Features

The Grotesquely Glorious Return Of Madballs!
by: -RoG-

I remember walking through the aisles one day back in the 80's when I stopped in my tracks to gaze upon a new toyline unlike anything I had ever seen before: Madballs. There were eight balls in the first series and they all looked completely different in their own grotesque little ways (some far nastier than others). Being a fan of monsters and gore, Madballs instantly clicked with me and just about every other boy at the time. After all, with stuff like the Mad Scientist Monster Lab and Dinosaurs Attack cards, our lives were already completely saturated with gross-out humor at the time, so Madballs were obviously a natural fit.

Have a ball? Oh I get it! HAHAHAHAHA!!!

Before we knew it, Madballs were everywhere... pencil toppers, sticker albums, lunchboxes, party favors, comic books, silly string, you name it... and we simply couldn't get enough of 'em. Granted, I was one of the kids who never really cared about the Goodballs vs. Badballs storylines that they tried to develop for Madballs. They were wacky balls with gross faces and that's pretty much all I needed to be sold on 'em.

Gross! Ok, well, not really.

With names like "Aargh", "Crack Head", "Slobulus", "Screamin' Meemie" and "Oculus Orbus" (my personal favorite), what kid in his right mind wouldn't want to own every last one of these suckers? Series 2 also brought in eight more Madballs and they were just as fun as the first batch. In addition to the regular baseball-sized Madballs, they also released a series of larger "Super Madballs" which were even more impressive since you could actually use them to play the sports they represented:

What kind of pig lent its skin to this?

It's a tough call to pick just one of 'em, but I'd say my friends and I got more use out of "Touchdown Terror" football than any of the other "Super Madballs". I just couldn't bring myself to kick around the "Goal Eater" soccer ball or dribble the "Foul Shot" basketball out of fear of ruining them. The artwork on the balls wasn't nearly as durable as a real soccer ball or football, and most kids used these things for imaginary battles with their He-Man figures rather than for real sports play anyway. Touchdown Terror though, he really was great for football games, and he gave those of us who couldn't throw a perfect spiral a great excuse. "It's not my fault it was a bad throw, it's the crazy shape of that damned Madball!" That excuse worked most of the time, except for when you gave one of your friends a nutshot, compliments of Touchdown Terror. Talk about mad balls. (screw you. that joke was funny when I was a kid and it's still funny now.)

aWE DON'T NEED BODIES! WE JUST NEED BALLS!

There were other novelties introduced to the Madballs line such as miniature figures whose heads popped off, but I never got into those because the whole point of Madballs is that they were just balls. We didn't need action figure versions of Madballs. We didn't need vehicles, weapons or storylines. Why they tried to overcomplicate things when they already had a winning formula with crazy lookin' balls that were sellin like hotcakes is beyond me. As if that wasn't enough madness, there were plenty of knock-off Madballs being released on the market (even by Bonkers candy) which only confused people more.

A true abomination!

For the most part though, the generic balls (or "Sadballs" as I prefer to call 'em) were easy to spot since the artwork and detail put into them wasn't anywhere close to being on par with genuine Madballs. I mean christ, just look at that thing! It looks more like a surgically removed polyp than a genuine Madball. Still, some parents didn't know any better and bought those wretched Sadballs for their kids. Those kids turned out to be none other than the Menendez brothers.

And now here we are, roughly 20 years later and it's finally time for Madballs to make their grotesquely glorious return! I gave you guys a little sneak preview of them at the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con (and again in 2007), but now the good people at American Greetings have sent me the complete relaunch set of Series 1 Madballs and they're magnificent. Behold!

Behold the new Series I Madballs!

Believe me, I'm just as skeptical as the next guy whenever it comes to an old toy being revamped, but you can't tell me that these new Madballs aren't a thing of sheer beauty. They stayed completely true to the originals while adding in way more detail than ever before. Those of you who are hardcore Madballs fans will notice that there's a new addition to the group this time too: Repvile - a snaggletoothed blue badass with spikey bumps 'n scales all over his body and green mucus seeping from his mouth and nose. He may be the new ball on the block, but I already feel like he's a vital part of the Madballs family. Now for a better look at 'em outside of their packages, doing The Madballs Dance!

