Marx Lane   
An Inventory of Marx Playset Figures and Accessories
Manufactured from 1951 to 1979

 
Appendix E-3 - Pirates

Contents of this web site may not be reproduced or duplicated for use on the Internet or for commercial purposes without permission by Eric Johns.

This web site was created in late 2007, providing information about Marx wild west playset figures on a single web page.  It now consists of about 50 web pages, with information on figures, structures, terrain pieces, and small accessories from Marx playsets in many different themes.  It also has indexes for Playset Magazine and the former PFPC magazine.  
I will continue to update these pages as I obtain more information and photos.  If you have anything to add to these pages or suggestions to make them better, please e-mail me at ericjohns4444@gmail.com.  I will be glad to attribute contributions to you.  And if you have questions or comments, I am always glad to hear from you!  I am not always prompt in replying to e-mails, but if you keep kicking me, I will respond.




Table of Contents

(click on name to move to section)
Treasure Cove Playset
60mm Figures
54mm Figures
Warriors of the World
Captain Kid
Non-Marx Captain Blood Playset
Back to Main Table of Contents
 
Figures on this page are shown in approximately proper proportion when compared to other figures on this page. 


Sadly, Marx did almost nothing as far as pirate playsets go.  But not quite nothing.

The company did, in fact, plan to introduce a pirate playset in 1962.  And again in 1963.  
The prototype set was intially called Treasure Island, but apparently due to copywright problems with using that name, the name was changed to Treasure Cove.  But it was not to be.  The big adventure for kids at that time was space exploration.  Besides, there had not been any recent pirate movies to help spur sales.  Despite the fact that Marx created figure molds, new accessories, and maybe even a large vacuum form island for a pirate play set, retailers showed little interest.  So plans were pushed aside, never to see the light of day again.

However, Marx did make prototype sets and included photos of them in its sales materials for retailers, so we can be relatively sure what was meant to be in the set.  In addition, Marx sold the pirate figures as a 12-piece set after the playset itself suffered its early death, and prototype accessories turned up in warehouses when company assets were eventually sold in bankruptcy.  So, a few -- very few -- of the figures and accessories for the set still exist.  

In addition to the playset, Marx also made eight 60mm poses of pirates for sale individually in the early 1950s, and later used the same poses to produce 54mm pirates and pirates in its Warriors of the World (WOW) series.  The company also made a prototype figure of the infamous Captain Kidd, in the same style as pedestal base figures it produced of many famous U.S. generals, U.S. presidents, Wild West heroes, famous Canadians, and a few other famous persons.  Again, though, the figure was never sold and is hard to find today.


Treasure Cove Playset  (never released)

Since this 54mm scale playset was never sold, its items are difficult and in some cases virtually impossible to find today.  I imagine that most are in the hands of collectors who have no intention of giving them up.  Missing photos of figures and accessories would be welcome.  Contributors will be gladly named and honored!

PFPC Issue 3 (along with an update in Issue 5) has an article on the Treasure Cove Playset.  The article is repeated in The Best of PFPC II issue.  (Note:  The photo of Treasure Cove figures in PFPC has been reversed in both issues, so for example a figure actually holding something in his right hand appears to be holding it in his left hand.)   Playset Magazine Issue 3, which features an article on the pirate play set made by Ideal, also provides much information on the Treasure Cove set.

     Playset Figures

While the PFPC article states that the pirate mold held 12 figures, it also claims that the company for some reason planned to include only 11 in the playset.  I have listed all 12 below; I am not sure which one of the 12 was not included.  In an attempt to recoup some of its money after the playset fell by the wayside, the company eventually marketed a boxed group of 12 figures without the rest of the playset.  These were molded in a hard plastic flesh color and painted by Marx' facilities in Hong Kong, where most of the similarly painted, hard plastic WOW figures were made.  I have been fortunate enough to win a few of these at a very reasonable price in an EBay auction from veteran collector and seller Rick Koch.  The bottom of each figure base is imprinted with the Marx logo reading "Made in Hong Kong."

1.  Fighting with sword thrust forward
Photo courtesy of Denis Rylev
2.  With crutch, parrot on shoulder -- initially intended to represent Peter Gun?
Photo courtesy of Denis Rylev
3.  Young man with lantern
Photo courtesy of collector Tom Vincent
4.  Hook on right hand, holding sword up with left hand 5.  Prisoner, blindfolded with hands tied behind back
Photo courtesy of collector Tom Vincent
6.  Holding knife in teeth, shovel in right hand, pick in left
Photo courtesy of Denis Rylev
7.  Knees bent with arms out, lifting something - maybe top of treasure chest? 8.  Waving whip overhead with right hand 9.  Crouching with knife in right hand
Photo courtesy of Denis Rylev
10.  Looking through telescope
Photo courtesy of collector Tom Vincent
11.  Knife in right hand, holding treasure chest on left shoulder
Photo courtesy of collector Tom Vincent
12.  Climbing rope

Though never sold, Marx also made a small number of these 54mm figures in unpainted white soft plastic.  These were never intended to be used in the playset, however, because the prototype playset box reads "hand painted figures."  Playset Magazine reports that a few of these soft plastic figures have been found in the Marx dump, but they remain almost impossible to find anywhere in today's toy soldier market.

