Dinosaur Dracula!

Five Random Action Figures, Part 3!

I’ve been away for a while, slaying dragons, righting wrongs, and drawing crude character concepts for a gaming universe populated exclusively by warrior snails. I can’t say that I’ve been very successful with these endeavors, but they’ve given me many stories to tell.

To ease myself back into the role of Person Who Writes About Stupid Things For The Internet, I’m going to dust off an easy concept. Here’s another batch of random action figures! (Part 1 and Part 2 limited the choices to the ‘80s. For Part 3, NO DECADE IS SAFE.)

Rat King
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1989

In all his many adaptations, Rat King is one of the best characters of TMNT lore. This figure represents Rat King from the original Ninja Turtles cartoon. I hate to go all caps so soon after “NO DECADE IS SAFE,” but there’s no other option. In the first cartoon, Rat King was INCREDIBLE.

Without bothering to confirm the validity of my memories by cross-referencing with online episode guides, Rat King was a psychotic hermit who lived in the sewers. (Or maybe some other, sewer-like structure?) He looked like a crack addict in a cheap mummy costume, and much like any crack addict in a cheap mummy costume, he only seemed dangerous part of the time.

Don’t get me wrong. Rat King could pull some seriously nasty shit. He just seemed really passive about it all.

Through supernatural communication with rats, Rat King really was their king. He could order them to swarm into what looked like hideous ocean waves, made of rats instead of water. I loved it when he did that.

He looked great on the cartoon, but the figure is even more demented. The unnatural bald patches and unholy red eyes really set the stage, and there is literally no body part that isn’t covered in something awesome. Look close and you’ll even spot a giant centipede embedded into Rat King’s chest, thereby clarifying the character’s brief flirtation with the alternative alias of Centipede King.

Also, is it just me, or does Rat King look slightly like Biff Tannen? I wish “Rat to the Future” read as good as it sounds. Read More…

Say hello to Mr. Wasp.

I knew that big hole in my window screen would eventually lead to trouble.

This afternoon, a wasp flew straight through it. Big one, too. He looked pissed.

A funny thing happens to wasps when they come indoors. They just completely lose their grace. Outside, this wasp may have entranced me with its impossible flight patterns. In my office, it acted like a drunkard, smashing into walls and bumping into every obstacle.

I tried to ignore it, but how could I? This was a wasp. A wasp that was growing more and more agitated as it kept crashing into things. I had work to do, but it’s difficult to concentrate when there’s a giant wasp looking to vent its frustrations by way of Ass Needle. Something needed to be done, and fast.

No, this story isn’t about to take a turn for the gory. I try not to kill insects if it’s at all avoidable. Sometimes I think that our passage to Heaven is only granted after we endure the sum of our sins. If you squash a bug in life, a giant bug squashes you in the afterlife. I don’t want to die and then have to deal with a titanic wasp chasing me with comically oversized newspaper. It sounds lousy. And I bet Satan would hire Howard Shore to score it.

Instead, I did that old trick where you trap the offender in a glass, and slide a book under the open end so it can’t escape. Voila, instant wasp prison. Read More…

The “Almost” Hobbes Doll!

Like many of you, I grew up reading, loving and damn near worshipping Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson’s famously perfect comic strip spoke to us in so many ways. We all saw a little (or a lot) of ourselves in Calvin, even if we only wished that we could muster enough imagination to turn our dolls into walking, breathing, talking best friends.

I still read the old strips all the time. Even if some of the references have become dated, their humor, cleverness and wonder haven’t lost a step. Without a hint of hyperbole, Calvin and Hobbes was as good as or better than literally anything else that I’ve ever been into, regardless of whether the particular thing’s brow was held high or low. There’s a reason people who love Calvin and Hobbes are so proud about it.

Watterson had a noble stance about licensing his characters. Basically, he never did it. Not in the “normal” ways, at least. No Calvin and Hobbes dolls. No Calvin and Hobbes spiral notebooks. No stickers, no Happy Meals, no Saturday morning cartoons. For him, it was as much about preserving the spirit of his work as retaining complete control. While the strip assuredly left him financially set, Watterson tossed away the chance to multiply his wealth by a factor of a hundred, all so his stories and characters would stay his stories and characters.

Raise your hand if you think you could resist the same temptation. I know I couldn’t.

As such, Calvin and Hobbes merchandise is more or less nonexistent, save for bootleg items. While most fans have always appreciated Watterson’s “stubbornness” on this issue, it’s just as true that we’d KILL for a Hobbes doll. (Need proof? Do an Etsy search for “Hobbes.”)

With that preamble out of the way, I can finally get to the point.

Reader Terry Wilson sent me a hot tip earlier. “Go to Target,” he said. “Bring ten dollars,” he said.

So I did, and that’s what I found. The Circo “Tiger” doll, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Hobbes. It’s not an exact match, but it is CLOSE. Maybe too close to be a coincidence?

The dolls have apparently been around for a while, and there are other animals in the series with the same overall body shape, so it’s probably just a lucky break for Hobbes fans who like their consciences clear.

He was ten bucks, or maybe a few dollars more. I don’t know, I paid no attention to the price. Absolutely positively none. Money was no object. So long as my credit card wasn’t rejected, I was going to go home with Almost Hobbes. Read More…

Vintage Vending #11: Dinosaur Park!

Vintage Vending continues with the Dinosaur Park Collection, an assortment of cheap dinosaur stuff that probably isn’t at old as it looks. The title has to be a nod to Jurassic Park, right? If so, this collection would’ve been from around 1993.

Jurassic Park spiked interest in dinosaurs across the globe, but even as a kid, I remember mentally scoffing at those Johnny-Come-Latelies. I didn’t need Spielberg to fall for dinosaurs. I was already there, man.

Even by vending machine standards, these prizes were on the rough side. Quarters didn’t grow on trees, and you had to really like dinosaurs to spend one on this collection. Personally, I wouldn’t have stopped until that strange wrinkly tyrannosaur was all mine. Read More…