Written/Created by: Matt
Originally posted on 3.10.01.

Musings:
This one is old and not particularly well-written, but The Inhumanoids franchise as a whole represents exactly what this site's all about. You might notice some taglines on the page headers of X-E that mention 'pop culture,' but I'm personally turned off by the term when it comes to this kind of stuff. I don't think I'm writing about pop culture, and in all honesty, have little interest in pop culture. I'm just writing about what I like, and if there is an emphasis, it's on bringing people info on things they HAVEN'T heard of, or totally forgot. X-E is no flash-panned concept; I've been doing this long before companies decided it was time to bring everything back.

Inhumanoids represents what the site's really about. My favorite action figure ever, Tendril, came from this series. This review is of the cartoon, though. It seemed pretty interesting at the time, but I've yet to seek out many other episodes. Oh well. A lot of people e-mail me about this one, not knowing that I've ever written about it. I have. Here it is. Enjoy.
More Inhumanoids
Now that you've read about the cartoon, check out this article to learn about the toys.

Now, Before we begin, a little background on this post: awhile back I managed to get my hands on the 90-minute pilot to the show. Obviously, I had intended to review it immediately. As fate would have it, Father Time has greatly sweetened my memory on this one, because its taken this long just to sit through the 90 minutes. Why? Well, take a look at the three biggest reasons to avoid watching this tape:

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The Monsters: Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the villains, especially when they turn out to be 50' tall creatures from the center of the Earth with the sole intentions to maim, kill, and turn the planet into a giant volcano. Up above are your major players -the leader, Metlar...his faithful subordinate, D-Compose, and everyone's favorite giant plant, Tendril. They're pretty cool, but that's not where the problem lies. The fact is, they generally gave each monster a voice that sounds like a really painful combination of Cobra Commander and Donald Duck. Worst part? 66.6% of the monsters spend 77.7% of the 88.8 minutes just screaming. Picture trying to sit through a movie where the main objective throughout the entire thing is for people to shoot monsters in the head. Now imagine how much worse things would be if everytime they hit their targets, you were treated to a full 45 seconds of the most annoying sound ever recorded. Its hell.

On the plus side, whomever crafted this fine work of art decided that not only should giant devils from the 12th century stuck in Earth's core know how to speak English, but they should also speak it better than most college professors.


The Animation: ...sucks. I've watched a ton of cartoons, obviously, and have read countless reviews. One of the big points of interest in these reviews has been the quality of the animation. Now, I have never, ever cared about animation quality in any cartoon I've ever seen...until I watched Inhumanoids. Its just brutal. You have to understand, the predominance of the people shown on screen are all gigantic in size - you'd think this would clue the animators in that they might want to pay attention how many times the size of the heads change in a given scene, but no such luck.

What we get instead is what from afar might seem like workable animation, but in reality was drawn on the fly by a monkey partially trained in the arts, who was given this job solely for the amusement of his superiors who got to watch him try to animate Meltar's random bouts of picking up puddles of lava and eating them. The superiors got to watch a monkey do that, so they love the show. Us, well, we didn't have the same convictions, and when you've got to sit through a full hour and a half of cartoon crap, it tends to get on your nerves.


Ridiculous Allies: I'm all for the strange and usual, but jeez, acid from last decade must've been much better than it is nowadays. At the ground level, our heroes are four humans in colorful robot suits, and our villains are three poorly-drawn monsters from underground. That's safely established. But since four humans aren't gonna beat three giant monsters, they need some special allies. Which they get, in rare form: talking trees who slap each other five, and a buncha rock people called the 'Granites'. Oh yeah, there's also this dude who splits into two and controls magnetic polarities. And oh yeah, there's also, for no readily available reason, a horde of cowboy statues that come to life and attack everyone. This is what we in the know like to refer to as 'overbooking'. Its hard enough to keep track of what's going on in the battles when the animation sucks so bad, but when you're watching humans try to fend of cowboy statues with the help of trees while a giant plant screams in the background, its reason to curse the day you gave up on the simplicity of The Jetsons.

