So as happy as I am to finally have Batgirl in the collection at long last, she’s actually a lot more fun in regular clothes.
Yup, this is the most demented board game I’ve ever played.
I had to get it partly for the novelty of owning a boardgame based on a tragic shipwreck, partly because of the sinking ship mechanic, and partly because the overall aesthetic is so cartoonish despite the subject matter. The horror fan in me can’t help but delight in the idea of running around the ship, trying to reach certain cabins to rescue certain passengers before they sink below the waterline (or later feeding them to cannibals while trying to reach the rescue boat).
Gameplay-wise it’s unpolished and some of the rules are unclear, but I’m trying to figure out a way to work HP Lovcrafts Deep Ones into the works. Maybe it wasn’t an iceberg after all…!
At the risk of further damaging my masculinity, I’ve developed strong feelings for Jem and the Holograms. I remember seeing snippets of it as a child while channel-surfing, and it always stood out to me for some reason.
Now, years later, I’ve revisited the show and found it holds up surprisingly well! Some episodes do, anyway. Some are the usual tripe you’d expect from a girl’s show in the 80s, but the good ones knew how to pull your heart string or keep you coming back after the commercial break, usually by threatening to kill the cast in brutal ways: falling off a cliff, movie set pyrotechnics going berzerk, or the bar they’re in being blown sky-high! In most episodes there was always something intense going on, which made it stand out from the other safe, cutesy shows.
Let’s be honest, though, the Misfits made this show. Like all 80s cartoons, the protagonists were moral pariahs and very boring as a result. The villains had actual human foibles and often felt more fleshed out. So when I started collecting Jem dolls, I had only intended to get the Misfits.
They’re as 80s as it gets, folks. I started with the original three in a single ebay lot: Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer. Eventually I picked up Jetta, and finally Clash, my personal favorite, who went as the only one without a base for a while.
Clash has the best outfit of the bunch, I love her purple hair, and she looks great in just about anything.
Jem dolls stand at about 12.5 inches tall, making them a full inch larger than Barbie. This proved to be the toy line’s undoing: they were too big proportionally for Barbie clothes, they were more expensive, and their huge, unwieldy boxes were too big for the toy shelves at department stores, which typically had them tall enough for Barbie boxes. So they’d be laid on their sides or on top of the shelves where kids couldn’t see them very well. Couple that with the more detailed and expensive clothing, AND the inclusion of cassette tapes with original music, and Jem didn’t last on the shelves for more than a few years.
Which is a shame, ‘cos it has infinitely more style and character than Barbie ever did. Barbie’s purpose was to be whatever little girls wanted to be when they grew up, which is great on its own. But as far as having a distinct character as a toy line, she was too amorphous. Jem had a clear identity as a battle between rival glam-rock girl bands, and the music gimmick was a great touch, especially since so many of the tunes are catchy as hell.
Well, eventually I decided I needed to add Jem herself to the mix, because it didn’t seem right to have all the bad girls and no protagonist to torment. I found one in a chic jumpsuit ensemble and bagged her….and she arrived with a stowaway, her sister Kimber! The seller was nice enough to throw her in for free!
My initial reaction: “Cool, she sent me Kimber!”
Later: “Shit, now I need clothes for Kimber!”
Next thing I know, I have both bands on a pair of increasingly crowded shelves, and two awesome homemade backdrops to match.
Maybe it’s my former love of gaudy stuff coming back to haunt me, or maybe it’s just my love of tough chicks. Jem surprisingly ended up being a highlight of the collection amid all the gross and otherwise boyish toys on my shelves.
My quest to create a Punisher lineup for Mego has nearly reached its conclusion! I’ve ended up with six dolls — three good guys and three bad guys — plus two vehicles. Punisher, Micro, and the Battle Van were covered in previous articles. Here’s the rest of the lineup!
Lynn Michaels, aka Lady Punisher! A lovely cop turned vigilante with an unhealthy infatuation with the Punisher, Lynn looks great no matter what she wears or how I pose her. She has a sick black leather jacket (the brown FTC one was disintegrating before my eyes–typical) and a police revolver holstered on her hips. She looks best on the Punisher Cycle, so I’ve pretty much given it to her. Lyn Stahl of Metalhead Minis provided the black lipstick.
