A fortuitous stop at a New Jersey toy store left me with just enough ammunition for another spooky-themed edition of Five Random Action Figures.
Electronic Talking Venom!
Marvel Super Heroes, ToyBiz 1991
I absolutely loved ToyBiz’s Marvel Super Heroes line, which went hand-in-hand with Marvel Universe trading cards to transform me from someone who was casually aware of comic books into someone who still remembers planet Salaria by name.
Among the set’s best figures was Venom, but specifically THIS Venom, which came with the accessory to end all accessories: A battery-operated backpack that let him spew audible threats! Each of the backpack’s three buttons signaled a different phrase, the best of which being — and this is an exact quote — “I WANT TO EAT YOUR BRAIN.”
The figure debuted back when anything having to do with Venom was immediately cool, but the fact that this one came with a Halliburton modified into a shit-talking backpack just put it over the top.
Thundercats, LJN 1986
I’ve previously covered the “grandpa mummy” version of Mumm-Ra on Dino Drac, but this is the badass blue-skinned uber version, who admittedly looks less intimidating without his hat.
(Seriously, Mumm-Ra’s Mardi Gras headpiece is not on the list of action figure accessories a collector can afford to lose. It’s like Shipwreck without the parrot.)
Even without the hat and that crucial component that originally made Mumm-Ra’s eyes glow, it’s still an awesome figure, more akin in size to a LJN WWF figure than anything from the 3¾” realm. When you look at the original Masters of the Universe collection, it’s obvious that He-Man wouldn’t have meant so much without a strong adversary. And Mumm-Ra was definitely this line’s Skeletor.
The figure is also the source of residual anger for yours truly. Back when I was in the Boy Scouts, we had a “Christmas grab bag” gift exchange. Bring a gift, throw it into a big garbage bag, and pick another one for yourself. I ended up with some lame battery-operated tank that absolutely stank of somebody’s mother doing a quick run to the pharmacy on the way to the meeting. It turned out that the cruddy gift was contributed by the very same kid who ended up with mine. Hope you liked that Mumm-Ra, you louse.
Tales from the Cryptkeeper, Ace Novelties 1993
Tales from the Cryptkeeper was a quirky attempt to turn Tales from the Crypt into a kid-friendly animated series. (It’s weird how that one slipped by without some overzealous children’s group franticly protesting its debut. In any event, the cartoon series was utterly harmless.)
The toy line was larger than you might think, with at least eight monsters that all looked like budgeted versions of Real Ghostbusters spooks. In deference to Cryptkeeper’s historic penchant for costume changes, there were several figures representing him. The one with the crude cloak was the most iconic, but I might actually prefer this tuxedo-donning version. I guess it’s those black Play-Doh legs. We all have our things.
Batman: The Animated Series, Kenner 1993
Batman: The Animated Series was a wonderful cartoon made more important by the utter garbage it was bookended with.
At least, that was my impression at the time. Batman: TAS seemed like an oasis each afternoon, with writing, stories and characters that were sooo much headier than any of my other after-school decompressors.
One neat thing about the corresponding action figures was their distinct “Happy Meal toy” vibe. Don’t get me wrong — they were well-made and large enough for the retail market, but most of them had a certain quaint simplicity that made the ‘93 me feel like the ‘83 me.
In a series full of Jokers and Harleys and brooding Freezes and MOTHERFUCKIN’ CLAYFACE, I can’t say that Scarecrow was even close to my favorite baddie. Still, this is a tremendous figure, complete with Inhumanoids-style eyes that glow red under direct light!
Roger Rabbit Flexies, LJN 1988
Yup, it happened! A Judge Doom action figure!
(As a matter of full disclosure, I’ll mention that the same company made a non-bendy Judge Doom that was actually twice as cool, but in a pinch, I’ll gladly put up with trying to make this one stand.)
Judge Doom had all the traits that I look for in a villain. Specifically, he dressed like the Undertaker. It’s hard to imagine anyone from the Roger Rabbit universe as being too threatening, but I’ll remind you that this is the same guy who once forced an adorable anthropomorphic shoe into a vat of smoky acid.
Like, if my Cobra Commander broke at the waist and I needed someone else to order Zartan and Croc Master around, this dumb bendy would’ve worked wonders.
Thanks for reading about another five (spooky) action figures!
PS: If you missed it over the weekend, the latest episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast has dropped. Also, I have a new article up on Star Wars Dot Com, covering a vintage Darth Vader Halloween costume. If you followed me on Twitter, you’d know these things sooner!