Welcome to the 39th edition of Five Random Action Figures.
Just one more to go before I’ll have reviewed 200 different figures in this series, which I’ll of course use as an excuse to buy fancy old toys that aren’t already collecting dust in the unsightly bins stacked exactly four feet behind me.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)
During the original TMNT boom years, Casey Jones was the man. In the cartoon, he came off like Jason Voorhees mixed with the Toxic Avenger mixed with Wolverine. In the live action movies, he was more like Captain Lone Starr mixed with a friendlier CM Punk. Both medleys worked. Crazy worked.
Naturally, the action figure was based on Casey’s appearance in the cartoon. I don’t know how to describe his outfit, other than to say that it looks like something you can only wear if you live on boiled chicken and Bowflex Max Trainers. I only live near them.
The mask is decidedly more “Jason” than “random goalie,” while the sneakers look like some special edition pair that were only on sale for one day at select boutiques. We all have our vices.
Star Wars POTF2 (1995)
Now this action figure brought the drama. Man oh man.
Many of the early figures in the POTF2 line were rough around the edges, using techniques and technologies that hadn’t quite been perfected yet. Still, fans were so happy to have new Star Wars figures that they only really complained when one of them couldn’t stand up. (Happened quite a bit, sadly.)
Poor Princess Leia is the only one that I can remember being brutalized by collectors. Most of the criticisms were about her face, which certainly lacked the softer touches of the original Kenner figure.
Back in ‘95, people were genuinely livid over this toy. I know this because they typed in all caps and used anti-Hasbro sigs. Looking at her now, I wouldn’t call it a great sculpt, but it honestly doesn’t bother me much.
Leia’s legs are a bigger concern. They resemble rapidly deflating balloons, and they force Leia to carry a gait like the undead cowboy ghost from House II.
Dick Tracy (1990)
In Dick Tracy, Mumbles was played by Dustin Hoffman, because someone went back in time and sneezed on a lizard, and the subsequent butterfly effect has finally taken us to the specific parallel universe wherein Dustin Hoffman played Mumbles.
The character provided comic relief, and blessed millions of kids with dreams of owning water dispensing tape recorders shaped like polar bears.
Despite his big screen appeal, Mumbles wasn’t the sort of character that generated interest in toys. I imagine that this was one of the least popular figures in the Dick Tracy collection. Compared to guys with tree bark skin and waterslide foreheads, Mumbles just wasn’t scary enough.
Dig the suit, though. Now I want taffy.
Double Dragon (1993)
Shadow Master was the lead villain in the short-lived Double Dragon cartoon. It’s a pretty cool figure, but I must admit that Shadow Master looked more badass on the show.
In the cartoon, Shadow Master was basically Brock Lesnar with a psycho ninja grandpa face, but here he’s more covertly frail, not to mention posed in a way that only works if he’s shitting, or maybe riding the 1975 Suzuki AP50.
Yet Shadow Master still had that “boss” air about him, and I was always a sucker for figures like that. Generally speaking, any action figure dressed in black with no visible pupils was the leader of something, and I was forever eager to see them rule over my blue-eyed idiots with iron fists.
You know what this guy needed? A cape. Maybe a half-cape, actually. The kind that just sits on your left shoulder and looks like a cat bed.
I once produced a super professional video tribute to Metroplex, but it seemed criminal not to include my favorite Autobot here, too. (Well, maybe not my favorite, but he’s in the top 10.)
Metroplex literally transforms into a city, which in toy form basically looks like the “squashed bug” version of a Transformer.
As a kid, I was so into it. Metroplex’s city mode could only accommodate the smaller figures, sure, but there was just no comparing robots that transformed into planes or trucks to the one that transformed into goddamned Hotlanta.
In truth, Metroplex was only moderately taller than several popular Autobot figures, but he made up for it with intricacies. The level of detail and the complexity of his transformations were truly glorious for their time, and what’s more, his guns were taller than Destro.
As a child, I got more mileage out of Metroplex than any other Transformer. Heck, even my Ninja Turtles used his sad remains as a sort of “wheeled boat,” and that was probably in 1991.
Thanks for reading. Keep an eye out for the special 40th edition of Five Random Action Figures — the one that only happens after I spend a week watching Blue Snaggletooth auctions before finally admitting that I can’t afford them.