I didn’t want the Countdown to slip by without at least one Halloween-themed edition of Five Random Action Figures, so here you go!
My criteria was simple. “Would the figure look good on my Halloween Mood Table?” If the answer was “yes,” it was safe to include.
The Headless Horseman!
Sleepy Hollow, 1999
My pal Anthony donated this one, thereby guaranteeing himself lifetime access to one of my kidneys. I’m a huge fan of Sleepy Hollow, and — with the admission that I may be in the minority on this — consider it one of Tim Burton’s best movies.
The film was this weird-but-brilliant black comedy that never let itself in on the joke. It was cheesy and preposterous, but it never told you that it knew these things. (It’s also super atmospheric, and just perfect for this time of year. Like a futuristic Yankee Candle, Sleepy Hollow seems somehow scented with autumn.)
The movie would’ve meant so much less without Christopher Walken as the Headless Horseman, though. God, guys! It had to be one of his easiest paychecks ever, but he was SO good in this.
“Here’s the plan, Chris. Your only line with be ‘neeeaaarrrrhhh!’ We’ll dress you like a vampire version of Pinhead. And that’s literally it.”
McFarlane Toys got in on the “mature” market long before most other companies. This figure, which has a removable head and came packaged with severed heads, could never be construed as a “kid’s toy.”
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, 1994
Pudgy Pig will forever be my favorite of the many giant monsters sent from space to fuck with the Power Rangers, but Spidertron comes close.
The fact that he looks so cool is just a bonus. In truth, I’d call him my second favorite based on the name alone. “Spidertron!” I knew I should’ve trademarked that shit back in the second grade, when I was doodling imaginary Decepticons in my math notebook.
I get that he’s a giant spider and that he’s supposed to be menacing, but isn’t he kind of… sweet? Spidertron looks like the mascot of some sketchy city’s worst sports team. For modest fees, he’d appear at the grand openings of ice cream parlors. Don’t tell me you can’t see it.
Masters of the Universe, 1985
Yes! My favorite Masters of the Universe figure, and probably among my top ten figures of all time, from any line. Modulok ruled the school.
Some readers may recall the story about how my childhood obsession with “getting Modulok” led me to literally throw myself into furniture while screaming his name, as if this would somehow stir God’s pity and make it rain He-Man figures.
You’re not seeing Modulok at his best in this photo, as I seem to have misplaced a fair portion of his 22 body parts. At full power, he has two heads, rippling abs, six legs and a big beetle ass. The gimmick was that you could rearrange his body parts however you saw fit, with the advertised number of combinations being more than one thousand. Modulok was basically a LEGO set.
In the cartoons, Modulok was a bit player, but he did display more brains and “oomph” than most of Hordak’s troops. Aligned with the evil Horde, his animated appearances were mostly limited to She-Ra: Princess of Power. (Smart move. Toons were more “gender specific” in the ‘80s — at least according to the time’s dumbass social conventions. Sticking all of Hordak’s monsters on She-Ra was a great way to guarantee male viewers!)
Despite the crude appearance, this actually was a licensed toy!
It’s technically not an action figure, but rather a “decoration” meant to be stuck onto windows. (You can’t see it in the photo, but there’s a suction cup attached by a string to Freddy’s hat. I assume was meant to be used as automobile decor, but since 90% of the people who bought these didn’t own cars, he probably ended up being more commonly used as forehead decor.)
Freddy is adorably off. Gone is the fedora, in is the rain hat. The figure looks like it’s based on some PG-rated Elm Street cartoon that never existed. Freddy casually carries a skull in his gloved hand, evidently hoping that such a macabre accessory might help to offset his newfound cuteness. It doesn’t.
(This toy came out during the height of Freddymania, by the way. Check out my Old News article on A Nightmare on Elm Street — most of those articles were from this era. Freddy was a total pop icon!)
Beefsteak & Ketchuk!
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, 1991
These figures weren’t based on characters from the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes movies, but rather the animated series. I’ve never seen a single clip from that cartoon, but I still have mad, crazy love for these toys.
Now somewhat rare, the figures used to be easy finds on toy store clearance shelves. (If I recall correctly, they may have been the last things I ever bought from Lionel Kiddie City.) While I’m featuring two figures in the photo, each Killer Tomato was sold separately, and each came packaged with a small “human” figure to either team with or torment.
The monsters’ mouths open and close when you squeeze them, effectively making them double as some of the world’s best puppets.
What I love most is how much individuality they gave each character. It wasn’t like you were buying the same figure over and over again, with only rudimentary differences between them. Each had a custom mold, and no two looked anything alike. (In fact, as awesome as Beefsteak and Ketchuk are, the truth is that the other figures — based on everything from tomato mummies to tomato snakes — were even cooler! Some of them even had arms and legs!)
Thanks for reading about five random spooky action figures.
Yes, I bought fake moss and tiny-sized hay bales specifically for this article.