By Past Nastification
The A-Team was a logical choice for Galoob. The same kids who bought GI Joe toys and watched the GI Joe cartoon surely idolized NBC’s campy-but-virtuous soldiers of fortune. Galoob was obviously trying to shoehorn some A-Team toys into kid’s GI Joe adventures and grab a buck. Fair enough.
The 1:18 scale line featured mediocre figures, but surprisingly great vehicles. As I don’t have any of those great vehicles, we’ll discuss the not-great figures. The A-Team consisted of Hannibal, Face, BA Baracus, and Murdoch. Poor Triple A didn’t make the cut for the 1:18 scale line. If you don’t remember, Triple A was the female reporter/honorary team member seen in the first two seasons.
Galoob also did a larger scale set of figures concurrently, which included Triple A. These larger figures looked better as far as the likenesses go, even if a bit squatty.
The o-ring style was already in use by Mego, and enhanced by Hasbro’s addition of “swivel arm battle grip”. The figures were molded in rigid plastic.
Galoob’s contribution to the 1:18 scale cause was, believe it or not, painting the whites of the eyes. This is something groundbreaking Mego also did on its Daisy Duke figure and all of its The Love Boat figures. Usually, Mego sculpted holes where the pupils were (think Mount Rushmore). Hasbro didn’t get around to painting the whites of the eyes it until its Big Ben figure in the ARAH run- and that wasn’t a permanent feature for following figures. I don’t think Kenner ever got around to painting the white of the eyes on its Star Wars figures, even with its Power of The Force line. But I’m not certain. Technically, Mego might have made the first 1:18 figure with painted whites of the eyes. But Galoob still deserves credit for doing it to an entire figure line in the more military style.
The lips are also painted to be slightly different than the flesh tones. Although this is a surprisingly realistic paint application, it fails artistically. In most pop culture art styles, which is what action figures are, some traits are emphasized as male and some as female. Eyelashes and lips, which men obviously have in real life, are ignored as if they don’t exist. Women are drawn without noses aside from the nostrils and the tips of the noses. If you ever see a Batman drawing with pink lips, it will register as being an art fail, but you might not immediately realize why. Some of the hyper-real 1:6 scale action figures have started to add painted lips on male figures, but they also have fluctuations in skin tone and blemishes. For a simplistic 1:18 line, painted lips didn’t work.
The sculpting on the upper bodies is okay, and probably better than I’m giving credit for. All four figures have the same body from the waist down. The waist and legs look perfectly bland, but so did most of the ’82 Joes. The BA Baracus chest lacks the signature layers of gold necklaces, but it is noticeably wider at the shoulders than the other figures’ chests. But this looks odd against the slender arms. There appear to have been slight variations for the waists and an entirely different chest for the Hannibal included with the headquarters playset. All of these bodies were recycled by other toymakers throughout the 80’s for various GI Joe imitation lines.
The figures might have been better if Galoob had gone for simplistic 5POA with better sculpting, striving to make the figures look/feel more like the actors. Or maybe 7POA like it did several years later with its well done Star Trek: The Next Generation figures. Comparing a ST:TNG figure to an A-Team figure leaves one wondering if they were really from the same toy company. Even Remco’s Sgt. Rock line had better sculpting (if one turns a blind eye to their t-rex arms).
The A-Team figures feel like they’re trying to pass as GI Joe figures more than being the actual, factual A-Team. The figure’s uniforms are all military or utilitarian, whereas the actors wore mostly civilian attire on the television show. Galoob didn’t even bother to loosely follow the color schemes of the actor’s costumes, which would have been a half-step in the right direction. Murdoch with a brown upper body or Hannibal in a light cream upper body would have channeled more of The A-Team vibe into the figures.
The accessories varied based on if the figures came in a four pack or the larger headquarters set. You probably remember the flimsy M-60 and the backpacks with the clamp-on shoulder straps. The mortar (sorry, no tripod to photograph) appears to be a swipe of Hasbro’s Short-Fuze accessory.
The best features of the figures are the heads. Which isn’t saying much. The heads look more like caricatures of the actors more than the actors, but they are recognizable. The dark-haired Face looks more the original actor, Tim “Captain Power” Dunigan, than series regular Dirk Benedict. Galoob didn’t put much effort into doing these figures right.
Customizers, however, have done some slick work by jumping these heads over to more appropriate GI Joe body parts that actually capture the feel of the characters.
The A-Team lineup also featured a foursome of antagonists knows as “Bad Guys”. They’re some of the lamest villains in any 80’s toy line. More about them another day.
It’s hard to say if higher quality would have pushed The A-Team toy line to a second year. Probably not. The television series itself had a strangely claustrophobic feel, never really developing a wider universe that could have sourced interesting action figures. Not bothering to make a 1:18 Triple A figure was probably the right move in terms of cost, but would have been interesting anyway. The existing figures are very much middle-of-the-road, but it’s still nice to have a toy representation of a crack commando unit that was sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit.