28 May 2012

Dire Wraiths in Your Bedroom!

Here's one I'd almost forgotten about.  I was in a local Big Lots, IIRC, back in January 2002, when I spotted a mattress.  The fabric on it had a space theme, much like I've seen on children's mattresses since Star Wars came out back when I was just a kid.  This one, however, didn't exclusively have knock-offs of Star Wars ships on it.  It featured a variety, including this one:

Look familiar?  It should.  It's pretty obviously based on a Dire Wraith warship:

Whoever created this apparently drew from multiple sources.  In addition to the Drakillar, there's also the Death Star and the Beauty, the heroes' ship from the early issues of Jim Starlin's Dreadstar.  Here's a slightly zoomed out view.  I'm sorry I didn't get a view of the entire pattern.

I'd guess they didn't know they'd actually be giving kids who were fans of an '80s, toy-based comic book nightmares because the bad guys had infiltrated their bed!  (But okay, that's gotta be a teeny, tiny minority by 2002.)

Shifting gears, I'm worried about maintaining this schedule from here on.  I'd managed to build up a queue of scheduled posts at first.  Unfortunately, life got busy again and the queue is now almost drained.  This post was written Sunday night so the blog wouldn't be missing a post come Monday morning after being weekly for so long.  The post I'd planned for today wasn't getting written in the time that was left.  It seems I've almost exhausted all the quick and easy topics and what's left are those that take more time to research,  write, and/or scan. There will be a post in a week, because it's already done.  After that, however, don't panic if it takes more than a week between posts.  We'll see what happens.

21 May 2012

Fastner and Larson Rom Illustration

The above illustration is by Steve Fastner and Rich Larson, perhaps better known simply as Fastner and Larson.  A gent known as Gordon appears to be the first one to let me know about this back in 2005.  Someone finally sent a scan of it in 2006.  And I've just sat on it since.  Sorry!  I've been told this art was included in one of the pair's books, but I don't know which one.  If you do, please leave a comment or drop me a a line.

It also turns out that in the years since I was first told about it, Fastner and Larson have uploaded it to their own site.  I must warn you that much of the art on their site is not safe for work (NSFW), as it features scantily clad and less ladies.  But you can buy a $10 print (plus $5 shipping) or the $400 original Rom  illustration -- an 8½ x 11" work in marker and airbrush -- there.  Most intriguing, however, is that the site says this Rom illustration is "the study for a larger private commission."  I wonder what that looks like?

14 May 2012

Parker Brothers' Rom Paperwork

If you're a Rom, Spaceknight fan, you've no doubt seen this piece of art before, but probably not in its complete, original form.  For example, a cropped version currently Rom's avatar over on Twitter.  So what is it, you ask?  It's shelf art!  Parker Brothers sent them stores for their Rom displays.  As it says, the yellow "T" was T-tacked, taped, or otherwise attached to the shelf and perhaps folded so that the "ROM is here!" sign was prominently displayed below and/or above the boxed action figures.

I have no idea who the artist for the shelf art is; likely a staff artist at Parker Brothers.  However, it was obviously redrawn for the small house ads that Marvel ran as they were launching the Rom comic book.  Honestly, I don't know who is behind the house ad art, either, but likely suspects are John Romita, Jr. (who drew the presentation page for Marvel's proposal to Parker Brothers) and Sal Buscema (I don't have to tell you who he is, do I?).  Or possibly it's the other way around, as Rom's head in both is how he appeared in the comics, which is slightly different from the action figure's.

The shelf display above and 180-day limited warranty below were sent to me by Max Thorne.  Both pieces of paperwork came from unopened boxes of action figures.  The wording of the warranty is identical to what appears on the last page of the action figure's instructions, just formatted to a wider width.

And for reference, here's how Rom was shipped to toy stores back in the day when it was new:  six action figures to a shipping box.  Sadly, I've lost the information on where I obtained this photo.  Possibly it came from eBay.

10 May 2012

Action Man Stickers, Part II

This is an update to the previous blog post on the Action Man stickers featuring Rom.  The day that post went live, I got a hit on my new ebay search for the stickers, but I was too busy to check my e-mail until the next day. The photos the seller had provided much of info I was looking for. Figures, doesn't it?

