It’s time for the 24th (!!!) edition of Five Random Action Figures, the series in which I write too many words about chunks of old plastic.
This time, I’m covering a red monkey, a red dragon, a grey robot, a man who is also a horse, and the guy from A Clockwork Orange. Read that like you’re listing off the performers from an awards show. It’s fun, right?
Primal Rage (1994)
You couldn’t possibly understand this until you’ve experienced it, but owning a flaming red yeti dramatically improves one’s entire life.
Chaos is one of the bad guys (well, bad monsters) from Playmates’ Primal Rage collection. I never paid much attention to the video game that inspired the toys, but the action figures were impossibly fetching. (They were also kept on the shelves at KB Toys practically until the place closed, so even kids who never bought a single figure probably knew all of them.)
Acting as the Negaduck to Blizzard’s Darkwing Duck, Chaos mixes mad science with black magic in his quest to rule the world. As if an action figure of a Christmas-colored sasquatch wasn’t enough of a draw, Chaos’s hollow belly lets him store-and-squirt water through a pinhole in his mouth. (It’s officially known as a “Churl Attack,” but if I make a little neon monkey squirt water on someone, I’m calling it “spit.”)
Primal Rage figures typically command high prices nowadays, but if you can find them cheap enough, they’re always worth picking up. Still, I can’t honestly say that the remaining figures are nearly as cool as Chaos. I mean, look at him. Total opus.
Star Wars (1980)
Among the more unique figures from Kenner’s vintage Star Wars collection, you may remember IG-88 as one of the bounty hunters briefly seen in The Empire Strikes Back.
Mere window dressing in the film, IG-88 became a major player in many Expanded Universe novels. In fact, “he” turned out to be just one of several identical killer droids, each with a renegade attitude!
IG-88 was one of my childhood white whales. I could never find him in stores, and actually wouldn’t see the figure in person until my collector years. (Which granted was still just my early teens, but the point holds.)
One of the tallest and thinnest of all Star Wars figures, the artists compensated for IG-88’s bland colors by making the toy incredibly detailed. Running your finger down the length of him is as good as reading a book in braille.
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1996)
All I remember of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is that it made for great background noise on those lonely Saturdays spent toiling away on nerdy nonsense in my teenage bedroom. I’d look up every now and again to catch Hercules snarking or wrestling, but that was it.
So no, I can’t tell you much about Centaur’s role on the show. Actually, if I have it right, the figure merely represents one generic Centaur, rather than any of the specific ones from the series. Whatever. When an action figure is part horse and its action feature is literally called “big horse kick,” I don’t need to know the origin story. I’m already sold.
Despite Centaur’s bulk, it was interestingly not sold as a “deluxe” figure, but rather dwelled in the same line with all of the other 5” Hercules toys. He was a bargain even at retail, but considering that virtually every figure in this series can be found for pennies if you search eBay long enough, Centaur’s even more of a steal now.
(Side note: There are a LOT of cool figures in this line, and given their low prices, it’s super easy to build an army of wicked monsters. You definitely don’t need to be a Hercules fan to appreciate Marvel-scale figures based on minotaurs and hydras!)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1992)
I’d mostly fallen off the TMNT action figure bandwagon by 1992, so it wasn’t until adulthood that I found out just how wild the series got in its waning years.
(The sad truth about many action figure lines is that they did their best work when far fewer were paying attention. Look at the final wave of Masters of the Universe figures, for example.)
Hothead never turned up on the cartoon, though he did eke out an appearance in the old Tournament Fighters Nintendo game.
A supernatural dragon of sorts, Hothead looked just kingly enough to use as one of your action figure “bosses.” I don’t see him as an infantryman — more like the guy who sits on a plastic throne and orders all of the less interesting action figures to do his bidding. Had I owned Hothead in 1992, my voice would’ve been perpetually hoarse from making him talk down to everyone.
Star Trek Generations (1994)
Dr. Tolian Soran was the main antagonist of Star Trek Generations, a film that I managed to watch the shit out of despite never having been much of a Trekkie. (Maybe it was HBO’s flavor of the month or something, I don’t know.)
If you know nothing of the Trek universe but still find the figure familiar, that’s probably because of who played Dr. Soran: Malcolm McDowell, who was absolutely the biggest reason to watch Generations.
In layman’s terms, Soran endeavors to locate a wave of space lightning which transports people to some dreamy fake dimension where everyone mentally constructs their own perfect realities. Yes, those are the layman’s terms.
Back in the ‘90s, I remember thinking that Soran was a pretty neat idea of what a younger Emperor Palpatine might’ve looked like. (This was before the prequels arrived, of course.) Always clad in black and always one step ahead, I may be the only person in history who was genuinely excited to pick up a five inch Dr. Soran.
Thanks for reading! If you’re hungry for more toy junk, my latest Star Wars piece is now live, covering one of the weirdest action figure carrying “cases” ever: Kenner’s Chewbacca Bandolier Strap!
PS: For those who missed it, the latest episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast has dropped. This week, me and Jay talk about ten of our favorite pop culture mascots.
PPS: Dino Drac’s January Funpack is still on sale, but only for a limited time! Thanks to everyone who signed up this month! Your reward will be more long ass tributes to old action figures.