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

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Slime Time!!

DUDE! this awesome painting just came to me via email from Patt Whelan. He's an illustrator and tattoo artist at Baker Street Tattoo in Media PA. He's also in the sick band The Claw.

He's renowned for his love of Madballs as evidenced in his various Heart Show pieces. Here he combines my two favorite things. H.P. Lovecraft and monster faced balls. He dubbed this dude Cthulubus, referencing Oculus Orbus and Cthulhu. My name for him would be Ball Of Cthulhu, though and he would come with madness insurance.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hideous Heat Wave

"Gross! Ghastly!"

Madballs were marketed like crazy and I've even listed some of the ludicrous items that were plastered with their ugly likeness in past posts. What we've got here are two very rare Madball items that were hunted down on two continents by two intrepid Madball hunters. Like Indiana Joneseses but for toys. And no one was trying to rip out anyone's heart.
Now, they may look like regular Madballs but these are actually Water Squirting Madballs! Much like the Euro minis or Squirt Devils, They're made from hollow rubber so you can fill them with water and then blast your unsuspecting nerdy friends in the face! Hopefully knocking their glasses to the side (not off, that would be mean). Both of these were loose when I got 'em but you can rub your slimey eyeballs all over the packaging here.
The first one is Screamin' Meemie and was brought to me from South Africa by Justin of Weirdo Toys (see? monster ball adventurers!). The material allows for greater detail, a better paint job, and greater size! They're different sculpts and I'm not sure of TCFC did the modelling or if someone else did (these were farmed out by American Greetings to Arco), but whoever it was did a great job.
You can see a bit of the detail in the mouth here along with the hole for water blasting. The "rump" shows the detail of the stitches as well as how you fill these guys up. You pull that little tab to remove the plug and it has a "T" shaped piece of plastic on the other side to prevent it from falling out (like a squirt gun).

Screamin' Meemie's a very streamlined Madball but even so, his eyes look buggier, his mouth more realistic and his nose more Groucho on the Arco version.
This Slobulus was spotted in a lot of 4 Madballs on Ebay by yours truly. I know, not as exciting as a South African flea market hunt but still. The seller didn't know what they had and no one else seemed to notice or care. But this is where the Waters Squirters really shine. Their version of Slobulus is much bigger than his foam counterpart and painted so much better! There's even details that weren't there at all on the first. Like the bugs on his face and those awful puckered ears!
The eye socket really really grosses me out on this one. The way the tendons lay really makes me think of an actual eye hanging out! The retina's and pupils are actually raised on each eye creating a layered effect. And the bugs...oh the bugs....The one in his hair is present in both renditions but the one on his face is a formless bump in the original. Here its got a head, legs, antenna and spots!

In conclusion, buy these if you can! But don't buy Oculus Orbus because he's the only one I'm missing. So, just tell me if you see him. Yeah, the high detail in sculpt and paint, bigger size, and durability of these make them some of my favorite Madball products of all time. And you can blast bullies in the face when they try to shove you in a locker!

Thanks to an amazing reader of this blog and fellow collector, I've completed my Water Squirter Collection! Josh from Australia mailed me this dude for free!

You can see the difference in paint detail and fortitude. The plastic of the Water Squirter takes to the paint much better and holds up over time without rubs or chipping. Granted, my Oculus Orbus has seen better days (if you have a mint one, I'm in the market) but the water dudes are just crisper even without wear and tear.

Thanks again Josh!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Land Of the Retching Sun

"ホラーボール 悪魔の目玉"

Oh man! Japan loves Madballs. There are tons of Madball inspired vinyl collectibles but they're usually wayyyy outside my price range and have bodies and stuff. Not monster headed balls, strictly speaking. The triple feature I've got lined up for today, however, are straight up ugly faced balls without extraneous arms and legs.

The first two sets of dudes were purchased when Gom-Taro (an online toy store) was having a 70% off going out of business sale. Given the usual price of Japanese toys, I pounced on this opportunity.
We'll start with Takara's Horror Balls. Well, actually, as far as I can tell the second set are called Horror Balls too, but that's because I can't read a lick of Japanese. But these first dudes are pretty crazy pencil top "erasers", though I haven't attempted to use them as such.

