Way back in late 1997, a new magazine caught the interest of then-teenage Poe, who was in his first few months of college. Called ToyFare and produced by the folks behind Wizard magazine, it was the first periodical I’d come across that was devoted solely to action figures. Having just come off a years-long obsession with Magic: the Gathering, I found my interest in toys was once again waxing, so ToyFare‘s appearance was fortuitous.
Now, get me talking about the early days of ToyFare and I will always mourn the death of a feature called “Castaway from the Island of Misfit Toys.” Slipped in at the end of the monthly Top 10 Hottest Action Figures countdown, the sidebar always made fun of some lame figure. It was always funny, full of sarcasm and wit, but the one in issue #5 was some sort of bizarre masterpiece.
Here’s the sidebar text in full (reprinted with kind permission from ToyFare #5):
His crime: The horror. This month’s pariah, 339/1, is one of 18 Wrestling Champion figures by some generic company that doesn’t even put its logo on the packaging. How lame are these toys? So lame they don’t even name ‘em, just give ‘em serial numbers. So lame, they think putting your grandfather in wrestling trunks is a good idea. So lame, his right hand is melted. Imagine this freak of nature under the tree on Christmas morning. Imagine the look of shocked disgust on a child’s face after elatedly unwrapping 339/1. “Mother…Father…you have thrust me into a world of darkness. The penalty is death.”
The clincher is that last line. It’s the sort of thing that made me a lifelong ToyFare reader.
After reading this–and laughing for about five minutes straight–339/1 became an icon to me. Along with the regular lines I buy, I’m always on the lookout for weird random toys, and 339/1 was about the weirdest, random-est toy in existence.
And believe it or not–I found him. My local Toys ‘R Us, of all places, had these blasphemies in one of those white metal clearance baskets. Mine isn’t identical to the one shown in ToyFare #5–he has blue shorts, not red ones, and his hand is, sadly, not melted. But in every other way, he’s just as amusingly hideous.
The anonymous scribe neglected to mention a few of his other unique features, such as his bright blue hair and pointy elf ears. I wonder if this wasn some sort of He-Man/fantasy knock off figure that the unnamed toy company slapped a wrestling belt on. 339/1′s head vaguely resembles that of a Trobbit, an elf-type creature from He-Man’s predecessor BlackStar.
339/1 would be nearly as big a deal to me if I hadn’t found the son of a bitch (or a friend may have come across him at that TRU–I can’t remember exactly anymore). And yes, I’ve still got him, as these photos can attest. He hasn’t quite earned a place in the Shrine, but he did rate a spot on the site menu. Shine on, 339/1.