Wayne “Golden” Alexander (Bronze Bombers)
I’m a big fan of the also-rans that cropped up following GI Joe’s 1980s success. Looking back at the imitators illustrates the impact the Real American Hero line had at retail. It also serves as collector ground that hasn’t been fully excavated. I’ve covered a few of Olmec’s Bronze Bomber 1997 figures that were based on Hasbro molds, but I’ve not delved into their original single-carded releases from the 1980s. I recall seeing these figures in surreptitious trips to the K-Mart toy aisles during my teen years. As toys, they didn’t impress me at the time, since they looked rather simplistic in terms of the molds. I’ve since found out that the bodies come from a variety of earlier 80s sources including Mego Buck Rogers and CHiPs parts as well as molds seen in Galoob’s A-Team and Agglo’s National Defense. The newly sculpted heads were nicely rendered for the time, and certainly portray some personality, a feature that would continue with the 1997 figures.
As much as some folks would bag on the line, I can’t find it within me to be crass about these toys. They have a certain charm to them, even though they’re not as slickly produced as mainstream toy product of the time. You could consider these to be the indie toys of their day–not marketed to collectors, but to a segment of the public that’s always been under-served in the toy aisles. Just look at your favorite 70s and 80s toy lines and count the number of non-Caucasian characters available. Props to Olmec Toys for making the effort and also bringing a little history to the party as well. The back of the card mentions the 369th infantry, the famous first African-American regiment to serve in World War I. It’s a nice touch to give kids some toy heroes with some sort of historical basis.
True, the card art is a rip (okay, pretty much a direct steal) from GI Joe card art, but at least the illustrations on the back appear to be original. The makers also included credits on the packaging. I have to wonder however if you can credit the art with a straight face, considering the lifted Hasbro poses.