When I grabbed a copy of G.I. Joe and Other Backyard Heroes* a few years ago I knew it would be a fun read. Dedicated to action figures and toys of the seventies, my main reason for grabbing the book was the look at the G.I. Joe toys, especially the Adventure Team toys, but in the end I found myself looking more and more at the Gabriel Lone Ranger toys. Action figures, horses, adventure sets . . . man, that was one hell of an impressive series of toys.
G.I. Joe and Other Backyard Heroes* devotes twelve pages to the line, discussing the toys, the lack of any original Lone Ranger comics or shows during the line’s run, and shows off photo after photo that — as time wore on and I looked at the section more and more — led to me searching the web for more information on the series. And, unsurprisingly, has me watching eBay for the toys.
Plaid Stallions to the Rescue!
While searching the web for information on the Gabriel Lone Ranger action figures I found myself at the ever-impressive Plaid Stallions website. Absolutely the best place to go on the web for toys and geekdom of the seventies, I wasn’t at all surprised to find two different (and very important) Lone Ranger sections at the site.
- Lone Ranger Action Figure Archive: Packaging shots and information on the action figures, outfit and adventure sets, and even playsets. I didn’t notice either the Tribal Teepee or Prairie Wagontoys (see photo, above) in the archive, but what I did find was shot after shot of toys that has now only strengthened my desire to (maybe) do the unthinkable and try to collect this line.
- Lone Ranger Action Figure Catalog from 1976: Wow is this ever a fun collection of images. And looking at this catalog again reminds me that even though the internet is amazing and it’s nice to see companies able to use the web and abandon printed catalogs I seriously miss the toy catalogs of the past. I know my phone can show me websites, but nothing beats an old fashioned printed catalog.
Why Do I Want this Line?
As a kid I watched the Lone Ranger on TV, read a couple of the novels, but I was never what anyone would call the craziest of Lone Ranger fans. And while I remember the early eighties movie, and hearing how people thought it was a poor film, I was more into Star Wars by then than anything else so I didn’t go after any of the 1982 Lone Ranger toys (which is also on Plaid Stallions). But looking at the line shown in G.I. Joe and Other Backyard Heroes* and on the Plaid Stallions website makes me want to track down the toys because:
- The packaging design and artwork is beautiful. Great paintings, nice colors, everything about the presentation has a great retro feel and it reminds us that there was a time when commercial illustrators were true masters and were given work by all sorts of different companies. Computers are amazing and all, but the change to computers for so much art and design has effectively killed an entire form of art.
- So many fun costumes. When G.I. Joe and Other Backyard Heroes* mentions that Gabriel was inspired by Hasbro’s G.I. Joe series the book isn’t fooling around. Just look through the outfits at Plaid Stallionsand you’ll see what I mean. I’d love to have them all!
- It’s actually a manageable line that isn’t so large to be overwhelming. With eight different action figures, three horses, a dozen outfits, roughly a dozen adventure sets, and a few other odds and ends it’s a large enough series to be a challenge but not so large that it would cost a fortune to collect the line and require an entirely new room to display everything.
Where Would I Start?
I’ve never really gone after an entire toy line before and am not even 100% sure what the best approach would be. I usually mix and match and cherry pick, grabbing random stuff here and there that looks interesting and fun. But after a few years with G.I. Joe and Other Backyard Heroes* and thinking about the Gabriel Lone Ranger line I think I’m serious when my brain says: “You should own that line.”
Austin isn’t the best place to collect toys — finding anything old is a challenge — and from watching eBay it doesn’t seem like many pieces from the line appear all that often. So if local flea markets and shops can’t help me, and eBay will be unlikely to offer everything, what’s the best way to even start? It would be frustrating to find one or two pieces on eBay and then the well dry, but maybe eBay is my best starting point.
Or am I missing places where toy collectors gather and it’s possible to find the Gabriel Lone Ranger toys in good condition and a better chance at eventually finding everything?
For Now I Wait
At the moment, the smartest thing I can do is just continue to enjoy the Lone Ranger section in G.I. Joe and Other Backyard Heroes* and the Lone Ranger archive and the Lone Ranger catalog at Plaid Stallions. There’s honestly enough going on that I shouldn’t try tracking down an entire series of toys from the seventies . . . but I’ll continue watching and if I do get lucky and find a fantastic deal I’ll likely leap at it.
I know it’s an odd line to be fascinated in — especially since I have no childhood memories of loving the line — but I think that if you look through the toys that were released you’ll understand what I find so appealing about Gabriel’s Lone Ranger toys.
- Five Reasons Why Action Figures Cost More Today (battlegrip.com)
- Spotted Online – Plaid Stallions’ Rack Toys Book Shipping (battlegrip.com)
- Hasbro 1982-1995 Toy Fair Retailers Catalog Scans & Images (tfw2005.com)