The Bad Guys and Bad Guys
By Past Nastification
When it comes to naming, sometimes simplicity is best. And sometimes simple is too simple. Two teams in 1:18 scale have lazily laid claim to the group name “Bad Guys”. One of them is “The Bad Guys”; the other is simply “Bad Guys” without a “The”.
The Bad Guys. Remco’s The Bad Guys are fully known as “The Bad Guys- The Ultimate Enemy of Sgt. Rock, GI Joe, MASH, and all mini action soldiers”. That’s a mouthful. Plus, we all know that MASH figures would be worthless in a fight. The figures are black-clad repaints of Sgt. Rock figures, sometimes with painted-on facial hair. But The Bad Guys are not a subset of the Sgt. Rock toyline. As best I can tell, these villains appeared in 1982, a year behind the initial Sgt. Rock figures and in their very own action figure line. The card art featured a huge Cobra, Remco’s obvious attempt to cross-sell to GI Joe purchasers.
Sgt. Rock was set in WWII, so their enemies should have been Axis soldiers, particularly German soldiers. Maybe Remco was reluctant to make Third Reich soldiers because they’d be Nazis. Or maybe they had no compunctions about making Nazi figures, but worried that it would time-lock them to only fight Sgt. Rock 40 years in the past. Kids can figure these things out. There were various German little solider “army men”, with Marx Toys’ versions coming to mind. But few German Soldier action figures had been made. There were one or two in the Raiders of the Lost Ark line, depending on how you consider Indy in disguise. Action Force made a generic German solider, but that may have been later than 1982. As far as naming the team “The Bad Guys”, a non-Nazi team could fight GI Joe in the present, MASH in the not-as-distant past, and Sgt. Rock all the way back. Creating a blank slate enemy team may have been a very shrewd decision. I also wonder if anyone at Remco floated at the idea of sticking with the name, but molding the figures in grey.
The Sgt. Rock figures are date stamped “1981”, but I don’t recall ever seeing them until GI Joe A Real American Hero arrived in 1982. Since GI Joe is specifically mentioned on the card art of The Bad Guys, 1982 must be the earliest possible year for their arrival. If anyone knows which year the Sgt. Rock line debuted, please drop a note in the comments! Remco apparently was trying to cast a wide net and siphon sales from any 3 ¾ action figure line. It’s almost surprising that they didn’t shamelessly mention Star Wars figures on the packaging. Someone at Remco had just enough self-respect to not try to latch onto science fiction toys.
The black uniforms are sometimes offset with color pops of silver, blue, or gold. The Bad Guys are named Grizzly, Hammer Head, Hawk, Scorpion, Shark, Snake, Vulture, and Wolf (plus Buzzard in another scale line.) Criminals and animal lovers! Based on the card backs, it appears that Grizzly, Snake, Scorpion, and Shark were the first four. The design of these figures was 7 points of articulations, hampered by awkwardly posed hands and stubby T-Rex arms. Otherwise the sculpting was very good with fair-but-limited paint applications. The sculpting on the heads and torsos had a nuanced and energetic feel, like bronze sculptures, not seen on GI Joe figures of the time. Had the arms been long enough to correct the proportions, and the characters more memorable, these figures might have been fully embraced by kids playing with GI Joe. The articulation at the knees was only one step above Star Wars figures, and Joe kids were smitten with the o-ring style and its abundance of articulation. 7 poa just couldn’t compete.
Bad Guys. In 1984 Galoob created four enemy figures for its A-Team figures to fight. Like Remco’s Sgt. Rock villains, they were given the droll team name of Bad Guys! The A-Team’s Bad Guys’ individual names were Cobra, Python, Rattler, and Viper. They’re also animal lovers, specifically snake enthusiasts. Strange… what would have made Galoob use snake-themed names for the bad guys? Wow. That was a pretty blatant attempt to graft on to Hasbro’s favorite terrorist organization. Not as bad as Remco dumping a huge Cobra image on its The Bad Guys card art, but pretty blatant.
Galoob should have owned the patheticness of the figures and given them more appropriate names. Here’s some from which they could have chosen: Tooth Decay, Inmate, Unemployment Line, Bus Driver, Drinking Problem, Odoriferous Discharge, or Karl. Unlike Remco’s The Bad Guys, these Bad Guys had a bit more personality. Python was a bald eye patch guy with a steroid problem. Rattler was might have been a palm reader before his life in thuggery. Cobra dressed like The Honeymooner’s character Ed Norton. And poor Viper just looked like Kenny Loggins with red hair. Every one of them looks like a guy you might have found taking a sink bath in a bus station restroom in 1984.
Unlike Hasbro’s Cobra quality figures, Galoob’s bad guys looked like they were sculpted out of butter before being given their lackluster 5 points of articulation. Normally, a low poa count doesn’t bother me, but these figures are so lousy that even the lack of knee articulation is bad. The plastic is waxy but not quite rubbery. These Bad Guys all shared the same legs, as they apparently loved the high pant cuff 1950’s biker jeans. The A-Team’s Bad Guys lack the military presence of Sgt. Rock’s The Bad Guys. They do, however, successfully represent the parade of bland thugs seen week-after-week in a generic way.
The Bad Guys and Bad Guys. Remco recycled molds to create a fairly effective team of paramilitary villains to square off against Sgt. Rock. Galoob made a lineup of buffoons, but this kept with the spirit of the A-Team.