Okay, it’s Saturday night and none of you are here, but I’m already panicking about how close we are Halloween. A scant 48000 hours away! I don’t want to miss the chance to get even one more horrifying thing posted before the big day, so here I am. I’m so lonely.
Here’s another batch of spooky action figures, covering everything from The Real Ghostbusters to Masters of the Universe to other long titles that look shitty in italics. Enjoy!
The Wolfman Monster
The Real Ghostbusters, 1989
Part of The Real Ghostbusters “Monsters” series, this Wolfman was in some respects the plainest villain in the entire line. That’s not so much an indictment of Wolfman as a tribute to the sheer creativity Kenner put into their RGB figures. If a werewolf in tattered casual wear with a snapping jaw was the plainest guy in the line, you can just imagine how endearingly odd the rest of them were.
The “Monsters” series is sometimes criticized by fans. The thrill of RGB’s villains was in their collective lunacy, so a bunch of “regular” monsters naturally paled in comparison. It’s not quite a fair judgment, since there isn’t much in this world that could compare to three-eyed blobs of purple flesh, or alien skeletons that trapped people in their ribcages. If this set seemed boring, it was only because the bar was set so high.
Actually, they’re some of my favorite representations of classic movie monsters. (There were five others in the series, including Dracula and Frankenstein.) Whenever old school monsters were made into action figures, it was usually done in a “stoic” way. The figures generally looked calm and well-mannered. By contrast, RGB’s looked excitable and active, and very much like cartoon characters… even if they never did appear on the show.
Masters of the Universe, 1983
We tend to remember Skeletor’s minions as generally ineffective idiots, because on the cartoon series, that’s what they were. But when you view them more as standalone creature concepts, they’re fantastically freaky, and so many of those figures easily qualify for a spot on a list of the all-time spookiest.
Take Trap Jaw, for example. Forget everything you know about Trap Jaw and accept him at face value. It’s like the Wicked Witch of the West nominated her dead brother for hideous cyborg experiments, and out came this fucked up Frankensteinish football player.
I’ve lost the pieces, but Trap Jaw came with various weapons that could be fitted into his mechanical right arm. These included a simple pirate’s hook, a slightly more elegant claw, and a goddamned four foot laser gun. Why Trap Jaw would ever use the hook or claw when he had #3, I have no idea.
The chomping teeth were a nice touch, as was the random loop on top of Trap Jaw’s helmet. With that loop and a little string, you were one overhand knot away from the world’s most cumbersome necklace.
Star Wars, 1983
You’ll remember Gamorrean Guards as the piggish brutes that protected Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi. (More specifically, you’ll remember the horrible crunching sounds Gamorrean Guards made when they were being eaten by Rancors. Still grosses me out.)
It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that I was born a Star Wars fan, so yes, I did see Return of the Jedi in theaters. Problem was, I was four. Not “somewhere in the realm of four.” ACTUALLY four.
As it turned out, “four” was too young to handle that movie on the big screen. Spending an hour in Jabba’s palace absolutely terrified me. It was a castle of monsters! A castle of monsters with an alien dinosaur living downstairs! A castle of monsters owned by a giant slug who abused women while devouring mutant frogs!
I distinctly remember having nightmares about those scenes, which usually amounted to me being chased down cavernous corridors by five or six Gamorrean Guards. Later lore would establish them as almost-adorable simpleminded warriors, but back in the early ‘80s, all I saw were 400 pound green pigs with death on the brain.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1990
As previously mentioned, I am absolutely infatuated with Mutagen Man. He was one of the most bizarre and creative figures in the entire TMNT collection, which is really saying something if you’ve seen the rest.
Comparable to Cain from RoboCop 2, Mutagen Man was a twisted mess, blending mechanical parts with the remnants of a poor human named Seymour Gutz. The figure’s torso — where the organs were protected in a see-through shell — could be filled with water or mutagen ooze.
Growing up, I always wanted to take those organs out of Mutagen Man. For one reason or another, I never got around to it. (If I had to guess, it was because my father, a generally good man, turned into a frothing demon if anyone took his hammer.) Finally, about a year ago, I finally made good on that childhood dream. SO WORTH IT.
Super Naturals, 1987
After mentioning Super Naturals in a previous edition of this series, several folks asked if I remembered the rest of the line. Well, of course! Those were some of the best toys of the ‘80s, or really, any decade.
Actually, one of my favorite figures from any line was part of Super Naturals. In his own universe, Burnheart was just another villain. In my universe, Burnheart was one of the five or six “boss” characters that formed a loose, mafia-esque syndicate.
I’d string together every playset I owned, forming a nearly room-wide fortress. You’d have Castle Grayskull connected to the Fortress of Steele, and the Fortress of Steele connected to some Matchbox playset… and so on and so on. Every action figure I had, good and bad, lived in this ragtag city.
The group of “boss” characters each controlled a different portion of the fortress. In effect, all this really meant was that they got the best seats in their respective houses. With bosses ranging from Jabba to Mumm-Ra, I must have really liked Burnheart to put him in such esteemed company.
There are two problems with this photo. One, I’m missing Burnheart’s pop-off chest protector. Two, my photo does no justice to his hologram. (All Super Naturals had holograms revealing their “normal” and “spirit” modes, and that alone let Tonka raise their MSRP by a full dollar.) Even with these gaffes, Burnheart still looks incredible. Like a fashionable executioner.
I guess I’m done. Let’s end on a group photo.
I wish they’d form a band. I’d buy tickets to every show.