Toy soldiers have allowed kids all over the world to be the generals of their own armies for many decades. These enduringly popular toys have seen many variations from the basic green plastic soldiers that everyone is familiar with. One of the most interesting examples was the GUTS line of toys, which brought toy soldiers into the era of G.I. Joe with their combination of high-quality design and sharp detail.
The GUTS figures were tiny, molded plastic men that were released by Mattel during the mid-1980s. In classic toy soldier condition, they could not be moved from the fixed positions in which they came. However, the GUTS toys overcame this obstacle with their nifty design. Unlike the usual drab, all-green color of most toy soldiers, the GUTS figures boasted a realistic range of colors and sharply etched features in their design.
One of the neatest things about the GUTS toys is that they offered the budding military wizard several different ‘forces’ to choose from. Each package consisted of anywhere from 5 to 12 soldiers and such distinct units as Green Berets, Laser Fighters, an Underwater Demolition Team, and even an Aikido Force (presumably a nod to the mid-1980s popularity of ninjas). The back of each package would list the soldiers by name. The names of these soldiers suggested a pretty strong sense of humor on the part of their creators: Slugs McGee, Hot Launch, E.Z. Squeeze, Max Destruction, etc.
There were also plenty of vehicles available to transport the dozens of soldiers that GUTS fanatics would inevitably end up with. Examples included Swingfire, the High Mobility Military Wheeled Vehicle Jeep, and the Python, a multi-terrain war machine that also functioned as a soldier carrier. The vehicles also included ‘battle action’ accessories and realistic details like molded bullet holes to show they had seen warfare.
GUTS original figures and vehicles are still traded back and forth by toy enthusiasts. It’s easy to understand why they are still popular: after all, who wouldn’t want to have “the world’s toughest troops” at his command?