Super Naturals are super unappreciated in the world of action figures and I will never understand why. To this day, they don't fetch high prices as they've never been in big demand, and most people who grew up when they were still on toy shelves back in 1986 don't even remember them. But why? This was an incredibly stylish toyline, and you really can't go wrong with action figures whose package commands you to "Release their HOLOGRAM POWERS!"
The story behind them was that some heroic and evil warriors were sealed in the Tomb of Doom, but it was opened after hundreds of years and now they're duking it out here on planet Earth. You can check out this scan of the mini-comic included with each of the figures if you want to learn a little more about 'em. While the main focus of this Tonka toyline was on the full-sized Super Naturals action figures - "Lionheart" was the leader of the good guys and "Skull" was bastard in chief for the bad guys - I was always waaaay more into their smaller helper counterparts known as the Ghostlings.
They may have been half the size, but the Ghostlings screamed of Halloween goodness, roaming around as eerie cloaked spirits with hologram bodies, while their hands and swords glowed in the dark. If you didn't have them in direct light, the Ghostlings would appear completely faceless as you can see from the photo above. Black voids that wear cloaks and have glowing hands? That in itself is kinda creepy when you think about it, but when you see the changing holograms on each of these Ghostlings, you'll understand just how incredibly awesome and underrated they really are. And did I mention how they glow?
They have glow-in-the-dark hands and swords. Would've been cool if their entire cloaks glowed in the dark, but then we wouldn't have the nice color variations, so I guess it's a toss-up. Plus, I imagine in the world of Super Naturals, there was something fairly unsettling about walking in pitch black darkness at night and seeing nothing but a pair of floating, glowing, sword-wielding hands headed towards you. That'd make me run for the hills in a heartbeat.
Now I'm sure my taking this complete collection of vintage toys out of their packages will make some die hard toy collectors groan, but Super Naturals were already imprisoned in the Tomb of Doom playset for long enough... we don't need to confine them to plastic and cardboard prisons as well. Besides, you really need to see these holograms in all their ghostly glory.
Before we begin, allow me to state that these toys were a pain in the ass to photograph, as I had to constantly fiddle with my lights before I finally found a setting that made the Ghostling holograms appear nice 'n bright so I could snap some good good pictures. But you're about to see that it was absolutely worth the extra effort... so join me for a tour of the complete Super Naturals Ghostlings collection, starting with the Heroic Ghostlings:
Maybe it's because when I see lots of green and I see a ghost, my mind immediately thinks of Slimer. Whatever the case is, I absolutely love Spooks the heroic Ghostling. He starts off as "Court Jester" and then becomes a "Silly Spook" when you turn the figure slightly. It's probably good he became a ghost too, because court jesters are notoriously annoying, but all is forgiven in the afterlife. His special power is listed as "Walks Thru Walls", which is impressive considering he doesn't have legs to even walk with. Well I suppose the visual of his jester form has legs, but I'm talking about the outer cloak which encases it. It's also possible that I'm really overthinking the backstory and powers of a toy made several decades ago.
Next up is Hooter. Of all the Ghostlings, he was the most difficult one to photograph, as his hologram wasn't quite as clear as the others. Still, I think I got some good shots of his two forms in which he changes from "Wizard" to "Wise Old Owl". Now I know owls are cool 'n all, and they can lick the hell out of a Tootsie Pop, but it seems to me that you wouldn't want to change from a wizard. Even if he's not the most powerful wizard, he can probably do more than an owl. Then again, if Twin Peaks taught us anything, it's that the owls are not what they seem. And hey, his power is listed as "Night Sight" so maybe all the other Ghostlings are completely blind at night, even though they glow-in-the-dark. If that's the case, Hooter has a big tactical advantage.
Hooter would also like to inform you that he has no affiliation with the restaurant chain with the similar name, although he did apply to be a waiter there once and they never called him back. Bummer. I'd actually go to that stupid restaurant chain if I was guaranteed to have a floating wizard-owl hybrid ghost as my server.
See-Thru changes from "Scientist" to "Invisible Man", but I think he changes from scientist to invisible shirt. Seriously, it's his shirt that really disappears. Sure, his power is listed as "Invisibility", but it doesn't specify that the only thing he has the ability to make invisible is his shirt. But hey, don't knock it... it's still an impressive power. Can you make your shirt invisible? I didn't think so.
And look at that bow tie! You know who else wears a bow tie? The Bow Tie Killer from Problem Child, so this obviously means that See-Thru is still a serious threat to anybody who isn't a brat adopted by John Ritter. He not only wields a sword, but he carries a cane as well. Anybody who fights with a cane is somebody to be reckoned with indeed. He also wanted me to tell you all that he doesn't appreciate the informal spelling of the word "through" in his name, for he believes it promotes laziness in the children who play with these toys. I didn't have the heart to tell him about the existence of cell phones and the ridiculous contractions people use when texting these days. I'm pretty sure reading something like "C U L8R" would kill him.
