Tuesday 21 August 2018

Monster Memories: Madballs!

Ah Madballs, if you were a kid during the 1980’s you will know exactly what these things are if not... Madballs were a series of toy /rubber balls released in 1985 by AmToy (a subsidiary company of the American Greetings Company responsible for Care Bears, Get Along Gang and Popples). Designed by James Groman (who also designed AmToy’s My Pet Monster) Madballs were a series of  8 ‘gross’ rubber/ foam bouncing balls, each one with  its own unique face and design they were Screamin Meemie, Slobulus, Aargh, Horn Head, Dust Brain, Oculus Orbus, Skull Face and Bash Brain. Aimed squarely at boys “Gross for one! Gross for all! We play with our... Madballs! the line did reasonably well for AmToy and so a second series of 8 characters followed called Snake Bait, Freaky Fullback, Splitting Headache, Bruise Brother, Wolf Breath, Fist Face, Swine Sucker and Lock Lips before being followed by a sub series of ‘Super Madballs’ which were larger versions of the original balls shaped like other sports balls, such as the American-football called Touchdown Terror, the soccer ball named Goal Eater, and basketball named Foul Shot perhaps not as popular in the UK it was a hit in the USA and AmToy licensed countless other Madballs products including Head-Popping Madballs figures (posable figures with ejectable/swappable head ) Madballs- Slimeballs a hollowed version that could be filled with slime “Gobs of Goo means fun for you! a Marvel comic and also two direct to video animated shows  (a 22-minute episode called Escape from Orb and Madballs: Gross Jokes a series of jokes and skits) before they faded  away, only to ‘bounce back’ courtesy of toy company Art Asylum in 2006  and Just Play, Inc. in 2017. Premier creators of limited edition art toys  Kidrobot produced a few  Madballs items such as foam Madballs, enamel pins, Madballs art figures, Madballs key rings and a Madballs blind box vinyl miniseries and this is where I came in,

I had some Madballs back in the day, but because they were made of foam rubber they will perish over time and so I sold them on, but when Kidrobot released fifteen vinyl figures based on the original designs (sadly they didn’t bring Splitting Headache back instead creating a “uber-rare” mystery figure based on Kidrobots’s own character which doesn’t interest me) I was delighted as I could re-introduce the Madballs to my collection of 80’s monster toys without the worry of them crumbling to dust overnight!   

© Arfon Jones 2017. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely loved madballs when they came out. Over a few birthdays and Christmas's I managed to build up a pretty impressive collection. amongst other general ephemera stuff, I had the entire first series of balls. But weirdly mine were made from hard plastic, and not foam, so I don't know if they started off using plastic and then switched to foam?! I had a few of the head popping action figure versions (the mechanism holding the heads on was really iffy - you only had to look at them and the heads would fly off, and the paint on the heads rubbed off if you weren't careful and they picked up fluff from the carpet, so I put them on display and barely touched them!) I also had the Roller motorcycle vehicle. Slobulous was my absolute favourite character, for some reason I really related to him (he did have a hair cut similar to my dads, which may have partly accounted for it?!) I also collected the comic, and remember the excitement of finding issue no.1 in Woolworths complete with free gift of jelly 'slime slurps' on the cover! :-)



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