Kids love to play with action figures. Adults do, too- they just call themselves collectors.
Some action figures are awesome; but, let’s just say that some come out …wrong. Wrong in ways that leave you scratching your head decades later.
A set of criteria was used to develop this list. First, no women. It just seems cruel. Second, no characters where the entire purpose seemed to be that they were fat. Third, no truly alien races like Jabba The Hutt. Fourth, the character had to actually appear in the media. Fifth, each franchise only got one entry.
With that in mind, allow me to introduce the most gloriously out of shape action figures:
10. Ralph Malph, Happy Days
You can almost see the reasoning for this one. In the mid seventies, Mego was a pioneer in the world of action figures and Happy Days was an extremely popular series. It was just left up to someone in a meeting to say “Ralph Malph is not now and should never be an action figure!” Fonzie and his motorcycle were the personification of cool. This is the ideal of an action figure. But who exactly would green light pudgy comedic relief in the realm of action figuredom? Don Most is likely selling his soul right now to go back and be a living Ralph Malph Mego action figure among a sea of naked Barbies in the next life.
9. Uncle Jesse, The Dukes of Hazzard
If Full House had been around in 1981, we could understand a Mego executive thinking that they were sanctioning an action figure based on John Stamos. The trouble comes when you make Obi Wan in overalls the same exact size as a G. I. Joe. Playing with Bo and Luke in the General Lee against Boss Hogg or Cobra is one thing, but using Uncle Jesse to repair that leakage in your Cobra Copter or make out with the Baroness is a completely different thing. Quite frankly, this is not one we really want to think about.
8. Dr. Evil, Austin Powers
This is what is known as a necessary evil. In 2000, McFarlane Toys started producing Austin Powers action figures. We are assuming there was some sort of negotiation or discussion associated with Mike Myers representatives. When you have a character in a series called Fat Bastard, you tend to expect a Fat Bastard. That is just understandable. But what kind of split personality do you truly have to possess to make Austin Power thin and give your Evil character such an obvious gut? McFarlane Toys are the people that gave killer Mike Myers in Halloween positively ripped abs. Maybe all anyone really wanted was an evil toy with an evil gut wearing some evil shoes dancing to some evil music.
7. The Skipper, Gilligan’s Island
In 1977, Playskool released its ‘Floating Island’ bath tub play set, with a Skipper with a rubber sculpted belly. Keep in mind that Playskool was not just offering you all the Gilligan’s characters with the play set. The only three included were Mary Ann, Gilligan, and the Skipper. One could reasonably assume that Gilligan is a must because his name is in the title, but the Skipper? Honestly? Was there a demand by pre-school kids to get naked in a bath tub while Alan Hale stared at you? Was the Skipper included purely on the basis of rubber squeezable features? A world needs answers that it may never receive.
6. Major Toht, Raiders of the Lost Ark
Honestly, what kid would not want an action figure Nazi to beat up? You have to give Kenner some credit for trying with its Adventures of Indiana Jones line in 1982. After all, they did give you the swordsman whose cameo lasted all of about sixty seconds in the actual film. However, Ford’s Indiana Jones was given flat abs and Lacey’s Major Toht was not up to the standards of an Übermensch. Toht not only looked pudgy, which was understandable given the source material, but you could have actually repainted the suit and called him the Kingpin. Of course if you never saw the movie, you might walk away from the action figure set thinking Indy and his twin brother spent the movie fighting a Nazi, an Eqyptian Pharoah, and an oversized Swordsman. You might also have been confused over which one ended up with the only girl.
5. Paulie Pennino, Rocky
Jakks Pacific launched their Rocky line in 2006. The good people at Jakks Pacific decided that there was no character off limits. Famously, they made an action figure out of ‘the Meat.’ With attention to detail and realism such as that, it should not be surprising that Rocky’s future brother in law Paulie should get the sculpted gut treatment.
4. Anakin Skywalker, Power of the Force
In 1985, Kenner had run into a problem. George Lucas wasn’t going to release another Star Wars movie in the near future, so Kenner had to get original. They released Star Wars action figures without an actual Star Wars movie. This may seem standard today, but there was no precedent in 1985. The line was called Power of The Force. In addition to the first Emperor Palpatine action figure, Kenner released a middle aged Anakin Sklwalker figure based on Sebastian Shaw from Return of the Jedi. This was a revealing action figure on several levels. First, the action figure revealed that part of the gloriously badass Vader uniform must have been an iron clad girdle. If Vader wanted tacos, you had better believe that Vader got him some tacos. You did not want to be the guy to deny Vader tacos. There is small wonder now that Vader breathed the way he did. No wonder his second ghost form was of Hayden Christensen.
3. Harry Mudd, Star Trek
In the original Star Trek series in the 1960s, the crew of the USS Enterprise only encountered one repeat villain. That villain’s name was Harry Mudd. Mudd appeared in Mudd’s Women and I, Mudd. Mudd was played by Roger C. Carmel in both episodes. Mudd was a slimy lecherous character. There is nothing wrong with Playmates portraying him that way in 1997. The question is, how much you would want to play with him?
2. Harry Booth in The Black Hole
Science Fiction has always seemed to be a kind of an albatross for Disney. In response to Star Wars, Disney thought they had a winner in The Black Hole. George Lucas inspired action figures were all the rage. Clearly, Disney would want to tap into that market. Even with all of that logic going for them, you would think that someone would have decided against an action figure based on Ernest Borgnine’s character Harry Booth. Worse yet, this is a mostly faithful depiction. They decided to shade the hair darker and seemed to actually expand the gut on this ‘action figure.’ Ethel Merman probably would not have wanted to play with this action figure. Merman was married to Borgnine for about a month. I can only think of two uses for this action figure: use him as a red shirt Star Trek character or have him recite lines from Marty to female G. I. Joes.
1. Baron Harkonnen from Dune
You can safely refer to the explosion of sci fi action figures in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the Star Wars effect. However, Star Wars figures would eventually make you think that Mark Hamill was a teenage bodybuilder while other franchises were more concerned with gritty realism. 1984’s Dune action figure line would go for the latter. This was all fine and good when depicting Sting. The trouble comes with the character of Baron Harkonnen. Kenneth McMillan actually did a great job portraying the overweight Harkonnen, but the ensuing action figure from LJN only seemed to be good for pulling your Ewok cart or other jobs designed for large mammals.
by James Ciscell