It’s been almost a year since the last edition of Five Random Action Figures, and I’ve been flooded with feedback from at least two whole people demanding a new one. You win!
Since it’s the Halloween season, this is an all-spooky edition. These figures will haunt your nightmares, or at least enlarge your eBay watch list. Perhaps both, because like Pinhead says, there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain.
(Okay, I don’t know if Pinhead really said that. It sounds like something he’d say, tho.)
The Graveyard Gang (1984)
The Graveyard Gang was a collection of glow-in-the-dark bendy figures, released by POWCO in 1984. Meant to capitalize on the success of Michael Jackson’s Thriller without actually paying for the privilege, the line included six different ghouls. Obviously, Midnite Mike here was the one to get.
For a cheap figure that was more likely to be found at a mom-and-pop pharmacy than Toys “R” Us, it’s pretty great. Wearing the ten-cent version of his classic Thriller garb, Mike has lifelike hair, lifeless eyes and skin that positively beams in the dark.
The entire Graveyard Gang set is rare, with packaged figures running as high as $150 a pop. On that note, you’ll definitely want a packaged one, since the cards looked like graveyards and even came with paper coffins.
Halloween McNugget Buddies (1992)
Part of the 1992 wave of Halloween McNugget Buddies, you could make a solid argument that McNuggula — yeah, that’s really his name — was the best of ‘em all. (Possibly excluding the one who dressed like a three-eyed octopus. That dude was tough to top.)
Living, breathing Chicken McNuggets are never not weird, but it’s a whole new level of peculiarity when your living, breathing Chicken McNugget is actually an undead vampire. Hard to believe that something this interesting was given away free with cheeseburgers.
Note how McNuggula retains his vampireness even after you remove his costume. Most McNugget Buddies revert to (relative) normalcy without their outfits, but not him. I might even prefer McNuggula without the costume, as he seems much more vicious that way. Like something out of an even-worse version of the pastry scene from Young Sherlock Holmes.
LJN Squish’em (1989)
This Freddy Squish’em — posed like an ersatz Icy Hot Stunta — was just one of several Elm Street toys released by LJN in 1989. By then, Freddy was an all-out pop icon who deftly avoided parental boycotts with some well-placed jokes.
Actually, there was a little blowback at the time. Some people felt that it wasn’t appropriate for kids to hug a murderous gorehound who’d once turned a girl into a cockroach. The protests were loud enough to get at least one of that era’s Freddy toys off the shelves, but the LJN stuff slid through without issue. (I suppose because I am literally the only person in the world who has ever heard of it.)
As for this Squish’em, I admit that it’s more of a stress relief toy than an outright action figure. The idea was that you could absolutely pummel Freddy, but he’d always pop back into his original shape. Not very far off from the plot of the films, honestly.
Midnight Wolf was part of Sungold’s infamous Monster series, which collected ghouls from huge properties and changed them jussssst enough to avoid lawsuits. (You’ve heard of Sharp Hand Joe, I’m sure. Same series!)
I’d have to call Midnight Wolf the least popular figure in the set. He just looks too normal! The charm of Sungold’s Monster collection lies in its weirdness, but Midnight Wolf was a pretty sincere attempt to recreate Universal’s Wolf Man. The strangest thing about this guy is that his head so closely resembles an acorn. Not exactly “showy” when compared to Sungold’s take on, say, Dracula, who looked like Captain Planet’s goth cousin.
Should you decide to collect these figures, it’s worth the extra expense to get ‘em packaged. Sungold’s Monster card art is possibly the best I’ve seen, looking like a cross between a taboo Nintendo game and the entrance to the world’s sketchiest dark ride.
We do not talk nearly enough about Germs! Released in 1988 by Worlds of Wonder — the same company that made Teddy Ruxpin — Germs was a collection of anthropomorphized viruses in bold neon colors. Each came in its own plastic test tube, which of course was the real draw.
Seems like a strange concept for a toy line, but this was the era of Madballs, Mad Scientist and other “gross” playthings. Given the trends, the only surprising thing about Germs is that the test tubes weren’t filled with snot-green slime.
Bubblebuppilitus represented burps. It’s like Q*Bert boinked the Noid and made a baby. Packaged Germs currently sell for around $50 each, which is a lot to pay for small figures based on sneezes and body odor. Or maybe it isn’t, because where else would you get such things?
Thanks for reading. If spooky action figures are your jam, you can see more of them here, here and here.
PS: Don’t forget to drop by Dino Drac After Dark! All week long, we’re spending our nights watching horror movies and gabbing about candy.