This isn't to say the show's all bad. This 90-minute pilot was to do nothing more than help sell toys - given those circumstances, a lot of thought went into the storyline. The odd thing is, everything seems to be wrapped up quite nicely by the end of the show, and I know I remember a regular cartoon being shown after this...so not only is this show confusing and poorly-drawn, it ultimately has no bearing whatsoever on Inhumanoids continuity, something that I can't believe actually exists. Anyways, as a general rule, if you hate this show, don't shoot the messenger while I'm reviewing it. Think of it this way - my condensed review will only eat up a few minutes of your life. I actually had to sit through the thing. You're already in the lead, so let's get down to bidness...


Because of all the crap that goes on, I've already forgotten everyone's names. Going by the 'close enough, who gives a flying fuck?' rule, let's call the woman you see above 'Sandy', named after the dolphin from Jaws III, who turned out to be, by far, the best actor in the entire movie. But I digress. Sandy's holding a little press conference to show off the greatest archaeological find ever - a huge weird dinosaur encased in amber!

While she's on stage, she gives the longest round of introductions I've ever heard, which was a pretty moot and irrevelent procedure, since I'd bet by this point all attention was focused on 'HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THAT THING?!' rather than a group of scientists sitting in chairs wearing boring blue suits. It doesn't really matter what anyone gawks at, since the action kicks off right from the start...


With zero warning, and I mean that, Tendril walks across a bridge and frees D-Compose from the amber. To the untrained eye, all this was a little confusing. Sandy's talking on the stage, and literally 20 seconds later, the whole planet's in an uproar with giant monsters dancing on top of cars. I think this is where my interest headed for the floor the first six times I tried to watch it. Fortunately, things do start to make sense by the time they hit the 60 minute mark.


Meet the Earth Corps, a group of government-funded scientists and the like who've crafted special, resistant suits and mega-vehicles just in case a situation would arise where people who could handle 50' creatures should arise. Always be prepared, you know. The great thing about this cartoon was that it was, at times, very scientifically and 'smartly' written. So when I was a kid, I considered this positively high-brow. Now that I've had the ungodly chance to review it once more, its absolutely ridiculous. Here's a 'for instance': the Corps are getting their funding from the government, right? Well, as fate would have it, as soon as these monsters arrive, their funding is cut off. Now let me get this straight. You were giving these guys millions of dollars for no apparent reason, and now that their sinister plans might save the planet, you're cutting them off?

What's more? One of the Earth Corps guys is very clearly voiced by the same guy who did Duke from GI Joe, so I sat through the whole movie waiting for Serpentor to throw snakes at him. And what's more than that? 75% of the monsters are all voiced by Chris Latta - who did Starscream and Cobra Commander. Remember how awful it sounded when those guys would scream? Well, picture that magnified 36 times over and coming from giant globs of who-knows-what from the screen, and you've got the general modus operandi of The Inhumanoids.


One of the good guys decides that the secret of these giant monsters lies safely in the forest, and to a certain degree, he's right. But its not the monsters who reside there, its a bunch of trees called the Redwoods who come alive and mutter like idiots about how humans like to steal things. They serve a purpose though, for they relay the secret origins of the Inhumanoids: back in the day, the tree people and the rock people imprisoned them underground because they were evil. Now that D-Compose and Tendril are free, the trees are willing to bet that they're going to try to free their master and the worst monster of all - Metlar. Looks like business is about to pick up, huh?

At this point, I should mention, the trees are in no way fans of the humans. Racists.


Because no show should be without its evil fat guy with an eye-patch, we get Blackthorne. He's relatively unimportant to the grand scheme of things, but his plan is to kill off the Earth Corps, and take the Inhumanoids in under his control. He's also Sandy's evil brother, because this show is just one gigantic small world of underground fun. For future reference, when a guy who looks like the Earth Corps but is wearing a black suit instead, that's Fat Blackthorne. Sandy doesn't appreciate the fact that the guy just admitted to unleashing horrible monsters on the Earth, so she tells him off and goes to join the good guys.

