Los Angeles, CA — Cloudco Entertainment, owner of the venerable-but-irreverent Madballs™ brand, and The Topps Company, owner of the renowned-yet-subversive Garbage Pail Kids® brand (“GPK”), have teamed up for a collaboration that playfully pits classic 1980s icons and “co-heavyweights of gross” against one another. The collaboration will feature all-new 1980s inspired artwork from veteran Madballs and GPK illustrators and kick-off with a number of consumer goods partners, including trading cards, collector toys, soft lines, collectible augmented reality pins, and more.
As an original “gross out” brand of the 1980s, Topps released its Garbage Pail Kids series of trading cards in 1985, featuring hilariously revolting characters with appropriately irreverent names. Fifteen different card series were produced over the next three years in addition to a Garbage Pail Kids animated series and a full slate of globally-licensed consumer products, with ongoing product lines that continue to the present day. For its part, Madballs launched its irregularly-shaped toy foam balls in 1986, featuring its own proprietary and often-socially-inappropriate characters with ghastly faces, grotesque names, and disruptively funny attitudes to match. Madballs went on to sell tens of millions of toys, inspire a series of animated specials, and launch an extensive consumer products program that included comic books, softlines, video games, collectibles, seasons, and back-to-school products.
For over three decades, Madballs and GPK have both been known as the “grossest of the gross”, co-ruling counterculture with their pun-heavy names and subversive humor, and this collaboration features all-new artwork that pits entire groups of Garbage Pail Kids and Madballs’ characters against one another, as well as individual characters from each brand in fun and tongue-and-cheek one-on-one face-offs. Artwork will remain “authentically 80s” via all-new imagery from long-time veterans of each brand like Jim Groman, who worked on the original Madballs brand launch in the 1980s, and Joe Simko, a fan favorite and master illustrator of Garbage Pail Kids whose GPK artwork has been prominently featured in the brand’s trading cards and packaging.
Consumer product launch partners include: Topps (trading cards), Megalopolis (two-pack action figures), Mad Engine (apparel and accessories), Chalk Line (jackets), Mishka NYC (streetwear, apparel, accessories, and vinyl Medicom figures), Pinfinity (augmented reality pins), and Super Impulse (collectible toys), with specific mobile app, retail, publishing, and other partnerships to be announced shortly.
“Madballs and GPK are of the same era and share tons of irreverent attributes so we love the idea of a fun ‘confrontational collaboration’ that plays off the two brands as competitors,” said Robert Prinzo, Cloudco Entertainment’s Head of Global Licensing. “Whether it’s Hollywood monsters, horror icons or comic book superheroes, fans always want to see ‘impossible’ match-ups from different universes, so we’re grateful to partner with Topps and deliver the ‘grossest’ possible version of that here.”
“Shared nostalgic roots and over-the-top zaniness make this collab a no-brainer,” said Ira Friedman, Topps’ VP of Global Licensing. “Our respective fan bases as well as pop-culture aficionados everywhere are going to have fun with this outrageous mash-up.”
“This is one of those crossovers that many of us have imagined since we were kids collecting both lines. I’ve had these match ups in my imagination since the 80s,” said Ben Westover, Megalopolis’ Creative Director. “Garbage Pail Kids is a timeless treasure, and one of my absolute favorite properties from childhood. I’m thrilled that we have the chance to introduce the GPK and Madballs universes to one another. It’s a perfect, monstrous synergy!” added Matt Westover, Megalopolis’ CEO.
