starwars-figure-thumb

Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie & TV Toys

Yes, I know, it’s Friday the 13th today, but we’ve done other Roundtables on horror movie topics in the past. Let’s try to think out of the box this week. With the upcoming ‘Alien’ retro action figures in mind, now seems like a good time to stroll down memory lane and remember other toys we’ve collected that were based on movie and TV properties.

Before we begin, we need to draw a distinction between toys that are based on movies and TV shows, versus movies and TV shows based on toys. So, ‘Star Wars’ action figures qualify, whereas G.I. Joe, Transformers or He-Man don’t, because all of those started as toys first and only spun-off into TV and movies to advertise the toys.

Got it? Let’s gets started.

Daniel Hirshleifer

I was a huge fan of ‘Batman Returns‘ as a kid (I still think it’s the best of the Burton/Schumacher Batman series), and that film had tons of toys you could buy based on it. Catwoman had a little rubber whip, I recall. There were a gazillion Batmen, each with different suits for different environments (including a white arctic suit that had a black cowl, kind of defeating the purpose). Most of these came with gadgets or had some press-button action, and were certainly fun to play with, but very few actually took the film itself for inspiration. I’d guess that the toy designers probably weren’t even required to watch the movie.

Arctic Batman Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie & TV Toys

Shannon Nutt

When I was around 6 or 7 years-old, I remember having a lot of ‘Star Trek‘ toys that would make me a rich man if I still owned them today. (Sadly, they got thrown out before ‘Trek’ hit the big screen in 1979.) I had most of the 8″ Mego figures, including Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, a Klingon and the guy from ‘Let That Be Your Last Battlefield’. I also had the awesome U.S.S. Enterprise bridge set for those figures, which featured a transporter that you could put a figure into, spin a dial on the top of the set, and make it “disappear.” Other ‘Star Trek’ toys I had at the time included a “Controlled Space Flight” toy of the Enterprise that would fly around in circles on a little wire (and you could control the height it was flying). I also had a very cool “Telescreen Console” game where ships would fly by and you had to try to shoot them to score points.

I found a YouTube clip (not mine) that shows what that last one was like.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I was technically a contractor when I started at my very first job, and this tiny, little nternet startup liked me enough to put me on the payroll after that three month term came to an end. This was during the first few months of 2001, and if you invested deeply in dot-coms back then, it’s a safe bet you know how the next part of this story goes. I was officially on the books as an employee for all of a week before they laid off half the company, and I was indeed among the long list on the chopping block. I’d just moved to an unfamiliar town, I didn’t know anybody, I’d just gotten let go from my first job, and I was feeling all kinds of down in the dumps. I went to the movie theater to try to distract myself for a little while, and as luck would have it, ‘Josie and the Pussycats‘ cheered me right up. Its ridiculous sense of humor, the sugary, infectious, pop-punk soundtrack, its candy-colored visuals, and 35mm fuel for my doe-eyed crush on Rachael Leigh Cook were exactly what I needed. Things kept looking up when that dot-com moved some money around, and I was rehired so quickly that I didn’t miss so much as an hour’s worth of pay.

I had a bunch of cash to play with, a barren apartment to decorate, and a deep and abiding love for the ‘Josie and the Pussycats’ movie. That’s when this happened:

Josie toys Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie & TV Toys

I’m geeky enough to have lots and lots of toys based on TV shows and movies, but these ‘Josie and the Pussycats’ dolls are the only ones with a real story behind them. Oh, and nearly thirteen years later, I’m still working at that same dot-com, only now I have a fancier title and am under the corporate umbrella of the largest media company in the country.

And, yes, I still have those ‘Josie and the Pussycats’ dolls.

Brian Hoss

Wow, I had to really dig deep into my memory for this one. When I was growing up, most of my toys were second-hand (single tear, right here), which made for some odd acquisitions of less than well-known toys. One such item was this really cool unidentified motorcycle that had missiles that folded down from the side, and seemed like a large-scale version of the ‘M.A.S.K.’ toys.

As I learned later through the knowledge base of the time (word of mouth), the bike was a ‘Rambo‘ toy, which somehow made it even cooler, even if I only ever had one other ‘Rambo’ toy to go with it.

