PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Johnny West And The Cowboys

The PopCulteer
August 24, 2012

The Marx Toy Museum
Photo Essay Part Five
Part Five–Johnny West And The Cowboys

Okay, I admit it. This was the main reason I wanted to go to The Marx Toy Museum. As longtime readers of PopCult know, I am a Johnny West collector. Johnny was the foot-tall Western answer to GI Joe. He was made differently, but Johnny and his pals were built solidly, and to be honest, they made better animation models than GI Joe did.

Western toys were a big money-maker for Marx in the 1950s, and Johnny West carried the tradition on into the 1970s.The Marx Toy Museum has an entire room devoted to their Western toys–the room is even based on an old playset building, complete with swinging saloon doors. We’re going to poke around in the Western room and then wrap up the photo essay with a prolonged look at Johnny West and The Best of the West.

If, like me, you are a fan of Johnny West, then you need to know about three valuable resources on the web: First is the Circle X Ranch Yahoo Group. This is a warm, online family for fans of Johnny West, run by Terri Coop, the current owner of the rights to Johnny West. Second is Tom Heaton’s Vintage Toy Room, which is chock full of details and stories of Johnny West, and is also a place where you can buy vintage toys, and Tom’s invaluable Encyclopedia of Johnny West, as well as the exclusive update modules. Finally we have Stewart’s Attic, run by Scott Stewart, where you can find even more background on Johnny West as well as vintage items and some new hats and accessories for Johnny, crafted by Scott, himself.

This photo essay is broken into five parts, so that the graphics don’t overwhelm your browsers. Convenient links will be posted at the top and bottom of each essay, so that you can jump around at will.

The Marx Toy Museum Photo Essay
Part One–Meet The Museum
Part Two–Marxism In The Toy World
Part Three–Playsets And Plastic People
Part Four–Girl’s Toys
Part Five–Johnny West And The Cowboys (This is this one)

The Western Room, patterned after a typical Western Playset Saloon

The tip of the Cowboy iceberg
The Gunsmoke Playset
Miss Kitty, Marshall Dillon, Doc and Chester
Circle the wagons!
The massive Western Town and other playsets
Covered Wagon
The Johnny Ringo playset. Johnny Ringo is one of the rarest of the Marx playset figures
More big-name Cowboy playsets
Tray Puzzles and wagons
A closer look at The Western Town
Custer, The Rifleman and Stagecoach playsets
Roy Rogers and Wagon Train
Original art for a tin Western building
Let us not forget Marvel The Mustang

Johnny West Rides Into Town

A stoe display from the “Mod” era of Johnny West Adventures
Johnny and Jane West, the Power Couple of the Old West
That low-down good-for-nuthin’ snake, Sam Cobra
Johnny’s trusty steed, Thunderbolt
The very first Thunderbolt off the production line, bronzed, in the Prototype Room
A sample and box art for Jesse James, based on a TV show. This figure never came out, but a similar head was used for Zeb Zachery, and the body was used for Sheriff Garrett. And yes, that is an actual head mold for the figure.
A head that looks remarkably like Dean Martin, with flocked hair, on a body with a 20th Century Fox stamp on it. This never made it to stores, but that head sculpt was used, with gray hair, for Sheriff Garret. Those are prototypes of Johnny West’s dogs with him.
Unproduced Cannon and Cavalry Tent set
Test shots and production samples of Johnny, Jane, Thundercolt, the buffalo and part of the kids.
A combo set with Jane West, a couple of horses and a corral
Jed Gibson, the ultra-rare last addition to the Johnny West line, and the first African-American figure. Seen with the head mold for Captain Maddox.
Sheriff Garrett, sans martini
Some of the West children milling around with horses and a covered wagon
General Custer, known to say, “Holy Mackeral!…”
Not only was it sort of ground-breaking that Johnny West was married to Jane, but they also had four kids, Janice, Josie, Jay and Jamie
More cool Johnny West sets and accessories
And even more…
Best of the West store display
The “Traveling Johnny” exhibit, sponsored by The Circle X Ranch, wherein Johnny roamed the country and was photographed in many locations
Before we leave, we must take one more look at a display case of Johnny West and friends
Okay, a couple of glances

The Marx Toy Museum Photo Essay
Part One–Meet The Museum
Part Two–Marxism In The Toy World
Part Three–Playsets And Plastic People
Part Four–Girl’s Toys
Part Five–Johnny West And The Cowboys (You’re done, unless you started with this one because you’re a fan of Johnny West)