Dinosaur Dracula!

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.

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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!

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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…)

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!

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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. (more…)

Scores from an amazing toy show!

Hoooo boy. This was worth every ounce of sweat and every minute of the hours-long drive.

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It’s a Toy Show — essentially an outdoor flea market that dealt strictly in old toys — happened last Saturday in some part of Jersey that’s otherwise populated by nothing but cows and Wawas. Hosted on the grounds of the incredible It’s A Toy Store, the hundred degree heat did little to dampen the event’s status as life-changingly awesome.

Dozens upon dozens of vendors took to picnic tables and ratty blankets, and nearly all of them had collections worthy of individual tributes on Dino Drac. And maybe rock anthems by charity supergroups. Holy shit, this was paradise. (more…)

Five Random Action Figures, Part 18!

I wouldn’t normally do another edition of Five Random Action Figures so soon, but I’m creatively tapped. While my present mental faculties can handle five old toys, I’m not sure that they can handle anything more.

So, off we go! Five Random Action Figures, Part 18!

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a-3Cobra Commander!
G.I. Joe, 2002

Funpack subscribers should recognize this “special” Cobra Commander as being from a weird set of Pepsodent promo figures — yes, Pepsodent — that were distributed back in 2002. They were made in India, and I don’t believe were ever available in the States.

As part of the Playskool branch of G.I. Joe figures, the figures were 100% legitimate while still seeming very “bootleg.” The Pepsodent set included ten figures in all, and since I had to handle so many of them for the Funpacks, I can say with all confidence that they were very shoddily made. (Some were molded with differently-sized feet; others had cubic stumps where their hands should’ve been. I have a pile of these figures that were too malformed to include in anyone’s Funpack.)

Many of you had black-suited Cobra Commander figures, but this one is a little different. The details are cruder, the paint is messier, and the figure isn’t quite as articulated. On a stretch, these faults only add to the charm. He almost seems like a prototype, or like something you’d win from a really bad carnival.

(The Pepsodent G.I. Joe figures each came with a weapon, but not a dedicated weapon. Another Cobra Commander figure might’ve come packaged with a totally different gun. I chose the lemon yellow rifle, because I so enjoy the idea of Cobra’s maharaja carrying that.) (more…)

Five Random Action Figures, Part 17!

It’s time for the latest edition of Five Random Action Figures, which takes the total number of figures featured over the course of this series to a cool 85. We’re almost up to a hundred! I’ll try to plan something special for that edition, and by “special” I hope I don’t mean “grab the first five figures from the nearest plastic tub.”

In any event, this edition is special in its own way, too. All of the figures spotlighted below were purchased last Saturday at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Con!

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a-5Blanka
G.I. Joe / Street Fighter II, 1993

It’s been over twenty years, and I’m still rocked by the oddity of placing Street Fighter II characters under the G.I. Joe umbrella. Rocked, but thankful. Hasbro definitely knew how to work those characters in this scale, and doing so provided the added bonus of letting us envision Dhalsim making Tomax yelp by kicking Xamot in the face.

Blanka, resplendent in his jade greenness, might be the collection’s shining star. Hasbro ditched the idea of Blanka being a crouching, ape-like beast, instead presenting him as a sort of Average Joe (Average G.I. Joe) who just happened to have punky skin and hair.

I dig the transition. I couldn’t see Video Game Blanka saying much more than BLEEEAAARRRRUUGH, but in a pinch, I could totally see Action Figure Blanka narrating historical biographies while sipping boysenberry tea. This Blanka is the Grey Hulk to regular Blanka’s Green Hulk, which makes the figure’s emerald hide all the more confusing. (more…)