Continuing from Part I…
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Playmates Toys, 1988-1997)
I had forgotten just how awesome these toys were. Man, looking at the line up here, it brings back so many memories of TMNT toys I owned and my friends owned. Of course, at the core of any decent TMNT collection you have the original versions of the Turtles themselves. Splinter is optional, I never cared for the character or the figure. Sadly, despite being my favorite character, I never was able to get my hands on an original Raphael and had to settle for Breakfightin’ Raphael.
Besides Raph, I never got my hands on Shredder either. I remember going to K-Mart, Tons o’ Toys, Hills, and Roses all the time (this was before the days of Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us in my town) and constantly looking for Shredder. Could never find him. Until one day… One day in K-Mart, there was a huge row of Turtle figures and I found the ONE Shredder they had. I had it in my hand, I had parental purchasing confirmation and then, then I heard some kid talking his mom about never finding a Shredder figure and that he wanted one. Well, my heart grew three sizes that day when I heard those familiar Shredder Blues playin’. Out of the kindness of my heart, I walked up to the boy and told him he could have the one I had picked up. Darn. Now I gotta go search eBay for Shredder!
Although Raphael is my favorite Ninja Turtle, the original Michaelangelo is my favorite TMNT toy. I guess it goes back to orange being my favorite color, plus the way his left arm is posed, he was perfect to throw into my WWF ring and make use of the flying elbow drop as his finisher! Those four original figures are just awesome. They captured just the right amount of attitude with their pupil-less eyes and snarls and grimacing, just before the series got all wacky and gimmicky and decidedly more cartoonish (yes, I know it was based on the cartoon, but they took it to extremes later on!).
Another great series was their Mutatin’ Turtles, where you could stick their limbs into their shell, flip their head, and they looked like actual turtles. Usagi Yojimbo also deserves praise thanks to his legs being perfect to use the super kick as his finisher in my version of the WWF.
The series would go from totally awesome to totally awful once every new series pretty much featured almost exclusively Raph, Mike, Leo, and Don dressed up in various costumes and gimmicks (policeman, punk rocker, clown, astronaut, superhero, weightlifter, Universal Monsters, Star Trek, robots, etc).
Favorite Figures: Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Shredder, Foot Soldier, Bebop, Rocksteady, Casey Jones, Ace Duck, Usagi Yojimbo, Leatherheard, General Traag, Baxter Stockman, Metalhead, Breakfightin’ Raphael, Double Barreled Plunger Gun, Muckman, Triceraton, Zak the Neutrino, King Lionheart, Super Swimmin’ Raph, Mutatin’ Leonardo
WWF Figures (Hasbro, 1990-1994)
I didn’t own a whole bunch of these guys, but the few I did have, I loved just the same. I had the wrestling ring (the TRUE battleground for all of my action figures), so I was good to go. I stopped buying them probably around ’92 or so, the same time I lost interest in buying new Joe toys, so I was lucky enough to miss out on the whole “New Generation” line of figures they were about to bring in.
About ’92, I was more into the Toy Biz Marvel/X-Men lines. As much as I loved the characters, a major drawback to the WWF Hasbro line was their lack of mobility. Sure, they all had their special move, but beyond those, they were just a hunk of plastic that couldn’t move. Points of articulation had begun to win out.
Still, a classic line that I have many fond memories of since I was (and still am) a huge wrestling fan. I remember when the tag team editions came out and I was so worked out and excited to get them. #1 on my list was the Rockers, which I eventually was able to get at K-Mart after much stressing over not finding them. I always wanted Demolition as well, but never got’em.
Favorite Figures: Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Ravishing Rick Rude, Andre the Giant, Macho Man Randy Savage, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Jake the Snake Roberts, Ultimate Warrior II, Honky Tonk Man, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, The Rockers, Demolition, WWF wrestling ring
X-Men/X-Force/Marvel Super Heroes (Toy Biz, 1990-1997)
Yeah, I’m cheating a bit by combining the MSH line with the X-Men/X-Force line. So what? Both lines were very similar in terms of production and quality and were released at the same time. As talked about in Part I with the DC Super Heroes line, Toy Biz was a young upstart company and the figures were kinda cheap and goofy at first.
The Marvel Super Heroes line came first and boy did Captain America, Daredevil and Punisher look bloated and puffy (thanks to using the same basic model). They also annoyingly had their legs very close to one another, as if they standing at attention, making it hard for them to stand up on their own. Toy Biz quickly scaled back their MSH production in favor of the extremely popular X-Men (though still putting out a few MSH figures at a time) and then later X-Force had their own spinoff line, which was full of sucky X-Force characters, but it did produce the awesome Kane figure with flying hand!
As with most action figure lines and pointed out with TMNT, once the main figures were knocked out, things got real silly real quick and all kinds of gimmicks and new outfits were introduced as the X-Men were revamped as ninjas, armored & monster armored, light-up weapons, and robot fighters (encroaching on Magnus’ territory!) during the line’s final years. The ninja line was actually kinda cool though because the figures were designed by then X-artist Joe Madureira. That series was released in ’97, way past my toy buying years, but my love of Joe’s style convinced me that buying Ninja Sabretooth was the right thing to do and I still stand by that decision.
