Get set for the 38th edition of Five Random Action Figures, starring robot bugs and alien elephants and Ted “Theodore” Logan. We’re gonna have a time.
Storm w/ Power Glow Action
The Uncanny X-Men (1993)
If I have it right, this was the second of three distinct Storm figures to use this mold. The first came in 1991 and wore an all-black costume. The last, from 1995, wore a white costume to better resemble Storm’s appearance in X-Men: The Animated Series.
In the middle was this one, which happens to be my favorite. The switch to silver paid tribute to Storm’s then-current comic costume, and also made the figure look so much more…. godly. It was as if Raiden and Sindel put aside their differences to make a super-powered baby.
The ribbony cape is as awkward as it looks, but it does add a certain elegance. Had I owned this version of Storm back in the ‘90s, she would’ve ruled over my other action figures with a 90-to-10 ratio of pragmatism and vengeance.
Kickback is my favorite of the Insecticons, and actually one of my favorite Transformers overall, both in toy and toon forms. The main reason is “dude looks cool,” but there are other things in play, too.
On the cartoon, I loved how the Insecticons acted like contract players, only towing Megatron’s line when it suited them, and quick to fuck around when they thought they could get away with it. They were basically the Dreadnoks if the Dreadnoks were robot bugs.
In toy form, the Insecticons were a nice bridge between the Transformers figures that were too small to brag about and the Transformers figures that were too big to ask for when it wasn’t Christmastime.
Kickback was the neatest of the three, and I’ll never forgive Unicron for turning Bombshell into Cyclonus instead of him.
PS: Yeah, I know he’s transformed wrong. I like him that way.
Wyld Stallyns Jam Session Two-Pack
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1991)
I’m lumping them together because they were sold together, in a weird boxed set that came with an audio cassette and tiny neon guitars.
I don’t blame Kenner for giving the Bill & Ted toy line a shot, but I completely ignored these figures in the early ‘90s. “Funny people” were never gonna be as desirable as evil space warriors with red boots and machine guns, no matter how much I liked them.
Course, I now recognize that they were pretty much to scale with my old Ninja Turtles, which means that I robbed myself of the chance to stage a TMNT/Bill & Ted crossover right there on my bedroom floor. Shit.
Toy Island RoboCop Collection (1993)
This version of RoboCop was made by Toy Island, which acquired the license during a time when our hero didn’t mean so much.
Their figures weren’t quite up to the standards set by Kenner a few years prior, but that was the point. While available in “real” toy stores, these figures were more commonly sold in pharmacies, to kids who otherwise had nothing to beg for but lollipops and spiral notebooks. In that arena, they didn’t need to be A plussers.
…which isn’t to say that the figures were bad. Just less involved. For example, this particular RoboCop can’t bend his knees or turn his head, and he’ll only hold his guns after you spend five minutes repeating the word “motherfucker” with assorted inflections.
Still, the figure does have one impressive feature. That conspicuous button on RoboCop’s chest summons a symphony of machine gun noises, which makes no objective sense but is still so completely awesome that I’m now gonna take a five minute break just so I can go hit it again.
(I should also point out that RoboCop came in a package that very literally pleaded with you to touch him.)
Star Wars (1983)
Max was only available as part of The Rebo Band three-pack, which was Kenner’s subtle admission that a space pig who played the flute had little chance of being purchased separately.
Nonetheless, it was a great set, and Max Rebo was clearly the star. Packaged with a tire-shaped piano that doubled as a comfy chair, Max’s action figure was our first chance to see his full body. (In Return of the Jedi, he basically lived in his piano.)
This interpretation of Max Rebo became the standard, and if you’ve read enough Star Wars books, you know that the entire Ortolan species was based on it. Unfortunately, it was later discovered that Max’s hands were intended to be his feet, and that we’d spent decades completely misreading Ortolan physiology. Ah, Star Wars!
Even without the piano, Max Rebo is a great figure. He’s a diaper-wearing alien Dumbo with eyes that look like dollar store earrings. Ya can’t not love him.
Thanks for reading about another five random action figures.