It’s time for the latest edition of Five Random Action Figures, which takes the total number of figures featured over the course of this series to a cool 85. We’re almost up to a hundred! I’ll try to plan something special for that edition, and by “special” I hope I don’t mean “grab the first five figures from the nearest plastic tub.”
In any event, this edition is special in its own way, too. All of the figures spotlighted below were purchased last Saturday at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Con!
G.I. Joe / Street Fighter II, 1993
It’s been over twenty years, and I’m still rocked by the oddity of placing Street Fighter II characters under the G.I. Joe umbrella. Rocked, but thankful. Hasbro definitely knew how to work those characters in this scale, and doing so provided the added bonus of letting us envision Dhalsim making Tomax yelp by kicking Xamot in the face.
Blanka, resplendent in his jade greenness, might be the collection’s shining star. Hasbro ditched the idea of Blanka being a crouching, ape-like beast, instead presenting him as a sort of Average Joe (Average G.I. Joe) who just happened to have punky skin and hair.
I dig the transition. I couldn’t see Video Game Blanka saying much more than BLEEEAAARRRRUUGH, but in a pinch, I could totally see Action Figure Blanka narrating historical biographies while sipping boysenberry tea. This Blanka is the Grey Hulk to regular Blanka’s Green Hulk, which makes the figure’s emerald hide all the more confusing.
Oh, this was a lucky break. One of the ACBC dealers had a “2 for $5” bin, largely filled with exact sorts of action figures you’d expect to find in a “2 for $5” bin. (Unloved wrestlers, broken Bucky O’Hare villains, and a couple of giant robot legs that were likely severed from Power Ranger Zords.)
Digging deep, I miraculously found a Visionaries figure, with the holographic breastplate thing still attached! (You know you’re scoring big when you’re afraid to go pay the dealer. I was so ready for the “that shouldn’t have been in there” speech.)
Visionaries was one of the greatest toy lines of the ‘80s. A bit bigger than G.I. Joe figures but just as articulated, each came with a holographic breastplate, indicating the character’s spirit animal or some shit.
I’m not particularly fond of Leoric, thanks to that screwball demon who wouldn’t indulge my fantasies until I made a blood oath to never truly love a mustached action figure. Still, it’s a Visionaries figure with a still-present hologram, and finding that in a junk bin is just cause to cue up the Spencer Gifts Plasma Ball theme that plays over the climax of The Phantom Menace. As soon as I’m done writing this, I’m doing it.
Parts Unknown, 1980s
Rounding out my picks from that same “2 for $5” bin, I had to grab this crude ninja, made by God knows who. His limbs don’t move and his eyes look like they were painted by someone who was simultaneously pissing, but I think the low-rentness only adds to the charm.
I’m fairly certain that he debuted in ‘86 or ‘87, because it’s a pretty obvious attempt to mimic the Ninja Warrior figure from Karate Kommandos. I’m so glad I live in a world where bootleg Karate Kommandos exist!
Star Wars, 1983
I wasn’t aiming to spend $10 on any one action figure, but I couldn’t resist Sy Snootles, a figure I know I own but haven’t seen in a good ten years. Maybe the same screwball demon that made me hate mustached figures gave her the power to walk.
You should remember Sy Snootles as the lead singer of the Max Rebo Band, who scored Jabba’s attempt to woo Oola with slimy wine and giant alien dinosaurs. Like her bandmates, Sy was one of the very few Star Wars figures that couldn’t be bought individually. (The entire Rebo Band was sold together, in a boxed set that now costs more than half a week in Disney World.)
Since the Special Editions didn’t exist in 1983, this Sy fortunately retains her original look, which I’d liken to an eggsack with chicken legs. Look close and you’ll notice that Sy’s breasts are in plain view, which is the sort of thing a toy company can only get away with when they’re sculpting Pa’lowicks.
Fun fact: Excluding spinoff lines and ladylike droids, there are only two female characters in the entire vintage Star Wars collection: Princess Leia… and this thing.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1989
Baxter Stockman is my second favorite TMNT character, just behind Krang. As I recall, this was one of the earliest villain figures introduced, and I got him long before seeing the episode where Baxter actually became a fly. (For a while, I had no idea why Baxter — in my mind just a one-and-done human character — was represented as a giant bug.)
He’d go on to become one of the show’s biggest achievements. Baxter returned later — still as a human — for a stint as Shredder’s main minion. After Shredder tired of him and Krang ordered his execution, a mishap led to him being mutated rather than fried… and out came the Fly Guy I’d been waiting to see for so long.
Baxter wasn’t squeaky clean, but he was a victim of circumstance. It was hard to hate him, and even the writers seemed to have some small affection for their tragic insect. Every Baxter episode felt like a huge deal, and I always secretly wished that he’d end up living in the sewers with the good guys.
As an action figure, Baxter Stockman was both great and terrible. When you have all of his gear — as I do — he’s great. Unfortunately, any Baxter you might find at a yard sale will almost definitely be missing the wings and extra fly legs, leaving him looking naked and with a cumbersome divot around his shoulder blade.
Oh well. Even an incomplete Baxter still has eyes that look like Razzles.
Thank you for reading about more old toys!