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John's Action Figure Column 3/14/96

     Has anyone out there ever heard of a Star Trek The Next
Generation figure called "Picard as seen in 'Tapestry'"?  Yes,
here's yet another line of thought on this ridiculous situation,
although an interesting one, IMHO.
     To wit:  have you noticed that this figure appears to be
showing up quite disproportionally in rtm collectors' hands?  I
mean, I would guess there are something on the order of 500 of us
folks (tops) reading this board regularly.  Sure, fewer post with
any frequency, but 500 seems like a decent hypothecation of the
audience.  Even if it's a thousand -- when you think of all the
toy buyers, kids and collectors, out there in the mercantile
universe, this is barely a drop in the bucket.  And yet I think a
dozen or more Picards have already been reported as bought on the
     I find this fascinating, Captain, because to me it
highlights the phenomenon of collectibility not from rarity
alone, but from *publicized* rarity.  What I mean is, the rtm
gang appears to have gotten the info about these figures in a way
that the non-wired collecting and toy-buying public has not.  I
believe that the relatively large numbers of this figure showing
up in the collections of rtmers can be explained by the relative
ignorance of the rest of the ST fig buying world about the 1,701
Picard.  If they only knew....  (I'm reminded of the words of
Oscar Wilde on the subject:  "Ignorance is a delicate bloom --
touch it, and it's gone!")
     Anyway, my guess is, there are many people out there who
might be spotting the TapPicard on the peg, and passing it by --
nothing special.  (That, or there must be more than 1,701 of the
suckers -- perhaps the South is considered a Mirror Universe?) 
But those in the know are snapping this baby up like nobody's
business.  Well, Playmates' business....
     As heinous to collecting as I find this Playmates
"anniversary honor," it could have been worse.  I mean, they
could have been *really* honest and printed in 50-point type on
     My last words on the subject.  Typing "Picard as seen in the
episode 'Tapestry'" every time is a big pain.  Even "Picard from
Tapestry" takes too long.  People have been shorthanding it as
"PFT," which I quite like, primarily because I think it looks
like the sound of the breaking wind that Playmates is expelling
in the direction of each and every one of us.  "Pft!"
     So, when you think of 1,701 limited figures, when you think
of "Picard as seen in 'Tapestry,'" think "pft."  You can even add
in a few extra "f"s -- pfffffffffft.  Ah, marketing department --
it smells like victory!

     What's the most powerful figure you own?  I don't mean the
impression it creates visually, the strength of design and
execution and all that -- I mean, of all your figures, which one
is the out-and-out most kick-ass, titanic power-monger of them
     I started thinking about this the other day, and had a lot
of fun with it.  Now, first of all, Galactus springs immediately
to mind.  I mean, how could he *not* be the most powerful?  It's
almost axiomatic that the Big G would top the power scales.
     On closer examination, the question is not moot.  For
instance, you've got Thanos in the mix (and again, I must pause
to wonder just what the heck this morbid negativist is doing in
the otherwise *fun* Fantastic Four series, for Goddess' sake, a
series created primarily for *children*!  I mean, McF making the
big ugly Mal makes a l-i-t-t-l-e more sense if you figure that
his toys are targeted more towards adults... which reminds me of
the story a Virginia told me about a kid getting a Malebolgia for
his birthday, the father thinking he'd score the ultimate kiddie-
status-symbol for the lad; two days later, he returned it,
opened, saying it gave the boy screaming nightmares....).
     But back to Thanos.  Granted, the figure lacks the Infinity
Gauntlet, but he's still one mighty (if misguided) fellow. 
(Besides, you can easily pretend that he's wearing Infinity
Panties, borrowed from a trans-dimensional Angela, under his blue
togs).  Forget tall buildings and speeding locomotives; Thanos is
a big gun by *anybody's* standard.
     And what about the Hulk?  I haven't read Hulk comics in
about a decade, but the Hulk I remember always had the potential
to be the single most powerful force in the Multiverse -- if you
got him mad enough.  I'm thinking of guest writing an issue of
Hulk comics where ol' Greenskin becomes a figure collector, and
starts to run into trouble finding a Cy-Gor, rapidly reaching
such epic proportions of anger and frustration that the very
omniverse in totem trembles on the brink of nonexistence....
