The Lone Ranger — an icon worth collecting

vintage lone ranger toy collection

When people ask me what I collect, I tell them I collect pop culture icons. A while back, I made the decision to pare down my collecting habits to focus on icons rather than everything that I thought was cool–a guy only has so much space and money! My definition of the term “icon” is a pop culture character that has stood the test of time and been successfully revamped and rebooted throughout the years. The icons I collect consist of Batman, Superman, Spiderman, the Hulk, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, James Bond… and of course, King Kong.

I don’t collect memorabilia for characters like Pee Wee Herman or Mr. T because their popularity will most likely die with them. There are plenty of examples of how a character tied to a single actor slowly fades from popularity, many of whom can be found in the characters seen in the old Western movies. Remember Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, and Tom Mix? Well, a lot of people probably don’t. However, there is one Western cowboy who has managed to stand the test of time and become what I would deem an iconic character still worth collecting, and that would be the Lone Ranger.

Along with his trademark catchphrase and unforgettable theme song, the fact that the Lone Ranger is a “Masked Man” probably helped to keep the Lone Ranger character relevant longer than the rest. The character first appeared in a radio show in 1933, and in 1949, Clayton Moore brought the Lone Ranger to life in the wildly popular television series. Many actors have donned the mask since, and Armie Hammer will hopefully reinvigorate the franchise for the current generation of movie-goers, with his portrayal in the upcoming movie with Johnny Depp.

There is enough Lone Ranger paraphernalia out there to fill a warehouse, and my collection is by no means very large, but I have had a lot of fun finding items to put on my shelves.

vintage lone ranger colorforms
Lone Ranger Colorforms set. 1966

vintage lone ranger coloring book
Lone Ranger Coloring Book. 1951

vintage lone ranger game vintage lone ranger game
Lone Ranger Game. 1938

vintage lone ranger target game
Lone Ranger Target Game. 1939

vintage durham lone ranger squirt gun
Lone Ranger Squirt Gun by Durham. 1974

What pop culture characters do you collect? Any other Lone Ranger fans out there?

Comments

  1. Paxton Holley says

    I am a fan of the Lone Ranger. I enjoyed watching re-runs of the Clayton Moore series. And the ’60s cartoon. I also really enjoyed the Gabriel toy line in the 70s and 80s.

    I am cautiously optimistic for the reboot. I love the casting of Armie Hammer as the Ranger but Johnny Depp for Tonto is…odd.

    • Brian says

      I have a couple of carded Gabriel action figures and a 12″ Lone Ranger as well, but didn’t fell like digging them out of their box. The line of 3 3’4″ figures was great (like you covered on your blog earlier this week).

  2. Mike Gutierrez says

    I am always in awe over your collection, Brian. Those are some sweet pieces.

    As for what pop culture icons I collect, I collect Spider-Man, Batman, The Beatles and The Monkees. I do have a small KISS collection as well. This year, I would like to start James Bond and Green Hornet collections. Huge fan of both icons.

    • Brian says

      I know you and I share the same collecting interests Mike! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a Green hornet collection before–that would be pretty sweet.

  3. Reis O'Brien says

    I loved my Lone Ranger action figures as a kid. The Lone Ranger and Tonto would often ride through Hazzard County to help my Bo & Luke figures rid the town of Cylons (I had a strange imagination).

    I’m trying to be optimistic about the new movie as well,, but I don’t know.

    Brian, you’ll be happy to hear that Lone Ranger bobble heads and Pops are on the “idea list” here at work. And not just the new movie versions, either. We’ve been talking about doing some old-school looking stuff. Nothing definite yet, though.

    • Brian says

      That IS great news Reis! I bet the successfulness of the movie is going to make or break that decision for you.

      I am really nervous about the new movie, because it has high stakes: if it is a blockbuster, we’ll likely get a bunch more Westerns, but if it flops, the genre might take another hit. I can’t say from what I’ve seen that it will revive the western genre entirely, but Johnny Depp alone will put people in the seats, right? Right? (please don’t bring up Dark Shadows.)

      • The Goodwill Geek says

        Well is Tim Burton anywhere near this movie? Even producing? If not there may be a chance.

        I hate to take easy shots, and the comment that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp need “Some time apart” is a cliche at this point… but they really seem to spell box office poison lately.

  4. The Goodwill Geek says

    Personally, I’d love to start a few “Pulp” character collections, like Zorro or Conan, but I’m already drowning in collections.

    I also tend to be a whatever-catches-my-eye collector, with a pretty high childhood nostalgia factor, which might also be part of the reason why I’m drowning in junk… er… I mean treasures.

    • Brian says

      I’m with you there, Derek. Slimming down my collecting was the best move I could make–it freed up space and cash for the items I really treasured. …Of course, I still have a basement full of stuff to unload!

  5. Rich says

    Here’s something to hopefully up your enthusiasm for Johnny Depp and his role in the new movie….

    Everyone thought they were nuts for casting Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in 1989′s Batman. We all have seen (I’m sure) how that worked out! Damnit Tim Burton directed. You get the point tho!

    By the way, Brian, awesome stuff! Love that squirt gun!

  6. Memoriesoftoymorrow says

    I am a big fan of the Ranger but mostly through the action figures. The Gabriel 12″ figs are to this day one of the nicest ever produced. I got the boxed set of the TV show and watching those old black and whites is so much fun !

  7. Kevin Hellions says

    I’m still figuring out the collection. Comics, wrestling and 80s cartoon properties is becoming a bit too much. However, GI Joe is very much becoming iconic. I don’t expect a Hulk Hogan reboot though.

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