Action Figures Posts

19 Food Mascots Who Want You to Join Them for Dinner, Snacks or Dessert

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Last week we looked back at some of our favorite cereal spokes characters from big bowlers like Cap’n Crunch to the soggy, forgotten ones like Quake. But there are more meals to the day than just breakfast, so let’s take a look at other Food Mascots from healthy veggies to fast food.

Back when Funko started in the late ’90s, their Wacky Wobblers were heavy on retro, even forgotten, food spokes characters. It was a fun dose of nostalgia, with some deep dives into long retired mascots who still could provide a smile to those who remembered.

big boy toysmcconalds bobblheads

Big Boy was the very first Wobbler, and he has since been immortalized with other figures. During the restaurant’s heyday, vinyl figures and banks representing Big Boy were widely distributed. Bonus fact: It’s fun to guess where someone is from by whether they identify him as Bob’s, Shoney’s, Frisch’s, Azar’s and so on.

Many other restaurants have mascots, but most are on the fast side of the food spectrum. McDonald’s began rolling out friends for Ronald McDonald in the late ’60s. If you’re someone who finds clowns terrifying, you should the original Hamburglar. Also Grimace used to be Evil and had extra arms. The entire cast of characters exploded to enormous size by the 1980s, and has been scaled way back since.

kfc halloween maskIt’s hard to conceive now, but at one time Col. Harlan Sanders was an actual person, not a character played by an ever rotating cast of comedic actors (and also recently by another spokes character, Chester Cheetah!). Burger King used to be a real person, too, possibly a deposed ruler of a far away country, but more likely an actor. Either way, the rubber headed king of the last decade or so has been repping the restaurant and possibly scaring kids since.

kool-aid manwyler's funny faceThe Kool-Aid Man started off as a face drawn in the sweat on the outside of a pitcher of ice cold powdered beverage (didn’t we all?). Eventually, he grew appendages and then an affinity for smashing through walls. Many figures and toys and replica pitchers have honored him over the years, but the best was the early ’80s Kool-Aid Man video game cartridge! Fun fact: Bugs Bunny drank the Kool-aid briefly, too! In the mid ’60s, Wyler’s tried their hand at the powdered juice game with Funny Face. Each flavor had its own distinct character, although they may have tried too hard. While some of them are available in collectible form, several were based on, umm, questionable stereotypes that have not aged well.

poppin fresh familyMany of you know the Pillsbury Dough Boy has a name: Poppin’ Fresh. But did you know he had a family of dough people? Joining him in the 1970s were a wife (or maybe girlfriend, they never specified… Poppie Fresh), a son (Popper), a baby daughter (Bun-Bun), and pets named Flapjack and Biscuit. There are also some older folks, presumably someone’s parents, as well as good ol’ Uncle Rollie. The main family and pets were available as figures and finger puppets for several years.

hostess spokes character toysIf you prefer your baked goods already well, baked… Twinkie the Kid was your guy. Why he dresses as a cowboy is anyone’s guess. There is also a chocolate version of the Twinkie the Kid, also named the same name. Less enduring, but worthy of the Funko treatment were King Ding Dong and Fruit Pie the Magician. Spider-Man and other heroes got in on the Hostess gig for a while as well.

j k simmoms m&mThe kings and queens of the anthropomorphic snack world have to the the M&Ms characters. Starting with just a few different colors, they have added on to the crew increasing diversity, and even an occasional cannibalism joke (well, what do you call it when one candy eats another of itself?) Fun fact: Actor J. K. Simmons has been the voice of the yellow M&M for over 20 years. No, seriously!

jolly green giant toyscalifornia raisins video gameSpokes characters aren’t always trying to lead consumers astray… the Jolly Green Giant seems genuinely interested in selling you healthy vegetables. And of course he had a sidekick… apparently despite the family resemblance, young Sprout was an “apprentice.” Theoretically, the California Raisins were doing the same service, but honestly, they sold a lot of merchandise and stimulated an interest in Motown hits more than they did for shriveled grapes.

noid toyOf course, we need to address perhaps the most annoying, reviled, and despised restaurant mascot of all time… The Noid. Even in the pre-Twitter rage era of the early 1990s, the reaction to this mascot for Domino’s Pizza was swift and unified in revulsion. He was meant to represent the bad, incompetency of “other” pizza chains, but the stink stuck to Domino’s nonetheless. So of course, Funko has honored the Noid with a Pop! figure. The Garbage Pail Kids also did a more fitting tribute.

