When you ask someone to name the great toy lines of the 1980's, what do you expect to hear? Masters of the Universe, of course. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero? That's a given. How about Transformers? Star Wars? Sure; the list could go on and on: Superpowers, Thundercats, Secret Wars, Rambo and the Forces of Freedom, M.U.S.C.L.E., (insert your favorite line here). One of the greatest lines of the 80's that doesn't seem to get nearly the amount of recognition it deserves, however, is C.O.P.S. & Crooks. More on that after the break...
Released by Hasbro in 1988, C.O.P.S. & Crooks was a 6-inch action figure line that centered on an elite team of law enforcement officers fighting to free Empire City from a ruthless gang of criminals led by Big Boss. There was a cartoon series also, with the tagline, "Fighting crime in a future time, protecting Empire City from Big Boss and his gang of crooks." Set in the year 2020, C.O.P.S. managed to blend a very cool futuristic vibe with an eclectic mix of 20th century law enforcement and criminal archetypes. I have very vague memories of the cartoon; my attention was always on the toys. The C.O.P.S. line featured an excellent selection of heroes and villains, but a mafia like hitman named Buttons McBoomBoom was always my favorite.
"How'd they spot me back here behind cover?"
Since I'm recalling events that happened from childhood, I don't have specific dates. I do remember three separate incidents when I got C.O.P.S. figures, however, and I can recall the order they occurred in. The first time I remember getting any C.O.P.S. figures was in 1988 or 1989, so I was probably between 4 and 6. I remember this not just because I got C.O.P.S. figures (although I can tell you I got Barricade, Taser, and Inferno) but also because it was the only time I can ever recall meeting my Mom's father, my biological grandfather. My grandmother had already been remarried to the man I grew up knowing as a grandfather (Pa) and I knew my Dad's dad (Pappy) had passed away when I was very young (he'll play a special part in an upcoming Show & Tell) so I vaguely remember trying to wrap my mind around how this man was also my grandfather. Anyways, at some point we went out to a store (probably K-Mart) and I remember weaseling three C.O.P.S. figures out of him. I remember liking them ok (I was probablya bigger G.I. Joe and Ghostbusters fan at the time) but I don't remember C.O.P.S. fever hitting me yet.
|"Tell friends about ThEpic Review or |
I'll stab you in da' face with a soldering iron."
My second C.O.P.S. acquisition occurred on Easter, probably in 1989. That was the year that I woke up to find Buttons McBoomBoom in my Easter basket. (I would be willing to bet no one has ever typed that sentence before.) While the earlier C.O.P.S. figures were neat, Buttons was beyond cool. His suit was fashionable, he had a removable hat that wasn't a helmet, and he carried a gun in a violin case. This fellow not only meant business, but the figure, with it's pop out guns, seemed to imply that this guy was a cyborg as well. I think this is the point where I developed a true love for C.O.P.S., and it's all thanks to the Easter Bunny and Buttons McBoomBoom. There's a third major acquisition of C.O.P.S. figures, but it is such an epic tale that it'll be reserved for another day. It involves me getting ill, Chuck E' Cheeses, and a guy named Big Boss.
|Buttons wanted to audition for the 1990 film "Dick Tracy"|
but was told his outfit was too garish.
So what was it about this figure? I think it's the bizarre juxtaposition in that Buttons McBoomBoom manages to simultaneously blend together some 12 year old's idea of a pimp and the awesomeness of Robert De Niro in the Godfather Part II. Yeah, I definitely think that's part of his appeal. I'll mention that construction wise, Buttons is built quite a bit like a larger version of a 1980's G.I. Joe figure. He has the following points of articulation: hinged knees, ball jointed hips, O-ring waist, hinged chest plate and 2 hinged guns, ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels, hinged elbows, swivel wrists.
|Darn it feels good to be a gangster.|
Like many of the 1980's G.I. Joe figures, Buttons also had a unique sculpt and very well designed accessories that complemented the figure perfectly. Button's chest opened up to reveal two machine guns that folded down (kind of like the MOTU Rio Blast or the ARAH Overkill), a super cool feature you just knew he used when some unsuspecting copper told him to "put his hands up." Inside the opening chest panel were some insanely cool sculpted details, specifically a sheathed knife. The violin case had a neat textured pattern to it, had gobs of communication equipment and stuff jammed inside, and perfectly held the beautifully modified Tommy gun that Buttons wielded. It had excellent sculpting and looked technologically enhanced while still maintaining the feel of a weapon an old school gangster would use. The combination of his opening chest and hidden Tommy Gun made Buttons into a super cool "Transformer" of sorts, as he went from sharply dressed dude on his way to orchestra rehearsal to sharply dressed cyborg with two little machine guns and a massive Tommy gun. Oh, and that Tommy gun shot caps.
|Buttons McBoomBoom: Always armed.|
Yep, C.O.P.S. figures came with rolls of red caps and they could fire those ear drum busting little jokers like no one's business. Any toy with caps somehow immediately felt really cool and dangerous to a 5 year old. These weren't launching missiles, disappearing ink shooting backpacks, or spring loaded power punches: these were caps, son. These weren't just toys: these were weapons. You could hit these caps on the pavement with a hammer and they would explode
. That's some serious stuff. At the time, C.O.P.S. (and also Robocop figures) seemed like mature toys for the discerning action figure enthusiast, and I'd sometimes wonder if any adults knew what they had actually bought me.
Personally, I feel like C.O.P.S. was definitely one of the greatest toy lines of the late 80's because of their fantastic design, incredible sculpts, and the sheer amount of creativity that went into each figure. These figures took the best elements of what Hasbro was doing with their G.I. Joe line at the time and took it a step further by making the figures larger with more intricate detailing. It's a shame that the third series never
showed up, as it surely would have cemented this line as one of the greats. I'm very proud to say that every element of the Buttons McBoomBoom figure shown here is original to me. While I had lost one of his chest guns for quite a few years, it turned up in a box of odds and ends about 8-10 years ago. Go me!
Barbecue17 once hit an entire roll of red caps with a hammer. He's still easily spooked to this day. When he's not quivering at the sound of loud noises, he's writing reviews on Amazon and adding action figure pictures to his Flickr account.
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