Saturday was spent at the Englishtown flea market with Ms. X and Jay. We three marveled at old records, cajun peanuts, and what I swear was a lipstick-wearing John Cena, immortalized on an unlicensed throw blanket that was large enough to double as a circus tent.
The highlight — if you don’t count the part where poor Jay’s car got stuck in the snowy mud — was another stop at Englishtown’s famous Toy Room.
You might remember last year’s article about that vendor, who sells an ungodly amount of vintage toys, from Transformers to Masters of the Universe and beyond. His indoor booth is as much “museum” as “store,” and it’s impossible to spend any length of time there without drooling like a sick dog.
Since I’ve already covered Toy Room’s good stuff, I thought I’d spend this post writing about their not-so-good stuff. Just outside Toy Room’s booth are many shelves filled with lower-end thingies. Thingies that are too unpopular or in too poor condition to bother displaying in a meaningful way.
It was there that I stumbled upon the bin shown above. In it were more than a hundred beat-up action figures. I mean, EXTREMELY beat-up action figures. Missing limbs. Chewed heads. Mud caked in every crevice. Ink stains, paint stains, and stains I’m not sure I care to identify.
That bin was pure action figure hell, but for some reason, I loved it. It seemed artsy. It seemed like it had something to say. Most importantly, everything in it was super mega cheap. The dealer could hardly hide his surprise when I inquired about the prices, I guess because there isn’t a huge market for Dick Tracy “Flattop” figures with no arms or legs.
The toys were between a quarter and a buck each. I went home with a substantial bag filled with absolute trash. These are my five favorites finds:
From the original Masters of the Universe collection, here we have Jitsu… but with Roboto’s left arm and somebody else’s right arm.
Making your He-Man figures trade arms was an unadvertised but completely incredible part of collecting those toys. The thing is, I don’t know why you’d ever do it with Jitsu. In his natural state, Jitsu had a shiny, large, gold-plated “chopping hand.” Why would you ditch that? I will only accept this if it was part of a longer process that involved putting Jitsu’s chopping hand and Fisto’s giant fist onto Battle Armor Skeletor.
‘Cuz that would look great.
Lisa Simpson, Cenobite Edition. (1990)
I immediately recognized this as one of the Simpsons dolls Burger King gave away back in 1990. Poor Lisa has lost her dress, but that’s only the start of it. Some animal or demon saw fit to bite off more than half of her individual “hair spikes,” turning Lisa’s head into a many-holed, completely porous tribute to pain.
What was originally just a happy smile has taken on new meaning. I suspect that death was unexpected and instantaneous, and Lisa’s face just froze that way at the moment of impact. Or maybe she’s still alive, but in zombie form? Whatever the case, I plan to dye her skin in a pale purple color. Then I’ll use Wite-Out to get rid of her pupils. Then I’ll kick back and relax.
Shredder Can’t Shred Much. (1988)
The original TMNT Shredder figure was interesting. Everyone had to have one, even if it really wasn’t all that great.
Fans of the cartoon took issue with the color of Shredder’s clothes and accessories, which weren’t remotely faithful. More irritating was Shredder’s action pose, which permanently marked him as a “sneaker,” and made it nearly impossible for Shredder to stand under his own power.
The worst thing was how you couldn’t keep from cheering during those rare times when you were actually able to make Shredder stand up, which in turn caused just enough sonic vibrations to knock him down again. And so the vicious cycle continued, with nobody winning and everyone crying.
It’s even worse in this figure’s case, since Shredder has no forearms to help balance himself with. He can’t stand and he can’t hold anything. And he has no cape. It’s like the Turtles finally said “fuck it” and used their weapons to do honest-to-goodness damage, estimating that they wouldn’t have to endure daily Shredder shenanigans if the stupid idiot had no arms.
Carey Mahoney and the Troubled Head. (1989)
I’ve never seen a single Police Academy movie, but that didn’t stop me from collecting the figures… mainly because they spent so much of their shelf life with delectably slashed clearance prices. I never knew who “Larvell Jones” was, but I loved that I could buy six of him for the price of one Splinter.
I totally had Carey Mahoney back then, too. He came with a gun, a nightstick, and a vicious police dog that for some reason squirted water.
Finding action figures with chewed heads is not entirely uncommon, but the way in which Carey’s head was chewed is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s like some crafty savant with weird teeth decided that he wanted to make an 8-bit Carey Mahoney. I could spend ten weeks chewing the heads of countless action figures, and I’d never be able to duplicate that exact effect.
Pizza No Face. (1990)
Another from the original Ninja Turtles collection, Pizzaface was one of the weirdest figures in the set. Presented as a lunatic chef with green slime spittle and a goddamned circular blade in place of his right leg, Pizzaface may have been the most disturbing villain the Turtles ever faced.
Of course, he’s much more disturbing without his head. I love this trashed action figure to death. I never would’ve imagined that ditching Pizzaface’s face would somehow improve the figure, but it DOES.
Pizzaface has the word “JOEY” on his ass. It seems somehow incongruous that a figure wearing some kid’s personal brand could’ve ended up like this. Maybe “Joey” was just meant to be this guy’s second name, because having a headless action figure named “Pizzaface” makes no sense.
Yes, that’s gotta be it. This figure is named Joey. There are dead bugs inside of him.
Next, go visit Jay at The Sexy Armpit to see what he found in Englishtown. IIRC: Randy Savage and a car covered in mud!