Jigsaw! Known as Billy “The Beaut” Russo before Punisher threw him face-first through a window and ruined his pretty mug, Jigsaw’s had it in for Punisher ever since The Amazing Spider-Man #162. I had to revise his shirt color from red to yellow, but otherwise he’s a great likeness. Thanks again, Metalhead Minis!
Saracen! A badass arab mercenary and terrorist who keeps crossing paths with Punisher, first as an ally, then as one of his most hated enemies. O. T. Puente provided the sick-ass suit that’s identical to his costume in the comics.
Sijo! While not as well-known as the other villains in the lineup, Sijo has the distinction of being responsible for the death of Micro’s son in Punisher #9. A behemoth from Japan who loves causing pain, he was a worthy adversary even though he only lasted two issues.
Rosalie Carbone! The mob princess with a grudge was a tough one to pull off. Finding the right outfit for her was enough of a chore — the real doozie was that nose ring. The end result is rather chic and looks like the sort of girl you wouldn’t take home to mother.
Cane! AKA Lorne Quickfall, one of seven contract killers hired by Rosalie to kill the Punisher. Cane was my favorite, and was the most fun to make into an action figure due to his gimmick of using weapons disguised as walking sticks. The cane sword was the toughest accessory I’ve ever had to produce, but it was worth it.
This is something of a work in progress, but it’s presentable enough to share here: my custom Mego Battle Van!
Made from an LJN SWAT van and some Coleco Rambo parts, it doesn’t resemble the Battle Van as much as I would like — I would need a nice A-Team van with articulated doors for that — but it still looks pretty great.
I had the choice between this van and the Mobile Bat Lab, but went with the SWAT van because it had a more realistic and military look to it. The Punisher would never drive a 60s flower power mobile.
It also comes with my custom doll of Micro, Punisher’s partner-in-crimefighting! He and the van come tricked out with all sorts of accessories: a roof-mounted minigun turret, a tripod missile launcher which can also be mounted to the roof, a VHF radio set with handpiece, a laptop with removable disks, and whatever other toys I can cram into the back.
Frank also had a slick hog to ride for doing drive-by drug deal raids or reluctantly teaming up with Ghost Rider.
I believe Catwoman only wor this ridiculous costume once in the seventies, and then never again. For whatever reason, Mego decided “Let’s go with the brothel madam look.” Even then, they couldn’t make it look as nice as the box art they got it from, which is admittedly kind of cute.
However, nothing beats Silver Age Catwoman and her sexy getup. Which is why I’m so glad I got my hands on this amazing custom and matching box.
Doncha wish your Catwoman was HOT. like. ME?
Recently picked up a lot of micro playsets, two of which I wasn’t interested in: I already sold my Pocket Land amusement park sets (the blue one), and the pink heart has a cute wind-up diorama that is kind of amusing, but not my thing.
What IS my thing is tiny, adorable indian tribes.
No idea who made this. Maybe Simba. But it’s absolutely precious and I couldn’t pass it up, considering its rarity. It gives Western Polly another environment to explore as well.
The detail in this little knock-off is surprising. I especially love the grandma wrapped in a poncho, the cute little dog, and the awesome collapsible totem pole.
I never understood why Congo got such a reputation as one of the worst films of all time. I think people are just bitter that they went in expecting something like Jurassic Park, and got something else instead, so they panned it.
Which is a shame, because it has a lot going for it. It’s an entertaining jungle adventure film like what they used to make way back in the 1930s, with an ensemble cast of quirky protagonists hopping from one insane setpiece to the next: EVERYTHING is out to get them, not just killer apes, but also killer hippos, crooked African paramilitary units, vicious weather, a volcano that threatens to destroy their destination shortly after they arrive, and even dick-eating leeches. It has a cute talking gorilla, and makes it feasible (via possibly fictional “sign language to speech” technology). It features badass guide and scoundrel Munroe Kelly, one of the best characters Ernie Hudson ever got to play; and Laura Linney as a tough female protagonist who doesn’t ditch her femininity. It has Tim Curry chewing the scenery as only he can. It features several memorable one-shot characters, like smart-mouthed Eddie Ventro (Joe Pantoliano), slimy Captain Wanta (Delroy Lindo) who steals the one scene he’s featured in, and the spooky but friendly Ghost Tribesmen. The Zinj apes are scary as hell. The ape suits are remarkably well done, and the apes themselves remarkably well acted. It has a good score by Jerry Goldsmith.
