Madballs, Weird Balls, Super Bouncing Weird Balls, Monster Balls, Blurp Balls, Krazy Balls, Freakballs, Squirt Devils and other nameless imitations.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

All Wound Up

"Wind Up With Double Action Movement"

Madballs weren't the biggest or most lasting trend of the 80's, but it wasn't for lack of trying. The more I get into this bizarre world of monster headed ball collecting, the more I realize how much merchandise there is. Bop bags, cups, bowls, lunchboxes, sleeping bags, erasers, gumball banks, knee pads, Halloween masks....and thats just the licensed Madballs stuff. Weird Balls had all those cards, action figures and bicycle seat covers! So, not only were there rip offs of the actual balls but there were rip offs of the various merchandising offshoots.

These little dudes we're looking at today are AmToy's foray into wind up territory. Sold individually and marketed as having two separate mechanical motions, they also were two different types of wind ups, "spinners" and "hoppers".

Screamin' Meemie and Slobulus were "spinners". So when you wind them up they roll around and kinda spin. They mostly just shoot off in arcs wide arcs. The double action feature they have is that their tongues go in and out while they tool around. Ew. I imagine them soliciting ladies and getting lawsuits filed against them. They're sculpted really well for how large they are too. Screamin' Meemie looks pretty neat and just like the ball version but the Slobulus is what you read this for. This ugly bugger looks just like this larger brother BUT his eye looks even grosser than the foam version. I think it has something to do with the shinyness of the plastic that makes it looks like actual wet tendons. Even his hair and warts are all sculpted and painted.

Then we have Skull Face and Horn Head in "hopper" form. When you wind these nerds up, they bounce around like the someone's givin them a hotfoot. The top of their heads also open and close as they hop much like chattering wind up teeth. My only complaint about these guys is that the paint on Horn Head's teeth is a little sloppy. Other than their other details are really cool (Horn Head even has a tongue!). Especially their feet. Skull Face has little skeleton feet and Horn Head has gross lumpy ones!

In conclusion, these wind ups are really neat and all of the ones I have all work great. If you can hunt them down you should pick them up. They age better than Madballs because of the materials they're made out of and the wind up parts seem pretty sturdy. You can find them on Ebay easy enough but maybe not always for a reasonable prices.

Like I said, rip offs of even the minor Madballs merchandising schemes were everywhere. These wind ups are some of my favorites. Made by Soma (purveyors of little ninjas), these dudes were definitely made to cash in on the monster ball craze. How can you tell? What sets them apart from other wind ups? Check out the packaging here. They're called Monster Balls for one, and they look like Madballs but with feet!

I'm missing one of these dudes, but we'll talk about the three I have. A nice little chat. The purple dude is pretty cool. He's some sort of purple fangy muppet with big feet. As with all of these dudes, the paint job on him is really well done. No fuzzy edges, no bleeding, and lots of colors. His brother, to the left, is the grossest of the bunch. He looks like a burn victim of some sort. Or a piece of mold. OR a piece of mold that was set on fire, was GONNA be a Madball, but didn't make the cut and got feet as part of his lawsuit against the flamable warehouse where he worked. The final grosso is my favorite. His mouth is really cool! He looks like an old man that got turned into a lamprey.

These nerds are of the hopping variety of wind ups and don't have a second action like a bobbing mouth or a flicky pervert tongue but they are really neat. I don't come across these too often and when I have it's at the bottom of a flea market bin or on Ebay for way TOO cheap. So, keep an eye out.

So in conclusion, get all of these. They're all really cool and made to last.

I recently scored (what I think is) the last of the Soma wind ups over at Monster Collectibles. He looks a lot like the "purple fangy muppet" above but with scales and and underbite instead of fur and overbite. He's pretty cool and rounds out the set nicely!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friday the Squirteenth

"Scary 18 Ft. Squirt!"

Most of the ugly faces that grace monster balls are the creation of toy designers who are, no doubt, inspired by creatures in popular culture. It's rare that an existing creep finds its way into the monster ball pantheon, but that's not to say that it doesn't happen. Monster Balls were Madball sized rubber ball representations of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Wolfman, but those are almost monster archetypes like a zombie, ghoul or a demon. Entertech, purveyors of fine water-based entertainment, stepped up to the plate in the late 80's to give us what we all wanted for so long; likenesses of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees in ball form! What? Was I the ONLY one asking for that?

