Disappointment is a natural part of any gift-giving occasion, especially if you're a kid and your mom doesn't know the difference between a Transformer and a GoBot. Every kid knew that there was an inherent risk in asking Santa for an action figure, because parents usually figured that as long as it had the right logo on the box, they were on the safe side.
Turns out they couldn't be more wrong, because hiding within the toy lines you loved were ...
He looks like he's one missed deadline away from a felony groping charge.
It was something of a rite of passage for boys in the late '80s/early '90s to wake up on Christmas morning and see the wrapped Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-shaped box. In anticipation you'd tear it open, wondering what would be revealed. Your favorite Turtle? Your favorite villain? Or some fat guy eating a sandwich, with toilet paper stuck on his foot?
The official TMNT Burne (April O'Neil's boss) action figure included exciting accessories like a phone, a typewriter, a press pass that fit nowhere on his person and another, larger sandwich.
With a sword grip.
The truth is, an alarming amount of TMNT toys were neither teenage nor mutant nor ninjas nor turtles. Some of them weren't even appropriate for children. Case in point:
"I'm ... making a documentary!"
This is a prostitute. This wasn't a Barbie tie-in or something: This Ravishing Reporter April doll came packaged like a regular Ninja Turtle, including accessories like a dagger to defend herself when her pimp isn't around and a fully detachable skirt, which no doubt served to fuel adolescent fantasies in the dark ages of the pre-rule-34 era.
Also, it turns out that it didn't take a whole lot to qualify as a TMNT villain:
Notice how his pinky finger is doing the Shocker.
Pizzaface was described as "Shredder's crazed culinary creator" and "the ultimate Turtle nightmare" because he possessed the power of the pizza pie. And if there's one defining characteristic of the Ninja Turtles, it's that they hate pizza.
Not that this picture looks exceptionally appetizing.
OK, at least this one is a Turtle. As a farmer.
That is, some toy designer said, "It's the mutant turtle part kids love! They can take or leave the teenage ninja part! The whole show could be about planting seeds and learning about proper crop rotation, the little shits will still watch it!"
Damn, guys, it was hard enough to even want to buy a Donatello figure at all. And yet this must have been so popular that it led to a follow-up. To their credit, they did make a vast improvement for this one:
The Action Figure Archive
They replaced "Don" with "Mike."
That's the greenest neck beard we've seen since the Grinch got hooked on Eve.
There was a time at the height of He-Man's popularity when the social status of a school-age boy was dictated entirely by the amount of Masters of the Universe action figures he owned. The only thing worse than having no He-Man figures? Having one of the lame ones.
And they had a lot of these. Since the only discernible unifying concept for the He-Man line was the presence of pectorals and a Speedo, the designers were able to come up with some truly deranged shit. Like Moss Man. This guy doesn't just look like he's coated with fungus: They actually went out of their way to give a dampy feel to the touch and a "real pine scent" to it. It is disgusting in every conceivable sense. Look at his face. Look at it.
Now imagine trying to sleep with that thing staring at you from somewhere in your room, if you can. Moss Men are particularly difficult to find among collectors today because most kids buried them in their backyards in fear.
Final Frontier Toys
Sure, blister pack. "Fun."
Stinkor? More like ... no, yeah, Stinkor is fine. Like Moss Man, Stinkor came with an actual stench derived from patchouli oil -- that was his power. Smelling like a hippie.
"Keep the sword. I'm out. Fuck you."
The Tribbles have armed!
Then there's Grizzlor, also known as the moment when Mattel started fearing for the sanity of its employees. Grizzlor is a mental breakdown in the shape of an action figure. "Dear lord, they've gone too far this time. How are we supposed to sell this?" "Uh ... let's stick a crossbow on it."
They started to drift a little from the He-Man concept with this one, since you can't actually see his pecs or crotch, but presumably they're still somewhere in there (unless you shave it and it's just one big gonad). At least at this point they were still trying. Sadly, we can't say the same for ...
What possible good could those stubby articulated legs do?
A Masters of the Universe bear. But wait! This is only its initial shape. Just like Prince Adam turned into He-Man or Cringer turned into Battle Cat, a Transformers-like mechanism allowed this ordinary bear to turn into ... a ... ball?
"And it should be half white, because cocaine."
The Indiana Jones Toy Reference Page
Real name: Herr von Muffintopp.
When Raiders of the Lost Ark came out in 1981, a toy line seemed like a no-brainer: After all, George Lucas and Kenner had just made a gajillion dollars selling action figures based on another beloved Lucasfilm property also starring Harrison Ford -- it would have been stupid not to sell toys based on this thing. The only problem was that while Star Wars had Luke, Han, Chewie, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, the Emperor, the Stormtroopers and more, Indiana Jones had ... Indiana Jones.
That led to stuff like this, a toy of the nameless, shirtless German mechanic who fights Indy near a plane. This action figure is especially disappointing when you consider that the character's only notable feature (the fact that he was killed by a propeller blade) is in no way acknowledged here. Not even in the box art. Also because he appears to be 30 years older than in the movie and overweight.