A 13th figure, that was not in the original mold of 12, is the captain holding pistols in both hands across his chest.  A few of this pose turned up in warehouses at the demise of the company, but it is unknown why none of the figures were ever sold. 
All photos below come from Russian collector Denis Rylev (Den71is@gmail.com)
1.  Captain holding pistols with arms crossed over chest 2.  With crutch, parrot on shoulder -- Peter Gun? 3.  Young man with pistol (?) and lantern
Photo not available at this time.
4.  Hook on right hand, holding sword up with left hand 5.  Prisoner, blindfolded with hands tied behind back 6.  Holding knife in teeth, shovel in right hand, pick in left
7.  Knees bent with arms out, lifting something - maybe top of treasure chest? 8.  Waving whip overhead with right hand 9.  Squatting with knife in right hand
10.  Looking through telescope 11.  Knife in right hand, holding chest on left shoulder 12.  Climbing rope
13.  Fighting with sword thrust forward

     Playset Accessories

Since the playset was never sold and the accessories apparently were not sold separately, they are much harder to find than the figures.  In fact, pretty much impossible.  That's a shame, because the list of items is a true treasure trove.

Based on articles in Plastic Figures and Playset Collector (PFPC) magazine and Playset Magazine, accessories in the set were  to include:

What a fantastic collection of play stuff!  It's really too bad that the set never saw the light of day!  Based on the many photos in PFPC and Playset Magazine, the island (veteran collector Rick Koch believes it may have been only made for display) and down-sized pirate ship alone would have been real treasures for any collector.

The accessories are so numerous and so seldom seen that I will not even try to create photo spaces for them.  According to Rick Koch, prototypes were made in tan, yellow, silver, and red brown.  If anyone out there has them and cares to send me some good photos of them, I'll be glad to attribute them to you.




60mm Figures

In the early 1950s, Marx introduced a group of eight approximately 60mm pirate figures.  Being new to the playset business at that time, perhaps Marx was thinking even then of producing a pirate playset.  Several of the poses in this group are very similar to those in the playset figure group described above.  The figures were initially made in vinyl, later in soft plastic.  They came most often in cream, light blue, red brown, and yellow and are very well sculpted.  Playset Magazine, Issue 3, has an article on pirates made by Ideal, which also has some information on and photos of Marx' 60mm pirates.

Russian collector Denis Rylev believes that the 60mm figures were produced at the company's U.S. plant through 1955.  At that point, the figure molds were sent to Marx Canadian facilities for brief production, and in 1956 to Marx' Charmore subsidiary in Germany.  Charmore 60mm pirates are painted, made of a flesh-colored hard plastic and have
"Germany" stamped on the bottom of their bases in ink, though I suppose the ink can wear off or be washed off.

Based on Denis' research, in 1958, the molds went to Marx' plant in Swansea, Great Britain, and finally to Plastimarx in Mexico in 1960.  The molds currently reside in Mexico.
1.  Captain
Photo courtesy of Rick Koch, Ebay ID toy-hood
2.  Scanning horizon, oar in hand
Photo courtesy of Rick Koch, Ebay ID toy-hood
4.  With treasure chest and parrot 5.  Digging
Photo courtesy of Rick Koch, Ebay ID toy-hood
7.  Pistol in right hand 8.  Fighting, sword in right hand
Photo courtesy of Denis Rylev
7.  On crutch with sword overhead
Photo courtesy of Rick Koch, Ebay ID toy-hood
8.  With club, knife held in mouth
Photo courtesy of Rick Koch, Ebay ID toy-hood





54mm Figures

At first glance, the group of eight approximately 54mm scale figures below look pretty much exactly like the 60mm poses above.  And that's because they are.  Marx simply reduced the size of the figures when they began downsizing their playset scale from the larger 60mm to the smaller 54mm in 1956.  The change was made over a period of several months.