I'll admit, their addition as children's toys is a bit weird. I mean, as a nerdy kid that was obsessed with horror movies way too young, I was excited that dudes from my generation were being immortalized and somewhat, legitimized as pop culture icons, however, unlike the Wolfman, or Dracula these dudes were BRUTAL murderers and both almost exclusively KILLED CHILDREN (well teens)! Even their appearances are way more nightmare-inducing than Karloff as Imhotep! Well, it must have been easy to disassociate the toys with the actual murderous movies because these weren't the only toys. Jason had a Nintendo video game and Freddy had a board game! Still? Children's ball toys?!
I was hesitant to include these guys in my collection, or on this blog, because they're not traditional Madball type balls. However, the new Euro Madballs are exactly the same make and model so the decision was made for me by the priests of Madballology.

Both Freddy and Jason come packaged with a nameless victim whose only crime was being manufactured in a world where Jason needed to be packaged separately from Freddy. They're about 1.5" in diameter and really are good and holding and squirting water.
Before I start, I want to thank the designers of Spitballs for including a tiny square part on the bottom of these that allows them to stand up straight without outside help. It's really hard to keep most of these jerks upright in order to take photos but these guys were easy. First world problems. Cry for me.

Jason's up first and I'm so pumped on him. Hold up. They somehow managed to make a mentally challenged rotting zombie cute! Look at his round little head! Awwww does mister man wanna murder me with a weed whacker? Yesh you do! This is obviously Jason via part VII: The New Blood as you can tell with his axe wound (upper right) and boat propeller wound (lower right) and the packaging (the small photo on the right is from VII). This is by far my favorite Jason incarnation, cus he's the gnarliest. He looks like a creepy jacked up zombie that's been killed 6 times. I guess that doesn't have anything to do with this toy but whatever. His victim buddy is kinda lackluster. His cartoony face is pretty neat but I'm not exactly sure what Jason did to him to make him a "victim". His eyes are squinty and pink to imply he got stabbed in them? Or maybe Jason just gave him pink eye when he was at that sleepover?
I may be biased in my saying that I like the Jason one's more because I like the Friday the 13th movies better but this Freddy ball actually is disturbing and weird. First off, they didn't try to make his face fit the ball shape, rather they make his face grow out of the ball! That fleshy color and those burns that look like veins make him look like someone with a peculiar testicular growth dressed his junk up with a hat! Look below! Awful!
I guess that IS a pretty good likeness of Robert Englund in the make up but still. I do like the tiny tiny teeth and the angry snarl but he still looks like a nad. His victim is WAY cooler than Jason's though. There's no misinterpreting what happened here, that dude got sleepy and then slashed! It's also cool that he looks like a Ken Doll head. We all know that Barbie lives on Elm Street and her parents burned Freddy alive.
So let's get back to the packaging and its boasting. "Scary 18ft squirt" huh? While this does sound like something accidentally viewed on Redtube, I tested it out and it's true! They really do shoot about 18 feet! You may say, "yeah but that's not scary". Well it is if you're my cat. They don't shoot that far for long but it is pretty cool. My absolute favorite parts of the packaging are the illustrations on the back of each. A) like you couldn't figure it out B) how cute! C) someone got paid for that, D) alliteration, E) rhyming!
In conclusion, these are really cool. I remember these from when I was a kid and tracking them down was worth it. They don't go for very much on the internet if you can find them and they come up fairly often. They're surprisingly well detailed and entertainingly stylized (that Freddy one is soooo weird). If you're into 80's monster movies OR Madballs these are for you!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Grosser Than a Speeding Booger

"Freaky Fun For Everyone"

