Customizing Beetlejuice 1989 Kenner Action Figures

Since I haven't posted in a while, instead of getting to the point straight away I wanted to give some background on this idea. If you don't want to read all that, click here.

What I remember most about my childhood was the entertainment and in that area, the Nintendo Entertainment System and action figures were top contenders for the crown of time wasters. Much like today.

Like most other kids born in the 80's, my toys were mainly composed of:
  • • ThunderCats 
  • • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
  • • G.I. Joe 
  • • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • • Batman

However, there were some one-offs that stayed in the back of my head and one of them was Beetlejuice. I remember this toy line being somewhat limited to the point which no one else at school even bothered to have a single action figure. As an adult I've come to realize that the toy line is somewhat misguided. The Beetlejuice movie had been released in 1988 and a Saturday morning cartoon had released in 1989. I loved the film and was also definitely a fan of the animated series but if you're a stifler for consistency even as a kid you would find me asking why are Lydia and Beetlejuice friends now? Why do the outfits vary so much? Are the toys based off the film or the animated series?

For reference, the following figures as Series 1 were released and I've added what they're supposed to represent from the film:

Shish Kebab Beetlejuice, Spinhead Beetlejuice and Showtime Beetlejuice

For what they were, they were decent enough considering these were obviously based off the film. Keep in mind that although we have fond memories of Beetlejuice, he's not in the film for that long, he's very vulgar and is basically the villain of the story. Then Series 2 or the second wave of the figures came out with these two lackluster entries:

Shipwreck Beetlejuice

The only purpose of Shipwreck Beetlejuice was to deceive with its boxart and stick out four "snakes" from his hair.

This is just sad.

Exploding Beetlejuice

And the last Beetlejuice figure made by Kenner was Exploding Beetlejuice. This figure's sole purpose is to put his index fingers close to his ears like he's expecting something loud to happen and then... he explodes when you squeeze his legs.


In my opinion, what the figures had in detail, or at least a couple of the first wave, they greatly lacked in replayability and I'll explain myself. Each of them had specific poses that didn't allow for much else on top of the limited articulation. The only other thing was that figure's niché, and once you did it once or twice, it was no longer interesting.

  • • Spinhead Beetlejuice had a head you could spin by rotating a small wheel from the back and his head popped off to reveal a tiny shrunken head (also from the film). 
  • • Showtime Beetlejuice had a "lever" that would sort of raise the head, the hands were good for nothing and the stance was very specific. It also had a removable head that revealed an tiny snake head.
  • • Shish Kebab Beetlejuice had....holes so you could insert the swords. That's it. Oh and a removable head that revealed an eye.

See a pattern yet?

The last two, Shipwreck and Exploding Beetlejuice, were worse in my opinion. On top of this, none of the figures were accurate to the film or the cartoon. The toy line also had some vehicles and other characters not even worth mentioning, so what else is there?

In 2001 NECA Toys released a line that was closer to the film and for what it's worth, it's a very noticeable upgrade. However, NECA would outdo themselves in 2012 with Cult Classics Series 7 Beetlejuice.

After two decades a decent Beetlejuice figure is released equipped with the trademark pose and, most importantly, Michael Keaton's likeness. Fast-forward to 2019 and the damn thing is kinda hard to find at an affordable price, going upwards of $70. There's another version that's 18 inches tall and it talks but all that was moot, for in 2016 Sideshow Collectibles followed up with an amazing version that would be as good as getting a sequel to the film were it not for the questionable facial expression they decided to go for.

The thing was over $200 and it was sold out anyway.

I decided to try my luck and make my own version with the Beelejuice Kenner figures. I noticed that any promo image of the toy line's vehicles would always picture Beetlejuice with the body of Showtime Beetlejuice and Spinhead Beetlejuice's head. This would make for the most screen-accurate combo within that toy line. With the added bonus that the Kenner had a "Vanishing Vault" which was his grave with a tombstone and a nifty trap trick to hide the figure. I decided to paint Beetlejuice's face, including mouth, mold, eyes, hair and shirt and combined all these things with a repainted Vanishing vault, this was the result. (My apologies in advance, I have a crappy phone camera)

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