Thanks to UK ebay seller bowleycat for granting me permission to use his photos!  You can find his auction for the very Action Man sticker album seen below on ebay UK.

Action Man Sticker Collection album cover

The Action Man Sticker Collection was published in 1983 by Figurine Panini under license from CPG Product Corp. (essentially Palitoy).  They were distributed by Minicards Ltd.  The album weighs in at 32 pages and contains six different stories of 5-6 pages each and each with spaces for 40 stickers.  (That's 240 stickers total, for the math challenged.)  The story featuring from is titled "Threat From Space" and runs six pages (pp. 6-11).  The stickers for the story are #41–80, but Rom appears no earlier than #50.

I'm not certain, but it appears the stickers were sold in packs much like collectible cards in the U.S. (e.g. baseball cards).  I do not yet know how many stickers came in a pack.  The backs of the stickers all have the same text, except for the number in the top right corner to let collectors know where to put it in their albums, although some are oriented horizontally and some vertically.  I believe the album came with one pack of stickers.

Inside the back cover is a cool offer from Minicards Ltd.  Once collectors were down to only needing a few stickers to complete their collection (up to 25), they could order the individual stickers they needed.  There were ordering instructions for the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, and South Africa.  Yes, Canada!  That means there might be stashes of these stickers already in North America (for us Rom aficionados in the U.S.A.), but I don't guarantee it.  I'd appreciate any information from Canadians on that.

I suppose I should summarize the story, as the photos aren't high enough resolution to always be easily read.  An alien ship approaches Earth, not responding to hails.  Space Ranger Captain Jack Hardy leads a team of pilots in their solar hurricane interceptors to check it out.  The strange ship suddenly fires on them, destroying two interceptors.  Suddenly, Rom appears in a saucer ship and destroys the enemy.  He then takes the surviving Space Rangers back to their base orbiting the moon and introduces himself as Rom, an android from the planet Zar.  The enemy ship was from the planet Margax.  To help save Earth from the coming invasion, Rom, Hardy, and two more Space Rangers attack Margax.

Their surprise assault is not successful and Hardy's ship is destroyed, although he ejects and joins Rom in his saucer.  Ultimately, they use the saucer to crash into Margax Central Control, ejecting shortly before impact.  Rom and Hardy then steal a ship, bombing the city for good measure, and return to Earth.  They shake hands and "from that moment, Space-Knight and Captain are inseparable."

As you can see, bowleycat also does not have a complete collection of stickers, so I can't yet tell you exactly which ones feature Rom.  I'm surprised that, with all the apparent Action Man fans on the Internet, no one has completed an album and posted photos online.  Perhaps I've not been searching the right Action Man or photo sites.  If anyone finds them, please let me know and I'll feature them here.

While you're checking out the stickers that are there, make sure you get a good look at #74 (the first one on the last page).  Note Rom is firing a weapon, but it's not his Neutralizer.  In fact, it's not any of the accessories the figures shipped with.  I wonder if it's one of Action Man's guns?  And I wonder if the Rom action figure could even hold any of the Action Man weapons since he wasn't designed with that in mind?  I tend to doubt it.

As a final note, do not confuse these stickers with the Action Man stickers Panini printed in 1996.  Those feature a bright orange Action Man logo.  And again, if you read this before May 14, 2012, you might still be able to bid on the album shown above.

07 May 2012

Action Man Stickers Featuring Rom

Thanks to Marvel's many international publishing contracts, Rom's comic adventures appeared in numerous countries.  However, I'm only aware of one country where Parker Brothers let another company sell the Rom action figure:  the United Kingdom.  In the U.K, Palitoy licensed Rom as part of their Action Man line. Specifically as part of the new Space Ranger subset of toys c. 1980.

Interestingly, Action Man was actually a G. I. Joe license from Hasbro.  (This was well before Hasbro bought Parker Brothers.)  Frankly, the history of Action Man beyond that is outside the scope of this post, so if you want to know more, consult Wikipedia or Action Man HQ.

