Dinosaur Dracula!

Halloween McNugget Buddies were SO GOOD.

I will always be loyal to McDonald’s, and that has little to do with the company’s food. God knows how many paper-wrapped cheeseburgers I tore through during adolescence, but what I really loved about the place was how it could turn nothing days into something days.

This was especially true during the Halloween and Christmas seasons. When I was growing up, that was when McDonald’s busted out its best promotions, turning garbage trinkets into must-haves, and giving every kid a reason to beg Mom not to cook.

Through these promotions, McDonald’s taught us that holidays weren’t just single days, but monthlong events constantly building to a crescendo. If that sounds like a stretch, I’ll remind you of the time they gave away Chicken McNugget figures dressed like Frankenstein, and how that made the second week of October feel like the last.

1

Yep. Halloween McNugget Buddies. Second to those adorable trick-or-treat pails, they were the best Halloween Happy Meal McDonald’s ever did.

The first McNugget Buddies promotion came in the late ‘80s, but back then, there was no Halloween branding. By the early 1990s, someone put two and two together and realized that costumed McNugget figures made perfect sense for Halloween.

Rechristened as Halloween McNugget Buddies, several sets were released at various points of the ‘90s, each with a new batch of wacky costumes. Watch this commercial — it tells the story better than I can:

At the time, Happy Meal “duds’ were few and far between, but the Halloween McNugget Buddies still shined brighter than almost every other set. We’d already been fed a steady diet of TV commercials that portrayed Chicken McNuggets as living, breathing characters with human facial features, and now we had a chance to OWN one of those cute fuckers. Really, the removable costumes were just gravy. (more…)

NECA’s “Jason and Pamela” SDCC Set!

Can I be honest?

When I heard about NECA’s SDCC exclusive “Jason & Pam” two-pack, I knew I was going to buy it, but I wasn’t exactly happy about buying it. When I had the set in my cart during the online sale, I could only click the appropriate buttons through gritted teeth.

Fifty bucks for a couple of action figures, PLUS shipping? I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a little exploited, because I just couldn’t imagine the figures being cool enough to view with anything but residual guilt.

Well, they arrived yesterday. Sister, I WAS WRONG.

6

We can go back and forth on whether these were really worth fifty bucks, but I’ll tell you this: I’ve been a NECA fanboy for over ten years now, and these are unquestionably some of my favorite figures from them.

I think back to NECA’s 8-Bit Jason, and how much I treasured it. While conceding that the cool “Nintendo box” packaging factored into its $25 retail price, the figure was downright basic compared to the two shown here.

What’s most impressive is that they could’ve afforded to suck. Maybe not so much with Pam, but fans were going to line up for a “Boy Jason” figure no matter WHAT it looked like. (Seriously — if Funko did a ReAction version and made it a true SDCC exclusive, tell me you wouldn’t have paid 25 bucks for it.)

I don’t know how NECA operates or who created these, but the figures were obviously works of passion. The likenesses are a tad exaggerated, yet still so dead-on that I see no need to even provide movie stills for comparison. If you wanna know how these two looked in the film… that’s how they looked. (more…)

Gremlins ReAction Figures by Funko!

I’m a sucker for Funko’s ReAction series, which — for the three of you who don’t know — collects characters from movies and television and turns them into endearingly simplistic action figures.

Since they’re so comparable to Kenner’s old Star Wars figures, I was born to love them. Still, most of my adoration has been from afar, sheerly as a matter of self-preservation: I buy enough goofy crap as it is, and my wallet just can’t handle adding another never-ending collection of ten dollar action figures to the mix.

Of course, I’m willing to make exceptions in cases of extreme awesomeness, and I think a set of GREMLINS ReAction figures is just such a case.

8

…so I went nuts and bought a ton of them, all at once. Shown above are six of the seven available figures, and the only reason I didn’t buy the seventh is because stupid Toys “R” Us didn’t have it.

TRU charged over eleven dollars per figure, which I admit to being a little “too much” for these. I expect a markup on toys aimed at adult collectors — after all, the mere idea that we can find figures like these in brick-and-mortar stores is worth the premium — but in ReAction’s case, that markup can feel a bit severe. The good news is that several chains seem to be recognizing this, and it’s no longer uncommon to find them on sale.

