Action Figure Overview: Golden Girl and the Guardians of the Gemstones (Galoob, 1984)

Mattel released the original Masters of the Universe toys in 1982.  Although they were popular upon their release, the final push that turned the franchise into one of the biggest in history was the Filmation cartoon "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" which debuted in September of 1983.  For the next few years, He-Man was absolutely unstoppable!  His popularity led to many imitators.  Other toy companies were manufacturing buff, squatting, almost nude 5.5" action figures in the sword & sorcery style that walked very close to the line of trademark infringement.  Because professional wrestling was also popular at the time and many of the wrestlers were running around in nothing but shorts and boots just like He-Man, there were also many different lines of wrestling action figures produced in a similar style as well.  It was really no surprise.  When 12" G.I. Joe was the top selling toy in the 1960s, there were a multitude of similar military action figures…

Action Figure Overview: Swamp Thing - Anton Arcane (Kenner, 1990)

In 1990, Kenner teamed up again with DC Comics in an attempt to recreate the magic they found with the Super Powers collection (a very successful line of Superhero action figures that ran from 1984 to 1986).  Unfortunately, despite a great comic book series, two movies, a live-action TV show, and a Swamp Thing cartoon that tied in directly with the specific characters from the toy line, the Swamp Thing action figures weren't much of a hit.  It's a shame because they're actually pretty cool!

The total line consisted of 12 figures: six different Swamp Thing figures, two "hero" figures, and four Evil Un-Men Villains.  There were also two playsets and three vehicles.  In keeping with the comic books, movies, and TV shows, the villains of the line consisted of the evil Anton Arcane and his Un-Men monsters.

In both the toy line and the cartoon, Swamp Thing teams up with his friends Bayou Jack and Tomahawk to fight Anton Arcane and his henchmen, the Un-Men. Anton Arcan…

Action Figure Overview: Star Wars - Bespin Security Guard (Kenner, 1980)

I loved Kenner's Star Wars figures the minute I first saw them.  A kid in my neighborhood had a handful of these amazing toys on the way to school one day and I thought they were the coolest thing in the world!  I begged my mom to take me to the toy store right away, but had to wait until the weekend and that was an eternity for me at the time.  By the time The Empire Strikes Back action figures were arriving in stores in early 1980, Star Wars figures had become the main toys that I played with and I was very excited about having new figures for the first time in over a year!

The first wave of toys from The Empire Strikes Back included 10 different action figures.  I loved the scenes on the ice planet Hoth, so of the 10 new figures, I wanted the Hoth themed figures the most (Hoth Han Solo, Hoth Rebel Trooper, and Hoth Stormtrooper).  I also wanted the Bespin Luke Skywalker because he looked close enough to Luke when he was on Dagobah training with Yoda AND that's the outfit h…

Action Figure Overview: G.I. Joe - Firefly, Cobra Saboteur (Hasbro, 1984)

G.I. Joe was a groundbreaking 12" tall military action figure created in the 1960s.  Although the construction and size of the figure remained primarily the same in the 1970s, he grew out his hair and beard and shifted his focus from military to adventure for the first half of the decade.  In 1976 & 1977 he shrunk down to become a not-so-popular 9" action figure called "Super Joe."  After a few silent years, G.I. Joe returned in 1982 as a 3 3/4" action figure; the new standard size thanks to the popularity of Star Wars figures!

The 1982 "Real American Hero" re-launch was a huge hit and that's when I showed up for the party!  I was instantly sold on these new 3 3/4" action figures right from the beginning and picked up everything I could from Wave 1 & 2.  By the time Wave 3 came out in 1984, I was 100% into G.I. Joe!  Several of my favorite figures arrived in Wave 3 including the Cobra Saboteur, Code Name: Firefly!

Firefly was easily…

Action Figure Overview: Eagle Force - Captain Eagle (Mego, 1981)

My first exposure to the Eagle Force was seeing the TV commercial and thinking, "WOW! These figures are AWESOME!"  My second exposure to the Eagle Force was seeing them in the store and thinking, "WOW! These figures are SMALL!"  For decades, The Eagle Force has been remembered for two things: 1) Mego's final bad idea before going out of business and 2) a poorly designed knock-off of G.I. Joe's "Real American Hero" line.  Well, the Eagle Force packaging has a copyright date of 1981 while the first release of 'Real American Hero' had a copyright date of 1982.  I'm pretty sure I remember seeing Eagle Force before G.I. Joe, but I'm not 100% sure about that (it was a long time ago).  Either way, I'm confident that Eagle Force was in development either before 'Real American Hero' or possibly at the same time, but certainly not AFTER, so Eagle Force definitely wasn't based on G.I. Joe's re-launch at all.  As for the i…

Action Figure Overview: Super Powers - Green Lantern (Kenner, 1984)

Although Green Lantern first appeared in All-American Comics in 1940, it wasn't until he was re-designed as the costumed identity of test pilot Hal Jordan in 1959 that he began wearing the costume we usually saw in the 1980s.  This second version of Green Lantern didn't just fight criminals on earth, he also became involved with the Green Lantern Corps to protect the galaxy from evil.  Green Lantern's power comes from his ring, which can temporarily create anything that the wearer can imagine.  Only those with the strongest will are chosen to be members of the Green Lantern Corps.  The rings are re-charged by lanterns which are given to the bearer along with the ring.  In March of 1960, the first appearance of the Justice League of America included Green Lantern as one of the seven original members (along with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, and The Flash) in issue #28 of The Brave and the Bold.

Throughout the 70s and early 80s, the company Meg…

Action Figure Overview: Clash of the Titans - Charon (Mattel, 1980)

Clash of the Titans was an awesome movie and when it came out in the early 80s, we got a handful of cool action figures from Mattel based on the film!  Obviously there was going to be a figure of the main character, Perseus, and the main villain, Calibos.  They also threw in a figure of the main soldier dude, Thallo, which works well since he hung around Perseus a good bit.  However, it's the fourth figure in the line that was a bit of a surprise based on the movie.

The line was rounded out by a figure of the skeleton ferryman, Charon.  Charon is an awesome figure, but that dude was in the movie for about 2 minutes and didn't do much of anything but ferry a boat.  I'm glad Mattel made him, but if you've seen the movie, it seems like Medusa would have been the logical choice for a fourth character...or even one of the generic soldiers that accompanied Perseus on his journey.  Either way, movie or not, I thought Charon was a cool figure as a kid (and I still think so as…