Of course, many non-food companies have memorable (and sometimes forgotten) spokes characters… we’ll look at those soon, too.

Who’s your favorite food spokes character? Let us know, and if there are relevant toys and collectibles add them to our database.

Introducing the New Mego Database Powered by hobbyDB

Mego Corp is the newest Toy Company to reveal its all-new product database, powered by hobbyDB. While they are best remembered for their wide line of popular figures from movies and TV, the company’s history goes back much further. The Mego Database will include all of that history and more.

Mego was founded in 1954 by D. David and Madeline Abrams as an importer of inexpensive dime-store toys. In 1971, a shift in economics and changing tastes with kids meant it was time to refocus the company.

Mego SuperheroesMarty Abrams, their son, suggested that a line of inexpensive action figures would be a big hit. Many of them shared the same body molds to keep costs down, and all had separate, removable outfits. The figures were 8 inches tall, smaller than some other popular brands, but perfectly sized so accessories like vehicles and playsets weren’t too big or expensive.

Mego managed to get licenses for DC’s Super-Friends, which turned into an instant hit. A subsequent deal with Marvel Comics then meant kids could play with compatible characters from incompatible worlds. 

The rapid success of those first figures meant Mego would lead to the company in securing deals for characters from Star Trek, Wizard of Oz, and Planet of the Apes. In fact, the Planet of the Apes characters were trailblazers, some of the very first movie tie-in merchandising of their kind.

Mego Planet of the Apes

Mego also dabbled in 1/64 diecast cars! Their Jet Wheels cars came packaged with connectable, stackable garages.

Mego Jet Wheels

Mego Action JacksonAmong their next big hits were smaller figures, the Micronauts. They were much smaller than any other toy of their kind, and their futuristic designs fit in with kids’ interest in space travel and science fiction.

Action Jackson was Mego’s response to GI Joe, and competed with the long-running soldier on a less military field. Additional licenses in the late ‘70s included CHiPs, Dukes of Hazzard, and The Greatest America Hero. Only when collectors and kids gravitated towards Kenner’s new (and smaller) Star Wars toys did Mego stop production in the early 1980s.

Even though the company was gone, the memories of Mego stayed strong, and kids of the ‘70s grew into collectors of the ‘90s and 2000s. In 2018, Mego re-introduced a line of characters including many old favorites, as well as some shows from that era that they didn’t do the first time around. Some newer classics like Cheers and Married With Children are in the mix now as well.mego bewitchedOnce completed, the Mego Database will be a great resource for collectors, as it combines accurate, complete information from the actual company with the cross-reference abilities of the hobbyDB database. It will also feature price guide information and give Mego collectors the ability to manage and showcase their collections as well as a wishlist. Interested in getting involved? Just email us here.

Meet Matias Kalaka, Master of Action Figure Mashups

kalaka toys Bart Danzigkalaka toys matiasOver the past few years, we’ve introduced you to various diecast customizers. We recently discovered the work of Matias Kalaka of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who makes custom action figures and vinyl art toys. His crazy mashups of completely unrelated universes somehow make sense when you see the quality of his ideas and execution.

Kalaka creates single one-off, hand crafted figures, as well as very limited molded figures under his Kalaka Toys brand. “I’ve been making custom figurines since 2001, and serialized toys since 2010,” he said.  But his passion for tinkering with figures goes much further back. His earliest custom model along these lines was “a Jesus figure in a tin space ship made in the ’60s.”

Inspiration comes from all kinds of places. His mashup of ‘80s icons Mr. T and E.T. The Extraterrestrial was a natural given their names. “Mr. E.T., it was a fun mashup, so I’d say it’s fun what drives me and inspires me.” On the other hand, His Simpsons/Masters of the Universe mashup idea came from a friend. “They are characters that were present on a friend’s t-shirt brand, we spoke and I decided they were good enough to be made into toys.”

Other mashups don’t really have a particular theme other than crossing Bart Simpson plus Ronald McDonald or musician Glenn Danzig because… well, as he said, it’s all about the  fun.

kalaka toys Mr. E. T.

