Odd eBay #1: Monkeying Around With the Hulk!

Welcome to the first installment of Odd eBay. 

Have you ever been searching for some cool collectible on eBay and found some crazy and unexpected stuff in the process?  I thought it would be fun to share a few such discoveries that I stumbled upon during my own searches for things I was seeking or things I was curious about.  You never know what you might find on America's favorite auction site so I am going to do what I can to bring a few of the oddest things to your attention.

Whenever possible the auctions featured will be active at the time I post this article.  Naturally they will time out depending on their end date, but if you hurry you may be able to get in the running to own something really strange that is offered by an eBay seller.  Simply click on the description (titled "Exhibits") to link to the actual auctions in question.

Also please feel free to write to me if you stumble on a worthy auction and if I can I will include it in the next available installment of this series.

I was curious about what Mego Planet of the Apes figures might be going for these days.  From time to time I seek out potential new denizens for my Desk of Time Wasting Distractions.  What my search brought to my attention was the genesis of this very feature!  In fact I found not one, but two great auctions that helped inspire Odd eBay!

Exhibit A: So Why Exactly Do You Need the Rifle?
Let's start Odd eBay off with the auction that inspired this series, shall we?  What I love about this particular offering is the tenacity of the seller.  Have a few miss-matched odd and ends laying around that you can't find a home for?  Put them all together in a single auction and see if someone bites!  The fact that the But It Now price has been reduced from $12.95 to $10.36 is certainly testament to this.  I was riding the fence on this auction, but the savings of $2.59 really swayed my decision to go for it! 

So lets examine the contents of this most curious lot.  We have a crudely made (or rather well worn) hooded jacket that appears to be for the larger scale G.I. Joe figures of old.  It's wool-like texture would suggest a warm wrap for the Zira figure who is otherwise surrounded only by her primate shame.  The figure is Zira from Planet of the Apes, the Mego action figure from the 70's to be exact.  Mego tended to utilize one of about four or five male and a single female body for all of their action figures.  The heads, clothes, and accessories were what made them who they were.  Zira here has only her head to distinguish her from Wonder Woman or the all-mighty Isis.  But laid bare in her nakedness we see that all of the Mego women have on distinct physical feature in common.  Perfect child-bearing hips!  It is a shame that like their male counterparts of any body configuration they are sorely lacking in reproductive organs. 

As previously mentioned the coat that comes with this figure would at least offer the famous veterinarian and free thinker the opportunity to recover some shred of dignity, but why the curiously oversized rifle?  Were she a Rob Leifield creation she would be right at home with such cumbersome ordnance.  In fact it would be required that she bear some kind of firearms that were a minimum of five times their normal size.  This is sharp contrast to the feet of the artist's characters which are five times smaller than those of normal humans.  Perhaps it is simply a show of superiority better suited to a male figure in a similar predicament.  The rifle is a means to an end, dignity restored at the point of a gun!  Especially considering that our hapless future monkey-woman appears to have run afoul of Kevin from Sin City.  You may have noticed that she is lacking in the left hand department.

Exhibit B: Monkey Strip Poker
If you thought the previous auction was awkward, you are in for quite the surprise!  Planet of the Apes and Mego were very good to the birth of this series.  From the generous birthing hips of Zira above to a clear illustration of what happens when apes drink too much nectar and begin to ignore the teachings of the Law Giver. 

Check out Zira's go-go boots!

Up for auction we have a veritable dumping ground of incomplete vintage Mego Planet of the Apes figures.  That in and of itself would not be be all that unusual.  What sets this lot apart is the fact that each one of the figures is in a different state of undress.  If you ever wondered what was going on with the apes of the future Earth (oh, was that a spoiler?) before Taylor and his fellow ill-fated astronauts arrived this may fill in some of the blanks.  Successfully evolving out of the dung-throwing stage of their ancestry, the proud civilization that the apes held in such regard had a dark underbelly similar to that of the former masters of the globe.  While the intellectual caste of the orangutans sought to suppress knowledge of the recklessness of man they no less turned a blind eye to their own society as it traveled headlong down the same crooked path.

The seeming class-by-species order that prevailed on the planet, a kind of natural selection version of A Brave New World, is illustrated perfectly with this auction.  Participants in a harmless game among friends close enough to see each other au naturale and still maintain personal and professional dignity, Dr. Zaius, Cornelius, his mate Zira, and General Ursus (these were happier times after all) find themselves at the end of the deck in the simian version of strip poker.  Zaius, in typically intellectual orangutan fashion, has managed to survive nearly the entire game without losing a stitch of clothing.  The lesser chimpanzees have done fairly well for themselves and are almost equally matched in their skill at card playing as evidenced by their current state of dress.  Ursus however, true to his caste, has no head for games of skill and forethought.  He is a soldier first and foremost.  And in a world largely devoid of conventional warfare, a soldier's life is defined by how many lousy humans one can kill or capture.  And judging from what his nakedness reveals about his manhood, he is as unlucky at love as he has proved at cards.