Meanwhile, the Earth Corps realize that there's only one place those giant monsters can be: underground. Now, I don't mean underground like the Turtles were underground. I don't even mean underground like Moby was underground a few years ago. I mean, they're SO underground, they're magma! Remember, cartoons don't have to abide by the very stable and necessary laws of life, so the Earth Corps are able to rope down 1,500 miles of Earth in about, oh, two and a half minutes.


It doesn't take long for them to catch up to the monsters. First, meet D-Compose - I'd guess he's second in command of the three giant monsters. Of all of them, he's got the most annoying, penetrating voice by far. I'm not so sure what he's actually supposed to be, but suffice to say, he's a rotting, rotten pile of shit. An interesting note: whereas most of the giant monsters just step on you, D-Compose likes to hold people hostage in his chestcage. To each his own, I guess. The guy also has a far stranger and much more entertaining power - more on that later.

Elsewhere, Tendril fights off the latest bunch of heroes - the Granites! Ooooh, how I used to love the Granites. We'll get to that in a bit, but let me just say that these guys had one of the coolest actions figures I've ever seen. But just because I cream for their toy representations doesn't mean they're an essential part of a good breakfast: I can't believe that with all the possibilities for special allies, the Earth Corps get a bunch of rock men who continually prove that they can't stop the Inhumanoids. They just stand there and get knocked over in every battle, I don't understand why they're here to begin with. Sex and rocks sell, I guess.

The first battle was short lived, mainly because there's still about 60 minutes left to fill. And believe me, nobody is more thankful for that than yours truly, because this is the true animated magnum opus and I'm just elated and honored that I have had the distinct privildge of sitting through it, giving me one of my only true tastes of Hell on earth and making me into a better, God-fearing person so I can avoid going through this again when the cigarettes and habit of drinking olive juice finally do me in. Moving on...


Well, the rock people and the regular people couldn't get the job done, so the Earth Corps go back to the trees to enlist their help. But that's not the only new ally for the good guys! Sandy arrives on the scene to pay off their mounting taxi bills, and announces that she'll fund the Earth Corps so long as they let her be a member of the team. They're not too keen on the idea, but they don't have much choice since they need lots and lots and lots of money if they want to beat Metlar. This won't be a cheap victory.

Okay, before moving on, I think I should tell you about something I neglected to mention earlier. Yeah, the monsters are trying to free this Metlar dude from his imprisonment deep in the Earth's core. What I forgot to tell you was how he's being kept there. See, there's this guy, and well, he has the power to split into an argumentive twosome who use magnetic powers to keep Metlar from moving. I'm pretty sure this cartoon is existing under the standard Calvinball rules. By the time we're finished, it'll be revealed that the entire planet is just a giant monster who lets these heroic trees run around undisturbed because they eat the parasites off his body. By the way, I'm absolutely hammered.


And there's the Man of the Hour himself, the mighty Metlar, prince of the underworld and diamond carnival jack of the glowing devil horns from Hell. Their descriptions, not mine. This whole scene was such a clusterfuck of god knows what that it'd be easier to recite the entire play-by-play of every Superbowl that occured in the 1970s than to tell you what went on in the 15 seconds covered above. Metlar breaks free of his magnetic field, and start kickin' ass as he only knows how, and the most interesting, intriguing bit of all of this? Metlar and the monsters, who haven't seen daylight or real life since the 12th century, pick up on recent slang terms pretty fucking fast. The kings of destruction and improvisation, right here before our very eyes. But since Metlar's getting all the attention, D-Compose gets jealous and decides to debut his special, secret mega-power...


We've seen villains who can shoot laser beams from their fingertips, lift cars over their head, and blow up entire planets. But I think this is the first time we've met a bad guy who turns his adversaries into 15' tall horned, skeletal demons by pinching their cheek. Its surreal. I'm telling you, the people responsible for making this show just sat around a table with fly-by-night animators randomly announcing scenes they'd like to see formulated in between shots of tequila. I mean, this shit just comes from nowhere. Oh, the big monster with the cage on his chest just picked up a damsel in distress. Will he eat her? NO! He'll rub her sexy cheekbone and turn her into his willing, monstrous slave of terror! And because his powers are so great, even Sandy's clothes manage to transform into far-more-adequate evil brown tattered rags. After seeing that, I'm starting to question how Tendril landed his position as ruler - its obvious that D-Compose is ill wit da skillz.