The packaging is neat! It's got lots of splats and drips and even a cool looking bat. Unfortunately, it also has that little racist caricature (which is Takara's mascot). Siggghhhhhh.....These dudes are numbered and the highest I've seen is 18, but it seems like there's really only three sculpts in different color variations. The back of the package has a cool coupon that I wish I could cash in at Shop Rite. "Yeah, I'll take some kale, some soy milk and a disgusting Japanese Madball rip off." It shows you how to use them too, which is absurd. I don't think anyone would mistake these for anything other than toys that go on the ends of pencils. Like, you can't unclog a drain with them or ride one down the street. Anyway, let's check them out up close.
I don't know what any of their names are so we're gonna call this dude, Metric Menace. I should say that these three Horror Balls are academically themed, which is funny. "School can be gross kids! You don't just need to play with your vomit inducing grotesqueries at home anymore!" Metric Menace is a geometry themed vampire, made up of rulers and triangles and whatnot. I guess just plain old stitches and wonky eyes were too lowbrow for Takara.Up next is Pencil Pusher. He's the grossest of the bunch with a swollen eye, crooked teeth and blue barf! His academic theme is....pencil's. I like his little eraser nose, it's cute but not too cute. All of them also have some sort of clear plastic right eye and a tiny nub or button on the top of their heads. If I could read kanji or hiragana, I'd probably be able to explain what the hell both are for. Alas, I can't, so....maybe it's a lazer eye? When in doubt, go for lazer eye.
Our last dude is a sloppy two ways. First off, I can't make out what the hell is goin on with his face. I think he's supposed to be scarred where his left eye would have been, but its hard to say. I also had a hard time figuring out what his theme was. Turns out it's text books (Book Worm!). Kinda obvies but a little dumb. B, his paint is terrible. These things came out in the 80's and mine were still sealed when I got them and his silver paint was still tacky! Whatever, I still think these are awesome, android-esque school related Madball knock offs and well worth the money I paid for them. I've seen Book Worm on Ebay for $50 which I'd say is toooo much. So try to find a Japanese online toy store that's having a going out of business sale. Yeesh. Our second batch are more traditional pencil top eraser ugly balls that arrived in unmarked plastic bags. These are a tiny bit smaller than the first set but the same size as the Eraser Bouncing Bad Bad Balls. I'm really like these dudes. Their psychadellic coloring and snaggle teeth are really awesome. I think the first is some sort of old man vampire (Old Manpire) and the second is a Screemin Meemie-esque insane face. That third dude, though, he's my favorite. He's a drunk deformed gorilla (Gore-illa!)!
Next up are two of the same dudes in different colors. I can see some Aargh influence there with the drooping eye but he's got those beever teeth! Buck Tooth Terrance looks pretty gross in flesh colored but the translucent blue with red teeth and yellow eyes make him look downright Lovecraftian!

I would totally recommend these to buy but I have no idea where you'd get them now. Sorry.
Last but certainly not least is this horrible beauty of a keychain from Psycho Wheels (which I think is a Japanese motorcylce fetish accesory store). The sculptor signed the back as (and is noted as such on the Psycho Wheels website) Sketch but I can't seem to find any other info on him, though he has designed 3 or 4 other keychains for them. This one is a Rat Fink/Madballs mash up and what a doosey it is. Stitched shut and bulging eyes combined with Big Daddy Roth style jagged teeth and floppy tongue! These highly detailed monstrosities come in 6 different colors and one will only set you back about $30. Oh god, I'm obsessed. However, it is a really cool design and made of a hard durable plastic.

In conclusion, if you like Madballs and you like Japanese toys and you have some extra money to spend all these little dudes are awesome!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Me Gusta "Balls"

"El Sonido Del Terror"

From what I can tell Madballs really took off in Argentina. Whenever I do an Ebay search for Madball items, without fail an Argentinian deck of Madball cards, or an Argentinian Madball activity book comes up. I don't really know why. If anyone out there has a South American studies background and can provide some insight into the psyche of the country in the late 80's, and why gross ball toys were so popular, this would be a very valuable use of your time.

Anyway, the Argentinian company Miluplast also made their very own knock off versions! I've been eyeballing these guys for a while now, but I only recently managed to get a full set into my slime stained hands and ohhhh man, I think they're my favorite imitations to date!
These are all the same hollow inflatable plastic that Sadballs are made out of, and they they seem a bit goofier. Like, more cartoonish but still retaining the requisite grossness of actual Madballs. They're all packaged in a similar style as well but these are part of a series. The cards all say "El Sonido Del Terror" which translates to "The Sound Of Terror". I'm not really sure what that has to do with Madball fakes? I mean, I guess they would make pretty terrifying sounds. Farts and whatnot.
However, I'm inclined to think it was some sort of mistake. All of the packages have smaller stickers over the "Sonida" part which say "La Pelota Del Terror". That translates to "The Ball Of Terror" or "Terror Balls". Look at that logo! Those little skulls for the "o"s are really classy. Each of the balls also comes equipped with one of those stickers on its rear, covering it's shame, over the air hole that was used to initially inflate them. Ew. The stickers have the logo and each balls individual name (unlike Sadballs). Pretty cool! It makes me think the designers were pretty into making them. We'll talk about the packaging more in a bit.

