Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Captain Toy Picks...
The Top Ten Unproduced Action Figures

Date Published: 2017-02-22
Written By: Michael Crawford

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NECA Rocky Horror Picture Show action figures

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Last weekend was Toy Fair, the annual ritual between toy companies, retail buyers, and media. Sadly, I couldn't make it this year, but like you, I drooled over all the new goodies that they have planned for us.

But the truth is, lots and lots of the things we've seen will never make it to market.  Perhaps buyer demand simply won't be there, maybe a company will have financial issues, or a licensee will change their mind. As they say, shit happens. And sometimes when it happens, a figure or line you really wanted ends up in the museum of unproduced toys.

There's plenty out there, but tonight I'm picking my top ten.  These are the ones I personally really, really wanted, and unfortunately no one has ever came along and righted the terrible wrong.

By the way, if you're into this topic - and what toy collector isn't - there's a terrific book being put together by a friend of mine on this very subject. Called "Toys That Time Forgot", there is currently a Kickstarter to get it published. They are two thirds of the way there, and have two weeks to go. Check it out at their Kickstarter page.

On to the list...

10 - Tremors box set, SOTA
SOTA was one of my favorite companies back in the day, producing some great horror figures in their Now Playing series. They used this series to do single figures as well as deluxe boxed sets, like MacReady and the Kennel from The Thing. One of the planned boxed sets was based on the classic film Tremors, a terrific homage to the goofy monster movies of the 50's. The set had Burt blasting one of the Graboids. While the set was never produced, but we did get to see the prototype. BTW, it looks like the Tremors franchise might get a reboot on Amazon, although it's still pre-production at this point. Remember, this is a franchise with 5 movies and a tv show already under it's belt!

Tremors Boxed Set action figures

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9 - Shredder, NECA
NECA has done a lot of great stuff, but regular readers know I really love their take on the comic based Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Way back in 2008 they did the four turtles, and they had plans to add to the line. Shredder was seen at multiple shows, including SDCC. But before he was ever produced, Playmates retook complete control of the license and put an end to that.

Yes, I know that they eventually released a version of him as part of a super limited NYCC exclusive boxed set, which came and went so fast you missed it if you blinked, but he's still on my list.

Photo courtesy of Toy Ark, who have a great article on a variety of unproduced NECA figures.

NECA TMNT Shredder action figure

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8 - Captain Kirk/Gene Roddenberry, Palisades
Out of my top ten in this list, Palisades is responsible for three. The first is this terrific box set of Captain Kirk, in his cool captain's chair, accompanied by Gene Roddenberry. This was a wonderful love note to the fans of the original series, and to Roddenberry himself, but along with a ton of other cool concepts from Palisades, it never saw the light of day.

And I wish I had that chair to go with my Mezco Kirk.

Photo courtesy of Piece of the Action, where you can find a terrific article on this set, with lots of additional photos.

Palisades Captain Kirk/Gene Roddenberry action figures

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7 - Terminator, Palisades
Palisades was responsible for some of my favorite action figure lines: Muppets, Ren and Stimpy, Invader Zim, etc. Their demise left a lot of lines hanging, and just before things went south they announced a number of new licenses for their 4" scale design.  They had already done several waves of Army of Darkness figures, and were expanding to Terminator and Aliens.  I don't think we ever saw any of the Alien prototypes, but we did see at least two waves of potential Terminator 2 figures at SDCC. Ah, what could have been.

Palisades Terminator 2 action figure

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6 - Princess Slug-for-a-butt, EarthWorm Jim, Playmates
I have a special love for animated action figure lines, and Playmates has done a ton over the years.  I bought all of their Earthworm Jim toys, a cartoon that never failed to make me laugh.  They had a very cool wave planned that included the hysterical Princess Slug-For-A-Butt (as well as Professor Monkey-for-a-head), a character that had to be the influence for the Slurm concept on Futurama.  The series made it to the prototype stage, and was even listed in their catalog, but never saw production.

Check out this article on Fistful of Suck for details on the other figures in this cancelled wave.

Earthworm Jim Princess Slug-for-a-butt action figure

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5 - Zorro, Flatt World Figures
Once upon a time, I was part owner of an actual action figure company. Yep, we actually made toys. Well, one anyway - Bela Lugosi as Dracula. The company was Flatt World Figures, and one of these days I promise a historical article all about it. But when the company went belly up, we had a number of prototypes produced that I was really looking forward to, including Rocky Horror Picture Show. But my all time favorite was easily Zorro, a character I've loved since watching the Mark of Zorro with Tyrone Power for the very first time on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I grew up on Guy Williams and the Disney show, and even as a youngster, the parallels between this character and Batman were pretty obvious.

