Toys are a billion dollar industry and sometimes the manufacturers will seemingly rush out a product without much though behind it and the end result can be unintentionally amusing or very awkward. Other times, it is one hundred percent intentional and it is just a gimmick designed to sell toys. I’ve collected toys all my life, so I’ve come across many unusual, and sometimes hilarious, toys over the years. Below are just some examples of these:
Batman Squirt Gun (1966)
Not much needs to be said about this, one look pretty much says it all. There is just so much going on with this toy. The amusing pose of Batman, the placement of the trigger, and the location of where you need to refill the water from followed by a large plastic plug… well, yeah. There it is.
The Incredible Hulk: Instant Muscles (1979 ) by Remco Industries, Inc.
Back in 1978, there was a popular live-action TV show about Marvel Comics’ popular green behemoth. The show was called The Incredible Hulk and starred Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. The series was originally broadcast on CBS and ran from 1978 to 1982, with 82 episodes over five seasons. Remco was one of the toy companies to get the license to make official Incredible Hulk toys and other merchandise. My favorite of their offerings were these crazy Instant Muscles:
The product description reads: “Imagine millions of kids “Hulking Up” and growing mighty muscles instantly just like their favorite TV and comics hero… The Incredible Hulk Instant Muscles is worn under a loose fitting shirt. When inflated with the Instant Muscles “Hulk Pump”, the amazing transformation takes place. GRRRR! KRRRRRRUNCH! Bullies and villains beware!”
The idea was later re-used for the release of the HULK (2003) film, but this time with more modern inflatable muscles:
And again for the Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) film. This time they ditched the chest muscles and focused on Hulk biceps.
It’s an interesting idea, but even more awkward when demonstrated by an adult man here:
Combine those Hulk biceps with some Hulk fists and you’d have some seriously Hulkness:
Sadly, the ultimate piece of Hulk related merchandise was never made into reality:
Comic Action Heroes! (1976) and C.B. McHaul (1977) by Mego Corporation
The Mego Corporation made some amazing toys back in the day. Starting in 1972, released the first comprehensive line of DC Comics and Marvel Comics superhero and villain action figures, coining the term ‘World’s Greatest Super Heroes!’ This was a line of 8-inch figures that wore cloth costumes and had some decent possibility.
In a later effort to offer a scaled down size of figure, so that the playsets and vehicles would be smaller and cheaper to produce and sell, they came up with the ‘Comic Action Heroes!’ line of figures. These were smaller figures that had the costumes molded onto the figure, thus eliminating the extra cost of creating the suits. The line featured Batman, Robin, The Joker, and The Penguin, as well as other DC Comics characters. Later, in 1979, Mego re-released the line under the new name Pocket Super Heroes. All of this was a great idea, but for some reason, they chose this as the default pose for all the figures:
As you can see, there was something odd fappining… err I mean, something odd happening with the placement of the right fist curled inward towards the figure’s lap. Once pointed out, you cannot escape it:
Even the female characters weren’t safe from this pose:
You couldn’t even sit Batman on the Batmobile without making it look funny:
It got even odder with their 1977 line of toys that featured truckers and police called C.B. McHaul. This was a time when CB radios were all the rage. According to the super awesome website Mego Museum (http://www.MegoMusuem.com) :
“CB McHaul was introduced by Mego in 1977, the name was patterned after country musician C.W McCall, whose number one hit “Convoy” had become an anthem for the CB Craze. The CB craze was a short lived national phenomenon, most toy makers were taught a bit of a hard lesson when it came to fads. Companies raced to the market with T shirts, model kits, replica CBs but by the time the products had arrived CB radios were so “last year”. As fast as Mego was churning out product, their action figure line met the same fate despite the fact that it’s a very innovative and well-made toy line.”
The line seemed reasonable enough, even when showcased in a TV ad:
Things got uncomfortable when you looked closely at the figures. First you had the truckers:
And then you had the Smokeys:
Masters of the Universe (1982) by Mattel
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was an amazing hit during the 80’s. The premise of the series revolves around the conflict between the heroic He-Man and the evil Skeletor on the planet Eternia, with a vast line-up of supporting characters in a hybrid setting of medieval sword and sorcery and sci-fi technology. Later spin-offs also featured He-Man’s sister She-Ra and her struggle against the Evil Horde. This toyline featured dozens of colorful characters, each with their special gimmick which translated to some sort of power or action feature that was unique to each figure.