A fight with this dude ends in emphysema coughs before head mist-ification.
But, again, it's not like they had a lot to choose from. Even the film's main antagonist, Hans von Meltyface or whatever, was just a guy in a suit. This forced them to take things to kind of a weird place ...
The Indiana Jones Toy Reference Page
Somehow the phrase "this figure's knees were not jointed as most of the others were" seems incredibly offensive.
Yes, now you can rerecreate the scene in which Marion is in danger of being raped by Nazis! Also, she comes with a monkey.
To be fair, a lot of the toys in this line came with removable clothes. It was never a great idea:
The Indiana Jones Toy Reference Page
Why ... why would you even ... why?
So hey, the next time you watch that awesome scene where Indy shoots the swordsman, remember: At least one of them is wearing a thong. Goodbye, childhood!
With real Vicodin-popping action!
We'll just cut straight to it: The Rocky action figures are pretty much bananas through and through. Sure, there's all the figures you'd expect to see, like Clubber Lang and Apollo Creed and Rocky himself. But this franchise posed 10 times the problem for toy makers as Indiana Jones -- it doesn't even have villains, per se, or cool changes in costume.
So what they're left to do is sift through every single scene of the franchise and recreate them in action-figure form. What child wouldn't want to play with a battered, bloody Rocky in a wheelchair?
And it goes downhill from here ...
That's right. It's Brigitte Nielson's character from Rocky IV, the Russian Ludmilla Drago. Who could possibly want to own an action figure based on the likeness of Ivan Drago's wife? Other than Ivan Drago?
It's OK if you've forgotten Frank Stallone. America did years ago.
Yep, that's Sylvester's brother, Frank Stallone. These were mostly sold to one "F. Stallone" as masturbatory aids.
From the unproduced Rocky Meets the Flintstones special.
Yep, that's Caveman Rocky, aka Rocky wearing the costume he was wearing in that wacky commercial he was shooting at the beginning of Rocky II.
Basically, someone could buy all these figures and make a 100 percent accurate reenactment of every film in the Rocky franchise. Or plastic Rocky orgies. Either way, please put it on YouTube. But what do you do when you've exhausted every possibility in the Rocky universe, when every single character from every single scene is taken? Why, you move on to the inanimate objects ...
Yet another tragic victim of the vile Copperfinger.
The Rocky Statue in Philadelphia. A non-moving, non-talking hunk of bronze. So your kids can play "statue." Come on, guys. What's next, an action figure of the meat he was punching while he trained in the original film?
That is not a Photoshop.
"How do I pee?"
The X-Men action figure line was one of the coolest of the '90s, provided that you didn't get one of the lesser-known characters. What's unfortunate is that, when it comes to the X-Men, 90 percent of the team qualifies as "lesser known." It's pretty much just "Wolverine, etc."
For instance, this guy's legs are a tank. His mutant power is that his legs are a tank. Unless you misplace the tank (it's detachable, for some reason), then his power is that he has no legs.
In real life, his taint would be the size of a throw rug.
You may remember the Blob from the Wolverine movie or your local Walmart. His mutant power is morbid obesity. This is the "realistic" variant for the Blob action figure, because the standard one didn't have enough chins. It even has chins all over its legs, and not one but two sets of moobs.
Apparently, she has the mutant ability to excrete hot glue from her ankles.
Wolfsbane looks like she's murdered and scalped multiple Don Kings and attached the scalps to her body in ritualistic fashion. If the Internet hasn't yet produced an erotic fan fiction story starring her and Grizzlor from He-Man, we're betting it will within 15 minutes of this article being published.
He's just making the best of a bad chest wound.
Banshee is a relatively well-known character with a super-powered scream ... which they decided to represent here by jamming a whistle into his chest. You blow (into) him. They could have given him a sound chip or something, but no, clearly this was the more dignified solution.
Is it just us, or is he totally throwing up a gang sign?
Well-known superheroes can make disappointing action figures, too, as Marvel Toys has worked hard to prove for the past 20 years. In this case, Dr. Strange is dead and you have bought his ghost. He seems to be saying "WooooOOOooo I cost you $9.99! BOO!"
This was actually a recolored variant of an earlier Dr. Strange figure that was supposed to represent his "astral form" or some bullshit.
We don't remember her joints being so clearly visible in the comics.
"Say, I have 20,000 pieces of transparent plastic shaped like little women in my warehouse. Don't ask. What do we do with them?"
"Ever heard of the Fantastic Four?"
And then, there are the figures that someone only buys for a child if they want to give them emotional baggage. For example, check out this figure of Ghost Rider in the midst of his transformation (alternatively packaged as "person burning alive").
"Oh hey kids I'm Joh -- AAAAAAHHHHH OH MY GOD THE PAIN!"
"You know what kids can't get enough of? Awkward cloth suits."
J. Jonah Jameson's deep hatred of Spider-Man seems somewhat less threatening when he's wearing his dad's suit. Also, we couldn't help noticing that his pants appear to be removable. He has a thong under there, doesn't he?
