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Archive for the ‘Toys’ Category

Hulk Shoot!

May 21st, 2014 No comments

Last week I was in San Francisco for the PBS Annual Meeting followed by a few additional days of vacationing. On one hand, I believe San Francisco may be the most beautiful city in the United States. On the other, it also has more panhandlers per square foot. You can’t swing a box of Rice-a-Roni without hitting a half dozen beggars and grifters.

Speaking of things that are not-quite-legit, I wanted to share one of my shopping finds from the streets of San Francisco. A charming Chinatown shop named Powell Gifts enticed me with its mural depicting every Japanese pop culture icon from Mario to Godzilla.


Among the anime wall scrolls and Pokemon figurines was a cache of bootleg Lego minifigures. I’ve seen photos of Lego fakes before, but this was the first time I’d encountered them in the wild.

I exited happily clutching a Hulk. I figured that at worst I’d come away with a poorly-made glob of plastic in a nifty package, and just maybe I’d score a decent reproduction of a rare, out-of-production promotional minifigure.

The toy came in a colorful box that closely followed the typography and house style of Lego packaging.


The back-of-the-box artwork was cribbed from the Lego Marvel Super Heroes videogame, with Superman and Batman subbed in for Black Widow and Loki.


Here are the contents of the box: a minifigure, a stand, three superhero stat cards (none of which are for the Hulk), and a spare hand. Also, a sniper rifle. Like the Hulk is known to carry.


Note that the stand declares this toy to be part of their “Herd Series.” Not pictured are the backs of the stat cards, which inexplicably feature the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.


I honestly love this figure. It’s comparable in quality to the collectible, blind bagged minifigs sold by Lego, and it’s of a character who is only available in large, expensive sets. Well done, bootleggers!


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31 Monster Toys #31: Cloverfield

October 31st, 2013 No comments

The finale of this month of terrifying toys is the most spectacular one in my collection: the Cloverfield Monster. Standing 14″ tall, this beauty features interchangeable heads and an electronic roar. And remember when we were making a fuss about 16 points of articulated evil? Cloverfield boasts 70 points of articulation. (Personally, I identified only 46; I think Hasbro was counting some of them twice.) Its accessories include a bunch of “parasites,” the head of the Statue of Liberty, and a fancy box that serves as a display background. Yeah, it’s that nifty.

Well, that wraps up another October! I hope that you’ve enjoyed this look inside my toy box. And, of course…

Happy Halloween!


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31 Monster Toys #30: Daimajin

October 30th, 2013 No comments

Daimajin was a Japanese riff on the Jewish Golem myth, produced as a trilogy of feudal-era giant monster movies. In each, the wrathful statue was awakened by downtrodden peasants to squish their oppressors. This nifty action figure features real metal chains, interchangeable faces, a removable forehead spike, and (not pictured) a Japanese warlord to crush in its mighty fist!

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31 Monster Toys #29: King Kong

October 29th, 2013 No comments

After making a splash with its highly-detailed action figures based on artist Todd McFarlane’s comic book Spawn, McFarlane Toys branched out into other areas: sports collectibles, slutty fairy tale heroines, and eventually a long-running line of licensed horror characters collectively known as Movie Maniacs.

While most of the latter were based on relatively recent “slasher” characters such as Freddy Krueger, one notable outlier was this spectacular, oversized King Kong figure based on the 1933 original. It depicts Kong breaking free from the platform on which he was displayed to a Broadway audience. And somehow he’s already managed to snatch up a blonde in his paw!

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31 Monster Toys #28: Star Trek – Mugato

October 28th, 2013 No comments

Beanie Babies! Remember those? For a time, everyone tried to grab a little of that sweet, sweet beanie cash. Even Star Trek got in on the act with their short-lived line called (no joke) “Alien Beans.” Honestly, most Trek creatures don’t translate well into beanie form, but the Mugato–the white space ape from the ’60s episode “A Private Little War”–fared the best.

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31 Monster Toys #27: Gamera – Viras

October 27th, 2013 No comments

One of the less unlikely opponents of Japan’s favorite flying turtle, Gamera, was the space cephalopod Viras. Arriving in an interstellar craft resembling a ring of beach balls, Viras and his crew of creepy, glowing-eyed humanoids kidnapped a couple of children because, well, Gamera. When the turtle shit hit the fan, Viras sliced off the heads of his followers, revealing the squidlings hiding within. They merged into one giant space squid, therefore making it easier for Gamera to kick all of their asses simultaneously.

This vinyl figure was one of seven included in manufacturer Bandai’s 1999 Gamera Memorial Box. In case you were wondering.


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31 Monster Toys #26: Doctor Who – The Morbius Monster

October 26th, 2013 No comments

This charming fellow was the featured creature in the 1976 Doctor Who serial “The Brain of Morbius.” The mad doctor in this Frankenstein pastiche was obsessed with building a new body to house the loose think muscle of the executed Time Lord criminal Morbius. He cobbled it together from the leftover bits of those unfortunate enough to crash their spaceships into the planet Karn, which is why it has one human arm, one claw, the lungs of a Birastrop (not pictured), a fishbowl and a pair of flashlights. Surprisingly, the resultant body proved less than reliable.


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31 Monster Toys #25: Horrorclix – Alien Queen

October 25th, 2013 No comments

In 2000, games manufacturer WizKids came up with a very clever concept: a miniatures wargame in which each figure’s attack and defense values were displayed on a unique, two-piece base. As the unit took “damage,” the player would rotate the base, revealing new values and activating special powers. Mage Knight was a hit, and spawned a bunch of similar “clicky,” collectible miniatures games, including the superhero-themed HeroClix and its spooky counterpart, HorrorClix.

The latter game began with generic monsters, but soon began to license other frightful film properties: Freddy vs. Jason, Hellboy and Alien vs. Predator. From the latter comes today’s entry: the Alien Queen. This oversized figure slots into an even larger base depicting the Queen’s egg sac. Honestly, I have no idea how the egg sac is used in gameplay, but it looks cool and isn’t that what matters most?

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31 Monster Toys #24: Star Wars – Felucian Rancor

October 24th, 2013 No comments

The third and “final” chapter of the Star Wars saga, Return of the Jedi, gave us a taste of the overkill that was to come years later with George Lucas’ prequel trilogy. In an attempt to outdo the famous Cantina scene from the original Star Wars, Jedi provided an entire castle full of monstrous alien thugs, presided over by the slug-like crime lord Jabba the Hutt.

Jabba’s prize pet was an enormous, slavering beast that lived in the basement beneath the sort of convenient trap door that comes standard with a supervillain lair. The Rancor dined on whomever displeased Jabba, which, presumably, was eventually everyone.

While Jabba’s Rancor was killed by Luke Skywalker, subsequent “expanded universe” books and games have introduced Rancors on any number of worlds. Perhaps they’re the Star Wars galaxy’s invasive species, like 30-foot-tall zebra mussels or Asian carp with gigantic claws. The colorful specimen pictured above hails from the planet Felucia via the video game The Force Unleashed.

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31 Monster Toys #23: Giant Robo

October 23rd, 2013 No comments

I’ve written before about Giant Robo, aka Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot, a Japanese children’s show about a gun-wielding nine-year-old with exclusive control over a 100-foot-tall, mobile weapon of mass destruction. I don’t have anything to add, so I’ll leave it at that while you enjoy this vision of state-of-the-art 1967 monster-fighting technology, with its inexplicable Egyptian headdress.

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