I haven’t published a new edition of Five Random Action Figures since last June, because the remaining bits of my collection are stuffed into storage bins so extremely buried that I’d have to tear this whole place apart to get at ‘em. Luckily, life threw me a bone:
As part of our pre-Endgame festivities on Thursday, we dropped by a Jersey comic shop. There I discovered this insane bin filled with still-packaged ‘90s action figures, each for the low price of $2.99.
I easily found enough for another edition of Five Random Action Figures, though in retrospect, I should’ve cleaned the guy out and gotten enough for the next three editions. Guess I gotta go back. There was a pizza parlor across the street that looked like it hadn’t been renovated since 1985, so that’s hardly a cross to bear.
Below: Five action figures from the 1990s, freshly freed from their cardboard prisons.
Total Chaos (1996)
I know as much about this “Conqueror” guy as I do the Total Chaos line at large, which is to say… nothing. He’s from McFarlane Toys and in the same roundabout scale as that company’s Spawn figures, which by their era’s standards were pretty damn high-end.
I bought him because he looks like Green Arrow mixed with Pumpkinhead, and especially because his monster face resembles a chunk of fake jade.
The appeal of action figures you knew nothing about was that YOU could make up their origins, powers and allegiances. I see this Conqueror as an interstellar bounty hunter who only takes contracts to retrieve supernatural fugitives. Like Boba Fett if Boba Fett was also a Ghostbuster. Without knowing anything about Conqueror’s true motives, I stand confident that my version is better.
Me not knowing much about the figures I purchased will be a recurring theme today. I’m by no measure a Trevor Fitzroy expert, but the package states that he’s an evil time traveler who really hates Bishop.
Trevor was another of the thousand X-Men figures that were famously liquidated at KB Toys in 3-for-$10 bins. Honestly, if those bins aren’t the first thing you think of when you hear “KB Toys,” I’d wonder if you ever actually went inside of one. I feel like there came a point where KB Toys was 90% X-Men figures and 10% weird gum.
I’m sure that Trevor’s removable battlesuit was adequately defined in the comics, but I’m at a loss to explain what it does or how it works. I’m sitting here trying to connect the dots between Captain Freedom and a beekeeper. For what it’s worth, it does add a lot to what otherwise might’ve been a lower-end X-Men figure.
All told, between the crystalline armor and the Green Giant hair, I’m suddenly the world’s biggest Trevor Fitzroy fan.
Bone Crushin’ Vince McMahon
WWF SummerSlam ’99 (1999)
I was so excited to find Vince McMahon sitting in that cheapies bin, surrounded by skull-headed demons and green-haired mutants. If you’re not a WWE fan, Vince owns the company but also moonlights as one of its performers. He’s used sparingly today, but back when this figure was released, McMahon was practically the most important character on the shows.
Vince comes with a tearaway suit, revealing a more battle-ready outfit. To make that gimmick work, the suit needed to be a bit too big for the figure. While wearing it, Vince looks like one of the kids from those old Frosted Mini-Wheats commercials. Or maybe the dude from Thinner?
It’s preposterous in a good way. The suit only covers the front of Vince’s body, so if you had him announce matches in the official WWF ring, half of the imaginary crowd would crack up. Then Vince would beat them up, because dude is jacked.
Fittingly, a 1999 Vince McMahon figure looks like a 2019 Shane McMahon figure.
While I don’t think I’ve read a single Wetworks comic, I’m very familiar with the action figure line. It acted as another sister line to Spawn, and some of its figures — like this one — were insanely huge. They were almost like today’s NECA figures, which made the fact that they sat on clearance shelves for ten years all the sweeter.
My photos don’t offer much in the way of scale, but trust me, Frankenstein is gigantic. He towers over the other figures featured here, and even with his lanky build, Frank comes off like a true monster. If you held him upside-down, he’d double as a slingshot.
Judging by the bio on the package, Frankenstein sounds more like the fabled yeti than his own namesake. Freed from a tomb on an icy mountain, he’s apparently on the hunt for a mate. I so love the image of Frankenstein hitting dive bars with his ten-foot staff, trying to score digits.
Wetworks figures were great fodder in the early days of internet toy trading, because it was an overstocked/unpopular line that stores continually slashed the prices on. Of course, trading a packaged figure left you in the unenviable position of having to ship it. As big as the figures are, they seemed twice as huge in the packages, what with their footlong cards and ludicrously large bubbles.
Anakin Skywalker! (Naboo Pilot)
Star Wars: Episode I (1999)
Anakin is barely three inches tall, with a head the size of the average pea. That said, it’s a very good sculpt with an excellent paint job. I’m especially fond of the two-tone hair, even if the particular cut makes Anakin look like he’s part-coconut.
I’ve really come around on the Star Wars prequels, by the way. This isn’t to say that I’m ignoring their objective flaws, because I’m not. I’m just recontextualizing them. The people who were kids when the prequels arrived are now adults, and they’re able to wistfully revel in whatever’s ridiculous about them. I’m picking it up through osmosis, I guess.
Think about the many movies that people *our age* do that with. I could name so many classics that — objectively — have serious flaws. We’ve conditioned ourselves to see those flaws as part of their charm, and with the prequels, there’s a generation of now-adults who’ve done the same.
That was the long way of saying that seeing “prequel memes” on social media totally changed my mind about ’em. They’re hilarious and great and ridiculous and amazing. Consider the fact that Jar Jar’s conflict with a mean podracer stemmed from him slingshotting a street vendor’s barbecued lizard into the dude’s coffee. If you can’t find merit in that, I don’t know what to tell you.
Thanks for reading about five random action figures. Really glad to finally dust this series off!
PS: If you missed it, the Purple Stuff Podcast’s April 2019 bonus show is now available on Patreon. We’re talking about three movies and one soda.