Despite having no major TV, movie or comic book media tie-ins at its time of release Gabriel’s Lone Ranger line of action figures was probably one of the highlights of the late 1970’s and its success was due in no small part to Gabriel’s unfailing dedication to this line providing fans and collectors with a huge range of figures and play sets all produced to excellent standards and superb quality and detail in order to give kids a completely immersive experience.
Unlike the later The Legend of the Lone Ranger line of figures, The Lone Ranger Rides Again line, released in 1979, was reminiscent of the 1949-65 TV series. While researching these I came across several sites that quoted a Hubley/Gabriel series having been released in 1973 but I cannot find any reference to these and so can only assume they are confusing these with the 1979 Hubley/Gabriel/Marx line.
An alternative explanation may be that they were originally released by Gabriel in 1973 and Marx were their European/UK distributors, as I have found examples of MIB figures bearing both the Gabriel and Marx logos. Also if you see the image below you will see that Marx were official distributors. My guess is that Gabriel later released and repackaged them in 1979 under their own Logo and Trademark only.
Also many of the eBay auctions are for the 1979 The Lone Ranger Rides Again line, not a 1973/75 Hubley/Gabriel release as many state. If you look closely at the images many have this clearly written on the boxes or blister cards, so as always be careful and check thoroughly before purchasing.
The initial line consisted of five eight-inch figures but the European producers, Marx, released two extra characters, Tex Dawson and El Lobo. As well as these Gabriel also produced a Tonto and Red Sleeves double pack. There was also a variant version of Red Sleeves released with a “arrow firing” action feature.
Most of these figures were packaged in both solid boxes and blister packs rather than one or the other but from what I can gather the blister packs were more predominant in Europe whereas the boxed figures were more popular in the US, the only exception to this, as far as I can see, is the Little Bear figure which was only packaged in a box.
Of course, any Western action figure line would be incomplete without horses!
This line had four horses: Silver for the Lone Ranger; Smoke for Butch Cavendish, Skout for Tonto and Banjo for Dan Reid. There were also three horse and rider sets for Tonto, The Lone Ranger and Butch. Some of these also came with a “action saddle” feature and they were available in an unusually large number of various packages rather than standard packaging across the line.
But Gabriel didn’t stop there because as well as the figures and horses they also produced a large number of classic Western Adventure sets, play sets and outfit packs giving the figures some great environments and settings for play.
These ranged in size from the enormous Carson City play set to the less extravagant European sets but one thing they all shared was Gabriel’s dedication to producing high quality and standard products. Only one vehicle was produced for the line and that was the Prairie Wagon, but this could be converted into 4 different types of wagon.
The MIB or MOC figures are well sought after by collectors and often fetch prices of $150-$200 whereas loose figures generally fetch approx. $50. MIB horses sell for about half this price singularly and athe horse and rider sets for around $200. The MIB and MOC adventure packs and sets go for similar prices to the loose figures, usually averaging around $50-$60.
However, as always the market is continuously fluctuating and changing so if you see prices much higher than these, don’t despair, just be patient and bide your time. On the other hand if you see some selling for much lower prices, then grab them if you can!
Horse and Rider Sets
Lone Ranger & Silver
Tonto & Scout
Butch Cavendish & Smoke
Solitary Trapper With floating canoe
Mysterious Prospector Includes pack burro
The Hidden Rattler
"The Adventure of …"
The Hidden Silver Mine
The Apache Buffalo Hunt
The Carson City Bank Robbery
The Lost Calvary Patrol
The Hopi Medicine Man
The Tribal Powwow
The Missing Mountain Climber
The Red River Floodwaters
The Legend of the Lone Ranger line was the second line based on the Lone Ranger released by Gabriel toys. The first line, The Lone Ranger Rides Again, was released in 1979.
These 3 ½ inch figures were based on the movie released in 1981 and despite the movie being a big disappointment Gabriel again managed to create an excellent line of figures.
There were 5 figures and 3 horses released on single blister packs and later double packs featuring the horses with their riders. All the figures ha 7 points of articulation: neck, shoulders, hips, and knees.
The Legend of the Lone Ranger backing cards initially featured the Lone Rangers face on the front top right-hand corner and at the bottom a picture showing him riding off into the distance. These backing cards depicted the other figures and the horses in the set but the later double-packs with the horses and riders featured both The Legend of the Lone Ranger figures and the Zorro figures, which were released at about the same time.
As well as these figures Gabriel also released a free mail-in Western Town playset which consisted of two two-sided cardboard cutouts sent flat-packed with instructions on how to put it together.
Although this line was not as popular as the original 1979 line in its time it has proved to be popular with collectors and remains in demand, however mint carded figures are difficult to find and hence often have a price tag of $50 up.
Horse + Rider
The Lone Ranger & Silver
Tonto & Scout
Butch Cavendish & Smoke
Many thanks go to the following sites and catalogs which were used for research as well as some of the images:
The Official Guide to Action Figures Second Edition