     Uh, yeah.  So anyway, okay, the Hulk figure isn't out yet. 
Cross him off on a technicality -- for now.
     And, speaking of Spawn, here's another power-evaluation
problem.  Is it just me, or does Hot Toddy tend to play fast and
loose with Spawn's available power? I mean, we are supposed to
get the feeling that ol' Al, most recent of the Hellspawn, could
give a Celestial (hey -- another contender, though we don't have
a big C figure yet) a run for its money, if he were willing to
expend all his precious Mal-given power in one shot.  (Reminds me
of Iron Fist, a character as ultimately silly to my mind as the
Johnny Storm of the "he's got four minutes of flame and then he
devolves to annoying teen-ager man" school of power).  Hey, gang,
it's Todd McFarlane, hosting a game of "3-Costume Monte" -- is
the power under the spikes, the hood, or the cape....
     And, having mentioned the infamous (and poorly groomed)
Malebolgia, *there's* a character who defies power analysis.  I
mean, he ought to be near-supreme, but all we ever see of his
power is one truly a-mazing beer-belly, lots of sibilant threats,
and drool that would make a Ridley Scott Alien cower.  Is Mal
just a kind of satanic general with the baddest breath in hell,
and no other powers than Custom Resurrections 'R Us?  Only Todd
     What about Adam Warlock?  Yeah, I know his physical power
perennially gets expanded and limited again (shades of Spawn,
Batman!), but he certainly has the most powerful, well, soul of
any figure I can think of.  Oh yeah...[disappointed sigh]...there
is no Adam Warlock figure, just a picture on the FF II
cardbacks... sob...
     Dark Phoenix?  (Thank you, FAO Schwartz -- the only toy
store where you can pay scalpers' prices over the counter for
retail figures.  Oughtta be their slogan....)  Now, *there's* a
lady who at one point seemed an appropriate sparring partner for
ol' Galactus himself.  Of course, can't have some damned *women*
strutting around with that much power... "sink her in the Hudson,
Chris, and be quick about it!"  And how about Darkseid? 
Unfortunately, I came on the collecting scene well after a
Darkseid figure was available at retail in the Super-Powers line,
but he's certainly a heavy-hitter.
     And what about Green Lantern?  Arguably, sort of on the same
lines as the Hulk argument, I always thought that if a Lantern's
will power were sufficient, he could out-fight just about anyone
except maybe the original Ray, or the Yellow Kid.  Or maybe
     Lastly, on this who's the mightiest one of all question, I
do have to mention that I've got this wonderful ok-so-it's-not-
really-an-action-figure figure of Ganeesha, the elephant-headed
god of Hindu myth.  It's made of genuine Ganges River mud (like I
could prove it either way -- though you better believe I keep the
Goo Gone farrrrrrrr away from this figure) and painted in
gorgeous, supernally bright colors.  This baby sits right next to
my monitor, passing silent benediction on all my writing, and
surfing, and even game-playing (as a good deity should).  Could
Ganeesha flick Galactus into nonexistence with but a wave of his
water lily?  Turn Malebolgia to dust with a bop from his club? 
Cut down Dark Phoenix with his gilded discus?  Turn Thanos to a
blubbering infant with his world-shell?  I don't know, but talk
about fun gedanken battles....

     I spend a lot of time at work listening to voice mail
messages.  Which means I spend a lot of time staring off into
space, rolling my eyes, sighing, even laughing.  But it also
means I spend a fair amount of time staring at my various work
place action figures.  And, this week in particular, I frequently
found my gaze fixed upon the Violator II from McFarlane Toys.
     Now, I owe the presence of this figure to Bill Wilson,
unfortunately, though hopefully temporarily, absent from our fair
electronic shores.  In fact, it's not a figure I rushed to buy at
the store; it just didn't look that great in the plastic, and
from what I've read of the comic, it's hardly an inspirational
figure -- for good or for evil.  Kind of the Arnold Horshack of
bad guys, no?