Of course, doing the research now (not as easy as I would have hoped), it turns out that the bike was a S.A.V.A.G.E. Strike Cycle from the hitherto unknown by me ‘Rambo: Force of Freedom’ cartoon. Just crazy.

More recently (ten years ago), I and some friends picked up some random ‘Akira‘ model/toys , which were packaged like trading card, with hidden rares and commons. Only I was fortunate enough to land a Kaneda bike, which despite being small and featuring generic decals, is an excellent bit of desk clutter.

Rambo Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie & TV Toys Akira Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie & TV Toys

Luke Hickman

Before I was even old enough to see the movie, I collected all things related to ‘Terminator 2‘ – action figures, posters, trading cards and so on. Each figure came with some cool ability or fun extra piece. For example, the T-1000 could break apart (intentionally) into several pieces, revealing the frozen liquid metal core. The Arnold T-800 came with several options, my favorite being one that had replaceable arms and heads so that you could mix and match the pieces depending on how badly your character had become torn up throughout the course of play. The John Conner figure was pretty lame (just like the character from the movie), but at least he came with a sweet dirt bike. I remember that dirt bike doubling for Gambit’s preferred mode of transportation when I moved into my ‘X-Men’ phase.

But what I remember being the coolest ‘Terminator’ toy was the Bio-Flesh Regenerator kit that Santa brought me for Christmas. The kit itself was cheap crap, unimpressive hard plastic, but what it could do was awesome – at least it seemed awesome to my 11-year-old mind. The kit came with two figure-size T-800 endoskeletons. One at a time, they could be placed between two clear pieces of Arnold-shaped plastic that appeared like Han Solo in Carbonite. This piece became an endoskeleton-filled mold that would barely lock onto the kit at the base. In an adjoining cylindrical part of the kit, you added a gel-like flesh-tone mixture. Push the plunger into the liquid-filled cylinder and the gel would squeeze up through the clear mold.

You didn’t stop pushing the plunger until the gel oozed out the top of the head space. After letting it sit for 10 minutes, the gel became hard enough that the result was a slimy naked Arnold that you could blast to reveal the endoskeleton. This kit itself was so cheap that the gel leaked out from many places in the mold’s seam. The makers obviously knew about the flaw and didn’t care, because one of the accessories was dull plastic kid-friendly Exacto knife provided specifically for trimming off the excess gel. If my kids had this toy now, I’d toss it before they could burn through the gel ingredients, but as a kid, it seemed totally awesome.

Terminator 2 Bio Flesh Regenerator Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie & TV Toys

Josh Zyber

Like pretty much all children (boys, anyway) who have grown up since 1977, I had a selection of ‘Star Wars’ action figures as a kid. Not too many, though. Honestly, I was always disappointed in their lack of articulation compared to the much-superior G.I. Joe toys in the same scale that could bend their elbows and knees, whereas my Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian figures were locked into stiff poses. I had a hard time getting over that.

Most readers of this blog know that I have an extensive collection of ‘Dune’ memorabilia. Among that is a full set of 6″ action figures made by LJN, including a very rare prototype of a Gurney Halleck (Patrick Stewart) figure that was never released.

megaforce ad Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie & TV ToysHowever, when I think back to my childhood, the strangest movie toys stick in my mind. The ultra-cheesy 1982 action flick ‘MegaForce‘ starring Barry Bostwick spawned a small assortment of Matchbox cars based on the quasi-sci-fi military vehicles in the movie. I had a complete set of them that I played with constantly, despite the fact that I hadn’t even seen the movie at that time. I just thought they were cool-looking futuristic army vehicles that could shoot up all my normal Matchbox cars.

Of course, the toys made me want to see the movie, but I didn’t get around to that until I finally caught it on TV many, many years later and… wow… it’s…. well, there are no words for it, really. The poster pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Click that image to enlarge and soak that sucker up.

My mother has been storing in her shed a big box filled with my old Matchbox cars that she keeps threatening to ship to me one day. If she ever does, I betcha those ‘MegaForce’ toys are still in there. In the meantime, here are some random images I found via Google.

