The PoP! Stars give their take on the latest and greatest in Action Figures and Toy Lines in eight (succinct) parts.
This week: Licenses that need to be Revoked
Sometimes sought-after toy licenses fall into the wrong hands, whether it’s through back-room-dealings, the almighty dollar, or the license-holder just not giving a shit. This week’s Figure 8 chronicles some of the biggest disappointments from some of the most beloved properties, and suggests new homes for the licenses.
The Goonies – Mezco Toys
It only took 20+ years for our favorite band of adolescent adventurers (and their down-syndromed buddy, Sloth) to get an action figure line. Too bad they were god-awful. Never having actually held one in my hand, since they were butt-ugly and tres-expensive, I’d be surprised if these things had more than 3 points of articulation per. They’ve all got that “shitting in the woods” crouch that the early-90′s Dick Tracy movie figures perfected. As a kid who watched one VHS, and one VHS only during the 80′s, consisting of Teen Wolf, Gremlins, and The Goonies, it’s a testament to the mediocrity of this line that I don’t own them. That’s a bad Mezco. BAD. The license should’ve been placed in more capable hands, like NECA or Sota toys.
Guitar Hero – McFarlane Toys
Okay, McFarlane was working on toys for the highly-popular video game series, Guitar Hero. One would assume McFarlane would keep to his 6-7 inch scale, highly detailed, but not-so-articulated style of the Spawn line, Movie Maniacs, and his sports lines. However, with Guitar Hero, not only did Todd reduce the scale to 4-5 inches, but added slightly more articulation than his usual fare. The scale was unfortunate, especially considering the just-short-of $10 price point, and the articulation was a waste of ball-and-socket joints, because in some cases, the Heroes could hardly hold their guitars! And, really, that was the most hardcore pose they could come up with for resident Guitar Hero techno-viking, Lars Umlaut, which I own, begrudgingly? I wouldn’t mind McFarlane keeping the license, but seriously; Start over again. These don’t work for me.
Terminator: Salvation – Playmates
Not as if anyone was necessarily clamoring for figures based on the 2009 summer flick, Terminator: Salvation, but Playmates made them anyhow, and they are still clogging toy aisles some 10 months after the release of the critical and box-office disappointment. It would be nice if these things at least bore some resemblance to their film counterparts. In the picture above, obviously, Common as Barnes is the black guy, but are those other two honkies Anton Yelchin’s Kyle Reese and Sam Worthington’s Marcus Wright…? The most laughable likeness is courtesy of the line’s John Connor figure, as played in the flick by DP-reaming Christian Bale. Did they just give up, and slap goggles and a helmet on him? Did they not have Bale’s permission? THEN THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THE LINE. NECA has been taking care of T2 figs, so when they get around to it, they can handle a Marcus Wright and adult John Connor. We don’t really need much else, do we?
Dexter – Bif Bang Pow!
Again, for as much as a LOVE Dexter and talk about it on the PanelsOnPages.com PoP!-Cast (Tuesday nights at 10PM EST) every chance I get, I should want to own licensed Dexter action figures. These, Bif Bang Pow!, are all you’ve got? The changeable arms are a great touch, as are the garbage bag and blood slide, but a lack of knee-articulation and a facial sculpt that gives me terrible flashbacks to Monkey Princess Leia from the Kenner’s Power of the Force line kill the mood. I’d plunk down my hard-earned cash for this thing if I didn’t think other Dexter fans would look at me like an asshole. How hard does a toy company have to try to get me to NOT want to own a Dexter vs. Doakes 2-pack? Well…maybe trying hard wasn’t on their To-Do list. It ended up being canceled, anyhow. Fuck it, if a Dexter Line is going to have no articulation, I’d at least like it to LOOK like Dexter. DC Direct, you win. Take it. And I’ll take a Rita figure.
Lost - Bif Bang Pow!
McFarlane had the Lost license at one point, and put out some REALLY beautiful “diorama” style toys featuring everyone’s favorite 815-ers. How did Todd lose his grip on arguably one of the biggest genre-licenses on the market? And whose bright idea at ABC was it to allow Bif Bang Pow!, a company I hadn’t heard about until their abysmal Dexter figures, to make these Mego-style nightmares? If there’s anything the toy industry has NOT been missing the past 20 years, it’s been cloth clothing. Unless you’re Hot Toys. And Bif Bang Pow! is not. Ventriloquist dummies look at these Lost figures and get creeped out. Y’know, despite their fuck-up on The Goonies line, and the middling Heroes line, Mezco, I’d like to see what you can do with the residents of Lost island.
Metalocalypse - Shocker Toys
Shocker Toys not only hold the distinction of putting out this dog-toy worthy vinyl line of Dethklok, the bringers of Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse, but are widely notorious for providing the shittiest of public relations and customer service amongst upstart toy companies. Never before have I seen a toy company rep flame users on message boards for calling them out on the shittiness of their product. And it’s apparent…these things are shitty. Just like Shocker Toys’ Indie Spotlight line, I’ve yet to see these figures on shelves other than the Shocker booth at Chicago Comic-Con, neither have I met anyone that owned them. They don’t even come with instruments! How do you have an action figure line based on an animated death metal band, and NOT at least provide guitars, drumsticks, and mic for the respective members? Fuck Shocker Toys. Fuck them in their stupid asses. I’d give Playmates a chance to redeem themselves for their Terminator line.
The Venture Brothers – Bif Bang Pow!
An exec at Bif Bang Pow! must have compromising pictures of somebody at Showtime, ABC, and Adult Swim for the way in which the company seemingly came out of nowhere to lock up 3 big-name licenses. Also, whomever is doing the quality control at Adult Swim needs to be given their pink slip, because following the abortion that is Shocker Toys’ Metalocalypse line, this should have been avoided. Why does Bif Bang Pow! have a hard-on for the old Mego-style? Those haven’t been cool in forever, and were only cool in the Mego-era because there was no other choice. Remember Marvel’s Famous Covers, Bif Bang Pow!? Yeah, neither does anyone else, and these Venture Brothers toys are arguably just as bad. Also, for a universe as rich as that of The Venture Brothers, do they expect us to buy hundreds of these (likely) $20+ dolls? Because I’m such a fan of VB, I could almost imagine cherry-picking from the line, but they are just too unsightly to even consider. The Brock Samson and #21 break my heart the most. How about this: give Playmates the rights to ALL the Adult Swim shows, and let them reboot the Adult Swim line started some years ago by the now defunct Palisades. Or, I could easily see The Venture Brothers in Justice League Unlimited style by Mattel.
Marvel Legends - Hasbro
Y’know this breaks my fatty-nerd-heart to add this line to my list, let alone close the show with it. Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends were far from perfect, but there were plenty of bright spots to outweigh the dark stains. Then, Marvel, owners of Toy Biz, thought it in their best interest to give away their premiere toy line to Hasbro, a 3rd party. How could the company that holds the licenses for Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and Transformers possibly fuck this up? The Hasbro Legends line started out with a whimper, notoriously featuring the ugliest female Legend since Scarlett Witch in the form of White Queen. However, the line eventually grew legs and showed some potential, until, that is, Hasbro decided to make the shift from the 6-inch Legends scale to the 3 3/4-inch Marvel Universe scale. While Legends are technically cancelled, thanks to the few-and-far-between 2-Packs released by Hasbro, which, to their credit, are REALLY nice, the line has been more-or-less shelved in favor of the smaller scale Universe line. Hasbro, stop sandbagging the Legends scale, and hand it back over to Marvel, specifically, Marvel Toys. I just want my Legends back.
Filed Under: Figure 8