Merlin, the Electronic Wizard – Handheld 80′s Games


I came across this great Merlin hand held electronic toy the other day at Waverly Wholesale antiques, and just had to get it.

These were released by Parker Brothers in 1978, and were quite popular. Super popular in fact, with over 5 MILLION of these units sold in the initial run, lots more sold through the 80′s. I had never seen one for sale except on ebay, so I grabbed it when I saw it on a stall closing down at half price!

I only vaguely remember them being around, but never owned one and don’t have any friends that did either.

They have 6 games which are

  • Tic Tac Toe
  • Music Machine
  • Echo, a game similar to Simon
  • Blackjack 13
  • Magic Square, a pattern game similar to Lights Out
  • Mindbender, a game similar to Mastermind

Here is the one of the original commercials

The best mode is the Music Machine game, and with a bit of skill you can crank out a cool tune with it. It was in fact one of the earliest versions of a home digital sequencer and consumer level synth. Its all pretty fun, and the kids and I have all had a go.

I dig the tune in this commercial

Parker Brothers also released a new version of Merlin in 1995 called Merlin : The 10th Quest (to go along with the fantasy theme of the name) and this had games like “Singing Sword” and “Spell Bender” and a different display setup. I think I have to find myself one of those next !


Nallyware history – Australian kitchen canisters



One of the most popular kitchenalia items out there is Nally ware, in particular the sets of canisters that were very popular in homes from the 40′s through to the 60′s in Australia. These have a far different look from the Nylex, Tupperware or other Bakelite styles and are uniquely Australian

Nally Ware was  created by Nally Ltd and was based in Sydney. It started in the 20′s when Nat Fienberg and Wally Wakeham imported ‘Condensite’. The company first wanted to produce ore reliable timers for the T-Model Ford.’ Nally soon began moulding other items including the popular and bright range of kitchen wares. There were many colours available, with the moulded phenol formaldehyde process creating a Bakelite that could be moulded into a variety of shapes.





Like all Bakelite products, they can get chipped, cracked and scratched over time, especially as these were practical items being used in kitchens and not just display pieces. Bakelite deteriorates in sunlight, so the best examples you find now are not items that were displayed near windows and have been stored away through the last few decades.


All of these canisters would have once been very glossy, this is when the phenolic resin coating is present.  Once Bakelite has started to deteriorate you will notice a roughness of the surface, where the top layer of resin has been rubbed away, exposing the coarser filler material.  Washing your canisters with a strong cleaner can also remove the deteriorated phenol resin from the surface and make your canisters look more old then they should. Be careful!


Prices for these items vary wildly. Prices can range from $5 at a garage sale if you are very luck (probably for incomplete sets with some damage) all the way up to around $200 for a complete set with everything intact.


When looking to buy these make sure they are complete, the lettering is in good as a condition as possible and there are no cracks. Often they are also discoloured inside or out from the contents, so check underneath and inside.

nightmare board game

Nightmare Board Game – Market Watch


Back in 1991, a company called “A Couple ‘A Cowboys” and J. W. Spear & Sons released the VHS board game Nightmare. The game was also marketed as Atmosfear around the same time, I believe in overseas markets such as Europe as there were already games called Nightmare in those markets.

Here in Australia, the game was very popular in its time. Although I never had the game, I can still remember the television commercial clearly.

I have found that the game was developed by 2 Australian guys Phillip Tanner and Brett Clements who had a TV production company.
They sold almost 2 million of these games by 1993, which is a phenomenal performance for a board game. With that kind of market saturation, you would think the collectability of these items would be low due to market saturation; however this doesn’t seem to be the case.

They are very hot sellers on Ebay, as the game has a very loyal fan base and fans are constantly looking for new VHS tapes for their systems.

A lot people are also selling the games with DVD’s created from the original VHS tapes, so that people can play them in more modern devices.

I have even seen that a few years ago someone digitised the video and placed it on youtube, so that if people have broken their tapes they can still play along.

3 expansion sets were developed for the game, and they were also hot sellers, some going for over $50 each.



Year: Most units look to be produced between 1991 to 1994. Expansion sets were produced into the mid nineties.

Made By: A Couple A Cowboys and Village Roadshow

Most collectable: Nightmare Expansion 3 (Baron Samedi) and 4 (Vampire) consistently fetch prices over $50 on ebay and are rarer than the original sets.

What to look for: All items are in the box, the board is in good condition, the video is in excellent condition.

Ebay Completed Items: See Here



Sony Cassette Walkman – Ebay Market Watch


I don’t think that many people predicted that Walkman and other portable cassette players would become collectable items. They were those large things cluttering up your desk drawers and cupboards for years once you got rid of all of your old tapes and starting buying CD’s.


Gone were the days of having to rewind and fast forward to get to that song that you loved, CD Diskman and MP3 players made all of that obsolete.

Most people considered them clunky and not worth anything once the CD revolution began, and so they were given to op shops and sold at garage sales for next to nothing over the past 20 years.

I was more surprised than anyone to find out that people are beginning to collect these, and that certain models can be quite valuable if in good condition. Vintage electronics are great to collect, and items from the 80′s and even the 90′s are now starting to gain wide appeal.

Walkman is a trademark of Sony, and they were the originators of portable cassette players back in 1979. They were first introduced to the U.S in 1980 and they revolutionised the way that people could enjoy music.

Walkman were called different things, such as “Soundabout” and “Freestyle”, but the Walkman name quickly caught on and remained the standard. The Walkman name is now used for all portable Sony music players, even phones and MP3 players.

The standard price for a good condition Walkman is around $20, with prices up to $200 for the WM-10 early 80′s models and beyond for the very oldest. Not bad for items commonly found in the electronics tub at a lot of op shops


I found this Sony FS-111 Walkman a few weeks ago, in good condition. Put batteries in when I got home (once I worked out how to open the waterproof casing) and it worked a treat.


I have a few others in my collection and also this separate waterproof case from AIWA that you used to place your whole walkman inside and push the buttons through a soft rubber section on the site.


Year: 1979 to 2010 were the years of production for cassette based Walkman

Made By: Sony

Most collectable: The original TPS-L2 is highly sort after

What to look for: Condition and working order are the key factors, as well as accessories (such as boxes and instructions) which are highly sort after.

Ebay Completed Items:

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