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Official Article

Action Figure Reclamation Project Phase 1

Over the years, many of our beloved childhood toys are lost to us. Sometimes it's due to damage, other times we just want to make a few bucks at a family garage sale, then there's the dreaded "Mom Threw Out My Stuff While I Was Away At College" scenario. Either way, the longing to recapture those keepsakes of our youth can be strong. After all, we devoted many hours in our bedrooms imagining adventures for them when we should have been studying for a spelling test. Recently I began what I am calling the Action Figure Reclamation Project, wherein I am systematically seeking out at least 1 figure from every toy line I enjoyed in the 80s and early 90s to put on display.


I have written up a checklist of my desired retro artifacts and have also added the stipulation that they must be loose figures. That is, action figures that could very well have been in my toy chest growing up. At RetroCon 2016, I began Phase 1 of the AFRP and the shelf space is starting to be filled. Today I would like to share a few of my finds with you and some stories as to why they mean something to me.

Mean Gene Okerlund, WWF Superstars (1985)


As I've written about many times, Pro Wrestling was mainstream entertainment all throughout the 80's and I was renting VHS tapes to watch the action regularly. In 4th grade I was lucky enough to inherit an entire collection of WWF Superstars LJN figures and a wrestling ring from my classmate's older brother. It was a thrilling moment. In the years that have passed one figure in wrestling history has gained the greatest affection from me, Mean Gene Okerlund. 


In his classic tuxedo, Gene was always trying to be the voice of sanity as he interviewed the maniacs who were threatening to maim their next opponent on the mic. Often getting flustered at their antics, but ever the professional, Mean Gene was a real hero. My admiration was further cemented after purely by chance discovering a Mean Gene's Burgers restaurant off the side of a Utah highway in the early 2000's. I even got a t-shirt to commemorate the visit and held on to other paraphernalia all these years. Love ya, Gene.

Rambo, Force of Freedom (1986)


Sylvester Stallone has many iconic roles to his name, but none personified 80's machismo and patriotism like John Rambo. Of course my parent's wouldn't let me see any Rambo film, but they couldn't argue that cartoons were made for kids, so when an animated Rambo series hit airwaves in 1986 I was very interested. I never actually owned this figure personally, but I played with it quite a bit at my friend's house. You'll notice I ended up with 2 of the same, why? Well one had a faded head, while the other had some body markings, so I figured I could do a little battlefield surgery down the line. And yes, I had to get the weapons pack, because what is Rambo without a surplus of dangerous tools at his disposal?

Chuck Norris, Karate Kommandos (1986)


From one age inappropriate animated 80s action star to another, it's Chuck Norris! Though I was not a huge fan of the Karate Kommandos cartoon growing up, I do remember the exact moment I laid eyes on this figure in a grocery store toy aisle. One look and it's 1986 all over again. Add to that the fact that my childhood karate instructor was actually a student of Chuck Norris who handed out autographed pictures of the mustachioed martial artist for a job well done and you better believe this figure deserves a spot in my collection. Oh and have I ever seen a Chuck Norris movie? No, but I did see promo spots for the Missing In Action films play constantly on Saturday afternoon TV, so I feel like I get his vibe.

Major Hawk Masterson, Captain Power (1987)


Captain Power and The Soldiers of The Future was pretty revolutionary show for it's time. First of all, it was live action adventure that threw some CGI villains into the mix. The toys also had an interactive feature with the TV show that worked on the same principal as Duck Hunt for the NES. A flash on the screen could make a figure eject from the cockpit of your toy space jet. Pretty cool. So why Hawk and not Captain Power himself? Well, I owned both as a kid, but I remember the silver and blue winged (he's supposed to have wings) hero being more play friendly than the main hero, since he didn't need a Power On Energizer accessory to show off his special skills.

Rat King, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)


Perhaps it's odd that when dealing with radical residents of the sewer I chose Rat King to represent the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line by Playmates, but I think I can justify the choice. First off, he's got those weird scrap cloth bandages all over the place, which were most likely covering up bites from the rats and bugs that are permanently molded to his body. This feature actually makes me feel less bad about not having any accessories, though his roadkill cat utility belt, would have been a nice bonus. So while Rat King may not be one of the dozens of Raph, Don, Leo or Mikey variations that were released, he's still an obviously deranged individual whose look speaks volumes.

Storm Shadow V2, G.I. Joe (1988)


This was the crown jewel of my RetroCon shopping. While I owned several G.I. Joe figures in my younger days, Storm Shadow was the tops in my book. Always my go to for military missions. I didn't even know he was a bad guy, as I never caught his appearances on the Real American Hero cartoon show. I just thought white costume equals good guy and Snake Eyes dressing in all black made him the evil ninja, end of story. The fact that I was able to get him complete with all his weapons for a very fair price was a real miracle. Special shout out to NLogan for spotting Storm Shadow for me, despite his awesome camouflage outfit.

So things are starting out pretty nicely for the Action Figure Reclamation Project. I look forward to checking a few more off the list at RetroCon 2017 in between making memories with the RetroDaze crew. So tell me, which figures are on your reclamation list?
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mickyarber Posted on Oct 27, 2017 at 11:08 PM

I am currently undergoing a similar project, but not just with action figures. A lot of old stuff like action figures, Hot Wheels, trading cards, and other things are slowly being currated for our retro museum here.

Rick Ace Rhodes Posted on Oct 19, 2017 at 05:55 AM

Cool article Hoju. I have a whole list of figures on my reclamation list. I used to have a whole bunch of Power Rangers figures that I would love to get back someday. Most of my childhood toy collection was lost in what I refer to as "The Great Toy Purge of 2004", when my family was making a move and my mom decided to clean house on all the toys I had.

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