I'm obviously just skipping around for the hell of it now, because really, following it in direct minute-to-minute sequence won't help any of it make sense. To bring you up to speed, we're rapidly approaching The Final Battle, where old cliches must become born-again truths and the good guys have to laugh at someone's really bad joke as the screen fades out. I can guarantee you that both are happening, its just a matter of when. And god, I hope its soon.

Anyway, the Granites have some deep personal conflict, trying to decide between striving for peace or fighting the war. Its actually somewhat funny to watch a big pile of rocks going through traumautic internal struggles like this, but like I said, they're the good guys: you know they're gonna fight for the right. On the flipside, fighting's not going to be easy, because they've got to somehow survive fighting their good friend Sandy without actually killing her. The secret? If they can expose her to sunlight, she'll revert back to her human form.

And that, my friends, is what we call a cop out. Yes, D-Compose has amazing powers. Pinch cheek, new friend. But when the whole deal is averted by shining a flashlight in someone's general direction, then I'm not so sure the luster stays intact. So Sorry D, you've just lost your malevolent magic, but we're all still pretty impressed with that amazing cage on your chest. 5 bonus points for originality.


JESUS Christmas. Okay, Sandy recovers from her ailments, but that's not the real story here: out of nowhere, a bunch of statues come to live, start beating on the good guys, but instead decide to fight each other in a classic reinactment of the Civil War! Tequila, I'm telling you, they had to be drinking tequila. Seriously, I was giving this show way more attention than it deserved, and I still can't for the life of me figure out how this came about. No wonder the toys didn't sell that well - on sheer principle alone, kids should've crossed these figures off their Christmas lists as punishment for having to sit through this drug-addled pile of tree statue rock madness. From now on, the only thing I'm reviewing are those VHS virtual aquarium tapes - I can't stand trying to make sense of this crap anymore.

So much so, in fact, that I'm gonna skip straight till the end.


Irony smashes its ever-present fist down on the Earth's crust one more time - all the monsters are trapped in the same fashion they were for centuries: the magnet guys lock up Metlar...D-Compose is enshrouded in solid amber, and Tendril gets thrown into a prison cell. Sorry, none of 'em die. The Earth Corps celebrate their victory, and are now once again in good standing with the government and the public at large - who apparently had no idea that any of this was going on. I'd wager to say that, hypothetically, if three giant alien monsters who could talk arrived on the planet with bad intentions, we'd send out more than 4 or 5 people to handle the problem. I understand, they were wearing cool suits, but at this point, the only entertainment I can find in Inhumanoids is picking out every single thing wrong with it.

Overall: I'm actually only being 80% serious here, its not that terrible. My problem is I've been heralding how cool Inhumanoids was for months, and the final result is one of the most drawn-out and annoying things put on television since that Brady Christmas special where Mike gets stuck in a cave. If you've never seen it and the opportunity defies logic by presenting itself, I guess its worth checking out. Actually, if I remember the regular 30-minute series for the show correctly, things got a lot better than this. Its still available by some retailers, but if you're really itching to get your hands on it, try out eBay or Half.Com.



Now that that's over, I can move on to the second part of this article, which luckily is the part I like so I'm not too concerned over the fact that I've written the Great Americal Novel about one of the most boring cartoons I've seen. Its the toys!

Where the cartoon fail, the toys did NOT. I remember most toy-related crap pretty vividly, as most readers of this site should know by now. Actually, sometimes I'm convinced I make up memories as I go just to make my life seem more interesting, but if that was true, I'd probably conjure up better lies than stuff about Inhumanoids toys from 1986. I've got to learn to fabricate about money and my dick size, things that might actually impress someone. You don't sit down at a bar and demand an immediate buyback just because you know who Tendril is. Remember that kiddos, its an important lesson. Unfortunately, its got nothing to do with Inhumanoids toys, so let's move on.

