Sort of like less refined and more obscure Garbage Pail Kids, the Mel Apple company’s Weird Ball series consisted of glossy, wacky trading cards with a definitive gross slant. Whereas GPK cards were mostly a free-for-all, Weird Ball seemed to fashion itself as some kind of parody sports set, with the nutty characters all being based on different kinds of athletes. Course, they took a few liberties. You were just as likely to find ninjas and bloody army dudes as baseball players.
I thought the line to be an immense failure at least in terms of sales, but it must’ve done okay considering the fact that there were a couple of different toys spun from the card series. In fact, if you look beyond the larger and now prohibitively pricey Weird Ball action figures, you’ll find another set of playthings that could’ve given our old pink pals from M.U.S.C.L.E. a run for their money.
If the cards were an attempt to cash in on GPK’s success, Weird Ball Mini Collectums were most definitely a vie to swipe some of the tiny toy pie from the M.U.S.C.L.E. collection, which debuted just a year earlier than these in 1985.
Even the package jokes about the figures’ poor quality, but while they indeed fall short of M.U.S.C.L.E. in terms of the materials used, but I’m not so sure that they lack heart. Considering that you got twelve of these dudes for about the price of four M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, it wasn’t such a bum deal at all.
I feel almost guilty saying this, and maybe it’s just because the things are so fresh and new to me, but these Weird Ball figures seem almost as good as M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. Aside from the insane level of detail, they’re just great characters. Everything from some kind of zombie sheriff to another guy who looks like a Madball with legs is represented, and I’m now totally convinced that I need to spend the evening carving them a miniature dollhouse out of soap and coconut shells.
When I think back, I have really vague recollections of other M.U.S.C.L.E. knockoff lines. We’d usually find them at pharmacies or lower end toy stores, and even if they weren’t official, I loved ’em to death. Think I would’ve loved these to death, too. There’s just something about action figures small enough to pocket in your cheek like a hamster on a grape.