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.
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…