Figures & Speech: Five Quirky Character Actors You Might Not Know Had Action Figures
by Luke Y. Thompson on October 31, 2012
Courtesy of Big Bad Toy Store, a couple of weeks ago we got a look at series 3 of The Walking Dead action figures. To preserve an element of surprise, not everyone shared them, but now that the biggest spoiler point has already aired, we might as well show the image they put out there for all to see. We figured Merle Dixon was returning, but not, perhaps, how he had solved his little medical dilemma….
For genre fans, this is not just a cool figure from a zombie show, but the first official, realistic rendering into plastic of actor Michael Rooker, beloved from such movies as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Mallrats, Slither, and Super. For some of us, collecting favorite actors is as important as collecting favorite properties; it’s also a chance to run down a list of some of the cult favorites you might not have expected to exist in that form.
5. John Malkovich. One of the great ironies of character acting, as the rest of this list will reveal, is that you often get honored in the strangest ways for some of your least-liked turns. Let’s face it: of all the great roles John Malkovich has played, the villain in Jonah friggin’ Hex is the one that gets him a toy? Granted, it’s under heavy make-up, but when you look at this toy close up, it’s most definitely him. I actually had a chance to talk to him about this one:
John Malkovich: I’ve always thought of myself as an action figure. No – I’m not sure that those are going out the door like hotcakes, by the way. And I don’t even know – are they still selling those?
NN: They are. As one might expect, the Megan Fox figure sold the fastest.
JM: I would like to think so. Otherwise everything I thought about the world is wrong.
4. Christopher Walken. The real crime is that there aren’t more Walken figures – a 12″ combat doll from The Deer Hunter, perhaps, maybe Bond villain Max Zorin or Batman movie foe Max Shreck, preferably with a speech chip. Instead, we have the Walken dead with a detachable head, courtesy of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. Yes, the teeth are prosthetically pointy, which makes it less than ideal for impersonating other Walken roles – but when your action figure has badass armor, a cool cape, and some heads hacked off with an ax, how can you complain?
3. Judd Nelson. In today’s era of comic-book movies that generally stay true to character, it seems unthinkable that anything like Steel ever got made in the first place. As a standalone action-comedy, it would have been okay dumb fun. As an attempt to cash in on a Superman spin-off character without actually mentioning the character, getting the costume remotely right or taking anything seriously, it didn’t do so well, though it could be argued that it helped accelerate the mercy-killing of Shaquille O’Neal’s acting career. The folks at Kenner, however, thought they smelled a big hit, and went all-out on a line of toys. It didn’t occur to them when they saw that Judd Nelson was the villain opposing Shaq that even the storyline was insane. As a result, though, we got a toy of him. Even with his giant cannon, however, we say O’Neal could rip off his head and miss a free throw with it before you can say “Breakfast Club.”
2. Dennis Hopper. Best known for such state-of-a-generation movies as Easy Rider and Blue Velvet, and often known for playing scary nutjobs, Hopper went through a phase late in his career of picking movie roles his kids could see him in (hence such otherwise inexplicable choices as Meet the Deedles). This resulted in toys on two occasions, though neither line did particularly well, as both would-be blockbusters received critical drubbings. As a humanoid Koopa in Super Mario Bros., he came equipped with a high-tech pop gun that didn’t even fully release its projectile; as Waterworld‘s Deacon he got a thoroughly non-canonical disc launcher and translucent pet fish. These toys may not have been as terrifying as the actor usually was, but you can’t say they didn’t meet his standard of weirdness.
1. Quentin Tarantino. A Comic-Con exclusive, this variant of NECA’s Crazy 88 action figure from Kill Bill not only featured the director’s head, but the ability to sever it – and other limbs – from his body. Like the other Crazy 88 figures (which also included a Gordon Liu variant), he came with red-dyed disappearing ink that could be pumped through holes in his body for “blood-spraying action.” Thus was made the perfect toy for those who both love and hate QT. And yes, the domino mask was removable, just in case anyone wanted to make a custom of his annoying character from Desperado or something.
What quirky actors would you like to see in toy form? Which ones do you own that I missed? Let me know below.