Tag Archives: minifigs

The 5 Monster Sickness…

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nNot long after I left the theater when I caught my first screening of The Monster Squad the film began to worm its way into my psyche in some strange ways.  One of the most notable is in how I choose to collect certain things, specifically monster memorabilia.  Since 1987 I’ve become a huge fan of the original Universal Horror films and own practically all of them on DVD and love finding variations of the monsters in any form of be it toys, soda cans, ephemera, or what ever.  But when I collect it’s hard not to try and put together a set of the monster rogues gallery from The Monster Squad.  I partially blame the iconic Mount Rushmore of monsters painting that Craig Nelson did (which you can see in this month’s Branded Halloween banner), but honestly no collection of any one iteration of monsters is “complete” for me unless at least the five main characters are there.  It’s a sickness really, but still I embrace it.  Here’s a sample of some of the toys in my collection that reflect this…

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When Lego started issuing their blind bag minifigs a few years ago I was super stoked to see them including some classic monster figures.  Not only was it cool to see my favorite genre represented, but as the sets progressed there were more and more popping up and my secret wish of having a set of Monster Squad Lego was coming to fruition.  Of course, for a while there were only four of the five monsters I wanted available.  Like in most monster toy sets the Gillman was noticeably absent and just to make myself feel a little better I ended up sticking in a weird mutant fish creature Lego from the Atlantis set to fill that hole.  Then three years ago the collection was finally “officially” completed when Lego began releasing their Monster Fighters sets and one of the first to hit toy shelves was a small Gillman play set.

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Though I completely missed out on Monster In My Pocket figures the first time back in 1990 (and the M.U.S.C.L.E. figure craze that spawned MiMP), I have since been scouring junk bins and yard sales looking for a handful of figures that would represent The Monster Squad for me.  For years I was short one minifig, the Wolfman/werewolf, but I lucked out recently and the super gracious and badass Stacey Rader happened to have an extra in her collection and she helped my monster team feel complete!

Though the above sets are pretty darn awesome, there are a number of collections that I have that are still short one monster, but I’m always holding out hope that I’ll one day be able to fill in the gap.  Like I mentioned it’s almost always a variation on the Creature From the Black Lagoon Gillman, and sometimes I find a fun way to find a substitute for him like in this set of monster Smurfs that were issued five or six years ago…

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Around 7 or 8 years ago there were a series of Universal knock-off toys that were popping up at dollar stores around the country that I fell in love with.  Again though, no Gillman…

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Like I mentioned above, my collecting isn’t just limited to toys, for a number of years I was also collecting monster themed soda cans and for the past 6 years or so the 7-Up company has been putting out a set of monster mini-cans for Halloween.  But who was always absent?  Yup, the Gillman…

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After years of collecting, dusting old cans and worrying that one day I’d find a pool of soda all over my shelves when one of the cans sprung a leak (as my friend Paxton has said, it’s not if, buy when), I finally decided to take a bunch of pictures and then empty and chuck the cans.  Of course the very next Halloween we finally get a Gillman can…

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This also effects some of the ephemera in my collection. I love trading cards and stickers, and “the sickness” has invaded these collections too, like these Universal Monster trading cards that were issued in a six card packs by Impel in 1991. I stumbled upon these in an antique store last year and loved that I had an “instant” Monster Squad Monster collection…

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Sure, The Bide is butting in on the Frankenstein’s Monster cards, but it’s close enough. I also have a set of the ’91 Pepsi monster cards…

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Man, the monster push in 1991 by Universal was awesome and I wish they’d do that again during another Halloween soon.

Last but not least on the trading card front is this collection of some of my favorite Garbage Pail Kids stickers. Of course there isn’t a Gillman GPK, so I had to improvise…

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These collections were also a bit of the inspiration that drove me to making my own set of Monster Squad Topps-style trading cards for this year’s Countdown, and by the end of this month everyone will be able to have a digital set of those monster cards!

Speaking of stickers, I’m also always on the lookout for some neat monster stickers, especially if all five of my favorites are represented. The really swell artist Sabrina Parolin illustrated and printed up these swell Monster Squad stickers a few years ago…

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Like I said, this weird collecting is a monster sickness, a Five Monster sickness…

Now, onto today’s trading card…

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Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #4, Patrick Rhodes!

