In the world of sci-fi / fantasy sometimes G.I. Joe is included – if this is the case then let’s look at another classic 1980’s cartoon and toy line. RAMBO: THE FORCE OF FREEDOM.
John Rambo’s cartoon is based on the hero of two First Blood movies which were R rated that adults just loved. Ruby-Spears Enterprises decided to make a PG version of “Rambo” based on the movies.
In conjunction with Coleco a toy line of figures and vehicles were made to entertain those adults and their children along with trying to grab some of that quick toy marketing money every other cartoon in the 1980’s was trying to cash in on.
The show started out originally as a 5-part miniseries and then went on to give us 60 more episodes. The premise was Colonel Trautman recruited Rambo to lead a team on missions around the world to do battle with S.A.V.A.G.E. a paramilitary terrorist group. There was no sensational violence, and no one ever died. Violence was the last resort if Rambo and his team could not thwart the villains. POW’s, the Vietnam War, and PTSD were never mentioned. As an ode to the movies the artists re-created some of the more toned-down scenes and included them in the cartoon. The character Co-bao who dies in the 2nd movie was re-invented and sort of resurrected in the form of a character called K.A.T. who had many of the same attributes. One way to get around parents and censorships who complained about the show morals were implemented as of the story line.
The force of Freedom consisted of: John Rambo – the Protagonist and leader, Colonel Samuel “Sam” Trautman – the group’s commanding officer, Edward “Turbo” Hayes – mechanical engineer and race car driver, Katherine Anne “K.A.T.” Taylor – a military woman who is a master of disguises, gymnastics, and martial arts, White Dragon – A heroic ninja who is Black Dragon’s twin brother, T.D. “Touchdown” Jackson – former football player and ally of Rambo. Chief – another ally of Rambo.
S.A.V.A.G.E. Specialist-Administrators of Vengeance, Anarchy and Global Extortion, consisted of: General Warhawk – Leader of S.A.V.A.G.E., Sergeant Havoc – General Warhawk’s second-in-command and top enforcer, Gripper – a mercenary with a metal right hand, Nomad – a terrorist. Mad Dog – The leader of an unnamed biker gang made up of Animal, Jerkface & Razor, Black Dragon – A rogue ninja who is the twin brother of White Dragon, Snakebite – swamp creatures do his bidding, Dr. Hyde – a cybernetic mad scientist with an android & cybernetic henchman named Max & X-Ray. There were a few other one shot villains that showed up time to time either in one episode or a few.
The action figures were released both in the U.S.A. by Coleco and in South America (S.A.) predominantly by Jocsa / Glasslite corporation. Released in 2 series: the 1st consisted of 12 figures – Rambo, Fire-Power Rambo, Colonel Trautman, Turbo, K.A.T., White Dragon, Black Dragon, General Warhawk, Sergeant Havoc, Gripper, Nomad, & Mad Dog. 2nd series had 6 more added – T.D. Jackson, Chief, Whip-Action Warhawk, Snakebite, Dr. Hyde, & X-Ray which was only released in S.A. The S.A. versions of the action figures of course are the rarest to find online and command a premium. In some ways the S.A. action figures were superior to the USA version. They were made with various weapon & paint changes, and 6 of the figures came with sound effects backpacks. One version of the action figures in S.A. came with a VHS tapes of the cartoon. Dr. Hyde had a special dome that that lit up only in S.A. & S.A also released a “Desert Squad” series with repaints of previous figures and vehicles. A sample production of Muscle Power Rambo was made but never released. Mexico during this time also produced a line of Knock off action figures. Toy Island in the 1990’s released a version renamed Champion of Liberty along with a Military Tank. In 2015 NECA released a SDCC exclusive retro version.
There was plenty of firepower & vehicles to pretend with: There were 8 weapon packs available. – .50 Anti-Aircraft gun, .50 Machine, Gun, 20mm Automatic Cannon, 106mm Recoilless Anti-tank Gun, Twin-mounted 7.62 Machine gun, 81mm Mortar with Bipod, Heat-Seeking Missile Launcher & a Weapons Pack Assortment. The Vehicles included a Defender 6×6 Assault Vehicle, Savage Strike Cycle, Skyfire Assault Copter & Skywolf Assault Jet and the coolest piece of all that you could add was the Savage Strike Headquarters. Loose USA figures can be found online for around $10, and the loose weapon packs / vehicles for about $25. MIP package depending on condition of packaging & who you are looking for range in price from $50 – $300 as does the vehicles and weapon packs if new in the box. If your trying to pick up the S.A. versions, you can expect to pay twice as much as the USA version. And if you are lucky and can just find 1 of the Headquarters mint in the boy either version (good Luck) then you probably have enough to put a good down payment on a car or a house.