Friday, May 22, 2009

Rin Tin Tin Toys

When I was five years old, it was easy to find me at 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. I was in front of our television, eagerly awaiting a new episode of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. The show starred Rin Tin Tin, the smartest, bravest German Shepherd in the known universe, and Rusty, a schlubby little kid who I had to envy because Rin Tin Tin was his dog. The show was set in the Wild West; Rusty and Rin Tin Tin lived at Fort Apache, a U. S. Army outpost in hostile Indian. . . . . . .er, I mean Native American territory. I always looked forward to those episodes in which Rusty was kidnapped by Apaches. Those episodes would end with a ne'er-do-well savage holding a knife over Rusty, getting ready to plunge it down, when suddenly Rin Tin Tin would leap into action, biting the savage's wrist and causing him to drop the knife. Rin Tin Tin would then lunge for the Native American's throat, and I would giggle hysterically at his death screams. It was perfect entertainment for a wholesome, innocent age in which everyone respected President Eisenhower.

Like many Baby Boomers in the 1990s, I became possessed with an urge to collect pieces of my childhood, and naturally Rin Tin Tin was at the top of my collectible list. One of my prize finds was this Fort Apache playset; it included Rusty and Rin Tin Tin figures, as you can see below:

I think Rin Tin Tin was one of the first kids' shows to derive more income from merchandising than from syndication fees. Among the items available back in the 1950s were stuffed Rin Tin Tin stuffed animals, jig saw puzzles, pennants, board games, "magic" writing slates, etc. Here are some examples I found:

As a kid, I owned the item below. The "pictures" were on plastic-coated paper and the "crayons" were soft and putty-like. When I colored the pictures, the colors were more smeared on the pictures instead of being drawn. The colors did wipe off quickly with a paper towel, but I remember getting quickly bored with this toy:

Numerous Rin Tin Tin books and comics were produced, as you can see below. Note the book in the upper left corner; it was from the 1920s and was published in conjunction with the movies of that era that starred the original Rin Tin Tin. I have videos of those 1920s silent films, and I have to admit the original Rin Tin Tin was a genuinely remarkable dog------many of his stunts are mindboggling, and he was incredibly athletic.

For my fifth birthday, I got a Rusty playsuit for a present. I put it on and spent several happy weeks pretending I was Rusty. It should be no surprise that I was thrilled to locate the mint Rusty playsuit below. It was still in its original factory wrapping and even had the same smell when I opened the box that I remember from my fifth birthday.

I have greatly downsized my Rin Tin Tin collection; I'm trying to leave Di without much to sort through after my death. It was fun to once again own this stuff, and I'm glad the items above now resides with other Rin Tin Tin fans.