Mighty Crusaders Action Figures?

By | Thursday, August 06, 2020 Leave a Comment
Back in 1984, apparently to compete with Kenner's Super Powers and Mattel's Secret Wars action figure lines, Remco obtained the license for and produced a small run of figures based on Archie Comics' Mighty Crusaders!
Mighty Crusaders action figures
Michael Neno pointed these out recently on a Facebook post, and I was genuinely surprised I don't recall ever hearing about these. I was never a big Crusaders fan, but they were apparently sold primarily at Kmart, which was a store my family frequented a fair amount back in the '70s and early '80s. (They were cheap, very close, and frankly there weren't many other options we could reasonably get to back then.) So even though I didn't read any Crusaders comics, I was in the Kmart toy aisle pretty regularly in 1984-85. It's possible I did see them and dismissed them out of hand as cheap knock-offs because the production on these is, by all accounts, inferior.

You can clearly see the figure proportions are awkward. Like they were aiming for mimicking the broad/squat He-Man figures, but those figures, while not realistically proportioned, were proportioned well unto themselves. Here, the heads are too big, while the legs are far too short and narrow, and connect at the hip uncomfortably. Not to mention just being crudely sculpted with sloppy paint jobs. Not that Remco was ever known for producing high-quality toys! And when they were competing directly agaist better quality figures from Kenner and Mattel, who had more popular licenses, it's no real surprise these figures found their way to the discount bins really quickly.

(As an aside, Remco was no stranger to comic book licenses. They had produced the "Energized Spider-Man" in 1978, "instant" Hulk muscles in 1979, Sgt. Rock and Warlord action figure lines in 1982, and Crystar action figures in 1983. The Warlord figures more closely resemble the He-Man proportions, so I can't imagine how/why they missed so badly on the Crusaders. They literally could have re-purposed the Warlord bodies mold and been miles ahead, both in terms of sculpting quality and cost savings!)

While the Mighty Crusaders as a group didn't appear until late 1965, some of the individual characters date back to the early 1940s. Interestingly, the original characters were largely born out of the desire to ride the coattails of the success of Superman and Batman. When they were brought together as a team in 1965, it was done because of the success of The Justice League of America and The Avengers. That 1960s title lasted a scant seven issues (with a few appearances in other comics) before it was cancelled. The title was brought back in 1983, apparently designed specifically to promote the upcoming toy line, much the way Secret Wars was developed. That version lasted thirteen issues. A 1992 series lasted eight issues.

Action figure card back
It would seem that the Mighty Crusaders, always trying to follow trends and seemingly never trying anything that isn't derivative, is always behind the curve enough that they're never very successful. Both in comics and in action figures.

There is one interesting thing of note to comic fans about these otherwise pedestrian and generally unremarkable action figures. The illustrations on the back of the card showcasing the entire figure line were by none other than Steve Ditko! I daresay this is the best these heroes ever looked! Thanks for bringing all this to my attention, Michael!
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