Friday, June 14, 2013

My irrational love for the Presidential Monsters figures- another Raging Nerdgasm moment

(Just a friendly reminder of where you are)

It wasn't too long ago when I showed off the set of Presidential Monster figures I ordered just before I broke my shoulder earlier this year. Since then, they have quickly become one of my more favorite retail toy purchases of this year. Which is saying a lot to be honest because I don't normally dig newer toys. I think  part of the fact they stuck with me so much is because they are a specialty item only available through limited markets. With secondary market prices on the rise and a piece I read on , the desire for a set of these figures became a dire need and superseded just about everything I was actively hunting down at that very moment. Through a course of fortunate events, mostly because eBay prices were creeping out of my price range, I met a man who led me to his website where he sold complete sets for retail prices. He also happened to be the proprietor of Heroes in Action , the main website for the Presidential Monsters line.

(man, just watching this makes my shoulder hurt again)

To be honest, there is plenty of reasons why this line really struck a cord with me. Mainly I was stuck at home for the better part of a month in a brace and unable to reach my collection and these were the only things I could see on a regular basis without bugging my wife. When I feel bad, I like to surround myself with things that make me happy as I'm sure a few readers do too. I bought them at first for the novelty and figured eventually I'd probably flip them for a decent return since the value of a complete set was constantly on the rise. But getting to sit and study them for a lengthy amount of time, I grew to really appreciate the detail behind each figure. From the patterns on the cloth used for each figure to the scales, fur and rotting skin sculpted on the faces and hands; these were something of an unsung masterpiece in the toy world. Why doesn't anyone sing the praises of these marvelous toys?

(I guess there was no need for this photo but I like it anyways)

The first set, some still available here, was comprised of 7 Mego-style figures on colorful, character specific cards complete with original artwork. I'm a really appreciative fan when it comes to packaging featuring character specific artwork, it's the small details that can make me love or hate a series of figures. Not because I'm an asshole (because I am, let's not forget that fact) but I think a figure should be just as eye catching in the package as it is out of it.

Zom-Bush (George W. Bush)

Everyone's favorite former head of state parodied for the sometimes dead look on his face during press conferences. The torn and tattered clothing along with the really awesome undead paint scheme really drive it home to be one of my favorites from the line. They were even so nice as to pack in a single sheet Zom-Bush poster which was promptly hung up in our room shortly after receiving our set. I wonder if Bush got one of these or was even aware of it? Next time I know he's coming to my town I'll get him to autograph mine, I'm sure he wouldn't mind.

The Ronmy (Ronald Regan)

This was one that I wasn't sold on when I was buying the set. To be honest, I was gauging whether it was worth just buying the ones I want or buying the set outright and parting out the figures I didn't want. To get the 4 I wanted cost the same amount as it would have to bought the whole set and I'm a sucker for getting more toys for my money. All in all, Ronmy was actually a decent figure. I love the fact they used the classic Mad Monster pajama like bodysuit to pull off the mummy bandaging effect. It makes for a really nice throwback to the classic figure lines that inspired this set.

Wolf Bill (Bill Clinton)

Here's one I was considering not buying in the first place. I've never been much of a Wolf man fan unless it was Lon Chaney. I'm more of a Dracula and Frankenstein fan that and I get the joke they were making but I guess I was hoping for more of a Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde sex fiend. I guess I'd go more high brow or maybe I just make jokes no one gets (I'm fairly sure it's the latter). But, so far there's a theme with these last 3 figures I've touched base on, none of them have shoes. I do like the sculpting of the fur and how they captured the mid transformation wolf and man hybrid, making him hairy enough for people to get the reference but human enough to recognize hound dog Bill Clinton.

Phantom of the White House (John F. Kennedy)

Our first figure with shoes! Here's another one I wasn't really sold on till I got it in hand. That's the problem with online exclusives; I've not bought pieces from toy sets and then seriously regretted it at a toy show when I get it in hand and really get to admire it. Where this figure impresses is the outfit; cape, vest, shoes and pants are really great quality. Also, the sculpt is a dead ringer for JFK without obscuring it for the Phantom joke they were going with. They did give him a tan / peach colored (I'm bad with describing colors) demon mask. I was kind of hoping they would go for something closer to the Red Death mask from Phantom of the Opera but I'm not too disappointed.

