Earlier this week, the New York Toy Fair was held. This annual event is where toy companies display their wares for buyers from stores like Toys R Us, Target, and more, hoping that these companies will order their products -- and only then will they begin production. Thus, there are plenty of action figures planned by toy companies that never come out, because corporate toy buyers look at boring like numbers and ratings, and rarely do they base any of their decisions on how freaking cool a movie was. Thus, the action figure landscape of the last 30 years is littered with could've-beens and should've-beens -- so much so that we've already covered 10 action figure toylines that were too awesome to make it to toy store shelves back in September. Since the NY Toy Fair was held earlier this week, displaying all the wondrous promise of toys to come, we thought we'd take another look back at some of the toys which were promised and then cruelly denied us.
9) Thundarr the Barbarian
Thundarr was an incredibly fun and popular early-'80s cartoon that was spawned out of the minds of comic book legends Jack Kirby and Steve Gerber, among others. What sucks is about Thundarr is not one but two toy companies dropped the ball with the license. First Mego got it and planned a series of 3 ¾-inch figures, but -- in an act that made children first question the existence of God -- Mego decided to make Love Boat figures instead. After Mego's demise, Remco threatened to make a series of Thundarr figures that would be in the same scale of He-Man but also never delivered. Thankfully, Toynami finall made some sweet Thundarr figures in 2004, but it would have been nice to have them when, you know, the cartoon was actually airing.
8) Logan's Run
In the late 1970s, Mego snapped up just about every science fiction license around after the company famously passed on the Star Wars license and failed to make a million, jillion dollars. This included the1976 feature film Logan's Run and its TV series spin-off. Mego seriously considered making figures of Sandman Logan 5, his gal pal Jessica 6, their android chaperon REM and jilted ex-wing man Francis 7, but Logan's Run ended months before the NY Toy Fair that year and that officially turns off your life clock in the toy world.
7) Man From Atlantis
Man from Atlantis was basically a TV version of Aquaman in a very '70s kind of way. When the original TV movie aired, kids across America began emulating the character's unique swimming style (and subsequently drowning). Kenner was quick to snap up the rights to this and planned 3-inch action figures along with a killer toy version of his sub, the Cetacean. Sadly, the follow-up Man from Atlantis TV series was so terrible it seemed like everybody involved wanted to be fired and was all but forgotten before the NY Toy Fair.
In 2001, DC Direct was planning on making comic-accurate figures of Alan Moore's seminal Watchmen graphic novel. The first series would have included Dr. Manhattan, Silk Spectre II and the Comedian, but shortly before their release, DC and Moore got in their famous kerfluffle and Moore blocked the sale of the figures. DC Direct finally got to make Watchmen figures for the movie adaptation last year, but if you only want the comic version, you're screwed.
When the first V mini-series debuted in 1983, it scared the shit out of us -- which also strangely resulted in a strong desire in us to buy toys. LJN planned a whole series of 3 ¾-inch action figures and their vehicles, but the whole thing ran out of steam when the resulting lower quality, weekly television series made the whole thing seem less cool. While the current incarnation of V may spawn action figures, it will have a surprising lack of red spandex, overly tight jeans and big hair.
4) The Dark Crystal
Jim Henson got a little dark with this 1982 fantasy film, and while it has grown in popularity over the years, parents at the time were a little leery of it and took the kids to boring old E.T. instead. The same can be said with merchandising, with orders soft toy maker Aviva (a division of Hasbro) shelved these awesome Dark Crystal figures. NECA later made a couple of figures of the Skeksis, but no Gelflings.
3) Maxx FX
Maxx FX was the brain child of toy inventor Mel Birnkrant. The concept was simple -- Maxx was a special FX makeup man who could make himself into any movie monster including Frankenstein, Dracula, Jason and the Alien. Unfortunately, Matchbox toys also thought it would be a good idea to market a plush Freddy dolls. Everybody but the big brains at Matchbox realized the gigantic problem withtucking children in with a cuddly kid killer and the resulting blowback sent the initial release of Maxx straight to the clearance aisle.
2) The Last Starfighter
The Last Starfighter was 1984 film that had the timeless message "play lots of videogames and eventually, it will pay off big time." Although the movie was quite fun, it never really got its due; adding insult to injury, Galoob never got around to releasing these action figures. While they wouldn't have set the world on fire sales wise, they'd have been welcome to wash away the overall ickiness of the Ewoks cartoon.
While Kenner did manage to (just barely) squeak out an AWESOME 18-inch figure of the titular Alien from Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror movie, it sucks total rocks that their 3 ¾-inch line of action figures got canceled. Sure, it's kind of baffling that Kenner would want to make toys based on an R-rated horror film no sane parent would let their child see, but kids didn't need to actually watch the film to know that Aliens were totally awesome. Plus, what kid wouldn't have wanted a 3 ¾-inch Tom Skerrit? Kids love Tom Skerrit!