10. “Slim Shady”/ Eminem
Hey, they made a figure of that weird redneck that’s always hanging around the hardware store! Put on a shirt, Jethro! Wait, it’s supposed to be who? Eminem? Since when does he dress like L’il Abner? 2001, huh? Wow, glad to see that trend didn’t catch on. Manufactured by Art Asylum, this l’il guy is touted on the box as being part of “The Most Controversial Action Figure Line In History.” Considering I’ve never even heard of it until today, that’s clearly a bit of an exaggeration. Hyperbole and rap music? Strange bedfellows, indeed.
I did some research online and the controversy was pretty much manufactured to sell figures. There were three to choose from, all Eminem, but in his different schizoid “identities” — hey, he’s the Hank Pym of the rap world! The best (i.e. stupidest) of these figures is the “Slim Shady” version, which comes with a chainsaw, hockey mask, and “break-away picnic table!” Picnics? Is that something Eminem was known for? You kids are into some weird stuff. And what’s up with the chainsaw? Is he expecting the Deadites to attack? I prefer his latest identity as inmate 407723 — he wears an bright orange jumpsuit and carries a leaf blower. It’s totally off the hook, dawg.
9. Farrah Fawcett
Wow, what to say? It’s obviously unfair to judge this figure on the basis of contemporary standards — in the 36 years since Farrah was released, the manufacturing process for 12″ dolls has improved 1000%. Remarkable likenesses are achieved thanks to digital scanning, complex paint techniques, and cutting-edge materials. That said, there’s no excuse for how freakish this thing looks, no matter what time period it was manufactured in. Seriously, primitive man crafted prettier dolls from offal and mammoth hair. Mego was responsible for creating some ugly figures, but this one takes the cake. It doesn’t eat it, mind you, and that’s a big part of the problem.
If the real-life Miss Fawcett appears to have a slightly-larger-than-normal head, it’s a result of her giant disco hair. Mego seems to have missed that subtle distinction, giving the doll an enormous barrel-shaped noggin. Whoops! Overall, the Farrah doll is very mannish, which makes the heavy makeup and eyelashes even more distressing — looks like Dad is trying to pass again. Her heavy jaw and upturned nose are more suggestive of Lon Chaney’s Phantom than the most iconic sex symbol of the 1970s.
Instead of giving her a smile (something Farrah did a lot), the sculptor chose a neutral expression, which ended up looking weird. People don’t just walk around with their mouths open and teeth showing, there’s usually some emotion attached to that expression. She looks like a sociopath or something. But as bad as all that is, it’s the body we truly must take issue with. You know how they make a big deal about little girls getting complexes because their role-model dolls feature unrealistic body proportions? Well, it didn’t start with Monster High, folks.
That can’t be right, can it? Her body is only slightly wider than her head; a human being with those proportions would be terrifying! Still, there’s something familiar about her physique. Where have I seen those proportions before? Hmmm…
Hey, that’s it! Seriously, check it out: they share the same bust-line. Now put a horrible wig on him and shoot the Charlie’s Angels reunion. I mean, Bosley, right? Come on, people!
8. MC Hammer
Hammer, we hardly knew ye. Well, that’s not true, I guess — we knew ye just long enough to stop caring. Sure, we kind of led you on, but really, you didn’t think it was actually going to be a long-term thing with us, did you? I mean, you’re a real nice guy and lots of fun at parties, but it’s hard to take a man in purple parachute pants home to mother. Also, that referring to yourself in the third person was cute the first few times, but it got old real fast. But look, just think about all of the good times we had — no one can take that away. Remember “U Can’t Touch This”? Of course you do! Hey, are you… crying?
So, yeah, this figure has a bizarre neck joint, giving the MC of All Hammers a very curious silhouette. You can get a lot of very expressive poses as a result, but it really hurts the overall aesthetic of the figure. Add in his tiny, preposed T-Rex arms and bedazzled mesh tank-top, and you’ve got yourself one creepy-lookin’ toy. Now watch me get brutally flamed by the half-shirt-and-glitter crowd — you think MC Hammer has an Internet connection?
7. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Elvira is supposed to be a spooky chick, but this effort from Figures Toy Company takes it a little too far. This particular Mistress of the Dark should stay there — seriously, she’s frightening the zombies. I don’t know what Cassandra Peterson did to piss off the guy who sculpted her figure, but wow — send him a fruit basket, honey. Am I making it out to be worse than it actually is? Well, that depends. Have you ever seen Elvira before?
I know, right? C’mon, Figures Toy Company, I’ve seen men who look more like Elvira than this! Obviously nobody expected us to be looking at her face, but this? There’s no reason for this. They didn’t even bother doing her wig right! Guess all that extra plastic had other places to go. Still, in all fairness, the tiny print at the bottom of the package informs us this is the “Witch” variant. Maybe the regular version is better? (Note: it’s not.)
6. Mister T
That’s right, folks. T was so famous they made an action figure of him. Not to be confused with the BA Baracas figures from the A-Team line or the Clubber Lang offering from Rocky, this was T as T was meant to be: big, bold, and wearing enough bling to break a mortal man’s neck. There were actually a few different versions of this figure, but what we have here is Talking T. “The real-life superhero is talking to you! LISTEN!” See, even the box-copy is tough! When you pull the string in his back, T speaks one of four messages, so stop all of your jibber-jabber and listen up!
“Study hard in school!” “Always listen to your parents” “Murdock! You crazy!” and that ol’ evergreen,“I pity the fool!”
T also comes with nine tools, none of which he can hold in a nonthreatening manner thanks to the shape of his fists. Seriously, the figure comes off as intense:
It’s like he’s just counting the minutes until he can get out of that box, and he’s had decades to think of ways to hurt you. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s a little much. Happily, Galoob anticipated my nervous nature and cast him in anxiety-free roles like firefighter and soldier. Somehow he’s less menacing with a gun.
