Category: On the Menu

On the Menu > 339/1

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.

The figure?


On the Menu > Oculus Orbus

Oculus OrbusMaybe it’s just the nostalgia talking, but it seems to me that the 1980s was a great time for the odd, eccentric toy. From Food Fighters to Barnyard Commandos to Army Ants to Boglins, the ’80s were a boon for fans of original license action figures.

But also in the ’80s, in a trend that continues to this day, electronic forms of entertainment (from videogames and computers to cell phones and Ipods) began to supplant action figures and diecast cars, just as those toys had supplanted the wooden treasures of old.

PGPoA’s site menu (with images created by the incomparable Red Kryptonite) pays tribute to several of those toys whose popularity was obscured by the mega-lines such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Masters of the Universe. But there were a few toys that managed to break out into the public consciousness as well. One such toy line was Madballs.

On the Menu > Soaron Sky Sentry

When I was designing this site in my head, one thing I knew I wanted were graphics inspired by some of the more random toys I loved as a child. Hence the first “On the Menu” figure, Weed Killer. From time to time I’ll be posting a review/memoir about each character found on the site’s graphics (incidentally, watch for two brand-new graphics coming at the end of the month).

Today’s OTM is a fellow that many of you have mentioned in your comments: Soaron Sky Sentry, the pterodactyl-like robot-man and official PGPoA enforcer who orders you to post a comment.

On the Menu > Weed Killer

Note: This article was originally published on an old website of mine on October 24, 1999. It has been edited and updated for this post. Update: I have retroactively tagged this as the first “On the Menu” entry, in which I discuss the various toys represented in Red Kryptonite’s art on this site.

Hunchback freakSo orange
Green skin yellow eyes
Hunchback freak.

–Poe Ghostal, “A Haiku for Weed Killer”

Just who – or what – is this thing called Weed Killer? You may notice him over there in the menu to the left. This is his story.

Weed Killer is an action figure from the 1991 Kenner Swamp Thing line, based on a short-lived cartoon show. He was one of the evil henchmen of Dr. Anton Arcane, a mad scientist who was out to kill Swamp Thing. I got the Swamp Thing and Weed Killer figures for Easter. Why my parents chose Weed Killer over the other bad guys, I don’t know. Maybe it was the bright orange jumpsuit; maybe he was the only other figure there; maybe it was just fate. Whatever the cause, I received Weed Killer, and thus action figure history was made. Sort of.

I played with both Weed and Swamp Thing for a little while. I distinctly recall playing with them in the back of my grandfather’s car as we drove around with my dad to visit family graves, as we used to do every Easter. After a few weeks, though, I lost interest in Swamp Thing. But I kept Weed Killer around.

Why, you ask? For a few reasons. First, there’s that bright orange uniform. Very eye-catching. Then there’s the whole mutated-janitor thing he’s got going on. The hunched back, the mottled green skin, the gas mask, the glow-in-the-dark eyes – he was just weird, and I loved him for it. He was also particularly well-sculpted for an action figure of that time.

Weed Killer 2Best of all, he had no real background – he was just a random bad-guy henchman created for the cartoon. That allowed him to participate in all sorts of different adventures with different action figure lines. He fought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Cable, Robocop, Batman, Spiderman, the X-Men, and so forth. He helped out Shredder, Magneto, Stryfe, the Joker – he was basically a temp henchman for all my bad guys. I can just see him getting up in the morning, wondering what his name would be and what mega-maniacal super-villain he would be working for that day.

Weed Killer eventually retired from henchman duty and discovered to his surprise that he had received the ultimate honor that could be bestowed upon one of my action figures – he was given a spot in the glass-encased Shrine, right next to the other two hench-temps, Soaron Sky Sentry and Warduke. Welcome to immortality, Weed Killer.

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