Dinosaur Dracula!

Five Random Action Figures, Part 19!

In this edition of Five Random Action Figures, I’m standing up for the little guy.

Smaller figures just had so many plusses! Because they were sold in multipacks and were individually cheaper than “regular” action figures, it was easier to build armies, and very easy to convince ourselves that we had to collect all of them. In effect, we treated little figures much in the same way we did trading cards: Quality was nice, but quantity was better.

In 2015, there are several popular toy lines banking big on their dwarfishness, from Squinkies to The Trash Pack. All of those lines owe a huge thanks to the ones featured here. These older weirdos were the pioneers!


The Claw!
M.U.S.C.L.E., 1985

To me, M.U.S.C.L.E. will always be the gold standard for “little figures,” forever imitated but never duplicated. I’ve written about my fondness for M.U.S.C.L.E. before, but stopped short of naming my favorite figure in the set.

It’s this guy. It’s gotta be this guy. Before anyone chimes in with Claw’s real name from his Japanese Kinnikuman origins, I’ll remind you that kids in the States largely had no idea about that stuff. Most of us named the wrestlers as we went, and accepted their visual personas at face value. If one of them was a claw with a face, that’s all he was.

Every M.U.S.C.L.E. figure was weird by our standards, but Claw was weird even by M.U.S.C.L.E. standards. He was literally just a sentient hand, one whose methods of locomotion must’ve been similar to that of a banana slug.

Only serious M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors are aware of the super rare (and often even stranger) figures. For the rest of us, Claw seems way in the lead as the fan favorite. Read More…

In 1991, I turned our shed into a clubhouse.

Last weekend, we attempted to help my mother tidy up her shed. It turned into quite the ordeal.


It seemed as though nobody had been in the shed since my father died, and that was close to ten years ago. Only, that’s not entirely true: A closer inspection revealed that the shed had been visited quite frequently — by birds and bugs, and probably raccoons.

If it looks a little big for a shed: It is. My father was an architect who knew how to build, and what made him successful at work made him an absolute terror at home. Every room in our house had been pummeled and rebuilt five times over, sometimes for the sake of improvements, but more often because my father just wasn’t happy unless he was remodeling something.

Eventually, our house hit a point where even he had to admit that any additional wall-smashing would’ve been excessive. So he took the show on the road. When it came time to replace our shed — one of those modest metal things that you’ve all seen a zillion times — he decided to just build one himself.

Well, sort of. What he built was less a shed and more a studio apartment. I mean, not really, because it didn’t have a bathroom or a sink. But this “shed” was certainly large enough to double as a bedroom. It even had electricity. In its day, it looked nice and was another in his long string of impressive constructional achievements, but I can say with all certainty that we didn’t NEED a shed like this.

And this recent visit was a reminder of how nicely that worked out for me. Read More…

Eight Great Trading Cards.

Today on Dino Drac: 1500 words about eight old trading cards. I’d like to say that I give people what they want, but nobody asked for this.

The eight cards are from eight entirely different sets, spanning from the late ‘70s to the mid ‘90s. If you can stand a site like Dino Drac, there’s a good chance that you collected at least one of these sets.

May this article help you remember a time when there was nothing sweeter than curling up next to a heating vent to read the backs of Batman trading cards. Fifty cents went so far!


“Robocop… Triumphant!”
Robocop 2 (Topps, 1990)

I posted this card on Twitter yesterday, and y’all seem just as impressed as I was. I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, this card does depict the scene where Robocop tears out Cain’s brain stem. That’s a special kind of “holy shit.”

The Robocop 2 set pulled no punches — the cards were full of gore, and Topps made no effort to neutralize it for kids. With today’s checks and balances, a set like this would never get approved.

That was one of the thrills of collecting sets like this in the ‘80s and ‘90s. No matter how strict your parents were about R-rated movies and “mature” entertainment, they were unlikely to pay much attention to trading cards. We all amassed huge piles of suggested sex and outright gore, and the fact that we weren’t necessarily ready to absorb such things made the cards all the more… what’s the word… invigorating? Read More…

Flea Market Finds, Again!

I had grand plans of reporting on my yard sale finds all summer long, but the flea markets have been so good to me. Why mess with success?


…so, I found myself back at the Englishtown flea market for the third time in four weeks. Lightning struck twice, but would it strike thrice?

Since you’re reading this, I guess you already know the answer: Oh hell yeah.

I didn’t have high hopes. It was super gloomy on the drive down, and we hadn’t even finished parking before the gray clouds started pissing on us. Luckily, the gods of crap must’ve picked me for their avatar, because I managed to find everything below in the scant ten minutes before that light drizzle turned into an all-out storm.


Child’s Play Chucky Doll! (1991)
Price: $7

This was my first score, and in a word, WOW. I’ve been after one of these Chucky dolls for the longest time! They arrived after the debut of Child’s Play 3, thanks to Spencer Gifts’ brazen belief that Chucky made for moveable merchandise.

You may remember smaller versions of these dolls from early ‘90s claw cranes, but this version is HUGE. Best of all, it’s in nearly perfect condition. The hangtag is gone, but there are no stains or odors. Given that it routinely sells on eBay for more than double what I paid — plus shipping costs — I’d say this was quite a steal. Read More…