Hey, Poe Ghostal here. Over at Poe Ghostal’s Points of Articulation, I’ve got a feature called “Toy Aisle Trolls” that highlights acts of vandalism on toys (generally action figures) that are nonetheless still found for sale in toy stores. When readers find examples, they email pics to me and I post them on the site.
There are a few ways the trolls may pull this off.
Often, they’ll buy an action figure, take it home, carefully open the package, swap in a crappy or cheap figure (usually one that looks somewhat like the one that’s supposed to be in the package) and returns it for a full refund. The unknowing and/or uncaring employees then return the item to the shelves.
The more daring thieves will slice open the box and swap the item in the store. And this seemingly petty thievery can add up — one mother-and-son team recently racked up more than $2 million using this method.
While those two are obviously the worst toy aisle trolls of all time, there’s still plenty of trollery to go around in the individual acts. Here are the ten worst examples of toy aisle trolls I’ve ever come across. (Apologies in advance for the blurriness of some of the photos – these are usually taken with cell phones by readers while in the store.)
10. DC vs. Masters of the Universe – Lex Luthor vs. Skeletor
This set was supposed to feature a DC Super Heroes Lex Luthor (in his Super Powers powered armor) fighting Skeletor.
Instead, what we’ve got is a Hasbro Green Goblin figure with a Skeletor head and a Marvel Legends scrote-headed Leader.
This troll is evidently some sort of psychotic med. student a la Herbert West (in addition to being a complete douche).
What’s more, while obviously rotten to the core, this troll has, to quote Stephen Colbert, muchos juevos grandes. And totally got away with it, obviously, since this thing was found on sale at Toys “R” Us.
Karmic Payback: May the troll’s most beloved franchise get a new film trilogy by Michael Bay.
9. DC Universe Classics – El Dorado
El Dorado is fondly (?) remembered as a fictional Hispanic superhero who was added to the Super Friends cartoon, presumably to make it a bit more diverse. He got an action figure from Mattel last year, but apparently at least one person out there wanted it, but didn’t want to pay for it.
What do to? Why, swap it out for an old figure of wrestler Buff Bagwell, best known for his tenure in the WCW in the 1990s, and stick some sort of ridiculous crappy harness and cape on it and call it a day.
Karmic Payback: May the troll develop a disease that makes them look like E.T.
8. ThunderCats – Lion-O
Bandai attempted to replicate the success of Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics by releasing collector-oriented figures of the original ThunderCats from the 1980s. Apparently this troll wanted the figure, but not enough to pay for it, leaving behind a cheap, sad-faced Ra’s Al Ghul figure from Batman Begins.
Again, this was on the shelf. For sale. At a store.
Karmic Payback: May their nose forever be filled by the scent of the last day of San Diego Comic Con.
7. Masters of the Universe Classics – Mer-Man
This one is just bizarre. The Masters of the Universe Classics line is, for the most part, an online exclusive — figures have to be ordered from the Mattycollector.com website. However, Mattel did produce some two-packs featuring DC characters fighting MOTU characters to be sold as Toys “R” Us exclusives. One of these featured Mer-Man fighting Aquaman.
So what happened here? Someone bought one of those two-packs, then took off both the barcode and the “Only at TRU” sticker, and put them on a single Mer-Man from Mattycollector. They then returned it to Toys “R” Us for a $35 refund. Whoever scanned the toy apparently didn’t think twice about a single action figure costing $35, but maybe that’s just where we are today, I don’t know. Ultimately, the troll probably saved about $7-$10 on the deal.
Still, an epically complicated example of douchebaggery.
Karmic Payback: May they become stranded on a desert island with a fully-functioning TV and an Xbox 360 and a power source, but nothing else except Duke Nukem Forever and a DVD of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystall Skull.
6. Spider-Man – The Lizard
Hmmm. I’ll confess I’m not up on my current comics. Was the Lizard recently revamped into an old guy wearing steampunk gear?