Mr. E. T., of course.

The original sculpts are done with a mix of found parts and existing components from existing figures. “Whatever works best… some are from scratch, sometimes I take some bases and work up from them.” Either way, the final product is made mostly of plastic resin. He tends to work fairly fast. “From the idea to the figurine, it can be quick or take weeks, as some ideas come out clear in my mind and others require more work to end them as I like.”

kalaka toys matias matt groening

Matias with Matt Groening of Simpsons and Futurama fame.

kalaka toys shogunFor a sense of scale, most of his figures are in the range between 11 to 25 centimeters (about 4.5 to 10 inches). “I don’t have a favorite, I work on the size that inspiration leads me to,” he said. Since they are limited editions, (and really high quality) they don’t come cheap, running anywhere from about $120 to 350.

Matias says his most difficult project was a Shogun Warlord figure (left). “The Shogun Warlord had a lot of development work, as it was produced in a toy factory it needed a lot of work before the matrix was made.” Being able to make slightly less limited runs makes his work more available to the masses and gives him good exposure. In the meantime, he promotes most of his work through his Instagram account at KALAKA_TOYS. Fans can also follow him on Facebook at KALAKA TOYS.

Other big things are on the horizon as well. “I think that in this year, my most prominent figurine will be released by Medicom.” He didn’t tell us what it is just yet, but it’s sure to be a great execution of a wild idea.

kalaka toys street greyskull

Castle Grayskull comes to life.

Mario Villarroel, a developer in hobbyDB’s South American office, conducted this interview in Spanish and translated the repsonses to English. (Yes, even the devs at hobbyDB are required to be well-versed and interested in various pop culture phenomena.)

Tips and Tricks to Grade and Value Your Collection

Most collectors, no matter what their interest, generally like to have a bit of an idea of what their collection might be worth. Even if you never intend to sell it, knowing the value of your collection is always worthwhile. Knowing how to grade and value your collection is, well, valuab.e

The Grading System

While we all collect very different items, there are some general rules of thumb that you need to be aware of when trying to grade and then value a collection. The easiest way to start is to gain a basic understanding of what each grade is and what they mean. For most collectibles (action figures, comic books, trading cards), grades can be broken down as follows:

Mint/ Near Mint

Absolutely perfect. There is no damage whatsoever to the item or its packaging (if it comes in any). It looks like it just left the factory. Note that shrinkwrap does not need to be intact to achieve a Mint grade. If you have an item with the shrinkwrap intact, it’s an added bonus and often known as “factory sealed.” Sometimes these items can fetch a higher price than a Mint-graded item without shrinkwrap. Near Mint is an almost perfect item. There may be the smallest of blemishes; a small page crease or a very slight chip or dent but unless you were specifically looking for defects you’d not notice them. Usually, these objects are considered to look as they would on the store shelf.

star wars comics

Very Fine/ Fine

This is where most people’s collectibles are probably at. At the Very Fine grade blemishes can be more noticeable, but still hardly impact the overall quality of the item. Small corner creases in books or comics are acceptable, as are small patches of chipped paint on diecast cars. The item has obviously been handled, albeit very carefully. Slipping to the Fine grade, cover wear on books and comics is apparent but has not taken the luster from the colors, and small stress along the spine can be seen. Items such as toys and figures may have a little discoloration, and production errors such as color misalignment or slight defacements are allowed. These errors don’t jump out at you but are visible on inspection.

Very Good/ Good

Items in the Very Good/ Good grades have obviously been loved. Comics and books have been read, possibly multiple times, and toys have been played with. Books and comics have visible cover wear and the colors may have diminished somewhat, and may only have the smallest of chips. The same holds true for toys and cars; they have obviously been played with, and there may be some color chips, dents, and discoloration. Moving down to a Good grade, a book or comic cover may have medium corner tears, and the cover may have come partially detached from the whole (only one staple holding it on, for example). Toys will have a noticeable amount of color missing, but still not detract from the whole. Toys should still have all accessories with them, however.

fair to poor comicsFair/ Poor

Items that fall into the Fair and Poor grades are significantly defaced. Books and comics are dog-eared, their covers are mostly detached (or fully detached but still present for Poor), and there are several chips and/or tears in the cover and interior pages. Toys have been well played with, showing dents, paint chips, discoloration, and, in the case of a Poor grade, missing some accessories. Basically, there are unsellable/ valuable items.