Initially, these character themes were pretty tame. You would have a character like Beast Man – the savage right-hand man of Skeletor, he has control over many wild creatures and has brute strength. Or Ram Man, the heroic ‘human battering ram’, his special ability is to knock opponents or obstacles down with his super-hard helmet. As more waves of characters came out, they started to get more diverse. Let’s start with Stinkor:
Stinkor, who was labeled as the ‘Evil Master of Odors,’ is essentially a humanoid skunk whose superpower is the ability to release a toxic odor from his body that renders foes immobile. Stinkor was first introduced in 1985 and came packaged with a mini-comic titled ‘The Stench of Evil’. The character’s design was mostly phoned in, they just repainted the body of another character (Mer-Man) and re-used the armor of another (Mekaneck). The thing that really stood out about this action figure was that Mattel didn’t just imply he had bad odor powers, they took it a step further and made this action figure really smell horrible.
The unique scent was achieved by mixing the plastic used in the mold with patchouli oil. It was done this way, instead of being sprayed or coated, to prevent the smell from wearing off over time. Many toy collectors mention that, even 30 years after its original purchase, the Stinkor toy still retains its smell.
Stinkor’s counterpart was the heroic Moss Man, also introduced in 1985, he was described as a ‘Heroic Spy & Master of Camouflage’.
The original Moss Man figure is a repaint of Beast Man covered in green fur (the figure was flocked with a green fuzzy material, giving him a fuzzy texture).
Like Stinkor, this figure was infused with a scent – this time it was something more pleasant, the smell of pine trees. Basically, he smelled like that aerosol ‘tree scent’ stuff that people who buy fake Christmas trees use during the holidays.
I could see Moss Man freaking out any college students who smoked weed, because the flocked green fuzz made him look a little bit like a bag of marijuana reborn into a hulking brute’s body.
Both Stinkor and Moss Man were remade a few times years later, both given a slightly more modern look:
Moss Man was also recently used as a Comic Con promo a couple of times. One year they gave out Moss Man Pine Scented deodorant to Convention goers (something I’ve been suggesting for years):
And later, they made a special-edition Moss Man Chia Pet:
While on the subject of Masters of the Universe toys, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim show, Robot Chicken (Season 2, 2006), created their own unique character for the series. Mo-Larr, the Eternian Dentist:
This character later got his own figure made as part of a two-pack with Skeletor in the Masters of the Universe Classics toyline:
Tauntaun with Open Belly Rescue Feature (1982) by Kenner
Everyone who’s seen Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, would remember the scene where Luke Skywalker is freezing to death and Han Solo needed to improvise in order to keep him warm, right? No? Well, here’s a refresher:
It was a great scene, but watching this the first time as a kid was pretty shocking. That said, the tauntaun toy I later played with had a hard plastic belly that did not allow for any Luke insertion. Later as an adult, I discovered that Kenner decided to modify their tauntaun toys to allow kids to recreate this action from the movie. No joke!
I only assume this was done in an effort to sell off any unsold tauntaun toys from the year before, either that or they were just flooded with letters from kids who wanted to slice their tauntaun bellies open. At least it was a clean cut, no guts were exposed. Either way, this was a surprisingly macabre feature to add to a massively successful children’s toyline.
Given how everything in the Star Wars universe has been remade in toy form multiple times over the past 40 years, the tauntaun with an open belly feature was also remade later in 2003 in a “The Battle of Hoth” figure multipack. This time, they added the tauntaun guts (no joke)!:
Not to be outdone, ThinkGeek sells a ‘Slumber in the Belly of the Beast’ Tauntaun sleeping bag! The product description reads:
“This high-quality sleeping bag looks just like a Tauntaun, complete with saddle, printed internal intestines, and a plush lightsaber zipper pull. Now when your kids tell you their favorite Star Wars movie is Attack of the Clones, you can nestle the wee-ones snug in simulated Tauntaun fur while regaling them with the amazing tale of The Empire Strikes Back.
Use the plush lightsaber zipper pull on the Tauntaun sleeping bag to illustrate how Han Solo saved Luke Skywalker from certain death in the freezing climate of Hoth by slitting open the belly of a dead Tauntaun and placing Luke inside the stinking (but warm) carcass. If your kids don’t change their tune on which Star Wars film is the greatest ever, you can do your best Jar Jar impression until they repent.”
If this sounds like something you would want, order here: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/bb2e/
The Meat – ROCKY 40th Anniversary (2016) by Jakks Pacific
Okay, I understand this toyline was made for adults rather than kids. In my defense, I saw this thing on the shelves at a ToysRUs among children’s brands like Pokemon and Sonic the Hedgehog. For those not in the know, Rocky is a 1976 sports drama film both written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. It tells the rags to riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, an uneducated but kind-hearted working class Italian-American boxer working as a debt collector for a loan shark in the slums of Philadelphia. Rocky starts out as a small-time club fighter, and later gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship. In the film, Rocky trains for the fight using whatever he can find, including meat carcasses as punching bags.
