Remco produced all sorts of toys in the 50s & 60s, but also came out with many action figure lines throughout the 1980s. They are probably best known for their AWA All Star Wrestlers, Crystar, Karate Kid, Mantech and Universal Monsters action figure lines, but over the years have released many other lines that are not as widely known. One thing that Remco did very well was take advantage of the GI Joe and Masters of the Universe action figure craze of the early 1980s by coming up with similar figure lines that could be integrated with them. These figure lines are starting to gain popularity from collectors today, with many of the lesser known lines being highly sought after.
The 6" Figure Lines
Masters of the Universe was one of the best selling figure lines in the mid 1980s and Remco was able to come out with compatible figure lines that can still be hard to distinguish from He-Man figures to the untrained eye. The most popular of these was their Lost World of the Warlord line from 1982 that included 6 figures, a Warpult catapult and a few different Warteam sets (horse and figure two-packs). They had acquired the license from DC comics which were based on characters from the comic book series of the same name (as well as a few other comic characters like Hercules and Arak). The companion line to the Warlord series were their enemies and called Warrior Beasts. There were eleven figures in the line as well as the Fire Dragon lizard, the Journey Through Time Playset and also a Warbeast two-pack.
On the cardbacks of these figures, Remco advertised a number of their other compatible figure lines that were all individually numbered so to seem as a part of a larger collection. Conan, one of the sets that is the most collectible today, included five figures, two of which were variants of Conan. The Conan cardbacks also advertised a War Stallion and War Dragon which look to have been borrowed from the Warlord and Crystar figure lines. Pirates of the Galaxseas was another set of six figures Remco came up with. The two skeleton figures - Ribs and Crossbones were two of the best sculpted figures from anything Remco came out with. A Vikings figure line was advertised on some cardbacks, but looks to have never been produced. It would have included only four figures in the line.
There were a few other figure lines advertised on the Remco cardbacks that are not quite as popular as the other sets mentioned above. The Mighty Crusaders was one of the largest of these and included eight figures in total. The figures were based on the superheros from the Archie comics of the 1960s. Another was dubbed Secret of the Ninja and was basically a set of six various karate and ninja figures. Remco's Robot Defenders line also had a total of six figures that were split into two factions - Robot Defenderss and Robot Renegades. Finally, there was a set of eight figures, half dubbed the Sarge Team and the other half The Bad Guys
. These were basically the larger versions of Remco's 3 3/4" lines of the same name.
The 3 3/4" Figure Lines
Remco released many different 3 3/4" military figure lines to keep up with the popularity of GI Joe. The best known of these were the Sgt. Rock figure line and their adversaries The Bad Guys from 1982. This was another case of Remco acquiring the license from the DC Comic series of the same name. There were around eighteen figures released under the Sgt Rock banner, though only a few were actual characters from the comic series. There was also a carry case that opened up into a playset, five or so mini playsets as well as three or four different vehicles. From the Bad Guys series, there were eight figures in total. Two waves of figures included four in each series with the second being harder to find. Of the three vehicles and three mini playsets that were released, most were re-colored or re-packaged versions from the Sgt. Rock line.
American Defense was one of Remco's generic military lines from 1986. There were quite a few different figures released as well as a number of vehicles. Many of these figures were re-colored and re-packaged for the U.S. Forces line from the same year, U.S. Military line from 1989 as well as the Commando Force line that was packaged for Sears in 1988. These lines still showed up in store shelves in the early 1990s under the names of Desert Patrol and Desert Storm.
Ninja Strike Force was released in 1986 and focused more on karate and ninja figures than military ones. The cardback advertises only six figures in the set, and they fit in well with the later GI Joes such as Ninja Force. Remco's take on the Gobots came in the form of ZybotsZ in 1984. A six figure box set was released which combined together to form the giant robot called Multiforce. There were also various other robots released, many of which looked very similar to their Gobot counterparts
Remco is considered by some as the action figure "knock-off" kings of the 1980s. However, they did it very well, so well in fact that many of the above mentioned lines are highly sought after by small groups of collectors today. The detail and quality put into these figure lines sometimes even surpassed the originals they were meant to imitate. I for one hope to add many more of these to my collection in the years to come!