We are almost to Toy Fair Eve 2014 this weekend and everyone is rabid with anticipation to see the new hotness that all the toy companies will reveal starting on Sunday at the Javits Center in NYC. We thought it would be be fun to look back at some really rare older figures that most fans don’t have and may not even know about: Diamond Select Toys’ Bluntman & Chronic Retro Figures. These figures got so far as having a commercial before they sold out and mysteriously disappeared…even before the line was even completed. We were able to talk to the folks involved with making the figures as well as unearthing the rarely seen commercial for these almost unknown figures:
In 2001, a new kind of superhero movie hit the big screen. Based on an independent comic book by Banky Edwards and Holden McNeil, Bluntman & Chronic was Miramax’s second entry into comic-book fare, and while it had some qualities in common with their previous success story, The Crow, it was otherwise very different. The two titular heroes fought crime with foul language and rocket launchers, and cruised around their hometown of Leonardo, NJ, in their Bluntmobile. If any Miramax movie ever deserved action figures, it was this one, so fledgling company Diamond Select Toys was lined up to create them. While short-lived, the 8-inch, retro-styled line that resulted was the start of DST’s long love affair with the Mego format, leading to revivals of Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and Universal Monsters. Now that DST is revisiting the Bluntman & Chronic license, we talked to DST’s resident retro figure designer and EMCE Toys co-founder Paul “Dr. Mego” Clarke to see how the toys came about.
AFi: Why did DST decide to go with the retro Mego format for Bluntman &Chronic?
Dr. Mego: Uh, because it’s awesome? No, seriously, I know that the DST guys love Megos, and some of those guys are old enough to have owned them as kids, and when they saw the Bluntman and Chronic costumes, they just thought that was the way to go. Luckily, the studio execs saw it the same way, because they went bananas or it. The characters do hearken back to another time, when superheroes were simpler, and the more articulated 8-inch body would allow for more dynamic poses, as well as extra outfits. Or maybe somebody just wanted to be able to take their clothes off.
AFi: What were some of the development challenges you faced?
Dr. Mego: Well, we got the license late in the game, so we had to work fast to get the prototypes ready in time for the movie’s release date. The heads had to be sculpted, the costumes stitched together, the energy bong weapons created… You can see the prototypes in old press photos, and in the commercial DST created for the line. The commercial is a lot of fun, although I think they mostly booked it on New Jersey TV stations, to play up the Leonardo connection, and I think it only aired early Sunday mornings. But it was cool to see toys I made on TV, the one or two times I caught it.
AFi: Did the movie’s box office performance affect sales of the product?
Dr. Mego: The movie did okay – not enough to warrant a sequel, but I think they had to give a cut of the profits to the guys the comic book characters were based on, so that may have affected their decision to make more movies. But there was definitely demand for the toys — remember, they weren’t made in huge numbers, like, say, the toys for Batman & Robin, but we sold a lot of Bluntman & Chronic figures. They weren’t available in most of the big chain stores, but they were at comic shops across the country, and they sold out pretty fast, from what I could see. With just the two figures in the line, there weren’t a lot of “Night Attack” variants around to clog the pegs.
AFi: Whatever happened to the third figure that appears in that TV commercial? Cock-Knocker?
Dr. Mego: Nobody knows. Three figures left the factory, and only two reached the warehouse. The guys at DST launched an investigation, but nothing was ever uncovered. We think that Cock-Knocker somehow got re-routed in customs, possibly because of his name. Maybe they thought it was a different kind of toy? Regardless, the product never arrived, and it was too late to do a new production run before the movie came out. So somewhere out there is a shipping container full of Mark Hamill toys — a shame, because I think he would have been the most popular one of the three. It’s Mark Hamill, with a giant fist!!
AFi: Would you ever want to revisit the world of Bluntman & Chronic?
Dr. Mego: Sure — I think the movie has become a classic, and found a new generation of comic book fans who appreciate it. I think they’re working on a new Blu-ray release, and I know DST is working on some new Bluntman & Chronic products, so maybe we’ll get to dive back into that pool.
Thanks to the good doctor, Dr. Mego for answering all our questions. With the recent revival of all things retro in the toy world maybe there’s a chance collectors will still be able to get these figure on their shelves some day from DST. Stay tuned this weekend to Action Figure Insider for all the DST Toy Fair 2014 coverage and reveals!
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