Nerds in Toyland: Host Jordan Hembrough Joins the Travel Channel as ‘Toy Hunter’
The man: Jordan Hembrough, creator and owner of Hollywood Heroes, collector and basement diver of all those who may be hoarding our favorite nostalgic toys and collectibles. Located in Ridgewood, New Jersey, just a hop skip and jump away from this happily self-dubbed nerd’s home, Hembrough has an incredible talent at spotting things us mere mortals may not notice at first glance… or second… or perhaps even third.
The Travel Channel recently scooped up Hembrough for one of their new series, Toy Hunters, following him around the country as he discovers some unexpected surprises- anyone interested in an unreleased Boba Fett action figure prototype? How about the ‘Mad Bubbler’ from Thunder-Thunder-Thundercats, ho!? I thought so.
In the pilot episode, which first premiered in January, Hembrough traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio (where Kenner Products was birthed in 1947), on a quest to find collectibles to sell at New York Comic Con. Some of the basements he rifles through could put Hoarders to shame, but in the coolest way possible. They belong to former designers and toymakers at Kenner (sadly, the Cincinnati offices closed in 2001 after the company was bought out by Hasbro) and include mint-in-box toys and collectibles from a beloved era.
Now, this one dude’s basement is chock full of rad stuff- Jordan calls him ‘The Packrat’, and he couldn’t be more right. He found the precursor to the Transformers franchise there, MASK. Turns out, our Packrat worked on that line, and designed the Slingshot toy model.
Anyone remember the Six-Million Dollar Man? Well, I don’t, but my mother absolutely does. He’s Steve Austin, a handsome bionic man in a tracksuit. The action figure that Hembrough finds has a hole in the back of his head so you can see out of his eye and skin that can peel back to reveal the bionic arm. More discoveries included an Ewok stuffed animal (let’s be honest, the rebellion would have failed without them) and an army of CareBears.
The Packrat was just the tip of the iceberg, though. I mentioned an unreleased prototype before, did I not? Jordan came across that little beauty in a comic shop known as Queen City Comic Books, three miles from the old Kenner factory. This approximately four-inch prototype of the bounty hunter Boba Fett included the ability to launch a rocket out of the spring loaded holder. It was never released because of the safety hazard, in the style of A Christmas Story (“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”).
Hembrough’s other finds for Comic Con included unopened sign-off samples, Batman Returns action figures, the Star Wars Death Star Game, Batmobile and Batcycle, and the Colonial Warrior from Battlestar Galactica… honestly, that’s not even the half of his horde.
Here we come to the piece de resistance, the Mad Bubbler from the Thundercats franchise. Hembrough traveled down to Miami, Florida to find this ceramic masterpiece of a prototype. Now, to be honest, I didn’t exist when Thundercats originally aired from 1985-1990, I came along a year after that, but I certainly remember Saturday morning cartoons and Thundercats reruns- I’m fairly sure Cheetara was my first girl crush.
Overall, this show opened me up to a whole new world of nostalgia and feels. I’m looking forward to catching up on the rest of the show – and seeing Jordan at Comic Con in October.