The revamp of the Madballs line in 2007 and the following rip offs (Squirt Devils, I Poppers etc) are what got me back into collecting these ugly monsters again. I kinda forgot how awesome those original dudes were. They were gross and monstrous but their simplicity is what made them amazing. Most of them aren't too complicated or detailed, they're just really well designed monster balls. It wasn't that big of a surprise because I had many of the ones that I've recently reacquired (and carried around until there was no paint left on them), but I never had the three Super Madballs. Sigh. Just the name evokes a feeling of awe and splendor. "Oh, you thought those little creeps were cool? Check these guys out...they're SUPER! Yeah you COULD gross out your little brother with this teeny tiny Slobulus, OR you could BE A MAN and SCARE HIM TO DEATH WITH FOUL SHOT!!!" Ok, maybe that's not exactly what it's like but whatever, you're no better than me.
As with Rude Ralph, I had NO IDEA how big these guys were or what they were made out of. I actually had more referance with Rude Ralph because I had at least seen him in stores when I was a kid. Again the scale shocked me. Check out Goal Eater with Skull Face there. These were actual ball size! Well, I guess Madballs were baseball size but these were like big ball size! ANDDDD I also had no idea that Super Madballs were INFLATABLE! They're made from the same material as a football or basketball. I thought from pics they were just larger foam balls (like Worm Skull) but it turns out they're pretty usable rubber balls. Well, usable until you get hit on the brow with one of Foul Shots hard rubber worms.
There are only three Super Madballs, probably because it takes a lot of Madballology and Scare Science to create one. AND they're harder to contain because they're big. If they formed some sort of monster ball union you'd be screwed.

The three that exist are all modeled after real sports balls. Goal Eater here is a soccer monster of some sort. He's my least favorite but he's actually been growing on me. I think it's mostly because he's a cool monster but not too gross. His design reminds me of My Pet Monster rather than a Madball. He's got a gnarly grin and some CRAZY eyes but there's not too much slime and only a few stitches. I guess he's way better than a plain ol' soccer ball.
Actually, even in the time it takes me to write this Goal Eater has endeared himself to me a bit more. I love his absurdly giant teeth and especially the broken one with the exposed nerves. That's pretty gnarly. And what the hell happened to the tooth above that?! it looks like he got hit in the face with an icepick! Being a Super Madball is rough business.

His caveman brow cupping his bulging bloodshot angry eyes are pretty neat too. I guess he may not be the grossest but he looks like he may be the meanest.

Also, all the Super Madballs have customized butt-stamps that say their names and brands. Just in case they get lost you can send them home to Orb.

Foul Shot here may not looks so good in pics..well, I was unimpressed when I saw him on the internet (oh I wish he had a Facebook page), but in real life this dude rules! It's as if someone killed a guy and tried to hide his corpse in a basketball, then that dude came back to life all messed up and wormy and then busted out of the basketball! I wish I could come up with some Crypt Keeper-esque puns.Both this dude's eyes are wrecked and basically unusable but the worm one is really really nausea inducing. It's a puckered empty socket filled with pink squishy looking worms! I think that alone wins this guy the Grossest award for Super Madballs, but the other eye is all bulgy, veiny and useless too!

His teeth are more sculpted in a more Ghastly comic book style than most other Madballs but I think it works. Oof and his nose! Or rather, lack there of. It's all bubbly in the middle for some reason?! What would that even be?! Zombie boogers? I bet that smells awful.

Last and most certainly not least, is Touchdown Terror. Hand's down he's the coolest of the three, being a combo monster, football AND missle! I wish I had this when I was a kid. He's so cool! He's got the angry and gross bases covered and covered well. His menacing maw and burly brow make him look like he'll attack the hell out of you if you even attempt to catch him.
Both his eyes are pretty intense but the one in the detail is nastiest. It's like Madball pink eye, or maybe he got punched and his eye got infected. One of the other tiny details that really disturbs me is the screws holding his shark teeth together. I hate the idea of a Madball dentist! He'd probably only have a saw, one of those old timey hand cranked drills and a GIANT needle that wasn't filled with anything. The last detail up there is the thing that really really grosses me out. The bumps on a regular football kind taper off and become warts or zits on his lip! Ugh, add a skin condition to the list of awful sicknesses afflicting Touchdown Terror.

In conclusion, these dudes are totally cool. Larger, more usable and more detailed than their baseball sized siblings, Super Madballs also hold up better over time. The paint on the one's I have is still intact and the only thing really wrong with them is that they don't hold air very well. They show up fairly often on Ebay and are totally worth the price they go for. Do it! And check out this commercial!

I Am Not the Only Nerd!

