Buck Rogers is a character that’s been around since the 1920s (almost 100 years!). He’s one of those pulp style heroes whose been engrained in my psyche since before I can remember. Like the Lone Ranger and Tarzan, I was first introduced to Buck Rogers as a baby. There have been many different versions of Buck over the past century but the version I’m most familiar with is from the TV show “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” which aired from 1979 to 1981. I was born in 1978 so I would’ve been about 3 when the show was cancelled. I barely remember it but the fact that I remember it at all leads me to assume that it must have been syndicated for a few years afterwards.
My brother Doug owned a figure of Buck Rogers himself, based on the show. The figure was rather bland looking as Buck was wearing a solid white body suit. He’s worn many things in his long history but that white jumpsuit will forever be, to me, his primary look. The figure was articulated pretty much the same as a G.I. Joe figure; that is to say, with multiple points of articulation (far superior to the Star Wars figures of the day). Doug also had a figure of Tiger Man who was a villain from the series. Tiger Man was not as cool as he sounds. He was just some bald dude with a mustache and tiger striped underwear over his pants. I remember the elastic washer inside him, which held him together, broke and he ended up in the old cigarette tin where we kept all of our fallen soldiers. Dad was sometimes able to fix figures for us by swapping parts like some kit-bashing pioneer. For example, my version 1 Snake Eyes from 1982 lost both of his thumbs so Dad swapped his arms out for some spare Cobra Commander arms we had laying around for some reason and painted them black with model paint. To the untrained eye you’d never know the difference. I’m not sure why Doug ever allowed me to do this but I painted his broken Tiger Man solid black at one point, gave him a new washer, and turned him into a custom black-costume Spider-Man. In order to get Spider’s face smooth enough to be passable I took the helmet from a CHIPS figure, placed it on Tiger Man’s head backwards and painted in black with large white eyes. It was a horrible custom but that’s what you had to do back in the 80s when there were no Marvel toys. (anyway, sorry I ruined your Tiger Man Doug)
The only figure I owned from the Buck Rogers toyline was Twiki, Buck’s robot sidekick. Twiki was an odd looking little fellow. He was child sized (played by a Midget in the show) and his head was sculpted in such a way that it resembled a kid with a pageboy haircut. He kind of looked like a robotic “My Buddy” doll. Or perhaps like the lovechild of C-3PO and R2-D2. Twiki was definitely not cool but I really liked him. I was practically an infant at the time so give me a break. I always seemed to gravitate towards the cute sidekicks on these type of shows. Remember my review of Daggit from Battlestar Galactica? And then there was B.O.B. from the Black Hole…
I always really liked that old Twiki figure and I shoehorned him into as many play scenarios as I could. It’s not like I could just play “Buck Rogers” with only 1 toy. But sadly Twiki was a yard sale casualty of my early teens. I kept all my Joes and Battle Beasts but I cleaned house on most everything else. It wasn’t long after that I regretted it. Some of the old toys I missed the most were the odds and ends like Twiki.
Doug has helped me over the years reacquire some of those old toys such as Tenticus and this Land Speed Racer but with Twiki I took the initiative to track him down all by myself. It’s mostly been since I started this blog a couple years ago that I’ve really been driven to hunt down some of my old favorites. This Twiki cost me about $25 on ebay I think. It may seem like a lot, especially considering that I probably sold mine for a quarter, but I actually thought it was a pretty good deal. Many of the old toys I once owned now sell for three digits online.
This Twiki figure is in way better shape than the one I had as a kid. His joints are tight and the sticker on his chest (which is actually a whole other robot) looks brand new. Somebody took really good care of this guy. The sculpt is surprisingly detailed. This really does blow any 80s Star Wars figure out of the water in terms of quality and likeness. The little skirt, the ridged arms, even the stupid metal haircut all look great. I’m very happy to have Twiki back in my collection. I may focus my next vintage toy hunt on B.O.B. but before I do that maybe I should look into replacing Doug’s Tiger Man. 8 out of 10.