Poe-File > Power Arm Terminator (Kenner, Terminator 2, 1991)

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In the early 1980s, Mattel famously passed on an action figure line for Conan the Barbarian after seeing just how violent the R-rated film really was. Meanwhile, Kenner was still making money hand over fist off their massively popular Star Wars toys.

But by the end of the decade, the Star Wars boom had subsided in the absence of new movies, so Kenner began casting about for new licenses. Having found such success with one science fiction film, it’s not surprising Kenner picked up another one. What is a bit surprising is that it was the R-rated Robocop, a film that was initially given an X rating for its graphic violence, including a scene where a police officer is brutally shot to death and a man is exposed to toxic waste and subsequently splattered across a car’s windshield. (To be fair, the toy line coincided with a cartoon by Marvel, and both followed the pioneering Rambo cartoon and toyline from the mid-’80s).

In the early 1990s, Kenner also picked up the rights to Terminator 2 (and later, Aliens and Predator).*

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As a kid, I was really into Terminator 2. You’re never really as obsessed with anything as you are when you’re 11-13, are you? I was so into the whole thing, I styled my hair like Schwarzenegger’s in the film – and trust me when I say that I did not have the type of hair that could do that.

Terminator 2 was the first R-rated movie I saw in the theater (I was thirteen), and I managed to see it twice.

The next step, obviously, was a trip to the toy store. And being me, I wanted an action figure of the Terminator that, y’know, actually resembled the most iconic look of the character in the movie – leather jacket, leather pants, sunglasses. Not terribly complicated, right? Unfortunately, Kenner had evidently left that sort of attention to detail behind when they stopped making Star Wars figures.

The closest one could get was this fellow here, Power Arm Terminator (Amazon). He’s not quite what I wanted back then, though. He’s kind of wearing a leather biker jacket, but his sleeves are missing and he’s tossed on a fuchsia turtleneck. He looks like he should be hanging around Polk Street looking for an entirely different “john.” Oh, and half his damned face is missing.

During this period, action figure producers often followed the lead of the best-selling lines. Shortly after Kenner introduced their 3¾” Star Wars figures there was an explosion of toy lines in that scale. A few years later, everyone started copying the bulky Masters of the Universe figures – even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles showed vestiges of MOTU’s influence. So it’s not surprising Power Arm Terminator, who stands about 5″ tall, somewhat resembles Playmates’ TMNT figures in his size, detailing, and slightly cartoonish sculpt.

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This figure has a pretty fun gimmick – interchangeable robotic arms. If I may put on my Huge Nerd cap for a moment, it’s obviously very non-canonical from the film (at least until the T-X in Terminator 3, a movie that, as far as I’m concerned doesn’t exist). But as action features go, this is pretty fun. The “grabbing claw” and missile launcher arms are obvious (and that missile goes quite a distance), but the regular arm’s action feature is a bit mystifying.

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Fun toy gimmick, or incredibly disturbing sexual overtones?

Yes, Power Arm Terminator can flip you the robo-bird. As a kid, I carved that rounded tip into a pointy one, because I liked my toys to have at least the possibility of piercing my retina.

But what the hell was this feature supposed to be anyway? I have two theories. One: it was inspired by Kenner’s famous slide-out lightsabers in their SW figures. Or two: a few years earlier, Kenner had made action figures of Robocop, who had a hand that could eject a spike, and for whatever reason the Kenner designers remembered that and decided to implement it here.

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It would be nearly two decades before I got the Terminator action figure I’d always wanted. But I have fond memories of this guy, and I still have one in my collection today.

*In fact, Kenner had dipped its toes in R-rated toys a decade earlier with the notorious 1979 12″ Alien toy – and its famously unproduced 3¾” line, which will finally see release this fall from Super7.

Comments now closed (16)

  • Oh, man! This is truly a blast from the past! My brother, cousin and I were all very into this line in the early 90s. Between the three of us we had nearly the entire line. My cousin even had the motorcycle which my brother and I did not, but we did have the car with the enormous missile!

    I always likened the spike to RoboCop's data-spike. I guess it just made sense in my 10-year-old mind since the were both cyborgs.