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When there’s no more room in the toy box…

Well, I can’t help but be in full on Halloween mode right now.  Not only are a lot of stores flinging up their yearly spooky displays, but there are a bunch of toys hitting the pegs that are really getting me in the mood.  Earlier in the year I wrote a bit about the Jakks Pacific line of minifigs called S.L.U.G. Zombies (Scary Little Ugly Guys), as they sort of tie into my love of the OMFG minifigs both in that they share some common influences (namely Monster in My Pocket and M.U.S.C.L.E. minifigs) and as it turns out George Gaspar, the swell dude that’s one half of October Toys, put in a bid for the sculpting job on the Zombies line and even had one of his sculpts make it into the series.

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As far as the line goes, I really love what Jakks is doing by bringing this scale of minifig back into the mainstream.  Though there are a lot of kids buying the heck out of the tiny Squnkies figures, this 1.5″ scale detailed minifig holds a special place in my heart, and I’ve been seriously lacking in toy-buying fodder ever since Hasbro started to curtail their “Heroes” line of figures.  To be honest, I was also waiting for something that wasn’t riffing directly off of a brand I loved as a kid (ala the Transformers, G.I. Joe and Marvel “Heroes” figs), and these S.L.U.G. Zombies really fit the bill.  The first wave of figures hit store shelves back in March, but they were sort of spotty in terms of distribution and it seemed like only a handful of people were actually finding them in the wild.  I was lucky enough to pick up the complete first wave, and was super excited to finally see wave two hit the pegs and in more stores…

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I had heard that Jakks planned on making 100 figures in the Zombies waves of the S.L.U.G. minifigs (I’ve also heard that they’re planning other waves with different themes), but I wasn’t sure how they were going to be releasing them or if this first wave was going to be popular enough to sustain the line long enough for us to see all 100 figures.  I guess it’s doing well enough though, and I relished in the opportunity to pick up a 12-pack coffin set of the second wave.

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Aside from a bunch of new zombie sculpts/concepts, the most interesting factor in wave two is the introduction of some non-zombie figures, the Hunters.  Cast in a more M.U.S.C.L.E.-esque pink/flesh colored rubber, the hunters are pretty darn cool and are infusing some more specific pop culture references into the line.  Whereas the zombies are conceptual for the most part (featuring various sports, occupation, and historic cultural references), the hunters are introducing some more specific character references like the Rambo and Crocodile Dundee figures below…

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Though a lot of these references are mining the nostalgia of the 80s, I do think it’s not so specific that it would mar the enjoyment a kid would get out of playing with and collecting these.  I mean a muscled dude with a rocket launcher should be fun regardless if something identifies him as a Rambo knock-off right?

Well I was all set to write up my thoughts on this second wave last week when all of a sudden I started to hear word on Twitter that folks were already spotting series 3 in stores.  So I went back out on the hunt and secured a couple of the smaller packages with my favorite figures from this new wave (which includes a swell Sean of the Dead minifig hunter as well as my favorite zombie yet, Extra Crispy (aka Colonel Sanders!)

I’ve been having so much fun setting up these little guys on my desk at work, though I’m wondering where I’m going to find the space to display them all if I keep buying them…

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If you’re interested in seeing all 100 proposed figures, Jakks has released this handy checklist poster via the S.L.U.G. Zombies website.  Click on it to blow it up and start checking off the figures you want to collect!

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Oh, and for those wondering, I hear that the special glow-in-the-dark variations of the figures will be available in special tombstone-shaped collector’s cases that are due out in Spetember.  Also, according to Entertainment Earth we can expect a new wave of the zombies to be released each month over the next three months at least

OMFG! Series 2 kickstarter is live!

It’s gonna be a hectic week behind the scenes at Branded this week what with the holiday coming up and some boring day to day stuff.  Posting might be a little light, but I did want to take a second and point out that the Kickstarter campaign for the 2nd series of the OMFG! minifigures has begun

If you’ll remember from a few months ago, I fell in love with this project and it’s been a while as the 2nd series design were voted on, sculpted, and are now ready for production.  This second batch looks pretty darn fun, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the Puke Knight and Shirtle figures in particular.  The below image is a rough of what the back of the packing art should look like (art by Redjarojam from the October Toys forum)…

Below you can get a glimpse of the final sculpts for the five new figures in series 2…

As before, the actual production figures will be available in the standard M.U.S.C.L.E.-influenced flesh colorway, but you can also get your hands on an exclusive black set via Kickstarter.  I’ve already heard rumblings about some other exclusive colorways being considered as exclusives for different online shops, much like we saw with the first series.  The goal that needs to be met in the next 30 odd days is $12,000, but considering it’s already past $3k as I’m typing this I think the funding will be successful…

OMFG! voting for series 2, and the new S.L.U.G. minifigs!

