Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Mold Saga

It begins....

In 2010 or 2011 Francis Turner asked me if I wanted the Girl from U.N.C.L.E (GU) molds. I said YES, but that I would have to figure out how to use them. I contacted my friend, Tom Heaton, and we started on a long journey of discovery about molds and plastic injection manufacturing.

Our initial idea was to transport the molds to a place that could hook them up to their injection machines and produce copies of the GU. We factored in the following costs to produce a figure:

  1. Transport the molds (about 3 tons) from WV to Maryland or New York.
  2. Have the molds opened and inspected.
  3. Repair any damage
  4. Run the figure and accessory sets
  5. Assemble and paint the figure
    • I Could never find good / cost effective springs, or elbow/knee rivets. Also, the perch spring would have to be attached to the right hip.
  6. Create and print the box
  7. Create and print the instruction sheet
  8. Put everything together and sell.

We thought we could get the cost under $100 and then sell for $150-$175. All we really wanted to do was to break even on the deal but still produce a 'new' figure. This turned out to be a pipe dream... Rough estimates put it around a $500 price for selling, assuming we sold 200 figures.

  • Click on images for a larger version

Stephanie Powers
as The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

A Dream dies...

Since both of us are in the buying / selling toy business we quickly realized that a price like that would be too much for the average collector to bear - there goes our 200 sales. Since 2004 the prices paid for Marx action figures has gone down. They have stabilized, as of this writing (July 2014), but still nowhere near their high water mark. We've had many discussions as to why; did eBay flood the market, are the kids who had Johnny now too old to care, did the re-issues in 2000-2001 affect the price, is the economy in general to blame? We may never know but we did know that we would not be able to sell enough figures to cover our production costs. So we considered just getting the molds and salvaging the beryllium copper cavity molds.

Educational Announcement

The PL books (Search for 'Girl from UNCLE') list the 'cavities' in each mold... In the case of the GU, there were six molds total and a combined cavity count of 78. The cavity is created around the master sculpt and is made from beryllium Copper. Then, the cavities are arranged in the appropriate mother mold made of steel. The mother molds are quite complex. They are not just blocks of steel holding the cavities in. They provide for water cooling lines, actuating parts to create hollowed out areas like the holster, purse, shoes, etc, and the ports and gates for the sprue lines.

New Dream

We were still undecided until Francis spoke to me on my way up to the 2014 Marx toy show in Wheeling, WV. He gave me his bottom dollar price offer and said he had to get them out of his space since building the new barn on his land. I thought his price was good but wanted to talk it over with Tom.

Well, we agreed that we should do it. It really was buying a pig in a poke situation... No way to tell if the cavities were still inside the mother molds or what condition they were in. Francis suggested that we open up the smallest mold to check it out.

The First Mold

So on Saturday, June 21st, 2014 at 7 pm we all went to his house and proceeded to 'break-open' the smallest mold - The head and hands mold.
     Item: 11 inch Girl Spy Head & Hands
It took us about 4 hours to get the mold open and expose the cavities - they were all there and looked to be in great shape. It appears that when Marx stopped using a mold they would oil and grease it up very well to prevent corrosion until the next time they needed it. In this case, it was never used again.


The PL books on my site indicate that these molds were shipped to Hong Kong. But that is likely not true. We believe that only about 10,000 GU figures were made in the United States and then the molds were shipped to PlastiMarx in Mexico. Not all the figures sold. This may be the result of it being a female figure or some kind of licensing issue with MGM Studios. Some of those left over figures may have been sent to the UK and Italy. PlastiMarx continued to make the figure for awhile but then likely returned the molds to Glen Dale, WV when Marx sold to Quaker Oats or when the company closed in 1981. The molds were purchased in the 1981 auction and did not resurface until 5-6 years ago when Francis Turner purchased them. The molds were sold a final time to us on that Saturday night in the hills surrounding the original Marx factory.

