Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who Framed Roger Rabbit Flexies from LJN Toys

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For all the potential Who Framed Roger Rabbit had for toys, Disney sold it way too short. I think handing the license to LJN was probably the worst thing they could have done, worse than just not making toys period. I know I'm talking about the same company that brought the world Thundercats, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Voltron, Tigersharks and the ever iconic WWF Superstars but let's face it LJN had more failures than successes. Don't even get me started on their video game productions, I don't want to get into a Angry Video Game Nerd-esque rant here. LJN produced two lines of equally crappy figures and I'll be honest, I like them. I'm a complex guy, I'll talk trash about something for years but hold onto it because I like it. If there were better toys available, I'd buy them and throw these up on my BluJay store. Till then I'll talk about these.

(the LJN logo; no gold at the end of that rainbow)

There was two lines of Who Framed Roger Rabbit toys from LJN as I stated earlier. One was a series of 3 inch articulated figures; Judge Doom, Eddie Valiant, Roger Rabbit and Wiseguy Weasel. These were fairly bad, even for being released in 1988. They were painfully stiff looking figures that made happy meal toys look more desirable. Not only were the figures cursed with bad articulation and horrible likenesses but they were strangely flat, as in the figures had little to no girth at all. Anyways, I own Eddie and Roger only because they came in a collection of Super Powers figures I bought nearly a decade ago off eBay. More recently I got the Benny the Cab while on vacation in Orlando at a flea market. I barely even relate Benny to this line because 1) he saw limited release in America and was on clearance when he showed up overseas 2) he's far nicer than anything made by LJN between 1988 and their death in 1995.

(seriously, this is the only toy LJN did right in this whole line)

(this was made by McDonalds years after the movie and it's better looking than most of these figures)

(eh, this was made by Applause and shows no one has really done Roger Rabbit justice in toy form)

LJN made a series of bendy figures based off the movie and called them Flexies. I have a strange love/hate relationship when it comes to bendy toys. Some of them are really interesting like some of the old Advanced Dungeons and Dragons figures or some of the old AHI monsters but most of them look like old and chewed on Gumby figures. The Flexies in comparison to the basic action figures were giants, nearly 3 times the size. They suffered from the same strange "squished flat" disorder that the action figures did but this time they made 6 different characters for kids to spend their hard earned chore money on. I have a vague memory of seeing these at my local toy stores when I was a kid and I remember them bearing large red clearance stickers almost immediately. Competition was tough during the year of 1988, He-Man was still a contender, GI Joe was prevailing, COPS was just about the best value for your money, TMNT was starting their inaugural year and it didn't look like anything could stop Transformers. I know I just keep bashing LJN but if any other company had the rights to the toys we (or maybe just me, I could be alone in my assumption that this series sucked) could have had some bad ass toys.

(this is a good bendy figure)

(these on the other hand....)

Roger Rabbit

He kind of looks like someone dropped a ton of bricks on him. They did get the color pallet right though. The ears a bendable along with the torso, arms and stubby legs. Congratulations if you can get them to hold a pose though, the rubber is just slightly too thick to allow the inner wire to retain a shape. Don't get me wrong though, in hand the make you reminisce about your days playing with LJN WWF wrestlers. I like the idea of big sturdy toys that you can bludgeon a sibling with, it brings a certain amount of joy to my dark heart. Roger also comes with a set of handcuffs to recreate those memorable scenes from the movie. They are nothing really special but they do the job. Side note, LJN made a giant Roger Flexies that I somehow really want to own for stupid reasons. I guess it's because I already own this unholy hexad of figures, might as well purchase their overlord.

Jessica Rabbit

I have a strange obsession with Jessica Rabbit. When I was a young lad I had what could be described as a "thing" for Jessica Rabbit and Betty Boop. Being 1988 and being a boy of six years of age, I was fairly impressionable. Sadly, they never made what I considered an acceptable figure or doll of Jessica Rabbit. The only positive thing I can remark about this Flexies figure is one of two characters from the line that retain poses. The cloth accent to complete the illusion of a full skirt is more annoying than appealing. Under the skirt (yes I looked) reveals the top part of the dress becomes just a one-piece swimsuit and the skirt is made out of a cheap and sandpaper coarse fabric. But it does pose and retain those poses, there's something to be said about that. Meh!

Wiseguy Weasel

I loved the design and concept of the weasels in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. They were the perfect archetype for a villain's henchmen / minions. Loyal, lethal and dumb as a box of LJN video games. Wiseguy suffered the squished flat syndrome his action figure counterpart did, which is a shame because I think he was about the most screen accurate figure from the line. He includes a yellow plastic linked chain that wraps around his waist, which I have no idea what part of the movie that's from. He also has a gun molded into his hand which makes him the second best figure in the line, at least in my honest opinion. I miss cartoon violence.

Eddie Valiant

I'm just going to get this out of the way, I like Bob Hoskins a lot as an actor. Any man that plays Smee in two totally different productions of a Peter Pan based movie has my vote for being one of the most underrated actors of all time. He was also Mario Mario in Super Mario Bros : the movie and that film holds a special place in guilty movie pleasures section. He also drank heavily to get through that movie and I find that kind of cool because sometimes I waish I could do that to get through work. This Flexies and the action figure both suck, there isn't any other way to put it. No redeeming qualities at all. The color of the suit is also this horrible fecal brown, the kind of suit you'd commonly see in a thrift store. The kind that was used for a funeral but stripped off the corpse just before they cremate it. My mind goes to strange places, sorry but it's the best visual I can paint. Eddie also comes with the same handcuffs as Roger which makes this figure even more boring, if that was a possiblity.

Baby Herman

This is my favorite figure from the line. If it wasn't for what amounts to possibly mild ADHD I'd sell the set and keep this figure. It's the only time I'm aware of they made a Baby Herman in "adult" form. I wish he had a cigar accessory or came with his baby stroller instead of the highchair. The highchair accessory is kind of lost on the figure, he doesn't really "flex". I do like the fistful of cash Herman is gripping onto, which reminds me I also liked Wiseguy Weasel solely on the fact he has the gun molded into his hand. I guess that makes two figures I'd keep if I could convince myself to sell the rest.

Judge Doom

Here is where I was hoping for the figures to wow me, they didn't. The action figure Judge Doom was a let down, for an intimidating movie antagonist his action figure and Flexies toy gives the impression of an angry old man wanting you to get the fuck off his lawn. Both toys also came with a vulture which was never in the movie in the first place. Would have made for an awesome pet / companion in the film but to package it with the toy is confusing. I mean it's really conflicting, I would have loved to have seen that vulture added to the movie. Fucking LJN. He also comes with a cane but it's little more than a black plastic stick.

In the end, I guess I'm fairly happy I have these in my collection. I like them but only on the surface, they look great on my wall of carded figures and they are good to use as an example of what a bad bendy figure looks like. Past that, they remind me what a poor company does with a great license. For a modern example look at anything made by Jazwares. And the level of fail in these figures doesn't taint my memories of the movie, I was a grown man before I owned any of the LJN Roger Rabbit toys. That's the strange appeal of vintage toys, they are nostalgic but they may not be the best representation of the characters you love but the toys hold a soft spot in your heart anyways.

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