The 10 Best ’90s TV Shows that Should Have Gotten Action Figures


By Adrian Beiting

The ’90s were a great time to be a toy fan, and TV did its part to act as
source material for some of the greatest toys to be minted back when Ricky
Martin was still she bangin’ on MTV. 
From syndicated fare like Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules:
The Legendary Journeys
, to network mainstays like Buffy the Vampire
, The X-Files, and animated classics like X-Men and Batman:
TAS, it seemed like just about every license imaginable was getting its
representation at the local Toys R Us. 
Despite this toy renaissance, there were shows out there that didn’t get
their ticket punched to the Christmas Tree Express, for one reason or another.  Whether just for laughs or for serious,
plastic campaigning, these 10 TV shows from the 1990s should have gotten the
toy treatment.

10) Nightman

The Show: Not to be confused with the Nightman who faced Dayman, Champion
of the Sun, and loosely based on a Malibu comic book, Nightman was the
so-bad-it’s-good tale of Johnny Domino, who was just your everyday pumped up
jazz musician from California until he got struck by lightning and gained the
power to telepathically be “tuned to the frequency of evil,” an ability
that gave him an edge for catching the bad guys. As soon as Nightman’s porno-tastic sax-blastin’ intro music started and
those purple letters graced your TV screen
, you knew you were in
for something…well, something. Like so many ’90s shows, everything past the
sweet intro was kind of disappointing, but hey, that depends on whether you
find a show about a dude who likes to answer the phone with his shirt off and
fights crime while a hologram of himself plays the sax at a night club
disappointing. Others might have another word for that kind of show, and that
word is AWESOME.

The Toys: As fantastically lame as the show was, it was still surprising not to see
some form of Nightman action figure attempted, which could at the very least
have been used as a 12 inch conversation piece before you and your friends
began another long night of Mountain Dew and Dorito-fueled Goldeneye 007?one-upmanship.
Nightman really triple underlined the 90’s as a decade that really
didn’t get much right in terms of superhero comic-to-screen adaptations, and
thus deserves its shot at plastic immortality.
The Nightman action
figure would feature a mask with a sweet light-up lens like Nightman wore (and
shot lasers out of) in the show, temperature activated color changing camo
armor, a cape and that metal thing on his belt that was probably just a piece
of audio/visual equipment Johnny Domino used to dim the lights and hit the right
tune to serenade the ladies during his sets. Items sold separately would
include a Johnny Domino figure, packaged with free weights, ill-fitting, black
T ‘s (removable for phone answering purposes), Johnny D’s trademark sax, and
teeth whitening strips. Arch nemeses Kieran Keyes, and a nightclub for Johnny
to play his sax in would also be available.

9) Samurai Pizza Cats

The Show: Pizza power! Speedy
Cerviche, Polly Esther, and Guido Anchovy comprised the animated cyborgian
feline trifecta known as the Samurai Pizza Cats, a team formed by Al
Dente, commander of the Palace Guard, to defeat the evil Prime Minister Seymour
“Big” Cheese in Little Tokyo. When not busting chops, the trio served pizza as
their 9 to 5. The show even had a self-aware narrator, adding tongue-in-cheek
humor to the series. Released in Japan and Europe, the toys sadly never made it
stateside. Not giving these toys a U.S. release was perhaps one of the most
grievous oversights of toy makers during the ’90s, as the show was basically a
hybrid of Power Rangers, Hello Kitty, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and we
all know how those toys sold (very well). Besides that, the characters just
looked awesome, each with their own unique robo-samurai armor design and
weaponry, especially Speedy, whose design would compliment a Mac-oriented, IKEA-furnished workspace very well (hint, hint, toymakers). Did I mention the show
also featured giant mecha robots? Oh, the possibilities.

The Toys: Watching this show just made you want to get your hands on one of these
bad boys-the design was just that action figure fly.
Each Samurai Pizza
Cat would come with customizable armor, weapons, changeable helmet emblem, and
part of a platform stand that would connect the three main characters. Items
sold separately would include the Pizza shop and Little Tokyo playsets, General
Catton, Jerry Atric, Bad Bird, the Ninja Crowes, Big Cheese, and the SPC mecha

8) The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The Show: Street smart, pre-king
of July 4th?weekend box office Will Smith is sent to live with his
wealthy relatives in Bel-Air after getting jumped playing b-ball outside of da
school in West Philadelphia, where he was born and raised, mind you.
Class-clashing culture shock brand hilarity ensues for the next six seasons. The
show was actually pretty hilarious most of the time, for all of the right
reasons. It’s hard to really come up with a good reason why no company picked
up the rights to create toy merchandise for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,
especially since even
the most annoying sitcom character of the ’90s got one