It also has an action figure line that’s hit or miss.
Kenner was notorious for two things: questionable likenesses, and recycling molds from their other toy lines. Congo is an egregious example, with the vehicles and humans consisting of 90% recycled parts from the Jurassic Park and Aliens toy lines of the early 90s. That said, the human protagonists look pretty cool regardless.
If you’re a Jurassic Park collector and find your collection wanting for badass black guys, the Congo toy line is here for you. It has no less than three such figures: barrel chested Kahega (center) and two variants of Munroe Kelly. With the exception of two “deluxe” figures (the Munroe on the right with the working bazooka, and the Bonecrusher ape in the background), none of the figures had action features, which was fine with my past child self: no action features means no weird gimmicks to get in the way. Kenner would have just recycled them from Jurassic Park anyway (they recycled other JP parts within that very same toy line already). I’m disappointed in the lack of Tim Curry here, but I can always try to make a custom figure to include him in the lineup.
Karen Ross is basically Ellen Ripley with a makeover, and I probably like her least as a result. I’d like to get a (unfortunately rare) Sarah Harding figure from the Lost World line and revamp her into a new Karen. She does feature a big “power diamond” which can be fitted onto some of the other figures’ accessories, including Amy’s computer backpack.
Which brings me to the highlight of the Congo toy line: the apes.
Amy is extremely cute and impossible not to love. She comes with her sign language translator just like in the movie, and she’s endearingly dainty compared to the rest of the apes.
Said apes, hailing from the Lost City of Zinj, are a sight to behold. The sculpts are amazing, and they’re made of vinyl just like Bandai Godzilla toys, so they feel just right in your hand. The exceptions are the two Zinj attack monkeys which came with the deluxe figures, and the deluxe Bonecrusher, who rages out with the push of a button on his back.
There was a Pepsi promotional offer where you could mail order a variant of the Blast Face ape (originally named Skinhead, which somehow wasn’t PC enough I guess). Someone on ebay was selling these in droves, so I got three.
A feature that keeps taking me by surprise is the glow-in-the-dark teeth and eyes of the Zinj apes. Totally unnecessary, but it does manage to make these monsters even scarier in the right lighting.
It took a lot of time and even more money, but I finally did it: I bagged Sue Storm, and a mint condition one to boot!
Invisible Girl is the nicest looking of the Mego Super Gals. Her head sculpt is nicely detailed and her eyes are strikingly painted and compliment her lush blue bodysuit. This specimen’s golden hair is exquisite as well, with nary a fray or kink. She seems pleased as punch to finally be reunited with her hubby, even if he IS kind of a zombie.
With that, the Fantastic Four are finally completed.
My favorite shows from childhood where Real Ghostbusters, Jonny Quest, and Batman TAS, among others. Sometimes I go back and binge something that was on the air when I was a kid just to see if it holds up or not.
Know which show I expected to be a total cringefest, and ended up enjoying the hell out of? Jem and the Holograms.
Jem and the Fucking Holograms.
It surprised the hell out of me that I actually kind of love this show. Totally expected it to be unwatchable girly tripe about love triangles and eighties feelgood music. Didn’t expect the complex plotlines, the car chases, the ten-times-per-episode brushes with death the girls have with collapsing bridges, runaway cars, burning buildings, BOMBS PLANTED BY MOBSTERS. Didn’t expect the father’s day episode to rip my goddamn heart out. Didn’t expect to laugh like an idiot when the Misfits fucked up several dozen vacations at a ski resort, or went on a joyride in Jem’s car indoors during a lavish party. Didn’t expect the dialogue or visuals to occasionally crack me up.