It is important to point out that Dr. Zaius, in addition to being a prominent figure in the High Council, is also an avid fisherman.  That he elected to wear his waders to the evening's festivities is a testament to not only his passion as an angler, but also the natural confidence in his own intellect that insured after quick donning of his galoshes he will be out casting flies and bagging some delicious trout shortly after this party wraps!

Exhibit C: Super...Awkward!
Some things go together well.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Peas and carrots.  Romeo and Juliet.  Then there are things that were never meant to be combined under any circumstances.  Such is the case with super-heroes and Stretch Armstrong technology.  That goes together like waffles and motor oil! 

What we've got ahold of here is the ad proof for an advertising spot that ran in comic books way back in 1979.  It was a toy line from Mego called Elastic Super Heroes.  Since they had licensing for characters from both Marvel and DC Comics they produced figures of both publisher's characters at the time.  Did they choose the obvious characters that were most likely to display a kinship to ol' Mr. Armstrong?  HELL NO!  Do you really think that Plastic Man, Mr. Fantastic, or Elongated Man are all that marketable?  Mego was in business to sell toys to kids, not make leaps of logic.  This is certainly illustrated in the choices of characters to produce in such a malleable format.  From the Marvel camp they went with Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk (yes, it's true) and as you have seen they gave the same treatment to Superman and Batman from DC.

The decision to create versions of these super-heroes that could be stretched to a good couple of feet and contorted in inhuman ways is silly at best and down right frightening at worst.  It is the ad campaign illustrated above that takes it to the latter.  On the right we have the Man of Steel made a man of rubber doing his best rendition of "Potsie" Weber in the photo booth shot used in the intro to Happy Days.  The old "reaching around yourself with your back turned to make it look like you're making out trick" is a classic.  Hell, even James Bond resorted to it in Diamonds Are Forever!  It seems like the Last Son of Krypton has taken a nip of Jimmy Olsen's Elastic Lad serum (or was it exposure to an alien virus that made the bow-tie wearing photographer into the red-headed stepchild of Reed Richards?) and is trying out some new abilities that were not in his former catalog of powers.

The Dark Knight Detective on the other hand has always had to rely on being the pinnacle of human achievement both mentally and physically.  I doubt that such prowess ever included being able to unhinge his skeletal system in such a way that would result in the extreme lotus position occurring above.  That makes being pressed into a postage stamp of titanic proportions by the maniacal Colonel Gumm seem comfortable, even relaxing, by comparison.  One is left imagining that this ad might once have been seen by David Carradine leaving him thinking, "If only...". 

Exhibit D: Smashing No More
Mego it seems was hell-bent to make unusual decisions when it came to their super-hero toys.  The Pocket Super Heroes line was not immune to this process.  This toy series featured DC and Marvel characters in a compact 3.75" format that must have seemed ideally suited to couple with rehashed Micronauts vehicles as evidenced by the Hulk Explorer seen below!

The Incredible Hulk seems incredibly happy to be darting about the town in his green and yellow conveyance.  Part Rascal, part go-cart, and part Jack Kirby creation it seems a rather curious vehicle for the Jade Giant.  Captain Kirk posited the question, "What does God need with a starship?!", in the god-awful Star Trek V: The Undiscovered Country.  Similarly we are left to ask, "What does Hulk need with an Explorer?"  Throughout his decades-long history the Green Goliath has simply bunched up his calf muscles and sent himself hurdling skyward in a reckless game of leap-frog whenever the travelin' jones was upon him.  Unlike Batman or even Hulk's own contemporary Spider-Man who once had a vertical surface-gripping dune buggy (it's true folks), the original "Hulkster" never owned a motor vehicle.

The answer to this compelling question (should you be allowing it to compel you thusly) is a simple one actually.  Easily 20 years in advance of its publication, Mego foresaw the arrival of storylines that would bring us the so-called "Smart Hulk".  Since this was the inevitable progression from a gray Frankenstein's monster-looking brute to an avocado hued powerhouse of pent-up rage to something better still, Mego understood and addressed children's need to play out this scenario.  Absent the necessity to lash out at a world peopled by "puny humans" to sate his unquenchable thirst for destruction, the stronger, more loving Hulk would want to turn his attentions to the cerebral pursuits of his gentler side, that of the pacifistic Bruce Banner. 

Now a man of science, albeit a yard wide and rippling with enough potential energy to stun a rampagin herd of elephants, the new Hulk turned his attentions to scientific disciplines and the pursuit of knowledge.  When traveling from a research laboratory to an archaeological dig and then to a meeting of Nobel laureates once does not wish to inadvertently cause destruction simply by arriving on the scene and leaving size 48 footprints irreparably stamped into the pavement.  So utilizing his newly found mental capacity Hulk opted to drive around in a retrofitted (and vastly enlarged) vehicle from the Microverse (complete with puffy missile launcher) that was previously owned by none other than Acroyer himself!

