I’ve been away for a while, slaying dragons, righting wrongs, and drawing crude character concepts for a gaming universe populated exclusively by warrior snails. I can’t say that I’ve been very successful with these endeavors, but they’ve given me many stories to tell.
To ease myself back into the role of Person Who Writes About Stupid Things For The Internet, I’m going to dust off an easy concept. Here’s another batch of random action figures! (Part 1 and Part 2 limited the choices to the ‘80s. For Part 3, NO DECADE IS SAFE.)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1989
In all his many adaptations, Rat King is one of the best characters of TMNT lore. This figure represents Rat King from the original Ninja Turtles cartoon. I hate to go all caps so soon after “NO DECADE IS SAFE,” but there’s no other option. In the first cartoon, Rat King was INCREDIBLE.
Without bothering to confirm the validity of my memories by cross-referencing with online episode guides, Rat King was a psychotic hermit who lived in the sewers. (Or maybe some other, sewer-like structure?) He looked like a crack addict in a cheap mummy costume, and much like any crack addict in a cheap mummy costume, he only seemed dangerous part of the time.
Don’t get me wrong. Rat King could pull some seriously nasty shit. He just seemed really passive about it all.
Through supernatural communication with rats, Rat King really was their king. He could order them to swarm into what looked like hideous ocean waves, made of rats instead of water. I loved it when he did that.
He looked great on the cartoon, but the figure is even more demented. The unnatural bald patches and unholy red eyes really set the stage, and there is literally no body part that isn’t covered in something awesome. Look close and you’ll even spot a giant centipede embedded into Rat King’s chest, thereby clarifying the character’s brief flirtation with the alternative alias of Centipede King.
Also, is it just me, or does Rat King look slightly like Biff Tannen? I wish “Rat to the Future” read as good as it sounds.
T.A.R.G.A.T. (Trans Atmospheric Rapid Global Assault Trooper)
G.I. Joe, 1989
In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned how the G.I. Joe Battle Android Trooper was one of the starring characters of my childhood toy universe. Well after my B.A.T. figure went missing, T.A.R.G.A.T. stole his job.
In a sense, T.A.R.G.A.T. was an even bigger star. I “scripted” my Battle Android Trooper to do some pretty emotionally-driven things, but in the back of my head, I always remembered that he was a robot. It kept me in check and it limited the possibilities. But T.A.R.G.A.T. was just a normal guy in a suit, and so I was finally able to iron out the kinks of that B.A.T./Leia romance storyline. (…which definitely helped me understand why Vision and the Scarlet Witch split.)
It was an easy transition, since T.A.R.G.A.T. felt like the Battle Android Trooper’s younger brother. His golden faceplate looked like the eyes of someone innocent, and so despite his canonical position as a villain, I made him act like a pretty decent guy. Murder and mayhem were not his strong suits.
One of T.A.R.G.A.T.’s original accessories was a jetpack, which could be plugged into a hole on the figure’s back. This was important, because when I played with my action figures, I didn’t fuck around with flight. People only flew if they had wings or planes or the historically proven magic ability to do so. T.A.R.G.A.T. was one of the few guys who could get from “Base 1” to “Base 2” without needing to traverse a comparable five hundred miles’ worth of paint-stained carpet first.
Little Dracula, 1991
Little Dracula is one of those things I think I remember really well until I’m suddenly challenged to explain it. A blog entry with a bibliography is more effort than I’m willing to give, so here we go, from memory:
Little Dracula was a series of storybooks about a friendly young vampire, which became a toy line with a corresponding cartoon series. (I can’t recall if the cartoon series ever got off the ground, or if I’m just completely making that part up.)
Whatever the case was, Little Dracula was not a popular or long-lived line, now existing in our collective psyche merely as the vague remembrance of some green-skinned vampire kid. It’s a shame, because the figures were actually very inspired. My favorite was some kind of robotic garlic soldier dude, who terrorized Little Dracula with the one type of non-religious, non-violent vampire protest suitable for a story aimed at children.
I picked this guy up a few years ago, for a Halloween Countdown entry that never came to fruition. At least, I’m pretty sure it didn’t. Frig, did I already write about Little Dracula? This was a 200 word waste of time if so.
I’m tempted to learn more about him, but the truth would never live up to what I’m imagining. Look at him! He looks like a teenaged vampire space alien. Problem is, he’s almost definitely NOT a teenaged vampire space alien.
Don’t research if you know it’s gonna lead to disappointment. Just stay in your bubble.
I haven’t written enough about Inhumanoids, but it really is one of my favorite toy lines ever. This is largely because of the collection’s enormous monster figures, which were literally over a foot tall. They were completely capable of sitting in a folding chair and looking like they belonged there.
But even the line’s smaller toys were top notch. Redlen was one of the Redwoods, a tribe of creatures disguised as trees that served as oracles for everyone they encountered. The figure can double in height by extending its midsection, but since its midsection is just a plain plastic tube, please forgive me for showing you Redlen at his shortest.
The figure’s best feature is its glowing eyes, which catch light through a plastic skull and reflect it right through the sockets. I know they’re made of simple green plastic, but Redlen’s eyes just look so expensive. To the kid version of me, they were as good as jade.
Inhumanoids had an associated cartoon series, and part of me feels like I should explain the premise. Another part of me feels that the premise was too ambitious to explain in less than thirty paragraphs, and that’s the part of me I want to listen to. In summary: A group of heroic humans in garish exo-suits contend with assorted monsters above and below the Earth’s crust. I also seem to recall a bald man who was constantly smashing televisions.
Star Wars, 1977
I had so many of these. Sooo many. Some of them had pop-out sensorscopes or lightsabers, but they were all basically the same.
I still prefer this style of R2 to the newer ones, which typically skip the “sticker full of robot parts” for fully sculpted bodies. Screw that. I love that sticker. In fact, I used to love it so much that I would always try to pry it off, in the hopes of using it as I would any normal sticker. Maybe I’d put it on a marble notebook, or something.
This was impossible unless you had a hairdryer and serious patience, and all my “scratching” method did was ruin one R2 figure after another. I probably went through a dozen of these as a kid, because once R2 lost his robot sticker, he was just a trashcan and a salad bowl.
The body portion is hollow, and playing with the figure today confirms that I’ve indeed grown in size since Age 4. Long ago, I could actually fit my index finger in its body cavity, and use R2 like a puppet.
…and I guess I still can, but I used to be able to get my finger all the way up to his hidden head screw. It sucks knowing that I’ll never touch that head screw again.
At least, it did until a minute ago, when I realized that my pinky still fits up there.
And so this post ends with news of my glorious triumph.
I can still touch R2-D2’s hidden head screw.
Sounds like a good lyric for my upcoming single. I think I’ll rhyme it with “glue.”