So, it all started around November of last year when I was writing my Anniversary Madballs post. While searching online for various tidbits about the origins of Madballs, I came across a bunch of Madballs paraphernalia and other toy images, but I was quickly overcome with excitement when I discovered these guys.
They look like awesome little Madballs action figures… and upon further reading, I soon confirmed that they are Madballs Head-Popping Action Figures released in 1986 by AmToy. These 4 inch figures have spring-loaded heads/necks. With the flick of a trigger on their backs, their heads go flying.
They look this cool AND their heads pop off? Wow!!
Ya know, these may be the only worthwhile spin-offs of the Madballs brand. I don’t really remember seeing these things as a kid. I just had a couple of the original Madballs. I never took it to the extreme of wanting any of the spinoff toys and other random Madballs products (luckily for my parents).
It only took one look at them, and now that I had discovered these things, my obsession began. Not only do they encompass the great “grossness” of the original Madballs, but they’ve been taken a conceptual step further – these heads now have bodies which further illustrate their unique personalities (and maybe a hint at their origins).
As I searched online and at various toy shows, I soon discovered that these things are fairly hard to come by… especially if you want any of the Madballs figures with its corresponding head. And not only that, but most of the old ones I found have major paint flaking, damaged necks and broken triggers, so the heads wouldn’t stay attached or even launch anymore.
Well, as you can see, my patience and persistence (with the help of eBay) have prevailed. I am now the proud owner of a complete set of the ever-elusive Madballs Head-Poppers. They’re not all in perfect shape, but I still love ’em all the same.
Let’s meet the gang, shall we?
It’s great seeing the cartoony grossness of this set. I think the modern politically-correct children’s toys makers would never have allowed these “cute” kids toys to have open, bloody wounds or torn flesh with exposed rib cages and spines. That’s just genuine, vintage 8os grossness. MMM-mm.
So, I have a goofy story to share. As as I searched and slowly gathered the Mini Madballs figures, I soon discovered the “holy grail” of the set – Horn Head. Apparently he was an exclusive figure that was included with the Mad Rollercycle. You thought finding good Madballs figures was a challenge? Try finding a Mad Rollercycle complete with a Horn Head figure. The Rollercycle is usually by itself or comes along with a headless or “wrong-headed” Horn Head.
Well, just a few weeks ago after some super-laborious web-searching, I came across a Dutch website where a seller was actually offering a Rollercycle with Horn Head. What luck! But wait. There was only one problem. I couldn’t understand a single word on the website. Luckily, with the help of Babelfish Translator, I quickly had the site translated. It was broken English for sure, but it did allow me to at least locate the appropriate links to contact the seller.
So, being the desperate man that I am, I composed a message to the seller, asking how much the toy is and all that jazz. Now remember, the site was Dutch, so chances are I’ll have to make contact writing in Dutch… and that’s exactly what I did. I translated my message hoping whoever read it could make enough sense of what I’m sure was a horrible translation. I also made sure I attached my original English message (you know. .. just in case). With luck on my side, the seller wrote back. He was in Belgium and could understand English (YAY!), and he still had the toy available for me to order (YAY!x2).
So, here it is in all of it’s ugly-clunky glory.
The Mad Rollercycle is basically a motorcycle-steamroller combo. It comes equipped with a catapult to launch the various Madballs mini-figures’ heads. There’s also a basketball goal if you feel like shooting a few Madhoops. Last but not least, there’s the little skull-topped gear shifter. Pushing it forward or backward activates a small mechanism in the backs of both seats which presses the triggers on the backs of the Madball figures – sending their heads flying.
Honestly, the whole thing seems like a half-hearted attempt ot just make more money on a crappy, arbitrary Madballs vehicle. Even on the packaging, you can see they slightly attempted to create a story for these guys. They’ve even been specified as GOODBALLS and BADBALLS (I’m telling you, it feels good to know a skeleton and a mutilated, rotting-flesh zombie are a couple of good guys).
Just a side note: Doesn’t the figure on the Mad Rollercycle box look a lot different than the actual Horn Head toy? I’m glad the toy didn’t turn out to look like the prototype.
It’s not over yet.
You think everything you just saw was cool?
You aint seen nothin’ yet.
Imagine the coolness of these figures….
Now imagine the coolness of these figures packaged in Japanese, super-unbelievably-awesome, super-well-illustrated-and-designed re-closeable boxes.
Did they look something like this??
That ultra web-scouring I mentioned earlier brought me to a nice fellow toy-lover who somehow got a hold of these beautiful things (thanks for the photos Kelly. You’re the best).
If anyone has any of these Japanese Madballs Head-Popping figures he’d like to get rid of (or any other photos to share), you better email me right now!