Friday, November 5, 2021

Book review: Rack Toys by Brian Heiler

Rack Toys is a welcome reissue of a book originally published about a decade ago--welcome because I had that first edition but lost it. Thanks to Heiler, the proprietor of Plaid Stallions, one of our favorite websites and YouTube channels; and the Nacelle Company's new foray into book publishing, we can get this great-looking book again.

The majority of this trade paperback is good-quality photographs of 1960s-1980s "rack toys," items that were usually inexpensive, often cheap, and sometimes unlicensed. Of particular appeal to BOTNS listeners is the spectacular section on television and movie toys. Leafing through this chapter will expose you to (as the old comic book ad for other kinds of novelty toys touted) things you never knew existed. 

There are some introductory remarks by Heiler discussing his own personal connection to the phenomenon of rack toys, and Nacelle founder Brian Volk-Weiss provides a warm foreword, but the pictures are the attraction.  This volume looks great and is something easy to get sucked into, but there isn't a ton of detail about the toys themselves or the brands (Note that besides TV, there are sections devoted to superheroes, monsters, and other subjects). 

One unfortunate aspect is that the captions that make up the bulk of the written word are riddled with typos and some apparent formatting errors that leave off a few things here and there. The book would have benefitted from a good proofreading after the first edition's release.

But who cares? It's mostly captions and pictures, but what glorious pictures, and Heiler does bring the same mix of bemusement and wonder he does in his outstanding Toy Ventures videos.  I give Rack Toys a strong recommendation and only wish that a second volume is in the works.

Tomorrow I will list my 5 favorite TV-related toys from the book, but here is a vintage commercial, courtesy of the Brick Mantooth channel, spotlighting some of the Planet of the Apes items that are depicted in Rack Toys:

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