It’s time for the twelfth edition of Five Random Action Figures! (Three of these were picked up just this week. Thank you, mysterious and awesome local comic book shop that’s apparently been hiding in plain sight since last spring.)
The Real Ghostbusters, 1986
Most of the praise I lavish on Kenner’s Real Ghostbusters line is thanks to the, erm, ghosts, but the actual Ghostbusters were just as inspired. They’d ultimately get umpteen upgrades with all sorts of new outfits and features, but I’ve always been partial to the originals.
Peter here has seen better days, but even with a half-broken Neutrona Blaster, I think you can still see the appeal. For one thing, the figure was a near-perfect representation of the cartoon character, assuming you can forgive Peter’s weirdly radioactive eyes. (And if there’s anything that’s forgivable by default, it’s weirdly radioactive eyes.)
The big draw was the accessories. Venkman came with a mini ghost, a Proton Pack and a Neutrona Blaster that perpetually spit a swirling proton beam. (The beam is longer than the figure itself!)
I got Peter for a song, and adding my recent acquisitions of Ray and Winston from that eBay mixed lot, I’m one Egon away from completing the world’s most play-worn set of Real Ghostbusters figures. Go me, I guess.
I’ve mentioned my growing fondness for Kenner’s sibling lines of Predator and Aliens figures, made in the early ‘90s. Whenever I pick up a new one, my immediate internal response is “more more more.”
Because sticking with wholly canonical Aliens would’ve severely limited the line’s villain count, Kenner came up with some creative additions, blending Xenomorphs with earthborn animals. There was a Bull Alien, a Scorpion Alien, and even a… drumroll… Gorilla Alien!
The Gorilla Alien doesn’t look very ape-like, with only some suspiciously long arms to justify its name. The only thing cooler than its metallic flesh was its accessory of an icy blue Facehugger. I’m really digging the idea of Facehuggers having a broad color spectrum. Assuming that every possibility is a possibility, nothing beats an icy blue one.
Oh, and this is pretty cool, too: Gorilla Alien squirts water! You can fill his head with mock-acid and then squeeze it to fire, allowing Gorilla Alien to demonstrate his disdain for humans by literally spitting on them. Yes!
Primal Rage, 1996
Primal Rage was essentially Mortal Kombat with GIANT MONSTERS. As popular as the game was, I’m still surprised that Playmates saw potential in a corresponding toy line. I don’t think the figures were too successful, but holy damn were they cool.
Vertigo was one of the villains, looking like a cross between a cobra, a velociraptor and pistachio ice cream. Between her ability to spit water and the mere idea of a giant lizard carrying a “voodoo spell staff,” Vertigo is absolutely Grade A.
Like all other Primal Rage figures, she came with a “Mini-Primal Follower” figure. (That’s the tiny orange woman in her left claw.) Whereas the more virtuous beasts might go out of their way to keep these little people safe, I’m inclined to believe that they’re meant as snacks for creatures like Vertigo.
Primal Rage figures were totally unloved in their time, but they’ve become pretty hot items on the collectors’ market… meaning you’ll need to pony up big time if you want the full set. A worthwhile endeavor? Absolutely. No other line had giant yetis on both the hero and villain teams. I love Primal Rage so much.
Gremlins 2 by Applause, 1990
Oooh, this was a lucky find. I mentioned Applause’s small line of Gremlins 2 figures in a previous article, which for a long time were the only Gremlins 2 figures available. And this one here was the best in the set. It’s Mohawk, the arguable leader and Stripe’s rightful heir!
In most Gremlins 2 merchandise, you’ll notice that the four main Gremlins were given exaggerated colors. Mohawk wasn’t nearly this blue in the film, but I’m not complaining. The color works for him almost as well as it does for Gorilla Alien’s Facehugger.
Mohawk is one of my very favorite movie monsters. The Brain gets most of the press because no other Gremlin knew how to sing, but Mohawk was the only one that went through two full evolutions. We saw him as Mogwai, a Gremlin and a Spider-Gremlin hybrid!
(Okay, technically, I guess the Bat Gremlin had two evolutions, too. Regular Gremlin, Bat Gremlin, and Genetically Sunblocked Bat Gremlin. I don’t know why I’m confessing this, as I’m sure I’m the only person on the planet who’d catch it. 90% of you had a small stroke just trying to process this paragraph.)
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1991
Yep, it’s true. Death from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey had an action figure. (They wouldn’t call him that on the packaging, but come on, it’s obviously Death.)
Bogus Journey seems to have usurped the first film as everyone’s favorite Bill & Ted thing, and Death is the premiere reason why. William Sadler has made many great movies even better, but I still think this was his best performance. Can you imagine anyone else in that role?
With a Wyld Stallyns tattoo on his mohawked skull, the Grim Reaper is easily one of the coolest figures in my collection. If you wanted him to look more Death-like, you could pop up his hood and trade the guitar for an included scythe.
You know how some “lesser” lines had certain figures that were almost too good for them? Like the Soaron Sky Sentry from Captain Power or Prime Evil from Filmation’s Ghostbusters, Grim Reaper is a must-have even if you couldn’t care less about Bill & Ted.
Now, to see if I can get this post edited and up before midnight. It’s 11:38 as I type this. I’m predicting many typos that will be ninja-edited tomorrow.