The Geeksverse1982 M*A*S*H* Toyline By Tristar

1982 M*A*S*H* Toyline By Tristar
Published on Thursday, February 10, 2011 by

Welcome to the first article of The Toy Aisle. My goal is to highlight lesser known toylines but I will also touch on more well known lines from time to time as well as aspects about the toys we love like articulation, construction and the changing themes of toylines. So please join me as I start this adventure into obscurity with possibly the most realistic 3 3/4″ military line made: M*A*S*H*

 

In 1982, Tristar International, LTD. released a 3 3/4″ Mash toyline. The toyline consisted of 7 individual “named” characters, 1 variant and a generic soldier (that came with each vehicle) making a grand total of 11 figures. There were 3 vehicles and a playset in the line as well. The toyline wasn’t that big of a hit even though Mash was very popular in 1982 after it had been announced that that would be the final year for the long running TV Series. By all counts, the toys were really well done and not like the cheap fodder you would expect for a TV show toyline. The action figures were a slight second to GI Joe in terms of articulation with a whopping 14 points of articulation while the vehicles were well detailed with action & play features.

ACTION FIGURES

As previously mentioned the figures had 14 POA. They included:

Swivel Neck
Swivel/Hinge Shoulders
Hinge Elbows
Waist Joint (connected with a rubber band item)
Swivel/Hinge Hips
Hinge Knees

Unlike most 1980’s 3 3/4″ figures, I have never seen another toyline duplicate the hip articulation as seen on the Mash figures. The way the torso and waist fit together is an inverse from how a GI Joe’s torso & waist fit together. The rubber band appears to be a specific piece as opposed to a generic o-ring seen on GI Joe and many other 1980’s 3 3/4″ toylines. All the rivets used on the figures were plastic. There were no holes in the feet so there were no battle stands or such pegs on vehicles.

The main figures were individualy carded on semi-generic cards. These included:

Hawkeye
B.J.
Winchester
Col. Potter
Father Mulcahy
Hot Lips
Klinger (Regular)
Klinger (Variant)

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The cards were all exactly the same with the exception of the character’s name. The back of the cards featured prototypes of most of the toyline. The only items missing were the playset and the regular version of Klinger. There were US & Canadian releases with the only differences being some of the text. Unlike Star Wars, there were no Tri-Logos here, I assume, because the logo is an acronym. As I mentioned the back of the cards featured what look to be prototypes of the toyline. The heads look hand painted with badly painted eyes reminiscent of dollar store figures. Thankfully they went with a much more subtle dark brown line to signify the eyes on the released figures. The other difference between the prototype pictures and the actual figures is the generic soldier that comes with the vehicles. In the pictures you see a soldier in green fatigues, boots and a sculpted helmet. What was actually released was a Hawkeye figure with no paint apps except for his blonde hair & his hands.

Like many toylines, there are reused parts between some of the figures. As seen above, the full Hawkeye figure was used for the generic soldier (Who also showed up erroneously carded on a few Hawkeye cards). Hawkeye’s body was used for regular Klinger while the body (sans arms) was used for B.J.. Col. Potter & Father Mulcahy used Hawkeye’s arms & legs. Hot Lip’s legs look like Hawkeye’s as well but the injection point on the side of the leg is larger than the one on all the other figures who use those legs. Only Winchester and the variant Klinger appear to be made from fully individual parts.

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Typically, a variant is the figure not shown on the packaging so one could argue that Klinger in a dress is the regular version and not the variant but the crossdressing version is the harder to find one and commands a much higher price than any other Mash figure. I suppose one could assume that the same rule of girl figures in a boys toy line being shorted due to them not selling well was applied to a cross dressing figure in this case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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VEHICLES

There were 3 vehicles in the whole line, a Jeep, an Ambulance & a Helicopter. Each vehicle came with the same generic, blone haired soldier figure I talked about earlier. All of the vehicles advertise that they are scaled to fit all 3 3/4″ figures.

The Jeep looks like your typical Willys Jeep. The only special feature on this vehicle is the hinged windshield. There is a tow hook at the back of the jeep but I think the only way it’ll tow anything is if you tie a string around it. The wheels are on a typical two per axle construction and are free rolling. The front seats fit figures easily and a third figure can sorta fit in the back seat (leg room is a tad small) As advertised, the Jeep will fit other 3 3/4″ scaled figures as well.

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The Ambulance appears to be based on Dodge WC-54 or WC-27. It features four hinged doors (driver side, passenger side and two rear opening doors) Like the Jeep, The wheels are on a two per Axle construction and are free rolling. There are two “beds” (basically just flat shelves) in the back to store the injured.

One thing to take note of on both the Ambulance and the Jeep are the side mirrors. Both feature a side mirror on the driver’s side. These mirrors are very fragile and typically broken on loose examples

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The Helicopter is modelled after a Bell H-13 Sioux. The Helicopter has the most features as it sports two removable medical evacuation panniers, opening canopy and blade spinning action & sound. The blade spinning action & sound is activated by rolling the helicopter on the ground. As the two wheels underneath the helicopter roll, they spin the blades and make a clicking noise that is to simulate the whup-whup sound of a helicopter flying. The tail section is hinged (whether this is to simulate damage or just for storage purposes is unkown) The tail rotor is made up of two thin plastic pieces joined by a rivet. The pannier beds have a flexible plastic strap that attaches to two pegs on either side of the bed to hold the wounded in place. The beds attach to the helicopter skids with two holes on the bottom of the beds.  As with all the vehicles, the Helicopter can easily fit other 3 3/4″ figures.

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The last piece in the Mash toyline is the Military Base playset. The playset covers 16 square feet of floorspace (a little over 47″ X 461/2″) & featured 63 pieces. For $18.99 at JC Penney you got a vinyl play mat, Col. Potter’s HQ, Officer’s Quarters (nicknamed the Swamp) Pre-Op Ward, Hospital, Officer’s Mess Hall, Tables, Chairs, Sign Post, Hospital Beds and many other 3 3/4″ scaled accessories. There is also a sticker sheet with crosses for the Hospital and many little details like a message board, desk top, bookshelf and dartboard.

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The box claims to have “High Impact Plastic Buildings” which makes them sound much better than what they are. While they do look nice as backdrops with a nice molded details to appear like tents, they are unfortunately the downside of the playset. All the parts to make the buildings are made of very thin plastic. To build one of the buildings you have to set the four walls (or more in the case of the Hospital) together (two sides will have a recessed area for the other sides’ edges) then place the roof on the top of the structure. The box appears to show that you can take the roof off to play inside of each structure but given that there is no real interlocking ability of the walls, if you take the roof off, the walls fall in with the slightest wind.

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Overall, the Mash toyline is a well made toyline that covers most of the basics from the TV Show and is a great addition to anyone’s military 3 3/4″ collection. Most figures can be found easily along with the Jeep and Ambulance. The Playset can sometimes be scarce but still pops up pretty regulary. The only item that will probably be a problem to find will be the Helicopter.

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