Least of all did I expect the music to, on some occasions, be awesome (and this coming from a guy who hates musicals). Each episode has three musical numbers accompanied by mini-music videos, which are the highlight of the show (I imagine this goes double for any little girls who had the cassette tapes the dolls came with, ‘cos all those songs got featured on an episode or two). I’m a fan of eighties music and I’ve been bingeing the show and saving the best songs to a personal playlist on youtube.
Jem and the Holograms, our heroines, average two songs per episode, and occasionally have a decent one. I’m guessing with them as the protagonists, they would have to perform the largest number of songs, and therefore they were the most difficult to make consistent quality-wise. They often resemble Debbie Gibson and range from cringey to okay most of the time, mostly since they provide the sort of feelgood tripe one expects from eighties music. While the main theme of the show is undoubtedly sexy, I think there are a couple more stand out examples.
“Who is He Kissing?” has a nice beat and doesn’t get cringey like a lot of Holograms songs. It also has a well-made music video accompaniment, one of my favorites in the series.
“It Depends on the Mood I’m In” is a very cute track that’s easy to dance to, and watching Jem play pretend in the closet is kind of adorable.
The Misfits, Jem’s rivals and series antagonists, have a rougher, punkier Toni Basil sound to counter Jem’s Debbie Gibson flavor. They have maybe one song for every two Holograms songs, and usually perform one every episode. Every other track is decent or good, though their punky style can make them grating at times. They have quite a few listenable songs that are stylistically unusual compared to the Holograms. Between their music, videos, and entertaining personalities, I consider them the best band in the series. Jem is always bubblegum pop, the Stingers are always funk & soul, but every time the Misfits cue up a song, you have NO idea what to expect.
I love the video for this track. Like all Misfits tracks, it’s got a demented edge to it, but it really suits the subject of the song, and the visuals couldn’t be more perfect: Pizzazz being utterly tormented and humiliated while her bandmates helplessly watch. The ending gives me chills every time.
“You Gotta Be Fast” has a great eighties synth beat, and the video showcasing the Misfits wreaking havoc on helpless ski resort clients is a treat to watch.
This video is really fun in a spooky way, and makes me wonder if Jem isn’t using her hologram powers to enhance the performance. The song itself has a lot of oomph and would feel right at home on an eighties rock collection. I love how the Holograms are clearly enjoying the Misfits in action: they’re clearly better sports than the Misfits themselves.
This track is just awesome, and perfectly captures the essence of the Misfits.
This one, a hula beat about how the Misfits had a shitty time in Hawaii, just cracks me up. The tune itself is really cute.
Two bands who wouldn’t be caught dead sharing a stage together, do a joint performance to selfishly split up their runaway members, newfound friends Kimber and Stormer. This is as close to perfect as a song by either band ever got: music, tempo, lyrics, everything is just right.
The Stingers, another rival band, have the least number of songs in the series, but pretty much all of them are AMAZING. Every song this group performs has a professional sound that the other two lack. I absolutely love these guys and their distinctively funky sound, though they also belt out some of the best ballads in the show. “Are You Feeling Alright?” stands out as impossible to dislike.
This is easily my favorite track by the band, despite a weak start that’s borderline acapella. I rate the video up there with Love Sick for awesome visuals that reinforce the lyrics and tell a story as well. Centering it around the most gorgeous member of the band helps a lot, too: Minx is really easy to look at.
“Perfect Match” is extremely easy to dance to, and Riot’s vocals are a real treat and hilariously narcissistic. It’s one of a handful of tunes that are great with or without the accompanying video, although this one has some great visuals referencing famous romances.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was a weird and curious early 90s toy line based on the cartoon of the same name. It only appeared on shelves for a couple of years, and now even die hard toy collectors are surprised to hear of its existence.
There is something comforting in the silliness and awesomeness of these toys, so they’ve always been a personal favorite. After writing periodic articles about the toys whenever I managed to grab a new acquisition, I finally completed the set! If you’re looking to collect this nutty action figure line, here’s a list of what to expect.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was made by Mattel in 1991. The toys all came on these awesome red and green cards covered in bite marks and tomato splats. The larger tomatoes actually poked through the front and back of their respective cards due to their abnormal size or shape, so they had a bubble on the front AND back. The back of each card features a silly “news clipping” narration about the tomato and its human victim.
