastly a final accessory worth mentioning is the tent. Though it appears in trade catalogues and box packaging it is still unknown if it actually exists. No one to my knowledge has or has seen one of these accessory pieces. It is shown as a square tent with a pair of cots and chairs, a table, lantern and other miscellaneous camping gear. I will search for the piece, though I won't be holding my breath for it.
The Ready Gang Series.
The Ready Gang was yet another product line by Marx in the mid 1970's to compete in the action figure world. Figures developed include Trooper Gibson, Ringo and Sundown Kid, and lastly a rare low produced (if ever) figure Black Hawk Indian. The figures had a mix of highly detailed and painted accessories made of HP, and soft vinyl. The figures themselves were about 9" tall, nude style similar to the "Lone Ranger" figures, with rooted hair, detailed cloth clothing and removable boots with chrome spurs. Trooper Gibson was an ex-Calvary soldier. I say "ex" because he is considered a gang member. I don't believe him to be a Sheriff like many think judging by pictures on packaging. Gibson had such unique weapons as a Calvary pistol, and double barrel shotgun. Ringo likewise has detail in his clothing. He had a hooded sweater with a fur vest, and a unique chrome knife with a black painted handle he came armed with. Sundown Kid had a tan-fringed outfit and a poncho draped on his body, and a neat chrome derringer to go with his accessory pack. Lastly though I never seen a Black Hawk Indian, trade books show him with white and yellow clothing, with moccasin like loose boots pulled up to nearly his knees. His weapons include detailed painted spear and tomahawk. Like any Marx western figures horses were needed to complete the picture. The horses had full jointed leg articulation and had 18 pieces of soft vinyl tack in two tone colors. The boxed horses are relatively uncommon compared to the figures. I have seen conflicting information on the horse to figure pairing. I know The Sundown Kid had Dagger a white to gray horse and Trooper Gibson was sold with Midnight a black horse with some white markings and Ringo was sold with Thunder an appaloosa brown and white horse. As far as Black Hawk his horse is plainly stated as "Indian Horse" and is shown in brown color in trade catalogues. Also shown was a covered wagon. It was basically a blend of the covered wagon and buckboard sets from the Johnny West series with some weapon trunks added. It is referred to as the Gunrunner Wagon. Horses were sold separately to go with the piece The Ready Gang set also had a playset to complete the western scene. This was the Ready Gang Action-Town. Made primarily of cardboard the three-dimensional set stretches nearly 4-feet when assembled. The town contains a jail with a cell door, a hotel with stairs and break-apart railings, a saloon with swinging doors and a bank with a HP safe with a door. The set also has detailed building fronts with signs, and a walkway with posts and roof overhangs. I gave some extra detail on The Ready Gang because I feel they are underrated. Many collectors don't even know what they are. With their color and detail I highly recommend checking them out. In my opinion it was one of Marx's last great attempts to build a new innovative action figure product in the late 1970's.
The Lone Ranger Series (Marx Great Britain)
The Lone Ranger Legend lives on with Marx in Europe. Most Gabriel/Hubley figures and accessories were produced in the UK under the Marx name. To my knowledge there are 8 figures and four horses. All figures had articulation, and were nude style bodies with a full set of removable clothing. The main figures consisted of The Lone Ranger, Tonto, and Butch Cavendish. The lone Ranger was dressed in blue and masked, with a white hat, red bandana, and a holster with two pistols with white markings on the stocks. Tonto, the Lone Rangers partner, was an Indian dressed in a tan fringe outfit, moccasins, a yellow headband with a feather, and a holster with pistols. Butch Cavendish the villain had black pants, black shirt, black and white checkered vest, black hat, black bandana, holster and pistols. Red Sleeves was an Apache Indian and the Lone Rangers enemy. He mainly consisted of a tan outfit with a red shirt with sleeves showing. The U.K. version had a special thumb for shooting arrows. He came with a quiver, three arrows, and a bow. Marx also sold an Indian boy called Little Bear. He was clothed in tan, and came with a scaled eagle to perch on his arm. Moving on to some other characters, a boy, Danny Reid was produced. He was about the same size as Little Bear, and came with a Cowboy outfit and a tan rifle. Lastly Europe had a few exclusives. The first was called Sheriff Tex Dawson. He came with a white shirt with a metal sheriff's star on it, holster with pistols, rifle, and a set of handcuffs. Lastly, the hardest figure for me to locate which is also an U.K. exclusive, the Villain El Lobo. He came with a red style Spanish hat, poncho (serape') and was dressed mainly in black. From what I have seen first hand as well as heard from other collectors, the clothing quality lacks in the European issues. I literally had a Butch Cavendish outfit disintegrate before my eyes when I removed it from the Blister Card! The fabric cracks, tears and flakes right to pieces into dust. To move on to the horses, the first horse, Silver was designed for The Lone Ranger. He was all white with black tack. Some special combo's had action saddles for special poses and tricks. Silver had full articulation. The next horse, Scout, was Tonto's horse. Scout was mainly white with tan / light brown spotting. He came with brown soft vinyl tack. The last full size horse was Bandit. He was black with taupe colored tack. Lastly, Gabriel produced a horse called Banjo. I am not sure if Marx U.K. made this one but I liked it, so put it in this guide. Banjo was a light cream to palomino colored smaller horse, with partial leg articulation. He was designed for Dan Reid. Prices of Lone Ranger figures and accessories are on the rise today. Most vintage Lone Ranger items I have found are dated around the 1973-1976 era. If you like Lone Ranger, now is the time to buy. Old store stock is out there and still semi affordable as far as vintage stuff goes. On average, Carded or boxed figures sell for around $70. The HTF figures like Tex Dawson or El Lobo can run double. The reason being is that they were U.K. Marx exclusive(s).
The Archie Series.
In 1975, Marx also produced a series tailored from the popular characters called the "Archies." These included four figures sold on blister cards called Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica. They were all fully clothed, and the girls had rooted hair. Early Marx retail catalogues show the figures with plastic molded heads, I am not sure if they were ever mass-produced that way. I have only seen the rooted hair versions. They were made in a doll like fashion much like "Barbie" as opposed to the Marx poly-plastic style of many of their other figures. They were produced in Marx Hong Kong per package labeling and stock numbers. This set also had a few accessories. The first is a vinyl carrying case. The case was designed for holding the dolls and or clothing accessories. Lastly, an Archie jalopy was produced. Although it was designed for the four figures, they do not sit in the car easily. The figures themselves were very limited in the articulation category. Archie characters are quite collectible today. Being they were produced late in the game by Marx, I am sure quantities are limited out there.