No, I’m not referring to sports terms, I’m talking toy terms. Toy 2nd stringers are the toys that you’ve always had, but can never remember where, or when or even who gave them to you. They are the toys you use as background filler for your Star Wars or G.I. Joe wars, or the toys you play with very little when you’re bored with your other toys, or the toys you take when your parents are rushing out of the house and you want to bring a toy along and they are the only ones you can quickly find. 2nd stringers also are the first to break, get lost, thrown away or sold at a yard sale. Very rarely do they last into your adult collection.
I’d like to talk about two such 2nd stringers I had as a child, two toys that I still have and have found a value in, not financially, but personally, as I’ve come to enjoy the characters. They are a Lone Ranger and Zorro action figure from the 1980′s. Despite having the two figures, I can’t remember if I had their respective horses or not.
Designed more like the 1980 Raiders of the Lost Ark figures from Kenner than the ever popular Kenner Star Wars figures, the Lone Ranger and Zorro figures had bendable knees and hips so they could sit on their horses.
They were made for a cartoon series made by Filmation in 1980 called The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour, and later renamed in 1981 The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour that aired on CBS. As a kid I never watched the show or even saw these toys sold in stores.
The toys were made by Gabriel toys and were poseable. The Zorro line had 4 action figures and two horses:
Zorro who came with a removable cape, sword and pistol.
Amigo, Zorro’s sidekick, who came with a sword and a pistol.
The villainous Captain Ramon who came with a sword and pistol.
Sergeant Gonzales who came with a sword and pistol.
Zorro’s horse Tempest, and Amigo’s horse Picaro were sold separately (though eventually Zorro and Tempest, and Amigo and Picaro would be sold together with their horses).
The card was orange and yellow like a sunset and featured a picture of Zorro rearing up on Tempest’s hind legs, Zorro raising his sword in the air. The figure was bubbled on the left side of the card. On the back top of the card was a picture of the six Zorro toys with their weapons, and beneath that some back story on Zorro. On the bottom of the card was a picture of the five Lone Ranger figures and their horses.
The Legend of the Lone Ranger toys, as the card said, was black with a profile of the Lone Rangers mask and face on the left side of the card. On the bottom of the left side of the card was a picture of the Lone Ranger riding Silver in front of a sun over the mountains. The figures were bubbled on the right side. The back top of the card had a picture of all 5 characters with their guns and 3 horses, as well as a brief back story about the Lone Ranger.
The Lone Ranger figures were:
The Lone Ranger who came with two guns
Tonto who came with a dagger and gun
General George Custer who came with a gun
Buffalo Bill Cody who came with a rifle
The villainous Butch Cavendish who came with a gun.
The Lone Ranger’s horse Silver, Tonto’s horse Scout, and Butch Cavendish’s horse Smoke were sold separately (though, much like Zorro and his horse, these figures too were sold with their horses together later on).
The card went through a variation when a small blurb reading “Free Western Town” replaced the image of The Lone Ranger riding before the sun. On the back of the card was a picture of the Western Town. To get it, all a child had to do was cut out the proof of purchase, which was the white name of the characters (four was necessary to send in and could have been any combination of figure and horse or just figures so long as four was sent in). The offer expired June 30th 1982 and they would receive it by August 1st 1982.
The free Western Town was nothing more than a cardboard backdrop with illustrations that read: The Gold Nugget Saloon and Casino, Carson City Bank, Arbuckle’s hotel, jail, Bok’s General Store, Blacksmith shop and stables, and came with streets and side walks.
While I never got any more of either of these series of toys, Zorro and The Lone Ranger survived every thinning out of my collections I ever had. They reside in my parent’s attic right now. I knew things about them as a kid such as The Lone Ranger’s horse was named Silver, Tonto always called him Kemo Sabe, and The Lone Ranger fired Silver bullets. I even had a Lone ranger coloring book as a kid. Zorro I dressed 7 years in a row for Halloween, but it wouldn’t be until I was older that I would learn about the rich history behind these characters, such as Zorro’s first story that was published in 1919 (and would go on to have a total of 65 stories written), amazing films such as the 1920 silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. The Mark of Zorro, the 1940 Tyrone Power The Mark of Zorro, and my personal favorite the Disney Zorro TV series starring Guy Williams as Zorro that aired on ABC on Thursdays from 1957-1959 (and “MY” personal favorite version of Zorro).
The Lone Ranger too has had a long career of righting wrongs, starting with his radio serial in 1933 that aired originally on WYXZ in Detroit as well as the ever famous TV series from 1949 (also airing on ABC) starring Clayton Moore as “the masked man”. I haven’t found “MY” personal version of The Lone Ranger yet, but I really think this summer’s blockbuster from Disney starring Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto will be “MY” version.
So from 2nd string toys to modern day interests, it’s interesting to see how these characters have stuck around long enough for me to get interested in them.
How about you readers out there? Do you have any 2nd string toys you still have?