?One of the classic geek hobbies is collecting toys, specifically action figures. Many collectors are often “completists” who want to own every single figure in the line (including all the goofy guises like Arctic Batman or Colonoscopy Exam He-Man). Given the tendency of some geeks to fly into Hulk-like rages (on the Web, anyway) at the slightest frustration in their hobbies, it’s understandable that one of the most hated things in all of geekdom is the super-rare exclusive.
And so, continuing Topless Robot‘s grand tradition of re-igniting the flames of nerd ire long after they’ve burned out, we proudly present 10 Exclusive Action Figures You’ll Never Own (unless you’re rich and/or well-connected, in which case we hate you). Before you begin mentioning all the missing items on this list, please be aware that we used a couple of rules in generating it: 1) more than one copy of the exclusive has to have been made; and 2) it has to have been released deliberately by the company, either in stores or as a giveaway, domestically in the United States (we’ll have a separate list for international exclusives later).
10) “Save Blinky” Bart from The Simpsons (Mattel, 1990)
?In the early 2000s, Playmates Toys produced what most fans would consider the definitive Simpsons toy line, producting many of the show’s cast of hundreds. But ten years earlier, at the beginning of the show’s popularity, Mattel produced a short-lived line of action figures.
Rarest of the figures was a mail-away figure of Bart wearing a “Save Blinky” t-shirt–so rare that only three of them are known to exist. All evidence suggests they were legitimate mail-in figures, making SBB the holy grail of Simpsons toy collectors.
9) “Turtles Pasta” Super Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Playmates, 1993)
?While the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is loved by many, the sequel, Secret of the Ooze, is remembered mostly for sucking (and an appearance by Vanilla Ice, so…case in point). However, the film did have some fairly cool creature designs, such as the monsters Tokka and Rahzar–and Super Shredder.
Many collectors consider Super Shredder one of the highlights of Playmates’s TMNT toy line. While the standard figure is popular enough among collectors, even harder to find is the all-black Super Shredder, offered as a mail-away with Chef Boyardee’s “Turtle Pasta.” Available with 20 proofs of purchase, the few kids who did get this figure also got another prize: childhood obesity.
8) The Cantina Adventure Set from Star Wars (Kenner, 1978)
?The Cantina Adventure Set was sold solely through Sears Christmas catalogs in 1978 and 1979. Already a rare item by virtue of being an exclusive, it’s also made of cardboard, making it extremely hard (and costly) to find in good condition nowadays.
Furthermore, the Cantina Adventure Set came with the rare “Blue Snaggletooth” figure, the #1 Infamous Variant according to our list, which is largely why it’s still so sought-after today.
7) Pepsi Optimus Prime from Transformers (Hasbro, 1985)
?This odd mail-away exclusive was basically a regular Optimus Prime that came with a couple of small Pepsi stickers for his cab. While the U.S. version is rare enough, the Canadian version included much larger stickers that covered the entire sides of the trailer. Boy, the ’80s were really good at rewarding kids for consuming junk food, weren’t they?
6) Silver She-Ra from Masters of the Universe Classics (Mattel, 2010)
?At last year’s San Diego Comic Con, Mattel raffled off two all-silver She-Ra figures. Last we checked, no one even knows who won them. Two of the rarest MOTU items of all time, and as we’ll see, just the latest in a long string of incredibly rare Mattel items.
5) 30-Inch Anti-Monitor from DC Infinite Heroes (Mattel, 2009)
?In DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, the DC Universe was nearly destroyed by a being known as the Anti-Monitor. Mattel gave out just a handful of these gigantic 30-inch tall Anti-Monitor figures at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, raffling them off to a few lucky winners. The figure was designed to be in scale with Mattel’s DC Infinite Heroes line (now nearly defunct), and if sold at retail would have cost several hundred dollars.
4) The Spirit of Grayskull from Masters of the Universe Classics (Mattel, 2008)
?While there was already a rare bronze variant of King Grayskull available at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, Mattel also created this rare “Spirit of Grayskull” figure, cast in translucent blue (and quite similar to Hasbro’s Spirit of Obi-Wan promotion from the 1990s). Only two editions of this figure were made for the public. One was raffled off at 2008 San Deigo Comic Con, the other was auctioned for charity at Mattel’s 2008 “Dream Halloween” event–for $3,400.
3) Muppets Wedding of the Century from The Muppets (Palisades, 2002)
?Everyone remembers the scene at the end of The Muppets Take Manhattan where Kermit and Miss Piggy get married. Whether they actually got married is apparently up for debate, but for a generation of fans the film cemented the idea of a frog-pig union.
The Muppet creators tended to downplay the marriage idea, so it’s perhaps no surprise that while they allowed Palisades Toys to create a few hundred “Wedding of the Century” sets as party favors to celebrate the wedding of Palisades’s Product Director Ken Lilly, they stipulated that the set never be sold to retailers. Thus was created one of the most sought-after pieces of Muppets merchandise of all time.
2) Holiday Hal Jordan from Justice League Unlimited (Mattel, 2005)
?One of the most popular toylines of the past decade have been the figures based on the Cartoon Network shows Justice League and, more commonly, Justice League Unlimited. Even though the final episode was broadcast in 2006, the toyline is still going today.
The main Green Lantern character in Justice League Unlimited was Jon Stewart, not Hal Jordan, and so it seemed unlikely fans would ever see a Hal Jordan figure in the JLU style. But in 2005, Mattel produced 100 JLU Hal Jordans, each signed by Bruce Tim, as a gift for employees at Warner Bros. Animation, DC Comics and Mattel. The terms of how this came about have remained vague over the years; the only thing anyone’s sure of is that Mattel somehow managed to become legally unable to produce a JLU Hal Jordan for the mass market.
Many JLU collectors are pretty diehard, and this particular exclusive has rankled fans for years. Many customs exist, some with heads cast from the actual figure. Mattel tried to placate collectors in 2009 with an SDCC exclusive Hal that almost — but not quite — let them make a Holiday Hal (he wasn’t wearing a mask).
1) “Savage” He-Man from Masters of the Universe (Mattel, 1981)
?Ah, the mysterious “Savage” He-Man. Very little is known about this figure, except that it did indeed exist and was produced for Mattel and released as some sort of promotional item, most likely as a mail-away. A number of the figures exist in the wild. He features brown hair instead of blond, and black boots and a black belt rather than brown.
For years he was referred to as “Wonder Bread” He-Man, due mostly due fan speculation (there was a Wonder Bread/MOTU tie-in, but it was for trading cards, not a figure). In truth, no one’s sure how he was packaged (probably in a baggie). No one’s sure what accessories he came with (maybe a red axe-and-sword set). He-Man.org, Mattel, and ToyFare Magazine all made a combined effort to find out the story behind this figure, and they came to only one conclusion: it existed. But apparently it’s so exclusive, even the sponsor of the promotion has been excluded.
Mattel honored the infamous figure with an updated Classics version, coyly named “Wun-Dar,” as an exclusive gift for subscribers to Club Eternia last year, bringing his legend full circle.