The Toys: It would be pretty much impossible to stay in a bad mood with these toys
around, as recreating all of your favorite hilarious Fresh Prince scenarios,
including “Will Makes Uncle Phil Mad” “Will Hits On Girl” and “Carlton Shows
Will the Gun He Bought to Protect Himself After Will Takes a Bullet For Him”
would be possible at any time, anywhere!
The 1:6 scale Fresh Prince doll
would come with a boom box, high tops and some form of neon 90’s apropos
attire, including Will’s prep school outfit. He would also have to talk, as
Will’s gift was his gab. Recordings such as “Girl you look so good I wish I
could plant you and grow a whole field of y’all!” “Momma no!” the Will Smith
trademark shriek of horror, and the immortal opening theme song would all have
to be available for playback at the press of a button. Items also available would
include The Bel-Air Mansion playset, complete with audience laugh track and
“whoooo!” functionality, Uncle Phil plus family, (including Carlton with dance
moves and peacemaker), Geoffrey the Butler, and that fake Jazz doll that always
got thrown out the front door.


7) Sliders

The Show: While working on an
antigravity device, Jerry O’Connell’s Quinn Mallory accidentally created a machine that allowed people to travel to
alternate realities at will (how embarrassing for him) and eventually got
himself, his physics professor, love interest, a soul singer named Rembrandt
Brown and others lost in a web of alternate dimensions, typically sliding to
one new version of Earth per episode. The concept of the show, while not the
most original thing in the world, did have a strange way of drawing you in and
making you really care about the fate of Quinn Mallory and his Slider pals, as
they were the only real consistency from one episode to the next. The show’s a
slide away (see what I did there?) from having a very solid cult following, so
there would definitely be a market for toys.

The Toys: These would have to be
pretty vanilla by nature, since the characters didn’t do much that could be
reflected in an action figure besides wear clothes pretty well. That being
said, the figures would come with a base that says “Sliders” on it that they
could stand on, along with miniature slider remotes. A built-to-scale slider
that would beam an image of the Slider portal on any lonely man’s wall
at the press of a button would also be available.

6) Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd

The Show: Even though Sherlock
Holmes in the 22nd?Century
usually got stuck being broadcast in
those early morning hours before the good cartoons came on, it was pretty solid
for being played during the old 7:00 am timeslot of shame. The story was
absurd, (Sherlock Holmes is brought back to life to battle it out with the clone
of his former nemesis Moriarty), but there was something cool about seeing
Sherlock solve some of his most well-known cases on the shiny streets of New
London. The show managed to maintain what many would associate with the “feel”
of Sherlock Holmes (a gentleman detective cracks cases in a gentlemanly way,
while being unable to resist the temptation of dropping gentlemanish puns)
while at the same time, keeping the futuristic feel created by the show’s
setting in tact. That, and good luck getting the theme song out of your head. Besides
ol’ Sherlock, the show featured plenty of things that should have inspired
action figure treatment, including a compudroid version of Watson and those
sweet flying cars that we thought we’d be driving by now.

The Toys: The Sherlock Holmes action figure would come packaged with his
extendable cane and journal. Giving him a punch action feature would also make
sense since Sherlock did get down when he had to in the show. The toyline would
also include Moriarty, Inspector Beth Lestrade, Watson, scale Sherlock Holmes
extendable cane, flying car and New London playset to solve mysteries in,
complete with monorails! Oh Holmes!


5) Walker, Texas Ranger

The Show: Speaking of mysteries,
one of the most befuddling has to be how Walker, Texas Ranger managed to
run for a whopping 9 seasons while
so many other, better shows failed to even reach their second season. The show
was ridiculous enough to prompt Conan O’Brien to create his famous Walker
Lever, a segment in which he played clips from the show out of context. Walker
always seemed to be 15 steps ahead of the bad guys during fights, and the bad
guys deserved the beating Walker dished out to them, not so much because of the
drugs they were pedaling to the neighborhood kids, but because they were all
incredibly bad actors, making Chuck Norris look like Phillip Seymour Hoffman by
comparison. Love the show or hate it, having a Walker figure on top of your
armoire standing guard over your room with his trademark 12 gauge and firm,
American stare would definitely have its appeal.

The Toys: Walker would come with
his coat, guns, hat, star, bible and NRA membership card. The figure would also
include Karate punching/kicking action and play “Eyes of a Ranger”, the song
that Chuck Norris actually sang (or spoke through?) during the opening credits
of Walker. ?Jimmy Trivette,
C.D. Parker , henchmen to beat up on,?kids to teach valuable,
faith-based?lessons to,?
wearable Walker beard, star and cowboy
hat would all be sold separately.


4) Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

The Show: Dr. Michaela Quinn moves?to
post?Civil War era Colorado Springs, tries to?earn the trust of
its?citizens while working as a female doctor, starts raising three
orphaned children and hits it off with Byron Sully, a rugged?woodsman-type
who is able to help keep peace?with the Native Americans from time to
time. The show gave people something to talk about before they realized their
computers could do more than run pilot sims and MS Paint. While that probably

doesn’t sound like toy heaven, hear me out –?Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
did actually contain some action that didn’t involve heavy petting, meaningful
stares, family values, and?trailblazin’ bureaucracy, mostly thanks to
Sully, who was a tomahawk wielding badass, but only when he needed to be. Sully
was also a hard man to take down, as evidenced in the clip above.?Check out the huge amount of emotional
security (2:55) Sully is able to provide despite the complete ass beating he
takes only moments beforehand. Hardcore.

The Toys: Sully would definitely be the character with
the most toy appeal-he would come with his trademark?tomahawk and throwing
action,?fully detailed?rugged 5 o’clock shadow?along with
beautiful hair preferably personally supplied by Sully’s real life
alter-ego,?Joe Lando. Dr. Quinn would get some action figure love as well
since she was known to reach for a gun or two, (1:37 in video). The toyline
would also include Dr. Quinn’s family, horses, townspeople, members of the
Cheyenne tribe and even a Dr. Quinn medicine kit for your little sister to play


3) Quantum Leap

The Show: Dr. Sam Beckett enters
an accelerator he built for the purposes of time travel before it’s fully
tested and ends up “leaping” through time, embodying a different person each
episode and trying to change the future for the better. This show has a pretty
large cult sci-fi following, but the main reason toy manufacturers should get
the hint and get these figures molded is
because fans actually want the figures so badly that they’re
attempting to make them themselves.
Please, toy makers around the world,
hear our cry: save us from ourselves and let us buy our Quantum Leap

The Toys: Again, looking like
different people doesn’t lend itself to a lot of action. But the figure would
look like Scott Bakula, and that’s all you need. Add in a couple of accessories
faceplates for characters Sam embodied in your favorite episodes (baseball
uniform, etc) and you’re set.?Admiral
Al Calavicci, the Time Accelerator, Handlink, additional
outfits and faceplates would also be available. And there you have it, real,
cool Quantum Leap figures and no more horrifying fan-made toys. It’s a win-win
for fans of the show and the world at large.

2) The Adventures of Brisco
County Jr

The Show: Starring Bruce
Campbell, this unique Western/Sci-fi hybrid and owner of one of TV’s most amazing
scores followed bounty hunter Brisco County Jr.’s adventures as he attempted to
track down the gang that killed his father, a famous Marshal. The show only
lasted one season but managed to pack in 27 episodes before bowing out in 1994.
Bruce Campbell, as prince of the Evil Dead series, is one of the most
geek-friendly actors in history. Having this great of an action show that he
stars in without toy support is a crime, pure and simple.

The Toys: Obviously, quick draw
action would be a must on the Brisco County Jr. figure. His accessories would
include revolver, maps, and those weird orbs that Brisco ran into throughout
his adventures. The line would also include rival bounty hunter Lord Bowler,
Comet the Horse (with neighing sound effect), Dixie Cousins, a Wild West
shootout set, and villain John Bly, who was played by the always-creepy Billy
Drago on the show.


1) M.A.N.T.I.S

The Show: Created and co-written by Sam Raimi, the
show surrounded w
heelchair-bound scientist Dr.?Miles Hawkins who after creating a
suit to regain his ability to walk, found that the suit simultaneously gave him
enough of an
increase in speed, stren
gth, and agility to combat crime. M.A.N.T.I.S
was actually one kickass superhero; the suit looked cool and the man behind the
mask had that?human
fragility that so many less interesting superheroes lack. Dr. Miles Hawkins
operated out of his underwater headquarters and rode around in a hovercraft
called Crysalid. With the help of his friends, he fought the good fight. Staring down
sinking ratings, the show’s writers decided to uncharacteristically
put M.A.N.T.I.S out of business for good instead of letting him live to fight
another day, forcing Dr. Miles Hawkins to meet his death fighting an invisible
dinosaur in the last episode.
C’est la vie.

The Toys: Come on, an underwater
hideout and there were no toys? A hovercraft for M.A.N.T.I.S to ride in, and
still no love? From a toy enthusiast’s perspective, M.A.N.T.I.S would have been
the perfect show to receive its own toy line, but we can only sit and wonder
what it would have been like to recreate our own M.A.N.T.I.S vs. Invisible
Dinosaur fight scene or just have our friends come over to see our M.A.N.T.I.S
toys and exclaim “Oh man, M.A.N.T.I.S?! Awesome!” Sigh, we can dream. The best ’90s toyline that never was would include Dr. Miles Hawkins in?wheelchair,
underwater headquarters playset, Crysalid hovercraft, white friends, assorted
series?cops, bad guys to hate on, invisible dinosaur, and an adult-sized
M.A.N.T.I.S helmet.