The 1980s were a glorious time for action figures and weird toys. There were almost no rules as to what companies could attempt and make successful. Toys that interacted with your TV? Those were a thing. Toys based on cartoons, that then became movies, comics, cartoons again, and then more movies? Again, a thing that really happened. Toys made from squishable foam that were strange bedfellows with the Beholder from Dungeons & Dragons and that weird eyeball monster from Big Trouble in Little China? Yeah, they were real, and I had a bunch.

Madballs were one of the most ridiculous things to come about during the heyday of '80s toy craziness. Pound Puppies made sense. Police Academy: The Animated Series' action figures made sense, at least in the way that all R-rated movies that got animated shows and action figure lines in the '80s made sense. Madballs were just these gross, little balls with monstrous faces. You could throw them at your siblings/cousins/imaginary friends and they wouldn't hurt a whole lot because they were made of foam. You could squeeze them, and they'd return to form in seconds. That's it. Even today, I struggle to understand why I find them appealing, but I do. They speak to me.

Apparently they speak to Mondo, too, because the Alamo art house is bringing Madballs back to fill that little screaming baseball-sized hole in your heart.

We got a look at the prototypes for Mondo's upcoming MondoBalls at San Diego Comic-Con last year, but very few details were available last July. Today, Mondo shared the first details on the line, including the first three returning figures and the first licensed MondoBall that will join the series. Skull Face, Horn Head, and Slobulus, each an original Madball character, will kick things off this summer. The MondoBalls versions are based on the original designs, but have been taken to a new level of detail that wouldn't have been possible if these were still just foam balls. Unlike their predecessors, MondoBalls will be simply collectibles and not things you should actually throw at people.

Mondo won't just be limiting this resurrection to the classics, there will also be licensed MondoBalls based on characters from Marvel Comics, Friday the 13th and Gremlins to name a few. The Marvel partnership makes sense not just because Mondo's made a bunch of art prints for Marvel's movies and comics, but also because the Madballs had their own comic book series published by Marvel in 1986. Sure it only lasted 10 issues, but that's longer than a comic book based on a toy ball should have ever made it. There's a reason the red rubber ball used for kickball never got his chance on the printed page. But I digress.

The first Marvel MondoBall will be Venom, and it's actually kind of a perfect choice. The slobbering mess of the Erik Larsen-era Venom fits right in with the line's existing aesthetic, and these first promo shots of the character certainly look cool. I'm a little bummed out that Screamin' Meemie didn't make the cut for round one, as that was my personal favorite from 30 years ago, but given how committed Mondo seems to be to the whole deal, I'm optimistic he'll make the leap soon enough.

MondBalls will be available for pre-order starting in February, and are expected to ship in the summer. There's no pricing plan in place just yet, but we should no more soon.

 

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