Megaforce toys Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movie & TV Toys

What movie and TV toys have you owned over the years? Tell us all about them in the Comments.

28 comments

  1. Rcorman

    Spider-Man 2 – 18″ Super Poseable Action figure.

    This is one of the best action figures ever. 67 points of articulation including all the finger joints. Almost any pose that Spider-Man could get into in the Movie (or the comics for that matter), could be replicated by this figure.

    And a special shout-out to ToyBiz who really raised the bar for movie action figures with their Lord of the Rings line.

  2. bluto18

    I remember the actual Rambo toy (Rambo himself) being pretty badass, with the big knife and all. I don’t recall having too many toys in the set to use it with, though. So it just ended up being Rambo fighting the Colonel.

    I also used to have the Knight Rider car, but battery acid leaked out and ruined it.

  3. Pedram

    I also didn’t have many toys as a little kid, but one of my first was the Knight 2000 turbo booster. I was a big fan of the Knight Rider show, and being able to put KITT in that thing and launch him across the room was great!

    A few years ago I went back and tried to watch the TV series again and, well, let’s just say I only got through a few episodes before wondering how I could have liked it so much as a kid. I guess all the cheesiness and rehashed plot didn’t bother me much as a little boy.

  4. Josh Zyber
    Author

    I never had any of those Rambo toys, but I remember watching the cartoon. The ’80s were a very strange time, when R-rated violent movies for adults could spawn goofy children’s cartoon spin-offs.

    I have a vivid memory of Rambo actually killing bad guys (as in dead) in the cartoon, which my 12-year-old brain thought was shocking and awesome, but Wikipedia says that never happened.

    • Pedram

      And that’s nothing compared to the RoboCop cartoon (what kid was supposed to have watched that film?). I loved that movie as a kid and even got the NES game, but man was it sure violent. The Alex Murphy shooting scene and the toxic sludge scene were especially hard to watch as a kid, but watch we did. I remember all my friends having seen it too.

      I guess the censored TV versions of the movies helped get kids acquainted with them though.

      On an unrelated topic, it would be nice if they could have a toned down version of a film ready to release at the same time as an R-rated one (kind of like now some songs have a radio version and album version) so kids and adults could both have a version of a film that catered to them. Adult audiences wouldn’t complain about a film being watered down, and studio execs wouldn’t complain about limited audience. I can see problems with the lack of screens to show all versions though, so it would have to be a limited thing (like how some theatres can show both the 2D and 3D versions). It could also vary based on showtimes, so the earlier shows would be the PG-13 version, and the later shows could be the R rated version. Anyway, just a thought.

      • Josh Zyber
        Author

        If kids know that an R-rated version of the movie they want to see is available, they’ll just find a way to sneak into that one instead of the neutered version. I know I would have.

        • Pedram

          I would probably have wanted to as well (although I tried once to sneak into Bad Boys as a teen and got caught. I never tried again), but at least there could be the option if parents want to take their kids to see the movie and don’t want them exposed to stuff they don’t want them to be.

          At the very least, an alternate seamless branching version on Blu-Ray would be cool. Some Blu-Rays have something like that by including an “unrated” version, but it’s not quite the same.

          OK, I’m done ranting about off topic stuff.

        • Absolutely, lets not forget that back in the 80′s while some parents were helping make life hard for D&D, others were just fine dropping us off at the movie theater. I used to watch quite a lot of R rated movies, and remember seeing the original Alien in the theater with a friend of mine, I would have been 9 back when that movie was released.

          And I loved it.

        • Megaforce is one of my favorite movies. Got to check if its on BD. Henry Silva always played the best bad guys. From Buck Rogers to Above the Law. His IMDB page is like a list of great TV shows and movies. He was even in BOTH Oceans 11 movies.

      • I saw Robocop in the theatre, I was about 11 or 12. My dad wasn’t really strict about blood and violence but god forbid the boobies came out. Actually that was more my mom. Anyways, I feel like I saw the unrated cut in the theatre because I remember the bloody stumpy arm gushing blood and his whole arm getting blown off. When I saw it on vhs, I remember thinking,” Hey, didnt they blow his whole arm off too?!”