The toys were some of the best, most unique I've ever come across, and to date there's not been a single thing like them. The detailing was massive, and they kept the whole line in scale to each other, meaning that while the good guy figures were about 8-9" tall, the monsters stood at almost 20" and weighed as much as a few bricks. First, here's the Earth Corps figures...


One of my birthdays, not sure which, rolled around right after the line come out in the stores. I had no idea what the show was about, but these toys were so huge and 'new', every kid wanted 'em. Unfortunately, my birthday still falls in-season with the post-Christmas dryout, so landing any of the good stuff was a tough deal. I got (and subsequently) broke my Tendril figure, but that was about it for me. Birthday comes and goes, I get the usual bounty, but no Inhumanoids. Then, about a week after I turned however old, my godmother comes for a visit and brings my a Macy's box with a bow on it - obviously a token gesture of a birthday present made from some godforsaken sweater someone in her family didn't want, right? Well, that's what I thought - and being a mean little bastard, I even protested opening the thing. Eventually, I was forced to do so, and was shocked to see that I was tricked! Godmother Marie had got me all the Earth Corps figures! I'm not sure what this ultimately meant in the grand scheme of things, but for at least a few days back in 1986, this little story here made me a happy little freak. The Earth Corps figure all had removable helmets (which revealed heads laughable small in size to the suits), as well as a different, unique hand-weapon to match their abilities on the cartoon. Aside from not having a truly popular show to work from, these guys didn't corner the toy market because their original retail price was a bit too high for our tastes back in the day. Still, very cool figures.


The monsters were appropriately sized, actually so damn big that every kid wanted them based on the sheer size factor. Remember one of the cardinal rules from childhood: if you toy is big and heavy enough to kill someone if you throw it at their face, then you've automatically got yourself a winner. That's why everyone loved playing with those bulky Fisher Price car gas stations, they were a nice thing to have on reserve in case you ever needed to teach someone a lesson. While they were popular in theory, they were facing an impossible mission: the parent-kid toy connection isn't the same today as it was in years past - we couldn't get toys this big just for the hell of it. So they were stuck on the shelf of junk everyone wanted, but no one would actually buy. The same could be said for those erotic Playboy fantasy DVDs they stick out in the middle of Best Buys...I mean sure, 96% of the people who pass it would love to buy it, but who's really gonna go up to some 80-yr-old cashier girl with a 'I serve with a smile!' button on her vest with a sex tape? Just doesn't happen - and Inhumanoids suffered by being too good for their own good.


Rounding out the troops - Redlun, the tree guy. His special power was to grow a few inches taller if you twisted him. Interesting. Next up - that weird magnet dude who splits into two...now that I check, his official name is Magnokor. I'm sure that bit will come in handy someday. Finally, one of my favorite figures ever - Granok, one of the granite warriors.

While I couldn't land the Earth Corps figures that Christmas before my birthday, I did nail Tendril, plus one other figure. This was when I was going through my phase where I simply wouldn't live another day without an official Alf doll, and sure enough, Christmas morning, there was Alf under the tree. I was legitimately surprised, since our family always opened all our presents on Christmas Eve at midnight - by the morning, all the loot and excitement was gone. But not this year, and sitting beside the Alf was Granok, quite possibly the coolest figure ever made. Aside from the fact that his eyes would glow under sunlight, he was just the kind of figure who worked in any given situation. You could pose him to sit next to you at dinner, make him kill all the other toys with his murderous rock-induced thunder punch, or simply throw him against the wall with reckless abandon confident that his granite-like durability would beat the odds. Jesus, I sound like I'm describing one of those shitty pre-prizes on The Price Is Right. Oh well, too late now - Granok was available in both grey and beige colors, since you know, people do have their preferences.

And that's pretty much it - not one of the top shows of yesteryear by any means, but its managed to keep a small part of my interest virtually for the past 15 years, so I guess it can't be all bad. On the major plus side, if there was ever a toon that basically demanded an accompanying drinking game, you're looking at it.





 


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