Do the Madballs Dance!

Brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it? Or maybe that's just your eye falling out of its socket? Whatever the case may be, Madballs are not toys that you want to keep sealed away in the original packaging... you wouldn't like them when they're angry. Now I've got more good news for ya. Repvile isn't the only new thing about Madballs... feast your eyes upon these:

Madballs SICK Series 1

The new Madballs SICK series are just like the old Madballs, only they're filled with guts, brains and insects for you to expose with a mighty squeeze. Furthermore, the quality of these things are way better than the typical horror-themed squeeze balls that pop up around Halloween each year. They only made three of 'em so far - Bash Brain, Skull Face and Slobulus - but hopefully we'll see more in the future. In the meantime, allow me to remove these balls from their sacks so I can give 'em a good squeeze! (wow... now THAT was something I never thought I'd have the opportunity to say in an article!)

Skull Face SICK!

When you squeeze Skull Face, his exposed head wound bubbles out as it fills with blood and spiders. He already has one spider on his tongue, so I can only assume that he's been on a strict arachnid diet. The spiders and the blood look nice, but they also gave me an unexpected surprise. I must have squeezed it too hard, because the bubble actually popped out of the skull and fell into my lap! It was perfectly fine 'n all, but I'm guessing that wasn't supposed to happen as it took a bit of finagling to insert it back into Skull Face's cranium where it belongs.

Bash Brain SICK!

Now here's a really different one. They actually added some red mesh netting where Bash Brain's brain is exposed to help keep it in place. You really have to squeeze this one hard, but it's well worth the effort because when you give it a good squeeze, the gray matter seeps between the netting creating an awesome brainy effect! Actually, it looks a lot like the bubbling pods on the back of Gizmo (from Gremlins) when Billy spilled water on him. Either way, it rules.

Slobulus SICK!

Last but not least, we have Slobulus, who is easily my favorite character out of the three they chose to give the SICK treatment to. When you give him a squeeze, his hollowed-out eye socket swells up with a bubble filled with the nastiest looking eyeballs I've ever seen in a squeeze toy. Not only are the eyeballs nicely detailed for a toy of this nature (complete with retinas 'n all) but each eyeball has big fat bloody flesh chunks on the back. It's seriously pretty nasty. I was sitting here alone and actually said aloud "Jeez! Hahaha!" when I first saw them. While I do work on this web site a lot and get to play with all kinds of toys as a result of it, I assure you, I don't talk to myself that often... it takes a little somethin extra special for that to happen, and Slobulus has it.

I'm really hopin that Series 2 will be released in the not too distant future so I can perhaps see my old two favorites "Oculus Orbus" and "Fistface" in this highly detailed new Madball format. There's no official word on a revival of the Super Madballs yet, but American Greetings did tell me there's a possibility of a soccer ball called "Goalrilla" being released. Furthermore, I did see a killer prototype of a revamped Touchdown Terror at the Comic-Con in '06, so I have a lot of hope for that one as well. They also hinted at the potential for Madballs convections with keepsake packaging, so let's keep our fingers crossed.

MADBALLS ATTAAAAAAAAACK!

As much as I love the Madballs, it's always a risk when you put them all together in the same room. You never know when they're gonna turn on you. But hey, with great risk comes great............................................. physical harm to your body.

Big kudos to American Greetings for taking a chance and breathing new life into this classic 80's gross-out toyline (and kudos to James Groman too - after all, he's the artist who redesigned 'em!). If you're interested in the new Madballs series, you can check out Madballs.com. They're already available at Toys "R" Us, and according to American Greetings, they'll be available at other retailers come spring '08. Also, for some more images and details about the original Madballs series from the 80's, be sure to check out the old Madballs fanpage which has great profiles on each ball and plenty of other goodies. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go play with my balls.

I-Mockery's Design Your Own Madballs Contest! Win some new Madballs of your own!
Click here to enter our contest and design your own Madballs
concepts for a chance to win some brand new Madballs!!!

