Sometimes You Just Need A Counterspy Outfit

Official U.N.C.L.E. Counterspy Outfit Packaging

Official U.N.C.L.E. Counterspy Outfit Packaging

The Marx 1966 Man From U.N.C.L.E. Counterspy Outfit had it all. Check out this elaborate store display up for auction at Hake’s.

U.N.C.L.E. Counter Espionage Oufit Store Display

The Official Man From U.N.C.L.E. Counter Espionage Outfit Store

The Special Equipment: handcuffs, a bullet shooting lighter, a nerve spray camera, a cool walkie talkie, a bullet shooting knife, a flat hand grenade, and ammunition.

Special Equipment

Sometimes you need Special Equipment

The Disguise Kit includes: an eye patch, makeup, eye glasses, mustaches, two beards, and a badge case (just in case you need to show your real identity).

Sometime you need to change identity...

Sometimes you need to change identity


The All Purpose Gun includes: a missile grenade, a scope, a silencer, a sonic pistol, a barrel extension, and a stock extension.

You always need a good gun...

You always need a good gun

And, of course, what self-respecting counterspy would leave home without the obligatory attache case?

The Weatherproof Trench Coat With Secret Pockets includes a Special Squirting Button for creative use.

So there ya' have it - you're dressed for any mission.

So there ya’ have it – you are dressed and equipped for any mission.

The Wonderful and Weird World of Wind-Ups

Late 1800s Ives Wind-Up Bear With Real Fur

Late 1800s Ives Wind-Up Bear With Real Fur (probably dyed rabbit fur) – A mechanical walker with key. Walks, makes mild growling noise. Head turns side-to-side. Jaw moves up and down.

Mechanical automatons have fascinated the curious for a very long time. In the 20th century toy wind-ups became a mainstay in popular culture. Most weren’t as elaborate as the Ives bear pictured above, but a lot of them were pretty neat. Below are a selection of some stand-out examples.

A Scarce Lehmann Captain of Kopenick Wind-Up

A Scarce 1903 Lehmann Captain of Kopenick Wind-Up – Depicts the true story of an infamous cobbler who stole the town of Kopenick, Germany’s money while dressed as an army officer. When wound the Captain rocks back and forth.

German Early 1900s Snookums Wind-Up

German Early 1900s Snookums Wind-Up – A character toy from early George McManus newspaper comic strips Their Only Child. Snookums is very hyperactive, when she’s wound she shakes about frantically.

Foxy Grandpa Wind-Up, c. 1910

Foxy Grandpa Wind-Up, c. 1910 – This is a scarce early version of the Foxy Grandpa wind-up. His weighted feet have a clockwork-like mechanism enabling him to walk.

Toonerville Trolley The Powerful Katrinka German Wind-Up, 1923

Toonerville Trolley The Powerful Katrinka German Wind-Up, 1923 (Fontaine Fox) – When wound, Katrinka pushes the wheelbarrow carrying little Jimmy forward, stopping every so often to lift up the wheelbarrow before continuing on.

Happy Hooligan/Buster Brown-Like Mechanical Toy, c. 1920

Happy Hooligan/Buster Brown-Like Mechanical Toy, c. 1920 (German) – This is a spring loaded toy. The main figure bears a resemblance to Happy Hooligan. When he is cocked and released, the hammer hits the anvil, yellow slide shoots up column to hit character at top who bears a strong resemblance to Buster Brown. When this character is hit, the ring in his hand flips to opposite side.

Marx New York Wind-Up Box

Marx New York Wind-Up Box

1928 Marx New York Tin Litho Wind-Up

1928 Marx New York Tin Litho Wind-Up – The plane circles around the skyline in the center. The train circles the outer ring of the base, going through three tunnels in buildings, one w/ a clock tower at top. The train is headed by a steam locomotive and moves in conjunction w/ plane.

When wound, Bonzo's separate tin litho eyes and jaw move up and down, giving the toy the illusion of blinking and speaking.

When wound, Bonzo’s separate tin litho eyes and jaw move up and down, giving the toy the illusion of blinking and speaking.

Bonzo Animated Wind-Up Toy, 1930s

Bonzo Animated Wind-Up Toy, 1930s (Germany) – When wound, Bonzo wobbles around.

Jitter-Bug Wind-Up Dancing Toy

Jitter-Bug Wind-Up Dancing Toy, 1930s (Chime Toy Products) – When wound these stylish figures move up and down as if dancing the 1930s classic.

Clown Marionette Playing GuitarGal Marionette Playing Tambourine

Bestmade Mechanical Marionette Theater Wind-Up

Bestmade Mechanical Marionette Theater Wind-Up, 1930s by Kuramochi, Japan – When wound the base rocks back and forth as figures move about.

