I found some freakin’ great toys recently, and I have no idea what they are. They look like B-List wrestling stars. I’m not much into wrestling toys (or wrestling in general), but these guys make me wanna give them a chance.
The characters are so absurd, I’d love to see them in the WWE ring. Actually, if there are any wrestlers reading this, take some inspiration from these costumes. Every good wrestler needs a good gimmick.
So, what do you get when you cross a barbarian, a robot and the biker from the Village People?
You get this guy.
Well, howabout Batman, Conan and a surfer-dude at the prom?
I bet he’d look something like this.
What do you get when you cross a dragon and a witch doctor (who’s worried about his elbows)?
What about a Flavor Flav wannabe who’s fallen victim to bad burns and a spill in toxic waste?
Okay that was a bit of a stretch.
I don’t even know what to say about this guy.
Now this guy is one of my favorites. He’s wearing the classic, iconic wrestling tights… but with those wings and the mummy-wrapped head, he just looks like a freak! Perfect.
The figures are about the size of the small G.I. Joe or Star Wars figures. 3 3⁄4″ or so.
If they’re not wrestlers, I can easily see them in the background of a new Star Wars movie along with other random, crappy George Lucas aliens.
I have to come clean.
I haven’t been totally honest with you all.
These figures don’t exist. (Well, they exist, but not necessarily in this form.)
You see, these mixed-up figures are actually from a toyline called Socket Poppers (if you hadn’t already figured it out by the title of this blog entry).
They’re a cool collection of characters released in 1991 by Ertl (you know, the company that’s best know for making those little die cast cars). So, just as the name implies, these figures have interchangeable parts. You can “pop” their heads, arms and legs from their “sockets” and pop them into place somewhere else.
I love the tagline on the box – “All body parts move… even to other BODIES!”
Man, the possibilities are endless. In fact, check out the trivia on the packaging. It reads:
Fact A: If you built three characters a minute with no duplications and worked continuously for two years, you couldn’t complete all the possible combinations offered by just two Socket Popper characters!
Fact B: Assuming their were no duplications in their work, one trillion people each working continuously for one trillion years could complete less than one one-billionth of the possible combinations offered by all 16 Socket Poppers characters!
I’ve only been able to get my hands on 11 of the figures (there are 16 in all). Check ’em out. They still look pretty good as standalone toys.
I would love to see a resurgence of this toyline… especially if there were multiple series of characters. There would be so much room for potential combos.
As I was searching for info on Socket Poppers, I was actually surprised by a little something I found. Apparently, Socket Poppers are a re-release of toys originally released by Matchbox (a company also known for making little diecast cars) in 1990. The toy line was known as Connectors. Pretty generic huh?
Connectors photo courtesy of TonsOfToys.com.
My immediate reaction to seeing these toys in their packages is “Matchbox missed the point.” The great interactive feature of the toys is completely lost. There are definitely a few things that Ertl did right when marketing the Socket Poppers.
“Socket Poppers” just sounds fun. It is engaging, and it kind of leaves you curious. “Connectors” may be a bit too vague. It’s definitely not fun. They could be anything from a tool set, to building blocks, to extension cords.
The overall “look & feel” of the Socket Poppers graphics are bold, clear and eye-catching. The simplistic design and contrast in color helps everything stand out compared to the cluttered, overly-detailed and irrelevant graphics of Connectors. Also, the small repeating graphics of combos on the Socket Poppers package makes much more sense than the group of Connectors figures jumping from a castle.
The socket poppers package is covered in fun, goofy language constantly reiterating the multiple combos and all. Even with the absurd stats that are probably untrue, it’s just fun and further illustrates the variety of the toys. Connectors uses none of that. Maybe there’s cool stuff on the back of the box though. Probably not.
4. Package Design
This is probably the smartest immediate difference in the packaging and the way the toys are displayed. The Socket Poppers are offered in multiples – not single carded figures. This allowed Ertl to clearly illustrate the intent of the toys. By simply displaying characters mixed with one another, they immediately communicated to kids what they’re supposed to do with the toys. You don’t have to read a thing. Connectors, on the other hand, have a single figure sitting there in generic box. Not nearly as fun, and it definitely isn’t clear that the characters can be mixed up.
I’m not sure why I’m over-analyzing the packaging like this. It must be the designer in me. I was just impressed by the thought that Ertl put into packaging the Socket Poppers versus what Matchbox ended up doing for Connectors.
And lastly, I’d love for anyone out there that may have the Monster Fly, Football Player, Sheriff, Mutant or Soldier figures to contact me. I’d love to take them off your hands to finish my collection. Plus, I could feature them here along with some more messed up combos.
Thanks for reading.