And now, Scary-Crayon and Geek Creek present... Ten Properties That Deserve an Action Figure Resurrection by: Monte Williams

Mattel has relaunched its Masters of the Universe series twice thus far (three times, if you count The New Adventures of He-Man). Depending on how you look at it, Hasbro has either resurrected G.I. Joe a dozen times or never let it disappear in the first place; the same could be said of Playmates and their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property. And now, to the delight and surprise of geeks everywhere, that anthropomorphic feline B-team the ThunderCats is making a toy aisle comeback.

But like any proper geek, I am not satisfied. Therefore, I present to you... Ten Properties That Deserve an Action Figure Resurrection. But first, a generous Honorable Mention:


C.O.P.S. -- Central Organization of Police Specialists

There wasn't much to admire in the C.O.P.S. toys or cartoon in the 1980s, but the character designs are such that there has always been potential in the C.O.P.S. premise for a winning series of toys. A Marvel Legends-style update of Buttons McBoom-Boom (a la the custom action figures showcased here) would be particularly welcome.

10. Bravestarr

BravestarrJust as the SilverHawks and the TigerSharks were essentially interchangeable with the ThunderCats that preceded them, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe established a template into which Filmation cheerfully inserted Bravestarr with no meaningful alterations. But while Bravestarr never enjoyed anything close to the popularity or credibility of He-Man's animated series, some children of the '80s found it delightful; two or three of us even preferred it to Masters of the Universe.

Those outnumbered few still crave a new series of Bravestarr action figures with a modern sculpting approach and updated articulation -- though the vintage Bravestarr figures feature articulation that holds up remarkably well compared to most of the competition of the time (and even to some current toylines). They were certainly more mobile and intuitive than the ThunderCats and He-Man dolls of the day.

Bravestarr's best hope of success would be to mimic the scale and style of Masters of the Universe Classics. While that series is overrated, it is also wildly popular, and as such any toy company choosing to resurrect an '80s property would do well to make its figures compatible with He-Man and his eccentric pals.

Artistically, however, the best direction for a new series of Bravestarr toys would be to follow the scale and style of Hasbro's Pursuit of Cobra series of G.I. Joe toys. The small stature of each figure would save in production costs and make larger characters and vehicles like Thirty-Thirty and Tex Hex's Skull Walker more plausible, added to which nerds love their various toylines to be in scale with one another, and while He-Man might be the most obvious choice to stand on a shelf alongside Bravestarr, the Pursuit of Cobra scale would mean that Bravestarr could share display space with any and all characters from G.I. Joe, Marvel Universe and, most fitting of all, perhaps, Star Wars -- Cad Bane and Tex Hex would be a particularly cool combination.

It should also be noted that a good series of space cowboy toys could lend itself to customs of everyone from the Galaxy Rangers and the cast of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs to Rio Blast and the crew of Serenity.

09. Bionic Six

A hasty glance at YouTube provides a stunning revelation: the Bionic Six cartoon holds up to modern scrutiny! I wrote about my favorite episode of Bionic Six for PopMatters a couple years ago -- you may remember the episode wherein the Six and Scarab's crew were transformed into cartoon characters. It's still brilliant.

Alas, for all the cleverness and ambition and good cheesy fun of the Bionic Six cartoon, the toys lacked something -- I never knew anyone who bought a Bionic Six toy, and everyone I knew was a fan of the show. But as with C.O.P.S., the potential is there; the figures were roughly to scale with G.I. Joe, and they featured transparent bits that would look cool in a better sculpt. The Bionic Six is a case where all that needs to happen is for the vintage toys to be updated as-is to fit modern standards.

08. Gummi Bears

Bouncing here and there and everywhere!

The justification in this case is simple: If the goddamn Smurfs can receive a new toy series every few years, then certainly the Gummi Bears deserve a second chance at action figure glory.

I wrote about "Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears" for PopMatters, too, and for the same reason that compelled me to write about Bionic Six: Gummi Bears is just as funny and endearing now as it was twenty-plus years ago. But once again, the toys lacked something. A Gummi Bears fan's only choices at retail were a series of plush toys and an assortment of clunky action figures that were too big and clumsy and plastic-looking; it's telling that the most accurate Gummi figures were found in boxes of Corn Pops.

Ideally, a new series of Gummi Bears toys would be sculpted by the talents at Palisades who produced those transcendent Muppets figures a few years ago. But then, in a perfect world, perhaps every series of toys whould be sculpted by the talented men and women of Palisades...

07. Astro City

Astro City

As I wrote years ago in a long-since-abandoned blog, Kurt Busiek's Astro City is a glowing, beautiful love letter to the superhero comic books of (mostly) the Silver Age, and while it has already claimed one series of action figures in its name, only two characters were produced, and their quality left a lot to be desired.

