Taping into the recent success of the G.I. Joe a Real American Hero roadmap, Cleco decided to take a chance with an in-demand child demographic and enter the military toy space with a licensed release of one of the most popular films in 1985.
Pulling away from the popularity of the three and three-quarter-inch size action figure made famous by Kenners Star Wars and Hasbro’s G.I. Joe a Real American Hero toy lines, Coleco decided to produce a more prominent six and one-half-inch articulated action figure with a variety of realistic weapons and accessories.
The blockbuster action film Rambo: First Blood Part II was released to theaters on May 22, 1985, and grossed over 300 million at the box office. A sequel to the popular 1982 movie First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II is the second installment in the Rambo franchise. The film stars Sylvester Stallone as former US Army Green Beret John James Rambo, an incarcerated post-Vietnam war protagonist, who strikes a deal with the government to document the possible existence of missing POWs held in Vietnam. Along with the returning Richard Crenna, who reprises his role as Colonel Sam Trautman, the two find themselves under strict orders not to rescue any POWs or engage with any combatants. When Rambo defies his orders, he is abandoned by the government operation and forced to rely on his rugged skills of combat to save the American POWs.
Coleco was not the first licensed toy company to produce toys for the Rambo franchise. In 1985, LJN manufactured a line of Rambo branded electronic water guns and survival toy gear. LJN, unfortunately, failed to secure the action figure license; however, it is safe to say that the detail and durability of the Coleco Rambo series produced a phenomenal line of toys in the mid-’80s.
Coleco Industries, Inc. is an American company established in 1932 by Maurice Greenberg and was originally the “The Connecticut Leather Company.” It wasn’t until the 1980s when Coleco finally found their success with toys and is best known for their mass-produced version of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and the Colecovision game consel. Heavily focused on entering the dominant action figure market, after a dismal effort in sales from Coleco’s first action figure release, Sectaurs, in 1985, the toy company was looking for the perfect action figure opportunity and found both success and controversy with the Rambo license.
The series one release of the Rambo, The Force of Freedom toy line, consisted of twelve, six and one-half-inch action figures, four vehicles, four boxed weapon accessories and one playset. Each action figure came with a large variety of detailed weapons and accessories, more so than other similar toy lines at the time. The detail of the included weapons and many of the boxed accessories were extremely accurate to actual military-used equipment, allowing for a more realistic play future. Many action figures were equipped with spring or wind-up activated motorized mechanisms, which proved an innovative play feature. In addition, many of the accessories had spring action firing capabilities, which provided additional action-packed experience during play.
With the success of Hasbro’s introduction of WWF superstar Sergeant Slaughter to the G.I. Joe team in 1985 as the official G.I. Joe drill instructor, Hasbro considered adding Rocky Balboa to the team in 1987 as a physical training instructor. When Coleco picked up the license for the Rambo toy line in 1986, Hasbro decided to scrap the Sylvester Stallone-based character for alleged similarities and conflict of interest. After a very successful NFL rookie season, Hasbro then replaced the G.I. Joe roster slot with NFL superstar William “The Refrigerator” Perry of the 1986 Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX Champions.
All of the original series one action figures were released in 1987’s series two with the exception of the “Nomad” action figure, who mysteriously disappeared. A second 1987 series release of six new action figures with additional elbow articulation was added to the lineup. An additional 7th “Muscle Power Rambo” action figure was also a prototype and is rumored to have never been released in the United States although he does appear on many of the series two card backs. Sales of the toy series two line in 1987 started to drastically decline, primarily due to the mature and violent nature of the R-rated films, once parents finally caught on to what their kids were playing with.
Below Is a reference to the 1985 U.S. domestic box office sales showing the impact of Rambo First Blood Part II’s popularity, along with Sylvester Stallones staying power with Rocky IV a few short months later.
Although Coleco discontinued the line after a limited second series production, the Argentinian toy company Jocsa continued the toy line throughout the late 80s, using the same molds. Jocsa added additional marketing by rebranding many of the original action figures into the re-outfitted “Desert Brigade.”
The Animated Series
History of the Rambo The Force of Freedom 1986 Animated Series
Similar to many other popular toy lines in the mid-80s, in 1986 American animated series Rambo: The Force of Freedom was developed to help promote the sale of the Coleco toy line as a series of 22-minute advertisement episodes. The animated series was based on the John Rambo character from David Morrell’s book First Blood originally published in 1972. Following the 1982 film First Blood’s success and the extreme popularity of its 1985 sequel Rambo: First Blood Part II, an animated series was created for television to promote the Coleco toy line and first aired as a complete series on September 15, 1986.
The series plot was based on John Rambo to lead a special military established unit called “The Force of Freedom,” initiated by Colonel Trautman. “The Force of Freedom” team was established to combat General Warhawk’s malicious terrorist organization S.A.V.A.G.E. (Specialist-Administrators of Vengeance, Anarchy and Global Extortion) from spreading worldwide havoc both domestically and abroad.