“Here at Mad Engine we are thrilled to be part of this very fun and unique collaboration of Mad Balls vs. Garbage Pail Kids brands. We can’t wait to present this kitschy collection of tees, hoodies, joggers, headwear, and other accessories to our retailers. The celebration of these two iconic pop culture brands from the 80s is just what we all need right now!” – Cindy Levitt, SVP of Licensing, Mad Engine Global LLC
“We are humbled to be a part of The Madballs x Garbage Pail Kids brand collaboration, it represents the ultimate nostalgic marriage as two powerful properties of our youth collide. Having worked with the Garbage Pail Kids brand already, we are thrilled to pick up from where we left off while adding an incredible partner like Madballs into the mix!” – Ilan Friedman, Co-Owner, Chalk Line
“Mishka is excited to be part of the Madballs x GPK collaboration project! We grew up collecting and obsessing over both the Madballs & Garbage Pails Kids brands. They have heavily inspired us as a brand as well as artists and creatives. We can’t wait to mix our world with the GPK x Madballs world incorporating our characters and design sensibility for graphics that will excite fans as well as opening an entire new crowd to these classic properties.” – Greg Rivera, President, Mishka NYC
“We are excited to be a part of the Madballs x Garbage Pail Kids brand collaboration and helping fans relive the 80s and 90s through disgustingly awesome augmented reality pin badges.” – Caleb Paullus, Founder, Pinfinity
“We at Super Impulse are absolutely appalled at the pairing of these despicable creatures, and cannot wait to bring our collectible toys to the grimy little hands of kids and kids-at-heart everywhere.” – Alan Dorfman, CEO, Super Impulse
About Cloudco Entertainment
Cloudco Entertainment, formerly American Greetings Entertainment, is the owner for iconic entertainment brands such as Care Bears™, Holly Hobbie™, Madballs™, Packages from Planet X™, Twisted Whiskers™, Buddy Thunderstruck™, Tinpo™ and its newest IP, Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese™. Cloudco Entertainment develops multi-platform entertainment franchises across all media channels and extensive consumer merchandising programs that immerse children and adults in brands they love.
Founded in 1938, The Topps Company, Inc. is the preeminent creator and brand marketer of physical and digital sports cards, entertainment cards and collectibles, and distinctive confectionery products. Topps’ leading sports and entertainment products include Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga, Star Wars, WWE, Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids, Mars Attacks and other trading cards, sticker album collections and collectibles. Topps’ digital trading card apps portfolio, which has been a hit with millions of fans around the world, currently includes Topps® BUNT®, TOPPS® KICK®, Topps® Star Wars℠: Card Trader, Topps® WWE Slam®, Topps® NHL SKATE™, The Walking Dead: Card Trader, Marvel Collect! by Topps and Disney Collect! by Topps! Topps’ confectionery brands include Ring Pop®, Push Pop®, Baby Bottle Pop®, Juicy Drop ® Pop, and Bazooka® bubble gum. Topps was acquired by Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company and Madison Dearborn Partners in October 2007. For additional information, visit topps.com and candymania.com.
Barnyard Commandos Animal Action Figures (1989)
The original Barnyard Commandos collectible animal toys were created by James Groman for American Greetings Corporation, and later produced by Playmates. It is based on the concept of anthropomorphic farm animals who mutated from exposure to radioactive materials left over from military experimentation.
The animals form two rival factions – the R.A.M.S. (Rebel Army of Military Sheep) and the P.O.R.K.S. (Platoon of Rebel Killer Swine), which spawned numerous waves of memorable action figures, as well as accompanying vehicles–armed to the gills with hilarious weaponry.
Barnyard Commandos 1990 TV Series
“The series is based around the concept of farm animals who consumed radioactive materials, left over from an abandoned military experiment, mutating them into hyper-intelligent, anthropomorphic paramilitary troops. This consists of two “hilariously harmless” opposing factions: the R.A.M.S. (Rebel Army of Military Sheep) and the P.O.R.K.S. (Platoon of Rebel Killer Swine).”
Brainchild of James Groman
Barnyard Commandos was one of James Groman’s first toy concepts after graduating from the Art Institute of Cleveland in 1986! He originally created the concept for American Greetings (along with Madballs), but Playmates picked it up 1989 and made the classic line of Barnyard Commandos animal collectibles and toys we remember so fondly today. He is currently providing art direction on Megalopolis: Premium DNA Madballs and Barnyard Commandos!
People don’t rush for toys and collectibles like they did a few decades ago. Yes, when something like a new video game console, phone, or similar piece of technology comes out it is still a must-have item. However, between online purchases and appointment times at stores you won’t find crowds knocking down the doors of a retailer like they used to.
The 1980s were different. It was a time when animal collectibles, action figures, and even early video games were hitting the shelves all at once, and the only way to get them was in store. Let’s take a look at the three biggest toy crazes of the 1980s.
