The ’80s was a magical time, with action figure lines that covered an incredible range of variety and imagination — there always seemed to be something for everyone. That said, if you remember Kenner’s Li’l Loggers, your memory is much better than most. Or maybe you were like me and liked some pretty out-there toys.
While Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, ThunderCats, Transformers, and other mega-lines dominated the decade of decadence, there were still countless toy lines available and ready for your parents to buy for you, so I will reaffirm that it was a glorious time. While I definitely had my “main” lines, I did get caught up in the obscure from time to time, and even got into some down right head-scratchers as well. That is where the Li’l Loggers come in.
Now, I would not call these an “action figure line” as we know them these days; these were really bathtub toys produced by Kenner, and they fit in well to a scheme dominated by toys, before video games became all the rage. These Loggers were a boy’s toys answer to their much more popular Sea Wees, as girl’s line of bathtub toys focusing on mermaids and other things. I did not collect this line as it was. In fact, I only had one of these figures as a kid, and my brother had one as well. So I hold a lot of sentimental value in Ranger Rob (the bearded ginger with the green trousers, who kind of looks like Yukon Cornelius from the Rankin/Bass Rudolph special) as he was mine. More so, his pet Chops the Beaver is what actually drew me to figure. I did, and still do, have an affinity for “sidekick” figures.
These are credited as being 1983 releases, but I know for a fact I happened upon these several years later, because I would have been far too young in ’83 to pick out my own toys (and my brother had not been born yet). It is funny as I remember when I actually got my Ranger Rob, and where I got him has a lot to do with why I was able to find him many years after the line died an early (but likely, predictable) death. Long before Walgreens was being awesome and offering us exclusive Marvel Legends and Star Wars Black Series figures, pharmacies were a bastion of horrible, horrible toys. I mean like, knock-off grade toys ran supreme in the ⅛ of an aisle that was often dedicated to them, so going to such places never offered anything exciting for a kid always on the lookout for new action figures.
RANGER ROB & CHOPS BEAVER
One day, my mother had to to the now long-gone Treasury Drug store that was right next door to our grocery store, to pick something up after a standard grocery run. Already put out because we had to stop at ANOTHER boring store, my brother and I made our way to the toy section, even though we knew we were not going to find anything good. That is when we happened upon the only time we ever saw the Li’l Loggers, and somehow, some way, we were instantly taken by them.
Maybe it was just because we actually found something resembling a real toy at the pharmacy, or maybe we realized even at our young ages that the concept of bath toys based on rugged lumberjacks and their pets was a pretty insane concept, even for the 1980s, but we were forthright in our mission not to leave that store without them. As usual, my mom relented to our toy demands, and soon were were having water fights with these characters, and were really enjoying them for what I imagine was all of an afternoon before we lost interest in them. Regardless, this line is quite the nostalgic trip for me, and a good reminder that even though I had a few Barnyard Commandos, that doesn’t seem quite as weird by comparison.
JUMPER JOE & ROCKY RACCOON
The line itself was made up of four main figures, each coming with their own “pet” and sponge log accessory. Each logger’s head is made of a soft plastic with a hole for a mouth, and it can be squeezed to be filled with water, and then squeezed again to shoot said water. The little pets have the same gimmick, so pool time, bath time, sink time(?), or any other time where a mess was to be had could be turned into a wilderness adventure. The logs are actually sponges so they float, and the holds accommodate both Logger and pet.
I had Ranger Rob and Chops the Beaver, but there was also Jumper Joe (in red) with Rocky Raccoon, Trapper Tom (the blonde) with Paddles Bear, and a repaint of Ranger Rob: Woody Warren and Buzzy Beaver. Now, I have only been able to reacquire three of them, but with a little eBay patience, I was able to build my collection via minty-mint carded figures for about $20 each, which isn’t bad. I suppose the demand isn’t really crazy for these, but they are still a lot of fun. You might notice that one of the packages refers to Ranger Rob as “Ranger Rick” so I am assuming he was originally called the latter before Kenner got hip to the fact that Ranger Rick was already a thing and promptly changed the handle.
TRAPPER TOM & PADDLES BEAR
Now, I cannot actually account for Woody Warren as he has not shown up on eBay during my time monitoring it, and more so, the additional figure, Bluster Bear, appears on the back of Jumper Joe’s packaging, but I am not sure he was ever released either. If you know about either of these, or maybe have them for sale, drop me a line, I would love to complete this strange little collection.
All in all, these are cute little toys with a fun gimmick, even if they are in the dustbin of history in terms of memorable toys. With the exception of the aforementioned repaint, these figures enjoyed a lot of unique sculpting, and I love the cute little animal pets. Sure, these lumberjacks could not really compete with muscle-bound barbarians or transforming robots, but I love having Rob back in my collection with his friends because they show just how diverse and awesome ’80s toys really were.
While I have fond memories of my Ranger Rob figure from my youth, I have to admit that I had completely forgotten about these figures until my memory was jogged by a great review over at the Obscure Toy Files, so be sure to check that out (and the site in general, it is new, but they are already onto some cool old toys). If you take a shine to these, have a little patience and watch eBay, you should be able to piece a collection together easily.
I would be interested to know if you remember this line from the 1980s, so please let me know in the comment section below!