Well now, thanks to magic of toys, fans can recreate that scene for their own personal enjoyment:
The text on the back of the package, describes the Meat’s role in the Rocky mythos:
“It started when Rocky picked up his best friend, Paulie, at his meat locker job. One frustrated punch at a side of beef became a one-two and soon a secret, unique training tool was created. Day after day, Rocky Balboa punched frozen meat to train. This rare (No pun intended) method would help give Rocky an edge. Keeping him on his feet for 15 grueling rounds with World Heavyweight Champ Apollo Creed.”
These aren’t the only Rocky themed action figures. NECA also makes some wonderfully detailed Rocky figures:
My favorites are the ones that depict Rocky taking a massive hit and spitting out blood. You gotta just admire the attention to detail that some of these toy companies put into their products.
Conan the Adventurer (1992) by Hasbro
It’s always fun to take an R-rated brand and turn it into a softened up shell of a version of the subject matter that it was originally based off of. The Conan the Adventurer toyline is based off the animated series of the same name. The cartoon was a loose adaption of Conan the Barbarian, the literary character created by Robert E. Howard in the 1930s. As expected, the cartoon watered down all the violence and other adult themes of Conan and repackaged it into a kid-friendly show. That said, even as cartoons go, this one wasn’t really that good:
The action figures weren’t that well done either. They were poorly sculpted and looked cheaply made.
The only reason why I included this one to the list was for this reason:
Conan’s “Sword Swinging Action” took the awkwardness of Mego’s Comic Action Heroes poses to the next level with animated movement. It makes you wonder if the designers of these toys saw the same thing that everybody else saw or just didn’t care.
The Punisher – Marvel Shape Shifters (1999) by ToyBiz
Ever since the release of the Transfomers, kids have loved playing with toys that transform from one thing into another. This was applied to many different toylines and this case, it was applied to ToyBiz’s line of Marvel Comics action figures. They had a Spider-man that transformed into a spider and a Hulk that transformed into a Dinosaur. So it kind of makes sense that the Punisher would transform into a gun. Guns were pretty much what the Punisher was all about. The problem isn’t with the concept, it is with the execution. And in this case, when the Punisher transforms into a pistol, the gun barrel comes out of his crotch:
Yup, not much needs to be said here. I believe this one was done intentionally with the hope of causing people to smirk.
Not even the flavor text of the packaging can help this one:
“Former soldier Frank Castle took his family on a picnic in New York’s Central Park, where they were attacked after witnessing a gangland crime. Frank alone survived and became the merciless vigilante known as the Punisher! The Punisher relies on a vast array of weaponry and shape-shifts into a power pistol for ultimate battle power. Join forces with the Punisher as he combats crime!”
I guess we should be thankful that he didn’t turn into a tank, then the gun barrel would have been much longer.
Jar Jar Binks: Cherry Flavored Tongue Candy (1999) by Cap Candy Inc.
The year was 1999 and after 16 years of waiting, we finally got a new Star Wars movie after Return of the Jedi (1983). Episode One: The Phantom Menace had arrived and now Star Wars fans around the world could all agree that the Ewoks were no longer the worst part of the Star Wars saga. We were introduced to the train wreck known Jar Jar Binks. Now I’m not gonna go into what all makes Jar Jar so horrible. Enough has been said about this subject. I am going to highlight a piece of horrific merchandise that was birthed by the Star Wars machine. Somebody, somewhere, thought this was really a good idea:
That’s right, you too can suck on Jar Jar’s tongue for a few bucks. Now let’s entertain a world where people liked this character for a second. Even if we loved Jar Jar, I don’t think anybody wants to lick his tongue as a tasty treat. We didn’t get Chewbacca or Yoda tongue lollipops before this abomination was created. We loved those characters and nobody ever requested such a thing.
I get the idea of things that are gross as being fun for kids. Cap Candy (a division of Hasbro) apparently had a line of ‘Monster Mouth Candy Tongues’, and this was part of it. I never saw any other examples of this line, but that’s how they sold it.
Frankly, I think somebody at Cap Candy just had a weird fetish and this was their way to expressing it to the world. Maybe they were hoping to create a new confectionery line of tongue-sucking mania? Just imagine if they applied this to other brands? Disney Princess tongues, NFL player tongues, Dinosaur tongues, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Marvel Comics: Spider-man Balloons and a Wolverine Inflatable Hammer (????)
To close this out, I will leave you with some inflatables. Whether they be just balloons or some sort of inflatable toy, if you are going to license out your characters to another company that makes such products, maybe do a quality control check regarding where the air nozzle is placed?
Sounds like an easy thing to look out for, doesn’t it? Because if you don’t, you get products like this: