In the early 1980s, Ideal Toys (Or was it CBS?) produced a toy line called “Rocks, Bugs, & Things.” It was, appropriately, made up of rock monsters and transformable bug monsters, each packed with a little creature to eat. Those little creatures were known as “Mordles,” and looked kind of like a cross between a Little Goomba and a pig. I had two rock monsters growing up (and still have one rock monster and two Mordles), so I actually have some nostalgia for the line, though they are pretty rare and expensive these days. In fact, the Mordles cost just as much as the bigger monsters! So popular that sort of a cottage industry developed a little while ago of bootleg or reproduced Mordles. Even TheGodBeast (of Glyos fame) got in on that action!
So, fast forward to today, when DoctorKent of Toyfinity has purchased the rights to several of Ideal’s old brands, such as Robo Force, Manglors, and… Mordles! Seriously, these toys are a legitimate revival, and not simply bootleg reproductions – Mordles are back, baby! And Kent has partnered with the Onell Design people to get a good factory running, too! The new Mordles are set to go up for sale on Toyfinity.com on Friday, June 28, 2013, and the plan is for two new color packs to come up every month. There is also “Club Mordle,” which offers early access, and is how I got mine before the official release date. There are two packs available – the blue-colored “Crawler” pack, and the yellow “Standard” pack, which also includes a surprise egg (copied from the Manglors line, but as I said, he’s got the legal right to do that). So… why don’t we take a look at these weird little guys, shall we?
If you’re used to indy toy lines, this shouldn’t surprise you – the Mordles come in sealed bags with header cards. Some Indy toys show up in ziplocs, some in blister packaging, but most are like this.
The Mordle packaging also contains a brief description of the new (non-rock and non-bug) setting that crosses over with the Glyos System toys:
“In the midst of a desperate search, a cosmic traveler visits planet UZALEK. Finding the planet barren of sentient life forms, he moves on, unaware that his energies have started an evolutionary chain reaction – resulting in creatures with boundless appetites, a nasty sense of humor, and secrets yet untold… The mischievous MORDLES are on the move again! And this time, there is something greater to fear than ROCKS or BUGS…”
The Manglor Egg just reproduces the old Manglor blurb about toys that can tear off and reattach their own limbs (spoiler: they couldn’t). The baggies are serviceable and the card art is great, but some padding would have been welcome, especially for that egg.
For what they are, Mordles are fantastic! These aren’t photorealistic hyper-detailed figures… they’re little mini guys reminiscent of modern “art” toys, even though they predate that movement by at least twenty years. Each Mordle shares the same basic design – pudgy head, little legs with clawed feet, pointed ears, heavy brow, piggy nose, and a big mouth. But other than that, they really vary in shape. None of them seem to have names yet, but that’s all right. It’s pretty easy to split all ten of them into five groups of two!
First up are “Those Two Guys,” so named because they’re the Mordles I owned as a kid. I had the skinny guy in orange, and the fat guy in red. I’ve been able to locate Fatty, but I can’t find Skinny. I KNOW I still own him, so this is frustrating… but that’s beside the point, Fatty is pretty normal for a Mordle, if a little plump, but Skinny has one of the more unique body types – of course, as a kid I thought that they all looked like him, but that’s just me.
Then we have the Smirkers – well, one Smirker and one Squashed Dude! Smirker has the most attitude of any Mordle, and I love that expression on his face! Squashed looks particularly grumpy, but I’d be that way, too, if I looked like I’d been flattened!
Then you’ve got the Grinners, who look the most alike of any pair – but make no mistake, they ARE different! One is noticeably smaller than the other (and the smallest Mordle in the set), though for some reason it doesn’t show in the photos, whereas the other one is big and round, almost rivalling Fatty. But it’s their creepy toothy grins that you’ll notice first, especially on the little guy.
And of course, you can’t forget the Tall Dudes! One of them leans forward and looks stuck-up, while the other is snarling and shaped like a pillow! I just love the personality that these two guys have – really, just look at those faces!
And finally, we’ve got the Weirdos who defy description! There’s Stilts, whose tiny body and long legs set him apart from the crowd, and then there’s the one with backwards feet! The Backwards one is the only one who might tip over, although all the Mordles are really stable. And Stilts bends a lot, which brings up the fact that these Mordles are made of a fairly flexible rubber – the originals were hard PVC, so this provides a nice contrast.
Another contrast is how the original CBS copyright info has been removed from each Mordle, so you can very easily tell the difference between original and remake Mordles. Other than those differences, though, you’d be hard-pressed to find any way to tell them apart from the originals! They don’t even look any smaller, which is really amazing!
Mordles do not have complex paint schemes. Actually, these new guys are a step up from the originals – classic Mordles only had painted eyes and mouths, whereas these guys have their toenails, too! The paint is clean (they’re hand-painted) and not prone to scuffing, and both color combos are great. So you know, they’re worth a high score even if it’s pretty simple. I do want to note that the yellow Mordles look a lot better in-hand than in photographs.
There is really only one accessory with these guys – the Manglor egg! It’s big, snaps together, and – get this – is just large enough to fit exactly two sets of Mordles! One standard and one crawler pack, right there!
The egg snaps together via the extra lip on the inside, so it actually looks good closed – like a prop, not a container, and there’s a lot that you can do with it. Though it is just an egg, come to think of it… either way, I can’t wait to see if they manage to incorporate other Manglor things – though hopefully not the toys-that-break! Either way, I think the egg is a great little carrying case, and has an awesome accessory. What will the folks at Toyfinity come up with next?
The Crawler pack costs $12, while the Standard pack with egg costs $16. For the Crawlers, that’s barely over $1 a figure – it’s the same with the Standard pack, only with a $4 egg. For what are technically independent designer toys, that is CHEAP. Seriously. The lowest you could expect to pay for things like this from a one-man sculpting show would be about $10 apiece (and the old repros would cost that much), whereas larger manufacturers like KidRobot would never charge below $5. These prices are so awesome that the only way to go lower would be to stick them in a quarter vending machine!
So hats off to the Mordles!
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Nothing. Nothing at all. They’re sturdy, they stand well., and they’re good. I guess try not to step on the egg or anything?
WHERE TO BUY:
On Friday, June 28th, these Mordles will become available at Toyfinity.com! Keep checking the site for early access via Club Mordle, too!
Come on, just look at them! Mordles are an oddly nostalgic property so obscure that a random guy was able to buy the rights to reproduce them – but the whole thing is fantastic. I can’t stop myself from just tossing Mordles around all days, or stacking them, or otherwise playing with them like I were a little kid again. I even found my old Rock Monster just so he could have a new snack!
So yes, Doctor Kent’s Mordles gain my vote of approval!