Toy Tribute: Beetlejuice by Kenner

There was a time when action figures were totally off my radar. I stopped playing with toys as a kid in 1988 and I started being interested in action figures in a collectible sense in 1993, so those 5 years are my dark ages of action figure collecting. There are a lot of great toy lines that I missed: TMNT, Batman, Bucky O'Hare, Toxic Crusaders... and this super-cool Beetlejuice line from 1989.

These figures are based on the movie rather than the cartoon. The sculpts are actually quite good and feature interesting gestures and expressive details in the face and hands. The hands in particular remind me a lot of Kenner's Predator line, so I guess the same sculptor was responsible for both lines. Or, at least Kenner had a consistent sculpting style.

Paint apps were pretty good for the time period. They're not precise by any means, and the color palate for each figure was pretty much limited to four paint colors, but it works. For some reason, Kenner couldn't quite get the yellow spray on the hair to work, though. Many of the figures came with only one accessory: a mini-figure of Beetlejuice transformed into some creature.

Spinhead Beetlejuice
The details and coloring of this figure match the suit worn in the marriage scene, although I think the green is embellished. The figure has a wheel on his back that spins the head when you turn it. But probably the coolest part of the figure is, you can recreate the scene at the end of the movie in which Beetlejuice messes with the wrong witch doctor and ends up with a shrunken head. The head pops off to reveal a mini-head, and Kenner was apparently obsessed with this shrunken head concept, applying it to almost every other Beetlejuice figure in the line. The mini-figure is a scarab or beetle, a form which you might imagine Beetlejuice taking often.

Showtime Beetlejuice
This figure depicts Beetlejuice's "amusement park" costume. I really like the gesture of the figure and the costume design, and I think this is probably the best figure in the line in terms of movie accuracy. He comes with a little Beetlejuice snake, which you can use to recreate that cool snake scene from the movie. The play features are an extendable neck and (you guessed it) a pop-off head to reveal a snake mini-head. Also, I learned from this YouTube review that you can replace the head with that of Spinhead Beetlejuice to have a "hero" Beetlejuice figure.

Shish Kebob Beetlejuice
I think this figure might have been intended to represent the scene in which Beetlejuice pokes spikes out of his body (but here, skewers replace the spikes). I'm not sure if the costume matches the movie, but I do remember the scene ending with Beetlejuice shuffling off to the ghostly whore house... which would have made a great playset. The skewers each have something impaled on them, either a food item (blah) or a small creature (cool!). There's no mini-figure for this guy, but (shocker) he has an eyeball mini-head.

Exploding Beetlejuice
Although this figure has a Beetlejuice dragon mini-fig, he does NOT have a removable head (a rarity in this line). But if you push the legs together, his chest explodes to reveal a bug body underneath! The sculpting details inside the chest are pretty nice, showing his rib cage and worm infestation. The bug body is great and very appropriate for the character. But I suppose my favorite aspect of this figure is the neon color scheme. Part of the fun of late 80s, early 90s figures is the bright, highly saturated colors, and this figure is the best example of that in this line (at least, that I've seen). The coloration combined with the grotesque detailing makes Exploding Beetlejuice the coolest in the line in my eyes.

Here are a few more shots:

And let's finish off this tribute with a YouTube Beetlejuice commercial! Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: All items reviewed on Dork Dimension were purchased by the reviewer unless otherwise noted. The opinions expressed on Dork Dimension are solely those of the author and are presented for entertainment purposes only.