A long time back I did an article on the Inhumanoids cartoon - one of the forgotten gems of years past. Actually, it's not really a gem. The cartoon pretty much sucked. But the series inspired some of the coolest toys anyone's ever seen, so most of us look back on it more fondly than we should. Today, we take a look at those toys. Let's start with a little background on what this series was all about...
The plot would've been terrific for a live-action big budget sci-fi flick, but it didn't really translate well into an animated series. Three giant monsters who want to rule the world (What cartoon villain doesn't? Do any of them just steal cars or not tip the pizza guy?) escape their various prisons from deep underneath the Earth's crust, wreaking havoc on the world, with no hope of salvation in sight. The monsters are all like a gazillion feet tall - one of them swims in lava, one is a decaying mess with a cage made of bones growing out of his chest, and the last is a giant plant - yet somehow, they're able to speak English. Never underestimate the power of the monster or phonics.
So, they're doing their destructive crap and everyone's all 'oh no!' and 'hey stop that!' and 'where's the beef!' till finally, a group of humans with colorful bionic body-armor called the Earth Corps decide they're the only ones who can stop the onslaught. They're very wrong, and repeatedly get their asses handed to them, until a group of living trees and creatures made of rock lend a helping hand. Simple enough, right?
I did a full review of the first episode of the show, which you can find here, but here's my quick thoughts: it was decent, but the animation was kinda flat and there was really nothing to get interested in, even if you were just six- or seven-years-old. The show ended up lasting for a season or two, but it was all the same shit: monsters appear, heroes enlist the aid of tree-men and/or rock-men and/or top secret weapon to shoot them down the Earth's mantle till the next episode. I'm not saying that this was rare or anything - every old kids cartoon was tedious like that - but Inhumanoids just lacked that intangible 'oomph!' that would've pulled it from a distant pleasant memory to a retro t-shirt line in today's stupid freakshow retail chains.
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Regardless, they had some of the best toys I've ever seen. And I've seen many! If you haven't heard of these things and are curious why you haven't, there's two reasons: the show was short-lived, so the line was short-lived too. And more importantly - the toys were so crazyass huge and well-made that there weren't many parents out there willing to buy them for their kids. Waaay too expensive. If you got one Inhumanoid figure, that's all you were getting. It's a shame because, as you'll see in this article, these are the type of toys that taught children to make like Pavlov's dog with the drooling.
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Metlar was the leader of the bad guys, as if you couldn't tell by his striking resemblance to Satan. Lucifer never takes second billing. I knew nothing about Inhumanoids when I waltzed into Macy's Christmas toy section many years ago, but once I saw Metlar in his giant window box staring at me through those devilish eyes, I knew I'd found my latest obsession. How could a little boy not want this thing? It was virtually half my height at the time, weighed as much as a bowling ball, and had a giant, glowing horn coming out of his head. That's three of the biggest marks on any kid's cool meter.
This was a great consolation prize for anyone who really wanted a My Pet Monster, but didn't want to deal with the connotations of buying a 'doll.' Remember, half the fun in getting a toy was the bragging rights that came with it. Boys knew very well that anything plush was considered girly, so once Metlar hit the shelves, we finally had an alternative. He was large enough to seat next to you at the dinner table, which was doubly nice since you could pile all the crap you didn't wanna eat on his plate, pulling the cutesy eyes to your parents. They'd let you get away with it because you looked so innocent sharing your food, but in reality, you just thought beef stew looked like diarrhea.
D-Compose used to seriously frighten me. I mean, really frighten me - I avoided watching to show because the very thought of this guy made me go throw on old, worn out pants so I'd have something to piss in. This was the true weirdo of the lot, and that's saying something. Picture, if you will, a gigantic action figure who looks something like a crow that's been dead for seven weeks, with an exposed ribcage on his chest that doubles as a prison for the hero figures. It wasn't pretty, but it was certainly cool. I remember being fascinated with this guy because of the short story on the back of the boxes, which claimed he was from the Earth's mantle. For some reason, they depicted the mantle as being 100% completely filled with pretty crystals. I liked crystals, so D-Compose was a winner by default. If he didn't spit all over himself so much on the show, he could've been my favorite.
Every action figure line has a gimmick. It's what separates them. The good gimmicks bring about millions in sales, the bad ones cause entire lines to be moved to the clearance racks before the first wave of advertising even hits television. Transformers had transforming robots, Visionaries had working holograms, and so on. Inhumanoids had something a little different: if you held the figures up to the light, their eyes, teeth, or other body parts would glow. (they were made of a reflective semi-translucent plastic, which we'll call 'glowax,' cuz it's a fun word) It doesn't sound like much until you consider the size of the figures, and their glowing parts. Also remember - kids thought stuff like that was real. If something was all reddish/translucent and glowing, we thought the toys were made out of some kinda expensive mineral. I remember expressing to my mother that these toys were a steal because of that. I can't remember if I was being truthful or if I just wanted more toys, but either way it didn't fly and I got stuck with cheap M.U.S.C.L.E. figures instead. Oh well.
