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Remembering McFarlane’s Movie Maniacs Toy Line

There’s a good chance that the first action figure you ever bought of your favorite horror movie icon came courtesy of Todd McFarlane and his once-mega-popular Movie Maniacs line. Long before companies like NECA, Mezco, and Sideshow Collectibles came along and gave more love to the horror genre than any other toy companies in history, McFarlane Toys was not just the dominant player in the game but, well, the ONLY player in the game.

Not to bore you with historical facts, but the basis genesis of McFarlane Toys is that the company was born out of Todd McFarlane’s dissatisfaction with Mattel. Once upon a time, McFarlane was working with Mattel to create action figures of his comic book characters like Spawn, and when that whole deal just didn’t work out for him, Todd took matters into his hands and launched a toy division of his own. That was back in the mid ’90s, and it was in the late ’90s that the Movie Maniacs line was born.

In the wake of putting his own spin on iconic movie monsters from the distant past, McFarlane began acquiring popular modern horror licenses for the Movie Maniacs line, launched in 1998. The first series, which revolutionized the toy game by bringing highly detailed action figures of beloved horror movie characters to the toy shelf for the first time, included Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, and both Eve and Patrick from Species 2 – firmly establishing that the line was devoted exclusively to horror and science fiction villains. There were even “rated R” variants of Leatherface, Jason, and Eve; Leatherface and Jason were covered in blood, while Eve’s nipples, unlike the regular version of the toy, were on full display.

Nobody ever said these were for kids. In fact, it’s cause they weren’t that they were so awesome.

Movie Maniacs Series 2, released in 1999, added Chucky, Ghost Face, Norman Bates, Michael Myers, and Pumpkinhead to the mix, and they were joined by The Crow‘s Eric Draven. Granted, Draven isn’t exactly a “Movie Maniac,” but the second series took the line down a path that it continued on until it eventually came to an end. Essentially, any character from a horror, sci-fi, cult or fantasy film was eligible, though the primary target audience always remained us horror fans.

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In Series 3, Ash Williams, Edward Scissorhands, Shaft, Snake Plissken, Brundle Fly, and The Thing‘s Norris Creature (joined by Spider-Head) and Blair Monster were immortalized as Movie Maniacs. Series 4 brought the first and only Candyman toy into the world, along with Evil Ash, a new figure of Freddy Krueger, Terminator 2‘s T-800 and T-1000, and most notably, two different versions of the titular Blair Witch: “Tree Witch” and “Dread Witch.” Of course, the character was never actually seen in the original film, or its sequel, leading to much confusion among fans. Long story short, McFarlane was given free rein to design the unseen character.

For the fifth series, McFarlane and his team brought horror villains like Wishmaster‘s Djinn, the Tooth Fairy from Darkness Falls (open-mouthed and closed-mouth versions were released) and even Jason X‘s iteration of Jason Voorhees to the table, along with the Lord of Darkness from Legend, a few different versions of Sarah Conner, and the T-800 Endoskeleton. Series 6 was all about the Alien and Predator franchises, and it included Alien 3‘s Dog Alien and Alien: Resurrection‘s Warrior Alien, as well as Predator 2‘s standard Predator and Predator Hunter. Due to high demand, Lord of Darkness was also re-released in Series 6, and the figure this time around included a detailed collector’s base.

The Movie Maniacs line met its end in 2004, with the seventh series being its final hurrah. Corporal Hicks from Aliens made it into the line along with, finally, Robocop, but the last series was mostly devoted to the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Leatherface, Erin, Old Monty and Sheriff Hoyt made the cut, each of them packaged with dioramas and bases.

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In addition to the standard wave of Movie Maniacs, various other collectibles were released under the umbrella. Deluxe figures of Ash, Freddy, Chucky, Michael Myers and Leatherface upgraded the movie icons to 12″ and 18″ sizes, and box sets paid tribute to movies like Freddy vs. Jason (long before the movie was actually made), Bride of Chucky, King Kong, Aliens and Jaws. There were also various exclusive figures, including Army of Darkness-inspired “Ash vs. Pit Witch” and “Ash vs. Evil Ash” two-packs.

One could argue that horror toys are better than ever in the present, and you damn sure won’t find me disputing that claim, but you never forget your first. And for most of us fans, McFarlane Toys’ Movie Maniacs line allowed us to collect our favorite monsters and madmen for the very first time. Eighteen years later, many of the villains that filled out the line have still never been given any love by other companies, and it’s for this reason that we will forever cherish what Todd and his team gifted us with back in the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Today, McFarlane Toys is focused more on The Walking Dead than anything else, but without their Movie Maniacs, who’s to say that horror toys would even be as popular as they are right now? Without Movie Maniacs, companies like NECA may not even exist.