Monster from Watergate Lagoon (Richard Nixon)

The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Gillman, Swamp Monster, Fish Man; no matter what you call him he's probably my favorite of all the classic monsters. Richard Nixon, Dick Nix, Tricky Dicky; no matter what you call him he's probably my 3rd favorite president. Two great tastes that taste great together ( that sounded better in my head than it does in print but I'm going to go with it). I really like the head sculpt on this, the bloated gill man head with the predominant nose sells the toy for me. The added touches of webbed hands (molded into the iconic "I am not a crook" victory signs) and feet make this figure one of my top 4 favorite figures from the line.

Baracula (Barack H. Obama)

There is no denying how cool and funny this figure is. Love the man or hate the man, they captured the current Commander and Chief's likeness and gave you probably the best costume of the line. I'm not sure if the current president can take a joke or not but I'd love to show him this figure if I had a chance. This figure does go for more as a single figure outside of a complete set and most places won't sell you a Baracula unless you buy the other 6 figures. Truly one of the crowning achievements of the line and I suggest if you buy one figure from this series to seek him out.

Lincolnstein (Abraham Lincoln)

In this series, Lincolnstein and Baracula are just about neck-and-neck my favorites from the line. What an awesome figure. Great costuming complete with top hat and the sculpting is by far the best of the line. Little details like stitches and neckbolts are not neglected, overall the entire run hasn't skipped on detail and value. Yet again, this is another figure most sellers won't let you have outside of a complete set so he is another, at least in my opinion, must have figure.

My only gripe with the series, and I hope the powers that be at Heroes in Action are listening (well, reading), is that to enjoy the figure outside the package you have to destroy the packaging I admire so much. I love what Gentle Giant Toys did with the Jumbo Vintage Star Wars figures and I think more companies should follow suit. Make the package into a semi-clamshell that can be carefully disassembled to display the figure whenever the consumer wishes while also give the owner the ability to put it back in the package and hang it on a wall with ease. Either way I really like the line overall, more so than I ever thought I would. For anyone who thought these figures are as cool as I think they are, they are available in  limited quantities through Heroes in Action, famous online retailers and eBay. I suggest you act quickly, another round of Presidential Monster mash ups are heading to online retailers sometime this year with more amazing concepts as Van Palin: the vampire hunter, Romney the Robot, Teddy the Yeti, Martian Van Buren and Jacksferatu.

(Martian Van Buren)

(I really want to know what's up with the Yeti variant)

(I really like this on many levels)

Monday, June 10, 2013

My irrational love for Count Duckula - A Raging Nerdgasm Moment

(a brand you can trust)

I have, what I will describe as, an irrational love for "things". I get hung up on stupid things, it's one of my admitted shortcomings. I make lists of these things; toys, cartoons, video games, restaurants, hamburgers, ways to prepare macaroni and cheese, costumed Disney characters, etc. These lists go on and on forever, I probably have some form of obsessive compulsive disorder if you analyze it hard enough. If I was to compile a list of cartoons I love irrationally, Count Duckula is probably near the top for sure. Granted, the cartoon doesn't exactly hold up well against re-watching it now that I'm an adult but honestly which cartoons do? He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is hard to watch (even harder to watch without making a few "gay" jokes to pass the time), Thundercats is pretty much a snore-fest (I swear the lady voicing Cheatara was smoking blunts in between takes) and C.O.P.S, (for as great a concept as it was) seems exceedingly childish when watching it as an adult. Believe me I know these cartoons are made for kids but they seemed so amazing when I was younger. So their mission was accomplished at least, they were entertaining. Not every cartoon can have the staying power of Batman: The Animated series, Pinky and the Brain, Gargoyles, Animaniacs or even Darkwing Duck/DuckTales (I count them as one continuity, but I'll explain that in another blog). Without further lamenting over ancient cartoons, I give you my irrational love for Count Duckula.

(That is one epic intro)

Count Duckula was a British cartoon that made it's way into American homes care of the fine folks at Nickelodeon. This was far before NickToons was established and the channel got a lot of it's programming from secondary sources outside the USA (You Can't Do That On Television was Canadian). The first time I saw it was when it debut on the channel back in the late 80s and I couldn't have been more than 7 at the time. I was already a strange little kid, trading playtime outside with other kids on Saturday morning and afternoon for watching network TV cartoon programming blocks and Dr Paul Bearer's Saturday afternoon Creature Feature or trading birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese for getting massive hauls of video games and toys instead (a $200 birthday party equals a lot of loot, especially when you get to do the shopping). A cartoon about an animated vampire duck was totally up my alley in a big way.

