Dinosaur Dracula!

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.

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…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!

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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.

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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.

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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…)