As action figures have become more detailed, toy fans have been treated to some amazing-looking figures over the years. But not that long ago, when sculpting techniques were less advanced, toy likenesses could range from the mediocre to the terrifying. Here are 11 figures who look less like they're ready for action and more like they're in desperate need of the restroom.
11) Man-E-Faces, Masters of the Universe
Man-E-Faces was actually a pretty cool figure in the Masters of the Universe toy line. By pressing a button on his head, the quasi-robot-knight-dude could switch between one of three different faces (that's not really that many, but more than most). Unfortunately, the sculpting techniques of the 1980s meant all three basically left poor Man-E-Faces looking in various states of a really bad diarrhoea attack.
10) Every Ninja Turtle in Classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Image source: TMNTtoys
You have to hand it to the original 1988 TMNT toys. They actually did a pretty remarkable job of capturing the visual aesthetic of Kevin Eastman Peter Laird original comic series, rather than the then-new animated show. Unfortunately, that meant you got versions of Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael that were grimacing in anger — but instead of looking mean and ready for battle, they just look like they're in constipated agony. The fact that every variant of the Ninja Turtles used these head sculpts meant that as a kid, you had a lot of Turtles with bowel problems within their half-shells.
9) C-3PO Tape Dispenser, Star Wars
OK, it's cheating a bit to say that this is a figure per se, but you can't make a list about inappropriate looking merchandise and not include this tape dispenser, the poster child for Star Wars excess during the '80s. Made by Japanese company Sigma, the ceramic model sees 3PO caught in a moment of distress... with a roll of tape between his legs that actually kind of looks like it's a plus-sized toilet roll. Inappropriate tape placing aside, it's the droid's weird look on his face that sent this into the annals of internet infamy.
8) Wonder Woman, Justice League: The New Frontier
Once again, this is a figure that is actually otherwise an excellent sculpt — it captures Wonder Woman as she appears in The New Frontier, Darwyn Cooke's homage to classic silver age comics, brilliantly, and unlike many Wonder Woman figures, it gives Diana a thick, muscular warrior's body. Sadly, it's let down by an alternate face that is meant to depict the Amazonian mid-battle-cry, but instead depicts her far more compromising (and bizarre) position.
7) Cobra Commander, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra
Rise of Cobra's toyline was a pale shadow of the excellent G.I. Joe toyline, but let's be fair, it didn't have particularly great source material to work with. This much is very much plain when it comes to the movie's bizarre decision to not use Cobra Commander's classic design, and instead turn him into a shriveled prune of a creature. A creature who, coincidentally, looked badly in need of some prunes... or some form of laxative.
6) Clara Oswald, Doctor Who
When it returned in 2005, Doctor Who was accompanied by a line of 15cm action figures of the show's heroes and monsters. But the rise of production costs saw the line reduce in size and scope in 2013, as the figures shrunk down to the more traditional 10cm scale. The first wave of smaller figures also featured the toy debut of Jenna Coleman's companion, Clara... but while most of the toys in the line weren't great, she definitely got off the worst. That thick neck is bad, but it's the look of her apparently having just dealt the world's smelliest fart that kills it.
5) The Balrog, Lord of the Rings
Image source: Collect Tolkein
Before Toy Biz capitalised on the release of the Lord of the Rings movies with their incredible 15cm toy line, Toy Vault actually released some of the first ever toys based on the Tolkein classic. The line was actually surprisingly varied, covering many of the heroes and villains of the books with all new imaginings, before the likes of Elijah Wood and Ian McKellen were burned into people's minds. The Balrog was a toy that Toy Biz never depicted in their range, but Toy Vault's version — released in normal and "shadow" variants — had a face that definitely looked like it could expel burning embers from either end of the Balrog's body.
4) Ultimate Wolverine, Marvel Legends
Image source: MarvelLegends.net
Toy Biz likewise handled the Marvel action figures until Hasbro took over in the early '00s. One of their earliest figures depicted Wolverine in his "Ultimate" comic universe appearance, but it had this laughably awful head-sculpt that. This is a Wolverine who is the best he is at what he does, and what he does rendered bathrooms uninhabitable for hours afterwards.
3) "Slime Fightin'" Agent Kay, Men in Black
Galoob's Men in Black toy line was a complete disaster. Bad or completely non-existent likenesses of the actors aside, most of the figures were pre-posed in "action" running poses, that even if you utilised the limited articulation they had, you could never move them out of if you wanted them to stand up. "Slime Fightin'" Agent Kay, however, was posed squatting and covered in green-ish slime, which to many children, just made him look like he was getting ready to go right in his slacks. He'll definitely need a mind wipe after that.
2) Luke Skywalker (Throne Room Duel), Star Wars
Image source: Rebel Scum
Luke's moment of rage in the duel with his father during Return of the Jedi's climax is one of the most poignant moments in the Star Wars saga. Mark Hamill displays the young Jedi's anger and strength in such a palpable manner, it's no surprise that the Hasbro toys — which had basically already rendered every other moment and character from the movies, comics, books, and games in plastic already — would want to depict such a stunning, vital moment. Too bad that capturing it in plastic just makes this Luke figure look like he's gritting his teeth in hopes of expelling a bowel movement the size of the Death Star.
1) Moss Man, Masters of the Universe
Image source: He-man.org
Oh, Moss-Man. You unfortunate, unfortunate figure. On-paper, the idea of replicating Moss-Man's mossy form with fuzzy material was great. In reality, he just felt like that other side of velcro that doesn't actually stick to anything. Pair this with a face that exudes a mixture of confusion, anger, and the desperate, desperate desire to poop somewhere, perhaps even anywhere, and it's a match made in unfortunate-looking-toy heaven. It's hard to get this classic figure any more, but the Comic-Con Chia version kept the hilarious face, and replaced the body moss with actual foliage!