Behind every great thing is a pioneer that made it all possible, and in the world of horror movie toys, McFarlane’s Movie Maniacs was unquestionably that pioneer.

Check out some of our favorite Movie Maniacs toys below!

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  • THGrimm

    I had the hookup with these when I was a kid. My mom was a manager of Spencer Gifts when they had the contracts with McFarlane and Universal. Unfortunately, in retrospect, I wasn’t on the slasher wave just yet so I missed out on a lot of these goodies, but I still got my hands on some like T-800, Blair Witch, Sleepy Hollow boxed set, Ichabod Crane, Jaws boxed set, and others. I still have them all!

  • John Connor

    Surprisingly have most of these. Wish I didn’t open some of them though.

    Remember printing out the pictures at the bottom there of Jason and showing it to everyone at school. No one cared but me. I thought it looked so realistic. I was blown away.

    Would never spend money on anything like this today. Just couldn’t afford to even if I wanted and don’t care for display things anymore. Way too vain and pointless.

  • Jhanse3 (Jhanse29)

    Loved these, though I didn’t always love the characters that came out with each series, I bought them all. The one thing that I really hated was how McFarlane kept changing the Poster display that was behind the characters. Then I hated that it went away towards the second half of the series. Still some of the best looking horror toys out there.
    Would love for him to revisit this line.

  • Grimphantom

    Ah memories! I so remember getting most of these back in the day where i also bought some Spawn figures. Also reminds me the day(i’m old when i say that lol) where the mall was excited to go since they had these cool stores from Spencers, Suncoast and FYI selling this type of stuff along with independent stores that involves toys and comics.

    What really attracted me on these figures where the pics you just posted, i mean they have this nice appeal look that just grabs your attention. I even remember some canceled figures like South Park and even by looking them now i wouldn’t mind buying those if they had released them.

    I do admit if they where stiff and sometimes they broke we gotta give thanx to Mcfarlane toys on bringing some of our fav horror icons as figures and have companies like Neca, Mezco and others come up with their own.

  • Flu-Like Symptoms

    McFarlane MM were always my favorite figures. I had all the bloody versions, unopened in their original packaging. Still kicking myself in the ass for selling them.

  • WindowsIsDead

    McFarlane Toys were the best! I still have my Blair Thing and I’m still in hunt for the Norris. But out of that, the Spawn figures, Dragons, Box Sets and 3D posters, all amazingly detailed and affordable. Too bad the company went down the pipe with the sports and military line and suddenly gave up on the range of amazing figures

    Now Todd is trying to make a comeback with some great statues, but is not the real deal that was once was, unfortunately .

  • I have a bunch of these still in their boxes. I remember having to go to eBay for my Psycho figurine. They’re collecting dust in a box. I should brush them off for display.

  • The Drucifer

    Loved these but man that Blair Witch one was stupid.

  • Xavier gutzzz

    Look at the detail, neca can’t touch the amount of work he does on a single figure.

    • Grimphantom

      What are you talking about? Have you seen their version of Leatherface? Neca’s version has alot more detailed and more accurate than the Mcfarlane Toys version and come on, what Neca did on waht MT didn’t was to give articulation over the figures and not mention adding accessories and alt. head and hands.

      Both have their unique style but when it comes to details, Neca steal this one

      • fannypack aficionado

        Agreed. NECA beats McF MM’s hands-down.

        Of course, SS beats them all, but they should given the price tag.

  • CLK

    Still have these. My dad got me all of them for my 7th birthday. The detail on Jason is amazing.

  • Charles Cumella

    Oh man! I still have all of them! They’re goin’ to me soon to be born daughter for sure!!

  • Still have every single one of them.

    • Evan3

      I love the set up too. Nice job putting King Kong in the back-center.

  • LastCubScout

    My Jason Voorhees is still hanging around.

  • GinsuVictim

    I only have the first Freddy they released and the 18″ Ash.

  • DirtyLary

    Still have all my “The Thing” toys, still in package.

    • Evan3

      What fun is that?

  • mathias

    i got 4 behind my eyes, and a candyman still in box to sell

  • Rick-Taylor

    I have both The Thing figures in box, along with the diorama. I used to have a few of the Cenobites, but gotten rid of them a while ago. I still have Alien and Aliens figures, as well. Alien and The Thing figures, I will cherish forever. I will be selling my other figures, though. Moving on up, to the east, to a deluxe co-op on the ground.

  • Chris Davis

    I once had the Freddy Vs Jason box set, which was indeed out many years before the movie. I held onto it for years, but finally parted ways with it.

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