Friday, January 11, 2008

The History of the Beanworld Action Figure

Chapter Four

The little action figures became a Beanworld institution. Every public appearance I made promoting Beanworld featured a bowl full of the beans with eyes.
Before I would board the plane to fly to a con, I would go to the grocery store and buy a one pound bag of Great Northern Lima Beans.

When I arrived at the show and set up, I spilled the beans onto my table, got out my technical pen, and began the simple process of transmuting a bit of dried food into "something-else" with two wee strokes of ink. Into the dish they went!

As convention attendees walked by, I'd say "Have a FREE Beanworld Action Figure!" The moment that followed such a greeting led to an immediate recognition of the joke or a complete blank stare. Fortunately for me--9 out of 10 people got the joke and took one.
The joke, of course, was that these non-articulated, non-posable action figures didn't actually do anything.

Ahhhh, but often they did.

Folks would put them in their pockets and if the weather was hot and humid and beans got warm and moist enough--they would sprout! Real LIVE action!

Even after it has been dried, bagged, transported hither and yon, add a bit of heat and humidity and Mother Nature kicked in and did her thing transforming the seed into the beginnings of a genuine leguminous plant! The pulse of life!

The other part of the joke, of course, was that as the 80's progressed, action figures began to permeate the atmosphere of the comics industry. Action figures were no longer about He-Man, GI Joe, and Star Wars. Playmate's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Toy Biz's Marvel action figures raised the bar.

Quite simply, the comic book world went merchandisingly mad.

My silly little Beanworld Action Figures seemed to make a satirical statement in direct opposition to the industry trends.

From 1985 to 1988 Beanworld Action Figures were my primary marketing tool. Somewhere along the line I extended the "line" to include an "angry" so that folks already owning an "original" would have something new to add to their "collection." Because most people misplaced their bean or it cracked in the low humidity of the wintertime--they would come seeking them out at conventions.

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