Story editor and head writer Michael Chain brought the animated concept to life, and the series ran for one season, and 65 episodes were released. The series was produced by Ruby-Spears Enterprises, an American-based entertainment production company specializing in animation. Initially, a five-part miniseries was created for a test market and debuted on April 14, 1986. Following the success of the five-part miniseries, a whole series was officially picked up as a syndicated cartoon.
Several A-list animation voice actors were cast, including Neil Ross (best known for the voice of Shipwreck) as John Rambo and Peter Cullen (best known for the voice of Optimus Prime), as Sergeant Havoc, Razor, Snakebite, and many more. Other great A-list voice actors in this all-star cast included Michael Ansara, James Avery, George DiCenzo, Edmund Gilbert, Robert Ito, Mona Marshall, Alan Oppenheimer, Lennie Weinrib, and Frank Welker.
The animated series also included Jerry Goldsmith’s original soundtrack and music score for the Rambo First Blood Part Two film, which was very rare at the time. In addition, other original music composed by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, was added to episodes. Haim Saban and Shuki Levy produced music for a large variety of popular animated TV shows in the 1980s, including Masters of the Universe, M.A.S.K., Kid Video, The Legend of Zelda, and many more.
Shortly following the animated series release, numerous controversies began to surface. Although the series’s violent nature was reduced to meet FCC standards for children, an animated series had never before been molded after a rated R film.
The cartoon inevitably caused contention and much debate with the production studio, as several staff writers were concerned about how they would successfully develop a troubled PTSD Vietnam War veteran lead character into a child-friendly series. It was challenged that animating a controversial R-rated film character as the lead protagonist would contradict traditional child-based programming. It was argued that in Rambo’s first on-screen appearance, he killed police, National Guard soldiers, and innocent bystanders after escaping an American police facility, then threatened suicide and destruction by attempting to blow himself and others up with dynamite.
It is also rumored that child psychologists were consulted during development and recommended that the animated program not reference the Vietnam War or any scenes from the first two R-rated films. The Rambo animated series creators worked very hard to focus their animation sequences and storylines more on action than violence compared to many other popular animated TV series at the time. Although the series produced primetime level viewing numbers and broke demographic records, the series was never renewed for a second season due to speculation around several controversies that developed around the show. Notably, no one was ever seriously hurt or killed in an episode of the show. However, the extreme popularity of the series, along with the controversy that accompanied it, attracted the attention of the “Action for Children’s Television” (ACT) organization. ACT was dedicated to improving the quality of children’s television programming by attacked the show’s credibility, putting much-unwanted heat and publicity on the ABC network.
Despite the extreme popularity of the series and Coleco toy line, with all of the negative publicity the show was receiving, ABC buried the remaining episodes in a middle of the night timeslot to air the remainder of the first and only season’s episodes.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment, who also owns the DVD rights to the Rambo films, later released the entire series on DVD in 2005. The DVDs featured six eleven-episode disks and were digitally remastered for home video.
Coleco Rambo TV Commercials
Coleco produced several 30-second TV commercials in 1986 to market the Rambo The Force of Freedom toy line featuring a mix of animation and live-action play. The commercials typically aired during afterschool programming and Saturday morning cartoons. An epic two-minute Promotional video was produced for toy fair and retailer sales promotion using the Iconic Jerry Goldsmith score, which was not used in other commercials promoting the line.
Collector's Price Guide
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|Image||Product Name||Alliance||Type||Series||Year||MLC||MIB / MWC||MISB / MOC|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Rambo-THUMB.jpg||Rambo RPG||The Force of Freedom||Action Figure||1||1986||$60||$70||$95||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Rambo-2-THUMB.jpg||Fire-Power Rambo||The Force of Freedom||Action Figure||1||1986||$60||$75||$130||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-fire-power-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986/|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Colonel-Trautman-THUMB.jpg||Colonel Trautman||The Force of Freedom||Action Figure||1||1986||$45||$58||$95||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-colonel-trautman-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Turbo-THUMB.jpg||Turbo||The Force of Freedom||Action Figure||1||1986||$45||$55||$75||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-turbo-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/KAT-THUMB.jpg||K.A.T.||The Force of Freedom||Action Figure||1||1986||$65||$75||$110||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-k-a-t-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/White-Dragon-THUMB.jpg||White Dragon||The Force of Freedom||Action Figure||1||1986||$60||$85||$135||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-white-dragon-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/General-Warhawk-THUMB.jpg||General Warhawk||S.A.V.A.G.E.||Action Figure||1||1986||$50||$65||$85||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-general-warhawk-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Sargeant-Havoc-THUMB.jpg||Sergeant Havoc||S.A.V.A.G.E.