In this edition of Five Random Action Figures:
Tramps! Terminators! Snails! Sectaurs!
Plus an Ewok.
Waaay back in the 2nd edition of Five Random Action Figures, I reintroduced you to General Spidrax, the lead villain in Coleco’s Sectaurs toy line, famous for its battery-operated giant insects that flapped their wings like portable fans. That was some sentence.
Prince Dargon was the lead hero. Though the Sectaurs line is mostly remembered for its beasts of burden and giant playset, the action figures were law-defyingly good. They were like He-Man figures mixed with G.I. Joe figures, better because they were bugs.
Steve the Tramp
Dick Tracy (1990)
Ah, the infamous Steve the Tramp figure! Part of the Dick Tracy movie line, Steve was undoubtedly one of the least desirable picks, second only to Sam Catchem on the “I’m only buying this because KB Toys has nobody else” front.
What made Steve so legendary wasn’t his bumpy face or “found wood” accessory, but rather that the figure was recalled over complaints that it was insensitive to the homeless. “Homeless” is hardly the first word I’d use to describe Steve, but without the context provided by the film, I can’t say that I’d disagree.
Weirdly, even after word of Steve’s “recall” spread, I still saw him all over toy stores. Years after the Dick Tracy push ended, when all of the figures were on clearance and every plastic bubble was crushed, I still saw Steve out in the wild. (Like an idiot, I bought several, believing them to be “investments.”)
I tend to believe that there was less of a “recall” and more of a “discontinuation,” which was just Playmates’ way of saying, “We’ll go ahead and stop doing what we’d already decided to stop doing.” After all, the only kids who requested Steve for Christmas worshipped Satan.
Terminator 2 (1995)
Don’t cry foul — I know it looks crude, but that’s a legitimate, licensed T-1000 figure. Released by Toy Island in 1995, here’s what I’ve gathered, based entirely on conjecture:
Terminator 2 came out in 1991. Kenner scored the license to make toys, and they made a lot of good ones. After profits stalled, they took a break. In swooped Toy Island, likely on a cartoon pterodactyl, with its sights set on a degraded and thus newly affordable license. Course, by then it was 1995, and nobody really cared about Terminator 2. That’s why Toy Island didn’t go buck wild with the articulation.
I really have no idea if any of that is true. It sounds true, though.
The figure is modest, but I love it. It looks like they took a generic soldier figure, spray-painted it silver, and melted the foot. I’ve always dug “simpler” figures like this, so it’s fortuitous that all of today’s toymakers are cutting every corner to stay alive. Really, this is all I want. I don’t need snap caps, or shoulder slots for USB cards. Don’t tell me how to play.
Armorkillo & Wart
I’ve gotten sooo many requests to cover Snailiens over the years, so here I am, covering Snailiens.
The figures were basic and unarticulated, but boosted by the inclusion of snap-on battle suits and weird little “pets.” Each figure also came with a rubber “cup” that let you launch their accessories like catapult ammo, but IMO, that was definitely a case of painting the peacock.
I’m not the only one who considers this series the spiritual successor of Battle Beasts, which shared the same level of impressive details on decidedly diminutive frames. In layman’s terms, both lines had animals dressed like killer spacemen.
If you’re able to find a Snailiens figure cheap, grab it. It won’t happen often. In general, scarce + cult following = disappointing eBay search results.
Wicket W. Warrick
Star Wars (1983)
One of Kenner’s smallest Star Wars figures, I have big fat sentimental attachment to this guy. Story time!
Back in junior high, I discovered the classifieds in the back of sci-fi rags like Starlog. There I found my first (and at that point, only) opportunity to collect old toys. Dealers would send me poorly xeroxed copies of their catalogs, and I’d just sit there in stunned glee, unable to believe that I could really buy Star Wars figures again.
Without much cash (and a bit too old to be asking my parents for “toy money”), I’d order things very slowly, and always opt for the cheapest items. At the time, loose Star Wars figures in shitty condition with none of their accessories ran for 3-4 bucks at lowest, and only if we’re talking about the most common and least popular figures.
I was dying to buy one of the vintage vehicles, which would’ve been the first in my new/old collection. (That is, if you discounted a few junked ships and 1/3rd of the Ewok Village, which were leftover from childhood.)
Even the smallest vehicles went for a fortune by my standards. The only one that I could afford was the Ewok Glider, for twelve bucks. It wasn’t the Millennium Falcon, but you gotta start somewhere.
When it arrived, I was floored. The dealer threw in the vintage Wicket W. Warrick figure, free of charge. (An act of kindness for sure, but not exactly a random one. Back then, you had to call dealers before buying anything, to reserve your items. When that guy heard my puberty-fucked voice asking about Ewok Gliders, he obviously knew that I was a kid.)
Since Wicket alone was worth as much as the Ewok Glider, this was a momentous occasion. I’d later learn that plenty of dealers were absolute garbage, so it’s nice that one of my first experiences was with such a good one!
Thanks for reading about action figures for the 25th time.