When I encounter something cool–a TV show, a movie, a book–I often end up wanting action figures from it. That’s not an unusual trait among toy collectors, but it’s something I’ve been doing ever since I was a wee tyke.
Here’s a list of ten things a young Poe always hoped to get action figures of, but never did.
10.) War of the Worlds: I’m one of four or five kids who really enjoyed this late ’80s show, which was based on the 1950s movie. The idea was the government had stashed a bunch of Martians after the attack, and in the 1980s some of them came back to life and escaped and began taking over human bodies, initiating a secret Martian conspiracy to take over the world. Each episode would end with someone being outed as an undercover Martian, at which point they’d be killed and a three-fingered Martian hand would burst out of their chest.
Believe it or not, the show lasted two seasons. The only reason I include it on this list is that I remember very clearly wanting action figures from it as a kid. Other than a generic Martian, a Martian attack ship, and maybe a Martian spy with hand-bursting action, I don’t think the show had a lot of toy potential, but I would have loved the hell out of those three toys.
9.) Dinosaucers: As previously discussed.
8.) Ducktales: I enjoyed this show as part of Disney’s post-school afternoon block of cartoons alongside Darkwing Duck. But in truth, the only character I really wanted a figure of was Gizmoduck. A Gizmoduck figure, with all sorts of pop-out and detachable accessories, would have been one great toy–although I suppose it would have been hard to figure out how to get it to stand up on that one wheel.
7.) Flight of the Navigator: This is still one of my favorite 1980s kids’ fantasy flicks, not the least because the robot is voiced by Pee-Wee Herman. With its easy-to-identify-with kid star, awesome early CGI-spaceship effects, and cute little aliens, this movie begged for toy tie-ins, yet nothing was produced. A 3 3/4″ line with the kid, some aliens, and a big spaceship playset (with a Max that could move around on some sort of trough) would have been awesome.
6.) The Last Unicorn: I’m not at all ashamed to say I love this book and movie–and not just because of the America soundtrack. No less a comics industry luminary than Ed McGuinness has been inspired by this film, specifically in his design of Red Hulk, whom he based partially on the Red Bull from The Last Unicorn.
What’s even cooler is The Last Unicorn was itself inspired by toys. The author of the novel upon which the movie is based, Peter S. Beagle, was initially inspired by seeing a child playing with some plastic toys at the beach, with a unicorn facing off with a bull. [Update: I received a kind email from Mr. Beagle’s manager, Connor Cochran, who informed me that while many things inspired Mr. Beagle to write The Last Unicorn, toys were not among them. While there’s sort of an image like the one I described above in the novel itself, I must have hallucinated the idea that it was inspired by a real incident. Sorry folks! The ol’ gray matter ain’t what it used to be.]
The film has plenty of toy potential: the Unicorn, the Red Bull, that creepy skeleton guard by the clock who scared me as a kid, the harpy–heck, pretty much all the characters would make great action figures. Except for the boob-tree-woman–she freaks me the f*** out.
[Update: Mr. Cochran adds, “I completely agree that the film has lots of toy potential. Sadly, the company that controls those merchandising rights isn’t currently interested in doing anything with them. Peter and I are working to change that, but we have no idea how long it might take to succeed.”]
5.) DangerMouse: I spent a lot of time watching Nickelodeon as a kid, which featured a lot of imported British cartoons. My favorite Nick cartoon was DangerMouse. Despite the immense toy potential of the show, there don’t appear to have been any action figures. Ever. It’s oversights like this that make me question the idea of an omnipresent God.
4.) The Monster Squad: OK, it’s not like there haven’t been plenty of Universal Monsters toys, and most of this movie’s designs are more or less identical to the classic Universal look–except for the Gillman. Holy mother of a twice-baked bible, the late Stan Winston’s Gillman suit was perfection. This is easily one of my most-wanted figures ever, and it blows my mind that the likes of NECA or SOTA never licensed it for the Reel Toys, Cult Classics or Now Playing lines.
3.) Short Circuit: A successful PG-rated movie starring a bad-ass robot with treads and a mounted laser gun? Nah, no reason to bother making toys for that!
This one particularly irks me because unbelievably awesome Johnny Five toys actually appear as a plot point in the sequel, Short Circuit 2. They were about 12″ tall, made of metal, were electronic and could roll around on their own–in short, they were some of the awesomest toys ever made. Would it have killed them to market the damn things? I need to go cry now.
2.) The NeverEnding Story: As mind-busting as the lack of Short Circuit toys is, that’s nothing compared to the complete and utter lack of Neverending Story toys. This movie came out in 1984, smack-dab in the middle of the golden age of action figures, and yet, we kids got nothing. Nothing! Not a Bastian figure, not an Atreyu/Artax set, not a giant deluxe Falkor or Morla, not the Childlike Empress, not even that funky dude with the skin mohawk.
It makes me so goddamned mad I could scream. If someone made Neverending Story figures now, I would buy each and every last one of them.
1.) Mystery Science Theater 3000: This one’s cheating a little, because I didn’t get to watch MST3K until 1997 when it moved to the Sci Fi Network, which is past the arbitrary pre-1995 date I’m using as my cut-off for what constitutes “vintage.” But the show was around before 1995, so I’m saying it counts.
A 6″-scale line of MST3K figures is my #1 dream toy line. Ideally, there would just be a number of playsets: one of the Satellite of Love from the Joel era and one from the Mike era, one playset of Deep 13 and one of Castle Forrester, each with the appropriate characters. The door for Cambot would open and close on the SoL sets, and Crow and Servo would have some interchangeable parts for some of their more famous outfits.
If the playsets sold well enough, there could be individual carded figures of recurring characters like Pitch, Torgo, Mr. B. Natural, Flavia and so on.
I don’t think the licensing costs for MST3K collectibles would be exorbitant–it’s not like it’s a huge blockbuster franchise. So please, someone, make this toy line happen.