Action figures are a crazy commodity when it comes to television programs. Shows such as Transformers, G.I. Joe and He-Man embraced their action figure counterparts while wrapping their mythos in both mediums. Obviously, those are the big three. However, not all action figures and their TV shows are created equally. There have been some incredible television series’ that have produced action figures. There have also been some real turds that put the cart before the horse and failed miserably. AFJ has reached way back through the channels and found the "8 Crappiest TV Toys of All Time".
This short-lived series (13 episodes from 1983-1984) was a carbon copy of TRON for the small screen. Due to obvious budget constraints, Automan battled crime in the real world and not a computer generated one. This was, by far, one of television’s lowest moments; it even had a character named Cursor who communicated in bleeps that only Automan could understand. Think TRON meets Street Hawk with R2-D2 thrown in there for fun. It goes without saying they should have concentrated on the story more than making a toy line.
In no way am I knocking The A-Team, heaven forbid. It is one of the greatest TV shows to come out of the eighties. Sadly, it does have some of the worst action figures of all time. The 3.75” figures had only heads that matched their real-life counterparts. Their bodies were a bland mixture of colored jumpsuits. The 6” line was a tad better, but action figures based on The A-Team should not look like weakling He-Man figures. Galoob tried and did one massive fail. I’ll give them a little credit; their vehicles were a perfect match for our G.I. Joes.
I loved ALF has much as the next pre-teen, but after a while, the stories did get pretty redundant. Thankfully, the Saturday morning cartoon came along and shed some light on the character’s backstory (I’m kidding if the sarcasm isn’t being properly conveyed). This 18” doll was produced by Coleco and is all that remains of that once great being named Gordon Shumway.
5. The Ghostbusters
Raise your hand if you were confused by this version of the Ghostbusters. Eddie, Jake, and their pet gorilla, Tracy, would track down and eliminate ghosts in this remake of a live action show from the seventies. Obviously, Filmation was cashing in on the “real” Ghostbusters (1984) craze. However, this show was just too out there even for kids. If you ever find a “real” Ghostbusters fan, ask him why the monkey was not in the movie. They get rabid with rage.
Lasting only 13 episodes, the producers of Blackstar (1981) clearly got the horse before the cart. This was Filmation’s first attempt at what would later become He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Astronaut John Blackstar's shuttle crashes on the planet Sagar. Blackstar is rescued by the Trobbits and joins them in their struggle against a bad guy named the Overlord. It sounds great, looks like He-Man, and maybe it could have survived. Perhaps it had something to do with the toys, which were terrible. Hard bodies, squishy heads, and hardly any points of articulation really don’t make for a fun time. If you missed out on figures, just look for them today in a dollar store. There are still plenty of knocks off Blackstars floating around in the world.
3. Saved by the bell
There were six Saved by the Bell dolls made of the main characters. Each came with a yearbook and rubber stamp that had the actors’ autograph. Sadly, Tiger Toys never made dolls of Miss Bliss, Mr. Belding or Stacey Carosi. What we got instead enables us to create our own awkward moment. Jessie Spano can now invite the gang out to Vegas and have them see her be a professional dancer. Boy, will they be so excited!
M*A*S*H, without a doubt, is one of the greatest TV shows of all time. It is the perfect mix of comedy and drama. In 1982, a M*A*S*H frenzy exploded with board games, toys, and most importantly action figures. The entire line consisted of Hawkeye, B.J., Col. Potter, Margaret (here called "Hot Lips"), Winchester, Klinger (with a drag variant), and Father Mulcahy. For kids, this was obviously a terrible idea as the show dealt with death on a weekly basis. When and if you did play with these figures, where would your stories go? Hawkeye starts writing a letter home and B.J. walks in because he misses his daughter Erin. Now run with it. In hindsight, the vehicles and playsets were great for G.I. Joe. Doc would now have a slew of doctors to work worth and plenty of vehicles to transport the Joes back from the front.
1. Family Matters
Jaleel White must sleep on a huge stack of money every night surrounded by beautiful women. Why? Because at one time this country had Urkel fever. Much like the Bartman epidemic, we couldn’t escape it. This 18” doll/ action figure now haunts sites such as eBay and Amazon for the fan that just discovered Family Matters (currently on HULU). Beware its powers as it does have a pull string and sounds exactly like Steve Urkel.