Spotlight On

In 1995 GI Joe returned to the shelves after a brief absence under the guise of GI Joe Extreme. It was around the mid-1990’s when everything turned “extreme” and in, ahem, extreme circumstances things even got “Xtreme”. GI Joe was no different, with their new lineup of toys. The toy line, which was a follow up to the failed Sgt. Savage toy line of 1994, lasted for only a year.

Inferno was one of only two figures of S.K.A.R. (the new enemy, not Cobra) produced. Inferno actually received two different figures, but this one was clearly the better of the pair. He’s a pilot for the Sky Stalker vehicle which also saw release. If he doesn’t look much like a pilot, don’t worry as characterization wasn’t exactly hitting it’s peak with this line. He came equipped with a flame thrower as well.

What made this line so different than any other GI Joe line? It was actually produced by Kenner, not Hasbro. Until Sideshow’s recent Joe efforts, this was pretty much the only official Joes (not counting international variants) made by a company other than Hasbro. In 1991 Hasbro had bought out Kenner, but for the most part the two companies existed as separate entities. Hasbro gave Kenner, Joe, hoping that Kenner could work their magic on it. The most obvious example of this figure being the craftsmanship of Kenner is that these figures featured only articulation at the neck, shoulders and hips.

Scale is also completely different than anything else Joe had ever done. The entire toy industry was moving to a 5 inch format and these guys worked right into about that range. The detailing in the sculpt is actually pretty good and it’s not a bad toy line from Kenner. It just doesn’t much feel like GI Joe.

As with all 1990’s attempts to reinvent Joe, this one failed pretty miserably. The toys weren’t half bad on their own and I was happy to see Joe back on the shelves at the time. They just failed to capture a lot of the fun that was the ARAH GI Joe line. I still have most of these figures, although I’ve always thought Inferno was one of the best. He was a henchman in many battles that year.

So I don’t have the packages for either of these two, so I’m going to do a quick spotlight photo review. Mickey Mouse stars as Bob Cratchit in the Mickey Christmas Carol and Morty Mouse, one of the Mickey’s small friends, is Tiny Tim. Each of these figures were packed on a single card, they were not a double pack.

Mickey looks great as Bob Cratchit and as with the other figures, Playing Mantis put a lot of attention to the details on his outfit. The hat unfortunately just sits on the head and is prone to fall off with even the slightest ant fart.

The scarf is removable and underneath is a nice little suit coat.

The back has several details painted and sculpted.

Mickie however, unlike Minnie, is an important character in the story and a much needed addition to the set.

He comes with a coal bucket, one piece of coal (not pictured), an ink quill that needs to be thawed out and a home sweet home sign. All things that were seen in the film.

I didn’t even know the mouse who played Tiny Tim had a name. I don’t really recall seeing Morty in anything else, but I guess he is a established Disney toon character.

He is pretty adorable as Tiny Tim and it’s an important figure to have for the collection.

He has a slight lean so that you can use his crutch. His hat, unlike everyone else’s, has a groove to fit the ears and it sits on his head pretty good.

Since Morty was smaller than everyone else, they gave him a ton of Tiny Tim accessories. He comes with the little bear he gets at the end, a stool, a barrel, a Christmas tree and two different presents.

Both figures are worth picking up, but can be a bit costly to track down. They make a nice addition to the set, but otherwise they could also be used as decent Mickey Mouse figures. Playing Mantis’ Memory Lane line was really good and it’s a shame these figures came and went so suddenly.

While I’ve always liked Yoda, he’s not always translated well to action figure form. His original figure from Kenner still strikes a chord with me as he’s got a certain charm to him and who wouldn’t like a bright orange snake? However I think perhaps the best overall Yoda figure is the 1995 Kenner version.

Has any Yoda beaten this one? I don’t think so. While I really like my Clone Wars Yoda and think he’s one of the best overall, the head sculpt on this Yoda just has a certain something to it that screams YODA!

He may be just a tad out of scale, but so are many other Yodas as well. Clearly he’s not the worst offender in this catagory. He’s missing the hair on the sides of his head, but it’s forgivable as that often doesn’t look right in plastic.

He’s got one of the better back humps in a Yoda too. Not quite as dramatic as the vintage Kenner version, but pretty close. I don’t think Hasbro has quite figured out the design on Yoda yet. They keep trying different things, but I’ve skipped a lot more Hasbro Yodas than I’ve bought.

The only thing that ever pissed me off about this Yoda was the fact that he lacked as much articulation as the vintage Yoda figure. Kenner didn’t seem to realize that 1995 should have meant Yoda had more or at least as much articulation as his original figure. I guess it just wasn’t in the cards, because they didn’t want to break up his robe sculpt.

