Marvel has had an incredible run over the last decade with their excellent movies and mostly okay TV shows. Their comics division has been another story, but there’s no denying that—overall—the superhero studio has had a great run. But that’s not to say they’ve excelled, or have even been competent, at everything.
One of the often overlooked aspects of Marvel is their toy business. Yes, kids do still play with toys, it’s not all smartphones and Fortnite these days. When you look at some of the toys Marvel (or, more accurately, the companies they’ve hired to make toys for them) has churned out over the decades, you’re going to find a lot of garbage. A lot. Action figures based on TV shows, movies, and comics have always been hit or miss, but it seems like Marvel’s toy line, in particular, seems to have suffered something fierce. Some of the figures they’ve made, especially in the 1980s, are infamous for how awful and downright bizarre they are.
We’re going to take a look at 25 hilarious Marvel toys that would never be made today. And let me tell you, it was no easy feat finding the toys for this list. Not because there aren’t enough toys that could potentially induce side-splitting laughter, but because they were so many of them. Here are just a handful of the most pitiful, strange, weird, gross, and hilarious toys Marvel has ever made.
24 Invisible Woman
The Invisible Woman, otherwise known as Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four, has one of the most useless superpowers in comics. Sure, turning invisible can be really handy for spy work, but for actively fighting crime, you might as well have the power to grow your hair really long.
That’s why coming up with a toy for her is so difficult. That didn’t stop Toy Biz from trying, sometime in the 2000s it seems. This figure with a whopping 28 points of articulation is a completely transparent lump of plastic vaguely molded in the shape of a woman with two broken arms.
23 Cable And Hope
Cable, who just featured in the excellent Deadpool 2, is a tough cookie. He’s a hard man, who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty with a little wet work. In the 2007 comic X-Men #205, he saved a baby from a crazed organization called The Purifiers.
For some reason, someone made a figure based on the two. That’s how we got Cable and Hope, a figure of Cable carrying a baby in a baby-Bjorn. I don’t think that’s what kids want to play with, not to mention, you know, carrying a baby into battle with you might not be the safest thing in the world.
You know Ulysses Klaw from the MCU movies, excellently played by Andy Serkis? Well, the comic book version of the character is… slightly different, shall we say. In the source material, he’s more of a goofball, decked out in red from head to toe with purple underwear on the outside and some kind of ray gun.
Unfortunately, this classic design looks very out of place today.
Even more so in toy form, when he looks like… well. His eyes are black balls with white dots on them, his mouth is hanging open, and the toy looks like a cheap Chinese knockoff, even though it isn’t.
21 Magneto Magnetron
The X-Men Magneto Magnetron, released in 1994, perfectly summarizes 90s action figures in just a single image. A big feature for toys back then was that figures of famous characters were randomly shoved into vehicles, regardless of the character in question.
Case in point: Magneto. He can control all things metal with his mind, yet for some reason, with this toy, he’s driving around in a car. A car that has a catapult on the front of it! Why would you put a catapult on a car? It’s even worse here, though, because the car didn’t even come with a Magneto figure.
20 Iron Lad
Iron Lad is inherently a bad character. Iron Man just seems to be cursed with bad side-kicks. This bizarre character, named Nathaniel Richards, was rescued by a future version of himself which caused him to become a superhero working with Iron Man, even though he was named after Reed Richard’s father. What?
The figure itself, released by Toy Biz as part of their Young Avengers line, is the figure this character deserves. It has a dopey look on its face.
19 Iron Man Captain America Armor
Sometimes the idea behind a figure isn’t so bad. Take the Iron Man Captain America Armor, for example. Iron Man paying tribute to his (not quite) best bud by painting his colors on his armor and using his shield is touching.
But it’s all in the execution, something this toy lacks.
For some reason, the mouth on the face-plate is hanging wide open. You’ll also notice that Stark seems to have broken his right wrist, and may have had an accident in his metal pants, judging from that gait.
18 The Blob
Boy, it’s hard to find the words to accurately describe this particular figure. Large? Weird? Spooky?
As you can see, the character in question, The Blob from the X-Men, is quite rotund. He also has an oddly realistic face, yet legs that look like he puts them on in the morning like socks, and slotted fingers. And that’s not to mention the rolls. His rolls have rolls, for crying out loud. What kid could possibly want to ever play with this toy?
