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Retro Review: Kenner Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos Corvette

It’s difficult to follow up a vehicle powerhouse like Knight Rider’s Knight 2000, but we’re going to do it anyway. With the help of Chuck Norris.

The mid-1980s was a massive resurgence in what we might call “consumer culture” today. Not unlike the toys we mostly talk about here, the automotive industry had a return to its glory days during the decade, revitalizing older legacy brands and giving them back at least some of their former punch, after the lean 1970s.

Obviously, Pontiac did this with their Firebirds and Trans Ams, and so Chevy followed suit with their own cult-classic line: the Corvette. The 4th gen Corvette (C4 in Chevy-talk) got off to a rough start in 1983, amounting to mostly a concept car in the first year. One of the highlights of the C4 era was the second ‘Vette Indy Pace Car, a sharp little number that brought back a convertible for the first time in nearly a decade. Rumor has it Chuck Norris owned one …

And that’s sort of how we end up with Kenner making another American sports car, this time three years later for Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos. I can’t say I remember the show much, if at all. And the toys seem to be a vague memory, somewhat like the A-Team toys we got from Galoob some years earlier. In the interest of research, I probably should have watched a couple of episodes, but I didn’t. From most accounts, it was pretty typical of a lot of the Ruby-Spears cartoons, if on the less watchable side.

The toys were a little more interesting, in the sense that they were action-feature heavy and done in a 6-inch scale. It is interesting to think that, had you wanted to, you could have had Stallone’s Rambo team up with the A-Team, Chuck Norris, and Micheal Knight, and they would have all been roughly in scale with each other. Even so, it was not a strong performer in the toy aisles or on the screen, and had mostly disappeared from both by 1987.

Still, it didn’t all disappear, and one would assume the centerpiece of any Karate Kommandos collection would have to be this Corvette. Styled in keeping with that 1986 Indy Pace Car I mentioned, this is very solid chunk of car, considerably more so than KITT. Part of this is definitely because of the lack of a top and working doors. It’s a little chunky, and the major offset on those wheels is a bit silly, but there’s definitely Corvette in there.

Then there’s the action features! Press down on the windshield and a huge blade pops out of the hood! Press the roll guard, two more pop out the sides! Mess with the spoiler and ninja stars would launch! If you had any, at least. It is hilarious, stupidly silly, but still very functional 30 years later. So laugh all you want, but there’s stuff I could do 30 years ago that I can’t now, so it’s got that on me.

The terrible “kanji style” “CN” on the hood and doors, all that gold trim on the red body … this thing is a wonderful throwback to a more innocent time in toys, and that makes it very hard to hold any real criticism against it. It’s a shame nobody has given us a good Chuck Norris figure since, because I would absolutely love to stick a Walker Texas Ranger figure in the front seat, maybe next to Braddock or Lone Wolf. But really, no 6-inch figure looks too shabby in it, and being a classic 1980s car, I love it regardless.

6 thoughts on “Retro Review: Kenner Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos Corvette

  1. nice for i remember the toys more then the cartoon. including also a playset of the line. never saw the cartoon

  2. I have just a vague knowledge of the James Bond Jr stuff. Thanks for the suggestion, I’m literally off to go look right now.

  3. I had this too. I loved the Cartoon.
    What a trippy time to be a kid. I remember this and the Chrome blue robocop car being awesome.

  4. Nice! I actually had this as a kid along with a bunch of the figures. The James Bond Jr. sports car was very similar in style. You should try to get your hands on that one, if you don’t already have it of course 🙂

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