Of all the toy projects I’ve come into contact with this past year, OMFG! (Outlandish Mini Figure Guys) has to be one of the coolest.  Not only is it independent and artist driven, but riffs on some of the cool toy lines from the 80s like M.U.S.C.L.E.s, Battle Beasts, and Monster in my Pocket.  I’ve written about series one before, but I wanted to make a note that voting has just begun for the second series.  You can participate by hopping over to the October Toys forums, registering and voting for 5 of the 461 new designs for series 2.

I’m pretty excited to see this project moving forward, so much so that I’ve thrown a couple of my own designs in the ring, Boombox (#55) and Killscreen (#57).  Just saying, my wife would kill for a Boombox figure.  Regardless if you dig my designs, if you have a moment, head on over and check out the other entries.  There’s a whole range of stuff, and there is some really killer ones in there.  I know I’m partial to the Puke Knight (#357), Thatman (#429), and Deadbeet (#144)…

  

Also, to tide us minifig collectors over until the 2nd series of the OMFG! get picked and hopefully produced, Jakks Pacific has just released a line of really neat collectable Zombie Minifigs called S.L.U.G.s (Scary Little Ugly Guys)…

Series one has just been released and so far there are 16 different little zombie figures available (though I’ve heard that there are 99 in the series.)  They come in packs of 3 (where you can see the figures you’re getting), as well as a larger 12-pack that comes in a really cool looking coffin…

    

In order to get all 16 you’ll either have to buy all four different 3 packs and the 12 pack coffin (there are 4 figures only in the 3-packs, and 4 exclusive to the coffin set), or hope you can find someone willing to trade their doubles.  The 3-packs are $4, and the 12-Pack coffin was $10.  As far as the quality of the concepts and sculpts, this set is pretty good.  There are a few duds in the set that either don’t really read as zombies (the boxer), don’t stand well (King Tut) or are kind of boring (again, boxer), but most of the figures are pretty darn fun.  My favorites have to be Rigamortis Lourdes, the cheerleading zombie (with severed head pom poms), Neil Armgone, the zombie astronaut, and the clever homage to Daniel from the Karate Kid, The Corroding Kid (who has had his leg swept but good.)

   

I’m sure these will pop up in a few stores, but right now I’ve only seen them at my local Toys R Us.  Unlike the Trash Pack, all these new minifigs are really doing a great job of riffing on the whole M.U.S.C.L.E. and Monster in my Pocket toy lines.  What a great time to be collecting toys again!

OMFG! is pretty darn rad!

As a kid I completely missed out on the whole M.U.S.C.L.E. men craze as I was concentrating all my playtime and allowance money on Garbage Pail Kids stickers and G.I. Joe & Transformers figures.  It’s not that I wasn’t aware of them, or how cool the little rubber guys looked packaged in their clear trashcans and bright blue blister cards; it’s just that I was spread a bit thin collecting-wise.  “A kid can’t have everything…”, is a statement I heard my mom say a lot at the time.  So I satiated my young mini-figure cravings with Transformers Decoys, Smurfs, figural erasers, and the old Blackstar demon or Trobit.

Years later, after the majority of my toy collecting cravings have more or less subsided, I find that the one thing that I can’t bring myself to stop collecting are little mini-figures.  Whether it’s Hasbro’s mini Heroes lines (aka the Star Wars, Transformers, and G.I. Joe chub figures), vending machine toys (like Little Homies), or Lego Minifigs, I just can’t help myself if I find something particularly cool.  This past June I stumbled across the October Toys OMFG! (Outlandish Mini Figure Guys) project on Kickstarter and I was immediately hooked on the idea.  A bunch of artists and sculptors in the October Toys forum came together to hash out some ideas for a line of mini-figures riffing off of the nostalgia for old toy lines like Battle Beasts, M.U.S.C.L.E.s, and Monster In My Pocket.  Enough folks backed the project for it to be successfully funded, which was cool, but then began the wait for the figures to actually be produced…

I finally received my two initial sets from the Kickstarter project last month, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome!