(that's a hell of a family)

The cartoon starts off dark and eerie with a gloomy castle, a lightning storm, a pentagram and a deep voiced narrator. Oh yeah, it's getting really good now. The explanation of the character thickens as they go on to saying that he's been killed several times in the past and can only be resurrected once every 100 years while the moon is in the eighth house of Aquarius. This is awesome for me because even as a little kid I knew the references they were making to the Hammer Horror films. Ketchup accidentally gets substituted for the blood needed for the incantation to go correct and out springs Count Duckula the 17th......the world's first and only vegetarian vampire duck? Needless to say I was confused but still engaged and interested enough to keep watching.

(Duckula as seen on Danger Mouse)

The good count made his first appearance in the Danger Mouse cartoon as a reoccurring bad guy. They make a correlation between the appearances in the Count Duckula cartoon by having him wear Danger Mouse pajamas. It's said that every time the count is resurrected he has no memory of his previous lives and no preset disposition (besides the blood sucking thing but CD the 17th breaks that mold). They compliment the character by giving him a stereotypical gothic butler who is rather disappointed in him not being a vampire and an oafish hulk of a nanny who's certainly stronger than she is smarter. Even the antagonists give more throwbacks to classic horror such as Dr Von Goosewing, a send off to the classic vampire hunter Van Helsing. The Count also doesn't suffer from the Dracula cliches like being deathly allergic to sunlight. I never count the whole steak to the heart thing because I haven't met a person on this planet that can withstand that wound. The show is entertaining and does a decent job of spoofing classic Dracula lore and hit me at an influential time where that love for classic horror needed to be fed in a particular way.

(not the signed copy, it's in storage at the moment)

As for feeding my irrational love for the cartoon, I have done well if I say so myself. I have a t-shirt with the cartoon logo on it and the entire series on DVD and digital download. I have the entire comic book run with 2 copies of the Geraldo Rivera issue, one signed by Geraldo himself about 4 years ago when I sent him two copies and graciously asked him to sign one in return. I'm fairly certain I can  recite the theme song from beginning to end (I'm less proud of that now that I'm reading it typed out). Recently, while trying to feed my need for another piece of Count Duckula memorabilia, I lost an auction for a bootleg articulated figure from Argentina made exclusively for the South American market. That was a sad day but there's never just one of anything in the world. I set my sights on eBay but little did I know where my next fix for Count Duckula was coming from.

(the spoils of the hunt)

 And my most recent addition to feed my addiction was licensed Count Duckula figurines from a defunct company called Star Toys of Spain. Star Toys made licensed toys for the European market like figurines for the likes of the WWF, they also made highly desirable 14 inch WWF figures with tons of accessories and rooted hair like a doll. I had seen the gamut of Count Duckula related merchandise and never been impressed enough to buy any of it. T-shirts I can make at home with iron on transfers, mousepads are silly keepsakes and I can't bring myself to buy a Count Duckula costume; I'm way too fat to even attempt it as a joke. I knew that one day I'd come across something worth buying. And hopefully that day would come before I was forced by my irrational admiration for the series to buy something silly, forcing my hand in the name of fandom to spend money against my better judgement.


I'm glad my wife found these while hunting at the local flea market. Buying things online is tough when you aren't familiar with the product. For all I know these could be complete garbage and not worth the time or money to import ( older European toys rarely show up at conventions or shops and worldwide shipping is the bane of my existence). My wife saw them in a flea market booth weeks ago hiding in a rotating jewelry case full of other figurines. 2 of the Count and 1 of Dr Von Goosewing, I normally don't buy variants of main characters but with a great collection comes great responsibility to buy everything you see. Luckily the booth owner was someone we have bought things from in the past so she took pity on me and gave me a decent enough price break considering the rarity of the items in question.

The standing Count Duckula is probably my number one favorite out of the three I purchased. As for likeness he gets a strong A+. The paint job is a little chalky looking and at first I thought it was an eraser but it really does match the cell shaded, unremastered glory that is the original source material. It's like both the figure and the cartoon gracefully aged together. I'd even consider using this as a birthday cake topper for myself in the near future I like it so much. Don't question my logic here.......

The guitar playing Count Duckula is probably my least favorite of the three I purchased. He was the one where I reasoned with myself about already buying two figurines and even though it
was a variant of the main character, when would I see this again in my hand. Once again irrational love wins over logic and it cost me another $8.

