I’ve lost some, broken some, traded some and probably even have thrown some away but I still have a decent collection of action figures from when I was a kid. While browsing through my tub of figures, I was sadly reminded that not all action figures are created equal. Here’s an assortment of action figures that, from day one, I knew sucked.
For the most part, they didn’t suck because they weren’t cool looking but because their designs left very little room for any action at all.
Marvel Super Heroes, 1990
Doctor Doom! Classic Marvel villain! One of the best comic book villains ever deserved better treatment than this. Admittedly, it’s a very cool looking figure, which can’t be said for a lot of Toy Biz’s early Marvel toys. There are a few things wrong here though. Number one — his arms don’t bend at the elbows. Granted, this wasn’t too uncommon during this era but it drives me crazy to see an action figure who has to walk around like a mummy.
To make it worse, while he can bend his legs at the knees, HE CAN’T BEND HIS LEGS AT THE WAIST. Well, okay, he could if not for that stupid skirt they gave him, which blocks all mobility. Yes, his arms have free range but won’t bend at the elbow but while he can bend at the knees he has no range of motion with his legs. Maybe the designers thought Doctor Doom was a robot and could just shuffle along like C-3PO.
I guess he can do some yoga. Cobra pose, anyone?
At least his “power driven weapons” action feature was kinda cool. You crank that little handle on the back and his right hand starts turning. His accessories were a drill and a rotor wheel (of course, I lost both many years ago). I’ve never known Doc Doom to run around like he’s the killer in Slumber Party Massacre, but okay. He usually just casts spells, shoots lasers and sends robots after people.
But with these accessories he can help your with your home improvement and then fan you off after a hard day’s work!
DC Comics Super Heroes, 1989
Again, GREAT looking figure. Really captures the look of the Penguin in the comics but who ever thought the Penguin would make for a good action figure? He can barely sit down his belly is so big.
His action feature was his accessory. His umbrella shot missiles.
Big Boss Man
Hasbro’s WWF figures were a bit frustrating. They looked amazing (and only slightly more cartoonish than the actual wrestlers themselves) but they lacked articulation, especially in the legs. Most could turn at the waist and move their arms, but those legs weren’t moving. At all.
Given the girth of this Big Boss Man figure and its lack of articulation, how was I expected to use his finishing move, the “Boss Man Slam”, properly? I wasn’t! His action feature involved raising his arms and they would both slam down simultaneously and Hasbro called it the “Hard Time Slam”. What a slap in the face to wrestling fans.
Ugh. These bendy toys are not much fun. Lots of cheap “action figures” were made this way in the ’70s and ’80s. Actually, much to my surprise, they’re still being made today. I saw a vintage looking and officially licensed bendy Superman at Walmart last week.
I mostly remember having a skeleton figure that was exactly as scrawny as Violator here is. I ended up playing with him so much that his wires rubbed through the rubber. I ended up stripping him and chewing his rubber skull to pieces.
So before McFarlane Toys became this big deal with the collector/direct market, they produced lame action figures based on Todd McFarlane’s Spawn comic book. I guess this is an accurate depiction of Violator but there’s not a lot you can do with him unless you want to wrap him around another figure like he’s Cobra Commander gone into “wassss…. once…. a mannnn…” mode.
And forget about posing him. He fell over literally one second after I took that photo.
Still, I’m thinking he has Rage Comic potential, no?
By the way, my favorite bendy toy?
The Oreo cookie I got from Dairy Queen sometime in the late 80s. He used to smell like Oreos but doesn’t anymore. :(
Pretty colorful design for a Spawn character. This Overtkill (sometimes spelled Overt-Kill) toy is another figure from the very first line of McFarlane Toys. He’s heavy, sturdy, would make a good murder weapon, looks fairly menacing but he’s just so clunky and lacks the articulation to really do much with him.
Oh, and his action feature?
His head pops off and launches like a missile.
Scary yet kinda goofy at the same time, Tremor looks like a bad Doctor Who alien monster. In fact, he reminds me of the Nimon except Tremor is obviously on steroids and has the acne to prove it.
Again, just another large, clunky figure with a lack of articulation that makes him hard to work into whatever scenarios you dream up. He’s top-heavy and was designed with a slight bend at the waist so it can be a challenge to stand him up right. I guess one of his arms is cybernetic so his action feature is delivering an extended punch. I had to hold the guy up just to get that extended arm shot.
Archangel was such a great looking character with this design. Even though he was wearing bright blue & pink, had light blue skin and blonde hair, he still looked like a bad-ass… in the comics. Unfortunately, this figure does not look like a bad-ass but I promise he looked awesome in the comics!
Still early in Toy Biz’s formation, this probably the only figure in this whole post that actually looks dumb and goofy. He looks so awkward and tense. It just screams “cheap” to me. This is like some superhero knockoff you’d find at Dollar General or maybe a futuristic sea-diver that you could pick up at Family Dollar. He came with metal wings but I tore them off because they only got in the way when I wanted to use him as a wrestler.
See? Poor Warren Worthington III. Apocalypse ripped off his angel wings and then I came along and ripped off his metal wings.
Marvel Legends, 2007
The Marvel Legends line of figures weren’t really made so much to be played with but made to be collected and posed. Most of them looked pretty great. Yeah, I know there are some collectors out there who will argue Hasbro ruined the line when they took over the license from Toy Biz, but I think both companies have done a fine job.
At the time this came out, I wasn’t then (and I’m still not) much of a modern toy buyer but given my love of Marvel’s Hercules and how cool this figure looked, I WANTED IT. This figure has rippling muscles, thirteen-thousand points of articulation and a wonderful paint job. It’s just too bad HIS SKIRT GETS IN THE WAY. Hasbro, did you learn nothing from Toy Biz’s Doctor Doom debacle?
Again, leg articulation is wasted because he can’t move them. Why not give him a fabric skirt so he can give someone a face full of sandal? Or was Hasbro being modest and didn’t want Herc’s junk out there in all its glory?
Oh, and seriously, go track down the two Hercules: Prince of Power mini-series Marvel did back in the 1980s. Fun reads.
“Planet Hulk” Hulk
Marvel Legends, 2007
Oh, there’s nothing wrong with this figure at all. Just wanted to show off how awesome it is. Articulated toes. TOES!