In 1988 Galoob came out with Army Gear. Mini playsets that could transform into real military gear. The toy line consisted of two series worth of toys.
Canteen – Aircraft Carrier
Compass – Satellite Station
Grenade – Bunker
M-16 – Weapons Arsenal
Machette – Observation Post
Pistol – Missile Silo
Searchlight – Air Defense Station
Watch – Missile Post
Combat Ready Accessory Set
Knife – Attack Boat
Auto Pistol – Missile Staging Base
Binoculars – Laser Tracking Station
Walkie Talkie – Drone Launching Base
Battle Bars – Missile ATV
Bravery Ribbon – Rocket Launcher
Combat Bars – Strike Tank
Combat Ribbon – M-4 Tank
Air Eagle – Night Glider
Air Wings – A-10 Fighter
Most of the toys were packaged in boxes that were designed to look like wodden crates. The boxes featured flip up lids that revealed a picture showing what the playset looked like when transformed. The back of the box would show most of the toys in the series (typically, the back of the box never showed the item in the box)
Some items were blister carded like the Combat Medals, the Knife and the Combat Troops
Every set came with one or more figures, however, it’s unclear which figures came with which sets since many of the images on the boxes were early/prototype pictures and there were many changes between those pictures and what was released. Because of this, for most of the entries in this article, I didn’t include what figures came with the sets. In the cases where I have included the figures, I have either opened the sealed sets myself, or I’m fairly confidant that the sets haven’t had any figures from other sets mixed in.
The Army Gear figures were made of an upper torso piece and a legs part. In total there were 10 unique torsos and 7 legs. These were combined randomly and colored either olive drab or grey to denote a good guy or a bad guy.
There were 5 unique figure stands that were released with each set. Each set only received a few of the stands so you never got all 5 in one package. The stands were black and made of soft rubber with two holes for the figures feet to fit in.Only certain figure’s legs could work with certain stands.
There was a Combat Troops pack released that included 20 figures (10 Good & 10 Bad) along with some figure stands. These figures had painted deatils (skin tones and camouflage)
Most sets came with two flag parts and a “good” Army Gear sticker flag or a “Bad” serpent sticker flag. There were two types of Flags that could come with the set, either a flag with a pole molded on or a flag with no pole. Some sets had built in flag poles and some didn’t.
The Canteen/Aircraft Carrier seems to be the most well known and common of the sets. The canteen splits down the middle and folds out showing the deck of an aircraft carrier. One half of the deck pops off to reveal the tower and a reservoir to allow for the real working aspect of the canteen. The tower plugs into the side of the deck (also locking the two canteen halves from folding back up) The side of the tower has a fold down door, antennas and two rotating cannons. Part of the other deck folds up to reveal an F-14 Tomcat. The Tomcat has an opening cockpit to allow one of the figures to sit in it. It also has fold out wings and rolling wheels.
The Compass/Satellite Station has a velcro strap so you can wear it on your wrist. The working compass section folds up while the sides fould out to transform into the Satellite Station. You can wind up the propeller blades and then press the button on the front to shoot the blades into the air.
The second most common Army Gear set would be the Grenade/Bunker. Now obviously the hand grenade doesn’t really have a “real working” aspect to it but it still makes for a fun grenade toy. When you pull the pin, the grenade opens up to transform into a bunker with a buggy that shoots out. The most commonly lost piece of the Grenade/Bunker set is the tiny radar dish attached to the flag pole. Since the grenade is curved it doesn’t make for a very stable base, but by the pin there’s a stabilizer peg that slides down to keep everything balanced.
The Machette/Observation Post has most of it’s features in the Machette handle. That;s where the platform for the cannon is as well as the winch, radar and guns. The sheath is molded to allow a belt to attch to it.
The Pistol/Missile Silo is jam packed with features. While in gun mode the trigger makes a clicking noise and when you open it up to be a Missile Silo, there are fold out floors, manned cannon, detachable missile and ladder. The removable clip is the clicker the trigger presses against it to create the gun sound.
The M-16/Weapons Arsenal is by fun the most fun of the Army Gear group. In rifle mode, you can put a 9 volt batter into the handle and it makes electronic rifle sounds. There are 3 main sectons the rifle breaks apart into: Barrel, Middle Section & Stock. The Barrel twists off of the Middle Section and then the barrel end twists off. The cooling section opens up to create what looks to be a communications area. The middle section breaks apart into 4 sections. Just under the top handle a section slides out that transforms into a missile launcing section. The trigger handle pops off and has two guns that attach to it. The clip slides out and holds a tank in it. I’m not really sure what the top handle part does other than sit there. The Stock opens up and has fold down floors. The end of the barrel attaches to the top and has a seat that fits onto it.
The Searchlight/Air Defense Station takes two C size batteries and has a real working light. The main body folds on top of itself creating a two story Air Defense Station and includes a helicoper, landing pad, winch, chairs, support beams and ladder. The helicopter has rotating blades and an opening cockpit. The searchlight appears to have originally retailed for $17.99 at Toys R Us.
The Watch/Missile Post has the same basic transformation as the Compass/Satellite Station. The left side has a gunner station with swing out cannons, the right side has a hole for a flag to be inserted. The watch has two swing out cannons and a folding working crane. The watch is a digital watch. If you press the right button once you get the date, press it again and you have the seconds. Pressing the left button allows you to set the date and time. The watch uses a 192 watch battery that can be replaced by unscrewing the 4 screws around the crane, pulling out the watch and unscrewing the two screws holding a metal connector against the battery.
The item in the first series is the Combat Ready Accessory Set. It included a vest with pistol holster and hoops for the grenade and bullets to hook to. A helmet and bullet accessories that could be opened up to hold figures in them.
Series 2 is much harder to find info on much less the actual items themselves. I assume this is due to series 2 being at the end of the line.
The Knife/Attack Boat came in 3 different colors, Green, Red & white. There is a button on the side that makes the saw blade pop out then you can pull out the knife blade. One side of the knife has a fold out hatch and hinged doors to transform it into the Attack Boat. The command console lifts up as does the main gun. There are two slide out torpedoes.
There are 8 Combat Medals, however, I have yet to find out what two of the medals are called. Both of those medals are the type with a medal at the end of a ribbon. There are two types that are just medals types (Air Eagle – Night Glider & Air Wings – A-10 Fighter) The Battle Ribbons types are made from two unique molds that are recollored to make all 4 Battle Ribbons.
The Bravery Ribbon/Rocket Launcher has a removable clip for when it transforms into the Rocket Launching truck.
The Combat Bars/Strike Tank has a similar clip to the Bravery Ribbon but it has a longer locking peg. Also when you remove it, the turret for the tank pops up.
The Air Eagle/Night Glider has a feature where the medal base includes a flip up peg that you can put the glider on to simulate a flying action. The included figure clips to the top of it.