Again based on Denis' research mentioned above,
Charmore began producing the 54mm pirates in 1958 when Charmore shipped the 60mm mold to the company's facilities in Great Britain.  Charmore made the figures in hard plastic, one version in an unpainted white plastic and another painted in flat colors on flesh plastic.   In the early 1960s, the Marx' Hong Kong operations used the 54mm mold to make WOW pirate figures (see next section).   Eventually the 54mm mold ended up in the Ukraine, where a company named DZI produced hard plastic re-issues of them in a variety of colors.  I believe that the unpainted re-issues shown below came from DZI.  Based on Denis' research, today the 54mm mold remains in Russia.

Because the figure scale is approximate, it sometimes can be difficult to determine if a figure is a 54mm or 60mm pose.  But Denis points out an easy
way to determine which group a figure is from.  The 60mm figures have two small, identical circular indentations on the bottom of their bases, as shown in the photo at left.  These were the locations of push pins used in the manufacturing process to help eject the figure from the mold.  As noted earlier, the 60mm figures also had "Germany" stamped in ink of the bottoms of their bases.

The 54mm figures also have two circular push pin indentations, but one is larger than the other.  The larger pin not only created the indentation, but also did away with the need for the "Germany" stamp by having the push pin inscribe the word "Germany" inside the larger indentation.  The revised push pin pattern is shown in the photo at right.

1.  Captain
re-issue figure
2.  Scanning horizon, oar in hand
re-issue figure
3.  With treasure chest and parrot
re-issue figure  
4.  Digging
re-issue figure
5.  Pistol in right hand
re-issue figure
6.  Fighting, sword in right hand
re-issue figure
7.  On crutch with sword overhead
re-issue figure
8.  With club, knife held in mouth
re-issue figure





Warriors of the World (WOW)

In 1962, Marx' Hong Kong facilities introduced  a series of figures called Warriors of the World, often referred to as WOW figures by collectors.  These figures most often were hard plastic versions of playset figures, made with molds that already existed. They were painted in a glossy, enamel-based paint and were marked as made in Hong Kong.  Besides Hong Kong, some WOW figures were manufactured in Taiwan, but I am uncertain whether any pirate figures were made there.

Each of more than 30 figure groups included six to eight poses, and themes ranged from cowboys to Chinese warriors to Vikings.  Each WOW figure was given a fictional name and brief biography.  They were sold in individual boxes, as well as partial or complete groups of figures.  

WOW figure groups were produced in a series of three releases; I am uncertain of exact dates for the second two releases.  According to the PFPC Special Collector Edition of 1994, the pirate group was in the first series, released in 1962.  The poses, as you will see, are the same as the 60mm/54mm pirates shown above.  The quantity of sets produced and sold dropped with each series released, so pirate figures today are among the most common found.  

Hong Kong WOW figures are similar to the Masterpiece figures made by Charmore in Germany, but the German version has flat paint, compared to the glossy Hong Kong paint.  Charmore figures were also made in a soft plastic.

An exceptional article on all WOW figures with many photos is in
the 1994 PFPC Special Collector Edition.

1.  Captain Cobham, right hand on pistol in belt 2.  Dixie, Bull, lookout with oar
Photo not available - we would welcome yours! Photo not available at this time.
3.  Captain Greaves, with treasure chest and parrot   4.  Thomas Veale, digging with shovel
Photo not available - we would welcome yours!
5.  Steve Bonnet, pistol pointed forward in right hand 6.  Captain Flood, sword in right hand
Photo not available - we would welcome yours!
7.  Cripple Jack, on crutch with sword overhead 8.  Caesar, knife held in mouth





60mm Captain Kidd

The 60mm Captain Kidd figure was found in Marx warehouses after the company went bankrupt.  It was never sold to the public and is pretty much impossible to find today.
Captain Kidd
Photo courtesy ofRussian collector Denis Rylev
 




Non-Marx Captain Blood Playset

One non-Marx item that you might run into and think was made by Marx is the Captain Blood Playset.  The set's box displays the Magic Marxie logo on the top, but it is not an original Marx set.  Produced in 1991 -- long after the Louis Marx, Inc. firm went bankrupt -- the set includes a mixture of re-issue items originally manufactured by Marx and MPC.  It has re-issue Marx pirate figures, a re-issue Marx wilderness fort, and a few re-issue Marx playset accessories.  However, it has more re-issued pieces first made by MPC, including pirate figures, two ships, a cave terrain piece, and a playmat.  The set's contents sheet also lists a 10-inch alligator with working jaws and a treasure chest with 50 pieces of gold, 50 of silver, and 50 jewels.  If you are into pirates, it might be a nice set, but it is definitely not Marx.  Thanks to collector Billy Hill for the photo and info!







Contents of this web site may not be reproduced or duplicated for use on the Internet or for commercial purposes without permission by Eric Johns.