Here it is folks! Our second fantasy Madball and I must say this one is totally awesome and gross! Justin Gray is a Philadelphia based illustrator that I've been great friends with for about 8 years and you should check out his stuff at Burn To Build.
His fantasy Madball is named Henry Ballins or as Jeanne D'Angelo suggested Up the Chunks. I was going to point out "the one thing I love about this is.." but it turns out there's about a million things I love about this. For one, the finger in the barf is super gross. How'd that get in there? AND the broken bottles and syringe hark back to Garbage Pail Kids but seeing them this big makes me wonder what it would be like to not only swallow them, but then regurgitate them. Ouch. The tiny zits look so full that they're going to rip off Henry's face and the skin pulling around the safety pin makes me wanna get this guy a band aid. My absolute favorite is the bullet going through his head that I thought was just a bloody wound the first time I looked. Ew.

In conclusion, this is amazing! Justin IS a totally sweet dude who's stuff you should check out. And fantasy Madball art is fun so send me something!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bells and Whistles

"To Avoid The Shar Matter & Point"

The success and endurance of the monster shaped ball is not a difficult thing to wrap your head around. Kids like to throw stuff. Kids like monsters. COMBINE THEM! YES! Young Mike is happy (and subsequently old Mike)! Things get weird when you try to throw a bunch of other useless crap in there. While Rude Ralph IS amazing, it's to his detriment that you can't throw him BUT his eye and noises are pretty cool. It's also pretty cool that Squirt Devils shoot water, but Head Poppers were too fragile to be knocked about. What I'm getting at is, you can add some stuff to the monster-faced ball equation, but you're taking a risk when you do.
Which brings us to these dudes. Simply named "Monster Ball" (note: singular), whoever made these decided to make them light up. It turns out this actually worked. Too bad for the nameless bootleggers that everything else about Monster Ball sucks. These dudes are crappy. They're made from semi sticky rubber, they're poorly painted and about half didn't work. More importantly, they were rip off designs OF ALREADY EXISTING RIP OFFS! (We'll compare later.)

The only way I've seen these dum-dums for sale was by the box-load on Ebay. I've been tempted for a while but knew I didn't really need them AT ALL, much less a box of 12. I made myself feel ok about this by having my brother buy them for me after doing an illustration for his band, Barfly. Conscience at ease.
As it turns out, the acid trip of a package is one of the more entertaining things about Monster Ball. The whole sha-bang reminds me of fireworks packaging. "Monster Ball" is totally just a font with some curvy stuff goin on and some drips added for grossness. The real mystery is the pattern IN the letters. It almost looks like calendar pages shrunk down and run through some filters. It adds mystery to the whole thing if you start asking "what calendar"? It could be a hunky fireman calendar, a Kuddly Kittens one, The Far Side or even the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar.
You may also notice the star light shooting out of fake Aargh's nose. That is NOT how they light up. It's more of an inner glow than a lazer light show. This version of the dude also has no pupil. This is hard for me to understand because the actual toy DOES have a pupil which means someone took it out for the package. "Screw those dudes, they don't get to see his full eye until they buy the box!" say the mystery manufacturers.

Ok, get ready. Take a deep breath. Release. Now read the cautionary text. "To avoid the shar matter & point". WHAT?! I tried really hard to come up with something funny and clever that those words are supposed to mean, but I have nothing. I can't fathom what I'm supposed to be careful about or how I'm supposed to avoid shar matter. Is that I can't do it. I can't even laugh it off. I am a bit scared of these things now. Like in the middle of the night they'll explode sending soft rubber flying through my torso. The package also reads "safe" though.