This time, I couldn’t be patient. Had this Gremlins set been around when I was a kid, they would’ve been my very favorite action figures. Even now, when I’m old enough to cradle seven ounces’ worth of plastic and wonder how many bills it could’ve paid, I’m so in love. These are great! (more…)

Five Random Action Figures, Part 21!

The previous edition of Five Random Action Figures took us to Old Plastic Dude #100. If it’s correct to assume that my next milestone entry won’t come until #200, I have my work cut out for me. Better get started!

1

a-1Darkseid
DC Comics Super Powers, 1985

Part of Kenner’s inspired DC Comics Super Powers line, Darkseid also holds the distinction of being that collection’s best figure. (Don’t argue with me about this. You didn’t need to read comics to know that Darkseid was the big bad.)

As Darkseid was the chief inspiration for my favorite comic book character, I hold him in high esteem even without much knowledge about whatever he did in the DC universe. (As a kid, I considered Darkseid an amalgam of Emperor Palpatine and the Incredible Hulk. Thirty years later, and that shoe still seems to fit.)

While rarely making such lists, this really was one of the best action figures of the ‘80s. The fact that mine lacks the originally-included fabric cape does little to dent its perfect score. Aside from just looking like a great big gargoyle badass, the figure also has eyes that glow red under direct light! (more…)

Changeables: The BEST Happy Meal Toys.

2

BURGERS THAT TURN INTO ROBOTS!

McDonald’s Changeables may very well be the best Happy Meal toys of all time. At the very least, they’re tied with those old Halloween pails.

Between 1987 and 1990, McDonald’s released three sets of Changeables — aka McRobots — for a grand total of 22 unique action figures, plus a few more if we’re counting the non-transformable “Under 3” toys.

We were wild for them as kids, and adulthood has done little to diminish our collective affinity. While it’s accepted that most Happy Meal toys will cut a few corners, Changeables seemed downright retail-ready. These figures were sturdy, well-detailed and just so damn imaginative.

As you’ll gather by watching that absolutely kickass commercial, Changeables were conceived as a sort of Transformers ripoff, but in some ways, they actually outclassed them.

It was thrilling to see robots turn into cars and jets, sure, but a robot that transformed into a pack of Chicken McNuggets? If you were a kid in the late ‘80s, that shit was relatable. (more…)

Five Random Action Figures, Part 20!

Welcome to the twentieth edition of Five Random Action Figures, which marks a milestone that you’ll doubtlessly see mentioned on the front pages of tomorrow’s papers.

party

Yes, by the end of this post, I’ll have photographed and reviewed one hundred action figures!

These articles have never been my most popular, but they’ve certainly been the most dependable, and in deference to my whole web career — nyuk nyuk — being built on piles of old toys, Five Random Action Figures will remain a part of Dinosaur Dracula for however long there is a Dinosaur Dracula.

To celebrate this HISTORIC occasion, I made sure to select five figures that could all be construed as haymakers. Enjoy!

3

a-2Big Boss
COPS ‘N Crooks, 1988

By the time I picked up my first COPS figure, the cartoon was already off the air, and the only place to find the toys was Lionel Kiddie City — at dramatically reduced prices, with big ugly clearance stickers all over the packages.

By then, the pickings were slim. Kiddie City had multiples of Louie and Dr. Badvibes, but almost no one else. It wasn’t until looking at the cardbacks on those “lesser” figures that I realized my folly. I should’ve been collecting this line from the very start, because BIG. BOSS. WAS. AMAZ. ING.

Look at this guy! I always favored the villains, but I especially favored the villains who looked like they ordered people around from leather thrones, eating grapes while being frond-fanned by robots.

As I’ve mentioned before, all of my “major” bad guy figures acted like mob bosses, sharing total control over everything that happened on my bedroom floor. If Boba Fett wanted to go for a spin in the Cobra BUGG, he needed to clear it with Mumm-Ra and Jabba first. If they disagreed, that red-and-black guy from Visionaries was the tiebreaker.

Big Boss, with his Kingpin build, Armani suit and Destro hand, would’ve fit right in. Oh, what could’ve been! (more…)