Pango-Pango African Dance Wind-Up,

Pango-Pango African Dance Wind-Up, 1950s (T.P.S. Japan) – When wound Pango-Pango dances and his head bobs up and down.

Comical Clara Wind-Up, 1960s

Comical Clara Wind-Up, 1960s (T.P.S., Japan) – Clara is all 60s and weird. When she’s wound up her entire body shakes side to side as it moves around and her separate tin eyes move in and out of the eye socket openings so when eyes are fully extended, Clara has quite an unusual appearance.

The last wind-up for this post doesn’t do much – he just looks cool. He’s a clown manufactured by J. Chein & Co. (USA) (n.d.) – He just walks and wobbles.

Chein & Co. Clown Wind-Up

(All images via Hake’s Americana and Collectables)

Some Super Mid-Century Mod Designs


So, Wright auction house in Chicago, Illinois, takes great pride in their specialization of modern and contemporary design. After a look at the items available in their upcoming June 10, 2015 auction, it’s easy to understand why. Rather than give details for each lot (i.e. starting bid amounts, etc.) this post will mainly focus on the items themselves. There’s some really rare and marvy examples of mid-century design to appreciate. All images can be viewed in larger format by clicking the pic. (If you are interested in any of the items, click on the name of the piece and you’ll get to the listing at Invaluable online.)

First, a look at a couple sofas and one daybed:

Helge Vestergaard Jensen adjustable (backrest) sofa, model 701 - Denmark, 1961

Helge Vestergaard Jensen adjustable (backrest) sofa model 701 (Denmark, 1961)Minimalistic but very stylish

Taichiro Nakai rare and important sofa, Japan, 1954.

Taichiro Nakai rare and important sofa (Japan, 1954)
This rare sofa successfully combines the dynamic formal qualities of postwar design with the restraint and elegance of Japanese aesthetics. The design was an award-winning entry for the 1955 Concorso internazionale del Mobile, Cantu. The jury for the competition included Alvar Aalto, Finn Juhl, Gio Ponti and Carlo de Carli.

Osvaldo Borsani L77 daybedOsvaldo Borsani L77 daybed (reclining)

Above is the Osvaldo Borsani L77 daybed (Italy, 1956) – shown in the flat position and the reclining position. The enameled steel mechanism design of the frame and legs gives it a very industrial look. It’s a look that remains modern and would fit in well with today’s contemporary loft apartment designs.

Below are some super mid-century chair designs:

Gio Ponti Distex lounge chair, model 807 (Italy 1953).

Gio Ponti Distex lounge chair, model 807 (Italy, 1953) – A personal favorite – an agelessly fab design. Model 807 is covered with high quality skai material – a faux leather that is indistinguishable from the real thing. This particular chair has some staining – fortunately, there are some very good skai treatments on the market today.

Class and Style: Hans Wegner rare Bear chair and ottoman (Denmark, 1950/1969)

Class and Style: Hans Wegner rare Bear chair and ottoman (Denmark, 1950/1969) – Few examples of the Bear chair were produced. This rare example featuring original leather was acquired from Johannes Hansen by the present owner.

Pierre Guariche G10 lounge chairs (France, 1954)

Pierre Guariche G10 lounge chairs (France, 1954) – Plywood was a very popular material with mid-century modern designers. The wood armrest version of the G10 lounge chairs was produced for only two years before it was replaced by an entirely upholstered version.

George Nelson & Associates Coconut chairs (USA 1956) - a classic.

George Nelson & Associates Coconut chairs (USA 1956) – a classic made with plastic body molding, enameled and chrome plated steel legs, and…naugahyde seat covering.

A bit of side trivia:

The iconic creature above is a Nauga – the rare and exotic animals who lived in Sumatra and shed their hide each year…resulting in Naugahyde. The product manufacturers of this new material (polyvinyl chloride, AKA vinyl, leatherette, sponge leather, and PVC), Uniroyal, were more than willing to allow for the Nauga’s notoriety. When Johnny Carson had a Nauga as guest on The Tonight Show in 1966, the creatures hit stardom like never before.

Back to one more chair:

Frank Lloyd Wright rare Executive Office chair (USA 1956)Frank Lloyd Wright rare Executive Offoice chair (USA 1956)

Shown above is a quasi-spaceage marvel – the very rare Frank Lloyd Wright Executive Office chair (USA 1956). Due to their complex construction, few of these Executive Office chairs were produced. This is one of three known examples; one example remains in the Price Tower Arts Center, Bartlesville, Oklahoma and the other sold at Wright in March of 2005.

A few lighting designs:

Charlotte Perriand wall lights (France, 1950)

Charlotte Perriand wall lights (France, 1950) – Classy, colorful and fun, and made of enameled steel.