Even with that minor quibble aside, this Yoda is more or less plastic perfection. He remains as one of my favorite Yoda figures and retains a prominent position in my toy collection. Here’s to you 1995 Kenner Yoda, enjoy the spotlight.

Through the years, Playmates toys has held the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rights since the beginning. Even though they’ve produced hundreds of figures, some have hit the proverbial cutting room floor. Others, saw drastic changes between the first and final sculpts. Let’s take a look at some of the neatest figures that never saw release, or were changed heavily from the prototype.

First up is Splinter, from the “Warriors of the Forgotten Sewer” line. The name is appropriate, because this entire line was forgotten by Playmates and several of the figures never saw release. Only Rocksteady, Bebop, Leo and Don made it to shelves.

As crazy as Splinter looks, the entire series had this sword and sorcery style to it. There was even a pack-in comic featuring Splinter in this getup. None of this figure ever made it into any other releases, but it definitely shows off some of the creative liberties they were taking with the TMNT over at Playmates.

This early sculpt of Rocksteady, shows a much beefier representation of the character. He definitely would have been an even cooler toy, had he looked like this. Parts of this guy were resculpted to use in the Gatekeeper Rocksteady figure. I always found it interesting that pretty much no two Rocksteady and Bebop figures were alike. Playmates was constantly tinkering with their design.

When the TMNT were on their way back in the early 2000’s, Peter Laird actually had a working concept with WB Kids in which the Turtles were going to look significantly different. Playmates at least got to the planning stage, with this Leonardo. The head sculpt greatly differs from the 2K3 TMNT figures that saw eventual release, but the body is largely the same. The entire figure was originally sculpted for the alternate WB version of the Turtles, though.

Finally, perhaps the coolest of the old prototypes floating around is Casey Jones. As you can see the final product is almost identical to the proto, except for one thing… His alternate unmasked head! This was planned to be a swappable head and would have been one of the earliest figures to use that sort of technology, unheard of for TMNT figures. Another interesting aspect of the unmasked face, is that it appears to be scarred up. Casey was a normal guy in the Mirage universe, but he was never unmasked in the original 1988 cartoon. Perhaps Playmates knew a bit more about what was the cartoon character’s backstory? I suspect the disfigured element may have actually been what led to this extra unmasked head being cut from the final release.

Today we’re doing a little spotlight on a obscure line based on an equally as obscure TV show from the 1990’s. WMAC Masters was a program that ran in syndication featuring martial arts, strange costumes and scripted action. Imagine if Mortal Kombat was pro wrestling, then that’s what WMAC Masters was. Why Bandai decided to market a toy line around these characters is beyond me.

Presumably, someone thought this show was going to be a hit. I suppose the concept wasn’t a terrible idea, with a group of fighters vowing to be the best in the world. We got plenty of gimmicks, like Hakim Alston (shown above) as the MACHINE! He was supposed to be like, part cyborg or something. The illusion was kind of ruined every time he took off his paper mache armor to actually do the martial arts moves.

Of all the figures, the Machine is probably the most visually interesting. His twisting arm action and odd hand placement sort of kill a lot of his momentum, but at least he looks cool. Machine also has ball jointed legs, which gave him a great range of motion for the time.

I also have Herb Perez who looks quite Asian here, but was more Latino than anything. He was known as Olympus, which really doesn’t fit with his Karate motif. Each figure came with a weapon and a piece of the WMAC Masters belt. I suspect the belt element was really probably the coolest reason to collect these figures. See, each week the fighters competed for the belt pieces and the person who had all the parts at the end was the new MASTER… Or something along those lines.

Honestly the show never made much sense. The fighting was pretty badly scripted, think Power Rangers and much like the Rangers, most of the battles were the stars facing off against generic guys in ninja outfits. Sort of like the Rangers’ battle with the “Putties”. The show did have Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon, on it. I guess that was supposed to give the World Martial Arts Council some credibility. She didn’t do any fighting, instead she just wore pantsuits and jabbered on a lot. The lack of any real interesting violence and bad acting, eventually killed any potential the show might have had.

Much like the show, the figures potential was tanked by their action gimmicks. Poor Olympus is supposed to have a Karate kick action and yet, his foot barely gets up to the level of other figure’s knees. He has one mean shin kick! The sculpting and paint work really isn’t bad for the time, but the action features ruin most the playability these figures may have had. The giant levers sticking out of their backs or goofy movements didn’t make these guys interesting.

They are study though, as they’ve been in my collection for years and aren’t too worse for wear. Ultimately the toys and show were doomed. Still they’re fun to look back at in wonder. Check out the commercial below for these figures to see the rest of the series that I didn’t buy.

And if you’re just dying for more Masters content, you can visit, which has more statistics and background information about this show than anyone ever needs to know.