Dinosaur Dracula!

Five Random Action Figures, Part 33!

I wanted to do another edition of Five Random Action Figures before Halloween, lest I waste the excuse to take pictures of plastic monsters out in the freezing rain. So here we are, hours later, with me sneezing and my phone’s touchscreen on the fritz. I suffer for you.


a3aRancor Monster
Star Wars (1983)

The Rancor Monster was the largest of Kenner’s vintage Star Wars figures, with a price to match.

Too extravagant to talk Mom & Dad into buying during a “regular” trip to Toys “R” Us, most kids had to wait for Christmas or their birthdays, and pray that they’d remember how much they wanted one during those small windows of opportunity. It was the kid version of trying to get pregnant.

I never did get a Rancor Monster as a kid, and actually never even saw one in person until I was like, 67. It’s an impressive figure for sure, but as the legend grew in my childhood brain, I imagined the Rancor being triple this size and with rough, leathery skin.

The reality may not be the Rancor of my dreams, but it’s still a wonderful toy. It’s like they mixed DNA from a tyrannosaur and that thing from Cloverfield. Read More…

Five Random Action Figures, Part 32!

Here are more of my favorite spooky action figures from the ‘80s and ‘90s, photographed in a moldy forest:


a1Shish Kebab Beetlejuice
Beetlejuice (1989)

By far the best figure from Kenner’s Beetlejuice collection, Shish Kebab Beetlejuice also wins the award for weirdest. His “scary skewers” impale everything from chicken legs to alien rats to Beetlejuice himself, and best of all, they’re completely removable.

(If you’ve ever seen a beat-up Beetlejuice with a bunch of holes in his chest at a yard sale, that was this one.)

As a kid, I found the Beetlejuice line a little too gimmicky. With their weird features and removable heads and turning knobs and hidden buttons, they almost felt more like gadgets or puzzles than action figures. But now that I’m sitting here playing with Shish Kebab Beetlejuice and realizing that nirvana is this and it was always this close, I wanna warp back to ’89 and beat the shit out of me.

There’s just something so artful about this guy. By “artful” I’m of course referring to the fact that you can pop off his head to reveal a smaller head that’s actually just one big spinning monster eye. Everybody needs a Shish Kebab Beetlejuice. Only then will the world begin to heal. Read More…

Five Random Action Figures, Part 31!

Certain Dino Drac features take a break during the Halloween Countdown, but not Five Random Action Figures. I know where my bread is buttered.

But since we are in the spooky season, any editions published between now and Halloween will feature scary monsters exclusively. That’s partly to maintain the theme, but mostly because I love photographing action figures over beds of cheap phony moss. You can’t do that with or in April.


a2Pudgy Pig
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1994)

Ah, my favorite MMPR monster! I haven’t seen the episode featuring Pudgy Pig since high school, but even after 20 years, it’s hard to shake the visual of a bulbous piggy head in a legionary helmet strolling around on showgirl legs.

I thought the first few waves of Power Rangers toys were a mixed bag. The line’s most popular and/or expensive offerings generally struck me as being the most cumbersome, with the more intricate ones working under the same principle as Jenga stacks. On the bright side, Bandai almost never messed up the monsters.

Could there have possibly been a more perfect representation of Pudgy Pig in action figure form? So good. Dig the pig. Fine swine. Read More…

Five Random Action Figures, Part 30!

In this edition of Five Random Action Figures: A robot, a lion and a sentient chicken leg. It’s as if Baum toked extra before writing about Oz.


Kenner’s Star Wars Collection (1978)

R5-D4 was Uncle Owen’s first choice, and were it not for the droid blowing its motivator at the precise right moment, R2-D2 might’ve never gotten the chance to save the galaxy.

(Fun fact: Additional Star Wars materials suggest that R5-D4 was Force-sensitive and fritzed out on purpose, all for the greater good.)

The movie version of R5-D4 was kind of inelegant, lacking the little touches that made R2 seem so anthropomorphized. The same can’t be said for the original Kenner action figure, which is totally adorable and one of my favorites from the set. When I divorce myself from Star Wars lore, it’s even cooler than R2’s figure.

Every R5-D4 figure that’s come out since has been more faithful to how “he” looked in the film, but if you ask me, the droid just isn’t the same without candy button eyes. Read More…

Five Random Action Figures, Part 29!

Welcome to the 29th (!!!) edition of Five Random Action Figures, posted during the busiest holiday weekend of the year. If you’re reading this between now and July 5th, congratulations, you are one of the lucky dozen to do so.

Below: Five more action figures from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Had I planned this better, they’d all be holding those toothpicks with the little U.S. flags on top. There’s always next year. I’ll be 73.


a4Emperor’s Royal Guard
Star Wars (1983)

Wow, has it really taken me 29 editions to cover this guy? As a kid, the Emperor’s Royal Guard was my absolute favorite action figure. It wasn’t even a close race.

While future lore would make more of their story, these were the seemingly ceremonial guards first seen in Return of the Jedi, flanking Emperor Palpatine and adding splashes of color to the otherwise drab Death Star. They only served as set dressing in the film, but I was immediately taken with their flowing robes, slick helmets and apparent dedication to the mafioso principles of omertà.

In action figure form, the Emperor’s Royal Guards looked just as regal, and kicked off my near-lifelong obsession with toys that utilized real, actual fabric. Seems that most collectors prefer molded clothing these days; I can only assume that they never tore the robe from an Emperor’s Royal Guard to make a fancy finger puppet.

On that note: I went through a dozen of these figures as a kid, and it had nothing to do with army building. As much as I loved those robes, I loved tearing them off even more. Underneath the main cloak was a crimson cocktail dress, which worked great whenever I staged some grand toy gala complete with Gravy Train steak dinners.

I’d end up tearing that robe off, too, and then begin begging for a new Emperor’s Royal Guard. Really couldn’t name many other figures that were worth picking twelve times. Kudos, Kir Kanos! Read More…