Just a note, although I've been to Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Spain I speak very little to no Spanish. So my translations are not to be trusted. Most of them are gleaned from various internet searches and Babelfish. Forgive me.
First up is Tuerto Loco (One-eyed Crazy Person) and if that Babelfish translation is accurate then hat's off Miluplast! This dude seems like a Bash Brain copy but with his eye actually hanging out (a la Slobulus), a skull nose and his tongue waggin in the wind. You can see the similarities of the mouth shape, stitches and skull exposure in this pic. I'm pretty sure a forensic specialist has typed that sentence before.
Fantasma (Ghost) is a wacky Dust Brain. There's barely any difference, except he does have some sweet buck teeth and a bulging eye! You can also see that the paint job is way better on Dust Brain, but this guy still has a stupid charm and there was some effort to distinguish him from his American counterpart.Dientudo (Toothy) is my favorite and probably the most bizarre. He's some sort of skull with a cartoon nose, dog ears and two horns wayyyy at the top of his head. He reminds me of Charlie Brown's skull. Or maybe if Snoopy and Charlie Brown were genetically spliced and then in some horrible acid related accident that melted the flesh of most of their face. And gave them horns.
Check out the similarities to Skull Face here. Those tombstone-teeth are really similar, but actually the resemblance ends there. I mean, I know Miluplast was just aping all the Madballs characters but a lot of these are pretty original. Weird, but original. Pesadilla (Nightmare) is a sweet name! He looks pretty nightmarish to me! He also looks pretty original. Granted there are some similarities to Slobulus and Aargh but I think he's got his own thing goin on here. Like he got punched in the eye (so hard that it popped the other one out a bit) and is really really angry about it.
Broncudo (Angry) is probably the most unique of the whole gang. He looks simultaniously frightened, shocked and mad. Maybe because worms are busting out of the sides of his head?! He's full of stitches too but they may be baseball laces or Madball-type wound stiches. Either way I dig him. I dub thee second favorite!
Lengua Larga (Long Language, my best guess Big Mouth or Long Tongue) is our last guy and ohhh man is he a rip off. The other guys were very strongly "inspired" by other Madballs, but this dude is straight imitation. Aside from the material used to make him and the missing tooth this guy is EXACTLY Screamin Meemie. But, I do think the missing tooth is a great touch! Shape of the nose, mouth, tongue, teeth and the placement of the stitches are all identical. His eyes are a bit different making him look a little less sinister than Screamin Meemie.
I also wanted to showcase some of the fine grosserific details of the Terror Balls. As you can see, most of Tuerto Loco's Skull is exposed and then a portion of that is cracked revealing his brain (which kinda looks like meal worms). Dientudo's odd brow ridge peaks in some sweet curvy horns while Pesadilla's skin is split (very vaginally...ew) to show the bone beneath. Gross and cool details! More often than not only a monster ball's face is used to display horrid details, it's good to see someone making use of all that surface area.
I couldn't talk about these nerds without mentioning the sweet cards they come on. I already mentioned how cool that logo is but look at those illustrations! They look like bizarre 70's stlye cartoons run amock in grossout land! The toys themselves seem pretty faithful to the illustrations making me think that that's where the cartoony element of Terror Balls comes from.

In conclusion, BUY THESE! They're super fun, detailed, not extra hard to find and they've held up well over the years. There's still a few available on Ebay or you could contact me because I accidentally bought doubles!

You can check out more of them on this sweet Argentinian Madball page.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Reading From the Book Of Weird

"Ugly Face Mask Included!"

The all powerful Gross Face sent his testament down to men in the year ninteen hundred and eighty six. And he said unto men "GGGGLLLLAAARRRRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH"!

The testament was, of course, the glorious Ugly Faces coloring book. Ugly Faces is the bible of Madballology, and much like the Christian bible it makes no sense, but at least it takes place in space and comes with a mask! I would've made my confirmation if I could've done it wearing that cut out!
Released in the mid '80's Playmore Inc's coloring book was sold at Kmart's (that's what the sticker said on the one I got from Ebay) and Bradlees around the country (for one paltry dollar!) to skim a little off the the top of the Madball mania. Norman Nodel, known for the "Classics Illustrated" series he worked on in the '50's , was hired to illustrate the book. It may also be noted that good ol' Norm had a few stories in Creepy and Eerie, upping his cred for this project.
The "story" starts much like a Manowar song, with some children asking Grandfather to tell them a story. Except these children aren't American kids feigning British accents but instead floating monster heads.

The story he goes on to tell, suggests that Grandfather used to party back in the day and is having trouble telling hallucination from reality. I know the dudes an elderly disembodied monster head but still. I also wonder what kind of drugs Madballs would do? Maybe snort lines of puke or free base some pus. And how do you wear a trench coat as a Madball drug dealer? You've got no body! Anyway...
Gramps starts yarnin' about these intergalactic slugs that start exploring space. Yup. While they're on their mission they go through an asteroid belt that actually turns out to be "ugly faces". The ugly dudes, don't say anything but lead them on a stellar journey.