A Note On Age

When it comes to grading your items the only thing that matters is the items’ condition. Age of the item does not come into the equation except in some particular cases. So the argument of “it’s in Near Mint condition for its age,” does not hold water. A comic book from 1964 graded as Near Mint should be in the exact same condition as a Near Mint graded comic from 2019.

There are also more specific criteria for certain collectibles, such as diecast vehicles.

Finding the Value

Once you’ve determined the grade of your items, you can start researching what their value might be. There are many ways to find this information yourself, some of which are completely free. There are books such as Overstreet’s Comic Book Price Guide that provide extensive–if not complete – values of items, or monthly publications such as the UK’s Collectors Gazette which provides sale values of recently sold and auctioned items. There are also many websites which offer similar information, some of which are paid and some of which are free.

power rangers figuresOne of the best tools to use, especially if you’re after the value of only a few specific items, is eBay. By using the site’s “sold items” search option and then sorting the results by highest price + shipping you can get a reasonable idea of what your item is currently valued at. It’s a good idea to average out the sold price of the top three to five listings to get the closest possible actual value as sometimes items can sell for a lot more – or a lot less – than they are actually worth.

If using eBay to find values be aware that it’s a good idea to try and find listings that match the grade of your own item. Also, if you’re selling something that comes in a box or with accessories, see if you can find listings that include those things. While it isn’t necessary it just gives you a better idea of your item’s value. If you can’t find a listing that matches perfectly with your items, a little bit of educated guesswork may be in order.

And of course, hobbyDB has an ever-expanding system of keeping up with current values for all kinds of collectibles.

Also, for certain collectibles such as action figures or diecast, the packaging itself can be an important part of the grade.

professional comics gradesProfessional Grading

professional action figure gradeWhile you can determine the grade and value of your items yourself by using the above information, there are professional grading services that can do it all for you. While these services do of course cost money, they offer the most accurate and reliable grade/ value information for your collectibles.

Certified Guaranty Company, or CGC, is best known for their grading of comic books but also work with magazines, trading cards, and posters. Internationally regarded as a leader in the field, CGC will go over your items with a fine-tooth comb to give you the most accurate grading possible. Once graded, CGC will place your comic, magazine, or poster inside a special airtight casing to ensure that the grade does not diminish over time. Known as “slabbing,” this means you’ll not be able to read your comic or magazine again, however, if you are planning on having your item professionally graded chances are you’ll have another “reader” copy in your collection.

A similar method of professional grading can also be found for toys and figures. Businesses such as the Toy Graders Association will take your toys, be they boxed or no, and examine them to within an inch of their lives. As with CGC, this will guarantee you the most accurate grade possible. Toys can also be slabbed (although a better term would be “boxed,”) which means they won’t be able to be played with. But then, I’m sure that most people reading this don’t actually play with their toys.

Once graded and slabbed, your items are given a grading score. If you ever want to sell your items or are just curious as to their value, you can look up this score to find the corresponding price. Many price guides will list the slabbed value as well as the regular value, too.

A Final Word

Grading and finding the value of your collectibles can be a rather deep rabbit hole, but it’s a fascinating one nonetheless. It should be mentioned that while grading systems are unlikely to change, values are always in a state of flux so what something may be worth today may not necessarily be true tomorrow. Even then, there is no guarantee that your items will sell for any given price as it depends on who is currently looking. It’s always a bit of a gamble.

Hey, That’s Not Santa! Collectibles in Claus Costumes

santa claus lead

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

One of the greatest, most mysterious super-spies in history is hitting his busy season. He’s been surveying you and everyone in the world ’round the clock, ’round the calendar. He’s been compiling notes on everyone’s behavior in order to exact his own special brand of justice. But on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus rolls up his sleeves and really gets down to business.

