Food Fight! Foooooood Fiiiiiiiiiiiiighters! Ah, but I bet you know them, even though you have not thought about them for a couple of decades. The Food Fighters — the short-lived action figure line from Mattel that pitted anthropomorphic food men against each other; food men who chose a side, enlisted, and then duked it out for gastronomic glory. If you think about it, the concept is genius, and even though I was collecting a lot of action figure lines at the time, I made room for the entire run of the Food Fighters line. I loved them then, and I love them today.
I get it. This is a toy property that seems to be decried just as much as it is embraced. That pretty much happens with all toy lines, but this is one of those properties that either speaks to you, or it doesn’t. So I just leave it at that, and I am not really going to try to convince someone that this is something that they should like because, as I said, the concept is so fringe that whatever your initial reaction to it might be, it is probably right for you. However, if you are a part of the uninitiated population, here is an original commercial for the line, and it is awesome.
Right? So I feel justified in saying that I think this line is just so much fun. No, it is not deep or highbrow, and the concept comes from grammar school shenanigans in the lunch room, but the character designs and the fact that you really don’t need much background in the concept to “get it” make it accessible and nothing but fun. These are toys, after all, and no matter your opinion on the line, the fact remains that stuff like this just doesn’t happen in toy lines anymore, and that is terribly unfortunate.
The 1980s were THE time for action figures. They were still bigger than video games so companies were able to develop varied concepts and put them to market, so even if lines were not sensations like Masters of the Universe or GI Joe, the variety and sheer number of properties always kept it interesting. A lot of these were homegrown properties as well, and media support was not always required. So really, a fringe line like the Food Fighters would not even really be possible in today’s climate. Embracing wackiness, and the concept of toys as toys are a couple of things that I would love to see return.
Anyhow, the basic gist of the Food Fighters was that the heroic Kitchen Commandos were pitted against the evil Refrigerator Rejects in eternal battle for control of your mom’s kitchen. This was obviously serious business because all of the Commandos had official military ranks, and everyone came packing heat, helmets, and medals of honor. Heck, they even had vehicles like the Combat Carton to raise the ante of the dangers of war.
The Commandos were lead by Burgerdier General (a hamburger, as you would guess) and included Major Munch (the doughnut), Lieutenant Legg (the chicken leg), Sergeant Scoop (yep, the ice cream cone), and Private Pizza (needs no explanation). Each and every character had his own personality and their sculpts and expressions really brought those out. The faced off against the evil Mean Wiener (the hotdog) who led the rag tag Rejects of Fat Frenchy (the fries), Taco Terror, Short Stack (pancakes), and Chip the Ripper (the cookie). The story unfolded in the character bios (something Mattel still does today!), and the battling exploits took the colorful (and delicious) cast of characters from the pantry to the fridge to the stove and everywhere in between. Never has an action figure line given you such an excuse for building bases out of pots and pans and flinging utensils as projectiles into your opponent’s strong hold. How is that not fun?
Those weapons and accessories were nothing to sneeze at either; there is actually quite an impressive amount of detail in those little implements, and while I have lost most of them over the years, there are plenty of guns at this scale that can be used because of the level of detail put into this line.
Really, I am not joking, even with a basic concept and questionable paint jobs, the sculpts on these figures are actually very solid and they really come out on figures like Private Pizza and Chip the Ripper. As you might be able to tell, I have actually repainted Chip the Ripper and Burgerdier General, and even my meager painting skills have brought out a lot of the details. I plan on getting to the rest soon, so maybe I will show them all after I am done.
I know. It is easy to dismiss a line like this as an “adult collector” because it doesn’t meet some level of discriminating taste (get it?), but c’mon — pry that stick out and have some fun. I had a blast with this short-lived line and I still love it today. I am serious when I say the details on these guys are really great, so don’t be so quick to dismiss them. The Food Fighters represent a time and place in action figure history that was glorious and will never be repeated, and that is a shame. Sure, Mattel won’t be racing out to make “Food Fighters Classics” (they should), but the little bit of nostalgia and fun these guys can still provide makes me want to go play with my food. Take that, Mom!