Thursday, November 24, 2011

#0029: The Clown

There are occasionally times when the line between children’s series and mature programming are blurred. If the content is dark, violent and uncouth, is it unacceptable to market certain aspects towards the young’ins? I’d venture to say it’s iffy territory, but time and time again, I’ve been proven wrong.

Hundreds of Beetlejuice toys hit the market, and even a cartoon series, making Tim Burton’s original flick seem as though it’s suited for all ages. I watched it as a kid, and I was fine. Now, though, I can’t help but question… Do I want my kids to watch Beetlejuice spout foul language, and act like a lecherous pervert? Wouldn't they get enough of that from watching me, anyway?

The Terminator films contained explosions, blood and strong language (though the second was obviously much less gritty), yet kids were treated to delightful Arnold Schwarzenegger toys, complete with tattered flesh and a big honkin’ gun. As well as Austrian-accented banter. I liked for my Terminator to shout ‘There is no bathroom!’

I realise; a lot of these figures have age-restrictions on the packaging, but… they’re kid’s toys, y’know? They’re not the high-quality models for collectors, they’re plastic playthings for tots. At least, you’d be excused for thinking this when they’re found in the same toy aisle as Gumby and My Little Pony.

Like I said, I shouldn’t complain, and I shouldn’t be a prude. Christ, I watched a lot worse than that in my youth, and so far the only negative effects I’ve noticed are desensitization to gore in fictional media, a slight penchant for casual swearing, and, when I’m bored, the occasional flaying(!!!)

Today, we take a squiz at one of the culprits behind antsy parents eventually attempting to put the squash on mature toys and video games. Toys have gotten by fine, but video games are still yet to recover. And dammit, I blame you, John Leguizamo Clown!

I don’t know how or why Todd McFarlane’s Spawn series leaked its way into toys, but I guess it was inevitable. Nearly every comic book character has their own toy line, from Batman to Spiderman to Arm Fall Off Boy (at least, someday, hopefully!). Spawn started off as a comic series about a murdered U.S. marine who makes a deal with the devil to return to the mortal plane, only to go back on his word and fight evil instead.

So far, in that one sentence synopsis, we’ve dealt with treachery, murder, and HELL. Does that sound like appropriate fare for kiddies to you? For crying out loud, Mulligrubs got cancelled for being too scary.

I’ll stop harping on this point now. I’m sure you’re getting sick of it. I’m sick of it, mostly because it’s made my fury about the absence of an Arm Fall Off Boy action figure resurface. Anyway, in the distant year of 1994, the Spawn toys hit the scene, and they were the hot ticket on the birthday present scene.

I myself was awarded this guy right here, and immediately I pondered… well shit, he’s ugly, isn’t he? I know that the Spawn series wasn’t filled to the brim with supermodels, but the big fat scary clown man certainly wasn’t what I had in mind.

The Clown is the alternative form of the hellish demon Violator, which is a huge, hulking creature that looks like a cross between a praying mantis and really, really old chewing gum.

In the same vein as our dearly departed Slobster, the Clown’s hideous look belies some really, really pretty craftsmanship. His colours are accurate, his clothes are detailed, his hair is wild and scraggly, and his gut hangs out like a champion. He looks like what would happen if one of your weird distant uncles went off to join the evil circus.

He’s not terribly poseable, his legs being attached firmly to his torso (like most fat people), but his arms can wriggle up and down. Me personally, I like to point his right arm to the air in a defiant declaration that disco is alive and well.

Tragically, my Clown has some unsightly paint wear on his arm, exposing his dark blue undercoat. Fortunately, this can still be attributed to this human form only being a guise for the wicked Violator, hence the fleshy exterior isn’t real anyway. …I don’t know why I like to try and explain my toys’ wear and tear, I just do.

This damage is only apparent in his right arm however, which is a removable piece that I lost for a period of time. Why is it removable? Why, because he’s really Arm Fall Off Boy it holds magic powers, my dear!

Pardon the presence of two strikethroughs in one entry. I just couldn’t bear to part with either of them. Now you see, if you turn the Clown’s right arm around, he transforms into…


Well… sorta. He actually looks more like he has harlequin ichthyosis, but we won’t split hairs. This angry, veiny fetus of doom theoretically represents the middle ground between Clown and Violator. In essence, I myself feel violated.

As a result of this dandy little feature, the Clown is loaded with springs and cogs in his interior that makes him completely inappropriate for bath time play. But frankly, the Clown should never be allowed in your bathtub to begin with. I mean, just look at him. It’d be the spookiest water-based assailant since Jaws, and I’m pretty sure he’d stink out the tub, to boot.

I don’t think I’ll particularly miss my Clown. He’s an also-ran in the venerable history of TonyToys, an outcast who didn’t get much love. If you asked me to choose an enemy for the next playtime session, I would much rather opt for Bebop. Yes, I would rather choose a bumbling anthropoid warthog than an almighty demon, simply because he comes in the form of an obese clown. Look, you can find 800 guys who look just like the Clown walking around Manhattan, but Bebop, he’s unique, you see. Must be the purple Mohawk.



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