Wow. Today’s Show and Tell is a doctoral dissertation on the action figure of Thud Butt from Hook. It’s written by Ben Leach, vintage toy enthusiast and frequent contributor to ToyFare magazine. It’s fair to say you have never loved a toy as much as Ben loves Thud Butt. Not ever.
So prepare to learn more than you ever thought possible about…Thud Butt.
One of these days, hopefully sooner than later, something is going to happen to make me realize there’s so much more to life than nostalgia and action figures.Today is not that day.
When I was a wee lad of 8 years of age, a movie came out that got me very excited. It combined action, adventure, comedy, mermaids, the ability to fly, prostitutes playing fairies, a short guy playing a tall guy, and a girl with freaky-ass caterpillar eyebrows.
It was called ‘Hook.’ Actually, it is still called ‘Hook.’‘Hook’ is one of those movies where I was so glad I saw it as a kid. I know most adults who lack the power of IMAGINATION view the movie as screwing up a classic fairy tale. But when you’re a kid, you just think it’s so cool to see Peter Pan realize who he is to venture back to Neverland to save his children. Kids in the film were beating up on pirates with the aid of marbles, chickens, mirrors, and an expensive but essentially useless raft that served as five seconds of eye candy. Plus, I was too young to get annoyed with Robin Williams’ whole shtick. Look at the funny man who makes funny faces and slight variations on one funny voice!
As my sister and I have watched and rewatched ‘Hook’ year after year around Christmastime, we’ve become aware just how important this film was not only for us, but a host of somewhat famous personalities who put their careers on the line just to say a couple of lines in a big-time Steven Spielberg movie.
My sister and I have also developed a deep appreciation of one of the greatest characters of cinematic history. Even though he was a secondary character, he possessed a commanding presence every time he was on screen. And when Peter Pan leaves Neverland, he puts this character in charge, acknowledging the character’s obvious leadership skills.
I’m talking, of course, about Thud Butt.
Yes, with the influential work of the future screenwriter of Muppet Treasure Island blended with the filmmaking talents of Steven Spielberg, they decided to take young actor Raushan Hammond, who was likely shopping at the Big & Tall at the age of 7, and exploit his girth to the fullest extent. He wasn’t just the butt end of fat jokes. He literally had the word “butt” in his name.
When it comes to the big battle scene, his special attack abilities include stomping on a plank and whacking a pirate in the crotch, as well as curling up into a ball (MOVIE SECRET: They created a giant ball puppet of Thud Butt for what I’m about to describe) and roll down a plank, knocking over pirates like bowling pins.
Step 1: Magically lift legs up over head.
Step 2: Replace actor with medicine ball dressed in clothes.
It seems like it’s all okay when, after the death of RUF-I-O, RUF-I-O, RU-FI-OOOOOOOOOOO, Peter Pan decides to put Thud Butt in charge of Neverland, but Pan/Banning squeezes in one last fat joke, instructing Thud Butt to “to take care of everything that’s smaller than you.” And you thought Mike Myers’ Fat Bastard was one horrible fat joke after the other.
Despite all this, he was a hero in the battle of ineffective pirates versus mostly bad childhood actors, and I always wanted to have my own Thud Butt by my side, so that if for some reason people picked on me, I could have him stomp on the ground and whack them in the crotch. Also, I could roll him around like a ball, according to the film. Also, he could dance.
While Raushan Hammond wasn’t immediately available to be my new best friend, that didn’t stop young Ben. When I wanted to pretend like I had friends, I always resorted to my action figures. My sister and I had the entire set of Hook action figures, and let me tell you, they are some of the worst toys ever to grace the toy aisle in the history of toys. Mattel made absolutely no attempt to make them look anything like their movie counterparts. Ironically, Mattel managed to get Robin Williams’ likeness down pretty well when they made ‘Mork and Mindy’ toys in 1979.
When ‘Hook’ toys were put away but good in the Leach household in favor of X-Men and G.I. Joe figures, I noticed a weird “Skull Armor” version of Captain Hook at a Kay Bee toys back in about 1992. On the back of the package, it looked like they were actually making some kind of neat figures, including a crocodile. But there on the back of the package was proof that there is a God. Mattel had decided to make a Thud Butt action figure.
I never, ever once saw the Thud Butt figure in stores, despite secretly always wanting one. As I began to move from “playing with toys” to “collecting toys,” price guides would quickly tell me that Thud Butt went unproduced. My little heart was broken, and went broken for several years…until Thursday, April 2, 2009.
