I’ll admit it, part of me is jealous of the kids just discovering the genre now. I’ll never forget what it was like for me as a kid to see all of my favorites for the first time. To watch each Halloween and Friday the 13th entry for the first time, either by convincing my parents to let me rent it or by staying up late to watch them on TV every October. I was fascinated by these characters and I always wanted to see them immortalized in plastic. McFarlane Toys Movie Maniacs line came out around the time I was getting too old for collecting action figures. I was ten or so, but there was no way I was not going to make those toys mine. These were the first figures of Jason and Freddy that I had seen.
But now? Now, it’s insane. There are so many versions of Freddy and Jason out there, it’s impossible to keep up with all of them. You can not only have your pick of which Jason you display on your shelf, it can be any Jason from any film of your choice and even the NES video game. We’ve had Chef Freddy, Power Glove Freddy, Tuxedo Freddy and Super Freddy. The options are limitless.
Having said that, there are still toys based on these characters over the years that have completely taken us by surprise. Some of these items depict scenes or characters we never thought of as toy-worthy, others are characters we just can’t believe were given the plastic treatment for all sorts of reasons.
The Castle Freak is about the last character I would ever think of for an action figure. He’s gross to look at, he’s from a very dark and very uncomfortable movie, and he’s naked. But not only was he available and sold in stores—I remember seeing him on the shelves and being not allowed to take him home—he was actually available in multiple variants including a blue-skinned version and one with an executioner’s mask.
In more recent times, there has been a big push to have repaints of classic characters that match up to the design of their old-school video game counterparts. It was kicked off with the classic NES Jason figure, but quickly spiraled out of control. The Atari Leatherface figure takes the concept about as far as it can go. From the 70’s video game adaptation of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the figure is based on a Leatherface that was just a green blob of a body with a tan head. The repaint, in kind, is a solid green paint job covering the entire body save for the mask, which is tan.
Okay, I’ll admit that I can’t believe this figure exists in the best way possible. I never thought I’d see the day where there were so many Jason figures that we actually got a toy of Roy Burns, the imposter Jason from Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning. As a fan of that oft-maligned entry in the series, I was very happy to see this, happy for fellow New Beginning fans, and happy for Roy too, of course.
A fully poseable action figure making the list for strangeness alone, we have Debbie turning into a cockroach from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. The toy depicts Debbie right in the middle of her transformation, just as the skin has fallen off her arms and insect legs have grown in their place. I know this is the most outlandish death from that movie, but was this scene really that resonant with people? It’s at least cool to see that there are so many figures based on the Nightmare franchise now, but I would have liked to see more of my personal favorite victims and moments follow suit after this one.
This figure seems almost like a joke, considering how much people seem to roll their eyes at this scene. But Freddy’s Dead has its fans who love it for the humor and the outlandishness of moments like this. The thing that really makes the figure stand out as unbelievable, is the face sculpt. Usually, the likenesses of these toys to their film counterparts is dead on, but this particular Freddy figure looks nothing like Robert Englund and instead looks like Popeye with a degenerative ocular disease.
The Chatterer Beast
Hellraiser also had an action figure series with NECA that covered just about every character from the franchise that you could think of—with the notable exception of heroine Kirsty Cotton. It even gave the figure treatment to Cenobites from the straight-to-video entries that were only remembered by the most hardcore fans. The strangest was the Chatterer Beast from Hellraiser: Bloodline, a human being stretched and reformed into the shape of a dog, wearing some of the series’ most obvious fetish gear.
As a fan of Gremlins ever since I was very young, I called bulls**t the first time I ever laid eyes on a Furby, right as that craze began. It was 1999, I was not that old, but I could still tell that I was looking at tie-dyed mogwai with beaks. There was apparently something being settled behind the scenes as well, which led to the creation of the Gizmo Furby, one actually designed to look like the cute protagonist of the Gremlins movies. As the one-time owner of one of these foul things, I can promise that it was not cute, but was goofy-looking and more annoying than I’d previously thought possible.