     Anyway, the Violator II that I won from Bill was loose,
which meant that there was no disfiguring bubble to get in the
way.  And from the moment I popped him out of the packing styro
and onto my shelf, my opinion began to change.  Those gleaming
eyes, those delicate hands, that crusty jaw, his lovely bizarre
head spikes -- what's not to love?!?
     And I do love it.  But as my eyes traced the figure again
and again this week, I decided something was missing.  Not
weapons, no.  And not spikes, warts, scars, extra arms, a power
launch platform, not even a backpack.  No.  What was it, I
continually asked myself?
     And then the answer came, as if from the divine, simple and
true:  a skirt.  No, a *grass* skirt.  Yes, if my lil' ol'
Violator had a cute little green skirt to break those boring body
lines, why, that would be marvelous!  Can't you just see it?
     And why stop there?  Nearly delirious with my imaginings, I
decided that he'd look even better with two little half-coconuts
strung across his chest as a simple brassiere.  Add on a flower
lei and some big junky bracelets, voila!  "Tropical Island Girl
Violator!"  Ripe for the lead role in "South Pacific" at a dinner
theatre on the fringes of Hell's fifth circle (where most dinner
theatres end up, IMHO, regardless of their zip codes).  Singing:
"I'm gonna wash that Spawn right out of my hair...and send him on
his wayyyyyyy...."
     And now the wheels were spinning furiously.  Mary Martin in
"South Pacific" was just too obscure in these rollickin' nineties
-- but what about Mary Ann from "Gilligan's Island?"  Aha!  My
modified Violator would be perfect!  And with that in mind, I
decided to recreate *all* of Sherwood Schwartz' maroonees, all
from McFarlane action figures!  Heh heh heh.
     Some were obvious.  With a striped t-shirt and captain's
hat, Badrock would make a perfect "Skipper."  ("Hey, Skipper --
what's with the big missile launchers in your shoulders?"  "Why,
nothing, little buddy....BOOM!")  And though Mr. Fantastic from
the FF is a dead ringer for the Professor, I really wanted to
stick with McF figs.  So, for the egregiously erudite and rarely
understood Roy Hinkle, I went with The Curse.  I dunno, the
little beard makes him look half-intelligent.  ("Gee, Perfessor,
where'd ya get that big saw?  I bet we could use it to build a
     As for Ginger, well, remember, Ginger was a movie star. 
She'd have to look glamorous, elegant -- even on that desert
island, Ginger was never at a loss for make-up and satin gowns. 
With all that in mind, I saw that I had no other choice:  the
Werewolf.  Decked out in Barbie's finest, with lip gloss galore
(wonder where AofA Apocalypse gets his?) and a long red wig, the
Werewolf would do Ginger proud.  And have the boys stumbling in
circles, and making -- what else -- wolf whistles.
     The Howells were more of a problem.  They had to not only
drip with excess, but also exude the bone-deep hauteur that comes
only with family money.  Who to pick?  Inspiration struck again. 
Malebolgia for Thurston (imagine the big ol' dude wearing Bermuda
shorts and a madras print shirt, with his hair slicked down and a
nice pipe in his mouth), and Cosmic Angela for Lovvey (diamonds,
dahling, plenty of diamonds, you wouldn't even notice the helmet
and wings).
     And that left only the Minnow's first mate, the inimitably
goofy Gilligan himself.  I'd need a McFarlane figure that looked
truly stupid, really over-the-top ridiculous.  And given that
McFarlane produced the Youngbloods, there's just so many to
choose from!  But Troll was a little too short; Dutch looks a
little too much like constipation's got him, uh, down; and
Crypt's hood put him out of the running.
     In the end, I went with Shaft.  His facial expression alone
makes Bob Denver look serious by comparison, and if you throw a
red shirt and beanie hat on him, he'd fool just about anyone
(well, if you turn your head to the side and squint....).  Ahhhh,
I had my cast of seven!  Now to begin dressing them up...
     ...anybody know where I can get a coconut half an inch in
Copyright (c) 1996 by John Gersten. All rights reserved.

Comments? Drop me a line....
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