Monday, February 10, 2014

made by Marx

The original Stony Smith by Marx
 Marx Toys made those little green army men we used to play with as kids.  When Hasbro introduced G.I. Joe in February of 1964, Marx saw the need to get in on the act. They introduced a big green army man called Stony Smith.  Now Stony wasn't the man of action that G.I. Joe was because the early design of Stony didn't have as many articulating body parts as Joe.  The legs were as stiff as a little green army man.  The elbows could articulate, the head could swivel and the hands could grasp guns and grenades.

I got a later version of Stony in which the legs could move, but could not bend at the knee.  Marx Toys just didn't know how to compete with Hasbro's hero that had nineteen pivotal contact points.  Marx kept coming up a minute late and a dollar short.  The idea behind an action figure is so the figure can pose in various positions.  Marx simply could not compete with Hasbro's soldier because of their product's limited moveable parts.

The idea behind G.I. Joe was to sell a product to accessorize with more gear and vehicles.  Stoney came with the green fatigues he was molded with as well as a lot of really cool gear.  All his equipment was as green as Stony's plastic flesh.  Joe's gear came painted for realism, but you had to buy Joe's gear separately. 

The more articulate Buddy Charlie by Marx
Marx tried to make various improvements to make their action figure more articulate, but in the meantime, Hasbro established their product as THE action figure to buy.  Marx finally came out with a more moveable action figure with a flesh color body that a kid could dress as he pleased, they called him Buddy Charlie. 

It was too late for Marx to compete with G.I. Joe.  They eventually took the Stony Smith head and stuck it on a brown cowboy body and called him Johnny West.  They did pretty good with the Western action figures. They stuck to their idea of stuffing lots of stuff in the box that came with their figures.  I had a Stony Smith, Johnny West, Captain Maddox and a Custard.  Of course I didn't play Cowboys and Indians with The Best of the West characters.  I put fatigues on them, handed them an M-I and made them fight Nazis.

Rat Patrol television characters by Marx
Besides all the extra gear that came with Stony Smith, there was another feature that I appreciated about the Marx figures.  Aside from Stony and Johnny sharing the same head sculpt, all the rest of the Marx figures had different faces.  G.I. Joe had the same facial features with different colored hair.  Marx also started marketing action figures associated with popular television shows such as The Rat Patrol, Man from Uncle, Lone Ranger and others.  Marx found their niche after trying to compete with Hasbro and losing.

Personally, I liked Stony Smith.  He was one of my favorite guys.  Even when his legs fell off, I found a way to keep him in the story by making him Captain- issuing his orders from his sleeping bag.  At one point I tried to tie his legs back on, but never got them tight enough to where he could get back on his green feet and back into action.
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