***ENDS FEBRUARY 15, 2008***

Have any questions or comments about this piece?
Email -RoG-

If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out:

The WTF Ball!
The WTF Ball!

Reader Comments

Clap if you love Dynamo
Jan 18th, 2008, 07:23 AM
I only had Lock Lips. I was more of a M.U.S.C.L.E guy myself.
Using Ninjitsu of Fushin
Jan 18th, 2008, 08:11 AM
I never had the normal ones, i did though have one of the action figures versions of Oculus Orbus, The head was a heavy bouncy ball, which was superb in he-man battles.
Ghoul
Jan 18th, 2008, 09:16 AM
I know for a fact I had Oculous, Skull Face, and TD Terror, but I think I may have had more. So much nastiness in such a small thing...glorious.

Rog, how is the weight on the new ones? I seem to remember the old ones needed a bit more density to them.
Forum Virgin
Jan 18th, 2008, 09:58 AM
I cannot possibly tell you how much I love the WTF Ball article.
hanging out
Jan 18th, 2008, 12:00 PM
You can really tell on the photo of you squeezing Brain Bash that it took alot more effort to expose the innards than the other two. Look at those tendons!
Last of the Time Lords
Jan 18th, 2008, 02:34 PM
Anyone ever see the Madballs cartoon? Some advice: Don't. It's truly awful. But if you enjoy pain you can find it on Youtube.

Those toys rule. I loved Touchdown Terror as a kid, and the new version looks even cooler.
Ants Who Ruin Your Dinner
Jan 18th, 2008, 03:05 PM
Is Captain Clueless supposed to be the lovechild of He-Man and the Hulk?
Forum Chaos Lord
Jan 18th, 2008, 03:40 PM
We can only hope.
Forum Virgin
Jan 18th, 2008, 04:22 PM
yes! i loved these things. my parents would never buy me one, sadly, but my cousins had them all.
Emo Muffins for all
Jan 18th, 2008, 09:15 PM
Man too bad i wasn't around to see those awesome glorious MADBALLS! now thanks to you Roger, I now want one.
The Magnificent Bastard
Jan 18th, 2008, 11:11 PM
I LOVE THE MADBALLS!

Redesigned or not, I'm very glad they're back!

I just hope they get around to the "super" Madballs. I had "Touchdown Terror" as a kid (this was before my house burnt down) and would love a chance to get one again.
Fanboy
Jan 19th, 2008, 02:39 AM
My goodness - I remember these awesome beauties.

I used my ones in imaginary battles against my Sectaur toys. They kind of suited each other. Ah the golden days of youth.
From the Home of MST3K
Jan 19th, 2008, 08:10 AM
I feel compelled to purchase!

Why is it that you can get me to buy shit, but multi-million dollar ad campaigns have no effect whatsoever?

My guess? You're made of pure awesome.
The Riddle Pimp
Jan 19th, 2008, 08:27 AM
Do want!
Ordinary Blogger
Jan 19th, 2008, 05:31 PM
Wasn't there a MadBall cartoon to? I had only one of these as a kid
Is a thin donkey
Jan 20th, 2008, 01:22 AM
There was indeed a cartoon. I remember hiring them at the video store when I was a kid. My favourite one was the 'Gross Jokes' special (A collection of humorous skits, unlike the regular episodes).

The new Madballs look even better than the old ones, ESPECIALLY in the case of Screamin' Meemie and Slobulus.
Creepy Old Fart
Jan 20th, 2008, 01:52 AM
I never had any of the Madballs. I had Star wars figures for a couple years but they mysteriously disappeared.

The next day my parents had 3 cases of Night Train.
Pickled Patriarch
Jan 20th, 2008, 03:18 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by argonath View Post
Rog, how is the weight on the new ones? I seem to remember the old ones needed a bit more density to them.
They're pretty much the same density as your average Nerf ball. The "SICK" series Madballs are a lot heavier though since they're made of rubber and filled with all sorts o' gunk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teal View Post
I cannot possibly tell you how much I love the WTF Ball article.
Hehe thanks. It's scary to think that's the WTF Ball is still lurking out there somewhere isn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stonewar View Post
You can really tell on the photo of you squeezing Brain Bash that it took alot more effort to expose the innards than the other two. Look at those tendons!
Yeah, that ball is definitely the thickest of the bunch, but as you can see, it's well worth the extra squeezing effort to make those brains bubble out like that. Mmmm tasty!