G.I. Joe, a military-based action figure, became iconic when it relaunched in 1982. It succeeded because it came with more than a figurine. It came with a story. The patriotic G.I. Joe would fight Cobra Command, a terrorist organization threatening freedom. Along with the toy itself, G.I. Joe had his own TV show, comics, and even movies. This became the model for all action figures. They were an opportunity for children to play out the stories they had seen on TV, with the hero of the show.
While action figures predate the 1980s, they’re still iconic to the era, and G.I. Joe, in particular, ushered in a new age of action figures. Soon it became a necessity to sell these figurines to promote media and vice versa.
Action figures are a craze that extends to today, be it through nostalgia or a simply high-quality product. Both collectible action figures and new ones are popular across age groups, leading to $1.45 billion worth of action figures being sold in 2016.
The cuddly animal collectibles have a similar story to action figures in that they thrived through their multitude of platforms. Still, the most iconic remains the plush, collectible animal toys themselves. Care Bears started as a greeting card cartoon but quickly made the jump into being a plush teddy bear for children. By the mid-1980s they had their own TV series and movie. The good times were rolling, and the Care Bears became a staple of childhood and shopping for presents, in the 1980s.
Just like action figures, the Care Bears have proven to have staying power. As recently as 2019 there was a relaunch of these animal collectibles and unique examples of Care Bears have sold for up to $10,000. That’s not bad for a teddy bear that humbly began life as a greeting card cartoon.
Cabbage Patch Kids
The ultimate in toy crazes was the Cabbage Patch Kids craze. These small dolls technically started in the 1970s, but their craze dominated the 1980s. How insane was this fad? It was reported that there were riots for the collectible dolls in 1983, as parents were desperate to land a Cabbage Patch Kid for their child’s Christmas present. To combat the chaos, many retailers introduced ticket systems for the dolls, much like at a Deli. This worked to an extent and is a precursor to companies like Apple setting appointments to purchase new products once they’re released. The issue was that supply still didn’t meet demand, and parents were willing to be violent to get their hands on a Cabbage Patch Kid.
Cabbage Patch Kids are still highly collectible today, with dolls commonly selling for thousands of dollars.
The toy world was changed with the advent of merchandising off TV and movies. This led to explosions in popularity for numerous toys, not so much for what the toy did, but for what it represented. Using merchandise to sustain a show became more popular in the 1980s because of the FCC relaxing laws related to character marketing. This flooded the market with every toy imaginable, from madballs to animal collectibles, and became what 1980s toys were known for.
Collectible action figures are more popular now than ever before. Collectible action figures take us on a trip down memory lane, and the experience is sentimental and fulfilling, to say the least. But why collect action figures?
Getting Into a New Hobby
Investing your time in hobbies is a great way to keep your mind engaged. And when you invest in collectible action figures, much of the time you spend with them will be taken up with organization, cleaning, and maintaining them. You may even uncover an older action figure at a thrift store that needs some fixing up. From there, you could embark on a restoration journey with your new collectible action figure. From paint touch-ups to dusting and more, there are countless ways to engage yourself when you’re dealing with collectible action figures. Some collectors even recreate famous scenes from movies with the figures they collect.
The Nostalgia Factor
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. So powerful, in fact, that it will have fans of old franchises collecting action figures from that series or movie decades later. Consider shows like Power Rangers. Though the original series has long since left television, avid fans still purchase collectibles to this day. When fans form a deep connection to a character, story, or series as young adults, nostalgia can be a big motivating factor in their decision to collect items that remind them of that time in their lives. It’s the same reason someone might read books to their children that they loved growing up. Collecting action figures out of nostalgia is a very common phenomenon.
Passing Collectibles Down to Children
For some people, collecting action figures isn’t necessarily about keeping them in pristine condition or hoping to make money from them in the future. In fact, some collectors do the opposite — they keep collectibles from their childhood or that remind them of childhood to pass down to future generations. Whether these collectible action figures get passed down and maintained as collectibles or used for play is up to each individual collector, but passing down collectibles to younger generations is fairly common.
The U.S. toy industry is estimated to generate about $13.2 billion in tax revenue every year. Collectible action figures account for a huge chunk of the annual revenue, thanks to the rising number of action figure toy collectors.