Get set for another edition of Five Random Action Figures!
Admission: I’m trying to hurry through these so I can get to the next milestone edition, which is when I’ll allow myself to splurge on toys that aren’t already hiding in my office bins. Can’t wait to finally buy that old Serpentor figure with the Sparkle Crest toothpaste cape. I’ll only have to do this fourteen more times. Faaaaack.
My love for All Things Congo is already on record, and it’s thanks largely to the movie’s villains: A horde of snarling, battle-damaged grey gorillas. (Well, “villains” may be too strong a word. They were just doing what grey gorillas did.)
Due to Kenner’s penchant for making longshot bets about which movies would capture the hearts of children, Congo miraculously scored an action figure line, featuring such wish list toppers as Peter Elliot and Kahega. Really, if anyone bought Congo toys, it was for the line’s three grey gorillas.
I already showed you Mangler on a previous edition of Five Random Action Figures, who joined Blastface — another steak-faced simian — on the front line. When all else failed, the apes called in Bonecrusher, a “deluxe” figure that came with giant occult accessories plus a smaller monkey to boss around!
Really digging that battle staff. If you’ve never seen Congo, I’ll go ahead and confirm that none of the grey gorillas were seen using weapons, let alone meticulously carved weapons which presumably had the power to raise the dead when paired with the right assemblage of spooky vowel sounds.
G.I. Joe: Manimals (1993)
No, seriously, that’s a G.I. Joe figure.
If I’m paraphrasing other websites correctly, the Manimals — a bunch of extraterrestrials that transformed from beings into beasts — were supposed to arrive in the early ‘90s, but for various boring reasons were shelved until 2000.
(G.I. Joe figures that turn into walking mouths? That sounds more like a 2000s thing, anyway.)
I picked this guy up from a KB Toys outlet in a New Jersey strip mall mere weeks before the chain closed, marked down to $3 from its $10 retail price. In truth, I would’ve been fine paying the full ten bucks. Warwolf, the “alien mutation expert,” spends his calmer moments looking like a sluggish viking, only revealing his weird Xenomorph head after being suitably aggravated. The fact that I’m barely exaggerating means this is a great action figure.
As odd as the Manimals seem, Hasbro did have a habit of going completely berserk whenever G.I. Joe’s glow seemed to be fading. Remember that giant gorilla dude who launched cannonballs made from his own feces? This is what happens when you exhaust every possible permutation of a “human” action figure. Toothy aliens, and gorillas that fling shit.
Spider-Man: TAS (1996)
By the mid ‘90s, I was still way into toys but too old to really be playing with them, so I took on the mantle of “collector” to make myself feel better. Even so, the differences weren’t merely semantical. What I did with my toys in the ‘80s was totally different from what I did with my toys in the ‘90s.
Maybe I lucked out. The stuff that went down on my bedroom floor in the ‘80s was perverse enough even without the glut of super sexy figures from the mid ‘90s. I’m pretty sure I would’ve locked the door before introducing Black Cat to Jabba, for instance.
Aware that the fairly normal Black Cat would be sharing shelf space with a six-armed alien Spider-Man and a guy who made ten foot hammers out of mutant water, Toy Biz made sure to give her an equalizer: A “cat scratch crossbow” that’s nearly as tall as she is.
If you’re wondering how Black Cat is supposed to hold that thing… turns out, she can’t!
Yes! Another from Remco’s famous McDonaldland collection! (You may remember Mayor McCheese from this older Dino Drac review. His holy weirdness was from the same set.)
If you’re a sucker for old school McDonald’s nonsense, these figures are must-haves. I implore you to stray beyond your comfort zone of movie-themed glassware and the occasional Fast Mac. The dolls are easy to find and sooo worth the few dollars they’ll cost you. (“Few dollars” assuming you’re okay with getting them loose, kind of dirty, and stinking like a mix of cardboard and caraway.)
Actually, Grimace was the set’s least impressive offering, if only because Grimace is naturally simplistic and didn’t call for more than wrapping purple felt around a vaguely drop-shaped plushy mass.
Trivia: While Grimace would ultimately become famous as a genuinely decent oaf, he was actually conceived as a bad guy — a foil for Ronald. Fittingly, his original name was Evil Grimace!
Stone Protectors (1992)
I’ve grown super fond of the old Stone Protectors figures, despite knowing nothing about the franchise beyond it being a steroid spin on Norfin Trolls.
Zok was the collection’s Big Bad, who battled against heroes like Cornelius the Samurai using a volley of bright, cumbersome weapons. For what sounds like such a bullshit line, Ace Novelty sure made some hella nice toys. They’re weird crossbreeds of TMNT and He-Man figures, but with Troll hairdos. It’s like my first genie wish after an acid trip.
Seriously, if you’re looking from some obscure old line to start randomly collecting, you could do a lot worse than Stone Protectors. They’re almost needlessly good. Figures made with this many bells and whistles in 2016 would retail for close to $20, no joke.
Thanks for reading about troll frogs and teeth men and grey gorillas. I mean it.