Wednesday, September 20, 2006


One of the first companies to tackle Hasbro’s G.I. Joe success head on was Marx Toys. Best known for their elaborate playsets with hundreds of little pieces representing everything from historic battle scenes to futuristic space ports, Marx decided that they could use their plastic injection technology to make an 11 ½” solid plastic army figure similar to the mighty Joe. The result was Stony Smith – a 1/6th scale army man with a solid body molded in olive green plastic. Only the arms had articulation at the shoulders and elbows. This soldier could stand guard forever since he couldn’t sit down! The head and hands were molded from soft poly-vinyl.

Since the figure had molded on clothing like a statue, there were no detailed costumes to buy. Nor were there elaborately detailed accessories – all accessories were molded out of solid green plastic with no painting. However, unlike G.I. Joe where most of the accessories were sold separately, Stony Smith came with dozens of accessories in the same box as the figure. What Stony Smith lacked in quality, he more than made up for in quantity. For about the same price or less than a G.I. Joe, you got Stony and a complete set of equipment and weapons to wage war anywhere in the world. No nagging your parents for more accessory sets; this guy came prepared!

My brother was actually the one in our house who received Stony Smith as a Christmas present from our Aunt Mildred. As I pointed out in an earlier post, my brother never really got into the action figure movement. His early psyche had been influenced by car and weapon toys, so while he was technically still young enough to play with action figures, he never found them appealing. I, on the other hand, was fascinated by these figures even while still in diapers. I provide proof with this photo:

The second Marx figure to grace our home was their answer to James Bond – Mike Hazard, Double Agent. This to me was the ultimate Marx action figure, providing no less than 62 (!) accessories. Mike was a rather benign looking figure, but he came equipped with disguises and numerous spy gadgets to mix and match to your heart’s content. Again, my brother originally received the toy during a Secret Santa at school, but I quickly appropriated ol’ Mike as my own. The picture above shows me putting a disguise on Mike Hazard, one of many variations you could put together. The guns could be outfitted with various silencers, scopes, and rifle stocks to turn them into exotic weapons like those seen on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He even came with an exploding briefcase! Marx knew how to please rug rats back then!

Of course, the drawback to Mike Hazard was the very thing that made his so great: too many little pieces of plastic. As a rambunctious preschooler, there was no way I was going to keep track of all those bits for very long. One by one, the accessories were lost to the vacuum or the tall grass or my always hungry cocker spaniel. Once the accessories disappeared, Mike Hazard was no longer a double agent but an ordinary guy with a dumb smile. But in his prime, Mike and I saved a good chunk of the world from the communist menace.

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