My belief in God was reaffirmed when an eBay search made my heart stop, my jaw drop, and my nerdiness get the better of me. An eBay seller…no, a SAINT…had decided to list an actual, honest-to-goodness Thud Butt action figure.
Like most great toys, when American kids got tired of them, European kids got into them, and so Thud Butt was released to French kids, British children, and other younguns who don’t have English as a first language.
So here it is, a couple of weeks later, and I finally own my Thud Butt action figure. And actually, we own two of them, since another one appeared at the same time. So I have one in its original package, while my sister has one to play with. And believe me, the Thud Butt action figure does not disappoint.
I think the actual action figure is somewhat flattering to Raushan. Keeping with the theme of the toy line, the Thud Butt action figure looks nothing like his real-life counterpart, other than they are both African American. They at least make an attempt to keep the outfit intact. And though his hat is over-sized on the figure, at least it looks sort of like what Thud Butt wore.
Thankfully, while the limitations of action figure technology in 1991 are apparent, Thud Butt makes up for it by also being a Transformer. Remember the Thud Ball scene? If Thud Butt’s action figure looks a bit off, it’s because his body is designed to roll up into a ball so you can throw him into pirates or basically anything you can think of.
The card also comes with instructions on how to make a Thud Ball.
It’s definitely tempting to chuck Thud Butt at our cat Skittles, but we’ll behave, even if she deserves to feel the power of Thud Butt against her furry frame.
But as fun as the actual figure is, what puts Thud Butt into the stratosphere of awesomeness is his assortment of accessories. They even make up for the fact that he doesn’t come with the giant marble-firing gun.
The first accessory is rather basic. He uses a tortoise shell for a shield.
Like any action figure aimed at young boys, he has to come with a weapon. So what kind of weapon would you trust an 8-year-old Lost Boy with? If you guessed JAGGED SCYTHES, you’d be correct. He comes with two of them, just because he’s not content enough with stabbing you in the gut. Once you’re down, Thud Butt goes for the head. Or at least that’s what I assume.
While the Hook toy line is generally crappy, I have to give Mattel a lot of credit for including this next accessory. During the food fight scene, before they start throwing whipped cream with food coloring at each other (so that no one got hurt), they pan over all of the delicious food that Peter has created thanks to the POWER OF IMAGINATION. While most of it is typically what you’d expect of an imaginary feast (giant turkey, multi-layered cake), there’s one item that you won’t be able to find at your local supermarket.
That’s right, it’s THUD BUTT CHEESE. Even the mere act of typing it sounds wrong. “How does that Thud Butt cheese taste? Do you like it when you have Thud Butt’s cheese in your mouth? Thud Butt’s cheese is giving me gas.” Better yet, THUD BUTT’S CHEESE fits in his hands. “Thud Butt’s cheese got all over his hands!” Let’s knock it off before I corrupt too many impressionable minds.
But the best accessories are often those that make absolutely no sense. That’s certainly the case with Thud Butt’s last and greatest accessory. For no reason whatsoever, Thud Butt comes with…
…a beaver. Don’t worry, you’re not hallucinating. There was no beaver AT ALL in the movie, but there’s a beaver with Thud Butt. Thud Butt has a small hole in his left arm, and the beaver hangs onto Thud Butt’s arm for dear life. What does the beaver do to latch himself onto Thud Butt’s arm? And why the subtle yet confident choice of the gender of the beaver? It’s simple really. The beaver squeezes his “peg” into the hole in Thud Butt’s arm, happily resting there for all to see.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the Thud Butt figure is the artwork on the cardback. There are two different images of Thud Butt. The one on the front of the card shows him in all of his Thudball glory, with a wisp of air trailing him that we can only assume is a streamlined fart that’s the result of eating too much of his own cheese. Also, note the beaver.
If you were confused by the presence of the beaver in the first place, so was the artist hired by Mattel to help sell Thud Butt to impressionable youth. The artist was so confused, that he/she decided to turn the beaver into a squirrel.
I’m already 87.5 percent of my way towards 2,000 words about Thud Butt, and I don’t think they’ve gone to waste. As I said from the beginning, I’m hoping I get to the point that I can get excited by something normal rather that a long forgotten action figure that comes with a suspicious beaver and cheese. But if there’s at least one thing in life that can get me this excited, I must be doing something right.
I LUV THUD BUTTTTTTTTTT!!!