Dr Von Goosewing was an excellent addition to the score. Totally my second favorite of all three, usually you see Igor the butler or Nanny online but I haven't seen Goosewing while I've been hunting. The sculpt is great, they nailed everything from his spats to the crosshairs on his gun ( a blunderbuss!) . An exciting find and a total win for my collection. My wife has a very keen eye and without it I'd still have a need to add these to my collection.

Monday, June 3, 2013

1978 Bendy Godzilla from GLJ

If I was asked which character in history has had the most impact on my life, I would have to say Godzilla would more than likely outrank Benjamin Franklin but would be just about equal with Nikola Tesla. Godzilla has been a very big part of my life, it was the first monster movie I was introduced to as a child. Throughout my earlier childhood and up to her death, my grandmother bought me Godzilla toys for my birthday on a yearly basis. Several Imperial brand Godzillas, the Shogun Warriors one from Mattel, numerous model kits and even a couple of Horizons large vinyl figures. She had a connection with someone in her doll club who's daughter was a professional wrestler in Japan and every so often I got 3-6 inch Bandai vinyls too. This, of course, led me to buying Godzilla and other Kaiju toys into my adult life. But there has been one particular Godzilla I've wanted for a very long time.

(I just like this photo.)

(carded photo care of

Well, there's several I want to add to my collection but one in particular that's been slightly out of my price range and pretty much unbeknownst to me until recently. Back in the mid-late 70s, AHI made many monster related toys. Granted, for an officially licensed product of Universal Studios and by today's standards the designs are comical and childish looking but they hold a particularly fond place in my heart. I mentioned in an earlier blog I had acquired an AHI Dracula and I consider him a prized possession, but it fueled the fire to acquire more of the collection. These are a pricey venture, even loose and beat up AHI bendies fetch $30+ and I just can't consciously spend that much on something I know I'll find in a 4/$1 bin at a flea market. I'm good at biding my time till a deal comes my way. Even Creature from the Black Lagoon and King Kong got in on the AHI bendy action but, sadly, no Godzilla. He wasn't part of the Universal Monsters, Godzilla belongs to Toho and Toho rarely ever licenses their brands outside Japan. But one day while searching Plaid Stallions website I found the perfect Godzilla to compliment the AHI collection I was amassing.



A company I'm still researching about released a licensed Godzilla bendy very much in the same vein as the AHI monsters. In 1978, GLJ released a bendy Godzilla on a very goofy looking card depicting the figure itself engaged in battle within what looks like a model train table. Honestly, the creativity makes me want a carded example even harder now. During one of my recent trips to Planet Retro in downtown St Pete I saw a loose bendy Godzilla nestled between different sofubi in a glass cabinet. I was already there on another mission to buy something for my wife so I had to take a gamble and leave it behind till my next payday. The owner of the shop and I are cool and he would have held it for me, I just have a strange thing about being one of "those guys" who gets into a habit of having friends hold things for me till I got the money to buy it. I'm very particular how I handle business, I pay people what they want and if I can't afford it then let someone else buy it. It's a strange thing to some people but being a vendor at times myself, I've gotten to be a very "money talks" kind of guy. To make an already long story short, I came back and bought it.



Finally getting the GLJ Godzilla in hand makes me happy I didn't get him when I was a kid. I was never rough with my toys but he has a feel about him like he wouldn't survive long in the pocket of an rambunctious 7 year old. He's the right color green to be complimentary to the memory of the Godzilla he represents and the spines that run down his back and tail are painted white at the tips so the stand out against the green. The whole body is given a black paint wash to make what I assume is their idea of sculpted scales to pop out. The scales in question make Godzilla look more like your fingers after a long swim, all pruned and wrinkled. The look on Godzilla's face is somewhere on the scale of "I want to give you a hug" and "I want to give you a hug and poke you a little with my penis....and maybe eat your face". The big goofy grin is infectious though, I could just sit and stare at this toy and still get the same kind of joy out of it in a year from now that I'm getting at this moment. It is a bendy and while all of the wires in mine are intact, the thickness of Godzilla's body prohibits much of the movement. The tail bends freely but only looks good in it's original prone position. I still consider the toy a win for myself and my collection, I wouldn't have bought it if I hadn't felt differently. There's a lot of crappy Godzilla merchandise but this is far from it.