I love the Tick. For one thing, he was invented just a few towns over from where I grew up. In 1986, teenager Ben Edlund created the Tick as a mascot for New England Comics, the chain of comic shops I frequented as a kid (and still patronize today). His appearances expanded into stories in eventually, in 1988, a comic book, which has been published at odd intervals ever since and inspired a number of spin-offs including the Chainsaw Vigilante, Paul the Samurai, and the Man-Eating Cow.
Like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Tick was an independent comic book character whose black-and-white comics were later turned into a popular cartoon in the mid-1990s. The cartoon was largely faithful to the look and spirit of the comics and would become a cult classic in its own right. Finally, in 2001 there was a short-lived live-action series starring the ubiquitous Patrick Warburton as the title character. Ben Edlund, by the way, would go on to work on such geek-beloved projects as Firefly, Angel, and Supernatural, and had a hand in the creation of The Venture Bros.
As you’d imagine with a Saturday morning cartoon character, there have been plenty of Tick toys. Most of them were created in Bandai in the mid-1990s, and while the toys were fun, they were also fairly under-articulated, even for the time. Years later, N2 toys squandered the success they’d had with their mediocre Matrix line by sinking it into an even-worse line of live-action Tick figures (one of my worst-reviewed toys ever). Legend has it the line bombed so bad, it’s why N2 changed their name to Mirage Toys. (I don’t know what happened to the company after that–is it still around?)