I wouldn’t normally do another edition of Five Random Action Figures so soon, but I’m creatively tapped. While my present mental faculties can handle five old toys, I’m not sure that they can handle anything more.
So, off we go! Five Random Action Figures, Part 18!
G.I. Joe, 2002
Funpack subscribers should recognize this “special” Cobra Commander as being from a weird set of Pepsodent promo figures — yes, Pepsodent — that were distributed back in 2002. They were made in India, and I don’t believe were ever available in the States.
As part of the Playskool branch of G.I. Joe figures, the figures were 100% legitimate while still seeming very “bootleg.” The Pepsodent set included ten figures in all, and since I had to handle so many of them for the Funpacks, I can say with all confidence that they were very shoddily made. (Some were molded with differently-sized feet; others had cubic stumps where their hands should’ve been. I have a pile of these figures that were too malformed to include in anyone’s Funpack.)
Many of you had black-suited Cobra Commander figures, but this one is a little different. The details are cruder, the paint is messier, and the figure isn’t quite as articulated. On a stretch, these faults only add to the charm. He almost seems like a prototype, or like something you’d win from a really bad carnival.
(The Pepsodent G.I. Joe figures each came with a weapon, but not a dedicated weapon. Another Cobra Commander figure might’ve come packaged with a totally different gun. I chose the lemon yellow rifle, because I so enjoy the idea of Cobra’s maharaja carrying that.)
Both Hercules and Xena were shows I used to watch all the time, all while never really watching them at all. Meaning, when it came to Herc and Xena, my information retention was positively nonexistent.
So, I’m afraid to say that I don’t remember Mole-Man from the series, even if cursory research indicates that he really did appear on The Legendary Journeys, in a costume that looked like Chewbacca covered in half-eaten spare ribs. Apparently just one member of a whole species of Mole-Men, he looks way, way cooler as an action figure.
If you’ve never paid much attention to the Hercules and Xena toy lines, you absolutely should. Both collections are stuffed with super impressive monsters, and you can buy them on the collectors’ market for peanuts. (In fact, I found this guy at that flea market from last weekend. Since they were technically Jay’s score, he got first dibs on a big pile of still-carded figures that were just $2.50 a pop. And they’re almost as cheap on eBay!)
Oh, also: There’s a button on Mole-Man’s back. When you press it, he literally explodes, losing both arms and both legs in one fell swoop. If this action feature was based on something that happened on the show, I really, really need to track that episode down.
Biker Mice From Mars, 1993
Biker Mice From Mars was another show in the Ninja Turtles vein, where everyday animals got all bipedal and snarky, and developed renegade fashion senses. This time, a trio of Martian mice (really) headed to Earth to fight evil and ride motorcycles. Which is awesome, when you stop to think about it.
The corresponding toy line was impressive. The figures were tall and slender, but with all sorts of wild, colorful details. (If I had to compare them to another line, the scale was pretty similar to The New Adventures of He-Man.)
I don’t think you need to have been a fan of the show to appreciate a six-packed rat with a Terminator arm, dressed for Laser Tag. This is common sense.
PS: If you’re ever challenged to lift some 500 pound thing over your head, I’d recommend listening to the Biker Mice From Mars theme song first.
A relatively late addition to the Ninja Turtles toy line, Dirtbag was an evil mutant mole, or maybe Splinter’s younger, grouchier, lapsed Catholic cousin. I like him. If you’re a mole wearing camo suspenders, I like you, too.
The later edition TMNT villains were almost universally over the top; Dirtbag is a rare exception. He was conceptually simple enough to have fit in with the line’s earliest villains, which I mean more as a compliment than a knock.
While I’d rank Dirtbag as one of the more obscure characters, he actually did appear on the cartoon series. In one memorable episode, he and Groundchuck — a big red bull — were mutated by Rocksteady and Bebop. (Hilariously, they’d been instructed to gather a lion and a gorilla — animals that would’ve served Shredder’s plans far more ably!)
WWE Classic Superstars, 2005
I don’t know if the WWE Classic Superstars line is still ongoing in any form, but the gist was that Jakks commemorated older and often retired wrestlers with big, beautiful action figures, finely detailed and oh so hoity-toity.
The line was a terrific reminder of my childhood favorites, which absolutely included Akeem. Formerly the One Man Gang — one of the few wrestlers who literally gave me nightmares as a kid — 400+ pound George Gray rediscovered his roots and was reborn as “The African Dream.”
If the gimmick was racist — and let’s face it, it probably was — I didn’t realize that as a kid. All I knew was that this psycho biker dude grew out his hair and got really into dancing, all while dressed like a giant blueberry. Howard Finkel should’ve announced him as Violent Beauregarde.
While Gray spent far more years portraying One Man Gang, you could argue that Akeem was his most famous character — chiefly because he was one of the antagonists leading up to Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage’s falling out, which played out in prime time on network TV.
Thanks for reading about Akeem and Mole-Man. Have a wonderful weekend.