5. Bettie Page
When I was a wee lad, I used to sneak into my grandfather’s basement and stare at this postcard that was pinned above his work bench:
While mild by today’s standards, it was pretty spicy for the 1950s, the era it originates from. It fascinated me; I’d never seen a woman so striking before. I had no idea her name was “Bettie Page” and she was an object of desire the world over; I just knew that this beautiful lady was about to get bitten on the bum! Eventually granddad passed on and I forgot all about the bronze bathing beauty until rediscovering her in my teens. I learned the model’s name and found that I wasn’t alone in my interest. There were books, VHS tapes (yeah, I’m old), posters, t-shirts — even toys. Well, sort of.
Aw, man. Why? Why make a figure if it’s gonna end up looking like this? The same reason I can find Bettie’s face on everything from shot glasses to split-crotch panties: $$$. That said, they may have sold a few more of them had they not ended up looking like someone who works in the basement of a legal firm. Wait, where are you going? She’s really funny and has a great personality once you get to know her…!
Whoa, I didn’t know they made a Monica Lewinsky figure!
I don’t know if I really gotta go into specifics here; the pictures speak for themselves. On top of the horrible likeness, Bettie’s head is a brutal, misshapen lump. Look at where it meets her neck! This thing looks more like a kid’s decorative soap bottle than the sort of “adult collectible” it’s positioned itself to be. The awkward preposed body doesn’t help matters any. Sculpted so Bettie is standing on one foot, it limits your display options to exactly that one pose. Dark Horse would have been better off making this thing into a statue. At least people buy those. Clearly, the best thing about this set is the shield; it actually does kinda look like what it’s supposed to be, something that can’t be said for sweet Bettie. Happily, there have been a number of new Bettie figures over the last ten years and the quality continually improves. Will they ever truly be able to capture her elusive magic in plastic? Doubtful. Bettie Page is likely to remain one of a kind.
Hey, buddy, the articles down here! C’mere, I’ll show you a picture you’ll like just as much…
4. Iggy Pop
Wow, Courtney Love has aged. I mean, she was never Bettie Page, but ooof! Nah, just kidding — this is Iggy Pop, and if you don’t know who that is, then go and smash your MP3 player because you obviously don’t like music. The grandfather of punk, Iggy’s done it all: eaten sandwiches in New York with Lou Reed, exposed his penis on stage in Paris, and played himself in Lego Rock Band. In 2011 he was made into this:
Walking into Toys R Us and seeing the Iggster hanging on the pegs alongside mass-market toys was a very weird experience — I thought I was being Punk’d or something. He was his own assortment, coming packed six to a case. Now, I think Iggy is great, I really do — I’m listening to The Idiot as I type this — but I can’t help but feel the window for an Iggy Pop figure had come and gone long before this figure. I’m guessing the average kid walks into Toys R Us, sees this, and thinks “Awesome! Neca is making Walking Dead figures now!”
These figures, while great, continue to pegwarm at my local Toys R Us. I’m thinking sooner or later Iggy will be clearanced and I’ll snag one for my Robocop display. He makes the perfect Nuke addict!
3. Real Talking Michelle Doll
Okay, look. A long time ago, before most of you were born, there was this jacked-up show called Full House. Remembered fondly by your parents (yet another reason they suck), this saccharine piece of trash makes light of the continually bad judgement exhibited by three single men who have no right raising cacti, let alone children. “Michelle” here was the nauseatingly precocious baby played by the nauseatingly precocious Olsen Twins. This was the pinnacle of crap TV catchphrases and Michelle had several, all of which the doll repeated. Oh, dear lord, it sees us!
This thing clearly has a taste for human flesh. I don’t know if it’s direct from Hell or just it’s hideous by-product; whatever the case, it’s a blight upon goodness and decency and if you see one KILL IT WITH FIRE! Sheesh, that’s gettin’ to be a mantra around here.
For the last word on the Olsen Twins, enjoy this inspirational video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PUNRd_OqDE
2. Sonny and Cher
Speaking of nightmare fuel, here’s a double dose. I’m not exactly sure what sort of game a child is supposed to play with these toys. I mean, it’s not like Sonny and Cher were action stars or visited a different periods in time every week in their “Wayback Machine,” they just stood there and bickered. But wait — before I make any snap decisions, let’s look at the back of the box…
I take it all back. Sonny and Cher clearly have all kinds of amazing adventures! They’re being cowboys, Indians, geisha… Holy crap! Is Sonny on the moon? Man, I gotta get into this line. Anyone wanna buy a near-complete set of DC Universe Classics? I’m gonna need some quick cash!
1. Dennis Rodman “Wedding Day” Edition
Yes, this is a real thing. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true. Released by Street Players back in 1996, this figure is part of the Bad As I Want to Be line. Worn to promote his autobiography, the wedding dress is a puzzling choice for a figure; Rodman could have been released in a number of different NBA uniforms, but Street Players went with this one. I guess they know best.
I’m not even going to try and make any jokes about this; it makes it’s own case so eloquently that anything I’d say would be redundant. Part of me feels like I should be offended on behalf of someone somewhere, but I don’t know who, or what difference it would make 17 years later. All I know is that looking at this makes me feel like I need a strong drink and a long, hot shower to wash away the nameless shameful feeling it generates. Why couldn’t they just make Rodman and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s characters from Double Team? Getting Jack Quinn and Yaz would have been better for all involved. Remember, they don’t play by the rules.
Okay, I’m ready for that drink now…
Jason R Mink is the Man in the Anthill – 06/23/13