If you were a kid who didn’t own action figures of some variety, there’s an excellent chance that you spent most of your youth with your head in the toilet. (Actually, you may have regardless, especially if you are a dog who has learned to read. Also, bad dog. No drinking out of the toilet.)
Marvel figures, especially, were (and still are) incredibly popular during the youths of many of us under-30 types. (We’re talking about the Toy Biz and Hasbro lines, that is, not the old Mego ones. If you remember those, you are very old or a huge nerd. Or both.) And hey, while ’90s comics were kind of bullshit, in retrospect, at least the action figures were awesome.
Er, most of them, anyway. While the majority of Marvel’s comic book figures were riffs on the old classics (i.e., mostly Wolverine), there were also more than a few that were apparently intended solely for uninformed relatives to buy as gifts, because there’s no way anyone would ever want them otherwise…
14) Stupid Generic Bad Guys
Marvel produced not one, but two bland henchman figures for their fake supervillain organizations. First is the A.I.M. Soldier, who is seriously just some asshole who works for Guy Pearce’s company in Iron Man 3 (and has nothing to do with AOL Instant Messenger). Of course, since this figure is several years older than Iron Man 3, that means he’s been even less of a nobody up until the summer of 2013. The poor bastard.
And floating along in a similar boat is this dull, anonymous HYDRA Soldier. HYDRA was ever-so-briefly mentioned in the Captain America movie, and have otherwise consistently been completely off the radar to all except the most hardcore comic nerds, and those folks have known for ages that HYDRA is fucking stupid.
13) Bucky Barnes
We’re going to put this as gently as we know how: Fuck Bucky. There’s a reason they killed him off decades ago. He was just super boring and Cap was way, way more than capable of handling… well, pretty much anything on his own. Nobody liked Bucky. Not even Bucky liked Bucky. So Bucky died to give Captain America some angst, just like Uncle Ben did for Spidey.
Apparently Marvel was well aware of this when they released this Bucky figure… as a two-pack with Captain America. Even when he’s made of plastic, Bucky can’t get out from under Steve’s shadow. Sorry, Buckster. It Gets Better, but only when you become the Winter Soldier instead.
12) Iron Man’s Captain America Armor
And speaking of Captain America, remember when he died? You won’t in a few years, probably, so they’ll kill him again and everyone will be so surprised. Anyway, for a while, Iron Man and the Punisher both took up a Captain America look as kind of a tribute to their fallen badass.
The problem is that, in action figure form, Iron Man Cap is the exact opposite of intimidating. He’s not even sure himself why he got made into an action figure. He looks like a little kid in a sitcom who just did something tremendously stupid and can only comically shrug in response.
11) Bruce Banner
In the comics and movies, Bruce Banner is the ultimate badass because he can turn into a giant, green weapon of mass destruction with legs known as the Hulk.
This action figure, however, cannot. He will always and forever just be a shitty scientist action figure. Sorry, Bruce. Get a better agent.
10) Resurrected Elektra
Hey, Elektra died, too. Actually, she’s died a lot of times, but let’s not go there right now. Anyway, the first time she was killed (by Bullseye), she was resurrected by a dude named Stone, which also happens to be the name of that douchey guy with the motorcycle and leather jacket you knew in senior year. (Coincidentally, he is also dead, but from carbon monoxide poisoning while working on that shitty motorcycle.)
When Elektra came back from the dead, she was bald, which hasn’t happened to anyone else who has come back from the dead in Marvel, but hey. The problem is that this does not translate well to an action figure, where she looks less like a resurrected Elektra and more like a cancer patient Elektra. But hey, if that’s not weird and creepy enough for you, there’s also this Skrull Elektra from one of her later deaths, where she looks like an orc from World of Warcraft stole her clothes.
9) Franklin Richards
Something besides death that happens to every freaking character in the Marvel Universe is that they have kids. Cyclops and Jean Grey, Wolverine, and yep, even Mr. Fantastic and Sue Storm have ended up with little rugrats at some point or another. (Well, okay, not so little in the case of Cyclops and Jean.)
Franklin Richards is the son of that last coupling and, as is customary for children in comics, he’s insanely powerful because comic writers aren’t tired of that trope yet and all comics are secretly Dragon Ball Z in disguise. Regardless, little Franklin got himself an action figure for… some reason or another, but he (bizarrely) came as a pack-in Wolverine, of all people. And that’s it. He’s just a kid. He doesn’t do anything. His figure is even really tiny, at less than half of Wolvie’s height. He just kinda hangs out, looking like a really big Mighty Max or something.
If Marvel hadn’t decided to pull a Guardians of the Galaxy movie out of their collective asses and cast Vin Diesel in the role, no one would ever have any idea who the hell Groot is. In fact, until the movie gets closer to release and assuming that it does as well as Marvel is hoping, people still may not know who the hell he is in the future, either.
