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Electronic Karate Fighters:
The Pamphlet!

Ah, Electronic Karate Fighters. One of a bazillion Rock-em Sock-em Robots rip-offs, this toy was made in the mid-90s to a rousing success of screamin' ninja badassery. The idea was really simple; each player had a Karate Fighter that was attached by a painful spike through its foot to a spinning base.

By spinning one of those controllers like you had for Arkanoid, you'd make your Karate Fighter spin around while randomly flailing its independently jointed limbs in simulated Karate action! Each fighter had a spring-loaded target on the center of its chest that when pressed would cause the Fighter to be explosively discharged from its spinning base to utter and humiliating defeat at the completely out-of-control hands of its opponent.

The Electronic version of the toy took this concept one step further with simulated vocal effects! As your Karate Fighter spun and flailed like a dying squid, it would ferociously shout out "Hoo-ha! Ha! Hoo! Hoo-ha!" in order to frighten its foe to a tap-out submission. Not only that, though, but when somehow a plastic limb connected to the chest target of an opponent and caused that opponent to launch through the air in a comic, dummy-like display of lifelike-ness, the fighter would let out a horrifying, "I've just had all my body parts removed by rusty circular saws" scream. Actually to be perfectly honest, the spinning base would let out the scream, but it only takes a little bit of imagination to believe that it's screaming for the ejected fighter. Either that or inside each spinning base is the Karate Fighter's best midget friend who screams in sympathy for its deposed ally.

But these magic, pussy screaming Karate men were not the only things that came in their boxes. No, they came with something else. And that's what we're here to discuss today. Gentleladies and gentlemen, I now proudly present to you and NO ONE ELSE, the vivid and imaginative Electronic Karate Fighters Pamphlet!

Here's the glorious, four-color process cover in all its glory. Look at that glory! We've got what looks like a typical scene of some people gloriously fighting in some sorta dojo-lookin' building. Make that a glorious dojo-lookin' building and we got a holy trinity of gloriosity. Let's take a closer look. Shall we? Let's.

Here are two guys fighting. One of them apparently has some sorta tiger fetish. Maybe he's taking his love for tiger-style kung fu a little bit too far. But that's understandable. He's fighting a guy who has big, chunky boots and metal claw gloves, and a Cyclops of the X-Men style visor. Plus he's got a green mohawk. He's a cyborg. A freakin' cyborg. That might seem kinda weird, but you know, I bet you find these kinds of people in dojos all over the world. They're really common, like jocks and nerds in high school. Tigers and cyborgs in dojos. Let's zoom in on another part of the pic.

Here we have a couple of much-more-traditionally-dressed ninjas watching the goings on from around the corner. Either they're too cool for school to be participating, like they're spying on the competition, or they're wussy-wimps who are afraid to fight in the same room as a killer cyborg. I personally like to believe that the guy in gray is too cool for school, and the guy in black is a wussy-wimp. Then you can come up with a whole bunch of comedy routines for this dynamic duo:

BLACK NINJA: Jeez, those guys look pretty tough

GRAY NINJA: You're a goddam pussy.

See? Instant comedy. Okay, so far so fun. Let's take another look at a different part of... holy jeebus, what the freak is that!?

It's a floating ghostly old man head (FGOMH)! Cripes! Cripes I say! Cripes! What the hell!? If I were a karate fighter—even a cyborg karate fighter—I know I wouldn't be hanging out in a room inhabited by a goddam floating ghostly old man head (GFGOMH)! Does anyone else even notice him? He's in the middle of the freakin' room!

I can't take it no mo'. I gotta go to the next page:

Ah, that's much bett-... oh my bony god, he's on this page too! GFGOMH seems to be watching over a massive melee. Hasn't anybody noticed him yet and started pissing their pants? How about that Green Beret guy on the right? You think he'd have a good line-of-sight to GFGOMH. Let's take a closer look at GFGOMH this time.

Holy crap, GFGOMH is really "the ancient Sensei." Damn right he's ancient. He's a freakin goddam floating ghostly old man head (FGFGOMH)! He's apparently contacting all these fighters to join in a tournament. Hey, FGFGOMH, you might want to get their attention before you talk to them. They're kinda busy fighting right now. Unless this is the tournament, but I don't know of any tournament in which the participants all battle each other simultaneously. Except for a Battle Royale in rasslin', where everybody gets in the ring and tries to throw each other over the ropes. But even World Wrestling Entertainment® has enough sense not to call that a "tournament."

So let's assume that FGFGOMH eventually gets their attention after doing head flips and tying a cherry stem into a knot with his tongue, and gets this tournament going. Let's turn the page:

Ah, here we go, looks like on the next few pages we get a rundown of the tournament contestants (two per page), complete with names, stats, and descriptions. Let's get the rundown, with some special features commentary:

Samurai Ninja should have been named "Indecisive." Let's do a Jerry Seinfeld comedy routine: "What's the deal with Samurai Ninja? Is he a Samurai or a Ninja? Or is it just a matter of convenience? Like when he gets pulled over by the cops then he plays off the Samurai part, but when it comes to the ladies... oh, yeah... he's all ninja." It writes itself.

