Four or five years ago, for my birthday, I bought myself Neca’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures—the awesome ones based on the original Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird’s original comics, like so:
They are so utterly badass. They all have red bandanas, for one thing, and they also have tails, which got clipped from the later TV cartoon versions because they looked like—penises, I guess.
As you can readily see, I am a proud owner of these figures:
This year, for my birthday, I thought I’d poke around for some other excellent figures—because—why the hell not?
My first thought was to look for X-Men figurines. I grew up a tremendously devoted reader of Uncanny X-Men. Words cannot express the extent of my love and my devotion! Suffice to say, I read that comic book title from issue 160-something until issue 200-something, when Uncanny split off into two different titles, blue and gold teams, and it all began to suck. But despite that, seriously, I adore Uncanny X-Men, all of the issues from when Chris Claremont took over (1975) until when he left (1991). My favorite period is probably the “Australian Outback” stretch, issues 229–252 or so, mainly because I am that much in love with Marc Silvestri and Dan Green’s amazing artwork that they made month in and month out:
Can you imagine how awesome figures based on those drawings would be? Psylocke, Dazzler, Rogue, Storm, Colossus, Havok, Longshot, Wolverine… But do Wolverine figures based on those drawings exist? NO, THEY DO NOT. Instead it’s all Hugh Jackman bullshit, everywhere you turn:
I do not want this! It looks admirably a lot like High Jackman but I do not want Hugh Jackman on my bookshelf; I want THE WOLVERINE, the living embodiment of WEAPON X HIMELF.
O-Kayyyy—so if I cannot have the Wolverine action figurine doll that I most desire, then what I want is … a decent Longshot figure! Because Longshot is quite cool. He comes from the MOjoverse to our dimensions and is presumably based on Rod Stewart. Barring that, I would like a decent Havok or Nightcrawler figurine doll. But can I find that??
OK, barring that, I will settle for a decent Nightcrawler figure. I like the X-Men comics ever since Giant Size X-Men #1, May 1975, which introduced the classic team of Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Cyclops, Banshee, Thunderbird (who didn’t last long, admittedly):
But despite said iconic awesomeness, can I find a decent Nightcrawler figure?
I do not want Alan Cummings in striped pantaloons circus bullshit!!! I want a swashbuckling Fuzzy Elf, perhaps taking on Arcade as he rescues Amanda Sefton the beautiful flight attendant and magician from Arcade or even the Hellfire Club!!!
HOW DIFFICULT HARD IS THIS???
In increasingly frustrating desperation, I email-contacted my close pal Jeremy M. Davies. He sent me a link to this image-picture:
Such hideousness! (It bears repeating!) That is supposed to be an X-Babies stature, but it is more like a grinning gargoyle dancing on my premature tomb after I was buried alive in a flood of garish X-Men figurines! FOR THE RECORD, this is what the X-Babies properly look like when drawn by the masterful Art Adams:
OK, so I have begun to resign myself to the fact that I can never have the X-Men figures that I dream of. OKAY! YOU WIN, CAPITALISM!
But then I thought to search for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns figurines. After all, I wrote a fairly popular series of posts on that Frank Miller comics series. And, LO AND BEHOLD, I found one! Here it is!
It looks pretty awesome, BUT ALAS, it costs massive dollars, and is far too expensive for a poor graduate student like me :( :( :(
(Can you do that? i.e. make multiple frowny-emoticons in a row to emphasis the existential sadness that one feels at not being able to afford the plastic figurine doll based on a Frank Miller drawing from the 1980s? Because I like to think that one can…)
In order to distract myself from my poverty, I thought next to search the Interwebs for a Cerebus action figure. I am a HUGE fan of Dave Sim & Gerhard’s long-running comics series Cerebus, arguably the greatest comics series ever … And I already have all of the “phone book” graphic novel editions, but what did I find in terms of merchandise? What indeed…
NO! That is not it! I do not want a bristly little hideous doll that I can “cuddle” with in bed!
No! I mean—that is tremendously better—much, much better—but it is not what I secretly want; what I want is a poseable little plasticine figure that I can pose alongside my Turtles figurines, on my desktop. And I know that it is possible for such a figure to exist. For when I was a kid, I had a poseable plasticine Tummi Gummi figure, and so I know that it is possible to make something very much like that but in the form of Cerebus…
The thought of this got me searching the wide open spaces of the Internet for documentation of the Tummi Gummi figurine that I once owned…
And why is Tummi conversing with some bird? Who is that bird? I do not recognize that bird from my encyclopedic knowledge of every canonical Gummi Bears television episode! I mean, later addition Augustus “Gusto” Gummi had a pet bird, the wisecracking parrot Artie Deco, but Tummi Gummi had no such pet, and in any case would probably have eaten any bird that flew into his hand…
But perhaps I imagined the damned thing??? Could I be that much of a Gummi Bears obsessive??? That’s a frightening thought…
It’s worth mentioning here that, during the time when I was young, the Gummi Bears was one of my favorite television programs, and I wanted nothing more than a Capcom Gummi Bears video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). To which end I wrote numerous letters to both Nintendo and Capcom. And in response to which I always received responses, but NEVER RECEIVED THE GAME ITSELF. They made games for Ducktails and Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers, but not Gummi Bears and why not? That cartoon series was MASSIVELY POPULAR and would have proved a MASSIVE HIT, don’t you think? I owned the other games and I played them, but the whole time I was thinking about how much more I would’ve enjoyed a Capcom Gummi Bears game, indeed I even squinted my eyes a little, trying to make believe that Chip was Cubbi, and that Dale was Sunni, and that Scrooge McDuck was Granny. But the 8-bit rendering of the respective familiar theme songs kept yanking me out of my reverie. Ducktails was Ducktails, and I was pogoing on my cane across the heads of ghosts.
Imagine with me how great a Gummi Bears game would have been. You could choose which Gummi you wanted to play, Cubbi or Sunni or Granny or Tummi or Gruffi or even Zummi. The older characters would be slower, but able to take a few more hits. There’d be level sets in Gummi Glenn, in Castle Dunwyn, and finally in Duke Igthorn’s Castle, in Drekmore. You’d battle ogres and maybe little animals, I haven’t entirely worked this part out. But for sure there’d be ogres. And Igthorn. And you’d collect Gummi berries as you scamper along each level, and when you got enough of those, you’d be able to drink a shot of Gummiberry juice, and turn invincible, and bounce around the screen. You’d only be able to do that once each level. And the Duke Igthorn levels would be the hardest, because there’d be no Gummi berries for you to collect; you’d have to rely on the extra ones you’d saved from earlier levels…
Why was this game never made? Why? I wrote to Capcom, asking them (back then), and they assured me they were considering making one. So I know they considered making one! But their consideration became neglect, neglect of me and every fan of the Gummi franchise. They also didn’t make a Gargoyles game, at least not for the Nintendo, they made a Sega Genesis game but I didn’t have a Sega Genesis, don’t get me started on that. And I know now a Gargoyles game got planned for the Super NES, but then was never released for some reason—and why? I would have played that game! I would have loved that!
I am left with my Neca TMNT figurines, and while they remain so very beautiful, they also remain a cold plastic comfort.