To my knowledge, there are precious few collectibles to be had from one of my favorite TV shows of all time, The Wild Wild West (1965-1969). Starring the manly and frighteningly agile Robert Conrad as Jim West and master of disguise Ross Martin as Artemus Gordon, the show debuted a year before Star Trek but displays one of Trek’s finest attributes: an uplifting friendship between honorable and upstanding men. The show was a hit, and was well loved by fans, even today. Still, the question remains: Why oh why aren’t there more Wild Wild West products for fans to collect?
Much like as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was created to become “James Bond for TV,” The Wild Wild West (for our purposes, let’s shorten it to WWW) was created by Michael Garrison to be “James Bond on horseback.” Gene L. Coon (Star Trek Seasons 1 and 2 writer and producer) and Fred Frieberger (Star Trek Season 3 writer and producer) produced and wrote several episodes of WWW, solidifying the appealing friendship between Artemus “Artie” Gordon and Jim West. It’s no wonder that there is a strong love of WWW among Star Trek fans, myself included.
Most fans of The Wild Wild West are aware by now that Robert Conrad did all of his own stunts on the show. In fact, Conrad once quipped that he is reminded that he did all of his own stunts every time that he tries to get out of a chair. Fans also know that the show was filmed on the Western Street at the CBS Studio Center, in tiny Studio City near Ventura Blvd. Robert Conrad is still with us, god bless him, but Ross Martin, the fantastic Artemus Gordon, died of a heart attack in 1981. (Martin had his first major heart attack in 1968, during the filming of WWW).
Needless to say, a show like this calls out to be collected. If we were speaking of Star Trek, there would be dozens of items available from a decent 1960’s or early 1970’s vintage to collect. Alas, to my knowledge, there are only six things that fans can collect from WWW: WWW comic books (of which there are only seven, but at least they are picture covers!), the WWW lunch box, two writing tablets (one of Artie, one of Jim), a paperback (Jim with a red cover) and the WWW board game. There is also a terrible action figure of Jim West released in the 90’s, but it’s so awful that I won’t include it here.
If I had a time machine, I would do lots of things: save President Lincoln and John Lennon, assassinate Hitler in 1933, invent Coca-Cola, and discover ABBA. I would also send a letter-writing campaign to CBS in 1965, asking for loads of WWW paraphernalia to be made. If only, right?
Below are some images from a recent find, the WWW lunch box. Robbie and I have resisted the whole lunch box thing for years, but with WWW, you take what you can get!