You can’t blame the toy industry for the ugly and violence-prone state of this year’s crop of action figures to emerge from Toy Fair 2014. Instead, blame the zombies.
Never in the history of the world has evil, horror and terror ruled its ugly head so prominently since Dick Cheney was Vice President.
Welcome to the Zombification of America. Right now, my foreign Readers are busily looking up “Zombification.” (Give it up, Olaf. You won’t find it.)
Zombies are creatures who started as humans, died from a serious infection and then rose from six feet under to come back and haunt the rest of us. The closest analogy I can give would be substitute teacher.
Zombies have taken over everything. It’s understandable these creatures are lead actors in movies (Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead and The Walking Dead) and TV shows (Dawn of the Dead, The Walking Dead and Duck Dynasty). Now they’ve invaded toy stores as well.
As I roamed the aisles of Toy Fair 2014, the annual industry event where toy companies show off their best bets for toy success in the coming year, I was struck by how ugly, fearful and blood soaked the toy industry has become. Especially when it comes to action figures.
Oh, sure, Superman will still be flying through toy stores faster than a speeding bullet to defend his mantra, “Truth, justice and a little nookie from Lois Lane.” Batman and his Batboy Robin will still cruise the Toy ‘R Uses of the Universe in the Batmobile, defending Gotham City against nefarious enemies like The Joker, The Riddler and assorted Tea Party Republicans.
But the new crop of toys expected to be popular for Christmas 2014 includes a mob of vengeful, ruthless, blood soaked, killer Zombies. And those are just the good guys.
* Note to my Readers: This is the problem when you write a blog with over 13,000 subscribers. Some are my Readers are Baby Boomers and some are from Generation Z. The young people in my audience have no idea what a chaperone is.
Chaperones were adults who attended events likes proms and dances and made sure none of the young people drank alcohol, did drugs or had sex. Unless, of course, you broke into the science lab when Mr. Truchet and Mrs. Bell were outside the Milford Mill gym smoking a cigarette. I’m just saying.
Vampires just suck your blood. Zombies eat you!
No wonder these killer dolls are fodder for phobias and nightmares even for the adult kids who buy them.
But when it comes to real kids, the Zombification of toy stores is somewhat of a paradox. Dolls and action figures are supposed to be the loyal, warmhearted companions of innocent children, not cold-blooded killers.
With Zombies on my brain, I visited Toy Fair last month to see what America’s toy makers had conjured up for Christmas 2014. I went to see what’s new and also to cover the event for 10 Minutes of Brilliance Readers.
That’s right, Brilliant Readers, I braved the Zombie-saturated aisles of Toy Fair for you, knowing full well that an unexpected, innocent tap on my shoulder would likely scare the BeJesus out of me. And that’s tough, because I’m Jewish.
I’ll deliver the results of my Top 10 Most Powerful Action Figures at Toy Fair 2014 in true “Dave Letterman Top 10 style.” You know, Dave starts with Number 10 and the last one he reads off is always Number One.
(Usually by the time Dave gets to Number #7, Margaret falls asleep. But maybe that just happens at my house.)
So I’ll start at #10 , but I need to say a little about the Winner first. The most power action figure of Toy Fair 2014 is Stickman Stew.
Let’s hear it for the lovable, uncomplicated Stickman Stew. He’s warm, generous, courageous and kind. The only way he’ll kill you kid is with kindness.
He’ll be your kids’ pal and unlike the terrifying zombies, monsters, murderers and makers of mayhem who will be under Christmas tress and Chanukah bushes this holiday season, he won’t suck your blood or cause you to be dead, then undead , then dead again.
More about Stickman Stew later and how he became the Number One action figure at this year’s Toy Fair. Now it’s time to count down the Top 10 Action Figures.
STAN: It’s time? It’s time! It’s past time!
HARRIET: What the matter now, Stan?
STAN: Jeez, I was hoping Golberg could have delivered his Top 10 Toys by now.
HARRIET: Well, he does seem to ramble on.
STAN: Ramble. Schmamble. Goldenheim can’t shut up. I had a conversation with him once that started on a Tuesday and by Thursday I had to get a note from my Mom to be excused.
HARRIET: Your Mom? Stan, you don’t have a Mom.
STAN: Yeah, right! Then how was I born?
HARRIET: You weren’t born, Stan. You’re not real. You’re just a character Jack made up.
STAN: Don’t start pulling that crap on me, Harriet. I am real. Goldberger’s the imaginary character. I made him up.
HARRIET: We’re not going to solve this now, Stan. Let Jack get on with his blog. We’ll talk about it later.
STAN: Yeah? When?
HARRIET: How ’bout NEVER. Is that soon enough for you?
STAN: Yeah, that works for me. Thanks.
Now, it’s time to deliver the most powerful action figures from Toy Fair 2014. In the #10 spot is that loveable Chuckie.