But the winner of the Spider-Man toy line has to be:
"With realistic varicose vein action!"
Spider-Man's Aunt May is terrifying. She looks like an alien tore off her skin and is wearing it as a suit. Seriously, look at her cold, inhuman stare:
We're not sure what's scarier: this thing or a person who buys an action figure of an old woman.
There's nothing more dangerous than a dolphin with a taste for man-breast.
G.I. Joe is practically synonymous with action figures and has given us some of the coolest characters ever -- but, just like in a real war, not everyone can be a winner. Most G.I. Joes came with guns. This one came with a dolphin. Also inside a dolphin, possibly. He changed color and turned blue when exposed to water, because apparently this G.I. Joe was secretly a mermaid (that's what mermaids do, right?).
"The pants say 'party,' and the shirt says, 'terrible party.'"
Look at this asshole. Not only is this G.I. Joe dressed in a Hawaiian shirt instead of some badass military uniform, his code name is also "Chuckles." What kind of Mickey Mouse operation does he think they're running here? Apparently this was an attempt to appeal to the people who watched Miami Vice by creating a G.I. Joe who sucked. And yet, he wasn't the stupidest Joe ever created ...
Why it's William "The Refrigerator" Perry from the 1985 Chicago Bears! What in the fuck is he doing with the G.I. Joes? According to his file card, his job is "physical training instructor," which is a little bit ironic considering that in real life Perry was notorious for showing up overweight to training camp.
"Fridge" was only available by mailing in the certificates that came with each G.I. Joe, as explained in this perfectly '80s commercial where he defeats a dozen armed Cobra soldiers with a football attached to a whip.
You've probably noticed that every Batman movie has at least two villains: Batman Begins had the Scarecrow and Ra's al Ghul, Batman Forever had Two Face and Riddler and the original Batman by Tim Burton had Joker and, um, "Bob."
This guy was the most prominent of Joker's goons in the film, meaning he was the only one who talked. Most of us never knew he even had a name (it's briefly mentioned in the movie), but that didn't stop Toy Biz from producing an action figure based on the guy. And a crappy one, too, since for some reason they decided to do away with his beautiful blonde hair.
The eye bags are dead on, though.
But it's not like they had a lot to choose from, unless they wanted to go with Billy Dee Williams as One-Face. Luckily for the toy makers, Burton learned his lesson for the sequel and made sure Batman Returns had plenty more action figure opportunities, like ...
There's no way enough of these toys sold to offset the cost of the liquor it took to design them.
Oh. So, uh, the Penguin's henchmen were all actual penguins. So here you go, kids. Little toy penguins with little penguin weapons they can use.
We're starting to think the Penguin's criminal empire didn't provide ample opportunities for tie-ins ...
Yeah, that was a weird movie.
George Lucas was the king of squeezing his franchise for every last dollar of merchandise. To the point of depicting Darth Vader on a motorcycle, about to take on Luke in a light saber jousting contest that, to be honest, we kind of wish had been the climax of Return of the Jedi.
What's telling is that it didn't take Lucas long to get to this point. Just look at some of the toys from the classic original line ...
Yep, it's a piece of machinery that appeared briefly in the background of the first Star Wars film and somehow merited its own "action" figure. The fact that it's packaged in the same type of box as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo is an insult to actors everywhere. Still, "Power Droid" was well-received enough to be reissued for each subsequent film.
Who the fuck are these guys? With names like "Yak Face" and "Squid Head," we're pretty sure that most if not all of these were christened by some unpaid intern at Kenner based entirely on how they looked.
"I've never seen a walrus, but this guy probably looks like one."
"Walrus Man," for example, was actually referred in the original script as "Scrotum Chin." The official novels later confirmed that it is in fact a tiny butt.
OK, now these are literally extras. These are crew members that George Lucas said, "OK, we need another bounty hunter in the background here, wrap some stuff around your head and go stand over there." And to this day, that nameless man can tell his family that he has an action figure made from him. Maybe he even gets a cut of the royalties.
But in terms of disappointment, nothing can compare to the first official Star Wars toy ever produced, and indeed the only one that existed for about a year:
The Star Wars Collector's Archive
Fun sold separately.
An empty box.
You see, since nobody expected Star Wars to be a hit, Kenner wasn't really prepared for the eventuality that people might want action figures based on this thing. So when the movie came out and turned out to be an unprecedented success, there was simply no way they could make toys in time for the next Christmas.
Instead, Kenner cleverly offered what was essentially an "IOU" for the first batch of Star Wars toys -- meaning that on Christmas 1977, thousands of kids everywhere opened their presents to find a piece of cheap painted cardboard.
The box is actually a major collector's item these days, with ones in good condition going for several hundred bucks each, since the children of 1977 mostly tore that shit up wondering where the fuck their Chewbacca toys were hiding.
For more toys you shouldn't be handing out during the holidays, check out 15 Unintentionally Perverted Toys for Children and The 13 Most Unintentionally Disturbing Children's Toys.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn why Barrel of Monkeys will always be the best game.
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