What makes a great basis for a kid’s cartoon and toy line? An ultra violent R-rated film! That’s right nerds, it’s time to slap your eye orbs with Robocop and Ultra Police from Kenner.
Several R rated movie properties made it into toy form in the 1980s and Robocop from Kenner a personal favorite of mine.
Robocop and the Ultra Police debuted in 1989 and hot damn did they have some cool commercials. I don’t know what kind of idiot kid wouldn’t want a Robocop toy after seeing that ad.
The Robocop cartoon which tied into it aired at the same time and it was simply Robocop the Animated series. No other cops were going to hog the limelight with Robocop in animated form.
The cartoon was surprisingly close to the movies, albeit completely watered down for kids. And by watered down, I mean there was no death, dismemberment, titties, or horrifically mutated drug dealers to be had. Still, if you’re a fan of Robocop there’s lots of Robocop action with familar characters from the films.
The cops or “Ultra Police” in the toy line weren’t just average law enforcement slobs working in the worst city in the world, they had special weapons and equipment. While it didn’t put them on the same level as Robocop, they certainly could handle some tougher crooks than your average cop.
Having Robocop in toy form was a dream come true for young Vincent. I could insert my favorite cyborg police officer into the world of G.I. Joe or Star Wars (yeah, I still played with my Star Wars figures in ’89), though he was a tad larger more in line with a 4 inch scale. I loved that you could take off the top of his helmet so you could see Officer Murphy underneath. The main problem with the helmet is that kids could easily lose it. Almost every Robocop on eBay is missing one, so it’s a bit tough to find one complete. Another cool feature Robocop had was that you could plug his gun into the side of his leg. Sure it wasn’t like the movie where his gun went inside his leg, but it was the most you could hope for back then.
The only negative thing about the Robocop figures was the cap firing action that took up a big section of his back. While not being too obtrusive, I was never a fan of these kinds of gimmicks on my toys. I could make my own gun firing sounds, thank you very much.
Robocop came out in three flavors, the two most famous being his regular version that resembled the movie Robocop and the Night Force version, which was a crazy Glow in the Dark version of the toy. The best part about Night Force Robocop was his mini-gun arm! IF his regular side arm could blow holes in bad guys, just imagine the kind of damage he could do with a gun arm! And I did!
Another notable character in the toy line was ED-260 (ED-209 in the movie). This toy was freaking awesome. Not only was it a kick ass robot bad guy, but often times I could pretend that it was a robotic suit for one of my bad guys.I was desperate for a mech suit for my G.I. Joes.
I loved the design of Robocop’s vehicles. At the time I honestly was a little disappointed that it wasn’t his actual car from the movie. In retrospect I realize how dumb I was and that a flat black late 80s Ford Taurus isn’t that spectacular of a toy design.
The futuristic shapes combined with the metallic blue color really make these things stand out. The helicopter (Robo-Copter) and Motorcycle (Robo-Cycle) along with the police van (Robo-Jailer) all carried through with similar designs that were quite fantastic.
The biggest weakness for Robocop and the Ultra Police were the bad guys. With the exception of ED-260, the bad guy stuff was fairly straight forward generic bad dudes type junk. I think think they might have been better off coming up more armored troopers than Mad Max rejects or guys with totally lame ass names like, “Dr. McNamara”.
Sadly, other kids didn’t think Robocop was as cool as I did and the line tanked. It wouldn’t be the last time Robocop made it into toy form, but that’s another robo-story for another robo-time.
Link: Read a bit about my Robocop toys at Poe Ghostal.com!