Jeff (Fisher-Price Adventure People)
By Past Nastification
The Adventure People predated GI Joe’s A Real American Hero 1982 rollout by several years. They provided great “civilian” figures for the Joes to rescue. As best I can find, this figure’s name is Jeff, from the 1977 TV Action Team news van playset. In 2017, it’s unbelievable that a toy company once thought that an action figure line should include such a thing. It’s pretty obvious that Jeff is a workaholic with no concept of portion-control. A meat and potatoes man who despises vegetables. The playset also included Kirk, the bland and probably cannibalistic camera guy, and Carol, the smoky-voiced reporter.
Jeff, despite the lackluster name, is a wonderful example of a figure loaded with character. Short and dumpy, he wore a crumpled shirt and crooked tie. And that face! You’ve seen it before in smoke filled dive bars. Rat holes that smell of damp wood and are loaded with defeated men in their sixties. Men who’d rather stubbornly wade into Lake Cirrhosis than spend one more minute with their wives. Men who work hard but hate their jobs. Men who only drive American made cars and know how to fix things.
The only way Fisher Price could have made this figure any better would have been to sculpt a pack of Paul Mall cigarettes stuffed into a shirt pocket and included a roll of Tums with an empty wallet as the accessories. The wallet is empty because somebody has a gambling problem. It’s cost him his house and his marriage and his children won’t talk to him- but he’s gotta see his horses, of course. He’s gotta.
This figure is clunky and only has five points of articulation. But it’s still great. It’s great because it tells a story. More accurately, as a “blank template” Adventure People figure it lets you tell a story. It’s a thematic aptitude perception test of sorts. Hasbro would give us file cards to fill us in on the characters in 1982. Kenner’s Star Wars figures we already knew from the movies. But Adventure People figures? They came without back stories. Turn on the imagination machine.
I’m circling back to the name.
Really? Does this guy look like a Jeff? Jeff is the name of a man who likes to play touch football with his co-workers or go hiking with his wife. This figure can’t be named Jeff. The figure looks to be about 60 and was introduced to the world in 1977, so a name popular for babies in 1917 would be about right. Let’s see… I’m renaming him Norman Clarence Miller, Sr.