Independence Day

Freeing of the mold cavities - that is.... We made arrangements with Francis to return over the 4th of July weekend to finish the other molds. At noon on the 4th of July, Tom and I again met at the Turner farm and proceeded to open the other molds. Remember that the mother molds weighed in at between 500 and 1500 pounds each - and we had 5 more to open... We brought all kinds of tools and other devices to help, but in the end it often came down to how hard we could swing a sledge hammer!

Hard days night

We worked for 11 hours and got 3 molds opened. The next day we started at 9:30 ish and finished opening the other two molds by 4 pm. We only experienced a couple of 'frozen' bolts... Unfortunately one of them was on the outside plate and the bolt was one of the 6 - 3/4 inch Hex bolts holding the mold together. We drilled, we hammered, we drilled, we pounded, we even wore out a zaw-saw blade. Finally, we hit the wedge one more time and the bolt head sheared off like the bolts in submarine movies when they go too deep and 200 lbs of steel plate fell off.

The Aftermath

Saturday afternoon Tom and I divvied up our spoils of war (at least it looked like a war zone - chunks of steel, bolts and Gatorade bottles littered the battlefield) The good news was that every cavity mold was there and undamaged. We split up the even molds (those that made two sets per run) and then the cavities from the other 3 molds we spread out on a large plastic sheet and started turns picking the ones we wanted… Tom graciously gave me the first turn and I picked the Garbo hat cavity - Since I make custom hats, I just couldn't resist. I also got the Garter holster, the Sweater and associated Frog fastenters, Pill box hat, and many others. We gave them an initial cleaning to get the major grease off and loaded them in the cars. Each cavity weighed in at about 4-10 pounds. I definitely felt the extra weight on the drive home.

Special Discovery

One fantastic discovery I made during the cleaning process... When I was cleaning the grease covering the Round Eye glasses cavity, I was having trouble getting it out of the one of the halves. I rubbed and squirted more liquid wrench into the depression... Then it struck... Could that be? YES - the last pair of Round glasses made in this mold were still in the cavity!!!! They will stay in the mold and be displayed with the other cavities I decide to keep.

One Happy Camper

After picking and choosing, we cleaned up the best we could and Francis offered to find someone to haul the steel to a salvage yard. I then took stock, I only suffered 3 cuts from flying shrapnel, a few bruises and other abrasions, sunburned back-side, and more stiff and sore joints than I could count - But I had this grin that would not be dimmed! What a prize! We truly had some one-of-a-kind pieces.


I cannot say enough what a lovely family Francis has. Throughout the days, his wife, children and grandchildren would come to check on our progress and see if we needed anything. The family picnic they invited us to saved me on Friday night! Jason Turner was ankle deep in bolts on the first day and it sure made a difference!

Below is a table organized by PL / Mold Number with all the pictures

The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Mold Set

PL Num Mold Contents Thumbnails
1 Body
1 Rt. Leg Lower
1 Left Leg Lower
1 Rt. Leg Upper
1 Left Leg Upper
1 Rt. Arm Upper
1 Left Arm Upper
1 Right Arm Lower
1 Left Arm Lower
2 Arm Connectors
11 inch Girl Spy Legs, Arms & Body
2 hat boxes
2 radio purses
2 opera glasses
2 round eye glasses
2 slotted angle glasses
2 wing eye glasses
2 swords for umbrella
2 knives *
2 38 pistols
2 umbrellas
2 Clutch purses
2 Derringers
2 straps for radio purse
2 right shoes
2 left shoes
2 stilettos
11 inch Girl Spy Accessories
1 Pill box hat
1 Bandana
1 garbo Hat
1 Garter Holster
1 Shoulder Bag
1 Bag strap
1 Wide Belt
1 Fur Piece
1 Grenade Bracelet
Lady Finger White Vinyl Acc. Mold
1 pair of shorts
1 full length skirt
1 skirt
1 hat
1 sweater (knit)
1 evening sweater
1 Formal jacket
1 leather jacket
4 fasteners
12 Units Clothing for Ann Danger 11 inch Girl Spy
2 units each of 4 styles of Wigs
Wig Mold Print 35663
2 units head
2 units right hand
2 units left hand
11 inch Girl Spy Head & Hands
Mold pics coming soon - Until then, here are the cavities after cleaning