    Good memories.

  • I had a near complete line of these as a kid (including the disappointing Bio Flesh Factory, which was returned the day after Christmas). I still have a few of them (exploding T-1000, whitehot T-1000, the Endo Glow T-800, and John Conner) but this is probably the next retro line I plan on trying to complete. I didn't see T2 in theaters (saw it on VHS sometime later) but I'm pretty confident it was the first R-rated movie I was ever allowed to see. I personally always thought the spike was supposed to be reminsecent of how T-1000 could turn his arms into blades and that Kenner simply gave that feature to T-800 as well. This was the first Terminator figure I owned.

  • What, you don’t remember the scene where the Terminator put on a pink turtleneck and stabbed John Connor in the eye?

  • I got this figure for the same reasons as you, Poe, but it's wonderful toy-ish-ness really grew on me and it's a big standout from my childhood. I would KILL if NECA could do a version of this much like their upcoming Kenner Predators!!!

  • haha this line was ridiculous.i had so many of them… the goat horn terminator who's shins extended to he was taller? the fat bald terminator with hoses going into his face and a giant claw??

    my favorite was the arnold with the blaster permanently attached to his arm that would lock in over his stomach to hide his metal innards. but if you squeezed his legs together the arm would pop around and shoot a missle http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5167/5243252433_c4b

    lol also the one that would shoot off all the skin/shirt on the front of his torso!!!! hahahahahahha http://acimg.auctivacommerce.com/imgdata/0/1/9/3/

  • I remember this one and the Bio Flesh Regenerator thing… Sadly I got these when I was on the "toys are for little kids phase" (which only lasted about a year…) and Most of the bioflesh ended up being used in more disturbing manners.

  • I love kenner so much! I want some of these if only to add them to my aliens/predators/marines!

    • I'm also a big fan of the Kenner toys from the 90s. My favorite were the Aliens toys because I loved the Aliens movie. That was the coolest thing I had ever seen as a kid.

  • I could see this line, the Robocop, Aliens, and especially, Jurassic Park stuff… all jump way up in price in the next few years. Don't go dumping your kid's college fund into Gorilla Aliens and then blame me when it tanks though. We already see a nice jump in a bunch of the Aliens figures as well as some Predator and the larger JP items. While there was a ton of toys from these lines produced, I've noticed a big upswing in interest in all these lines the last couple years. Remember collectors were focused on POTF2 and Marvel stuff back in the primordial ooze that was the early 90's.

    There also seems to be a huge interest in "goofy" 90's toys out there too- by that I mean toys from the 90's with exaggerated proportions, neon colors, or just a silly funny look to them, especially from serious TV or movies. I'm not sure whether this is due to the huge resurgence of TMNT with adult collectors the last two years and "proximity effect", a pushback from collectors who aren't into the super-articulated modern stuff, 1990's kids coming into their own and their nostalgia driving interest, or older collectors who have been priced out of the 70's-80's market. Even AFA graded POTF2 Star Wars has been doing somewhat decent, even if it is the usual suspects like the graded Japanese, bootlegs, and variant items.

      • Today you wouldn't… but give yourself five years and maybe you'll be willing to pay a bit more. I'd lump the sharks into that group too to some extent.

        I had that same "I won't pay a lot for these, but I'll get them if they're cheap" attitude with a lot of toy lines in the early-mid 90's. I still cry about some garage sale deals I skipped (like 12back Star Wars figures I skipped for under $5 at a garage sale in 1996 because I had them already!)

        When I did finally cash out my vintage MISB MOTU and Kenner Star Wars stuff, being cheap served me well 😉 and it was a shock to move figures I paid less than $20 carded (in some cases less than a dollar!) go for 5-10 times that. I still always stop by rural K-Marts and TJMaxx stores and buy up some random red tag clearance items yearly.

    • I am a sucker for neon colored toys. I love the Mask movie line and the figures from James Bond Jr. The colors were very eye catching and vibrant. I kind of miss that now. Too many toy lines lose my interest because every character is wearing a black uniform/custome. That turned me off to the X-Men movie toy line and the first GI Joe movie toy line. I think putting them all in black makes them lose personality.

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