In 1983, the A-Team stormed onto television and created one of the hottest sensations to date. Created by Stephen J. Cannel and Frank Lupo, the series began airing on NBC in January 1983. It aimed to ramp up the excitement with tons of explosions of bullets. Aiming to remain family-friendly, there were never any scenes of death or displays of blood.
The A-Team was a band of four former United States Army Special Forces who had the misfortune of being charged with a crime that they had not committed. Instead, an official mission that they undertook during the Vietnam War led to their sentencing. Feeling betrayed, they broke out of prison to become soldiers of fortune operating out of the Los Angeles underground.
The team was led by strategist and master of disguise John “Hannibal” Smith, played by George Peppard. His second in command was acquisitions specialist and accountant Arthur Templeton “Faceman” Peck, played by Dirk Benedict. Dwight Schultz played H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock, the trusted pilot for the group. Finally, there was their mechanic Bosco Albert “Bad Attitude” Baracus, played by Mr. T. The entire team drove around in an iconic grey, black, and red GMC van.
The rising popularity of Mr. T along with the exciting action quickly made the A-Team a success. Even before the show began airing, the producers believed in its potential. So, they set out to market the show with a wide variety of toys and other memorabilia.
The main home for the A-Team toy line was Galoob, a toy company from San Francisco, California. Excited about the upcoming series, Galoob created a two-tier toy line. They set to work creating action figures of the main cast from the series. They also created a brand new set of villains, “The Bad Guys”, for the team to fight. These villains were all named after snakes: Cobra, Viper, Python, and Rattler.
The basic action figures for this line were 3 ¾” action figures similar in style to G.I. Joe. These figures came in two sets. The first had all four members of the A-Team, labeled the “Soldiers of Fortune”. Meanwhile, the second had the entire cast of “the Bad Guys”. Accompanying these action figures were a wide range of vehicles and other accessories.
Galoob also released a series of 6” action figures with more detail than the smaller figures. Notably, Amy “Triple A” Allen, a reporter that originally followed the team’s exploits, only appeared as a 6” action figure. Galoob also created several vehicles for the 6” figures, such as the Off-Road Attack Bike.
Galloob created a toy of the A-Team’s GMC van at both the 3 ¾” scale and 6” scale. The larger van had more features, including a removable roof so the figures could sit inside. Unlike the vehicle from the show, this van was only black with red stripes.
On the larger scale was a 12” action figure of Mr. T. Galoob also produced a couple of activity accessories. For instance, there was a Target Game set, which included a toy that closely resembled a rifle. This set fired both darts and toy grenades. Then, there was the Action Train Set and more.
Unfortunately, Galoob’s toy line was troubled with both pricing and manufacturing issues. The action figures were not created with the best sculpting or plastic, so they did not accurately capture the characters from the show. Moreover, the packs were priced well above those of competing toy lines. Thus, several parts of Galoob’s toy line, especially the accessory packs, have become rare collectibles.
While the toy line was active, Galoob licensed its toys to a few different international companies. In most of Europe and Australia, Croner Toys released the A-Team toys. Meanwhile, Glasslite licensed the line and released it as the Esquadrao Classe A in Brazil. Glasslite’s line featured several toys that never appeared in America, including a boat and a Porche.
In addition to Galoob, several other companies had their hand in creating A-Team toys. Around the same time that Galoob was producing their toys, ERTL released a die-cast vehicle of the A-Team’s van. The team’s vehicles also appeared in LJN’s SwitchForce, an offshoot of their Rough Riders line. Furthermore, there was a racing track set created by Tyco and dozens of miscellaneous activities and other toys.
There was even a short-lived comic book series from Marvel. On March 1984, the company released the only three issues of the series that they would ever produce. However, the UK comics lasted for 18 issues. The A-Team would later return to the comic book medium when IDW launched a new series in 2010.
While the excitement for the A-Team died with the series in 1987, the legacy lived on. In 2010, a brand new version of the team appeared on movie screens with the movie from 20th Century Fox. While the movie never gained a sequel, Fox announced that they planned to create a brand new televised series in 2015. While that series never materialized, the A-Team made an appearance in two toy lines in 2016: Lego Dimensions and Funko Pop!
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