    

There are five figures in this first series, Multiskull, King Castor, The Phantom Shithouse, Crawdad Kid, and Stroll, all of which have some excellent sculpting and detail work.  Again, though I never had any M.U.S.C.L.E.s growing up, I’ve seen enough of them to know that they weren’t rendered in this much detail.  The main set comes in a “flesh” colored PVC, but there was also a Kickstarter exclusive black set that I picked up as well.  The wife called dibs on King Castor and Stroll, but she doesn’t have any of the nostalgia or fondness for the pink fleshy figures, so black seemed the way to go.

Part of the Kickstarter campaign was the ability to help fund at a high level to secure a thousand minifigs in your very own color-way.  This was a great idea to get other small toy companies and stores in on the fun with the ability to sell exclusive color variants of the figures as an incentive for investing in the project.  There were four groups that chose this option resulting in a few exclusive colors including a mustard yellow (University of Muscle), a lime green (Little Rubber Guys), a true blue (Rotofugi), and a lighter “Glyos” blue (Onell Design).  There was also a sixth exclusive color-way/artist-proof, hot pink, that was split between the artists and sculptors that worked on the project.

Before Christmas, while waiting for the base and Kickstarter sets to be shipped, I noticed that the Onell Design light blue color-way was available for purchase.  Since I was champing at the bit to get my hands on these, I went ahead and splurged on this variant set.  Besides, I thought it would be fun to give a couple of the figures to my nephews for the holiday.  The Onell variants were my first taste of OMFG!, and I had a sneaking suspicion that even after I received the pink and black that it wouldn’t be my last.

Ripping open the light blue set I realized that the variant color-ways that the various companies chose didn’t seem to have too much thought behind them at first blush.  Granted, no one color would easily represent the figures, so this is hardly a complaint, just an observation.  Onell chose the light blue as it’s the first color they used when creating their own toys a while back, but for this set it really doesn’t fit with the design of the actual figures.  King Castor looks the best, as it has a cold icy feel that works decently with stones that make up the figure, and an argument can be made for Stroll being a “yeti” variation, but it’s a little off.  The flesh being an homage to M.U.S.C.L.E.s makes sense, but again it doesn’t really fit any of the figures.  The black exclusives, though cool, are almost too dark to really fully appreciate the detailed sculpting, and I began to wonder why each variant color was chosen.

After receiving the two additional sets from October Toys, it occurred to me that there might be some thought behind these choices after all.  The logo design of the series, the Rolling Stones-esque open mouth and tongue design is comprised of five colors (green teeth, pink tongue, yellow lettering, blue lips, and black outlines and fill in the mouth.)  Could it be that the colors were chosen to reflect the overall scheme of the packaging?  What with the two blues (the lips being offset by the blue of the background) and the two pinks (the tongue and the OMFG banner below the title), all of these colors were present and accounted for.  Could be a coincidence, but I thought it was interesting to point out.

Though I thought I would stop at the three sets, I soon found that I was really loving all the color choices (whether they made design sense or not), and I ended up picking up the green set, as well as the yellow and artist proof exclusive hot pink of the Multiskull figure (which is my favorite of the bunch.)  I even snagged a custom painted version of Multiskull that the artist (Charles Marsh) put up for sale a couple of weeks ago.  I had really wanted a version of the figure in white or grey, the traditional skull colors, and managed to score the NightFright custom which fills this gap in my collection quite nicely.  He even glows in the dark!

All in all I really love these figures and I can’t even being to put into words would cool it’s been to watch this project from design to fruition.  Seeing an independent artistic community come together for a project like this is rare, and seeing it come out so well done is even rarer.  October Toys and their forum are doing the initial prep work on a second series, and submissions for figures ideas are still open until the 29th of this month.  I have a few designs submitted (Boombox, Miss Pucker, and Killscreen), but there are all sorts of cool figures in the forum thread that would make an awesome second series for the OMFG! line.  Can’t wait to see how far the community will take this thing!