Most Wanted highlights the glaring gaps in your collection. Feel free to submit your own Most Wanted items to email@example.com.
So, this is an interesting Most Wanted post. When I started writing it, I wasn’t even sure this thing existed. But in the course of writing the post, I not only confirmed it had, but I actually got one!
I’ve managed to collect almost all of my childhood holy grails over the years. The Popy Gaiking Kargosaur, the Godzilla Battle the Tricephalon set, the blue Metal Man saucer. But there’s one that is so rare, I’ve never seen it on eBay or even on the ‘Net, with one very recent exception (an exception so recent, it happened while I was writing this article).
The Shirt Tales (Wikipedia) were a set of characters created by Hallmark and featured on greeting cards in 1980. They later became popular enough to get a Saturday morning cartoon show that made it through a surprising 46 episodes. (Believe it or not, the Shirt Tales predated the creation of the Care Bears, but it’s likely the runaway success of the Care Bears – also a greeting card creation – is what led to the Shirt Tales getting a cartoon).
For the record, I don’t actually remember much about the Shirt Tales. I don’t remember watching the show, and I don’t think I had any of the toys except for the subject of this review.
The Shirt Tales got around on a vehicle called the Shirt Tales SuperSonic Transport, or STSST. It was a car that could also transform into a jet, a submarine, and a boat, among other things.
Now, there was definitely a diecast version of the STSST, which is easily found on the Web and eBay. But I would swear that I owned a much cooler version of the vehicle. The one I had could actually transform from a car to a plane, and perhaps even to a boat or a helicopter (I remember it had some sort of propeller or rotors). The Shirt Tales figures could be put into or removed from the toy – they weren’t permanently stuck in, as they are in the diecast vehicles.
I watched eBay for years, and while there appears to have been a lot of various Shirt Tales merchandise from a variety of manufacturers, I never saw the version of the STSST I remembered. I started to think I may have imagined it. And then, while looking for photos of the old LJN Shirt Tales playset for this very article, I came across a photo from the back of the playset. Confirmation! It was real!
And that photo led to this one:
There it is! It existed! I wasn’t crazy!
Here’s where it gets interesting. I noticed this Flickr photo was part of a set the user had named “inside my store.” But the photo was from 2008. Could the store possibly still have this?
The first thing I tried was contacting the user directly through Flickr. But it looked like they hadn’t uploaded anything in quite a while, so I also decided to try and track down the store. A quick search immediately came up with Billy Galaxy Vintage Toys in Portland, OR.
I shot them an email with a link to the Flickr photo. To my surprise and joy, they did indeed still have the STSST, half a decade later! Evidently the market for these things is small – in fact, I suspect it consists of me and perhaps three other people.
And so, within a week of starting to writing this post, I had not only confirmed the existence of the STSST, but it was in my toy shrine.
My supposedly hazy memory proved to be surprisingly accurate as to what the STSST was like. It has the folding wings, although they don’t actually fold out into jet wings the way they did on the cartoon, and it has the rolling “helicopter” feature.
Poe Ghostal – using up valuable video bandwidth for the stupidest things.
The sticker for the “instrument panel” was in surprisingly good condition considering this thing was almost as old as me.
Evidently the Shirt Tales like to keep an eye on the stock market while…doing whatever the hell it is they do. Solve crimes? Make bullies understand the error of their ways? Perform intricate assassinations of foreign terrorists? Hug people?
This is “Tyg,” the pilot of the STSST, whose name sounds vaguely offensive somehow when you say it out loud. LJN didn’t bother making a new figurine for the STSST, which is why Tyg’s holding a dumbbell (apparently he was the fitness nut among the Shirt Tales). He’s inspired me to get a red shirt with the letters “POE” emblazoned across the front, because it’s important that everyone I meet know exactly who I am.
One disappointment I found when I got a good look at the STSST was that both rubber tires on the back of the figure had split.
I’m not sure how likely I am to find one of these without this problem, though. Maybe if it were mint in the box.
I ended up paying a bit more for this thing than I would have liked, especially once I got a better look at the condition once it arrived. But it was worth it to put one of my last Holy Grails to rest.