I’ve been waiting a looooong time to do this post. Inhumanoids was one of the best toy lines of any decade, and if you’ve been with me for a while, you’ve read that sentiment more than a dozen times. Today, it’s finally time to show you why.
(Or you could just look at that photo. It explains everything in a nutshell.)
Made by Hasbro in 1986, Inhumanoids was a series of toys with an accompanying cartoon. This was back when toons often existed only to drive awareness to doll and action figure collections. That setup garnered plenty of criticism from adults who wanted to “protect” us from secret advertising, but for us kids, it was great.
The best toy/toon combos were completely synergized, and in the case of Inhumanoids, the conversion from one to the other was absolutely on-the-nose. What you saw on the cartoon was precisely represented in the toy line, and vice versa.
Without going into too much detail, Inhumanoids was about a team of guys in high-tech suits trying to save Earth from GIANT MONSTERS. In a spin on the norm, these monsters actually lived within our planet — starting at beneath the Earth’s crust and going as far down as the core.
That’s a very abridged summary, but you get the point.
Virtually every character on the show had an action figure, and since three of the main characters were GIANT MONSTERS, you can understand why this was such a standout line. Giant monster characters had become action figures before, but because those monster figures generally defined the scale of their lines, they were rarely that big. Since the human figures in the Inhumanoids collection were around seven inches tall themselves, they necessitated giant monsters that really lived up to their name.
And boy, did they ever.
Let’s meet the trio!
#1: D. Compose!
He wasn’t the leader of the monsters, but given all I’ve read over the years, he’s probably the fan favorite. I didn’t own D. Compose as a kid. In fact, I never saw him up close and personal until finding this one for a reasonable price just a few months ago. (Thanks to someone on eBay who misspelled nearly every word in the auction title!)
On the show, D. Compose had the power to mutate people into hideous zombies, simply by touching them. It was befitting talent for a guy that was basically a pile of living, rotting filth himself.
I’ve never been able to pinpoint exactly what D. Compose is, but that’s what makes him so interesting. As if the birdlike demon head and putrefied flesh weren’t enough, D. Compose also had a gloriously exposed ribcage. Using a lever on the back, you could open and close that ribcage to trap action figures within D. Compose. Literally WITHIN D. Compose. Amazing!
Despite being the smallest of the Evil Monster Trio, the figure was still immense. For a sense of scale, I’ve included a few victims in the photo. Action figures this big didn’t come around often! This was the era of G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe, and heck, even with Transformers, only the select few super expensive figures approached D. Compose’s size.
TRIVIA BIT #1: Spelling the name of this character is tricky. Some materials have it as “D-Compose,” others “D’Compose.” I’m going with “D. Compose,” because that’s what it says on the damn box.
TRIVIA BIT #2: On the show, D. Compose had a raspy yet weirdly familiar voice. That’d be Chris Latta, who also voiced Cobra Commander and Starscream. D. Compose sounded very much like a hideous mash of those two characters!
I still remember the first time I ever saw Tendril, who served as my Inhumanoids gateway drug. It was at Macy’s during the Christmas season of 1986.
Back then, our Macy’s dabbled in selling toys, but only during Christmastime. I can’t remember what we were doing there, but it had zero to do with me ogling action figures. It just so happened that their modest toy area was stationed directly across from the escalator on the highest floor. I landed directly in front of their Inhumanoids display purely by happenstance, and the begging began IMMEDIATELY.
Giant action figures aren’t all that uncommon anymore, but in 1986, it was a different ballgame. I can’t overstate how impressive these creatures seemed at the time. I did end up getting Tendril that year, and now that I think about it, he was the biggest action figure I had as a kid.
Tendril was third in the Giant Monster Pecking Order, but I didn’t care. Basically existing as a humungous sentient plant, I didn’t learn until much later that Tendril was inspired by Cthulhu. (I can’t speak to how accurate that is, but to this day, when I read “Cthulhu,” I automatically think of Tendril.)
The largest of the monster figures, Tendril had several positives. For one thing, his huge feet made him nearly impossible to knock over. For another, Tendril made great use of the line’s most recurrent feature: Semitransparent plastic parts that shine bright under direct light. With the right lamp nearby, Tendril’s pink mandibles glow brightly enough to make the unsuspecting think he’s powered by batteries.
Then there’s his arms. Instead of hands, Tendril has long rubber “vines” that you can whip like giant rubber bands. I’ve killed action figures in a million ways, but few methods were as fun as nailing Star Wars figures with Tendril’s tendrils. Luke and Leia used to fly clear across the room!
TRIVIA BIT #1: At the end of the series, the heroes win the war and the monsters are defeated… but in the final moments, we see that a small sample of Tendril has gotten loose, suggesting a possible regeneration in the future. Yes!
TRIVIA BIT #2: The action figure originally had the long fangs shown here, but for safety reasons, they were eventually made shorter by Hasbro. Long-fanged Tendrils are more valuable… and a wee bit cooler.
Yeah, I uh… I don’t have Metlar’s body anymore. No clue what happened to it, but only his head remains. If you want to see him in full, check out this old Inhumanoids commercial.
Metlar was the strongest of the monsters, and the show’s Big Bad. From the Earth’s fiery core, it’s no big leap to compare Metlar to the Devil himself. Tendril may have had an inch on him, but Metlar’s figure was by far the bulkiest of the three. If desperate times called for desperate measures and you needed to turn a toy into a murder weapon, you’d pick Metlar. Dude was super heavy and oh so pointy.
I didn’t get Metlar when Inhumanoids was still in production, but a friend sold me the figure just a few years later, for a mere five bucks. He thought he was exploiting a kid who was probably too old for action figures, but I knew better. Five bucks for Metlar was an absolute miracle.
I guess the figure’s best attribute was something you can’t see in the photo: His hands. Metlar’s hands were molded in a gnarly “grasping” position, so he could hold (and torment) all of your other figures… whether they were from the Inhumanoids line or not.
TRIVIA BIT #1: If you’re an Inhumanoids nut, the fact that I only have Metlar’s head shouldn’t be too surprising. With all three giant monsters, decapitations weren’t that uncommon. As it turns out, they could only withstand so many hurls into our bedroom walls.
TRIVIA BIT #2: On the cartoon, it was revealed that Metlar wasn’t really the biggest and baddest monster. He formerly served Sslither, an enormous, snake-like creature, before rebelling and making a Giant Snake Enemy For Life. Rumors persist that a Sslither prototype figure was made, but the line went kaput before it could go into production.
I’m focusing on the giant monsters, but really, every toy in the Inhumanoids line was great. We’ve seen a few in past Dino Drac posts, but even the “simpler” human figures were miles ahead of most action figures.
We’re unlikely to see another line quite like it. Back then, action figures were still hot enough to allow fledgling lines to make such bold moves. These days, even with Hasbro’s backing, you’re unlikely to see such huge, vile figures released at the very start of an unproven commodity.
I feel fortunate that I was a kid at just the right time for Inhumanoids.
If you’re interested in picking these guys up, just be patient. They’re readily available on eBay, but the common asking prices are pretty high. Luckily for you, there aren’t that many people looking for old Inhumanoids toys, so when you find one with a lower asking price, the competition isn’t too fierce.
Of course, they’re worth whatever you pay. They’re basically dolls, but dolls made of hard plastic that look like crazy monsters. As a child, I used to sit Tendril next to me at the dinner table. I think I might give that another try in 2014.