Hmm... He has the power to absorb incoming force and redirect it back to the foe. I wonder how this manifests itself in a piece of jointed plastic that spins rapidly around while emitting "hoo"s and "ha"s.

*COUGH* (Colossus) *COUGH* Sorry, had to clear my throat there. Here we have Headstone, a mutant made out of rock and stone. Well, his skin is made out of stone, but his head is made out of rock. Does that mean his face is stone skin over a rock? Or is his entire head, including the skin, rock? It's not very clear, but it doesn't really matter too much if your first name is Dumpster. Maybe his mother named him after the location where he was conceived. Don't worry too much about ol' Dumpster Guthrie, though, 'cause he lives in an unknown cave. Now, we somehow know he lives in a cave, but darned if we know which cave it is!

But Dumpster Guthrie ain't no halfwit or nuttin'. He's a clever fellow, as clearly evidenced by his symbol, which stands for Rest in Pieces instead of Peace. I'm laughing so hard while I’m typing this that I'm gonna have to step away from the keyboard for an hour or two.

That's better. Now according to Mr. Guthrie's power, his skin can smash through anything. Anything. What part of his skin, though? All of it? If he takes a step does his foot smash through his boot, through the floor, through the ground below, and send him plummeting through the Earth's crust to its core? Same question as for Indecisive up there: how do they translate this power to a piece of plastic? Another question: why the hell did that stupid freakin' goddam floating ghostly old man head (SFGFGOMH) think that Mr. Guthrie would be a good addition to a Karate tournament? The "look at the freak" factor perhaps?

Hey, it's that cyborg guy from the cover! All right! Hey, wait; he seems to have replaced his claw hands with two metal prong things. Hmm. Well, if he thinks that big sticks are more convenient than hands, more power to Mr. Sloane Chulick. Sloane Chulick? That sounds vaguely like it should be some sort of a pun. Probably a sexual one. Anyway, nobody knows where Mr. Chulick is right now. Perhaps not even him? Well, at least SFGFGOMH knew where he was, so he could ask him to be in the tournament. Why didn't SFGFGOMH tell the person who wrote Mr. Chulick's tech specs?

Anyway, he's got the ability to disrupt electronics, which wouldn't seem very useful unless you were fighting a robot. However, you have to take into account that these are, after all, Electronic Karate Fighters. Doesn't seem so silly now, does it? Does it!?

Hey, it's that tiger-fetish guy again! I guess he's a ninja who operates mostly out of Asia and Africa, where he can blend in with groups of wild tigers. Either that or he loves going to the zoo a whole heck of a lot. Who's to say? One thing Mr. Samora has over the competition is the fact that he actually has three powers. Stealth and silence might seem pretty similar on the surface, but keep in mind that you can be silent even when you're not being stealthy, like for instance when you're being questioned on the witness stand for breaking into the tiger cage at the zoo.

His third power, though, is kinda unclear. "Mystic claws." What does that mean? Is it a Karate skill I'm not aware of? Or is Mr. Samora just really confused and thinks that two cute little axes are actually mystic tiger claws? I think that SFGFGOMH thinks of Mr. Samora as that friend who's kind of "off," but whom you keep around because his mental challenges are so entertaining. Just look at the hilarious pun in his character description. Gets the upper "claw"!!!! Dammit, now I gotta leave the computer for another couple of hours while I laugh myself silly.

Okay, I'm back . Next competitor! Next competitor!

Hey, it's that wussy-wimp from the cover. He comes from my hometown! Aww-yeeah! Hometown boy! Nothing makes me more proud than someone representin' my area who's a complete pussy. Just look at his stats: First of all his name is Mark Noone, a "clever" play on No one. Must resist urge to leave computer and laugh for two more hours. His power is to see in total darkness, which I assume he developed as a child because he spent so much time hiding in his closet and wetting himself. Even his description says that he keeps to himself and walks in shadows. Well, of course he does! He's such a chicken-shit that he's trying his damnedest to avoid any possible contact with another human being (or rock mutant or cyborg) so that they don't discover his horrifying secret: that beneath that ninja mask he is constantly crying uncontrollably while also wearing a diaper so that his interminable fear-induced pissing doesn't stain his beautiful black gi.

And now here's the master of badassery, who's not afraid to say it like it is. Not afraid to call the Mr. Noone a pussy. Mr. Donahue is another guy who has a wholly unbelievable power (once again, how are they gonna do that with a piece of plastic?), but it leaves me with one question: when they say his energy scythe can cut through anything, does that mean it can cut through Mr. Dumpster Guthrie's stone skin, which can smash through anything? Can Mr. Guthrie's skin smash through the energy scythe? What would happen if Mr. Donahue swung his energy scythe at Mr. Guthrie at the exact same moment that Mr. Guthrie punched the energy scythe? Would the world explode? I think so.

