And now, Scary-Crayon reviews... MADBALLS ''SICK'' STICKERS by: Wes

Yes, the Madballs have once again returned to Scary-Crayon -- this time in the form of sick stickers! Okay, they're not actually called "sick" stickers on the package (I simply wanted to pad the title graphic and work in some of that obligatory Madballs alliteration), but still. Yet while we're always glad to see the Madballs, stickers don't exactly make for engaging products to review. Do they look good? Check. Do they stick to things? Check. Are there any other criteria that stickers need to satisfy? And get this -- I'm not even going to evaluate the Madballs stickers with respect to one of these two points, since I have no intention of removing any of Madballs Stickers!them from their sheets and using them to decorate my ultra-trendy Trapper Keeper. Been there; done that; got the tattered 15-year-old Trapper with peeling Batman stickers languishing beneath a bunch of junk somewhere in a dark corner of my closet.

So what's the point of this review, then? Why, you ask, would I even buy stickers that I don't plan to use at all? Admittedly, I've seen Madballs stickers and greeting cards in Target before, but until I encountered this set I'd never found them to be too appealing. I mean, the actual 'balls bounce between $4.99 and $6.99, but the cards are $2.99 -- and while this isn't an exorbitant fee for folded cardboard cheer from top card companies, I tend to prefer generic (and scary!) cards with prices in the neighborhood of 49¢. Besides, why spend $2.99 on a card when you can bring home an actual Madball for two bucks more? I do love Madballs, but I love them even more when they come in three dimensions.

The same rationale explains why I'm not typically into the stickers (I'm not all that into stickers anyway; if I do feel the need to pick some up they're readily available at the dollar store), but there was something different about this set. It called to me. A closer look reveals the reason for the intrigue: this set depicts new Madballs. Although we've seen new Madballs in the revival before, I haven't found them to be terribly appealing -- mostly because they seem fairly derivative of OG Madballs that for whatever reason didn't make the cut for the latest series. Take Bruise Brother and Blechbeard, for example. Sure, they're not identical, but they're similar enough for me to wonder why they'd break out a psuedo-new design as opposed to simply bringing back the original. The new Madballs featured in this sticker set, however, are new Madballs -- which is to say that they don't at all appear to be based on any of the original 16 'balls. The introduction of new-new Madballs makes me giddy.

Moreover, with the designs of the earlier new Madballs being so similar to those of certain 'balls from my youth, I suspected that the introduction of the newer 'balls meant that the older ones that clearly served as their inspiration would never see the light of day in the revival. Apparently my conclusions proved incorrect, however, as Bruise Brother is also among the Madballs featured in this new sticker set! Does this mean that Bruise Brother will be getting a 3D rerelease? We hope so! The opportunity to scrutinize the designs of totally new Madballs in the comfort of my own home would have been enough to get me to purchase the stickers, but Bruise Brother's inclusion made them all but impossible to resist. If I were a more sticker-happy individual, I'd totally slap Bruise Brother's image on my laptop.

Anyway, you've probably gathered that -- lengthy introductory remarks aside -- the primary purpose of this review isn't to evaluate the quality of the stickers themselves, criticize the new Madballs from the first two series, or even to rejoice over the welcome return of Bruise Brother, but instead to introduce and analyze the new Madballs! Note that none of the stickers are labeled, so the true names of the new Madballs have yet to be revealed -- the names below are simply what I've chosen to call them in the interim. Without further ado, then, let's check out the new 'ball blood! (Do Madballs even bleed? I'm thinking they just sort of ooze.)

Gorilla Gourmand

First up is a Madball that I've dubbed Gorilla Gourmand: Gorilla because he's a gorilla head; Gourmand because he appears to be snacking on a lizard. Also, alliterative names are neither uncommon among the Madballs -- see Bruise Brother, Horn Head, Fist Face, Touchdown Terror, the movie star, and the rest -- nor fictional gorillas. Gorilla Grodd, anyone? And speaking of Grodd, if you recall my love affair with the super-gorilla earlier this year, you've probably guessed that I totally dig this design. Going ape with a Madball almost sounds too easy -- and I'm almost certain that some of the wannabe Madballs lines have contained monkeyballs -- but the added stitches and slime really make Gourmand look like he's a proper member of the dysfunctional Madballs family.

The only thing that I'm not entirely keen on is the lizard in his mouth. Is it a reference to the 1986 King Kong Lives, in which Kong chowed down on alligators after escaping to a Florida swamp? Do Gourmand and the lizard have some sort of symbiotic relationship a la Wingnut and Screwloose? Or did Gourmand lose his tongue (and body) in an attack by poachers, such that he now has to rely on Elizabeth (the lizard -- Liz, get it? :D) to communicate with the outside world? I'm generally not a fan of Madballs having objects other than tongues and teeth sticking out of their mouths -- it often strikes me as being a cheap and unnecessary attempt to make a character more visually interesting -- but an explanation that goes beyond "lizard in mouth = GROSS" could make this design choice much more... palatable.