Every tomato has a “bite” feature: squeeze the soft vinyl toy and it yawns nice and wide to devour anything it can fit into its maw: action figures, broccoli, the dog’s tail, your little sister’s arm, etc. Whether the tomato is small, large, or walking on green, leafy legs, each tomato comes with a hilariously cartoonish human victim that fits perfectly into its mouth.
It’s hard not to love these dumb toys the moment you see them. It’s even harder to collect the whole set: the few times the “walking” tomatoes are listed for sale online (albeit very briefly — blink and you’ll miss the listing to another eager collector), they can run between $120-$200+ on average due to their rarity, especially if they’re complete. So good luck!
Check out my other Killer Tomatoes articles for more details about each figure.
It’s difficult to believe that I’ve somehow managed to round up one of the most obscure and difficult-to-collect toy lines of the 90s…yet here it is: the Ultimato, the rarest bastard of the Killer Tomatoes action figure line!
And what an awesome piece he is! He stomps around on green, leafy ED-209 legs! He’s got a furious, demonic skull-face, scowling so hard his cheeks are cracking! His alien-like claw-tongue lashes out to grab hapless humans and reel them into his gullet! He even comes with a hilariously terrified cop, Officer Bookum!
It’s hard to believe any killer tomato can compete with my personal fave, Missing Tomato Link and Tara, but he’s coming damn close to being my favorite of the lot.
Best of all, he completes the Killer Tomatoes collection, which now sits proudly on my shelf, joining the Mighty Max collection as yet another testament to tenacity. At long last I can close the book on Killer Tomatoes.
I’ve been adding a lot of villains to my Mego collection lately, namely due to the lack thereof in the official lineup for whatever reason. My second custom Mego project is no exception: the Red Skull, archenemy of Captain America!
I started with this handsome resin head I found on ebay. Not sure if the seller acquired it or made it himself, but it’s a swell rendition of the old school Red Skull from the comics, which is what I was aiming for. I was worried his neck plug wouldn’t fit in the hole even with the hot water treatment, but turns out soaking a Mego bod in boiling water for a full minute gives it a very workable consistency, and he popped right in!
With the head attached, I knew he’d need gloved hands that could hold weapons, so I got him a nice pair of Chips arms perfectly suited to the task. Even without his hosen, Herr Schmidt is already looking pretty badass.
His accessories all came from Dr. Mego, with the exception of his nazi armband. I had to print that myself, after several failed experiments in design and size which almost resulted in an awkward conversation with the family about the presence of nazi symbology cluttering the office.
Another awesome box by Dengar, and he’s ready to join the collection! As you can see by the box art, he’s a dead ringer for classic Red Skull! All he needs is his face painted, which I may have to attempt myself, against my better judgement. I’ll post the results here when that happens.
I recently added a classy cravat to make him look more sophisticated. His neck seemed too bare, but with the old green suit, it just didn’t look right. So I pilfered a couple Action Jackson army suits and swapped the pockets, then finally had the head painted by Lynn Stahl of Metalhead Minis.
The end result is perfection! Red Skull has finally joined the ranks of my impressive Mego collection.
Two new acquisitions have brought a lot more green to the collection. I never drew any attention to ol’ Oliver Queen when he came in the mailbox, mainly because it took awhile for his repro box to catch up with him.
Green Arrow is known for being the best head sculpt in the World’s Greatest Super Heroes line, and one of the best designed dolls overall. It’s hard to disagree with that stately beard and ‘stache, although it’s hard to fit him in the box with his hat on unless I turn his head sideways. The box itself is strikingly minimalist in colorscheme, almost entirely green inside and out, with only some yellow lettering for contrast.
On the Marvel end of the spectrum is this awesome custom Mego of Scorpion, who brings the Spider-Man villain count to three (four if you count Punisher, technically). His suit is hand-made, and the resin head modeled from a bald Conan and painted exquisitely. My only complaint is the “base” of his tail, which makes fitting him in his box a tight squeeze.
The box is awesome to behold, too, another ace creation by Dengar on ebay, continuing the green-and-purple theme of the Spider-Man rogues gallery. He rounds out the group nicely in or out of his packaging.