The talking figures were really cool. I had Cyclops, Wolverine and Venom. Each figure had a backpack with three different buttons producing three different sounds/sayings. Venom’s “I WANT TO EAT YOUR BRAIN!” creeped me out as a kid and it’s amazing that was even allowed for a kid’s toy back then. I don’t think that would go over very well today in Target or Wal-Mart. Wolverine’s *SNIKT* sound effect was awesome and I ran the batteries out on all of their backpacks.
And who could forget the trading cards that came with each release? Was that Jim Lee X-Men card series awesome or what?
Favorite Figures: Talking Cyclops, Talking Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Wolverine II, Forge, Mister Sinister, Wolverine III (Logan), Wolverine IV (Weapon X), Gambit, Magneto II, Strong Guy, Wolverine V (Spy Wolverine), Omega Red, Apocalypse II, Bishop, Apocalypse III (Age of Apocalypse), Nightcrawler II, Ninja Sabretooth, Kane, Deadpool, Stryfe, Captain America, Dr. Doom, Iron Man, Talking Venom, Web Climbing Spider-Man, Punisher II, The Thing, Multi-Jointed Spider-Man, Deathlok, Punisher III
Masters of the Universe (Mattel, 1982-1987)
Yeah, if you know me, you know this series was coming up. The last few years, thanks to MOTU getting released on DVD, I’ve become a huge fan again. Unfortunately, all of my MOTU figures were thrown out thanks to my parents while I wasn’t looking (while I was still a kid no less!), so I was only down to 1 figure: Thunder Punch He-Man. But due to the power of eBay, I have bought back virtually every MOTU figure I ever owned plus more! I own about half the line so far, not counting vehicles. I’m mostly getting down to the extremely rare and expensive figures, but I guess I’ll have to live without those.
The hours I spent playing He-Man as a kid were definitely many. I can still smell that cap powder from when Thunder Punch He-Man walloped someone…
Favorite Figures: He-Man, Skeletor, Beast Man, Battle Cat, Tri-Klops, Trap-Jaw, Panthor, Battle Armor He-Man, Battle Armor Skeletor, Prince Adam, Buzz-Off, Fisto, Orko, Jitsu, Whiplash, Clawful, Webstor, Kobra Khan, Mekaneck, Road Ripper, Roton, Stridor, Thunder Punch He-Man, Moss Man, Roboto, Two-Bad, Stinkor, Spikor, Hordak, Mantenna, Modulok, Night Stalker, Snout Spout, Stonedar, Rokkon, Tung Lashor, Scare Glow, Mosquitor, Sssqueeze, Ty-Grrr, Crocobite, Castle Grayskull
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Hasbro, 1982-1994)
Was there every any doubt what would be #1 for me? Throughout the years, I’ve always managed to keep a handful of Joes on tap, despite losing so many over the years. Again, I’ve been using eBay to relive old glories by getting figures I remember owning and playing with as a kid, but whereas the MOTU line isn’t *too* big, the RAH line is humongous and I doubt I’ll ever be able to get all these figures I want.
The Joes were always my “go to” figures. I loved taking them out in the woods or my yard and letting battles play out in real environments. I remember building a snow base for them once when it snowed and I actually ended up losing one of the figures (I think Wet Suit) during that great snow battle only to find him in a mulch bed once the snow melted. I also had a friend who had virtually every Joe produced and kept them all in a huge toy trunk. Yeah, I stayed the night over there a lot on the weekends.
And when I didn’t feel like doing the Joe vs. Cobra thing, I simply made’em into wrestlers. That seems to be what I did what most of my figures– everyone became a professional wrestler at some point!
Favorite Figures: Cobra Commander, Destro, Doc, Duke, Baroness, Blowtorch, Mutt & Junkyard, Gung-Ho, Spirit, Storm Shadow, Copperhead, Zartan, Firefly, Cobra Commander II (Hooded), Alpine, Barbecue, Bazooka, Buzzer, Crimson Guard, Dusty, Flint, Lady Jaye, Quick Kick, Ripper, Shipwreck, Snakes Eyes II, Tele-Viper, Tomax, Torch, Xamot, Sgt. Slaughter, B.A.T., Beachhead, Dial-Tone, Dr. Mindbender, Hawk, Leatherneck, Lifeline, Low-Light, Mainframe, Monkeywrench, Roadblock II, Sci-Fi, Viper, Wet Suit, Zandar, Zarana, Cross Country, Serpentor, The Fridge, Big Boa, Cobra Commander III, Croc Master, Crystal Ball, Falcon, Gung-Ho II, Jinx, Tunnel Rat, Mercer, Taurus, Golobulus, Nemesis Enforcer, Law & Order, Charbroil, Hardball, Iron Grenadier, Shockwave, Spearhead & Max, Super Trooper, Storm Shadow II, Alley Viper, Annihilator, H.E.A.T. Viper, Scoop, Metal-Head, Salvo, Flak-Viper, Firefly II, Eel II, T’Jbang, Alley Viper II, Flak-Viper II, Dr. Mindbender II