The last of the big evil monsters, here's Tendril, by far my favorite. Not sure why. I think I just enjoyed the idea of menacing my other action figures with a giant, living salad. Tendril was a big buffoon on the show - the stupid one - but I felt no need to remain true to the toon while playing with my toys. I made him the commander of the entire villain force, even ahead of such luminaries as Darth Vader, Mumm-Ra, Jabba, even Cobra Commander. They'd frequently plot ways to overthrow him, but none were successful since Tendril was too damn big.
I received this figure four times over the course of my life, the first being Christmas Eve, I think in '86. My mother gave him to me early in the day, so I'd have something to occupy my time as she cooked dinner for the 42,445 members of our immediate family. Obviously, I was thrilled. So thrilled, in fact, that I placed him in the seat next to me at dinnertime. My crazy aunt wasn't having it, and as I protested putting him back in my bedroom, she threw poor Tendril behind her, crashing the figure against the wall and smashing it to bits. Well, not really to bits, but the head flew clear off and the whole Christmas was ruined.
My aunt disappeared in the spring of '87, and I maintain that I had nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. Fucking momo bitchface.
Magnokor was one of the heroic monsters, if only to balance things out a bit. He was nowhere near as big as the bad guys, but they made up for it by giving you two toys for one price. Magnokor split apart into two separate figures; I can't remember their names so we'll call them Jane and Sammy. The figures had magnets stuck inside 'em, so they'd stick together when held close enough. Their job on the show? Use their magical magnetic powers to hold Metlar in an electric prison. The poor guys had to spend all of eternity just standing on either side of Metlar so he couldn't move. Talk about your thankless jobs. I'm surprised they didn't sway their allegiances to the dark side just to make life more interesting.
Here's the good natured tree people who help the Earth Corps: the Redlens. There's two variations of these guys: Redlens and Redsuns. Making things more confusing is the fact that all of these figures were available in a brownish red or a dark gray. Don't ask me, it's not worth researching. All you really need to know is that they were trees who looked scary but had positive morals. If you think they're unique in that aspect, you're wrong. Believe it or not, there were other scary-looking trees with positive morals:
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All of the redwood guys could extend to nearly double their original height. They looked damn dumb when you did this, since it exposed an unmolded cylinder of plastic. Then again, it's not often you find action figures modeled after trees. Gotta take what you can get. As a final point of interest on these toys - the facial expressions crafted for the figures make all of them look like they just downed a shot of gerbil urine.
The Granites! I loved these! The friendly rock creatures who act as a wall of defense against the monsters -- the villains may knock 'em down and step on 'em constantly, but since they're rocks, they get right back up and ask for more. You can't stop rocks. It's impossible. That should be on a bumper sticker.
Like the idiot tree people, Granites also came in two different colors, though I remember why with these guys - the gray one was 'Granok,' the leader. Granok was brown on the show of course, but we'll overlook that because gray rocks > brown rocks. The others were just standard rock soldiers. Brainless puppets of the higher-ups. Sort of like Stormtroopers or the nWo black & white. I liked 'em since they were wonderfully compact for being such large figures. And they had glowing eyes. Don't forget the glowing eyes. I ended up losing mine in a legendary toy battle outside my friend's house, leaving him under a bush outside and then returning the next day to find his chewed up remains. Not sure if it was Metlar or my friend's dog at fault. Doesn't matter, both were scary, and as legends went, both ate people.
Finally, the Earth Corps figures. Each stood at about 7" tall, with really vibrant suits and heads smaller than their hands. They had strange weapons you could affix to their arms, ranging from giant green claws to shovels to guns. Compared to most action figures, these guys were positively masterpieces - but since they're part of a line including ten-pound alien creature toys over a foot tall, they were forgotten in the annals of playtime history. As a side note, there were also a few vehicles sold for use with the Earth Corps figures, but even those were around 1/5th the size of Metlar, so nobody cared. In a child's world, size definitely does matter.
Amazingly, these toys aren't that expensive to pick up today. Even sealed in their original boxes, you won't pay much more than fifty bucks for any of the large monsters, which really isn't much far off from their original retail price. Course, you'd have to first justify spending fifty dollars on a toy meant for little kids, but you shouldn't have much a problem with that. After all, you could always use them for Halloween decorations or to scare your sister's kid when she asks you to babysit. Dual purposes rock, and so did the Inhumanoids. Love them as I have. Please? C'mon...they glowed!