Need for Weed-Related Toys Growing in Metro Phoenix
When ’80s toy collector Craig House recently discovered cannabis-related toys on the market, he tripped because he had never heard of niche action figures, although they were fine in view from his Peoria backyard.
“I know a lot of online toy collectors who also use cannabis. The two seem very related,” he said. Phoenix New Times June 8. “I wish someone would do half cooked figurines; I think it would be hilarious to have [toys or dolls of character] Thurgood Jenkins and Dave Chappelle [who starred in dual roles] smoking.”
There’s no word of the 1998 stoner comedy movie getting its own Sir Smoke-a-Lot action figure. Though there is a silver lining for House, a 44-year-old numbers cruncher and medical marijuana patient, who makes GI Joe toy dioramas and hosts the “Craig Does GI Joe Voices” YouTube page.
Marijuana users depicted on the big screen and former MTV have received nods from doll makers and action figure conglomerates. And a world famous weed smoker toy model is making its way to Phoenix Walmarts from mid to late June.
But it took what seemed like eons to get to this point.
Marijuana was stigmatized in the action figure market as recently as the early 1990s. The idea came from a nearly 4 inch tall action figure GI Joe that leaked into stores Toys “R” Us, KB Toys and the now defunct Kmart of the Phoenix Metro. House explained that “the GI Joe character named ‘Headman’ was an evil drug dealer. I’m not sure if he sold dangerous drugs or harmless plants, but the character was created in 1992.”
Local recreational users and medical cardholders such as House are taking the “real American hero” storyline further than what was depicted in the Saturday morning cartoons. Many in both groups speculate that Headman was a pioneering “cannabis entrepreneur” based on the cardboard packaging of the Hasbro toy. Behind the figure’s black-colored double-breasted blazer and poison steel spiked boots, there is a green-colored graphic resembling a drop of marijuana plants.
“Oh yeah, there was a whole ‘say no to drugs’ sub-line for GI Joe action figures,” added David Crowe of Collectors Marketplace on East Indian School Road in Phoenix. “Headman was the bad guy in that line…he was the bad drug dealer, and there were his drug dealer morons.”
After the henchman toy Headman made its rounds – to the valley’s big box stores, toy conventions, garage sales and thrift stores – he would no longer need his electronic missile launcher to protect its stash from drug-fighting GI Joes in the DEF Because in 1996, California became the first state to legitimize medical cannabis. Other states have followed suit, including Arizona. From now on, GI Joe toy collectors in Arizona would never see Headman the same way again, which paved the way for future marijuana-related action figures, which were now portrayed as the “good guys”.
Crowe says his vintage toy store doesn’t have the Headman toy in stock, but it’s on eBay for $99.99. The Headman narcotics guard action figure is on sale for $199.99. A considerable markup from its price of $6 30 years ago.
Two toys inspired by weed movies in the 2000s: Clerks in 1994 and Mallrats in 1995. Crowe recalls that they “had Jay and Silent Bob – Kevin Smith’s marijuana masterpieces. They did a lot of action figures with them, so they had marijuana accessories with them.
But for Jay and Silent Bob strike back (2001) they made the complete action figures from Bluntman and Chronic to stars throwing marijuana leaves. ” Bluntman and Chronic appeared in the 1997 Chasing Amy romantic comedy-drama, but the toys weren’t produced yet. “They now range from $50 to $60 if still in the package,” Crowe said.
“Then there were the Cheech and Chong action figures,” he added. “They were made in the 90s early 2000s. That’s when action figures became big and people were still getting all kinds of licenses.”
About a block west of Collectors Marketplace, more toys are for sale at Trill, new times’ Best Hip-Hop Shop 2021. On April 30, rapper Kahlee performed at the Trill Store’s third anniversary shindig. Then he wandered around the store looking for weed-inspired toys. “I’m looking for Dr. Greenthumb Funko Pop!” he said, “I’ve been waiting for this.”
In February, toy company Funko tweeted that the 4.5-inch toy – inspired by Cypress Hill’s OG-cannabis rapper B-Real – would soon be discontinued. Kahlee, who drove to Phoenix from Southern California, said he likes the design of B-Real, but says the plant he runs looks like “The Little Shop of Horrors the plant is crazy.”
“Collectibles are part of my home studio decor, creating a dope vibe – like art,” he added. “I also have The Dude and Walter toys from The great Lebowski movie, which is one of my favorite stoner movies.”
Kahlee, who smokes pre-rolls and vapes, rapped the song “I Used To Love Her” – a spin-off of rapper Common’s song, where he raps about his on-and-off relationship with Mary Jane, aka marijuana.
He found out later that Saturday that the Dr. Greenthumb toy would be shipped to Phoenix “mid-June through early July; I’ll wait.”
Walmart.com pre-sells them for $15.99.
“It’s crazy that Cypress Hill/B-Real has been leading the fight to legalize cannabis for decades, and now weed is becoming so mainstream that Funko is creating a toy based on it,” Kahlee concluded. “Also, it’s kind of silly that even though cannabis has gone mainstream, they’ve changed Dr. Greenthumb’s plant. It’s probably more appropriate for other age groups.”
In the meantime, House will continue to create custom dioramas with his GI Joe action figures and weed and focus in his Peoria backyard to promote his YouTube channel. His latest creation had a Destro action figure “in which Destro needs three catalytic elements to power his MASS device,” he explained. “I made a small cubic container out of construction paper and put a bud, a glass container of wax, and cellophane of shards, in place of the three elements.”