Welcome to the 36th edition of Five Random Action Figures, featuring alien brains and bounty hunters and Henry Silva. We’re gonna have a time.
Star Wars (1979)
Arguably the coolest figure in the entire Star Wars collection, Boba Fett looks like a stormtrooper mixed with a carnival. The figure’s suit is lined with nondescript tools and mysterious pockets, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who spent hours wondering what purposes they served.
Tl; dr: Even Fett’s left leg was more interesting than most action figures.
Like the character, Boba Fett’s toy has a winding history. Before The Empire Strikes Back premiered, Kenner used Fett to drum up interest in their soon-to-expand toy line. The figure was initially advertised with a “rocket firing” mechanism, one that proved too dangerous to actually execute. Though a few prototypes of that figure exist, a mutant strain of the Mandela Effect led scores of Star Wars fans to distinctly remember owning a rocket firing Fett. (None did.)
There aren’t many Star Wars figures that take nearly this much textual geekery to explain. Thank you, Boba Fett, for helping me lose the audience early.
WWF Wrestling Superstars (1984)
LJN’s Wrestling Superstars collection turned our favorite grapplers into surrogate shurikens. In the mid ‘80s, injuries from Junkyard Dogs to the face were practically rites of passage.
Hulk Hogan had the most popular figure, aided by the fact that his came with a removable championship belt. Art imitates life, and so Hulk Hogan found unfair advantages even in rubber action figure form.
Most loose Hulk Hogan figures look as ratty as this one. Remember, the allure of these toys was that you could treat them like baseballs or boxing gloves. If they didn’t look like shit after a few weeks, you were doing it wrong.
Dick Tracy (1990)
Though he had a bigger role in the comics, Influence was a bit player in the Dick Tracy movie. I remember his toy packaging mentioning something about hypnotic powers, but in the film, Influence was really just there to look like one of those scary pig people from The Twilight Zone.
The draw of Dick Tracy was that it was a secret horror movie, where every mobster looked like a monster and the only thing missing was arbitrary synth. The action figure line was neater than it sounded, because it wasn’t just Dick Tracy versus “guys in suits.” I mean, it WAS, but since the guys in those suits all looked like Cenobites, it still worked.
The paraphernalia sculpted onto this figure suggests that Influence was one of those “mad doctor” types, and also maybe the kind of dude who kept pet spiders. I’m sorry, but I don’t know how anyone could resist a mad doc mobster in a pistachio suit who looks like the guy from Thinner. Influence, you’re awesome!
Masters of the Universe (2002)
I rarely see the 2002 relaunch of Masters of the Universe mentioned these days, which is weird considering the sheer volume of toys that came with it. What gives?
I wasn’t very into those figures when they were in stores, but I’ve warmed up to them in more recent years. They feel more like articulated statues than action figures, if that makes sense, and the designers pulled off some pretty amazing feats as the line grew. (Mer-Man, for all of his details and accessories, was still one of the collection’s simplest!)
Side note: I haven’t seen enough of the corresponding cartoon to comment, but I’ve heard from many fans that it’s awesome. The complete series is on DVD for around 30 bucks, which by my math works out to 75 cents per episode. Not bad!
Krang’s Android Body
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1991)
The first Krang action figure came in that little cumbersome walker, which was fine for five minutes but definitely not for ten. Kids demanded a Krang in the same robot body from the cartoon series, and Playmates acquiesced with this ludicrously huge version.
Krang’s Android Body towered over the Ninja Turtles in a way that the cartoon version only did rarely, like in its debut episode, when Krang temporarily had magical growing powers.
While Playmates eventually released a second version of Krang’s Android Body that was in the same scale as the normal figures, I’ve always preferred this giant monstrosity. Since the Ninja Turtles were released again and again in different outfits, every kid had a team of like 30 Ninja Turtles. Only a villain of Krang’s size had a chance against them!
Also, FWIW: If you forced me to pick my favorite character from ANYTHING, completely on impulse and with no confines or considerations, it’s Krang. It’s always Krang.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy your weekend. Let’s go bowling.