Exhibit E: Why is MJ Packing Heat?
You have to love toy customizers.  They take something that is already there and make it into something that is not.  And may never be otherwise.  In some cases the work is exquisite, almost indistinguishable from something mass produced.  In some cases it could not be more obviously the work of a ham-fisted toy maker wannabe.  And in some cases the work seems solid enough, but the choice of base figure leaves a bit you wondering if perhaps some other figure might have been a better choice.

This customized Super Hero Squad figurine of Mary Jane Watson, a.k.a. Spidey's Squeeze, is a prime example of this kind of scenario.  I don't know how much re-work went into this particular customization job, but I suspect it was just a matter of some minor repainting to perhaps change the costume color scheme and get the "drapes" the right color.  However, whatever character this was in its former life before it was taken off the card and retrofitted as if it was the original Star Wars trilogy in the hands of a mad George Lucas of more recent years had a distinguishing feature that was decidedly not one for which the future wife (maybe or maybe not depending on recons) of Peter Parker was known.  She is brandishing a huge pistol! 

Perhaps there were no female Marvel characters who have received the cherubic Super Hero Squad treatment that were sufficiently generic to take on the role of a supporting character.  Certainly MJ with web-wings (Spider-Woman) or a sword wielding sextet of arms (Spiral) would have been even less marketable than this custom job.  But if you want to command a $12.95 price tag for your hard work, perhaps you should chose a character that better fits the look of the figurine you have in hand before grabbing the old paint pots and going to town.  Just a word of advice from JediCole!

The next two auctions will have closed by the time this feature goes live.  Such is the nature of the beast it would seem. 

Exhibit F: Congratulations You Two...I Think
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the Star Wars saga has nearly been flattered to death over the years!

With flattery like this who needs disdain?  That is certainly a question that the folks over at the Skywalker Ranch were posing when this monstrosity was first produced.  Everyone wants to drink deep from the wellspring of success that was the Star Wars franchise.  And since it was not a public spring most had to elsewhere and lap what they could out of similar and less lucrative sources.  This figural coin bank illustrates that principle perfectly.  Looking like the hideous love child of Darth Vader and R2-D2 it had to have been intended, in its day, to catch the wave of consumer enthusiasm that made George Lucas' star-spanning saga a cultural phenomenon and a personal empire-building success.

That the seller got the $5.99 opening bid was something of a surprise I must say!

Exhibit G: It's LIKE Star Wars
Far be it from Avon to miss out on a potential cash cow.  Their independent representatives could always use an unexpected bonus in the form of a little something that appeals to the children of their clientele.  Or at least to the parents of those kids who just don't know any better.

Back in the 70's Donny and Marie Osmond were famous for being "a little bit country" and "a little bit rock n' roll".  This "Galactic Robot" necklace from 1979 is a little bit R5-D4 (the droid with the bad motivator in Star Wars) and a little bit work drone from Silent Running.  Such mash-up look-alikes were not uncommon in the late 70's.  everyone wanted to cash in on Star Wars (as seen above).  What sets this piece apart, if the auction post is to be believed, is that this particular piece of dubious jewelry was offered by Avon!  I suspect this was the case as they commonly sprinkled non-cosmetic consumables amidst their beauty product offerings each month.  I guess it had not occurred to anyone back then to simply seek a proper Star Wars license and really get a new cash cow.  Or cash bantha as the case may be.

Action Figure FAIL! #1
This is a special sub-feature to the Odd eBay segment which will be included only when something that fits the category perfectly crosses my path on eBay.  The title and concept were suggested by Mrs. JediCole when I first told her about this feature.  As luck would have it I stumbled upon something that seemed to fit the bill.

Essentially Action Figure FAIL! will showcase a toy or action figure auction that fails miserably in some way.  The core concept was to illustrate how wrong many sellers get the products they are selling - touting Buck Rogers figures as "rare Star Wars toys" or coupling He-Man with a pile of accessories from G.I. Joe and BraveStarr.  In this case it is not the seller's offering so much as the way in which a silk hat is put on a pig AND it is entered into the Miss America pageant!

Ladies and Gentlemen!  The Thing as Michigan J. Frog!

Okay, so you have your rip-off Mexican bootleg figurine of the Thing.  You know that it is not a classic vintage figurine but a more modern remake that is completely unlicensed and (technically) illegally marketed.  What do you do?  You OWN that!  Not only does this seller freely admit the origins (for which I give him a tip of the hat for his honesty and sincerity) he staunchly defends this particular piece for its uncharacteristic workmanship!  He accurately points out that such knockoffs are generally poorly made with terrible materials and no attempt being made to clean up any excess plastic from the molding process.  It is the fact that such flowery phrases as "shows off the great sculpting" and "rather nice in and of himself considering who made him and where".  This is a bit of what is known as "polishing the turd".  Only Leni Riefenstahl could have done a better job of packaging something terrible in an a form that makes it seem somewhat appealing!

This one is a fail in that the figure being offered is not only a knockoff but also looks like Benjamin J. Grimm is not only now the Ever-Lovin' Yellow-Eyed Thing, he has also joined Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the whole Loony Tunes gang in their opening song and dance number!  That and the arbitrary $34.99 opening bid price.