The first wave would have to sell collectors on the staggering diversity of the Astro City universe, and as such my suggestion is that the first wave include a few obvious choices like the already-produced Samaritan and Confessor, but also some stranger, more obscure characters, such as Leo the Lion, the Mock Turtle, Junkman, and Steeljack.

I cannot possibly be alone in wanting this.

06. Go-Bots


I have written before -- in the same long-since abandoned blog -- about the corny appeal of the Go-Bots toys and cartoon. But as Jack White sings, "I said it once before, but it bears repeating."

The Go-Bots toys were rather cheaply produced, and the cartoon was completely ridiculous... but the Go-Bots headquarters spaceship playset included a small cafeteria section with menu items like "shocks" instead of shakes, and you've got to admire a toyline that clearly never took itself seriously.

More recently, Hasbro repainted its Classics Deluxe Mirage figure into a Wal-Mart exclusive Decepticon called Fracture, who is a thinly-veiled nod to Crasher, Cy-Kill's right-hand robotic femme fatale. Fracture is an attractive toy with a simple transformation and intuitive articulation, and an entire series of Transformers-as-Go-Bots would be quite satisfying... though a Classics-style series retaining all the corniness of the original Go-Bots toys would be fantastic, too.

I'd also like to take some space here to single out a friend of mine from back in third grade. His name was Eugene, and in attempting to persuade me to give his favorite Go-Bot a chance -- it was Wrong Way, for what it's worth -- Eugene eagerly said, "He even has these yellow things on his shoulders!"

What Eugne lacked in logic and persuasiveness he more than made up for in enthusiasm. And after all, I sometimes think that all my enthusiastic toy commentary over the years has basically boiled down to "He even has these yellow things on his shoulders!"

05. Preacher

DC Direct's Preacher figures

Here's yet another suggested toy resurrection I studied for PopMatters. In this case, however, it wasn't love for the property that inspired the essay; suffice to say that if you adore Preacher but haven't read it in a decade or more, I advise you to never read it again.

Nonetheless, while Preacher is a staggeringly flawed comic book series, Jesse Custer and Tulip and Cassidy are iconic, cool-looking characters who could serve as fun toys. While DC Direct is responsible for the subpar series of Preacher figures that already exist, DC Direct would nonetheless be the best bet to produce a new series, if only 'cause they're practically the only company that doesn't rely on bucks that result in discouraging sameness across an entire series of figures.

04. Visionaries

Visionaries: Knights of the Magical LightHasbro's Visionaries toys were intriguing, in that they utilized the G.I. Joe A Real American Hero articulation in figures that dwarfed G.I. Joe figures (standing 4.5" to the Joes' 3.75"). And then they added holograms, 'cause that's the way we rolled in the 1980s.

The Visionaries toys were futuristic knights with stunning articulation, stellar sculpts for the time, and a fun gimmick in their chestplate and battle staff holograms -- which lacked durability, unfortunately; it's difficult to find loose Visionaries with holograms that are not liberally covered in scratches.

Perhaps the demand for a Visionaries resurrection is tepid at best, but if the sculpts and articulation and price are right, I wouldn't bet against its success.

03. SilverHawks

They're vac-metalized bird warriors from space, goddamn it!

I have never watched the SilverHawks cartoon -- I couldn't get past that nonsensical lyric from the opening sequence, "partly metal, partly real" -- and I have never owned a SilverHawks toy. But I am still quietly haunted at the thought of what a proper series of Silverhawks toys would look like. And why?

Because they're vac-metalized bird warriors from space, goddamn it.

02. Realm of the Claw

Realm of the Claw Kaela

Realm of the Claw was so ahead of its time where sculpting is concerned -- and where the price was concerned, too, sadly -- that some companies have yet to catch up, all these years later.

If the licensing is too complicated or expensive, come up with a new name and premise -- Realm of the Claw was great, but really, what we need is more anthropomorphic warriors to stand tall and proud alongside our Masters of the Universe Classics figures and Four Horsemen FANtastic figures and, well, G.I. Joe figures.

Which leads us to...

01. McFarlane Toys' Total Chaos

McFarlane Toys' Total Chaos

First, it must be noted that any request of a new series by McFarlane Toys is predicated on the assumption that said series will feature the awesome articulation of which McFarlane Toys has too seldom shown itself capable. That said, we toy collectors don't need new versions of Hoof or Poacher or Quartz -- though those would certainly be welcome. But a new series with no licensing issues? Where imagination dictates all? That we need. Imagine a series featuring pirates, cowboys, knights, monsters, anthropomorphic animal warriors, spacemen... Total Chaos 2.0 could be like a series of giant Lego men as designed by Hasbro's G.I. Joe team and the Four Horsemen.

Sign me up for a preorder of Wave 1.

-- Monte Williams --
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