4 Inch Scale
It’s Friday so that must mean it’s time to take a trip in our time machine back to a simpler era of toys. Today we’re going back to 1988 for the infamous Mattel Food Fighter line! I just asked Mattel about doing something for the 25th Anniversary of this line, so I figured we might as well spotlight one of the gems.
The Food Fighters line was pretty simple in concept. Two factions, the Kitchen Commandos and the Refrigerator Rejects, battled it out. Both teams were comprised of food. The Kitchen Commandos were technically the “good guys” but there wasn’t any rhyme or reason behind the choices of the food for each team.
“Hey, get back-a in the box-a!”
Private Pizza was probably the best figure in the line and he’s one of my personal favorites. Pizza and Lieutenant Legg were the two baddest mofos in the land of Food Fighters when I was a kid. While I didn’t have every figure in this line, I had a bunch and they saw a lot of play. It’s just such a crazy and simple idea that it’s hard not to like them.
I don’t have the package for Pvt. Pizza anymore, but the packages were pretty neat little cards. They were simple in their construction, but had great artwork on the front. Likewise they clearly were borrowing from GI Joe as the back had a checklist of sorts and a file card. I love file cards!
Each of the figures had it’s own unique sculpt with lots of fun little details. The body is made out of soft vinyl, similar to a dog chew toy. The arms and legs are hard plastic, as is the army helmet that’s atop Private Pizza.
Private Pizza is loaded down with personality, as his tongue is hanging out, he’s got a somewhat goofy scowl on his face and of course, his best feature is the pepperoni eye patch. The guy has a pepperoni eye patch! Come on, that’s awesome!
Each figure was about 3 3/4 to 4 inches tall. Obviously some were a lot smaller depending on what type of food item they were. Private Pizza is one of the taller ones. Mine is starting to bend over and I can’t recall if he was always like that or if this war torn veteran is just starting to bend over due to old age.
The back of Private Pizza is ridiculously plain. Again it’s very reminiscent of a chew toy. He does have a hole in his back for a backpack and each figure came with one. Again, another cue taken from GI Joe.
“Ready for war! The food additive war!”
The line lasted a little over a year and wasn’t a smashing success. I’m not sure how bad it did, but I know the refrigerator playset never did make it to retail. Whether that had something to do with low sales or not, I don’t know. It seems to me that this idea could easily be revisited and would be a great line for kids and collectors who love the vinyl market. I reviewed Frank Kozik’s Filter Kings Major Throckmorton last year and it had a similar vibe.
The articulation on Private Pizza is the same as the articulation on everyone. He has simple swivels at the legs and arms. Some of the figures were a little more poseable because of where their leg articulation was placed.
Another neat element of these figures was that you could pop the arms and legs out. As well you could swap the helmets. This most often resulted in lost arms, legs and helmets… But if you were a creative kid like me, you could swap the arms and helmets and have guys switch sides in the food war.
I believe Private Pizza started his own group in my battles. Swapping his hat and arms around for some different looks. Granted most of the arms and legs are the exact same sculpt, but the coloring is different. Shame Mattel didn’t make a couple more factions, with various other colors like red, blue, white, etc.
As I mentioned above, I’ve lost most the stuff that came with Private Pizza. He had a couple guns and a backpack but they’re missing now. The guns were bright red and VERY thin. They fit nicely into his hands, but as you can see in one of the shots a peg must have broke off at some point. The guns were pretty brittle.
These days you can expect to pay all sorts of ranges for Food Fighters figures. Private Pizza remains one of the most popular and he’s usually in the $15 range. Some of the rare variants can command a price up into $50 or more. I really think this is a line that should be redone in some way or another, even if it’s not by Mattel. The concept is simple and fun.
If you’re looking for more trips down memory lane, check out some of our other Flashback Fridays where we review guys like Pizzaface. Lots of pizza in these flashbacks!