As Christmas approaches, he has a network of “helpers,” doppelgangers who pop up at malls and shopping centers and street corners all over the world in December to give the illusion that he’s close by. Of course, some of those Alt-Santas have other motives, many of them quite naughty indeed. Here at hobbyDB, we decided to compile a list of Santa’s subterfugers (is that a word?) from the benign to the sinister to the positively evil. And of course, we have our own intel on each one.

yoda darth vader santaHarmless Imitators

There is a long history of fictional characters donning the red suit mostly for good natured hijinks, or simply to sit in the chair at the mall. Generally affable characters such as Yoda, Mickey Mouse, and Freddy Funko have all gone red for non-canonical merchandising reasons. Which really fits the spirit of Christmas if you think about it. Heck, even Darth Vader can be found in Santa garb, but since it’s not in any of the movies, we have to assume he was just goofing around, right?

gizmo gremlinCuddly But Creepy

Anyone who doesn’t think of “Gremlins” as a Christmas movie really needs to have their spirit checked. The Gremlins start out cuddly, but (Spoiler alert for a 35 year old movie) if they get wet, or are fed after midnight, they turn into horrifying little monsters. So it’s tough to say which side of the fence Gizmo, seen here, falls on. Also, is he really impersonating Santa, or just wearing a hat to be festive? Intentions and consequences unclear.

jakc skellington droppoGood Intentions, Bad Ideas

Jack Skellington has to go here, right? Sure, he plotted to take over Christmas, and sure, he usurped the good name and costume of St. Nick, and sure, he actually hijacked the sled (Spoiler Alert for a 25 year old cartoon) and attempted to deliver the goods on his own… but he swears it was all in good fun. Okay, and a bit of jealousy. However you want to judge his intentions, he probably could have done some jail time for his malfeasance if he ever went to court.

funko psycho santaAlso in this category, we have Droppo, the lovable goofball from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, possibly one of the worst holiday movies ever. In any event, Droppo dons the suit to cover for Santa while he… look, I don’t want to spoil this one for you. You really should watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of it, though.

“Looks Kind of Scary, but Who Knows?

Psycho Santa’s main motive is… well, that’s hard to say. He’s a crazy goblin-looking creature, with wily eyes, a mischievous grin, and a creepy tongue dangling out of his gap toothed mouth. The Psycho Goblin character is an original Funko creation, so he’s still building his back story.

santa grinch

Your heart’s an empty hole, Your brain is full of spiders, You’ve got garlic in your soul

And of course, Santa’s most sinister imposter has to be the Grinch, right? His elaborate scheme to steal the spirit of Christmas by stealing the materialism of the holiday was diabolical. He didn’t just wear the suit, he mimicked the sled, the reindeer, the mannerisms. And of course, (Spoiler alert for a 50-year old cartoon) his diabolical plot could only be derailed by… his own heart. Now for a real mystery… in Who-ville, does the real Santa look human, or Who-man?

robot santaWhat if Santa is some kind of Robot?

Oh, wait, you thought the Grinch was the best of the worst? In the year 3000, Santa’s duties are relegated to a harmless four-ton robot from Neptune. Well, Futurama’s Robot Santa Claus would be harmless, except he was erroneously programmed to judge the naughty from the nice with extreme prejudice. (Spoiler Alert for a 20 year old cartoon) He deems just about everyone naughty and worthy of a death sentence. 

Speaking of robotic Santas, over the years, “Doctor Who” has ended many of their seasons with a Christmas special, some of them featuring Santa.  It makes sense: He doesn’t hop across dimensions, and he doesn’t travel in time, but Santa does manage to cover a heck of a lot of square miles in an absurdly short amount of time. So it figures he would know Doctor Who to some degree. But he’s the good guy. In most of those specials, anyway. One year did feature a super creepy Santa Robot, the kind who occupied the uncanny valley, so he was the stuff of nightmares.

eric cartman santa suitThe True Meaning of Christmas is Ham… no, Presents!

The very first five-minute South Park cartoon features Santa Claus battling Jesus to settle the true meaning of Christmas. As bad as that Santa might sound, (and in subsequent appearances he’s not the nicest guy) he’s not an imposter, so he doesn’t really count for this list. On the other hand, Eric Cartman has been spotted in a full Santa suit several times over the years. Whatever his specific motive might be at any time, we can assume that Cartman Claus must be the most truly evil imposter of all.

Regardless of intent, it’s clear that the spirit of Christmas lives inside all of us. So merry Christmas to all and to all… make sure you look closely at who actually slides down your chimney this year.

Do you have a favorite undercover Santa Costumed character? Let us know in the comments below!