Blast from the Past - Ren & Stimpy!
Posted 07/03/01

Almost 9 years ago, Mattel released a set of figures for one of the most unique cartoons ever produced - Ren and Stimpy.  When this show was first on the air, and John Kricfalusi was still in charge, it was the most edgy and unusual show on television.  What made it unique was that it was ostensibly for children - but was written for a much older audience. 

The toy line reflected the bizarre nature of the show, and while the sculpting wasn't up to the standards of today, it remains one of my favorite lines for it's pure weirdness.

There were six main figures in the line, with two additional Suncoast exclusives produced at the tail end.  The six main figures were paired together, although they were all sold carded individually.

My two favorites were from the episode Space Madness.  This was Commander Ren Hoek, and Cadet Stimpy.  The second set was based on the In the Army episode, and included Army Ren Hoek and Boot Camp Stimpy.  The final set were intended to portray the characters with their normal look, and were called Slap Happy Ren Hoek and Bump-a-rific Stimpy.

The two Suncoast exclusives were Bathtub Ren, and Gritty Kitty Stimpy, and were slightly more expensive than the standard figures.  Suncoast also offered a very rare boxed set of all the figures.

The packaging for this line was extremely attractive.  It had specific graphics for each character and from each episode that the two corresponding characters were based on.  The back of the package showed the rest of the line, along with some information about the show.  The card fronts were brightly colored and well designed.

Each of the eight figures had some sort of action feature.  These features tended to be very much as you'd expect if you were a regular watcher of the show.

By pushing up on the legs of Commander Hoek, you caused his head to drop forward, appearing to pass out.  Cadet Stimpy on the other hand loses his head - literally.  His head operates as a firing projectile.

The Army figures also have bizarre features.  By pulling down on the tail of Ren, you cause his eyes to bulge out, jaw drop and beanie to lift up off his head.  Pull up on Boot Camp Stimpy's head, and you're treated to him coughing up several small items, such as a sock, furball, etc.

The standard figures are perhaps the most disturbing.  Slap Happy Ren has an action feature that allows him to bitch slap Stimpy, as he so often did in the show.  And to complete this S&M pair, Bump-a-riffic Stimpy collapsed on himself like an accordion when hit on top of the head.  Hours of violent fun!

The line never took off, and could be had pretty easily at most Kaybee stores on clearance.  As the line wound down, Suncoast carried the final two figures as exclusives.  Bath Tub Ren and Gritty Kitty Stimpy were the most disgusting of the set, and the most expensive, costing around ten bucks each even back then.

Gritty Kitty Stimpy is perched on top of his litter box, armed with a fly swatter.  As you wheel him along the floor, he spins, and the two flies perched above his head swing around.  And yes, that's a pile of kitty litter on top of his head.

But my single favorite of the entire line is Bath Tub Ren.  Fill the bath tub with water, and press on the red 'motor' on the back.  Bubbles will rise from the water, and Ren has just that perfect look on his face.  You know what those bubbles really are...

Most of the figures can still be had relatively easily, however the Space Madness figures and the Suncoast Exclusives can run $30 or more mint on card.  The exclusive pack of all the figures is far harder to find, and only shows up on a rare occasion.

Ren and Stimpy lost it's flavor once Nickelodeon turned it into a true kid's cartoon, but these toys remind me of those first couple seasons when the battles were raging between the creators and the network, and we were still getting some truly great cartoons.

By the way, if you're a big fan of the early Ren and Stimpy shows, or Spumco and John Kricfalusi in general, you'll be interested in the new show they are putting together for Fox Kids called the Ripping Friends.  A super hero story, it should prove to be interesting!

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