Madballs

It has long been understood by toy manufacturers that kids hold a fondness in their heart for all things disgusting and gross, and there has never been a shortage of toys that catered to this phenomenon. First, there were Creepy Crawlers, Wacky Packages and Slime in the 70s. In the decade that followed, the ante was upped with Garbage Pail Kids and a wonderful assortment of disturbing, dismembered heads forever known as Madballs.

AmToy, a subsidiary of American Greetings, unveiled their line of gross-out goobers in 1985. Eight Madballs hit the stores that year, promising the same bouncing, throwing, catching benefits as any other ball but with the added bonus of being disgusting. Each Madball was essentially a floating, dismembered head suffering from any number of hideous ailments. They were also characters. Horn head was a nose ring-toting Cyclops; Dust Brain was a time-ravaged mummy; Skull Face was… a skull; Crack Head had his brains exposed due to a split-open head; Screamin’ Meemie was a rampaging baseball; Slobulus drooled green goo; Oculus Orbus was simply one, large, bloodshot eye; and Aargh – he had blue skin, a stitched head, and one empty eye socket. If there was a way to incorporate pus, blood, or goo of any kind, Madballs did.

A new assortment of Madballs soon joined the originals (including a group of “Badballs” like Wolf Breath, Bruise Brother and Lock Lips). Despite lacking legs, Madballs managed to make their way to other media in short order with gross-out joke books, greeting cards, a Commodore-64 computer game, and a cartoon special. A comic book series from Marvel Star’s Comics even pitted the hovering nasties against the likes of Doctor Frankenbeans and his minion Snivelitvch. Sports-themed Madballs eventually joined the line: the basketball Foul Shot who suffered from worms in his eye and Touchdown Terror, the furious football. Madballs even inexplicably released a vehicle called the Mad Rollercycle, stirring up debate about how a disembodied head might drive such a thing.

As the decade ended, so seemed the fascination with Madballs. But fans of all things retro know that childhood treasures such as these often find a way of returning. In 2006. American Greetings teamed with a company called Art Asylum to re-release many of the classic Madballs characters, along with an assortment of new and equally revolting cohorts, ensuring that future generations could have their own toys that were both disgusting … and deliciously fun.

Were you a fan of these dismembered toys back in the day? Did you have your own collection of Madballs that you still fondly recall? We’d love to hear all of your memories of these unforgettable toys in our comments section below.

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