Years after Daniel LaRusso proved that he was the best around, the first Karate Kid toys hit store shelves. During the production of the first movie, which debuted in 1984, none expected the film to become a cultural phenomenon. While writer Robert Mark Kamen crafted a touching tale that harkened back to his childhood, he did not expect the film to become a sleeper hit. Instead, he emphasized the necessity for balance in both spirit and body in martial arts, as his sensei had taught him.
As the original film grossed over a hundred million dollars, the Karate Kid officially became a franchise. As they developed the sequel film, the production team decided to cash in and open the doors to merchandising. So, they set out to find the right company to bring the Karate Kid to toy stores. Luckily, Remco rose to take on the challenge of creating toys of these karate masters.
Years later, The Karate Kid franchise has become a massive franchise. Beyond the five films, the franchise has also spawned a less than successful cartoon and hit streaming series. Moreover, multiple companies have joined in to create merchandise for the film. Especially in recent years, fans have enjoyed a wide selection of toys from companies like NECA and Diamond Select. Still, the original toy line from the 1980s holds a special place in fans’ hearts. So, join us as we explore the top ten toys from The Karate Kid franchise.
Presenting the top ten toys that represented characters and scenes from The Karate Kid Franchise
10. Hot Wheel’s The Karate Kid ’48 Ford De Luxe (2014)
In 2013, Hot Wheels introduced a new line that featured miniature models that centered around famous cars from hit movies. They dubbed this new series the “Retro Entertainment” line, for it featured pop culture from the sixties to the eighties. Thus, noteworthy vehicles like K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and the Batmobile from Adam West’s Batman series hit store shelves.
After a successful first year, Hot Wheels brought back the line-up with new movie vehicles. Amongst the 2014 selection was a seemingly demure ’48 Ford Super De Luxe. Unlike many of the other vehicles, this car never raced through the streets. Instead, Daniel LaRusso learned how to block by meticulously waxing this yellow vehicle. Later in the first film, Mr. Miyagi gifted this car to his pupil as a reward for earning his driver’s license.
Hot Wheels created a 1:64 scale toy version of Mr. Miyagi’s classic car for their Retro Entertainment toy line. Later, they repurposed this same mold to create the car that Biff drove in Back to the Future. While the black repaints of this toy enjoyed two releases, one in 2014 and another in 2019, Mr. Miyagi’s car never returned to the toy line.
9. Remco’s The Karate Kid Competition Center (1986)
As the tension between Daniel LaRusso and Cobra Kai mounted, they both entered the All Valley Karate Tournament to settle things once and for all in the ring. As per the agreement with Mr. Miyagi, John Kreese had his students leave LaRusso alone while he trained for the tournament. Despite the temporary peace, the bitter feelings between Johnny Lawrence and Daniel never vanished.
As Daniel LaRusso fought his way to the finals, John Kreese noticed the potential threat LaRusso presented. Thus, he had one of his students, Bobby Brown, attempt to put Daniel down for good with a vicious kick to the knee. While he hoped this would force Daniel to default in the finals, the boy fought through the pain and returned to fight. Thus, the final showdown between Johnny and Daniel occurred on the mat of this karate tournament.
Seeing the importance of this scene, Remco created a playset that gave their action figures a stage from the movie. Setting the scene, the playset included a cardboard cutout that formed the audience for the tournament. Meanwhile, the set included an official karate mat/arena and an official karate scoreboard pad.
Most importantly, this set contained an exclusive action figure that appeared nowhere else in the toy line. To fully recreate the decisive moments of the film, Remco created an action figure that resembled the referee from the tournament. While it did not include the tri-action features like the rest of the line, this action figure was fully poseable.
8. Remco’s The Karate Kid Sato (1986)
Six months after overcoming his tormentors at Cobra Kai, Daniel LaRusso learned about the events that brought Mr. Miyagi to the United States. When the man lived in Okinawa, he fell in love with a woman, Yukie. Unfortunately, Yukie’s parents had already betrothed her to another man: Sato, the son of the wealthiest family in the village. As Mr. Miyagi announced his intentions to marry Yukie, Sato insisted on defending his honor with a fight to the death. Fearing for his life, Mr. Miyagi fled from Okinawa in shame, leaving behind his old life and Yukie.
When Mr. Miyagi received word that his father was on his death bed, Daniel accompanied his sensei to help support him as he returned to his hometown. Not long after the pair arrived on the island, Sato resurfaced to challenge Mr. Miyagi anew. Sato never forgot the dishonorable actions of Mr. Miyagi, so he insisted that the two finish the fight. To keep Mr. Miyagi from fleeing again, Sato held the town hostage, threatening to destroy it.
As the man posed a great threat to Mr. Miyagi, Remco decided to create an action figure of the man. This action figure wore an official karate outfit, that closely resembled the gi that he occasionally wore in the film. As Remco included with each Karate Kid figure, this action figure featured a break-away chain that helped highlight his karate chop action. Moreover, this action figure included one of the lessons from the “Secrets of Miyagi” Scroll.
