Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, even when it’s really nasty.
In 1985, Topps created the Garbage Pail Kids trading cards as a parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. Of course, Coleco sued the tar out of them, but somehow they persist – the kids have appeared in new sets within the last few years, thanks to the power of nostalgia! And grossness. Gross nostalgia.
The Garbage Pail Kids were the epitome of gross kid things from the ’80s – each kid was some sort of mutant, monster, caught in mid-calamity, or just suffered from a debilitating deformity. And they were awesome. They also had toys back in the day – little MUSCLE-sized unpainted figurines called Cheap Toys, which nowadays sell for a whole lot of money.
Demand for new figures has come in odd ways, usually through people making their own custom figures and getting served Cease & Desist letters from Topps. But hey, Topps seems to have listened to the demand, and they’ve started producing new toys – the Minikins! Minikins are sold near the GPK cards, but are easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. There are twenty-six in the first series, and I do not own a full set – but hey, I’ve got enough to manage a review! Why don’t we take a look at these gross and disturbing little kids?
Minikins come blind-packed in pairs, in those little foil wrappers used mostly for trading cards and occasionally toys. Of course, this provides little to no protection for the figures inside, allows for the mini-cards to be mangled, and also makes it pretty easy to feel the packs and cherry-pick specific figures. Aside from that, the words “Garbage Pail Kids” are also nowhere to be seen – just “Minikins” and “Adam Bomb & Friends.” This is weird, since it’s not like they’re hiding what these guys are. On the positive side, there is a nice checklist on the back, so I’ll give it that.
SCULPT: ** to ****
Minikins are about one inch in height each, smaller than the Cheap Toys from the ’80s. But at the same time, they are way more detailed – I compared the Minikins Patty Putty with the Cheap Toy (my only Cheap Toy), and found that the new figure is just better-sculpted in every way despite the size difference. The figures are made of squishy rubber, which has its good and bad points – it feels great and is fun to squish… but has one flaw that I’ll bring up under the Paint section.
Several of these figures do look really good, particularly their flagship characters like Adam Bomb, who is a pretty good 3-D representation of his card. I happen to think that Adam Bomb is a really great “desk rider,” as far as little mini figures go.
But on the other side, I have to admit that they aren’t all very good, though – several Minikins are fairly nondescript or featureless. As much as I like Doug Plug, he’s just plain. And some of the others, like Nat Nerd or Leaky Lindsay don’t really stand out, either.
A few of them are oddly tiny, too, like Russell Muscle. So overall I’d put this line at the middle of the road – some of the figures are good, some are so-so. If you like Garbage Pail Kids already, you should be fine.
Minikins come two to a pack – one painted, one mono-color. The mono colors available are red, blue, green, and the ultra-rare yellow and black. I really appreciate the unpainted figures, because they show off sculptural details lost by the painted ones.
The Painted Minikins are both good and bad. Good in that I like having them in color, I really do. And the level of detail is fairly decent for the tiny scale, though there are some things left out, and occasionally the paint might be uneven or sloppy.
The real problem comes from the material used to make these little guys – that kind of squishy rubber does not hold paint very well, so the Minikins need a really thick coat for it to stay. The result is that their paint obscures some sculptural detail, something very obvious when you compare painted and unpainted figures. And along with that, it’s pretty easy for the paint to crack, scuff, chip, or peel, so you can’t handle them as much as you might like.
Let a Minikin ride around in your pocket for a day, and it’ll come out scuffed. You can’t see it in the picture, but my Adam Bomb is already showing wear and tear, and I haven’t even done very much with it!
These are not articulated, although they can bend and flex! Just watch out when you do that, because it will stress the paint.
I didn’t expect anything to come with these figures, but we’ve got little mini-cards! Each card shows off the Garbage Pail Kid in question, and has a written description on the back. I would have preferred full-sized (which also would have protected the figures better), but the mini-cards are good. I for one am glad to have something with art of each kid and their names.
Each 2-pack of Minikins costs $3.00, which puts each figure at $1.50. Maybe I’m too used to expensive toys, but that seems more than reasonable to me. Hey, why not buy a few packs to toss in with this year’s Halloween candy?
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Watch out for the paint – sometimes Minikins come stuck to their own mini-cardss, and lose a little bit of it when you pull them off. Also, a few have come with crooked hears or other pieces (some of the figures are glued-together from more than one part). But it’s not like you can see them before you purchase.
WHERE TO BUY:
You can find these guys at Target, Wal-Mart, or… well, probably everywhere. Target is the first and best place, though. Just look for their gravity-feed boxes by all the trading cards, and you’ll be fine!
Minikins have a ton of flaws. And yet… they’re still cool enough to warrant three stars. The whole is better than the sum of its parts, which is nice considering the issues with each part. A lot of fans prefer the mono-colored Minikins to painted, and I can understand that.
Now, after looking at the grosser, more disgusting Garbage Pail Kids, you might be wondering how seemingly innocuous characters like the pretzel or fire hydrant or dog or disco ball fit in with the kid covered in pus or the one puking his guts out. Well, if you want to make those ones more disturbing than the others, just think of this phrase:
“The babies screamed on the operating table. Oh yes, they screamed.”
Enjoy that thought, everyone!