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Larry Hama

A Real American Creator
by yo go re

It's not often you get a toy of someone who basically created a universe (instead of just putting their name on it).

Larry Hama learned under some of the best comics creators, including Bernie Krigstein, Wally Wood, and Harvey Kurtzman. Hama's sharp wit and sly sense of humor was put to use while editing a humor mag, and then even more when creating and writing a certain team of superspies in the early 1980s.

Hama has acted in cult movies, rocked out in legendary punk nightclubs with his guitar, and written everything from comicbooks to movies. The secret to it all is his ability to make it up as he goes along. His prowess with art pen and keyboard has taken down everything from a room full of ninjas to a massive deadline.

Yep, this figure is of the man himself, the guy who took a throw-away job writing a licensed comic and turned it into one of the most popular books of the 1980s. Funded via Kickstarter in 2017, with a projected delivery of May 2018, the project obviously hit some snags along the way (primarily the original factory over-promising how quickly it could get things done), but help from Boss Fight Studio and the Four Horsemen (who know a thing or two about getting screwed over during production and having to change factories) got things running smoothly again. I'm not kidding when I say seeing the difference between the projected and actual delivery dates for Kickstarted toys is one of my favorite things... as long as we do eventually get the toys delivered, ahem ahem. And really, as soon as they got free from the bad factory, this project dead-on hit all its adjusted timeline goals, so good for them! (And also for perpetually keeping backers up to date on what was going on, even when it was bad news. See, other creators? Fans are forgiving of mistakes when they feel like they're part of the story, not just waiting for happy good smile updates.)

The Larry toy was created by Fresh Monkey Fiction, the same folks behind the Amazing Heroes line - talk about a difference! This is a modern-styled 4" figure, perfect for fitting in with your Generation 3 GI Joes - Fresh Monkey Fiction also does the Eagle Force toys, which are similar. Larry's wearing black boots, blue pants, a black shirt (that suggests a physique slightly beyond what you'd expect from the average 71-year-old, but then, this was sculpted three years ago, so who's to say how buff he was back then?), and a fancy green jacket. It's all stuff that could reasonably pass for regular street clothes - though the pouch strapped to his right thigh might seem a bit odd - but is also just martial enough that if you want to put him in a Skyhawk or SHARC, he won't look like some civilian who just wandered onto base and went for a joyride.

It's no secret that the classic character Tunnel Rat was based on Larry Hama - both his personality and his looks - but a toy from 1987 can't compare to modern toymaking standards, so this one looks absolutely like Larry. It's got his warm, knowing smile, and even a subtle graying of the hair at his temples. It's good stuff.

The Eagle Force figures are articulated similarly to G3 Joes, so this toy is, too. He's got swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, balljointed hips, a balljointed waist (more on that in a second), swivel/hinge wrists, swivel/hinge elbows and shoulders, and a balljointed head. Due to the problem factory they were dealing with, the waist joint is very stiff and prone to snapping. Uh-oh! Fortunately, a little applied heat will take care of the issue, at least for a while - give him a few minutes in boiling water, and the waist will move fine.

Larry doesn't have any accessories... or at least, he wasn't planned to. Once FMF got set up at the new factory, the factory chose to include a set of extra hands as a gift for everyone who had been waiting so long. So now in addition to the wide open hand he was going to come with, we also get ones with a tighter grip, ones with the trigger fingers out, and fists.

Kickstarter backers who chose the deluxe edition did get a few extras: a metal card featuring Adam Riches' packaging art and a "mystery accessory," with additional stretch goals unlocking a trading card featuring a self-portrait and quote from Larry on the back, and a "Hama's Premium Grape Soda" bottle cap sticker. As for the mystery accessory? They didn't reveal what it would be before the figures shipped, so we could all be surprised. But it's been a few weeks since the toys began arriving, so we don't mind spilling the beans now: it's a black baseball cap with the Arashikage hexagram on the front!

For fans who missed the Kickstarter, FMF will be doing a second run of figures for delivery next year. It'll be made to order, so this is your one chance. To keep the Kickstarter figure special, the card art and accessory will be changed, but the figure itself will remain the same (well, hopefully with a better waist). There's no way a young editor at Marvel ever dreamed that taking a bottom-rung writing gig for a licensed book would not only be his career-defining opus, but that fans would still love him for it 40 years later. Love him enough to make him a tiny plastic man that will be able to integrate with the characters he helped immortalize.

-- 07/10/20

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