        • Nope. The unrated version NEVER hit theaters (hence it being called the unrated version) during its initial run. They had to reduce those scenes in length in order to avoid the dreaded X rating since the NR wasn’t in use then and the X was unavoidably intertwined with Pornography after the 70′s.

          So you saw the scenes, they are in the movie, they are just a lot more abbreviated.

        • The Wiki article discusses the X rating.

          “The movie was originally given an X rating by the MPAA in 1987 due to its graphic violence, in sharp contrast to most other X-rated movies that received the rating due to strong sexual content. To appease the requirements of the ratings board, Verhoeven reduced blood and gore in the most violent scenes in the movie, including the executive shot to death by ED-209, Murphy’s execution, and the final battle with Boddicker (in which RoboCop stabs him in the neck with his neural spike and Boddicker’s blood splatters onto RoboCop’s chest). Verhoeven also added humorous commercials throughout the news broadcasts to lighten the mood and distract from the violent aspects of the movie. After 11 original X ratings, the film was eventually given an R rating.[19] The original uncut version was included on the Criterion Collection laserdisc and DVD of the film (both out of print), the 2005 trilogy box set and the 2007 anniversary edition–the latter two were released by MGM and were unrated.

          • Thanks Mr. Tim Tringle for looking up those articles, but I still remember seeing Murphy’s whole arm get blown off before he was executed by the thugs. As for the other scenes with Ed209 in the boardroom and the spike to the neck and Murphy’s puppet with the bullet to the head, that i coudln’t say. But I vividly remember watching it on vhs and wondering if I had imagined the bloody stump and the whole arm being blown off as I remembered it at the movies. At one point I owned the Criterion dvd which was the first time I personally knew about an uncut version for Robocop (I never got into laserdisc) and after watching Murphy’s execution I remember feeling,” Yeah that’s the way I remember it at the movies!” So I don’t know what to tell anyone except that’s the way I remembered it.

  5. Jason

    I have fond memories of playing with my Robocop action figure that took toy gun caps in the back. I destroyed that toy in an all out battle with ED209. Good times. Good times.

  6. Mike Attebery

    Had a crazy week and wasn’t able to write up a proper entry, but my biggest obsession was with the tie in toys for the 1989 ‘Batman’. I also spent a lot of time playing in the New Mexico desert with my friend’s ‘Dune’ action figures.

  7. Masters of the universe, I remember Faker ,He-Man’s evil twin robot being very hard to find in the stores was a favorite, also Robot-o. I had tons of them and still may have them in my mother’s attic. Some of the best toys ever! I also loved Bravestarr, I had this giant town block that would fold into a defensive fortress and Bravestarr’s horse 30/30 was a favorite. I loved G.I. joe and the second series Snake-eyes with Timber was probably my favorite joe ever. I also had the Thunder machine that the Dreadnoks had was my favorite vehicle.
    C.O.P.S.- central organization of police specialists might of been a close seconded in favorites to Masters Of the Universe. They were like larger G.I. Joes. They were futuristic cops and crooks, one of my favorite crooks was Buttons Mcboom boom who looked like a 1930′s gangster and had guns built into his chest. BADASS!! One of the last toys I ever bought was a C.O.P.S. action figure named Powder Keg, a bomb specialist. I was like 14. Other awesome toys I had we’re the die cast metal Voltron, some Transformers, go bots, sectaurs, and battle beasts. Oh I almost forgot ninja turtles! God I miss being a kid!

  8. I had the 1979 18″ Alien action figure. I always imagined filming a stop motion short starring the big guy, marching through a devastated post apocalyptic cityscape, wielding a Star Wars style blast rifle and picking off enemies to the strains of Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust”.

  9. “Let’s try to think out of the box this week.” Is that a deliberate pun on the fact that nerds never want to take any toys out of the box, Josh?

