Most of my toy-related childhood memories involve my older brother Doug. We shared a bedroom well into our teens, were into all the same stuff, and we always played together. All of the major toy lines from our youth (G.I. Joe, Star Wars, WWF, etc.) we collected jointly. But as the 80s began winding down my interests and Doug’s interests began to differ. We both still liked the stuff we grew up on and continued to play with those collections together but I was also interested in collecting new toy lines while Doug was more interested in going to the roller skating rink with hopes of winning the love of Jody Trethewey (spoiler alert: he didn’t).
By the late 80s and early 90s I related more to my little brother Brian when it came to toy collecting. I remember the first time we saw the commercial for Mattel’s Food Fighter figures. Doug couldn’t have cared less but Brian and I were stoked about this imaginative new toy line. The premise was essentially food soldiers fighting food terrorists. It was like a wackier food-based version of G.I. Joe. One reason it appealed to me was because it reminded me of a creation of my own. As a kid I dreamed up a super hero named Captain Carrot who wasn’t much more than a carrot with a cape. The Captain patrolled the Kitchen Cosmos, protecting its denizens from the likes of the evil egg brothers and the animal cracker gang. I still think it’s a great idea for an animated series that I may have to revisit one day.
It’s a real shame that the Food Fighters never got a cartoon themselves as I imagine it would’ve been fun. Seeing the Kitchen Commandos, led by the heroic Burgerdier General, defend the counter top from the evil Mean Weener and his Refrigerator Rejects would have made for some exciting Saturday morning viewing I’m sure.
Mattel only produced a single wave of Food fighters consisting of 10 figures and 3 vehicles. If memory serves, both Brian and I got 2 figures each in our Easter basket’s one year. It’s possible that we only got one figure each initially and then got our second figures later but I’m pretty sure we got all four at once. I can say with absolute certainty that for Easter 1989 I got Mean Weener and Brian got Burgerdier General.
I recall being immediately disappointed with Mean Weener. I was expecting a toy of similar quality to a Ninja Turtle but instead I got a crappy dog toy. The Food Fighters were made of soft hollow plastic that felt super cheap. Dinky unarticulated human arms and legs were tacked onto their squishy bodies and they didn’t look natural at all. Even the paint job was poorly done. They came with very generic G.I. Joe style guns and backpacks. All that aside, I did like the design of the characters and it was a fun concept; it was just executed poorly. It’s no real surprise that it didn’t catch on in a big way.
This is why I think we must’ve got all four figures at once. Because I was so disappointed with Mean Weener that I didn’t feel the need to collect any more Food Fighters. However, it is possible that our parents bought us our second figures sometime later for completing a chore or something. I believe Brian’s secondary Food Fighter was Private Pizza and I think he also got Terror Taco and maybe even Major Munch eventually. My second and last Food Fighter was this pile of evil pancakes, Short Stack.
I really like the design of Short Stack. It’s actually a very innovative and creative sculpt. They could’ve went with a big, flat, round, walking pancake but instead we got this syrup drenched stack of pancakes. His facial features are tucked in between the layers and his nose is a big glob of syrup dripping down between his eyes. On the top of his flat head he has a black hat (as all the bad guys did) and a melting pat of butter. I say again, it’s a really neat design for a character.
Unfortunately Short Stack suffers from the same deficiency as all the other toys in the line in that he’s essentially a squeaky dog toy. The mal-proportioned human arms and legs actually look kind of creepy poking out the sides of this figure.
I got rid of my Food Fighter figures ages ago but I reacquired both of them this summer at a flea market. As ghetto as these toys are they are pretty neat looking and I thought they’d be fun to write about. My flea market version of Short Stack is missing his accessories and his feet are warped so he doesn’t stand very well but it’s still kind of cool to have him back in my collection. One interesting thing I learned while brushing up on my Food Fighter history for this post was that a few of the figures had variant versions. Short Stack was also available with blueberry syrup, not just this maple syrup version which is the only one I had ever seen before. 5 out of 10.