I Had That! #50: Other Action Figures

The clock is running out on this feature, but I had planned to combine some entries anyway as, on their own, there wasn’t a whole lot to say.

The success of the 3.5″ Star Wars action figures took the toy world by storm. At last, companies had a way to sell dolls to boys, and the only secret was making them smaller and less soft than dolls. Suddenly every movie and TV show that came out had action figures, some better than others.

The Battlestar Galactica line was one of the lower quality lines. Though boasting the same amount of articulation (not much) as the Star Wars figures, they seemed…lumpier…than their competitors. Every single Battlestar Galactica figure looks like a bootleg of a better one but nope, these are the real things. I’m fairly sure I only got one figure in the line, which was Muffit 2, the robot dog. He came in two colors for some reason and while I liked the dark brown one, something happened (I don’t know what) that caused me to have to re-buy him and all they had was the blonde version. I got it but I didn’t like that one as much, even though it was otherwise identical.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Buck Rogers figures were fantastic. They had elbow, waist, and knee articulation and were made with a harder plastic that held details better and took full advantage of this. Although I wasn’t crazy about the TV show, I had a bunch of the figures, with my favorite being Twiki. Who wouldn’t love a robot in a skirt with a pageboy haircut? The unfortunate side to the Buck Rogers figures, other than them being figures of characters from Buck Rogers, was that this harder plastic was also more brittle, and at least two of the ones I owned had their arms broken at the elbow joints. When this happened to Twiki and Krazy Glue failed to save him, I replaced him, but he was the only one saved in this way.

Disney’s run at the science-fiction blockbuster was The Black Hole, a weird mish-mash of kid-friendly, gruesome violence, a stab at Kubrickian mysticism, and Ernest Borgnine. Had I known at the time that this would be my only shot at an Ernest Borgnine action figure, I may have jumped on it. Alas, all I think I got from this was the robot, V.I.N.Cent (voiced by Roddy McDowall, so there you go.) Why always with the robots? Thanks to the Star Wars line, I already had plenty of figures of just plain people. An action figure of Anthony Hopkins in a turtleneck just wasn’t as appealing as a flying robot.

Now here’s a line I went all out on. Look at them; how could I not? Not much detail, slightly out of scale with other figures, weird gummy plastic, and little articulation, but man, that clear plastic was awesome. There were only four in the series and I had them all. (Tron himself, who was purple so as not to be a copy of Flynn, is not in that photo.) The figures look like they might glow in the dark, but they didn’t. Their accessories (identity discs/frisbees for all except the guard, who had a staff) did, at least until you lost them.

I was a little too old for G.I. Joes when they came out, so I never really got into them too much. I watched a bit of the cartoon after school, but not regularly. However, I couldn’t deny that even though I didn’t care much about the army men or ninjas (I was the sole 80s kid who wasn’t enthralled by ninjas) they had some who were super cool, and this B.A.T.S. trooper was the coolest. I had no idea at the time that these were disposable grunts who got mowed down by the dozens, all I knew was he came with four different goddamn hands (and a backpack to carry them around in, as one does.) Naturally I lost the extra hands ASAP and glued the remaining hand (the normal one) on so as to prevent him from being called “Stumpy”. I eventually got a few more Joes, again based solely on their looks and accessories. They went out with the Big Nerd Box, but you can see them here.

Who isn’t here? Some notable lines that I for some reason avoided were Micronauts (no idea how these didn’t captivate me), Masters of the Universe (I was neither young enough nor, from what I’ve heard, gay enough to enjoy this line), Indiana Jones (I only barely remember even seeing these for sale), and any of the various superhero lines. Around this time there were Doctor Who action figures, which aren’t great, but they weren’t easily available in the States; I would much later get my hands on a few of them

When did I get it? Various points in the late 70s and early 80s.

Do I still have it? I don’t have any Muffits, but for a while I had a couple of other Galactica figures I picked up at a tag sale. I think they went out with the nerd box. I still have Twiki. I had V.I.N.Cent for a long time (with the white guns broken off, which seems to be a common ailment of those) but he’s not around now. I have Flynn and the guard from TRON, and I even still somehow have Flynn’s disc! I still have my B.A.T.S., but his internal rubber band disintegrated and I haven’t gotten around to fixing it.

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