Which brings us to our last and most alluring mystery of the packaging. There is NO info at ALL about who the hell made these buggers. No copyright, no date, no nothing. No fine print anywhere and I even pulled the box apart. There's not even anything stamped on the balls themselves! Maybe they're not copyrighted because they're STOLEN molds?!
This first goofball is a rip off of a nameless guy I've seen before but who I don't really know anything about. You can see him here in the bottom left of this bin. As with all of these they're sculpted ok but not nearly as good as the guys that inspired them.
This guy I know a little more about because I actually own the dude he's based off of. In the Weirdo Toys blog about Sadballs they dubbed him Blood Bulge.
Now I would think the similarity could be an accident cus hes a skull-ish monster with pointy teeth but he does have one eye bigger than the other and his incisors painted differently than the rest of his teeth.
LOOK AT THAT. Same three lines under the skull nose!
That brings us to our last dude. He's a rip off of Lace Face who's a knock off of the Madball Argh who's the most imitated of all those original dudes. Look at his family history!
In fact, I don't know why I'm angry that ANY of these dudes are imitations of imitations. Maybe it's the laziness that disappoints me? You couldn't even make your own crappy sculpts?!
Anyway, the lighting is their ONLY cool feature. Up above you can see how they light up. NOT like a Terminator eye, more like an E.T. glow. I thing this part is kinda cool. The lights inside flicker too. However, it doesn't make up for the lack of trying in other departments.

In conclusion, AVOID AT ALL COSTS, unless you're an anal retentive collector like me.

Geekery Gone Out Of Control

As an illustrator, one of the often overlooked things I love about Madballs, are the little drawings that adorn the packages and various merchandising offshoots. James Groman and the others that worked on the line really had a great way of making two dimensional circles look gnarly but at the same time fill them with personality.

When the relaunch of the line happened in 2007, I really loved seeing the art for the revamps of old characters and the handful of new ones that got made, like Blech Beard. He wound up being one of my favorites overall and got me thinking of how I'd like to see Madball versions of EVERYTHING. Now that the line is cancelled (or in limbo, who knows), I'm taking it upon myself to add new dudes to the pantheon! I will raise that banner! ALL HAIL ORB!
Ok guys. We've been foolin around here for about two months. It's time for the real deal. The nitty gritty if you will. Or the Gritty Kitty. We're entering new dimensions of Madballology, out of the realm of pure research and headlong into development. I give you Er-ick the Retch-ed. My very own fantasy Madball. If there can be a pirate, why not a viking?! (And before you say it, Allen, I KNOW they didn't actually wear horns on their helmets but a wing wouldn't have been able to poke him in the eye like that). I'd like to think of an entire world where there are Madball versions of EVERYTHING. Not just cool things like pirates and vikings, but office workers, CEOs, painters, teachers, etc. How much cooler would your coworkers be if the constantly made barfing noises and were covered in drool and stitches?! Ok maybe that's not that appealing. Whatever, I still like to day dream about it.

Ok, so I have a few more of these that I'm working on in between actual commissions that you can expect soon. I'm also working on getting some guest artists to draw their own fantasy Madballs, and I'll be taking submissions as well! Send them!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jurassic Barf!

"Squeeze Me, I Scream!"

Madball creationists suggest that God created monsterballs somewhere on the 4th day. Recent studies, however, have suggested that they are the result of eons of selective grossness. The most compelling proof of this theory are Dino Balls.
I've always loved dinosaurs. From when I was a kid to now as an adult. They probably have a big hand in why I love monsters so much. I mean, they're basically nature's monsters! Ancient, full of fangs, mysterious and ready to eat us (theoretically).
I honestly don't know squat about these idiots. They were found during one of my many time-killing Ebay search sprees at work. The packaging says "Placo Products" and has a date of 1996 but the most lucrative search for Placo yeilded to this. Not much. WHOEVER they were, they really made some bizarre monsters here.