||Action Figure||1||1986||$50||$60||$110||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-sergeant-havoc-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Mad-Dog-THUMB.jpg||Mad Dog||S.A.V.A.G.E.||Action Figure||1||1986||$45||$55||$140||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-mad-dog-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Black-Dragon-THUMB.jpg||Black Dragon||S.A.V.A.G.E.||Action Figure||1||1986||$60||$85||$155||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-black-dragon-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Defender-6x6-Assault-Vehicle-THUMB.jpg||Defender 6x6 Assault Vehicle||The Force of Freedom||Vehicle||1||1986||$75||$115||$300||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-vehicle-defender-6x6-assault-vehicle-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Skyfire-THUMB.jpg||Skyfire Assault Copter||The Force of Freedom||Vehicle||1||1986||$150||$190||$300||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-vehicle-skyfire-assault-copter-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Skywolf-THUMB.jpg||Skywolf Assault Jet||The Force of Freedom||Vehicle||1||1986||$75||$110||$150||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-vehicle-skywolf-assault-jet-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Strike-Cycle-THUMB.jpg||S.A.V.A.G.E. Strike Cycle||S.A.V.A.G.E.||Vehicle||1||1986||$80||$120||$180||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-vehicle-s-a-v-a-g-e-strike-cycle-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/SAVAGE-Strike-Headquarters-THUMB.jpg||S.A.V.A.G.E. Strike Headquarters||S.A.V.A.G.E.||Playset||1||1986||$130||$160||$400||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-playset-s-a-v-a-g-e-strike-headquarters-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/50-Caliber-Anti-Aircraft-Gun-THUMB.jpg||.50 Caliber Anti-Aircraft Gun||Nutural||Accessories||1||1986||$12||$18||$30||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-accessory-50-caliber-anti-aircraft-gun-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/50-Caliber-Machine-Gun-THUMB.jpg||.50 Caliber Machine Gun M2||Nutural||Accessories||1||1986||$12||$18||$30||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-accessory-50-caliber-machine-gun-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/106mm-Recoilless-Anti-Tank-Gun-THUMB.jpg||106mm Recoilless Anti-Tank Gun||Nutural||Accessories||1||1986||$18||$25||$45||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-accessory-106mm-recoilless-rifle-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1986|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Twin-Mounted-Machine-Gun-THUMB.jpg||Twin-Mounted 7.62mm Machine Gun||Nutural||Accessories||2||1987||$35||$50||$110||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-vehicle-twin-mounted-7-62mm-machine-gun-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1987/|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/20mm-Automatic-Cannon-THUMB.jpg||20mm Automatic Cannon||Nutural||Accessories||2||1987||$35||$50||$110||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-vehicle-20mm-automatic-cannon-360-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1987|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Tri-Tracker-THUMB.jpg||Tri-Tracker Heat-Seeking Missile Launcher||The Force of Freedom||Vehicle||2||1987||$30||$55||$90||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-vehicle-tri-tracker-heat-seeking-missile-launcher-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1987|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/TD-Jackson-THUMB.jpg||T.D. Jackson||The Force of Freedom||Action Figure||2||1987||$190||$210||$350||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-t-d-jackson-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1987|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Chief-THUMB.jpg||Chief||The Force of Freedom||Action Figure||2||1987||$230||$250||$350||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-chief-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1987|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Whip-Action-Warhawk-THUMB.jpg||Whip-Action Warhawk||S.A.V.A.G.E.||Action Figure||2||1987||$190||$210||$350||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-whip-action-warhawk-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1987|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Dr-Hyde-THUMB.jpg||Dr. Hyde||S.A.V.A.G.E.||Action Figure||2||1987||$300||$330||$550||https://retrotoyquest.com/action-figure-dr-hyde-rambo-the-force-of-freedom-coleco-1987|
|https://x7s81d.p3cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Missing-Item-THUMB.jpg||The Whole Collection||NA||SERIES 1&2 TOTAL||1||1986||$2,849||$3,442||$5,810|
How To Use This Price Guide
MLC = “Mint Loose Condition” This is when the action figure or Vehicle is in excellent condition, and is loose and “complete” with all original accessories, but without the packaging and original included paperwork.
MIB = “Mint in box” This is when the collectible is in excellent condition, and is loose and “complete” with all original accessories and original included paperwork.
MWC = “Mint with Card Back” This is when an action figure os is excellent condition, and is loose and “complete” with all original accessories, however included the original card back fully intact. If the original blister bubble is intact, It can bring additional value depending on the condition of the blister bubble.
MISB = “Mint in Sealed Box” This is when the Collectible is in excellent condition, and is factory sealed and was never opened or used.
MOC = “Mint on card” This Is when the action figure is in excellent condition and is factory sealed and it’s original blister bubble and was never opened or used.
COMPLETE = “Complete” This is when the collectible is 100% complete with all of its accessories. Additional paperwork included with the original package does increase the overall value but does not necessarily consider the item complete
DISCLAIMER: All values are estimated by Retro Toy Quest and subject to change and discrepancy, depending on the advanced nature of any collector.