Quote:
Originally Posted by incognit000 View Post
Why is it that you can get me to buy shit, but multi-million dollar ad campaigns have no effect whatsoever?
Probably because multi-million dollar ad campaigns try to target people by speaking to them in a way that they think is "hip" - but it comes off as nothing but insincere instead. They're writing/talking about stuff because they have to... I'm simply doing it because it's what I love to do. Just like you guys, I'm a big fan of this kind o' stuff, so hopefully all this stuff I say is easy for you to relate to. At least more so than your average McDonald's ad campaign

Quote:
Originally Posted by GLX-Mr. Ordinary View Post
Wasn't there a MadBall cartoon to? I had only one of these as a kid
Yeah, but they were nothing to write home about, believe me. Just look 'em up on Youtube and you'll see what I mean. American Greetings actually sent me a copy of the old Gross Jokes video on DVD for some laughs. And when I say "laughs" I mean "tears of agony". It's just one of those things that proves they didn't need to make extra stuff for the Madballs line back then... it was fine with just the balls and nothing more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Autrach Sejanoz View Post
The new Madballs look even better than the old ones, ESPECIALLY in the case of Screamin' Meemie and Slobulus.
Yeah they all look way better than ever before, that's why I can't wait for them to release the 2nd series and hopefully some of those Super Madballs.
SKATASTIC
Jan 20th, 2008, 02:59 PM
I remember the cartoon more than anything else except at my blockbuster they only had the pilot. I think they played "great balls of fire" every five minutes or so.
Freelance Product Tester
Jan 20th, 2008, 05:54 PM
That is awesome. Grotesquely awesomely awesome
is hopped up on goofballs
Jan 20th, 2008, 10:00 PM
I gave all my old boxed up toys to my friends' kid, so I still get to play with oldschool Madballs to this day. Yay for me!
That damn kid
Jan 20th, 2008, 11:37 PM
I remember when I was 4 some kid tryed to freak me out with a skull face and I picked it up and shot it right at his eye.
Forum Virgin
Jan 22nd, 2008, 03:24 PM
What stores carry these and how much do they cost?
Pickled Patriarch
Jan 22nd, 2008, 04:04 PM
I already stated in the article what places carry them. You should already be able to find them at Toys 'R' Us stores.

As for online places, Urban Outfitters is currently selling the standard Series 1 Madballs for extremely cheap - click here to see. (note: you have to use their little dropdown menu to select the ball you want, but they do have all 6 regular Madballs)
Forum Virgin
Jan 22nd, 2008, 04:07 PM
thanks for your help.
GoldMember
Jan 23rd, 2008, 09:24 AM
I'm pretty sure I had the eyeball one when I was a kiddie, but I never knew it was a madball or anything.
Great article man B-)
Waiting for the worms.
Jan 29th, 2008, 10:44 AM
I had Oculus Orbus. He dated my Princess Leia. Is that wrong?
What? Me worry?
Feb 1st, 2008, 10:30 AM
Rog you're awesome man!
Official Punching Bag
Feb 2nd, 2008, 12:33 PM
I saw the "Gross Jokes" video as a kid. You aren't joking, it IS awful.
I'm known as Man-pretty.
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:01 PM
nice! my cousin had the original touchdown terror. it was awesome. i hope they still have it.
Pickled Patriarch
Feb 9th, 2008, 03:22 PM
They don't yet, but they made it sound like Super Madballs (like Touchdown Terror) were in the works when I spoke with them.
Dubiously Awesome
Sep 24th, 2008, 01:36 AM
I want bash brain sick so badly
Nuclear Waffle
Feb 8th, 2010, 02:21 PM
You know, I saw a severly damadged foam version of who I think was Slobulus at the Goodwill that I volunteer at. You get weird things at donation-based stores...
Dead Fuck
Dec 12th, 2012, 12:47 PM
I wish these were still in print

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