What he is is an alien plant creature (so perfect for Vin Diesel, we guess?), which is pretty obvious from this action figure where it looks like someone fucked a fern. What’s more, it’s difficult to tell from the above picture, but the figure is incredibly tiny, for some reason (his size varies in the comics but he’s usually a bit larger than humans).
And he only came packed in with Rocket Raccoon, Drax, and Starlord (who look like a Star Fox reject, a green Kratos, and concept art from The Rocketeer, respectively). Marvel wonders why no one was reading this comic?
7) Madame Web
Get ready, because here comes a special circle of Hell: Terrible Spider-Man action figures. Despite having one of the better rogues galleries and sets of allies in Marvel, the non-Spidey figures are pretty universally awful.
For example, we have Madame Web. Now, in the comics, Madame Web is an elderly paraplegic blind woman with mental powers. That is really awesome, because there are pretty close to zero older superheroes and even fewer disabled ones. It’s pretty much just her and Professor X. Sadly, that doesn’t translate well for this really weird figure of her, where she looks like a steampunk David Carradine with a mermaid tail who has been clamped into a really uncomfortable chair. Note that her “tail” is actually a kind of cone that she can stand up on, for some reason.
6) Bride of Venom
Apparently Marvel just has no idea what to do with the awesomeness that is Venom, so they keep pawning his costume off on random characters, like Scorpion and Flash Thompson (seriously?). At least Anti-Venom was pretty cool.
In-between all of those Venoms, through, there have been a ton of short-lived hosts for the alien symbiote, one of which was Eddie Brock’s ex-wife, Anne Weying. She only managed to be in a handful of issues, but that’s apparently just enough time to make this fairly horrifying figure of her. Er… thanks, Marvel? (Also worth noting is that she reportedly doesn’t stand up worth a crap.)
5) Gwen Stacy
Hey, it’s Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s most famous (and pretty much only) not-Mary Jane girlfriend. She also literally got straight dropped off a bridge decades ago, so making a figure of her is a little creepy. You could just lay her down for realistic death scenes, maybe?
But then it gets worse. Oh, so much worse. Her skirt is removable, for some reason. Spidey-necrophilia, perhaps? Taboo sense tingling! And yeah, she totally has little pink undies painted on underneath. What the hell is wrong with you, Marvel? Do we need to have a talk?
4) Aqua Carnage
Finally, we come to Carnage, Spider-Man villain and Venom… offspring? Something. Now, Carnage was pretty dang cool back in the Maximum Carnage days. They even made a video game out of it with cheap Green Jell? chiptunes thrown on top. Things kinda fell apart from there, but that’s comics for you.
This is not a cool Carnage figure. This is “Aqua Carnage“, part of a shitty Spider-Man water toy series. This particular figure holds a special place in those annals of shit, through. For one thing, it looks like he fucked some rock candy and this is what came out. For another, this is apparently just a re-painted Ice Man figure with a Carnage head slapped on it. So it’s not just dumb, but leftover dumb.
3) Howard the Duck
Back to non-Spidey figures. Remember Howard the Duck? You probably don’t unless you’re over 30 and the regression therapy didn’t take, because it was the first of George Lucas’s “productions” that demonstrated his total lack of understanding when it comes to cinema. We should have listened.
Anyway, ol’ Howard is actually based on a Marvel comic that no one read back in the ’70s and has popped up sporadically in the decades since. So, comic no one really paid attention to turned into movie no one liked. Perfect action figure fodder? Apparently so. Also worth noting is that he came packed in with a Silver Surfer figure, for some reason.
2) Luke Cage
Luke Cage is about as badass as you can get without getting turned into a huge, green monster from gamma radiation. He’s been on basically every superhero team that isn’t a mutant circlejerk and even finds time to run a freelance superhero business on the side.
Sure, his old costume kind of sucked, but that’s pretty commonplace in comics. It’s still no excuse for this horrible figure where Power Man apparently found a hilariously over-sized bathrobe and decided to wear it while cavorting around town and fighting crime.
1) Various Punisher Figures
Speaking of badasses, let’s talk about Frank Castle, the dude who has no powers and still routinely kicks the crap out of pretty much everyone else in the Marvel Universe. Never bet against him, even versus Galactus.
And yet, for some reason, the earliest Punisher figures had the biggest shit-eating grins you’ve ever seen in your life. “I’m so happy my family is dead,” he seems to be saying. So they changed it for future figures, but then they went way too far in the other direction and made him look like a raging MMO player. If you view them all in sequence, it’s like watching a man lose his mind. Observe:
Finally, they gave up and just made him look like Unknown Hinson:
Special thanks to MarvelToys.net for letting us use their photos!
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