7. Remco’s The Karate Kid Chozen (1986)
As Mr. Miyagi dealt with the sins of his past, Daniel LaRusso made new connections, both good and bad at Okinawa. On the bright side, Daniel met up with Kumiko, the niece of Mr. Miyagi’s former love, Yukie. As she taught Daniel the traditional O-bon dance, the two of them fell in love. This connection grew even stronger as the two participated in a traditional tea ceremony.
On the other hand, Daniel gained a deadly adversary as he agitated Sato’s nephew, Chozen Toguchi. From the moment that Daniel set foot on Okinawa, Chozen opposed him. While Daniel supported his sensei, Mr. Miyagi, Chozen sided with his uncle, believing that Miyagi was a coward. The strife between them only intensified as Daniel discovered that Chozen swindled money out of the town’s farmers at his grocery store. However, the rivalry became deadly after Sato disowned Chozen for refusing to assist Daniel in saving a child.
Bolstering their toy line, Remco included Chozen in the 1986 Karate Kid toy line. As the sequel debuted that same year, they wanted to cash in on the renewed wave of interest. Their Chozen action figure wore a karate gi that closely resembled the final outfit that Cozen wore during the O-bon festival, though it lacked some details. To help emphasize Chozen’s Karate actions, the action figure came with a break-away board. Furthermore, the packaging included a lesson from the “Secrets of Miyagi” scroll.
6. Remco’s The Karate Kid John Kreese (1986)
Not long after Daniel LaRusso and his mother moved to Reseda, California, Daniel began to suffer from bullying. Most of his tormentors took karate lessons from a local dojo, Cobra Kai. There, they learned life lessons from their sensei, John Kreese, who emphasized showing no mercy to enemies. As a Vietnam War veteran, the man developed a philosophy to strike first and show no weakness to his enemies. Thus, he taught his militaristic viewpoint to his students.
Kreese demanded the best from his students, especially those at the top of the class like Johnny Lawrence. To ensure victory, he encouraged his students to break the rules and disable their opponents. Thus, he requested that one of his students disqualify himself by injuring Daniel’s leg. He then ordered Johnny to sweep the leg and take advantage of the injury. He became dangerously angry when Johnny Lawrence failed to secure the All Valley Karate championship.
Even though John Kreese never directly fought against Daniel LaRusso, he served as Daniel’s most dangerous foe. In many ways, Kreese’s philosophy proved more threatening than his fighting skills.
So, Remco included him within their basic series of Karate Kid action figures. As with all the other figures, he featured three available karate actions. This toy also came with a break-away wall that helped highlight his karate actions, like the kick. Finally, the packaging included a new lesson from one of the “Secrets of Miyagi” scrolls.
5. NECA’s The Karate Kid Mr. Miyagi (2019)
As Daniel LaRusso settled into his new home at the South Seas Apartment building in Reseda, California, he soon met with the maintenance man, Mr. Miyagi. Initially, they had little interaction, for Daniel only saw Mr. Miyagi as a kind old man. However, their relationship fully bloomed after Mr. Miyagi saved Daniel from a vicious beating. Fending off all the top students from the Cobra Kai dojo, Mr. Miyagi proved that he was a master of martial arts.
When Daniel fully recovered from his beating, he begged that Mr. Miyagi take him up as a student. However, the man initially refused to take on a student. Only after accompanying Daniel to the Cobra Kai Dojo, where he met the combative John Kreese, did Mr. Miyagi agree to train Daniel. Thus, he began having Daniel perform chores around his house, though he gave him specific instructions on what movements to perform while finishing these chores. Even though Daniel believed that Mr. Miyagi had wasted his time, the man had been building up Daniel’s muscle memory by having him repeat the moves that became his basic blocks.
In celebration of the man who taught Daniel how to build up not only his body but also his spirit, NECA designed a Mr. Miyagi action figure. This large action figure wore the brown overalls that Mr. Miyagi often wore while maintaining the apartment building. The action figure also came with a pair of chopsticks as well as a Bonsai Tree.
4. NECA’s The Karate Kid Johnny Lawrence (2019)
Midway through the first film, one of the most iconic scenes occurred. After weeks of tormenting Daniel LaRusso, the new kid in town, Johnny Lawrence and his fellow Cobra Kai members all dressed up as skeletons as they attended the school’s Halloween dance. When Johnny decided to slip away into the bathroom to smoke a joint, Daniel struck back. Grabbing a hose attached to one of the bathroom sinks, Daniel drenched Johnny in water.
Enraged, Johnny Lawrence chased after Daniel, rallying his fellow Cobra Kai members to join in the chase. After they caught up to Daniel in an open field outside the school, they began to viciously beat up the boy. As they beat up Daniel, they caught the eye of Mr. Miyagi, who leaped over the fence and single-handedly fended off all the Cobra Kai students. Running off in shame, Johnny’s hatred of Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi only grew.