17 Astral Dr. Strange
Much like the Invisible Woman figure from earlier, this Dr. Strange figure is lacking one important feature: color. At least with the Invisible Woman, her clear plastic made sense—it’s her superpower. But why is Dr. Strange invisible? Sure this is his astral form, but who would want a toy of that?
Besides, the molding itself isn’t fantastic. Its face is just two eyes, a mouth, and a vaguely nose shaped lump in the middle. The joints in his knees make his legs look like they’ve been run over by a truck.
16 Sugar Man
There’s an almost stupid charm to Sugar Man’s toy, a character from the X-MEN universe. He’s a giant head on a pair legs, and for some reason he has four arms and a giant Gene Simmons tongue. Surely a figure can’t be made out of that, right?
Back in the 90s, the weirder the character, the better the chances of it getting its own figure were. That’s how we ended up with this thing, with a “wicked laugh and big bad bite” that also makes noises and has some kind of action feature. Is the action throwing itself in the garbage?
15 Bruce Banner
Bruce Banner is an important character in Marvel lore, as both the vessel for his alter ego, Hulk, and as a brilliant scientist. There is, however, one area where the good doctor is lacking: he makes a terrible action figure.
You’d think toy companies wouldn’t want to make action figures out of nerdy scientists, yet here we are anyway, with a Bruce Banner figure that is literally just some guy in a lab coat. But hey, at least they made him look like he’s in a boy band.
14 J. Jonah Jameson
If you had fun with your generic scientist Bruce Banner toy, why not pick up a generic newspaper reporter J. Jonah Jameson figure? This one might be even better than the Banner one, as this version of Jameson comes with massively oversized clothes. Seriously, look at that jacket!
The figure doesn’t even have that much articulation, you can move the arms backward and forwards, and the legs, and that’s about it. At least you can prop him back in his desk, but he doesn’t come with a cigar!
13 Soak 'N' Toss Spider-Man
Once again I am at a loss for words, and perhaps you are as well. What in all that is Spidery is this thing supposed to be? It’s some version of Spider-Man in a made-up suit and a backpack with an arm on it that holds sponge balls.
You’re supposed to soak the sponge balls in water, and use the toy to flick them, but as you would imagine, it doesn’t throw them far. Also, why would you want to anyway!? This is Spider-Man, not Wet Sponge Man.
So, you know the Cottonmouth from the Luke Cage Netflix show, wonderfully played by Mahershala Ali? Yeah, that Cottonmouth is slightly different from the comic book version of the character.
This figure, based on that comic book version, is very different from the suave gangster running Harlem’s Paradise. This version of the character is wearing a purple snake suit, has deceased purple eyes, and a giant cut across his chest for the chest articulation that just makes him look weird than he already is.
11 Franklin Richards
As if generic scientist and generic reporter weren’t enough, here comes the worst of all: generic child. This figure is loosely based on Franklin Richards, the son of Sue Storm and Reed Richards, aka the Invisible Woman and Mister Fantastic.
As you can see, the figure is just some random child.
It’s not even an action figure, because there’s no articulation. It’s just a kid with a worried look on his face in a stupid pose. This kid could be anyone, and who loves Franklin Richards so much they have to get a figure of him anyway?
10 Howard The Duck
Howard the Duck was always meant to be a satirical take on comic book superheroes. The amount of people who never understood that, including many at Marvel itself it sometimes seems, is incredible. That is how we ended up with profanely terrible toys like this one.
This Howard the Duck figure depicts Howard shouting about something and pushing an invisible shopping cart with one hand. There’s no signature stick or beverage, so you could be forgiven for mistaking this figure with Donald Duck.
9 Bride Of Venom
There’s bad, and then there’s horrifying. This Bride of Venom action figure fits into the latter category, as you can probably see for yourself. The figure is of Venom’s symbiote slowly taking over a random woman’s body, as the woman screams. Just the toy every kid wants to play with!
Getting past the gross nature of the toy, what even is the point of it? It’s not like you can really play with it because she’s not even fully “the Bride of Venom” yet. But the original toy came with a giant spider, so that must have been worth the price of admission.