Most of the above I'd known for a while when I received an e-mail from a guy known as the Gonz over in England.  He revealed to me that there was an Action Man sticker album released in the 1980s.  And who should make an appearance in it but Rom!  In the six-page Space Ranger adventure contained in the album, Rom is an android from the planet Zar, which has been conquered by another planet called Margax.  Rom, still called a Space Knight, seeks to avenge his people and teams up with the Space Rangers to fight the aliens from Margax.

Unfortunately, as you can see, Gonz was missing most of the stickers that went with this adventure.  Below is a closeup of the only one he had featuring Rom.  Note Rom arrived in a spaceship and his rocket pack is missing, at least on this sticker.

The last I heard from Gonz, he had found a seller on eBay that was selling packs of the stickers.  He was going to attempt to complete his set and send me scans.  Unfortunately, that was the last I ever heard from him.  But that's somewhat my fault for not following up with him over the years.  I did attempt to contact him before making this post, but received no reply.

This, honestly, is the big thing that I've been meaning to share with my fellow Rom fans for years.  The one that's prompted me to finally clean out my queue of Rom items.  At first, I sat on it just because I was hoping I'd hear from him soon with more scans of his newly purchased stickers.  But days turned into weeks turned into months and I let it go.  (Have I mentioned I'm a master procrastinator?)  So my apologies to the Rom community for not sharing this a long time ago.

In all the time Rom, Spaceknight Revisited has existed, Gonz's two e-mails are the only time I've heard of these.  And I don't even know what the cover looks like, how long the book is (only that this adventure is six pages), or what sort of packs the stickers came in.  My attempts to Google it have found a couple possibilities, but nothing definitive.  If anyone out there has more information, please let me know!

UPDATE:  I found an ebay auction that provided much of the information I wanted.  That's the next blog entry.

01 May 2012

Original Art from OHOTMU's Spaceknights Entry

More from the queue.  I'm going to see if I can keep this up weekly, at least until the queue is empty.

This is (some) of the original art for the Spaceknights entry of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (affectionately known as OHOTMU).  I can't find the e-mails that went along with it, but this came from an eBay auction some years ago.  All I recall -- if indeed, I still recall correctly -- is that it sold for a mere $5.  I desperately wanted to bid on it, but I had just won an auction for a piece of original art from Rom #45 and couldn't spare any more money at that moment.  The seller was kind enough to give me permission to post the scanned art and, I believe, provide a larger scan than appeared on eBay.

I'm not sure how well this will appear on the blog, but at the bottom is Joe Rubenstein's signature.  Each OHOTMU entry had a different penciller, Rom regular Sal Buscema in this case, but Rubenstein was the inker for all of OHOTMU.

The headshots are labeled in pencil.  The first row is Rom, Starshine (Landra), Terminator, and Firefall (Karas).  The second row is Hammerhand, Javelin (Darin), No Name, and No Name.  The last one has "No Name" circled and a note above saying "who he?".  Above that is the apparent reply, "[Mentus]", which is obviously wrong.  The third row is Vola - Trapper, Raak - Breaker, Unam - Unseen, and Tarm - Seeker.  The final row is Skera - Seeker and Plor - Pulsar, with the last two empty slots labeled "Rainbow #25/10" and "Gloriole Ann #1".  At least I think that's what they say.  Those would be the issues of Rom that each debuted in, but I don't know the meaning of "/10".  It does not match a page on which Rainbow appears.

For reference, here's the published page from the first volume of OHOTMU.  You'll note the first "no name" Spaceknight was removed and the second one named Astra.  Also, Rainbow and Gloriole were added right where their empty slots were.  Of minor note, they substituted Brandy Clark's name for Landra's, reducing her and Archie Stryker as Firefall to half-slots with just their names.

The same art was used for the Deluxe Edition, except someone accidentally turned Pulsar's head upside-down!  For that edition, Marvel added Brandy as Starshine, Lightningbolt, Heatwave, and Dominor. The art was used again many years later for Marvel Legacy: the 1980s Handbook (seen below), where it still had Pulsar upside-down.  For that book, a few more Spaceknights were added, but art directly from issues of Rom was used rather than producing new art.