Why are there monster faced balls floating about in space? Why is one of them a fleshy doughnut with an eye in the middle? Where is Gramps now? None of these questions are answered within. However, we should take a second to look at some of these faces and soak in how cool they are. Lots of jagged teeth and extra eyes! The dude below with the two faces is one of my faves.
They go to the oval planet where they meet oval headed dudes...
They go to the square planet where they meet square headed guys and the triangle planet guessed it...they meet triangle headed guys. The whole journey the slugs can't get over how ugly everyone is. The ovals, squares, triangle and of course their chaparones, the ugly faces.
We also take a short break for a CENTEFOLD!!! I love the oppressive all seeing monster head and that awesome Tri-face! The dude in the lower right is a bit more confusing. So his face houses one giant eyeball, and that eyeball acts as an upper lip for his mouth and the lower lip acts as a lower lid for the giant eye?! His ears are normal though. The last part of the story the ugly faces lead them to earth where some humans see them and then start talking about how ugly the slugs are. Like that Twilight Zone episode Eye Of the Beholder, that's supposed to teach you to not be mean to people who look different. However, the tool that's used to teach the lesson are bigoted human children. So, it's almost as if the moral is "be a jerk so that other space races will know not to be jerks themselves".

So after you're done reading the story and you don't color in the pictures, cus you know some 31 year old dork will want to pay 12 times the cover price in 24 years, you get ready to put the book down, satisfied with the sermon that you've read. Then BAM! the back cover hits your eyeballs so hard they almost pop! What the heck is that?! Why, it's only a sweet sweet cut out paper Madball mask! IN FULL COLOR! AND EXTRA GROSS! Drippy flesh, dastardly fangs, bubbly green warts, veiny brains, and oh so many bloodshot eyes will make you the envy of all your friends. Well, I'll let you know how it goes November 1, 2010.

In conclusion, this book is really cool. The illustrations are great, the tens (!) of monster balls that Nodel created for this book are all sweet looking and really gross, the centerfold is oppressive and creepy and the mask...god that mask! So, if you come across this thing, BUY IT! You won't regret it and then you can pray to the mighty Gross Face from the privacy of your own home.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Listen..Do You Smell Something?

"They're Scary With Ghostly Glow"

The success of Madballs in the 80's led to many a knock off as can be witnessed in this blog. However, not many licensed characters got rendered in ball form. The only ones I could think of were the Universal Monsters as Monster Balls. Then I found this on Ebay. Actually, I found it and tried to ignore it for months, because it's stupid. But then that same ungodly stupidity kept drawing me back to it and I became obsessed, cracked under the pressure and bought it. I present to you one of two Ghostbusters Ghost Balls.
Where, oh where, to begin with this piece of crap? Like the Sadballs discussed in my last post, this nameless dude (let's call him Sammy) is made of inflatable rubber and very sparsely painted. Actually there's four colors on there but they're barely applied. Maybe a ghost of a pissed off sweat shop worker painted them. "OOOOooooOOOooo screw you Colombia Pictures.....Herreeesssss a crappy paint job for your stupid rip off tooyyyyyyy" or something.

It's just a crotchety old man with demonic cat eyes, second-thought fangs and fancy ears. Seriously, those ears are cool, very Art Deco which fits with the movie. NO! I can't give those bastards that sort of credit. Even if the ear is cool, when the ear of a monster headed ball is the coolest part then you severely botched it. Yeah he's got gross warts on him and a pretty neat head ridge but those only slightly distract me from his Ernest Borgnine mug.
The packaging is slightly better than the item itself. It is pretty bare bones but it's got a "cool" explosion on the right of the ball and Egon looking shocked and appalled on the left. The Ghost Balls logo is my favorite part though. That Slimer rendition is pretty sweet. I'm not sure if that's reused artwork for something else or made specifically for this hunk of ass but its neat. In fact, I'm not too up to speed on Ghostbusters toys in general, so Sammy could be an actual charater. Like the ghost of a Ernest Borgnine. I doubt it though.
The back side reveals that there's actually two of these idiots. "Collect them all". There's only two. I don't even have the energy to italicize that because I'm so exasperated by this awful toy.

The bummer is that most Ghostbusters toys are pretty cool and unique. This degenerate seems like a sad attempt at sponging off a much smaller market even though Ghostbusters toys were raking in the money. The copyright on here says 1986, just about the time Madballs came out making me think that it was a rush job. End result crap. I still haven't been able to get it to glow in the dark! Granted it's over 20 years old at this point but I didn't thing glowing stopped. I should look that up.

In conclusion, avoid at all costs. I mean we're not talking Super Bouncing Weird Ball level garbage but not too far removed. Not worth the money they were charging for them in '86 and certainly not worth the Ebay price I paid in '10.