Mostly dinosaur but partly ball, the three different Dino Balls are awesome! They're really well sculpted and finely detailed dinosaur heads made out of durable squeezable rubber and just kinda grow out of baseballs?! That's right. The fronts are these monstrous dino heads and the back sides are like fleshy, scaley baseballs. Ew. The most terrifying thing about them is their "scream". It almost gave me a heart attack the first time I squeezed (squoze?) it. It's a really high pitched party favor-esque squeel that drives cats into a frenzy (it's true, I tested it).
We'll go for the most famous first. T-Rex! He's really neat. I'm really into the balance of cuteness and menacing detail they perfected on these. The front of this T-Rex is kinda cute with rounded features and a semismile. However, the side reveals that flappy leather skin and shiny gums! They even sculpted the tongue and the roof of his mouth! There's one more detail they all have that I'm confused by:
Each one of these morons has "CRUSHERS" stamped on its head-butt (or butt head). The series isn't called Crushers it's called Dino Balls. Was there a larger series that these were a part of?! Who knows. We won't. It's a mystery for the Madballologists.
After him is a dude simply named "Carnosaurs", which is definitely not a dinosaur name. It's the name of a GROUP of dinosaurs, and an awful Roger Corman movie, but not a single species. However, I commend the dudes at Placo for goin all out with the colors on this dork. Dinosaurs could have been any color and the bland grey and green ones are snooooorrrrrinnngggg. Carnosaur has two shades of blue and two shades of green on him as well as black spikes! From the front his dude is pretty gruesome, but from the side he looks like a mutant caterpillar. Maybe that's how dinosaurs mature? Someone call Science and let them know the "egg" theory is incorrect. He's also the only one of these nerds that has any blood. That gash on his eye must smart!
Lastly is good ol' Triceratops, friend to children. He's the cutest out of this bunch but he's still pretty gnarly. The dude is screaming and he's REALLY wrinkly. His neck flap and baseball ass are super gross too. I get the feeling that the blunt horns and spikes and whatnot that give the illusion of cuteness are actually just practical, so kids didn't lose and eye or two while tossing these at their siblings.
I really do appreciate how well these dudes are painted. Check out these details. Scars and fangs!
Summary. YES! Monster ball/dinosaur combination is a great idea. The screaming is really unsettling and they look so cool! My only complaint is that they could be a little grosser.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

All Encompasing Rip-off Artists

"You Can Miss, Fumble and Strike Out!"

Weird Balls....where to start? For some reason the 80's saw an explosion of weird and/or gross-out products aimed at young boys. They ran the gamut of toys; there were trading cards (Garbage Pail Kids/Dinosaurs Attack), balls (Madballs), little rubber figures (M.U.S.C.L.E.s), larger action figures (Masters Of the Universe) as well as many many others. The Mel Appel Company (also known as TMAC) bootlegged them all in what was possibly the biggest toy coup of the 80's. Well, not really but it sounded cool didn't it?

They had a host of characters that they translated into about 6 different forms of toy. Weird Ball Wrestlers were their answer to M.U.S.C.L.E.s while the Collectums seem to be He-Man knock offs. The Weird Ball Trading Cards were a more gritty version of GPK. You can read about it more comprehensively at Toypedia.
What I'm mostly concerned about are the Madballs fakes. There were about six Weird Balls, the size and shape of Madballs and packaged in a similar style. Now, that's nothing new. Plenty of schmoes copied those things but Mel Appel went one step further. Like, when American Greetings made knee pads for skating and biking, TMAC made a bicycle seat covers. So, it's no surprise that when American Greetings produced Super Madballs (football and basketball sized monsters), there was a Weird Ball answer.

I'll hand it to the Weird Ball design team, while most d-bags were content to minutely change existing Madball designs, they went ahead and put a lot of effort into constructing their own original barf brigade. Even including some football shaped dudes scaled down to regular Madball size. However, when it came to their "Super Weird Ball" they kinda dropped the ball (get it?). On his own he's pretty cool, but if you've seen the smaller version of Worm Skull (I've heard the larger version called "Punt Grunt" but his packaging says "Worm Skull"), you know that this guy is just a scaled up version. Nothing new. It's also just more foam. The Super Madballs were actually inflatable balls.
I'm not gonna complain though, because I'm sure their versions were cheaper. As with Rude Ralph, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into with this nerd. I actually thought I was bidding on the regular sized Worm Skull when a much bigger box came in the mail (see above for brother to brother comparison). He was still "packaged" but that packaging consisted of nothing more than some shrink wrap and a sticker.
I do admit I like this nerd's design. He's a pretty neatly design skull that looks like he may have been the son of a skeletal pig that mated with a football. Ew, pigskins. I really like his cavernous eye sockets and beady little Amityville eyes. And obviously, those worms are cool. Worms are always cool. Except when they're in your egg cream.
His backside leaves something to be desired. A few bone-like pockmarks and one crack with one worm and a tiny bit of slime....snoooorreeeeee. It's a bummer to me that with a larger canvas, so many of the super-sized balls don't add more disgusting bits and details.
In conclusion, this dude is cool but I think he's much better smaller. There aren't enough details to make him worthwhile as a giant. However, he is a cool testament to the rip-off mastery of TMAC.