Sunday, October 27, 2013

Swamp Thing, I think I love you...

I'm really not sure which came first, DC's Swamp Thing, or Marvel's Man-Thing. They both have very similar origin stories, having started out as scientists that were involved in accidents with their experiments that left them near death in a swamp. The chemicals reacted with the plant life around them, and caused them both to turn into plant based monsters. Unfortunately for Man-Thing, only Swamp Thing gained enough popularity to spawn two feature length movies, a live action television series, an animated mini-series, and of course, a line of action figures.

Speaking of action figures, that's what I have to show off today; Bio-Glow Swamp Thing.

As much as I liked the Swamp Thing figures, I have to admit that it's an odd property for an action figure line. He's nowhere near as iconic as Batman or Superman, and asking someone if they'd like to see your Swamp Thing will likely get you a beating. All I'm saying is nobody wanted to be Swamp Thing when it was pretend time. That doesn't mean he isn't a cool character, he is. I just think he's a bit too weird to become as mainstream as the costumed heroes.

Much like Kenner's Batman Lines, there were numerous versions of Swamp Thing released. There were four different ones in the first wave alone. I'm not ashamed to admit that I owned all four at one time, while I only ever owned one villain, Weed Killer. While I'm on the villains, this is one area Kenner really dropped the ball. The bad guys were all normal action figures, that came with masks that turned them into grotesque monsters. Sadly, the masks were just larger versions of those little rubber monsters that you can stick on your finger tips. They were actually pretty fragile, and would tear easily if you weren't careful. The mask didn't really add any play value to the figures, so I normally left it off. Swamp Thing also had a couple of human allies. There was Tomahawk, the Native American with a name that some would say is currently offensive, and this guy:

I'm not even going to pick on his ridiculous name, or the fact that he's just fighting monsters with a water gun. What has me scratching my head is the fact they made him a Vietnam Veteran. Was this a selling point for kids back then? I can't remember being disappointed if I picked up an action figure and it wasn't eligible for membership in the VFW. Enough talk about disillusioned war heroes, we're here to talk about things from the swamp!

According to the little bio on the back of the card, Bio-Glow Swamp Thing is adapted to chasing around the evil Un-Men in the desert at night. I guess that means he's Desert Thing as well. This form appears to be made up of cacti, which makes sense since there isn't much else in the way of vegetation out there. He actually has a bunch of sharp thorns on his arms and legs, so you definitely don't want to step on him with bare feet. Don't ask me how I know. You would think a large, glowing plant man would be pretty easy to avoid, but maybe mutants have poor night vision. Or, maybe Swamp Thing blends in with the other..glowing cacti? Is that a thing?

Swampie also comes with a large flint bladed axe, and a rather pointy mace that will poke holes in you if you're not paying attention. They go hand in hand with his super arm swinging action, so he can flail his weapons about wildly. Just squeeze his legs together and his fists start flying. It's the same sort of action feature Kenner was famous for when they were making the Super Powers line. You can get his arms moving pretty fast, so you better not get him too close to your face. I remember his weapons had a tendency to fly out of his hands, so there's a chance you may lose an eye to the pointy plastic mace.

If you couldn't tell from his name, Bio-Glow Swamp Thing also has the ability to glow in the dark. He's not quite as bright as some toys that I've seen, and he doesn't glow for very long. Actually, a thought just popped into my head as I was typing this. What's the point of figures that glow in the dark? You'd have to play with them in a pitch black room to get the full effect, and then you wouldn't actually be able to see what you were doing. I know I never really played with my toys in the dark. I was always too worried about losing their pieces.

At least there's a good chance I'd see him before he ended up stuck in the bottom of my foot.


  1. Replies
    1. Awesome! I'm surprised they made it all the way down there.

  2. I think the Heap came first actually in the 1940s and beyond which directly inspired Marvel's Man-Thing. : )

    1. YES.

      The best was during Alan Moore's run of Swamp Thing [issue #47, to be precise] the Parliament of Trees mentions a previous "Swamp Thing" who was a German pilot that died and was reborn from the bogs in 1942. An awesome and totally obvious reference to The Heap.

    2. I completely forgot about the Heap. I should have checked out wikipedia before I wrote this post. That's a neat little reference Moore was able to slip in there.

      Didn't the Heap show up in Image comics not too long ago?

    3. Yeah, The Heap's publication history is a little wonky.

      He started showing up in Eclipse Comics' Airboy series during the '80s, but the company went bankrupt and its assets were bought up by Todd McFarlane and Image Comics. A completely revamped version of the character, bearing almost no similarities to the original, showed up a few times in the pages of Spawn. I think there may also have been an action figure released by McFarlane's toy company.

    4. Yes they did released one for the Spawn line of action figures but there was a PVC Shambling Mound released in the 80s for the D & D toy line which looks like the original Heap.

  3. I had this one, he's pretty cool. I prefer the Snare Arm version though (which I still have.)

    And this reminds me, I still haven't blogged about my SDCC DCUC Swamp Thing!

    1. I liked the Snare Arm version too. This guy just barely edges him out, because my Snare Arm couldn't really hold anything in his retractable hand. He really was a great comic accurate version of the character though.


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