Tuesday, March 27, 2012

#0050: Ripster Puppet

Welcome, minions, to a momentous day in the echelons of INAKA. We’ve seen some cool toys, we’ve seen some shit toys, and we’ve seen some toys that defy imagination. And today, we hit the big five zero. In actuality, I don’t really see 50 as being a particularly special number; it’s really just riding on the coattails of 100, being halfway and all. 25 and 75 don’t quite go about gloating over their relation to the century mark, but the Napoleon complex 50, it’s all about it.

As such, we’ll appease it for now. Just don’t expect the same kind of treatment for 150, at which point I simply won’t care anymore.

So I went with the assumption today that bigger is better; and as such, I needed to up the ante from the previous size benchmark set by Krang’s Android Body and the cocaine snake. Today, I introduce to you a toy of mass destruction. Have you ever seen what happens when puppets go bad?

It’s pure and utter chaos! Even Vincent Price falls victim to their fury.

Today, we salute the efforts of a plush so obscure, I can’t even seem to locate it on Google. Effectively, this could make it my most valuable possession (worth more than my 3DS, my house and my soul), but in honour of thou, the loyal toy-loving brethren, I will sally forth. Puppets are good. Street Sharks are better. So the enormous Ripster puppet must surely be the grandest of them all!

It’s incredible how much swag they were able to push out through the small window of Street Sharks’ popularity. In 1995, they were the hot ticket, and toy manufacturers would capitalize like keen strategists. Keen strategists with sharks. By the end of the year however, they were old news. Suddenly, it was all about Space Jam toys. At least, that’s how it was in my little community, and I assume that, as the epicenter of everything, what I deemed haute couture was accepted as the norm.

The paraphernalia came in all shapes and sizes, and this isn’t even the only Sharks foray into puppets. The more commonly seen variety were much more conservative hand puppets, appropriate for roleplay and post-modern attempts at Punch & Judy. However, I have looked high and low, and cannot find anyone else in all of society who owns this particular majestic menace.

And frankly, that’s really weird to me. I’ve pumped out some toys that I never expected to be recognized, but in this case, it’s a part of a big fad franchise that isn’t even twenty years old. Why is it so damned hard to find anyone else who is willing to discuss their Ripster puppet?

Is it one of a kind? Was it a prototype from a cancelled brand extension? Did I make it myself?

Who knows. Alls I know is that this enormous sucker has been lurking about my closet for years, warding off intruders, and eating stray socks that came his way. I also assume that, within a week, someone will have successfully located another site where people have already discussed the Ripster puppet. There’s probably even a fan club dedicated to it, with weekly meetups and secret shark handshakes.

But enough about his shady origins, let’s observe with keen interest the toy itself. For starters, wow, he’s really, really big. He’s like the size of a small toddler, but he’s much buffer and has rows of jagged plastic teeth, which makes him better than a small toddler.

He’s pretty finely crafted (as is the norm with Mattel), and even has nice little details like stitching tactfully placed to resemble abs. He lives up to his puppet status through use of an opening in his back, where you can pop your hand into to make his mouth stretch open widely.

As you can see, this makes him capable of biting, singing, and saying ‘ahh’ for the dentist. He’s even got Velcro hands, though amusingly, he’s far too unwieldy and muscular to successfully stick them together. You can hold them in place for a moment, but as soon as you let go, he’ll yank those suckers back to neutral. I don’t know what exactly the intention was of providing Velcro hands on a toy that can’t hold them together, but it’s still a fun addition. For one thing, when you hold them there, it looks like he’s praying. It’s like the cover of a hip-hop album. With sharks.

He’s got some minor wear on his teeth, but they’re shark teeth man, they’re meant to be rugged. Besides, if this truly is the only Ripster puppet in existence, then there still ain’t a better conditioned one in town.

I can’t help but note, in case you were wondering, that yes, he is excellent for cuddling. He’s soft and he doesn’t judge. This might sound wussy at first, but I will justify this by pointing out that I am cuddling a shark. Much more badass.

He’s also got some soulful eyes, hasn’t he? Like he’s about to pelt out a few bars of Ol’ Man River, criticize the lack of progress in the civil rights movement in the United States, and endure the pressure of McCarthyism. Yes, I effectively cast Ripster as the lead role of a Paul Robeson biography. That would be fucking epic, in my opinion. And yes, I did base the terminology of that biography on the first paragraph from Robeson’s Wikipedia page. As all true historians do, no doubt.

Right. I think I’ve said enough. Because truly, this manimal speaks for himself. He is a powerful fish. He believes himself to be ‘jawesome’. And he hungers for flesh. Or Snickers bars. Whichever is more readily available.

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