Gio Ponti – nuff said.

Vladimir Kagan Cygnet floor lamp, model 2080 (USA, 1957)

Vladimir Kagan Cygnet floor lamp, model 2080 (USA, 1957) – A somewhat conservative design but with a flair of modernism.

And we’ll end this post with a couple decorative objects:

The two sculptures above are examples of Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient creations. Bertoia was already a world-renowned designer and sculptor when he, by accident, discovered an interest in the sounds of two or more metal rods striking each other. He began to design sound sculptures like the ones above. Through the years he created numerous types of various shapes and sizes. He also recorded eleven vinyl albums featuring the abstract sounds with titles like Space Voyage and Sounds Beyond. The Washington Post has a great online story about Harry Bertoia and his fascinating works – click here to read more about that.

Harry Bertoia's Sonambient LP reissue. (image courtesy of Beverly Twitchell via Dwell)

Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient LP reissue. (image courtesy of Beverly Twitchell via Dwell)

Leo Amino Untitled (USA, c. 1955) - A most excellent Amino abstract (carved mahogany, brass wire, and aluminum).

Leo Amino Untitled (USA, c. 1955) – A most excellent Amino abstract sculpture (carved mahogany, brass wire, and aluminum).

And this:

Isamu Noguchi Measured Time clock and kitchen timer (USA, 1932)

Isamu Noguchi Measured Time clock and kitchen timer (USA, 1932) – This early work marks Noguchi’s first industrial design for commercial manufacture. White Bakelite examples of this form are extremely rare.

Some really great stuffs. Not just fascinating design, but also wonderful historic gems.

Go Kommie Kidz, Go


Unique footage you’ve probably never seen – in the midst of the fight against the corrupting influence of the West. The Lev Golovanov Moiseyev Dance Co/Ballet jivin’ to the Moses Ensemble. (Video via Olga BSP)

Lev Golovanov Vintage Moiseyev Dance Co/Ballet Photo

Soloists Tamara Golovanova and Lev Golovanov of the famed Moiseyev Dance Company in ‘Roch ‘n Roll,’ which created a sensation at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, 1962. (Photo via Selina Moore)

Lev Golovanov would go on to become a Professor of Dance and a Choreographer Assistant at the Igor Moiseyev State Academic Ensemble of Folk Dance. He received a Russian government culture prize from Russia’s prime minister Dmitry Medvedev in 2014.

Mourning the Death of Gwen Stacy: A Lovely Account From Pop Smart Guy, Gregory L. Reece

Gwen Stacy

Below is an excerpt from a a post by Gregory L. Reece dated May 5, 2014 on his WordPress blog, ROKFOGO. The essay also appeared in PopMatters the same year. It’s a lovely recollection of how nine year old Gregory learned about the death of a female comic book character he had come to love, Gwen Stacy. To read the post in its entirety you’re encouraged to click here.

In one issue of Marvel Comics or another, I must have run across an ad for an LP record called Spider-Man: Rock Reflections of a Superhero. I’m sure I ordered it by mail. I can’t imagine where I would have gotten it, otherwise. The album, released in 1975, had a great cover by John Romita that remains one of my favorite Spider-Man images of all time.

The back cover contained pictures of the band: Power Man on bass, Silver Surfer on keyboards, Conan and the Barbarians on strings, Captain America on percussion, Black Panther on electric guitar, the Mighty Thor on trumpet, the Hulk on drums, handclapping by the Falcon, and background vocals by the Fantastic Four! I must have played the album a million times on the console stereo in my parents’ living room, belting out the songs and pretending that I was Spider-Man, superhero and rock star! I was, and still am, totally hooked.

It was from the album that I first learned the fate of Gwen Stacy. It is why I mourn her death to this day.

The comic book rock opera was narrated by Stan Lee and told the story of everybody’s favorite wall-crawler in a series of rock-and-roll songs, including “Gwendolyn”, a 50’s do-wop-style anthem to Peter’s love.

Gwendolyn, may I come closer, and hold your hand?

You are the answer to all my dreams.

Gwendolyn, please.

I love you so.

(Marty Nelson)

Then, in “Count on Me”, Peter sings one of the most hilarious choruses in rock music history. (It makes me laugh every time that I hear it, now. This was not the case in 1976. Then, it seemed like a profound declaration of love.)

You can count on me,

To help you see,

That every side has another,

Every hero has a lover,

Every land has a sky above her,

And, if you want, you have me.

