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Tomland Figures By Cindy
If you like cheesy, strange and underrated toy lines then Tomlands are for
you. This company's motto must have been "Imitation is the sincerest form of
flattery". In 1977, borrowing heavily from Mego, they produced a line that was
hoped would establish them as a major competitor. It featured 4 previously
overlooked film monsters and was christened "Famous Monsters of the Movies".
Only one problem, someone goofed up and didn't secure the rights to all the
characters they were based on. Slight setback. Take two. They were now
called "Famous Monsters of Legend". The 4 figures released were:
Cyclops-From Ray Harryhausen's "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad" Morlock-From HG Wells' "The Time Machine" Abominable Snowman- Again from Wells' Fly-From The Fly of course "Help me!"
At first glance they may be confused with their inspiration, Megos, but upon closer inspection, are easily distinguishable. Carded versions were labeled with the "Combex" brand name in Europe while American cards are marked Tomland or Kresge (K-Mart). Identifying loose figures is no problem because they are all stamped into the lower back of the figures with the trademark "cartoony-bunny" logo. Colors go beyond the traditional flesh and alien-green, instead utilizing every color of the rainbow. Like Megos they have 14 points of articulation but instead of the rubber-band assembly, their construction is more akin to cheap doll figures, with the jointed tabs simply stuffed into the leg and arm joints. Flimsy metal rivets hold the elbows, knees and feet joints, with the bodies being made of low quality, thin, hollow plastic, the hands and feet being solid plastic. Speaking of the hands, two of the above figures feature the "Tomland Thumbs Up" pose. Either they are in desperate need of a ride or are ardent admirers of The Fonz!
The one redeeming factor in these figures are the heads, although again not of the greatest materials, very thin, very squeezable rubber, the sculpts are great. The resemblance to the characters were incredibly accurate, even if the colors are a tad off. A bright-blue snowman? Go figure! Clothing-wise they could of gone a tad easier on the spandex but they make up for it with The Fly's funky 2-tone jacket and pants with matching tie, no less!
1977 was a year notable not only for this impressive line but also for a little movie called Star Wars. Suddenly monsters are out, aliens are in. What to do? Well if you're Tomland re-release the figures with a change of clothes and names and you've got "Star Raiders". Cyclops is now Ridal, Abdominal Snowman-Tago, The Fly-Oov and Morlock-Bico. Also released was Dagon, Coth, Wik, Rot, Grand, Yog, Zing, Dral, Zor, Yick, Ah and Flash, making a total of 16 figures. Ever resourceful, Tomland even reissued the series in "glow-in-the-dark" versions!
But they didn't stop there, seeing the success Kenner was having with its 3 3/4" Star Wars line Tomland once again reissued the figures, this time in a 4" format. Okay, well it SOUNDED like a good idea!!!! My guess is this reincarnation got swept away in the very Star Wars tidal wave that it was trying to ride, making it the scarcest of all the Tomland figures. I've yet to see any source that lists these in certainty. It's rumored that a few figures were added and others dropped, apparently not translating well to the new size. These smaller versions still featured the rubber heads, a bit thicker though, but the bodies were now hard plastic, in 2 styles (robotic-type and more space-man), with only 5 points of articulation (head, arms and legs). Instead of clothing these had paper stickers on their chest plates. The glow in the dark element was kept in a few of the figures and they all came with accessories that also glowed- swords, lasers and belts.
Finding these critters, especially the 4", can be a little tough. The original monsters and Star Raiders can occasionally be found loose for under $30. The most popular, and expensive, seems to be the carded Fly, commonly fetching more than $100 in online auctions. If you have the good fortune to run across one at a thrift or garage sale, snatch 'em up! Take my word for it, they'll grow on you!