I wouldn’t normally go back to the “Five Random Action Figures” well so soon, but I’m tired and I have a headache and my car is broken, and this is the only series I can handle when I’m completely oblivious to what I’m writing. My favorite blog about raising a chimp in a screen house hasn’t updated in a while, and I’m starting to fear the worst.
Here’s the fifteenth edition of Five Random Action Figures, typed on a stormy night in a room that has no reason to smell like oranges, but does.
Captain Planet and the Planeteers, 1991
With sky blue skin and a grass green mullet, Captain Planet was a superhero with an ecological slant. Summoned by magical rings worn by multicultural children, he’d fly in like Superman and never stop smiling, no matter how many bad guys threw fiery, poison-soaked logs at his face.
Positive anti-pollution messages aside, the cartoon existed to sell toys, and Captain Planet had a great line. In general, the villain figures outclassed the heroes, as it was pretty hard to pick some noodnik teenager over a snarling rock man with lumpy, glow-in-the-dark skin.
99 out of every 100 people remember the first verse of the Captain Planet theme song, which according to legend was written by Phil Collins. That’s untrue, but let’s roll with it, because if there’s anything weirder than a theme song about an environmentally conscious flying blue man, it’s that plus Phil Collins.
While I believe these figures were re-released around ten years ago, this Mayor McCheese is one of the 1970s originals. He was part of Remco’s McDonaldland collection, which included dolls based on all of your favorite long-dead mascots, like that pirate dude who was singularly focused on stealing fried fish sandwiches.
Mayor McCheese, a bipedal mutant with a giant cheeseburger for a head, has long been the keeper of my heart. Benevolent ruler of McDonaldland, you could make an argument that McCheese was even more important than Ronald himself.
Tastes change, and talking meat seems way grosser now than it did in 1976. I don’t think Mayor McCheese would find much success today, unless it was in some self-effacing Super Bowl ad. There, a CG Mayor McCheese would try to rap his way back into our hearts. I dream about that way too often.
The Nabisco Thing
You’ve never heard of the Nabisco Thing? Oh boy! Okay, so at some point in the ‘90s, Nabisco decided that they needed an official mascot — some lovable, anthropomorphic dude to bridge their brands and give small children someone to quote.
Their solution was the Nabisco Thing, a bizarre attempt to make a man out of their company logo. (The head was shaped like the Nabisco “antenna,” but it was never explained why the rest of his body was shaped like a fictitious instrument from a Saturday morning cartoon version of a 2055 rock concert.)
The Nabisco Thing wasn’t long-lived, I guess because seeing a featureless alien breakdance just didn’t improve anyone’s desire for cookies. Fortunately, he lasted long enough to be immortalized as a bendy figure!
SOTA Street Fighter Collection, 2004
I’m pissed that I didn’t grab all of SOTA’s amazing Street Fighter figures when I had the chance, because they’re ridiculously expensive now.
What’s worse, I can’t even complain about their prices. They’re worth every damn penny. Scarce and sincerely as good as any other action figure line I could name, the figures are big, heavy as hell, and articulated to the point where you could make award-worthy stop motion videos with ‘em.
M. Bison is my favorite from the set, though that’s mostly because M. Bison is my favorite character from Street Fighter lore. As soon as he became playable, Bison replaced Chun-Li as my go-to character.
Competitive matches were what they were, but Bison was the ultimate best character to use against a Street Fighter newbie. More experienced players knew the block from the start, but newbies just sat there with dropped jaws as your weird red military commander suddenly turned into a giant fireball. 😎
The Real Ghostbusters, 1988
Mail Fraud was a part of The Real Ghostbusters “Haunted Humans” series, where seemingly benign everyday people transformed into hideous ghosts. (You can see another from that series in Part 2!)
The Haunted Humans did little for me as a kid. Mailmen and grandmothers seemed to pale in comparison to the line’s “standard” ghosts, which included everything from Xenomorph skeletons to amorphous blobs that used their own eyeballs for missiles.
As an adult, I’m much more appreciative of the concept. Allowing that the “normal mode” mailman figure was boring, I now see that that was the whole point. It made the switch to a pelvis-mouthed monster with a tie for a nose all the more shocking. Hell, I’m not sure that toy stores would’ve even carried this guy if he came packaged looking like that.
Now go back, look at the photos, and imagine those five characters enjoying a picnic at the park, complete with a checkered blanket and wicker basket.
Haha, you fell for it. You’re gonna be stuck with that image for weeks. Sweet dreams, mofo.
PS: I don’t think I’ve linked it from here yet, so if you missed my latest Star Wars column, go read about super swank Return of the Jedi freebies given away by Hi-C!