Before Comics on the Brain ever got a single “Star Wars” toy, we were already playing with action figures.
For most people, the action figure industry really exploded with the “Star Wars” phenomenon, but not for the prepubescent CotBer. Instead, we had already invested some serious playtime with the likes of the Six Million Dollar Man and a Mego or two.
But for some reason, we never really went bananas with the 12-inch sized action figures. Instead, we enjoyed the portability of the smaller guys, a trait that didn’t start with “Star Wars.”
Our first dive into the pocket-sized wonders came from the Fisher-Price line known as “The Adventure People.” This line wasn’t based on a movie, TV show or even a comic book. Instead, it just took its inspiration from the “action heroes” of real life — pilots, firemen, stunt men and even some “heroic” kayakers.
The line’s generic nature is what made it so appealing and long lasting. With no storyline to be tied too, it was up to the kids to decide what happened. If they wanted the fireman to be a murderer, that was A-OK. If the motorcycle jockey was the one who needed to die, then he was toast. The Adventure People figures were tools to building a story, not tools to re-enact a story that was already complete.
The line debuted in 1975, and it was around then that CotB got one of its most popular sets — the safari team. That play set included a Jeep-type vehicle with a tow-behind camper tent, several animals, a cage and a few other items. We remember playing with that for hours in the front room on the pea-green carpet. The set’s lion was always escaping his cage and mauling all the people, only to be roadkilled by the Jeep and barbequed shortly thereafter.
The Adventure People was adaptable too. As “Star Wars” gained popularity, astronauts, robots and space ships were produced. Those sets were so cool that CotB even transferred one of the robots into our Star Wars Darth Vader carrying case, where he quickly became a key member of the Empire’s elite brute squad.
Sadly, about a decade after its debut, the Adventure People line was cancelled. At the time, the action figure world was dominated by toy lines — such as He-Man, G.I. Joe and Transformers — that had the benefit of syndicated afternoon cartoons to boost their sales. Kids weren’t interested in generic toys anymore. They wanted name-brand heroism, and that’s exactly what the Adventure People weren’t.
Over the years, thanks to eBay and plenty of yard sales, CotB has assembled a pretty big collection of Adventure People. Currently it fills about two and a half 18 gallon tubs and easily includes 30 or 40 figures and 15 or more vehicles.
Now, with this vast collection of 1970s style Macho Men and Ladies of Danger in our hands, we’ve often considered making a series of photo-webcomics to track the thrills of living in a suburban back yard. The Adventure People would have to watch out for everything from toy-devouring lawnmowers to sandbox surprises left by the neighbor’s cats. Could be fun, but at the moment, it’s not likely to happen. Still, it’s something that’s been brewing in our head for a while.
To test our idea of these Suburban Commandos, CotB dragged the entire
collection outside one afternoon and started taking some diorama style
pictures of the Adventure People team.
Hope you enjoy the pics!
Perhaps the best toys ever made.