  10. I had the Darkwing Duck gas gun when I was kid. You filled it with vegetable oil and it made a vapor that smelled like ass, which was awesome cause it almost functioned as an actual weapon. Years later, as an adult, I decided to go as DW for Halloween and was saddened to find out that it was gone, so I tried to hunt down a new one. The only one I could find on eBay was new in box and I was forced into a bidding war with what I can only assume was a Disneyana collector because I ended up spending waaay too much on it… Only to crack the box open and fill it with stink. Totally worth it.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=433732037223&set=a.5990712223.10703.556172223&type=3&theater

  11. I still have an extensive collection of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys from the 80′s.
    More 80′s – Inhumanoids, The Wuzzles, Dungeons & Dragons (when the tv show was on)
    Spawn, and Total Chaos from the 90′s.

    Flash Forward – I could not resist the toys from How to Train Your Dragon movie. Never would have thought the large size Walmart Exclusive for $30 would be listed in so many places now for $200. Glad I bought two, one to keep safe and one to sit atop my Blu-Ray player. Now they have some that don’t fit in with the tv series or the 2nd movie but the $12.99 large figures are way cool.

  12. Scott Hunvald

    I loved the tmnt toys from the 80′s. My friend had the sewer playset which was so fun to play with. I have fond memories playing with starwars micro machines, the kevin cosner robinhood toys, he-man and thunder cats. The terminator2 toys were awesome as well as the jurassic park toys. I had the tour vehicles and the t-rex that roared when you squeezed its side, those toys were fun. And then there were the batman toys

  13. William Henley

    I pretty much had all of the Star Trek toys that came out from Star Trek 5 onward, including all the TNG toys (including the recalled Deanna Troy), phasers, ships, tricorders, etc. Also had a very limited reissue of the original Star Trek toys in a boxed set. Had a TNG lunch box.

    I also had a handfull of Harry Potter toys.

    Sadly, last year, I was in a temporary place – I moved out of my last place in February, and into my current place in November, and so a friend of mine let me store a bunch of my stuff in his garage. While he was out of town, it got broken in to, and I lost everything that was there – all my toys, all my DVDs (luckily my Blu-Rays were with me), all of my Wii and Gamecube games, my Saturn and all my games for that, all of my collector’s cards (baseball, Star Trek, Simpsons, Back To The Future, Disney, etc). Also lost washer and dryer, books, clothing, some photo albums. Luckily most of the pictures were found scattered on the floor of the garage. And at the time, my friend had no house insurance. So I lost everything.

    We even know who did it – the person created some REALLY bad fake checks on the account (can’t believe they were even cashed, the checks were not even good fakes), and the guy was stupid enough to go to a check cashing place that asked for his ID (which he gave his own – once again, cannot believe the check was cashed) and had him give his fingerprints. We got survailance video of the guy doing it. And police still haven’t moved on this. That was in a small town, and lots of corruption in that police force. We went to the county, and they said it had to be handled by local police. So, no arrests, no insurrance money, no recovery of stolen goods, nothing.

      • William Henley

        Thanks! I appreciate the sentiments!

        I had a good job and a good support structure (friends, church, etc), so needs were met pretty quickly. Having to cancel payments and send out letters from the bank to all my creditors and getting my funds back in order took a bit longer, but I was recovered in about a month or two. (The bank restored my funds that day, but the account was deactivated, which meant stop payments on checks and payments and all of that – it was a mess).

        The collectors items are what really annoys me. Those were never even on display, they were an investment for the future (was planning on selling probably here in about 5-10 years when the market picks back up).

        The thing though that annoys me the most is, despite the fact that we know who did it and have both physical and video proof, no arrests were ever made. The guy is still out there – we know he has broken into a few stores (there is video survalience of that – no arrests), selling drugs (people in the area know the name), and terrorizing neighbors.

        That used to be a good town, but in the past 20 years, it has gone to pot (litterally and figutively). Glad I moved. I am significantly better off than I was.

    • hurin

      The thief did you a favor. Getting rid of all that plastic junk was the best thing that could happen.

      Market picking back up? Wouldn’t count on it.

  14. Marc

    For me it was the Starsky and Hutch action figures and the Gran Torino. The car was electric, you snapped the red light onto the roof and the car would drive around in circles in the living room. Awesome toy. I don’t think it survived until New Year’s, though.