Let’s face it, all action figures are not created equal. There are many that garner that special place in our hearts and become immortal. Han Solo, Snake Eyes, and Spider-Man are just a few that would never die in our childhood adventures. No matter what we could come up with these characters would always find a way to survive. This article isn’t about them. I want to pay tribute to those poor unfortunate souls that were constantly put in front of a firing squad, run over by the Batmobile or beaten to death by mutant turtles. What makes these figures unique is that they were the ones that died every time they came out of the toy box. Until recently you may have had only one of these figures in your collection. Mom and Dad weren’t going to buy six or seven more Stormtroopers. You already had one. You are just as guilty because you wanted someone different as well until you looked at your army and realized you didn’t have one. Today companies like Hasbro sell troop building sets that allow your ranks to swell. Sure most of the figures are slightly different, but they are all Cobra Vipers in that pack allowing you to truly have an army.
The following are 10 action figures that died 1,000 deaths so we could play on.
10. The Battle Android - Star Wars Episode One The Phantom Menace
Relatively recent and the first action figure of its kind for they ushered in the era of the troop building set. The Battle Android was annoying, spoke in an ear-splitting voice and told horrible jokes (supplied by the Commtech Chip). All this lead it to fall under the blade of the Jedi. How could it not considering how many Jedi action figures came out in 1999. It was slaughtered over and over again because all the other villains from that film outside of Darth Maul were beyond lame. Maul certainly wasn’t going to die, despite his actual outcome. The Battle Droid was sliced up and died over and over again.
9. Temple Guard - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Many of you are thinking, when did these figures enter into my childhood? They didn’t. They were ignored during the initial release way back in 1984 and barely released in 2008 when the new Indiana Jones toys came out with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The Thugee Temple Guard is now part of that lost wave of Indiana Jones figures you have to pay out the nose for. Hasbro really dropped the ball by releasing a ton of Mutt figures and skipping over the Temple of Doom line until it was too late. Imagine being the only Thugee in the toy box and having to face Indiana Jones time and time again. He makes the number nine spot because then or now who wouldn’t have loved to put a whole army of them on either end of a giant rope bridge and then cut it.
8. The Borg - Star Trek: The Next Generation
In 1992 Playmates owned the action figure market. Star Trek: The Next Generation was huge and they started to mass produce action figures. The Borg initially were the most frightening villains in the Star Trek Universe. Completely void of any emotion they were unstoppable. That is until they met the clever child and his immortal Jean-Luc Picard. This poor Borg figure was teamed up with a nameless Romulan and a nameless Ferengi making an unlikely trio. Though probably the last to fall he was the first to rise and meet his fate at the end of another phaser blast over and over again.
7. The Parademon - Superpowers Collection
During the final season of the Superfriends (1985- 1986) Darkseid became a recurring villain. After all, you had to have someone that could take on Superman. The DCU animated villains at that point had been done to death and the show needed a new baddie. Darkseid brought along his mindless and nameless minions, the Pardemons, from his home planet of Apokolips. The Parademon was completely bad ass yet always fell first while the Joker and the Penguin lived to fight another day. The Parademon was more than just a foot soldier of Darkseid; he was a true horror on Saturday mornings and something that crept into your head while you slept. Thankfully, there was always a boom tube where a very similar Parademon would shoot out from to attack Dr. Fate and the Flash, all to die once again.
6. The B.A.T. (the Battle Android Trooper) - G.I. Joe
Finally, there was a character on G.I. Joe that could get hurt, besides Duke. The Battle Android Troopers were introduced in the second season of the animated series and were basically cannon fodder. They did save the life of your Cobra Solider, but the B.A.T. usually met a fate worse than any other of your Cobra figures. Ironically enough it got back up and kept going or was quickly repaired by Dr. Mindbender to simply die again.
5. Soldier Ape - Planet of the Apes
In 1974 the Meco Corporation released several Planet of the Apes dolls. This ape foot soldier usually had the Astronaut at the end of the rope until he figured a quick way out of it. The Ape Soldier did it all as Dr. Zaius and General Urko sat back at Ape City chillin’ and maxin’. He was the original Stormtrooper and died just as quickly. Imagine an army of these guys in your backyard as your Astronaut sits hiding in the high grass. Only then would he have known the same fear as Charlton Heston’s Taylor. One Ape Soldier was just simply something to laugh at.
4. The Cylon Centurion - Battlestar Galactica
They made the Stormtroopers look like bowling pins. The Cylons with their perfect silver armor constantly decimated Colonial Warrior after Colonial Warrior. They did it all where Stormtroopers just got shot or wandered around the desert looking for droids. Your singular Cylon Centurion on the other hand constantly met defeat. With each defeat that armor shined a little less and eventually became as dull as the original Battlestar Galactica television series. Though short-lived on television he died a constant death for all time.
3. The Foot Soldier - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Foot Soldier was a mute, mindless follower of the Shredder. Obviously lacking any real personality they often fell prey to the Turtles and hell-bent on revenge children. The Turtles were cool, hip and this guy deserved death after what their boss had put the Turtles through each week on their show. Shredder always puts up a fight but this poor foot soldier literally got his ass kicked from the get-go. Imagine a lifetime of being stabbed or sliced. Poor, poor Foot Soldier.
2. The Stormtrooper - Star Wars
Star Wars had several nameless bad guys in its first year. Not only was there a Stormtrooper but a Sandperson and a Death Star Commander as well. The Stormtrooper takes number two on the list because it takes a certain amount of balls to stand right next to Darth Vader knowing you are going to be the first to fall. The Sandperson was only in on the adventure if it took place on Tatooine. The Death Star Commander was needed to run the Death Star. The Stormtrooper died anywhere and everywhere. Imagine dying for three straight years until the Snowtrooper turned up in the collection. At least he wasn’t dying alone after that.
1. Cobra Soldier - G.I. Joe
Here is a true soldier who faced danger time and time again despite insurmountable odds. The reason why the Cobra Soldier takes the number one spot is that eventually, this action figure died. Hasbro took the action figure to the next level by giving him swivel arm battle grip, multiple points of articulation as well as a rubber band torso. Like a real body if you put enough stress on it eventually it will snap. Did this stop the Cobra Soldier? No, but even after being literally glued back together his death became even more immediate when the first missile strikes were launched. You deserve the number one spot and this one’s for you, COBRA!