Friday, February 19, 2010

Special Transformers Feature: Mighty Muggs Bumblebee

A couple of years ago, some marketing guru at Hasbro thought of a very simple idea: Create a line of simple vinyl/plastic figures.  All figures would use the same basic shape (with one or two minor variations possible), but the images on the figures will resemble any of a number of popular characters.  Thus, the Mighty Muggs were born.

Mighty Muggs quickly became inexplicably popular, and other companies have picked up on the concept in various ways.  Disney theme parks sell "Vinylmation" figures that all use the same Mickey Mouse-inspired shape.  There's a line of DC Comics hero figures called "Blammoids" that are clearly Mighty Muggs-ripoffs.

Anyway, despite the fact that these figures are little more than glorified and overpriced paperweights, Transformers (being one of Hasbro's most profitable franchises) are in on the Mighty Muggs theme, as well.  I picked up this Mighty Muggs figure of Bumblebee more than half a year ago when it was on clearance at Target for less than half of its original price (Target is generally pretty good about clearancing figures that have been on the shelves for too long.  Toys R Us, by contrast, still has full-priced Mighty Muggs Bumblebees on their shelves to this day).  Truth be told, I still feel like I overpaid for the thing.  I guess I just don't understand what they big craze is about.  The horns are the only feature of Bumblebee that are physically any different than practically every other Mighty Muggs toy in existence, and it doesn't really do anything but stand there.  It's not even especially poseable, although I suppose the arms might raise up if I cared enough to bother to try to do so.  Basically, it just sits in my office looking cute. 

But, hey, if you don't mind spending some $10 to $15 for a cute paperweight, go for it!


  1. I resisted the Mighty Muggs for a long time because I thought they were pointless. But then I saw Shockwave, and I couldn't resist. It's a fun and cartoonish take on the character.

    I also wanted to add that I really enjoy your blog, even if I haven't commented before. (At least, I don't think I did.) I came for the Transformers articles, but also find myself enjoying your posts about the Bible. And the thing is, I'm not very religious. I consider myself mostly a former Christian (hard to let go of some ideas) who has a lot of problems with the uglier parts of organized relgion, not to mentiom the Bible itself. But I greatly enjoy reading the insight you take away from it and the connections you make regarding the text. I'm not sure why I'm telling you all this, but it does say something regarding the excellent and engaging quality of your writing. You definitely have a scholarly tone.


  2. Thanks for your comments. Feel free to stop by anytime.

    I think my main problem with the Mighty Muggs isn't so much the idea of them being "paperweights," and certainly not that they're cute and cartoony, but really just how much they cost. I've always been perfectly fine with the Robot Heroes (someday I'll get around to featuring a few of those here. All I've done up to now is report a packaging variation), and I've defended Action Masters a number of times. But both of those are considerably cheaper (even than the discounted price I paid for this Bumblebee).

    And, certainly, no worries about not being "very religious." I appreciate your honesty. Frankly, I find it easier to deal with people who have honest questions (if not outright difficulties) with Christianity than I do with those who argue too confidently for traditional answers.

  3. You're aware that this trend was in existence long before Mighty Muggs right? As much as I enjoy Mighty Muggs and Vinylmation (and boy do I enjoy Vinylmation - can't wait till my Muppets get here) they really both took the idea from art toy / designer toy companies like Kidrobot, Medicom, and Toy2R. I think the first Dunnys came out in 2004, which was probably the biggest single influence on Mighty Muggs.

    The appeal of vinyl toys is mostly in appreciating how the designer utilized the unique canvas of the line. I can understand why it's not everyone's cuppa, but $10 for the Mighty Muggs are pretty darn reasonable as IMO. Most 3" blind-box collections are $8-$10.

  4. Actually, Aaron, I wasn't aware of this trend pre-Mighty Muggs, and have never heard of the companies you mention here (nor of "Dunnys").

    However, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I'm reminded of Bobbleheads, which have origins going back decades, but also seemed to spring (back) out of nowhere in the past decade.



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