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Friday Flashback #1

Welcome to the first Friday Flashback, a new feature here at Friday Flashback will bring you toy advertising blasts from the past from a variety of sources like comic books, catalogs, and even video captures. When prices appear with these ads, do not expect them to still be in effect. These examples of vintage advertising are retrieved from deep in our archives, and you shouldn't expect any of the prices or mail-in offers to still be valid.

All images are copyrighted by their respective rights holders and are presented solely for historical purposes.

We kick off Friday Flashback with a jumbo compilation of Toy Soldier ads. These ads were a mainstay of comic books in the 1960s and 1970s, and in many cases, were the first case of "buyer's remorse" experienced by young toy enthusiasts. While some of these ads delivered on what they promised, giving the customer traditional toy soldiers of a quality comparable to the old Marx Toys Playset figures, others were hawking nearly microscopic flat plastic toy soldiers, no more than half-an-inch tall, with barely any detail. It was like getting a box of ukulele picks.

The ad on top features such laughable promises as "3-D Metallic Plastic toys", as well as the slogan, "There is no imagination necessary here!!! !!". You can't beat vintage toy ad linguistics. This ad features your choice of two sets: a WWII Pacific air and sea battle; and an American Civil War battle set. I have been told that these sets, offered by Helen Of Toy from Commack, New York, were the flat plastic type of soldiers. Hard to believe you could ever spend a buck-fifty and still feel ripped off.

Next up, our middle ad features a 204 piece Revolutionary War set, and also sports beautiful art by DC Comic's military artist extraordanaire, Russ Heath. Rather than brag that the toy eliminates the need for an imagination, there is fine print in this ad that explains that an imaginary war scene is shown". This may be the earliest example of a superfluous disclaimer in a toy advertisement. Of course, today they are commonplace.

Lastly, we have a fake ad. But it ties into the other two, and it's topical, so it's okay. From the November 1974 issue of The National Lampoon, the first issue published after President Nixon resigned, we have an ad for a "349 Piece Watergate Key Figures" playset. This parody of the popular comic book toy soldier ads ran as the inside cover of an issue of "Constitutional Comics". The artwork on this ad is by Marvel Comics mainstay, Don Perlin, who drew almost every Marvel character in the 1970s at one time or another, notably Ghost Rider and a short stint on GI Joe. Missing in action among the figures included in this set is any mention of the disgruntled number two man at the FBI, who as we all know now, was the infamous Deep Throat. As this is being written, the news has broken that W. Mark Felt, the man at the FBI who was the secret informant known as "Deep Throat" was also the man at the FBI who was put in charge of finding out the identity of Deep Throat. Somehow, that fact is funnier than all the other Watergate jokes that were in that issue of The National Lampoon.