What person of any age has read an Incredible Hulk comic, watched an Incredible Hulk cartoon, or seen the Hulk and Avengers movies without desperately wanting to raise up two giant green fists, and plunge them down onto something, shouting “SMASH”?? Nobody, that’s who.
At least that’s the rationale behind one of the most successful movie tie-in toys in recent history—Hulk Hands. Otherwise known as Incredible Hulk Smash Hands, Gamma Green Smash Fists, or Hulk Electronic Smash Hands.
These brilliant toys, which I can’t believe nobody thought of sooner, are a pair of giant, green, foam or cloth Incredible Hulk hands, balled up into fists about the size of basketballs, that fit on your hands like boxing gloves. This alone would be truly incredible, but there’s more. In some of the versions (there have been a few released for various media tie-ins) the Hulk hands are battery powered, and upon impact make loud smashing noises. They also emit the occasional Incredible Hulk catch phrase, like “Hulk Smash!” or “Don’t make me angry!”
For those poor souls who are clueless about what we’re talking about, the Incredible Hulk, or just Hulk, is a Marvel Comics character created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in 1962. The Hulk is the alter ego of quiet, withdrawn scientist Bruce Banner, who during an experimental explosion of a gamma bomb becomes irradiated and gains the ability to transform into a giant monster with nearly limitless strength. Over the decades the Hulk has evolved—sometimes he’s green, grey or even red—and the control Banner has over the Hulk has also changed. But the real draw that is consistent over the ages is that the Hulk is enormous, immensely strong, and catastrophically destructive.
The Hulk has also been the subject of all kinds of media representations, including his own late-1970s TV show, multiple cartoons, TV movies, feature films, and a movie-stealing role in the box office-smashing film The Avengers in 2012. Part of Hulk’s appeal is that he lets us live out our inner rage through the Hulk’s destructive rampages, so it’s no surprise the idea of having squishy Hulk hands to bash things around with was such a success.
The Hulk hands were first released back in 2003, for the original Hulk feature film, directed by Ang Lee and starring Eric Bana. This model was a runaway success, lighting up the eyes of kids, but also adults. They were huge, foamy, bright green and detailed. Especially among comics enthusiasts, or just people who grew up loving the Hulk, people snatched these things up like crazy. Aside from being insanely fun for kids and adults, they’re kind of the perfect Hulk collectibles.
Since then, toy makers have released a few different versions. For one, they adapted the same basic product to represent the hands of Fantastic Four member The Thing, in coordination with the release of the movie. But they were no substitute for the green guy. Then there was an updated model that came out in 2008. These have the same basic principle, but were instead made of cloth and had some more detail printed on the gloves.
One of the latest versions of the Hulk hands was actually kind of a disappointment for Hulk hands enthusiasts. This was The Avengers movie tie-in, so-called Gamma Green Smash Fists. There are two main problems with the Gamma Green Hulk hands. First, they are smaller than any of the predecessors. But second, they don’t make any noise! So if you’re looking for some Hulk hands, buyer beware, make sure you get the kind that makes electronic sounds. They’re still out there, as there’s another Avengers-branded set, the Avengers Hulk Electronic Smashing Hands. Watch for the “ELECTRONIC SMASHING SOUNDS” tag on the front.
In fact, you can still even get the original 2003 foam versions, which many still agree is the best version of all the Hulk hands, on eBay for the $20-30 range. Although fear not, the Hulk hands are in no danger of going extinct. They’ve become sort of a cultural touchstone, including playing a key role in the Will Ferrell movie Step Brothers. They’ve popped up in the background in a number of movies and TV shows like How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. And there are all kinds of great YouTube videos featuring Hulk hands, my favorites of which are this one and this one.
Finally, here is a picture of a pug wearing Hulk hands.