Oh snap! We have a serious trickster on our hands in the form of Mr. Lucky. He changes from "Magician" to "Giant Rabbit", but here's the real kicker: The rabbit is pulling him out of the hat instead! Whoaaaaaahhhhh!! Are we in the Twilight Zone, because my mind is officially blown! I'm not sure why his name is Mr. Lucky, but maybe it has something to do with his power being listed as "Magic". I guess he's lucky that the giant rabbit doesn't bite off his head... I mean, I'm pretty sure we've all seen Night of the Lepus, right?
And now we move onto the four "Evil Ghostlings" whose evil deeds are so evil, they were never even written about. EVIL!
No, that's not a typo, her name is Scary Cat as opposed to the traditional "Scaredy Cat", which makes sense since she is the one doing the scaring. She changes from a "Wicked Witch" to a "Hissing Cat", and I really love that the cat form still has the good fashion sense to keep wearing that witch hat. Her power is listed as "Casts Spells", and I hope they're good ones for her sake, because a hissing cat isn't gonna provide much opposition. Sure, the last guy transformed into a bunny, but it was a giant bunny. If she changed into a giant cat, then we might have the Ghostlings version of King Kong vs. Godzilla on our hands.
Weird Wolf definitely lives up to his name. The first time I laid eyes on him, I couldn't tell what his original form was. Was it some kind of crusty zombie with dreads? Nope! According to the package, he changes from a "Weird Punk" to a "Teenage Wolf", so I guess that's how they came up with his name. I can see the punk now that I look closer, what with the leather jacket and guitar in hand, it's just the hair that was throwing me off. I guess that's what's so weird about him. His power is listed as "Screeching Sound", and I wish this action figure actually made sounds, because I would love to hear what a werewolf playing punk rock music on a guitar sounds like. Like raking fingernails on a chalkboard, I'm sure it brings his enemies to their knees.
It's only natural (Super Natural, har har har!) that the evil Ghostlings would have a vampire on their side, and Vamp-Pa gladly fills that role. He starts off as "Vampire" and then changes to "Swooping Bat". I gotta say, one of my favorite things about Vamp-Pa is that he has a pet spider on a leash. I'm not sure where the spider goes when he transforms into a bat, but I'd guess he goes into hiding. He may be a pet, but I'm guessing that bat would have no qualms about eating a spider, hologram or otherwise. His power is listed as "Night Flight", which seems odd to me, since I was under the impression that all of these Ghostlings could fly given that their bodies have no legs. Then again, maybe these are the kind of ghosts that can only hover a few feet off the ground.
Vamp-Pa also hates that his images were accidentally reversed on the backs of all Super Naturals packages, showing his bat form and listing it as a bat and vice versa. The fact that this packaging error was never corrected makes him feel like the truly weird one in the Ghostlings group, even though he's standing right next to Weird Wolf.
Our final Ghostling of the night is Rags, who changes from "Egyptian" to "Ragged Mummy". Rags doesn't really look evil to me, he just looks like a jerk. I mean, look at the expression on his face in his original form. That's the face of a man who just thought of some horribly racist joke and is laughing about it in his head. Plus, his powers are listed as "Wraps Up His Victims", which just sounds more like a prank. So not only do they have to look at his face that makes them want to stab it a thousand times, but his "victims" also have to deal with the annoyance of unraveling their bodies from medical gauze that he thought would be hilarious to wrap them in while they were taking a nap. I take it back... Rags really is evil.
As hard as it is to photograph Super Naturals Ghostlings, it's even harder to get both good and evil sides to agree to pose together for one big family photo without attacking each other. I promised them that we could stay up late and watch the original Poltergeist trilogy if they remained on their best behavior. They agreed and I was able to snap this group photo. There's simply no denying that these are some of the coolest and most unique toys ever produced. You'd be hard-pressed to find ghost toys that are more perfect to bring out and put on display during the Halloween season each year. Hell, they even held a "Spooky Halloween Vacation" sweepstakes for the toyline! Look:
Apparently, you and three lucky family members could win a spooky Halloween vacation trip to Southern California. I live in Los Angeles, so I guess I don't have to feel bad about missing out on the contest back then, but it would be nice to know which of the "local attractions" they had in mind as part of this Halloween vacation prize package. I'd venture to guess it was Knotts Scary Farm, since Universal's Halloween Horror Nights hadn't officially started up way back in 1986. It could also have been the walk of fame in Hollywood, since that entire area is a spooooooky tourist nightmare.
I'm also super curious about the notification in the top left corner about the "1-800-77STORY" phone number you could call to hear an exciting Super Naturals story. There's no way in hell that number is still telling Super Naturals stories, but if any of you want to call it and let me know who is operating it now, I'd love to hear all about it. Bonus points if you record the phone call as you demand an exciting Super Naturals story from whoever happens to answer.
Well, that about does it for the Super Naturals Ghostlings collection, and we're still left with so many unanswered questions. Why do they need swords when they each have unique powers listed on the packages? What are they fighting about in the first place? What should I do with all the original card backs since I took these figures out of their original packages? What would the grand prize winner of the "Spooky Halloween Vacation" sweepstakes actually get to do in Los Angeles, and did anybody actually win said contest? What the hell was the exciting Super Naturals story you would hear if you called the original "1-800-77STORY" phone number?
We may never know the answers to all these questions, but there is one question we do have the answer to:
How does Spooks look when he disrobes?
He looks mighty fine.
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