We had plans to produce several versions, including Guy Williams (I got to meet with his son to discuss it at one point, which was a great honor), but the first version was to be Antonio Banderas' Mask of Zorro character.  The movie was fairly recent at the time. Unfortunately, we didn't get that far, and nothing was produced past the prototype. *sigh*

Flatt World Figures Zorro action figure

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4 - Ripping Friends, Playmates
In 1991, John Kricfalusi broke ground with his cartoon Ren & Stimpy, and continued to do so later in the 90's when he started the first 'online only' cartoons. Not known for being the easiest to work with, he parted ways with Nickelodeon and the show in 1992, and his next big project was The Ripping Friends, about four superhero brothers. I thought the show was hilarious, but it only lasted 13 episodes. Before the first one ever aired, Playmates Toys picked up the license for characters, and showed prototypes at Toy Fair.  However, the show didn't take off, and the line was killed.

Playmates Ripping Friends action figure

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3 - Django Unchained, Enterbay
There aren't a lot of sixth scale figures that get announced, get prototyped, get canceled, and I'm saddened. It happens occasionally, but it seems to be far less common than with smaller action figures.

But there was one that broke my heart. As a huge fan of both Tarantino and the film Django Unchained, I was thrilled when Enterbay announced they had the license. NECA was doing a set of 8" figures as well, and I almost pre-ordered them...but the Enterbay announcement killed my interest in anything else. A movie I loved? A western theme? All in sixth scale? That's the perfect trifecta.

Sadly, it was not to be. NECA got their figures out first, but before many of them even hit retailers the complaints from those concerned about the themes of slavery and how 'toys' might be inappropriate started rolling in. The license was pulled, and the few NECA figures that made it out now command big bucks. The true beauties from Enterbay were dead in the water.

Of course, that means I'm *really* excited about the Hateful Eight figures from Asmus now...

Enterbay Django Unchained action figures

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2 - Sesame Street, Palisades
One of the other lines left hanging by the end of Palisades was Sesame Street. After the amazing job they did with the Muppets - one of the greatest action figure lines of all time - fans were truly excited to see what they'd do with the Sesame Street brand.  We did get a Super Grover, one of their show exclusives who came out before the first regular series. But that was it, and other issues at the company prevented them from ever moving forward with the planned line.

Photo courtesy of

Sesame Street action figures Palisades

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1 - Rabbi Krustofsky, World of Springfield, Playmates
You knew I'd have something from the World of Springfield on this line, if you know anything about me at all. There was plenty to choose from of course, from several different play sets to the most requested fan favorite, Maude Flanders.  But I went with Krusty's dad because we had him...almost.  They prototyped him, showed him off at Toy Fair, and then...nothing. He was to be part of the second 'celebrity' series figures for WoS, and unlike the NECA Celebrity Series, these were characters voiced by celebrities, not playing themselves. This wave was supposed to have three figures - Lionel Hutz, Brad Goodman, and Rabbi Krustofsky. Rumors at the time said Jackie Mason had an issue with the accessories being disrespectful to his religion, although doing the character on the show didn't seem to bother him.  More likely it was merely an issue of money. In any event, the figure was cancelled, and I was deeply disappointed.

Simpsons Rabbi Krustofsky action figure

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I'm not really surprised that Palisades figures so predominately on the list.  There have been a lot of companies to come and go, but few have produced both the kind of quality and the sort of licenses that we saw from them.  Their end, while not exactly abrupt, did leave a lot of dangling desires out there, and I bet you have a few more not on my list.

I am a little surprised that only one sixth scale loss made it to my list. I think that's because my most wanted figures in this scale are generally ones that never get picked up at all, like Blade Runner.  When a license is available, it seems to eventually get made. When one company cancels a property, someone else picks it up.

Remember - if you enjoyed this article, check out the Kickstarter campaign for "Toys That Time Forgot", a terrific art/history book on this very same subject. To get it published they need to reach their goal, and are depending on collectors like you who are into this subject.

If you're enjoying this top ten concept of Captain Toy Picks or have a suggestion for a future list, drop me a line and let me know! I've added a section below with links to all the past Captain Toy Picks... features:

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Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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