Movies & TV / Columns

The Top 5 1980s Movies That Should Have Action Figures: Predator, More

June 23, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
arnold schwarzenegger predator

The Top 5 1980’s Movies That Should Have Action Figures

So how many of you were fans of the old Rambo cartoon from the 1980’s? I loved watching that show, and I loved how the cartoon had its own action figure line, which, thinking back on it, is kind of insane. An action figure line for a cartoon that’s based on a super violent series of action movies starring Sylvester Stallone? How did that even happen? Who said that was okay? I mean, I would have said it was okay but then I wasn’t in charge of the world back in the 1980’s. And while thinking about all of that, I started to wonder about what other 1980’s movies should have had their own action figure lines.

Now, I know that some of the movies that I’ve picked have had collectible action figures made, but what I mean when I say “action figures” in this context is the Rambo: The Force of Freedom action figure line, or the 1980’s G.I. Joe action figure line. What 1980’s movies should have had action figure lines like Rambo and G.I. Joe?

And so, without any further what have you, here are my Top 5 1980’s Movies That Should Have Action Figures:

Honorable Mentions:

Megaforce: This is the 1982 action comedy directed by Hal Needham. I believe there were a few Hot Wheels cars made from the movie and there was a video game, but think about how cool it would have been to have an Ace Hunter action figure and that flying cycle vehicle. Or a Guerera figure with his vehicle.

Big Trouble in Little China: This movie could have been marketed exactly like G.I. Joe, with extensive sets of figures and playsets for heroes and villains. A Jack Burton and Wang figure inside a Pork Chop Express truck? Egg Shen’s yellow tour bus? The 3 Storms? Multiple version of David Lo Pan? The wedding playset? The list goes on and on. I know that the world eventually got BTILC like 30 years later, but where are the playsets?

Warriors of the Wasteland: Check out my review of this badass low budget Italian post-apocalyptic sci-fi action flick here. A Skorpion action figure with vehicle would have been cool as hell to play with back when this movie came out. And the Templar bad guys and their vehicles? Nerd toy heaven.

Escape from New York: Several Snake Plissken action figures have been made over the years, but did we get one that fit inside a glider? Did we get a Cabbie figure with an armored up old cab? Did we get a “Snake vs. Slag” wrestling ring action figure playset? Think of the money your parents would have had to spend to buy all of the different potential sets!

Cobra: A Lt. Marion Cobretti in the Awsom 50 car would have kicked so much ass back in 1986. It would have been like the old Knight Rider KITT with Michael Knight set but Cobra would have had sunglasses and a pearl handled .45. Who wouldn’t have played with that toy?

The Terminator: This one’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Various versions of The Terminator (both in human and exoskeleton form), Skynet Hunter Killers from the future, and a Kyle Reese /Sarah Connor two-pack.


5-Flash Gordon: As this movie came out in the wake of the ongoing success of Star Wars, it just boggles the mind that some enterprising merchandise guy/girl at Universal or Dino De Laurentiis didn’t jump at copying the action figure like that Star Wars had at the time. Because there are so many different characters in the movie that could had their own figures and sets and vehicles and whatnot. Think of the different versions of Flash, the different versions of Ming, the Hawkmen, all of Prince Barin’s people, and all of the different henchman and background figures there could have been. I mean, how do we not, at least, have Flash Gordon on the flying cycle? I saw somewhere that someone is making 3.5’’ Flash Gordon figures now, which is cool, but it’s 40 years too late.


4- Trancers: This Tim Thomerson sci-fi classic could have had “future Jack Deth” characters as figures (Jack Deth, McNulty, Whistler, the Council members, random trancers) and then “1985 Jack Deth” characters, with Jack, Lena, Whistler, Hap Ashby, etc. Jack Deth in the black T-Bird car would have had so many adventures. It never would have happened, obviously, since Empire Pictures wasn’t a giant movie company and the market for the toys would have been small, but it still would have been cool to have a Jack Deth doll back in 1985.

This movie, and this franchise, is something that could be done today. And all five Thomerson Trancers movies could have their own specific sets It would be amazing.


3- American Ninja: This classic action flick has so many possibilities. You could have various Michael Dudikoff figures (one where he’s in his ninja outfit, one in his Army fatigues, one in his Army dress clothes), several Steve James figures, and then you could have multiple bad guy ninja figures, including the Black Star Ninja. And if this line was successful (and why wouldn’t it have been?) you could do a set of figures for the sequel, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation. And with that you could have included the super soldier ninjas. You don’t see them in action in the movie, but so what? You know you would have owned all of them.


2- Predator: Predator is one of the great 1980’s sci-fi action horror flicks and easily one of Ahnold Schwarzenegger’s best movies. A badass team of American Special Forces operators, led by Ahnold’s Dutch, up against a killer alien hunter? You would obviously have Dutch’s team in full kick ass mode with all of their weapons and whatnot (think of a Blane figure with the minigun. Holy shit!), but then you could have a version of the team figures where they sort of fall apart like they do in the movies. Blane’s chest disappears. Dillon’s arm detaches from the body. You could remove Billy’s head and pull out the spine with it. And when it comes to the Predator figures, you could have one with the mask and one without (or you could have one where you can just take the mask off). And then you could have the super exclusive figures, where you can get Dutch’s team in their civilian clothes. The Dutch and Dillon figures could connect and do the famous handshake/strength test scene. How the hell did this not happen?


1- Warrior of the Lost World: This is the classic low budget Italian post-apocalyptic sci-fi action flick starring Robert Ginty, Persis Khambattam Donald Pleasance, and Fred “The Hammer” Williamson that came out in 1983. A Robert Ginty as The Rider action figure along with his talking weaponized motorcycle would have been such a killer toy. And with all of the different weird as hell characters in the movie, both good guys and bad guys (the Enlightened Elders, who are mystics of some sort, mutant punks, and all of the henchmen of the evil Prossor and his Omega government), there would be a treasure trove of action figures. Now, of course, this movie wasn’t that popular back when it came out, but it found an audience on home video, and it developed a following after being sent up by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew, so I’m surprised we haven’t had at least a figure of The Rider. But if this movie had been a bigger hit back in 1983/1984, I’m sure we would have had some cool toys from the movie. I know I would have pestered someone with money to buy them back then.


Thanks for reading. Agree? Disagree? Sign up with disqus and comment. You know you want to, so just go do it.

Please “like” The Gratuitous B-Movie Column on Facebook!

Oh, and B-movies rule. Always remember that.