I’ve been sorting through my storage bins. Not the usual ones. These are the bins that time forgot. Stuff I stashed away more than ten years ago. Back then, I was still in “save everything” mode, so I’ve spent many years believing there was nothing but garbage in them.
(Broken videos? Chipped Budweiser steins? Obsolete Archie McPhee catalogs?)
Turns out, there was real treasure hiding in those bins. They were like time capsules, and I’m having so much fun sneezing my way through their dusty contents. It should give me some great content for the next few weeks, too.
Today’s post features some of those new/old scores. Here’s the fourth edition of Five Random Action Figures!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1990
An evil mutant aligned with Shredder, Scumbug acted as an ironic exterminator, bent on spraying the Ninja Turtles with liquid poison! (My figure is missing the accessories, which included a backpack full of imaginary “paralyzing juice.”)
With the likes of Mondo Gecko and Wingnut, Scumbug was one of the four new figures that came out after everyone already collected the first two waves of Ninja Turtles toys. And guys, that third wave was a BIG deal.
Its release corresponded with TMNT’s peak popularity, and people like me went CRAZY trying to track those figures down. (It was to the point where toy stores didn’t even bother putting the figures on shelves. They just left the shipping boxes out in the aisles for kids to sort through. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest.)
Mondo Gecko was the ultimate “get” from that wave, so of course, I found him last. Scumbug was the first one I found. Only with decades of improved maturity can I see that he may have actually been the best from the third wave. A giant cockroach with bulging eyes, covered in smaller cockroaches? That’s so up my alley. Sealing the deal, Scumbug’s antennae form my first initial!
Randy “Macho Man” Savage
WWF Wrestling Superstars, 1986
LJN’s Wrestling Superstars were the best. If you’re too young or were too disinterested in wrestling, they were eight-inch figures made from a heavy but pliable rubber. Not counting the paint and the parts you laboriously chewed, the figures were virtually indestructible. That was good, since the entire point of Wrestling Superstars was to smash them into each other.
The line was absolutely enormous, and I can’t remember many ‘80s wrestlers that didn’t get this treatment. (LJN even made a figure for Macho Man’s valet/wife, Miss Elizabeth!)
After Luke Skywalker, Randy Savage was my biggest childhood hero. I was so invested in him. When we won, I was elated. When he lost, I was ready to boycott.
And I thought Slim Jims were fucking gross until Macho Man legitimized them.
This is one of the few figures I’ve managed to hold onto since childhood. I will assume that my long dead dog did that to Randy’s nose. There’s no way I would’ve defaced Macho Man. I remember biting Lou Albano’s pointy finger off, but Randy Savage? That couldn’t have been me.
Star Wars, 1983
Depending on how you qualify them, there were between 92 and 115 action figures in Kenner’s original Star Wars collection. That’s nothing compared to the still-running Hasbro line, but it was still enough to where Kenner had to scrape the bottom of the barrel.
Thus, we got Klaatu. He was one of the guards in Jabba the Hutt’s palace. (That’s the simplest explanation, at least. A longer one would involve so much technical geekery that I’ll lose all but the most devoted Star Wars fans.) He had no lines was barely visible in Return of the Jedi, so Klaatu just served as “another random alien” for the more recognizable figures to beat up.
The best thing about Klaatu was his skirt. Only a select few Star Wars figures had real fabric clothing. (Even Darth Vader had to make do with a shoddy plastic cape.) Real fabric just made them feel so much fancier. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my favorite Star Wars figure, the Emperor’s Royal Guard, was the one dressed in the most fabric.
Rock Lords, 1986
Rock Lords was an overachieving extension to the Gobots line, and where Tonka’s collection shined brightest. Instead of planes, trains and automobiles, the Rock Lords transformed into… well, rocks.
Nuggit was one of the best figures in the set. In robot mode, he had that same sort of “cuteness” that made Johnny Five such a hit. In rock mode, he was basically a gold golf ball. Which was awesome. My figure’s chrome finish is badly faded, but if you find a fresh one, Nuggit is one of the shiniest things ever.
There were figures I played with when it was “time to play with toys,” but then there were others that became odd companions. Nuggit was one of them. I carried that dude everywhere. Boring trips to Grandma’s were much more tolerable when I had a gold robot to help me investigate her basement closets.
Why’d you have so much scotch, Grandma?
G.I. Joe, 1987
Okay, the Dreadnoks. They were a group of crude bikers who worked for Cobra, but they weren’t exactly owned by Cobra, if that makes sense. Led by Zartan, they looked like they crawled out of a bayou in some dystopian future, with strange clothes, odd hairdos, and a general air of “we don’t give a fuck, we’ll eat live chickens.”
Zanzibar was a late addition to the Dreadnoks, originally packaged with the Dreadnok Air Skiff vehicle… which was essentially a big chair with a fan attached to it. With Popeye forearms and a hilarious half-shirt, Zanzibar’s best feature was his hair. Not many Joes had “real” hair!
His filecard painted him primarily as a pickpocket, which in the world of Cobra wasn’t exactly a top skill. On the other hand, Zanzibar had a bunch of knives and bombs sculpted right onto his body, so I guess he was good for more than that?
Destro: I want you to sneak into the ball and steal the queen’s crown!
Zanzibar: I’m sure I can sneak in, but what if the queen is out of reach?
Destro: Run headfirst into a wall. You’ll probably explode and kill everyone, at least.
Zanzibar: I knew using grenades as breast brooches would be my undoing.