Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The wonderful world of Celestra: Queen of the Transforming Dolls
The toy world has seen a lot of strange things. It's a vast, expansive world full of legendary licenses, the mediocre, the uninspired and plenty of pretenders clawing for whatever glory they can attain. I consider myself a perpetual student of my craft, there is no one person that knows everything about toys made in modern history. Anyone who claims to be all knowing is a damn liar, I've gone toe-to-toe with the best and left them defeated and yet I've been bested in a game of wits based on toy knowledge. But enough comparing peckers, we are here to talk about the toys.
I'm a sucker for obscure toys, the only down side of obscure toys is the price tags they carry. Most of the time they are artificially inflated but there are few times where I can say the price reflects it's actual value. Now some people get terms confused when I say obscure and bootleg. A bootleg can be obscure but a bootleg is usually an unlicensed reproduction or facsimile of a popular line or character made out of usually substandard materials. An obscure figure can be anything from a licensed toy from a well done line (IE- Scratch from TMNT) or a non-licensed figure from a line made to capitalize on the success of another line (or simply put, a knock off). Knock off figures are most of the time made to play with the figures from whatever line they are trying to mimic but what happens when a figure transcends the borders a couple of genres? Well, you are left with the brilliantly half baked toy I've painstakingly built up so much in the last two paragraphs. I have a flair for dramatics and wordy expositions, those of you who have trudged through it are rewarded.
Celestra was reportedly Queen of the Kingdom of Transforming Dolls. It's a tiny soveriegn nation with a known registry of 4 known citizens; Queen Celestra, Vulcania Thrusterbottom, Saturnia Rings and Zarla Mercedes-Benz. I'm assuming Zarla is a widow as I have never met anyone else claiming citizenship of Transforming Doll Kingdom. As far as I know the nation doesn't have a spot on the UN security council which I feel is in poor taste because who else can properly save the world from the threat of WMDs if it isn't a team of women from a land where everyone transforms into some kind of mechanical conveyance? I don't see France stepping forward with a transforming Eiffel tower or croissant or anything like that.
Placo Toys made the transforming dolls. Now Placo hasn't really made much of a dent in the toy world and as far as I can tell they still exist. They found a convenient nitch by making a lot of generic toys that can be easily turned into licensed products with a well placed graphic slapped on it like ping-pong ball guns, flashlights, garbage cans and keychains. Other than Celestra their only other action figure forays seem to be 8 inch tall boxed Universal Monsters (similar to the carded or tagged Imperial ones) and some incredibly dull Youngblood figures (before McFarlane toys did them quasi-justice). One thing I can say they did well other than these Celestra figures were the die-cast and articulated Star Wars key chains and figural Mortal Kombat key chains that trumped everything Jazwares ever did with the Mortal Kombat license.
The Celestra dolls are 4 1/2 inch articulated female figures with rooted hair and a comb accessory. Not enough figures today come with combs, I literally have jars of swords and guns but very few combs. Each of the dolls are removable from their transforming cocoons but I can't verify if the cocoons are interchangeable. The idea of a transforming dolls is madness, but I guess gender ambiguous kids had a big share of the market back in the 80s. I'm not sure if a young me would have been drawn to these or not, I can't begin to think I'd choose it over a Go-Bot or a clearance Super Natural figure. It's not a Reese's Cup, these are two tastes that don't taste great together and it looks like the toy you'd see if you were stuck at a CVS or Walgreen's picking up medicine. But my appreciation of older and obscure toys makes this toys all that much cooler in my adult life.