It’s freaky fun for everyone in action figure form!
The Madballs are back, and these new action figures take much of their inspiration from the wonderful Head Popping figures from the 1980s, and bring a lot more this time around. I am such a mark for this property, and as fragile as they were, those Head Popping figures were some of my favorites from childhood. I love the funny and sometimes gross designs of the balls themselves, but when you add in the action figure element, that raises the stakes significantly.
This is Premium DNA’s first foray into the action figure production, and there are promised future waves of not only Madballs, but pre-orders for Barnyard Commandos and Battle Toads as well. I know there are past associations/business ventures with the now-defunct Megalopolis Toys and that is subject to ongoing discussion in places like the Fwoosh Forums and other outlets. I am not here to change hearts and minds in that regard AT ALL. However, this will be focused directly on the actual figures themselves so as always, it is up to the individual customer to buy them or not based on the merits of the product, or anything else that might have direct influence on such a choice.
That said, these are pretty impressive figures, especially for a first offering. The sculpting work was done by Aaron Doyle, who works regularly with companies like Super7 and the Four Horsemen, and his skills are beyond reproach. I have been a big fan of his work for a long time (I cannot wait for the upcoming TMNT ULTIMATES! Ace Duck he did), so his contributions were an immediate plus for these figures. Every detail has been handled well in service and respect for the original Madballs designs (and Head Popping figures), but so much more has been added. This is the first time Splitting Headache has been seen past the original ball, and additions like that carry over seamlessly from a design standpoint.
There is a good amount of articulation in these figures, and the range and functionality works better than I originally expected based on the chunky builds. There is some opportunity for tightening up a few of the joints in the future (some elbow come loose), but nothing is too egregious. There are also a few spots where the joint discs are painted (Bruise Brother’s hips come to mind), so that is a spot to improve as the line moves forward as well.
These figures are completely modular (or MADular, as the boxes boast), and all of the joints can be pulled apart and mixed and matched across all figures. This is a neat inclusion that gives a lot of options, even though I might personally not take advantage of it to full effect. These figures are also chunky in their build, and VERY heavy. They are solid plastic and as you can see in the pictures, they are every bit in that 6-7 inch range. I like this aesthetic for these characters and brand quite a lot, so while they are establishing a look and feel all their own, the adaptation for Madballs into action figures at this scale also fits well with other lines in your collection.
The paint work is certainly noteworthy, too. There are a LOT of paint applications on these figures, and the colors are bold and bright, as they should be. Even within the single repaint of this first series, all of the figures stand out with their own color scheme and overall feel. There is subtle gradient work done in places like the teeth and other places, and very clean lines in the eyes. Some figures feature tampo prints for symbols and tattoos, and those blend well with the rest of the work. Again, I was quite surprised by just how many paint applications these figures feature, but it is pleasant to be sure.
Finally, for the first time ever, these characters/figures have been afforded accessories and swappable hands, and this is where a lot of the imagination and new designs really shine. Most of the weapons are very character-specific, and when you have crowbar with an eye and brain, and a weaponized hornet’s nest, things are going well in the design category. These pieces are really, really fun, I must admit, and again, while new, these feel right in line with the spirit of the designs from the 1980s.
Bruise Brother is the only recognized “Bad Guy” in the first series, and he did have an original Head Popping figure. This means the his overall design has been taken directly from that figure, and much like what Super7 does with the TMNT U! line, everything has been amplified in terms of detail and production value. With the hornet’s nest on a stick, swappable boxing glove hand, and baseball bat, he probably has the best accessories overall, and this figure has made me appreciate this character more than I ever have before.
Again, Horn Head had an original Head Popping figure, as well as a Black Dots sofubi bank, too. He is definitely one of the more popular Madballs characters that I can tell, and he likely stands to be the popular figure from this assortment. I like how each figure gets a set of pointing hands to recreate the original left hand of the head poppers, and Horn Head also gets a variant this round (more on that in a minute). For accessories you get a club, a mace with a real chain, and big turkey leg(?) with a bite pre-bitten. These are all, of course gross (for one! gross for all!) and that theme is repeated nicely throughout this first wave.
In terms of characters, Oculus is my favorite of this first wave. Again, he had a Head Popping figure and a sofubi bank, and along with Skull Face and Dust Brain, he was a part of my triumvirate of favorites from when I was a kid. Like Bruise Brother and Horn Head, the body design comes from the original popper figure, but there are more added details for Oculus that are a bit more original in nature than the other two. I mean, this is a guy who is a giant eyeball atop a wad of muscle and nerves, so let’s throw some skin in as well. His accessories are certainly on the nose (or on the eye, maybe) and include binoculars, a telescope, and magnifying glass, each grossed up appropriately.
Splitting Headache is unique amongst the first four figures in that he is the only one who has never had an incarnation past the original Madball itself. So, everything below the head is newly designed to integrate the character design throughout, but to also stay true to the soul of Madballs. They did a fantastic job handling this, and while I have never given Splitting Headache much thought, he is definitely the sleeper of this wave, and my just be my favorite figure from the line so far. I guess he is a little goblin with some skin missing (or maybe just some dude who is rotting out), but the bight blue and exposed bones really make him stand out. He gets a skateboard (I wish those wheels turned!), as well as a bone, the aforementioned crowbar, and of course, three extra sets of hands.
HORN HEAD (MPM VARIANT)
Okay, as mentioned, there is an additional fifth figure shipping at the same time as this first wave, and it is a variant for Horn Head. You should immediately recognize this as a color tribute to My Pet Monster, and the scheme works remarkably well on this figure base. I LOVE the colors here, especially the hot pink and sickly green of the nose. The colors really show off the clean paint work in the eye here, and the shading on the teeth looks great, too. The pearlescent finger and toe nails are very eye-catching. This figure includes repaints of all of Horn Head’s accessories, too, but this time in radioactive-colored green and orange. This figure should be available for purchase shortly after series one ships.
These figures are currently on a boat headed for the US now. Upon arrival they should start shipping to customers right away, so I know that is definitely a milestone many are waiting for. As these get into hands the product will be allowed to speak for itself, but I think most people who took a chance on these will be pleased. I think these shipping will also calm some of the anxiety from the Barnyard Commandos and Battle Toads fans, so getting things in order should be a good first step. I am excited to see more, and I think we will be seeing pre-orders for more product as soon as customers have these in hand. That is right course, I think, so I am hopeful for the future. These really are fun figures, bring me my Skull Face and Dust Brain!