I’ve always been fascinated by commercials for action figures. The MPAA started rating movies in 1968, but apparently, no one paid any attention to those ratings when they were making toys for children based on R-rated movie franchises. I know two things about Robocop: he shoots a guy in the dick, and his action figure comes with a cute little helicopter, like a Barbie Dream Car for the dick-shooting man.
Children ages four and up can fire missiles at imaginary rapists from the Robo-Copter™ on a fun afternoon of imaginary play. Demolition man, Alien, Rambo… there wasn’t an R-rated movie that didn’t also have a line of toys for children in the late ’80s and early ’90s. There’s probably a super guilt-powered Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction toy floating around a Kansas City Goodwill just waiting to be found.
You can say, “Well, these toys were actually made for adult collectors who were old enough to see the movie,” and I’m sure that was a segment of the target audience, but why am I defending myself against you, imaginary pedantic asshole? You’re never right. They played commercials for these toys on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon that showed children playing with them. And those commercials mostly functioned to quickly summarize the plot of the movie for kids who, for whatever reason, didn’t make it to see Alien in theaters but still wanted to have nightmares about bug monsters from space-eating their insides.
My favorite example of these R-rated action figures being advertised to kids is the absolutely insane Kenner Terminator 2 toy line. The Terminator franchise was huge, Kenner had the rights to it, and they were going to do the most with those rights. By that, I mean they were going to put rockets in Robert Patrick’s ass.
The BLASTER T-1000™ with Rapid Deploy Missiles doesn’t actually deploy missiles. There’s no spring-loaded missile launching action. You have to flick them with your fingers to get them to “launch.” It rapidly holds the missile in the air AT BEST. Also, did Robert Patrick’s ass ever jump up and replace his face in Terminator 2? It’s been a while since I’ve seen that movie, but I think I’d remember that. If they really wanted to make an authentic Robert Patrick toy they’d call it EXPLODING T-1000™ with Blast Apart Actio– wait, nevermind they did.
The thing is, Kenner figured out that it didn’t matter what happened in Terminator 2. The vast majority of the kids they were marketing to wouldn’t have seen the movie because some parents are weirdly sensitive about their kids watching a dude get impaled through his eye socket. So, if they want to repurpose a failed Mr. Rocket Ass toy as a T-1000™, who the hell was going to stop them? Once they figured that out, things got crazy.
Hey, who was your favorite Terminator 2 villain? The T-1000™? Skynet? Cyber-Grip? What, you don’t remember the classic Terminator 2 villain Cyber-Grip? That’s because he only exists in the Kenner toy line.
The wonderful thing about most children having no knowledge of the movie they are buying toys from is you can add any character you want, as long as he looks badass. If some little jerk is like, “Um, there’s no character named Cyber-Grip in Terminator 2,” Kenner can just say, “Oh, when did you see Terminator 2? And before you answer that, please keep in mind I will call your Mom.” What an amazing grift!
I bet Cyber-Grip must have made life hell for the poor kids out there who were pretending that their parents let them see Terminator 2. “M…my favorite part of the movie? Oh, um, I liked when Cyber-Grip…gripped…The Terminator’s…nuts? Is that the right word? The place the Robo-copter™ pilot shoots rapists.”
Once Kenner realized they could do whatever they wanted and kids wouldn’t say shit, they went completely mad with power. The scary thing about the T-1000™ was how inconspicuous he was. You look at Arnold Schwarzenegger, and you’re like, holy shit, that’s at least a Terminator– run! But the T-1000™ can be anyone, and the shape he takes for most of the movie is not a big buff scary dude, but the kind of guy you might invite into your home to stab you in the face with his sword arm. All Kenner saw when they looked at the T-1000™ was a lame toy opportunity. So, the main villain of Kenner’s Terminator 2 is Kromium. He’s slightly more conspicuous in that he’s a giant robot with red eyes and metal demon horns.
Look, the ’90s were wild, but I’m pretty sure if this thing were chasing John Connor around a mall, people would have noticed. They would have assumed it was some poor guy with the worst job at Software Etc, but they would have noticed.
Can you imagine playing with Terminator 2 action figures your entire childhood, finally being old enough to see the movie, and then getting forty-five minutes in and being like, “Where the hell is Kromium? Does he pop up at the very end or something? And the T-1000™ hasn’t shot a single rocket out of his ass? What is happening!?”
There’s not one scene in that movie where the Terminator drives a car with teeth, and a big skull, and giant letter T logo, because they spend most of the film trying unsuccessfully to hide from the T-1000™ and you can’t do that in a convertible that’s 70% Attack Missile-Launcher. Imagine going into Terminator 2 expecting the above car and getting this actual movie vehicle instead.
You would lose all grip on sanity. Are there even any Terminators in this movie? Does Arnold Schwregneeger exist? Are cars real!? If the Crushing Claw Action of Cyber-Grip Villain was a lie, who else has betrayed me?
Not only did Kenner add characters and vehicles that weren’t in the movie to the Terminator 2 toyline, but they also did a little editing, removing a character they felt didn’t have any real bearing on the plot. Can you guess who? I bet you can because the world sucks. It’s Sarah Connor! The heroine of the film! There are more action figures for non-existent villains than there are for the only person who has killed a Terminator!
I mean, come on, you couldn’t put a rocket in her butt? She’s literally one of the franchise’s two main characters. The standard is so low for these figures that it would be insanely easy to make a Sarah Connor. Don’t think she’s interesting looking enough? Fine, fuck it, make her a terminator. Give her rocket boots. Make her ooze slime; who cares? Kids aren’t going to know she doesn’t do that in the movie, but they should know she’s in the movie. Give Cyber-Grip a ponytail and rename him Sarah Connor. I’d be fine with that! We’d all be aroused by that!
You can find Sarah Connor action figures online now. NECA manufactured one in 2015, but in 1992 Kenner kicked her over in favor of Kromium, the horned demon king of Toys “R” Us.
Kenner frankly wasn’t that interested in humanity’s savior, John Connor either. While there were all kinds of Terminators featuring every possible -some might say more than necessary- combination of missing flesh chunks, John only gets one single, sad toy. He’s basically the C3PO of Terminator toys. The one that’s leftover when all the others are sold out.
Kenner thought that Jon Connor was so lame they had to misidentify what is clearly a dirt bike as a Motorcycle! three times on the back of the package to spice up the character. He’s supposed to be, like, ten years old! He’s not driving a motorcycle. It’s a movie about time traveling robots but it’s not crazy.
Can this legally be called a Terminator 2 toyline? Or is calling it that straight-up false advertising? It’s a “Terminator” toy line, sure. They could not get enough Terminators in this thing. You’ve got Endoglow Terminator, Power Arm Terminator, Hot-Blast Terminator™, and several other Terminator’s whose names sound like they came from the rejected Terminator sex toy names pile. Exploding T-1000™, Blaster T-1000™, and White-Hot T-1000™ were obviously named the same way.
I guess it’s probably too late to sue Kenner for the terrible job they did in the ’90s. I’ll just continue living my life secure in the knowledge that some kid who owned every single one of these Terminator 2 toys was thoroughly ruined when they saw Terminator 2.
Lydia will be back next week with more jokes but until then you can check out her Twitter!
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