I'll never forget the first time I laid my eyes on a pair of Hulk Hands. I knew immediately that they'd go down in history as one of this generation's defining playthings -- a pretty riskless prediction considering just how oddball and unique the things were. Hulk Hands?! Kids went ballistic for 'em (store sellouts were common), and though there's always going to be a considerable adult market for toys, Hulk Hands went far beyond the standard. Us geeks weren't the only ones taking notice: Everyone was. Hulk Hands turned up everywhere. I've never been much of a fan of ToyBiz's offerings, but they really nailed it with that one. When the kids of this decade grow old and out of shape and have only their reflections on past toys to get them through the day, you've got to imagine that Hulk Hands will be among the chiefly discussed. Wearing giant green foam hands that talk is an exercise not soon forgotten.

I'm happy to report that ToyBiz didn't consider their success with Hulk Hands a one-shot triumph more likely to do with everyone's fascination with the Hulk's Hollywood blockbuster than the toy's actual ability to rock. They know they had gold, and they're going to "reimagine" the concept every six months until either people stop buying the toys or their corporate headquarters blows up. Introducing "Thing Feet."


Uh huh...Thing Feet. An early start to the Fantastic Four merchandising blitz, it's lovable Ben Grimm's feet! Even stranger than the Hulk Hands in many ways, Thing makes up for his relative low-level popularity when weighed against the Hulk by one-upping him in an undervalued arena: A lot of people can have fucked up hands, but only the select have feet worth talking about.

Admittedly, I haven't really been keeping up with all of the Fantastic Four hubbub. Of all the superheroes to be revamped for big screen big budget megafeatures in recent years, this one seems a bit risky. I don't think there's going to be much middle ground -- it'll either be way too unintentionally cartoony or the greatest slice of cinema since gray gorillas pounded the brains out of Tim Curry in Congo. The Fantastic Four's collective comic career was one of the few bits of the industry I remained interested in, so I wish the filmmakers all the luck in da hood. As for the Thing...well, he's pretty much the best example of a sympathetic character out there. He's easy to love. Nevermind that he's all bright orange and strong enough to throw cars at people -- those are just backup arguments in a "my favorite character is better" argument. Purely secondary. Everyone roots for Thing. Everyone wants to grab him, tell him it's all okay and make him stop punching mirrors every time he sees them. We love Thing, dammit, and we'd be honored to wear his feet.


Whereas Hulk Hands were made of an entirely too pleasant foam material, Thing Feet are made of soft plastic. Perfectly painted and detailed, a velcro thingy in the back lets the sizes adjust all the way up to men's size 5. That might kill off some interest from the adult crowd, but don't get too worried -- I'm a size 10.5 and still got the things around my shoes without too much fuss. The gimmick here is similar to that of the Hulk Hands -- as you stomp around town in Thing's feet, they'll make all sorts of earthquake stompin' noises thanks to a couple of battery-operated electronic voiceboxes located at the base of the four toes. See what I'm talking about? Four toes? SYMPATHETIC character.

They're big, they're noisy, they're obnoxious. They're everything kids want. Retailing for around eighteen bucks, they're not so ridiculously expensive that the toys must be reserved for birthday/holiday celebrations. If a kid gets an A, cleans the yard or successfully spells "serendipitous," it's a Thing Feet Friday Night for sure. Let's get it on.


Can't really explain the phenomenon, but you certainly feel more powerful while wearing the things. Psychosomatic, I guess, but I didn't attempt any feats of strength to prove the theory wrong, either. Maybe it's true. Maybe everyone who wears Thing Feet really do see their power meters blast past 10. Maybe Thing Feet are a commercially disguised gift from a neutral nation that secretly wants us to win the war. If not, oh well, they're still the best thing on the planet for the next month or so.

And don't pout, it's not a case of there being just one generic sound that pour forth from the feet as you step. No, there are several generic sounds. You'll hear bangs, clangs, even biddlytangs. You will crunch the ground you walk on to a variety of choruses. The velcro straps lurking around the back are kinda lame and make the toys feel more like half of a Halloween costume than something that'll get their creators on Leno, but forgiving that and only viewing from the front, Thing Feet make all who wear them better people.


I wonder how far the trend will go? Will ToyBiz limit the gimmick only to characters about to star in hundred million dollar movies? In a perfect world, what comic book character's body part/accessory would you kill to wear? Are we mere months away from a surge in Petition Online petitions for more toy superhero limbs? It's too bad that most of the non-comic adaptations of Batman make such little use of his utility belt nowadays -- ToyBiz could definitely pull that off. They'd probably stuff the vinyl pockets with bonus stickers, too. :(


If your interest in Thing Feet rests firmly in the notion of realistic portrayals, pretend you didn't see the image above. Even Reed Richards couldn't convince someone that seeing the wearer's real feet improved the toy's overall impact. It doesn't. It just makes you self-conscious while you walk, always wondering who might be lurking behind, prying, spying, waiting to see if you slip up and lift your Thing Feet just high enough to confirm that you don't really have feet like that. The optimist in me says that maybe ToyBiz did this so you could truly empathize with how Thing feels whenever out in public, but the realist says they just weren't willing to spring for toy feet that covered real feet 100%. That's why their stationary is less schmanzy than Hasbro's.


Thing Feet. Just one of the many new Fantastic Four toys that've taken over Aisle 12. A lot of the stuff is really decent, too -- good thing they're getting the promo shit out of their system before the movie debuts, because lawd knows nobody would put so much effort into these toys if it bombs.

I cannot with an honest heart say that the Thing Feet have bested Hulk Hands, but they're at least comparable. Besides, Toy Biz already covered their bases with that little competition, evidenced down below, in Hell. I'm giving them a 9 out of 10, one point deduced because I gave Hulk Hands a 10 and it just wouldn't be fair. Pick 'em up while you still can. According to X-E's main page, Christmas is just around the corner.



HORSERADISH! My hands better than your feet! My hands win that!

Bullarky. I've seen a hundred toy hands. You're just a pollywog in a pond, pal. My feet are the new standard of excellence.

NO. HANDS.

Great counter, Hulk.


Fact is, feet are the new hands. The public's tired of hands. They're tired of pretending that wearing novelty hands is still funny. Everyone's hip to the truth. It was time to move on to new horizons. It was time to move southward....to FEET.


WRONG WRONG WRONG. LOOK at hand! Look how perfect! As conducive to becoming playthings as you are to scaring old ladies.


THAT'S RIGHT THING....I USED WORD "CONDUCIVE!"


That's a real feat, Hulk, and by feat, I mean FEET. But sure, you wanna believe hands are better than feet...I'll concede de-FEET. I'll let ya have this one. Hands are better than feet. There's just one little problem for ya, Hulk man...


I've got hands, too. And mine fucking clobber.


NOT easy being green. NOT EASY AT ALL.

Don't feel so bad, Hulk. After all, you might get toy feet too, someday.

Really?

Yeah. All you have to do is find a movie studio and a director willing to make a sequel to your last movie.

THAT NEVER GONNA HAPPEN. YOU PLAY WITH ME, THING.

WINNER: THING.

-- Matt (3/20/2005)

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