The previous edition of Five Random Action Figures took us to Old Plastic Dude #100. If it’s correct to assume that my next milestone entry won’t come until #200, I have my work cut out for me. Better get started!
DC Comics Super Powers, 1985
Part of Kenner’s inspired DC Comics Super Powers line, Darkseid also holds the distinction of being that collection’s best figure. (Don’t argue with me about this. You didn’t need to read comics to know that Darkseid was the big bad.)
As Darkseid was the chief inspiration for my favorite comic book character, I hold him in high esteem even without much knowledge about whatever he did in the DC universe. (As a kid, I considered Darkseid an amalgam of Emperor Palpatine and the Incredible Hulk. Thirty years later, and that shoe still seems to fit.)
While rarely making such lists, this really was one of the best action figures of the ‘80s. The fact that mine lacks the originally-included fabric cape does little to dent its perfect score. Aside from just looking like a great big gargoyle badass, the figure also has eyes that glow red under direct light!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1991
I’ve long regretted moving on from the original TMNT toy line before it ended, because it was one of those rare collections that never stopped getting better. Even the figures that I’m sure some fans marked as “lame misfires” — including this one — thrill the hell outta me today.
Tattoo is… interesting. According to his on-package bio, Tattoo was a sumo warrior who needed nothing but his own hands to crush Foot Soldiers. After being christened “Tattoo” by his masters, he covered his body in actual tattoos so as to better live up to his name. One must wonder what would’ve happened had his masters named him “Poodles DeBurger.”
This origin was completely retconned during Tattoo’s appearance on the cartoon, where we were supposed to accept him as a mutated hamster. (Seriously.)
The figure came with a sheet of stickers representing Tattoo’s tattoos, and yes, that meant that YOU got to pick which parts of his body to ink up. Given the violent “Mom” tattoo, they can’t be presumed to pay homage to Tattoo’s sumo upbringing.
Masters of the Universe, 1984
Orko was one of the most unique Masters of the Universe figures, which is saying a lot. He was also one of the few that felt straight out of the cartoon, with very little lost in the conversion.
The figure originally came with a ripcord, which could be inserted into Orko and then ripped out to make him wander around the dining room table, seemingly under his own power. (If you’re unfamiliar with ripcord figures, think “wind-up toys” — but ones that sprinted over long distances rather than crawled over short ones.)
Given that Orko spent no more than six frames of the original cartoon without his hat, the fact that his figure’s hat was removable was a little strange. On the other hand, maybe those Mattel wizards knew exactly what they were doing. If cartoon-watching kids wanted to know what Orko was hiding under there, they had to buy the figure!
(Course, in 2015, there are far more Orkos with forever-lost hats than ones still rocking them. As kids, it wasn’t just action figure weapons that we lost — it was anything that wasn’t glued in place.)
Rock Lords, 1986
This marks the third appearance of Rock Lords on Five Random Action Figures, and while I can’t say that Magmar is anywhere near my favorite from the set, he’s still an important character. Magmar was the leader of the bad guys, see. (In truth, I’d probably like him more had he kept his original Japanese name: “Devil Rock.”)
It’s not a bad figure, of course — it’s just hard to pick Magmar over the guys who had two heads, or the guys who were made of super shiny “gemstone” plastic. If Magmar was guilty of anything, it was of surrounding himself with too much awesomeness.
Like all other Rock Lords, Magmar could transform into a rock. In that mode, I admit that he looks less like a rock and more like Magmar hastily trying to resemble one through crouching. On the bright side, most kids were imaginative enough to fill in the blanks.
Street Sharks, 1994
In general, Street Sharks toys are hella expensive, owing both to the franchise’s increasing cult status and to the fact that these toys never seemed to be out there in “TMNT numbers.”
Scale-wise, I can’t think of another line that compares to them. So big and bulky! As toys, they felt closer to Boglins than action figures — not because they were puppets, obviously, but because they almost crossed that invisible line that made them more “doll” than “figure.” This is not a complaint. Part of the line’s appeal was in how utterly different it was from everything else.
Plus, they’re sharks. Humanoid sharks with big teeth and little legs. They’d be desirable no matter their size.
Thank you for reading, especially if you did it on Saturday night, when this was published.
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