The Chuckster is the creepiest of the creepy dolls. Though he isn’t the original creepy doll, he is definitely the most notorious. Not only will he kill you and attempt to steal your body, he makes bad wisecracks while dismembering you. Who does he think he is? Conan O’Brien?
The first Living Dead Dolls were craft dolls, made individually by hand by Ed Long in 1998. He showed them to a friend, Damien Glonek who liked the dolls so much, the two of them became partners. They made 12 more Living Dead dolls. The dolls sold out instantly so Ed and Damien launched their doll business, continuing to make each doll by hand.
They were selling them at a Chiller Theatre convention, when Mike “Mez” Markowith purchased one of the dolls and decided to mass produce them from his company, Mezzco Toys .
Meet the Krypt Kiddies. Meet them if you dare. Parents crazy enough to buy these horror dolls for their little monsters should have known something was off when they saw the Krypt Kiddies slogan, “Cuter than Hell.” These terrifying creatures will give your nightmares nightmares.
The White Walkers are a mythological race from an ancient time. In the darkness and cold of the Long Night, the White Walkers killed everyone in their path. Since that wasn’t enough destruction for their evil hearts, they raised the dead to help them slaughter more innocent people. What a nice bedtime story that will make.
I don’t know if if can call a bodily function an action figure, so maybe I’m breaking rank with this one, but when I said, “Hey Google, give me the most disgusting toy you’ve got, Google came up with Boogers from the Planet Nose. The name sounds like a bad title for a B movie if 6 year-olds ran Hollywood. Wait, 6 year-olds are running Hollywood, but that’s another story for another blog.
You may be surprised to find out that “Boogers from the Planet Nose” are aliens from, you guessed it, the Planet Nose. According to the ever-so-short back story, the Planet Nose had a terrible environment of toxic waste and slime. So the Boogers decided to “blow this pop stand and seek greener pastures”
They’re grotesque, sticky, and a real gross out! I show them here with some shame, but I refuse to introduce you to their 6 different characters in the Boogers world. Trust me. You don’t want to know.
I’m an eternal optimist and I try to see the bright side of everything. The only bright side I can see here, imagine what we’d be dealing with if this same toy company came out with a toy for Uranus.
I had no idea I’d be choosing a carrot for the 4th best action figure to be shown at the 2014 Toy Fair, but then Colby Carrot is no ordinary vegetable. The originator of Colby Carrot, Radha Agrawal, a k a Radha Radish, was disappointed that when kids ordered pizza at her farm-to-table pizzeria, because they never ordered veggies as a topping, along with their cheese and tomato paste.
When she gave her veggie toppings super hero names, business picked up tremendously. dramatically. So she decided to encourage kids to eat veggies by making “action figures.” No offense to Colby Carrot for putting action figure in quotes, but the tuber does deserve credit for having the mission of getting kids to eat more wholesome foods, like veggies, and less sugar, processed food, fast food and soda pop. (As the Creative Director of the first Happy Meal, I’ve always felt somewhat responsible for the obesity among American children.
And Colby’s creator deserves credit fo making super heroes out of mushrooms, eggplant and spinach, to name a few
Of course, no action figure can live in a world without pals to hang out with and Colby’s got a pretty cool bunch called The Super Sprowtz. The gang of super heroes veggie includes Mike Mushroom, Erica Eggplant, Zach Zucchini, Todd Tomato, Susie Sweat Pea, Brian Broccoli, Gita Garlic, Oliver Onion and Sammy Spinach. All the vegetable puppets have super powers, ‘natch, and Colby’s is super sight.
Colby Carrot’s exploits to make Amercia safe for vegetables and to encourage kids to have better nutrition earned him the #4 place on the most powerful action figures from Toy Fair 2014. He’s improving children’s health one dancing vegetable at a time.
The Newly Deads are 5 foot high animated figures who eyes glow in the Halloween Night. They’re really funny, rather than scary or disgustin,g which is why they made it to #3 on the Most Powerful Action Figures from Toy Fair list.
When I first saw Blacula, I thought, "Now that's really in bad taste." But when I realized that Presidential Monsters weren't just making fun of President Obama, they were Equal Opportunity Offenders, taking a poke at all the Leaders of the Free World, I just laughed and laughed.
No offense to any of the Presidents, but this just a satirical take-off, with a nod to "Hail to the Creeps." There's Eisen Howler, Zom-Bush, The Ronmy (hey wait, he wasn't even President), Lincolnstein, Al Gor, Wolf Bill, The Monster from the Watergate Lagoon, Benjamin Franklinstein and more. They're funny, collectible and a great way learn, well, the darker side of history. They earned the #2 spot from Toy Fair 2014. If you'd like to see the whole collection, just visit Presidential Monsters online