For the record, that’s a Wave Rider Nemo figure from Mezco’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea toy line. It’s actually a somewhat valuable figure, so it’s presence on toy shelves after being swapped for the Lizard is extra baffling.
Karmic Payback: May their favorite character be made into a new TV series, in a completely different genre with an actor of the opposite gender.
5. DC Universe Classics Gotham City 5-Pack
DC Universe Classics collectors are a long-suffering group who have often been tormented by hard-to-find exclusives. One of these was 2009’s “Gotham City” 5-pack, which featured repaints of several notable Batman characters and, for some damn reason, a classic Silver Age Lex Luthor (because he’s such a notable Gotham City resident, what with not living there at all and being associated primarily with Superman and Metropolis).
Regardless of the incongruousness, fans still wanted that Lex Luthor (and the hard-to-find Bat-villains included as well), and being an exclusive it was virtually impossible to find. This was a popular set with trolls — perhaps the most popular set. Seriously, I could do a whole list with just this set.
The troll made a passing effort to replace the figures with somewhat similar-looking figures. The Lex Luthor appears to be a custom made from a DC Direct Max Mercury. The Two-Face — or rather, One-Face — is Bossman from Happy Worker Toys.
Karmic Payback: May their favorite character be made into a perfect TV adaptation by their favorite creator…on FOX.
4. Marvel Universe – Wolverine vs. Hand Ninja
Okay, so first off, the scuzzbag swaps not one, but two Hand Ninjas for a couple of the 10,000,000+ Snake Eyes that came around the time of Rise of Cobra. That’s already enough to make him a dick, but initially it does appear that he has some interest in actually trying to make the swap look realistic.
But then he flat-out steals both Wolverine’s hands. He took his fucking HANDS! TWICE!
What is wrong with this person-besides the obvious? Was this supposed to be some sort of terrible pun on the whole “Hand” ninja thing? Is he some sort of serial killer in the making, collecting trophies from his victims? Is he working on a tiny kettle of hands?
Karmic Payback: May his palms develop permanent jock itch.
3. Marvel Universe – Storm and Nightcrawler Comic Pack
So, what happened here? The thief has replaced the regular Storm figure that was supposed be in this set with a custom G.I. Joe Baroness shorn of its hair and painted to look like Storm. Storm had some cleavage showing but the Baroness was in a full leather suit, resulting in that creepy, leathery-looking d?colletage. Looks like an action figure of Grace Jones based on her appearance in…her own house yesterday. Kill it. Kill it with fire!
Karmic Payback: May She-Hulk visit his house, dressed head-to-toe in winter clothing, and rip up all his X-Men.
2. DC Universe Classics – Head Swap Madness
A couple years back, Mattel released a number of Green Lantern figures in its DC Universe Classics line. A few of these figures had alternate heads, so if you bought two you could have two different characters, allowing you to quickly swell your ranks of Green Lanterns.
Apparently, some collector (presumably a customizer) wanted a few heads from other DCUC figures. So, what to do? Go to the store, open a few packages, and swap the heads out! The result: four absolutely terrifying-looking toys.
Karmic Payback: The perpetrator is forced to move out of his mother’s basement because her booming prostitution business needs the space.
1. DC Universe Classics Gotham City 5-Pack (Again)
The one that started it all, and still the worst example I’ve ever seen.
So imagine the disappointment one would feel at actually coming across this set, picking it up and then discovering Lex Luthor had been replaced with a Green Lantern figure. And not just any Green Lantern figure. This was a Green Lantern figure with a well-known QC error where his right forearms is reversed.
But this troll wasn’t satisfied with ruining someone’s else’s day while getting a Lex Luthor figure for free. No, this shithead actually taped a piece of paper to GL’s chest with a middle finger and the phrase “GOT FIRST”. This epic example of douchebaggery is the reason Toy Aisle Trolls exists.
Karmic Payback: May he contract syphilis from his single lifetime act of intercourse with a 63-year-old prostitute who takes pity on him, but still charges him double.