As NECA earned the chance to create The Karate Kid toys for collectors, they aimed to harken back to the movie’s iconic scenes. Thus, when they crafted their Johnny Lawrence action figure, they decided to give him a look that had not appeared in toy form before. Faithfully recreating the boy’s skeleton outfit, they recreated the feel of the iconic scene. The toy also included a headset accessory.
3. Remco’s The Karate Kid Mr. Miyagi (1986)
Having grown up in a small village in Okinawa, Mr. Miyagi learned the traditional martial arts of his family alongside another student, Sato. Unfortunately, his life on the island ended after Mr. Miyagi fled from a fight to the death. While he had fallen in love with Yukie, he was unwilling to put his life or the life of his former friend, Sato, on the line. Instead, he left Okinawa in shame as he moved to the United States. Before settling down in California, Mr. Miyagi served in the United States Army as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, where he earned several commendations, including a medal of honor. During his time in the army, he formed a close bond with his commanding officer, Lt. Jack Pierce.
In his senior years, Mr. Miyagi’s life became much more serene. He worked as a maintenance man in California when he met up with a troubled young man, Daniel LaRusso. After becoming the boy’s sensei, Mr. Miyagi passed down his knowledge of martial arts and inner balance. Later, he picked up another student in Boston, Julie Pierce. Each of his students grew to love and respect the man for his teachings.
Understanding the key importance of Mr. Miyagi in the movies, Remco included him in their toy line. Mr. Miyagi appeared several times, wearing multiple clothing styles. Some of these action figures wore blue pants while others wore white pants. As with all other Karate Kid action figures, Mr. Miyagi featured the tri-action gimmick. He also came with accessories, like the Break-Away Pole and a lesson from the “Secrets of the Miyagi” scroll.
2. Remco’s The Karate Kid Daniel (1986)
When it comes to The Karate Kid franchise, no character holds as much importance as the titular karate kid himself, Daniel LaRusso. While a few other characters have starred in the movies, Daniel would remain the first and only one with the title. However, his character did not begin as an expert in martial arts.
When Daniel LaRusso and his mother moved to California, Daniel only ever took a beginner’s course in karate from his local YMCA. These lessons failed to prepare him for the torment that trained martial artists like Johnny Lawrence would put him through. While Daniel knew how to throw a punch, he could not properly block or defend himself against the likes of Cobra Kai. Luckily, he soon found a sensei who would help him overcome his adversaries.
After receiving a severe beating from Johnny Lawrence and his gang, Mr. Miyagi fended off the boys and showed that he was a martial arts expert. Daniel begged Mr. Miyagi to train him, but only the abrasive attitude of John Kreese convinced the man to take Daniel up as his student. Thanks to his lessons in Miyagi-Do, Daniel gained the expertise to not only stand up for himself but also become the All Valley Karate Champion, twice.
Unsurprisingly, Remco created several variants of Daniel LaRusso for The Karate Kid toy line. While some of these toys wore an all-white karate gi, as Daniel wore in the finals, others wore a red gi. Moreover, some of these figures had a molded-on shirt while others were bare-chested under the gi. As with the rest of the line, Daniel featured the tri-action gimmick that gave him multiple karate moves. The toy also came with accessories, like the Break-Away Wood and a lesson from the “Secrets of Miyagi” scrolls.
1. Diamond Select’s Cobra Kai SDCC set with Johnny Lawrence, John Kreese, and Daniel LaRusso (2021)
With the recent resurgence of The Karate Kid love thanks to Cobra Kai, many fans have sought out new merchandise from the franchise. However, none held as strong of a punch as Diamond Select’s recent SDCC exclusive set from 2021. Bringing the excitement of the new series home, Diamond Selects crafted detailed figures of three of the main characters from both the new show and the old movies.
Representing the forces of Cobra Kai, this set featured both Johnny Lawrence and John Kreese. Even inside the box, these two figures stood in front of an impressive backdrop that presented the mantra from the dojo. Both action figures also wear the black gi of Cobra Kai.
By opening the box even further, owners found Daniel LaRusso in a panoramic display that resembled Mr. Miyagi’s dojo. Like the traditional architecture of Japan, the box mimicked the wooden doors of the dojo. Surrounding Daniel were also two scrolls that harkened back to Mr. Miyagi. In contrast to the Cobra Kai members, Daniel wears his white karate gi, similar to the one he wore as a child.
Each of these figures came with an action stand along with extra hands. They also all featured a wide range of articulation. So, users could stage these figures in multiple ways to recreate the iconic scenes from both the films and the series.
What were your favorite toys from The Karate Kid franchise?
Today, we have shared with you our picks for the top ten toys that brought The Karate Kid to life. Each of these excellent figures brought the excitement of the movies home. However, we would love to hear from you. What were your favorite toys from The Karate Kid? Let us know in the comments below.
Do you have old and used The Karate Kid toys?
If you have a collection of old and used toys, you can turn those toys into cash. There is no reason to let those old toys collect dust. Contact us today to sell your collection of The Karate Kid toys.
Made in collaboration with:
Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!