Man-O-War parts

A curious thing happened to me the other day. I had bought several Man-O-War lots off ebay in the last month or so and I hadn’t taken as close a look as I thought. Two separate lots came in and both had two very different colored guns.

See below:

guns1 guns2

There’s obvious a noticeable difference between the classic orange color and this strange brown color. There’s no fading, it’s a solid color throughout.

At first I thought maybe it was just dirty. And then I was a little excited that it was some rare prototype parts! The only other explanation was the damage that can happen to plastic because of the conditions it’s been stored in. Now, I was aware of this mostly because I’d heard about it happening to various Transformers and GI Joe toys. Theories place the blame on UV exposure, heat exposure, acidic plastic bags and even just oxygen. Who knows?

56a2de1911a57_experiment012.JPG.

The prototype idea didn’t pan out as any pictures I could find showed the earliest models having bright red guns, not orange or brown.

Bummer.

I didn’t think it was the plastic degradation because I thought it was only white or light gray that was affected. I reached out to Dan Price, the creator of the Man-O-War, and he said:

The variation in color is most likely due to aging over time—as far as I know the color was never changed from the original, which was the brighter orange.  Sometimes there can be variations in production, but that’s not likely—unless—someone at the factory was a toy collector and wanted to create a short run of a random variation. 🙂  I guess you never know.  It also can happen if manufacturing moves to a different supplier (factory)—but don’t think that happened in this case.

So between my own research into this (learning that it can affect almost any color) and what Dan Price said, I guess these mystery guns are just like the rest of the damaged 80s toys. Anyone else have any experiences with this in regards to Air Raiders toys? This is a the first I’ve heard of it. Let me know.

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5 thoughts on “Man-O-War parts

  1. Are there any differences in flexibility between the two versions – one seems more pliable, rigid? Also check and compare very closely for any mould and size differences, ejector pin marks (EPMs – circles), numbers, letters. This could indicate different factories where they were produced. Looking at your first pic I can see mould differences on the top of the square magazine type part of the barrel with he little square/oblong parts that stick out.
    It’s also possible that the more rare of the two could be reproduction if repro exists for this line?
    As Dan Price said colour differences are usually due to plastic degradation. The pic you posted of the Star Wars figures shows some classic degradation going on. If memory serves me well (vintage Star Wars figures again) it’s possible to find some changes in colour tone between factories. Eg, the Spanish produced (Poch/Pbp) Luke X-Wing fighter is a much darker orange than his more common Hong Kong counterpart. The plastic on this Luke is also more rigid.

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  2. Thanks for the input, TVTA! I finally got a moment to check the guns this weekend. I probably wussed on the rigid test but didn’t want to break them. They both seemed pretty similar in terms of the structural strength. I did not see any numbers or lettering but I’ll have to take a closer look for the EPMs (never knew about those).
    Like Dan, I doubt factories changed for this line mostly because the line was dead within a year of release, maybe less. They probably didn’t have time to switch factories before it was over! I don’t know of any repro lines but you never know. If there are any, I want to know about it!

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    1. I know I’m super late to the party, but this doesn’t look much like the classic plastic degradation from action figures. I’ve handled a lot of rough Air Raiders parts, but I’ve never seen them darken like this. It’s usually the missiles (especially those soft tips) that suffer the most.
      If anything, I’d assume these might be first-shot tests? Not so much prototypes where they were still analyzing the product designs, but rather testing the production machinery itself. I assume you’re familiar with the process, but before doing a full-scale production run they’d do a test batch, usually in another color (sometimes a slightly different plastic) to differentiate between the production version.
      So that’s my guess, but who knows. Fun to spark the imagination of nothing else.
      Thanks for the blog by the way! Air Raiders has probably been the most intriguing toy line throughout my youth! But most people I’ve asked about them didn’t have any clue as to what they were. A shame!

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      1. Hey Emeraldcitytoyguy, thanks for the response! And thank you very much, I’m glad you like the blog! It’s been a fun experience, digging up all this info and talking with the Hasbro folk who worked on it.

        I’ll admit that I was not familiar with first-shot tests until the last year even though in hindsight, it makes perfect sense to test your molds and all that. We’ve actually had a couple posts concerning first-shot tests come up, the most recent one being an interesting looking Storm Dagger.

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