(William Kirkland)

Halfway through the album things take a dark turn, beginning with Peter’s fevered dream about Doctor Octopus and his plans to take over the world. (This is a certifiably crazy song. Doc Ock sings to an adoring crowd of supporters who shout back at him: Hey La! Doctor Octo, Doctor Octo, Doctor Ocotopus!) (John Palumbo)

Then, without warning, the voice of Stan Lee breaks the news:

Terrifying as that dream is, it is only a whisper to the harsh voice of reality that Peter Parker is about to hear. His pulse is pounding. The Green Goblin suddenly appears without warning! Tingling with anticipation, Spider-Man would be more reluctant to fight the emerald fiend if he could foresee Gwen Stacy’s body falling, as it will, out of his spider reach. Play with the fear! Roll it around on your tongue! Savor the fateful, fascinating flavor! Spider-Man’s mind is in motion. The stage is set! The cards have been dealt! He is now no more than a puppet in the shadow of his own destiny. The battle that took place high atop the bridge was destined to be the most fateful one of all. As the Green Goblin flies away, battered and weakened, a bruised and exhausted Spider-Man raises himself up to find that the only victim proved to be a girl named Gwendolyn. His hopes and dreams of love are gone. He kneels beside her lifeless body. Ignoring the approaching police sirens, Peter Parker whispers gently in her ear as the echoes of his words carry him to her, reaching for her, trying to bring her back to share life with him again.

Then, a gentle acoustic guitar segues into the next song: “A Solider Starts to Bleed.”

Dear lady, hold this sleep.

My dreams are yours to keep.

I fall behind this mask of insufficient tears.

A solider lost to fears.

(Terence P. Minogue and John Palumbo)

Then, back to Stan: “He’s a hero if you will, a hero whose dreams have turned to nightmares, who walks in step with tragedy and death. But still he perseveres. For such is the haunting fate of Spider-Man!”

This is how I learned of Gwen Stacy’s death. This is how I came to understand the veiled references to her in then-current issues of Amazing Spider-Man. I couldn’t believe it. This was too much to bear. The Gwen Stacy who had traveled fearlessly to the Savage Land sporting a red bikini died as a result of Spider-Man’s battle with the Green Goblin. Peter, who had touched me when singing about his love for Gwen, broke my heart, still breaks it, when he sang about her death. And Stan Lee, Mr. Excelsior!, delivered the news. (Stan’s voice, to this day, brings a tingle to the back of my neck. When I hear it, I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and listen. He hasn’t delivered any news like this again, but I am always waiting for him to break it to me.)

Okay. I know that the album is melodramatic. I know that this should not make me want to cry. But it does. It did when I was nine years old and it does today. This was the first time that I had experienced the death of a comic book character. Such deaths have happened with too much regularity over the years, so that the deaths have been cheapened, become gimmicks to sell magazines. Gwen’s death has always seemed different to me. It is the only one that I have ever really cared about. The only one that ever made me cry.

A Tale Of Sad Martian Children, A Loving Dad, And A Jolly King Elf


Santa Claus Conquers The Martians - Dell Comics 1966Yes, something is the matter with the children on Mars.

Matian Sleep Spray Technology

*Check out the Martian Sleep Spray technology.

There is only one thing KMAR can possibly do…

Get Him, TORS!

You’ll have to tune in to Captain Video’s Secret Sanctum to read all about it: click here.

(h/t to Tim O’Brien at Pop Culture: 1964 for the absolutely divine inspiration)

Check Out The Earliest Known Officially Licensed 1963 Batmobile

Earliest Known Officially Licensed 1963 Batmobile

Earliest Known Officially Licensed 1963 Batmobile

1963 Officially Licensed Batmobile, Missing For Decades, Ready To Roar In Upcoming Auction:

Built in 1963, toured in 1966 by DC Comics licensee ALL STAR Dairies and believed to be the earliest custom car in existence, used as an officially licensed Batmobile, one of only two known designs used as real Batmobiles during that era; now restored to full Batman glory and will cross the block at Heritage Auctions Dec. 6.

To read more about this fab car’s wild ride since its creation click here.

Are you Mad About MAD Mag? Issue #1 Is On Auction This Weekend @heritageauction


For decades nothing has said American satire like MAD magazine. If you’re one of those folks who’s a fan/collector of the mag, and you’ve stashed away that extra change over time hoping to get that elusive first issue, you have a chance this weekend.

Mad #1 (EC, 1952)

Mad #1 (EC, 1952)

Heritage Auctions is offering MAD #1 (EC, 1952) for bids until Sunday, November 16 at 04:00 PM CT. This historic issue features the top story and cover by Harvey Kurtzman. With inside art by Kurtzman, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, John Severin, and Bill Elder ~ Legends All. The go-to collector’s reference, Overstreet 2014, values the comic at $834.00. The current leading bid is $332.60 (with the Buyer’s Premium). So, it looks like someone may have a great chance to get a good deal on this piece of mid-century print history.

Click here to get to the page.