Mr. Donahue's only problem (other than a rather odd name) is the fact that he's automatically disqualified from this tournament. Just look. He's an aikido master, not a Karate master. This is a Karate tournament. Doesn't that dumbass stupid freakin' goddam floating ghostly old man head (DSFGFGOMN) know anything?? How did DSFGFGOMN ever become a master Sensei? Maybe back in ancient times before he died and turned into a DSFGFGOMH it was a lot easier to become a Sensei than it is now.

At any rate, those are our competitors in DSFGFGOMH's tournament. I think that (for no reason) I'll rank their skill level from one to five stars:

  • Mr. Lucas: **** (in Karate); ***** (in indecisiveness)
  • Mr. Guthrie: ***** (in general stupidity); * (in actual Karate)
  • Mr. Chulick: *** (in Karate); * (in arm-choosing wisdom)
  • Mr. Somora: ** (in Karate); **** (in mentally challanged entertainment)
  • Mr. Noone: * (in Karate); ***** (in pissing pants)
  • Mr. Donahue: ***** (in badassery); ***** (in aikido); * (in Karate)

My favorite thing about all of these competitors, though, is the big bold tags that come attached to them: Unstoppable! Uncontrollable! Unbelievable! Incomparable! Invincible! Unpredictable! Now I wanna make my own Karate fighter:

Let's take a look at the competitors in action:

Hey, it looks like Mr. Chulick made a wise choice and actually put back on some claw arms. That must have been hard to do without any hands. Maybe he has cybernetic hands for feet under those clunky boots? I guess I’ll have to raise his "arm-choosing wisdom" score to two stars **. Mr. Samora also seems to have gotten even more confused and has swapped his "mystic tiger claw" axes for two big ol' scimitars. You know, like Karate masters have used for centuries. Ain't he cute when he's all confused?

Meanwhile Indecisive is fighting Dumpster. But where are the chief of badassery and the wussy-wimp? Hmm... Let’s zoom in on this:

Wait, wait, you're trying to tell me that I have to actually send away for a Karate fighter who doesn't know Karate, and another who will spend the entire tournament hiding, hoping that his adult diaper doesn't leak too much? There's a reason these two aren't available in stores, assholes!

The rest of the pamphlet is pretty much just an instruction manual of how to put on stickers and attach weapons to hands and batteries to battery holders. Monkey work.

Then there's some stuff about how to attach and use your Electronic Karate Fighter:

But this is the best part, as it tries to tell you that there's actually some skill involved in rapidly twisting a knob back and forth:

Now I played with these guys quite a bit, and let me tell you. Spinning the knob with short back and forth turns to produce punching never won a single match. The amount of plastic in these guys' arms is so miniscule that even if they punched their opponent in the chest target at full force there's not enough momentum to even budge it. No, the only way to win in Electronic Karate Fighters was to get your guy's foot sticking out, and then ram it into your opponent's chest plate. I actually got really good at this and could sometimes win matches within less than a second.

The next page goes over some of the rules for DSFGFGOMH's tournament, including the best instruction of them all, Number 4:

4. Players Bow to each other.

Does this mean that you make these little pieces of plastic bow to each other? Or are you and your bud supposed to stand up and bow to each other? If someone doesn't bow, what's the penalty? Do they have to forfeit a point? Or maybe a whole round?

Anyway, here's the ultimate objective of DSFGFGOMH's tournament:

Oh, now I get it! The whole reason that that lonely dumbass stupid freakin' goddam floating ghostly old man head (LDSFGFGOMH) held this tournament is because he's tired of being an LDSFGFGOMH! He wants someone else to win and take over so that he can gratefully retire into the realm of the dead instead of having to be a crappy lonely dumbass stupid freakin' goddam floating ghostly old man head (CLDSFGFGOMH). You all know who I think would make the best CLDSFGFGOMH:

Now that's an ACLDSFGFGOMH (figure it out for yourself).

And there you have it. The wonder and splendor that is The Electronic Karate Fighters Pamphlet. Pretty awesome, huh? Electronic Karate Fighters are pretty hard to find from what I understand, but if you want to experience them you might try Ebay.

The very, very best thing about Electronic Karate Fighters, though, was the fact that when they started to run low on batteries they would periodically and randomly let out their death cry at full volume. This is especially if you're in college and you live with a rather jumpy roommate, and your "Samurai Ninja" that you've accidentally left beside your roommate's bed decides to let out a blood-curdling scream in the middle of the night when your roommate is fast asleep. Man-o-man. Hilarity ensues.

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