In this edition of Five Random Action Figures: A robot, a lion and a sentient chicken leg. It’s as if Baum toked extra before writing about Oz.
Kenner’s Star Wars Collection (1978)
R5-D4 was Uncle Owen’s first choice, and were it not for the droid blowing its motivator at the precise right moment, R2-D2 might’ve never gotten the chance to save the galaxy.
(Fun fact: Additional Star Wars materials suggest that R5-D4 was Force-sensitive and fritzed out on purpose, all for the greater good.)
The movie version of R5-D4 was kind of inelegant, lacking the little touches that made R2 seem so anthropomorphized. The same can’t be said for the original Kenner action figure, which is totally adorable and one of my favorites from the set. When I divorce myself from Star Wars lore, it’s even cooler than R2’s figure.
Every R5-D4 figure that’s come out since has been more faithful to how “he” looked in the film, but if you ask me, the droid just isn’t the same without candy button eyes.
Whenever someone makes a fuss about the old Inhumanoids toy line, it’s usually because of its giant monsters, which to this day remain some of the largest action figures I’ve ever seen.
In truth, even the smallest Inhumanoids toys were excellent. Take Auger, for example. One of the heroic Earth Corps figures, Auger and pals were dwarfed by Metlar and Tendril, yet still towered over action figures from most other lines.
My figure is missing the helmet, and admittedly looks only 1/5th as cool without it. I get that the suits are meant to bulk, but Auger looks like he fucked with the headshrinker from Beetlejuice.
The detail work is terrific by any measure, but it’s downright phenomenal by 2016 standards. Given today’s costs, toymakers would have a hard time signing off on figures with this many nooks, crannies and paint apps.
I’d say we had it made, but today’s kids probably wouldn’t trade their iPhones and VR headsets for action figures with extra paint.
Food Fighters (1988)
This isn’t the first time Food Fighters has appeared on Five Random Action Figures, and it’s not because I’m running out of lines to feature. I just really, really love these guys.
One great thing about Food Fighters is that they aren’t at all “cute.” Despite the goofy premise, Mattel kept them as snarling and gnarly as any “military” toy line. I know that doesn’t sound too important, but there’s a huge difference between “play food with eyes” and “Snake Eyes but a taco.”
Mileages vary, but I’ve always considered Lieutenant Legg the eeriest figure in the set. In fact, he’s the only one that Kid Matt thought twice about getting. There were other meat-themed Food Fighters, but something about this one was extra gross. If you were going to turn any Food Fighter into a Garbage Pail Kid, it’d be Lieutenant Legg.
Swans Crossing (1992)
I grant that this is an unusual pick, but I consider the old Swans Crossing toys more as “action figures” than “dolls.” In scale and style, it’s like She-Ra and pals went undercover as rich high schoolers with a flair for histrionics.
If you don’t remember Swans Crossing, it was basically a bootleg 90210 by way of Lost. The low budget teen drama was full of iffy sets and weird stories, and everyone seemed to dress like horse jockeys mixed with diner waitresses. It’s on the short list of things that cannot be effectively described even in a 10 page essay.
I can’t imagine that it’s held up very well, but I was obsessed with Swans Crossing in the early ‘90s. I didn’t learn about the toy line until much later, presumably because advertising rules dictated that they couldn’t air commercials for it during the show.
(Not that it would’ve mattered. I was in middle school at the time, and felt like I had to wear a trenchcoat and Groucho glasses just to buy boys’ action figures. Had I been caught browsing the Swans Crossing section at TRU, my life would’ve turned into an extra stupid version of Heathers.)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1992)
I wasn’t an active TMNT collector by the time King Lionheart came out, and if I’m being honest, he never struck me as being too interesting. Most of the late-arriving TMNT figures were super bizarre, leaving Lionheart looking a little too plain. (As plain as a lion man dressed like King Arthur could look, anyway.)
After reading his biography, I fear I’ve misjudged him. King Lionheart was originally a Shakespearean actor, forcibly mutated into a human/lion hybrid by the Shredder. I appreciate the idea that a guy who became part-lion against his will still maintained that he was an actor first, and everything else — even a mutant lion — second.
Still, I must deduct five points because they didn’t name him “Grimalking.”
In execution if not concept, he’s more proof that the original Ninja Turtles toy line only got better with age. Compare this figure’s finesses to what Playmates was putting out just a few years earlier, and it’s hard to believe that Lionheart’s from the same collection.
Thank you for reading about five more action figures.
PS: Sorry the site’s been so dead this week. I had my reasons. I also thought it would’ve been interesting to see your reactions if I disappeared forever after opening that can of TMNT Pasta. Sometimes we need to make our own fun.
If you need more words from me, I recently named 10 of the strangest and most awesome Star Trek collectibles currently on eBay, for DealNews. (Trek stuff isn’t in my comfort zone, but I’ll never turn down the chance to look up prop Tribbles.)