Meet Bill Leff: Inside the collection

Sixties action figures from the world of Disney, Captain Action, Batman, Beatles and more!

Apr. 5, 2020

Bill Leff is a former standup comedian who has spent the last 20-plus years working as a radio talk show host. Bill’s collection is almost as fun as he is. Since childhood, he has amassed thousands of vintage toys, dolls and figurines.

Bill’s collection includes rare items that may be familiar to some Baby Boomers – like the multi-purpose boys’ action figure from the 1960s, Captain Action; or the Outer Space Men, a beloved group of extra-terrestrial figurines from the Colorforms toy company that were popular in the early 1970s.

Bill is joined by his longtime friend from the standup comedy circuit, Leo Benvenuti. Leo has been a respected screenwriter for years, responsible for movies like Space Jam and The Santa Clause. And while he doesn’t collect, Leo looks at his friend’s toy collection with a combination of bemusement and admiration.

Lisa has brought along Mark Huckabone, a vintage toy collector, to appraise Bill’s collection; and Mark’s trade item will definitely strike a chord with fans of classic TV westerns.

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1. Marx Disneykins

These little figurines from the Marx toy company were sold in toy stores and bakeries, as they could be used as cake toppers. Bill invested $10,000 in collecting the entire set, which is worth upwards of $20,000 today. The hardest to find? Flower, the skunk from Bambi.

2. Best of the West Set

The Johnny West action figure had a full set of friends and enemies (like the villainous man in black Sam Cobra).  Our appraiser has only ever seen two complete sets — and Bill's is the nicest. No wonder it's worth $20,000.

3. Major Matt Mason and Outer Space Men

Two beloved sets from the Sixties centered were inspired by the space race. Mattel's Major Matt Mason astronauts came in different colors, a cosmic competitor to G.I. Joe. The Outer Space Men collection from Colorforms was an array of quirky aliens — that also happened to inspire the creatures in the iconic "Cantina Scene" in Star Wars. The little green man here at the bottom is Alpha 7.

4. Captain Action outfits

Captain Action, another G.I. Joe competitor, was a doll somewhat modeled after actor Robert Vaughn. Kids could also accessorize the doll with outfits styled after other popular pop-culture figures. Captain Action could dress as Flash Gordon, Captain America, Aquaman, Steve Canyon, etc. He was a man of all franchises.

5. Aurora Frankenstein Monster Scene

The Aurora company made these cool sets modeled after classic horror films in the Sixties. This display kit is worth is $2,500.

6. Superhero figures

Bill's collection extends from his house into his garage. This glass case is stuffed with loads of cool toys.

7. Monster figures

Another shelf in the same case has more classic horror figures.

8. Disney and Marvel figures

The lower shelves in this case are dedicated to Disney/Pixar toys and Marvel heroes.

9. U.S. Presidents figures

Marx originally made president action figures in the Sixties. The collection continues to grow, as you can see by modern figures here for Reagan, Clinton, Obama and the two Bushes in the front row.

10. Star Trek figures

11. Batman '66 figures

12. James Bond figures

13. James Bond figures

14. Beatles figures

15. Young Bill Leff

Bill got his collection going from a young age, as you can see here as he unwraps a Captain Action Batman kit in the 1960s.

16. Bonanza figures

The American Character company manufactured these dolls in the late 1960s — and they remain in stunning condition. Our appraiser is hoping to trade them with Bill in exchange for his Captain America and Aquaman costumes for Captain Action. Will they make the trade? Take a look at what he's asking for…

17. Captain Action - Captain America

18. Captain Action - Aquaman

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repete 9 months ago
I wish this episode was available on demand or MeTV would show reruns. Bill is the perfect person to host Tune In With Me. And many thanks to Neal Sabin without whom so many MeTV shows would not exist!
StevenJohnson 18 months ago
love your collection i collect old comic books
TheSentinel 36 months ago
Funny how this appearance on Collector's Call has since led to Bill's current stint as the host of Toon In with Me on weekday mornings.
AJ_ TheSentinel 16 months ago
I’m sure Bill’s years on the road as as a a stand up, his time in front of the camera (Major League and Major League II, plus The Magic Door), his years as a radio personality, plus his industry connections (he was already acquaintances with Rich Koz, who often called into his radio show) all helped some too.
AJ_ AJ_ 16 months ago
I almost forgot. Bill also trained at Columbia College and Second City.
JoeAhearn 50 months ago
Bill made the right choice. Captain Action rules!!
dth1971 51 months ago
He had Peanuts comic strip figures!
Debbi 51 months ago
I was amazed at Bill's collection. I had an actual physical sensation, sort of a rush, when I saw the "Figaro" toy. I had many of those early Disney toys, and Figaro was by far my favorite. My brother and I also had the werewolf, dracula, and frankenstein monster figures, and Roy Rogers, Dale Evan, Trigger, Buttermilk and Bullet toys, as well as the saloon building setup, which if I recall correctly had a few building, made of tin (?) and probably loaded with lead paint! Great collection!!
RickSon 51 months ago
rson754 send address it is yours
RickSon 51 months ago
Do you want a map of the Poderosa?
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