Admittedly, I can't take credit for the name Madbelle -- it comes from a character who appeared in the old Madballs comic. Much like Smurfette was created by Gargamel in order to bring about the downfall of the Smurfs, Madbelle was created by the Madballs' nemesis Dr. Frankenbeans to goad the Madballs into killing each other in the grip of jealous, lusty rage. Anyway, given that Madbelle was one of only three female Madballs that I can think of -- the other two being Freakella and Dusty from the cartoons -- and that this new 'ball looks more like Madbelle than either of the others, I figured some name reuse was in order.

That said, while I immediately thought of Madbelle when I saw this new character, unearthing that old scan revealed that she really doesn't share all that many similarities with Frankenbeans's Trojan femmeball. She still looked quite familiar, though. Searching my memories, I finally recalled who she brings to mind: the monster in the purple dress from House! And now, especially considering that the dress monster was decapitated in that film, I'm wondering if this is a deliberate reference. Is the next series of Madballs wholly comprised of characters that bring to mind 1980s genre movies? Bruise Brother does look like something out of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior...


There's no denying the reference here -- this Madball obviously takes its cue from Godzilla, what with the lizard motif and the big honking atomic bomb in its maw. In keeping with my 1980s film theory, I'm guessing that the design owes quite a bit to Godzilla's appearance in 1984's The Return of Godzilla, though the Madball's pinkish color could also have been inspired by various parts of Biollante in Godzilla vs. Biollante from 1989. Anyway, I went with the name Iguanobomb because of this Madball's nuclear Tootsie Roll and Godzilla's design being partly based on the appearance of Iguanodon. "Repvile" probably would have been a cool name for him as well, but unfortunately it's already been taken by another new series Madball.

So I really like this design. I noted my general dislike of Madballs with stuff in their mouths above, but the nuclear bomb here definitely works for me. Without it, Iguanobomb (or maybe he should be called "Sunday"? As in, every day is like...) might not recall the big G as effectively, but it helps him to do that despite the pinkish skin and fishy ears. And considering that one of Godzilla's signature moves is the Atomic Breath attack, having Iguanodon eating a nuclear bomb even makes sense in a funny kind of way! Madballs are hilarious.


Finally, while I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to call him "Snort Circuit" in a nod to the wacky 1986 movie, meet the Madball temporarily known as T-1728. In keeping with his robotic appearance, I've given him a T-number naming scheme inspired by the Terminator films... and the number itself, 1728, is 12 -- that is, a gross -- to the third power. So clever! Unfortunately, while I like my name for him the best (I just love Madballs math puns), he's probably my least favorite of the new Madballs.

That's not to say that I intensely dislike his design, as it does look cool and gross and will probably move numerous kids to cry and Cyberman stomp about until their parents relent and buy the 'ball. It's just that a slimy cyclopean cyborg with an exposed encephalon pales in comparison to the more unique and inspired designs of other Madballs. Also, the character's most prominent features besides the cybernetics -- the visible brain and single eye -- have already been used on other Madballs, so that fact renders T-1728 less intriguing to me as well. Unless he represents some amalgam of the Madballs from a future timeline or a robotic foe with the strengths of many of the original Madballs (which would definitely be cool if the Madballs' story gets explored in some other media), he just seems kinda cheap. That said, if it turns out that T-1728's features directly reference some obscure film machine rather than being copied from some of his more established brethren, I'd certainly be inclined to give him more robotic respect.

That'll do it for our preliminary thoughts on the new-new Madballs featured in this sticker set! While I don't yet know when or if any of them will end up in spherical form on the pegs at toy retailers -- though I'm told that Madballs Series 3 is currently in production -- I'm totally hoping for the three-dimensional actualization of these (mostly) inspired new additions to the Madballs roster. Still, if you find yourself needing some version of these guys now, you can pick up these stickers for $1.99 at Target. You may not be able to throw 'em or bounce 'em or squeeze 'em (well, you could), but you can presumably stick 'em to stuff! And sticky things are pretty gross, right? Just pretend that the adhesive compound is made of chunky snot or something. :P

-- Wes --

UPDATE: It's taken me a while to add this information -- sorry about that -- but a while ago I received an e-mail from an American Greetings representative containing the official names of the Madballs discussed in this article! In the order of the article, these new 'balls go by the names of Gore-illa, Pretty Ugly, BombZilla, and Brainbot. Gore-illa is appropriately punny -- though it'd be cooler if there were any gore on the ball -- and I do like the name Pretty Ugly. The others, while fitting, strike me as fairly uninspired. That said, it's exceedingly tough to compete with names like Oculus Orbus, Bruise Brother, and Swine Sucker!

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