After the He-Man craze died out, Mattel was no longer the forerunner of the toy industry. Instead, a new franchise swept the market, introducing silly anthropomorphic creatures to the public. With the rising popularity of creative, outlandish toys, Mattel decided to experiment and create a new unique toy line, the Food Fighters, in 1988.
While most toy lines featured fantasy creatures, mutated animals, and other living creatures, Mattel decided to focus on keystone pieces of the American diet. These toys did not lie about presenting combat at its kookiest. With the Food Fighters, they reenvisioned one of the most iconic parts of childhood, the food fight. Mattel’s Food Fighters presented a war between two delectable groups: the Kitchen Commandos and the Refrigerator Rejects.
The heroes of this toy line were the Kitchen Commandos, who wore green sleeves with back boots. Leading this group into battle was the Burgerdier General, who resembled a standard hamburger. Under him were Major Munch the chocolate donut, Sergeant Scoop the double-scoop ice cream cone, Private Pizza the slice of pizza, and Lieutenant Legg the fried chicken leg.
The Kitchen Commandos heroically defended the kitchen against the Refrigerator Rejects, who wore black sleeves with brown boots. Unlike the Commandos, this team did not have a General leading the charge. Instead, there were multiple foods ready to cause trouble. The Refrigerator Rejects had Short Stack the stack of pancakes, Mean Weener the hot dog, Chip-the-Ripper the chocolate chip cookie, Fat Frenchy the carton of French fries, and Taco Terror the taco.
Mattel produced four different variant colors for the Food Fighters action figures. While the standard Sergeant scope was a vanilla and chocolate scoop cone, there was a variant with a green and orange sherbet theme. There was also a Major Munch that had a pink frosting paint job. Chip-the-Ripper also received a variant form, which resembled a double chocolate chip cookie. They also released a Short Stack with blueberry syrup instead of maple syrup.
Completing the toy line were three different vehicles that the Food Fighters could take into combat. Mattel designed two vehicles for the Kitchen Commandos. First, there was the Combat Carton, which reenvisioned an egg carton as a battle tank. Then, there was the Fry Copter, a hodgepodge of cooking utensils. While a pot served as the main body of the helicopter, spatulas were used as the propellers and it had hot dog links for landing gear. It also used tomato soup cans as bombs.
Meanwhile, the Refrigerator Rejects only had one vehicle, the BBQ Bomber. This vehicle resembled a BBQ grill that could carry one of these rotten Food Fighters into battle. This evil assault vehicle sent shish kabobs flying as ammunition. It also carried two hot dogs at its sides and had a spatula that could fling more food at the Commandos.
Mattel released the Food Fighters on colorful card backs, which featured character bios on the back of each card. The enclosed Food Fighters action figures were made of soft vinyl plastics, which could easily be squeezed. Each figure then came with two accessories: a weapon and a backpack.
Mattel had planned a refrigerator playset, but the toy line was canceled before the product was ready for release. This massive playset was briefly seen in Mattel’s 1989 Toy Catalog. While it never went into production, a fan-led initiative by Bamm Toyco created an unofficial recreation using 3-D printing technology.
Unfortunately, the Food Fighters did not receive any multimedia promotions, aside from animated commercials. Without any additional support and their whacky premise, the Food Fighters did not survive past their first series. Likewise, there are no signs that the Food Fighters will ever be revived and returned to the toy aisle.
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