8 Groot In A Pot
Everybody loves Groot. He’s like a Minion, but not awful. Don’t you just love how he says “I am Groot” all the time? Well, this toy based on him isn’t going to say anything out of sheer embarrassment.
The figure in question depicts a fully formed Groot squatting in a flower part in what looks like some kind of black goo. Not going to question what that is, but we should question why he appears to have glowing green veins across the top of his head and thighs. Even the pot looks more like a cowboy hat than something you’d grow black goo covered plants in.
7 Soldiers Of A.I.M.
A.I.M. (or Advanced Idea Mechanics) is a super-duper secret corporation made up entirely of Marvel’s villains and supervillains. It’s the kind of cheesy nonsense that was the bread and butter of comics in the 1960’s. Now, it’s a bit too silly, but that hasn’t stopped Marvel from making toys based on these guys anyway.
Oh, don’t be confused. We’re not talking about Venom or Crossbones in a cool getup. No, instead, Soldiers of A.I.M. were just random dudes in yellow hazmat suits and generic guns. Real exciting for our superhero toys.
6 Johnny "Snowboarder" Storm
Hey, you know that one Fantastic Four character who can turn himself into fire? His name is the Human Touch, because of that whole fire thing? You know what would be a really bad idea for a toy? Him in winter gear with a snowboard.
Alas, we have Johnny “Snowboard” Storm anyway, because that’s how cool he is.
Even the execution here is terrible. He seems to be on fire on some parts of his body, but not entirely. He has a really bland look on his face too, not one that screams “cool guy” (or “hot guy,” for that matter). Worst of all, his snowboard is massive thanks to the friction based spinning wheel system it uses to move.
5 Beach Spider-Man
After decades of making toys based on the same character, it is obvious toy companies will eventually run out of ideas. Exhibit A: Beach Spider-Man. It’s Peter Parker… at the beach… wearing his Spider-Man mask, gloves, and shoes… but also swim trunks and a baseball hat. He’s got a beach ball too.
What is even the point of this figure? How can this possibly be real? Why does the packaging say “Adventure Hero?” What is adventurous about Peter going to the beach dressed as Spider-Man? What’s heroic about playing with a beach ball?
4 Shark Trap Spider-Man
Exhibit B in toy companies running out of ideas: Shark Trap Spider-Man. That’s right, Spider-Man has literally jumped the shark with this toy. For some reason, Peter Parker has taken it upon himself to fight sharks in some kind of bizarre wet-suit and some kind of robotic aid. Why is Spider-Man fighting sharks? What did they ever do to him?
I can only imagine this version of Peter Parker is a thrill seeker, who, after giving up his personal life to fight crime 24/7, has put every criminal in the country in jail and now has to resort to fighting sea creatures to get his thrills.
This cannot be real. It is, we can all see the picture. But I still can’t fathom the existence of this monstrosity. Why is it covered in hair? Yes, it’s a werewolf character, sure, that makes sense. But why was the figure itself so poorly covered in what looks like someone’s armpit hair? You can see the hot glue where the hair was attached!
The best part though is that it comes with bones, as if it were just a cute doggy who wants to chew on a bone. This might be one of the worst action figures ever based on the concept alone.
2 Aunt May
Here we are again. If you’re tired of your generic scientist, generic reporter, and generic soldier Marvel action figures, why not pick up a generic old lady figure? Oh, but this time there’s a twist! A twist currently in progress on May’s face.
The above rendition of everybody’s favorite fictional Aunt is an officially licensed Marvel product, not some cheap Chinese knockoff.
As you can see, May has been run over by a tractor, and there’s clearly some kind of Weekend at Bernie’s scenario going on where Marvel is trying to pretend like this toy’s corpse is still perfectly fine. Truly a horrifying experience.
1 The Punisher Shape-Shifter
While not quite as scary as that Aunt May figure, gazing at the Punisher Shape-Shifter figure is just as much of an experience. It’s got a cannon sticking out of its… its… well, you can see for yourself. That placement has to be intentional, somebody at the factory had to think it was funny, there’s no way that was an oversight.
The point of this figure is that you can also transform it into a sort of gun, as if that makes it any more sane. Still, if any of Marvel’s characters would ever replace their stuff with a rocket launch, it’d probably be the Punisher.