I don’t think I’ve really mentioned Small Soldiers on here before which is somewhat of a travesty considering how important the film was to me as a kid.
If you haven’t seen Small Soldiers, I’m not going to implore you to go and watch it but it is a fun movie. Directed by Joe Dante (whose former hits included both Gremlins movies) the story is about a kid who ends up in ownership of a set of ‘Gorgonite’ action figures which are supposed to be interactive toys who battle with the Commando Elite. Both factions accidentally end up with military grade computer chips inside them during manufacture, and the Commando Elite will not stop until the peace loving Gorgonites are destroyed. Like Gremlins, it features lots of scenes with peoples homes getting trashed and wanton destruction. It’s pretty dark for a kids movie, kind of like a post watershed Toy Story and although not as good as Gremlins, it’s still worth chomping popcorn to.
I had a bunch of the figures as a kid, but it was the nineties, so naturally there were a few micro playsets released based on the movie. The best one was the 2 in 1 attack zone.
As you can see by the box, it’s actually two playsets in one, either the kitchen combat site or the garage battlefield. Which is pretty neat. Before I look at the set, here are the accompanying micro figures, Chip Hazard, Butch Meathook, Slamfist and Archer.
Like what seems to be in every post lately, this is the part where I take some issue with things. If you’ve seen the movie, you will know the Commandos are a bunch of ruthless bastards. Even the Gorgonites hold their own towards the end, and realise it’s better for them to fight than hide. So just look at the figures. Why does it look like they are just stood around having a BBQ and they’re waiting for the burgers to be cooked? Also Slamfist looks like he is holding a large ball of shit as opposed to the boulder that is meant to be where is hand is. Boulders are meant to be grey not brown.
My second qualm with the figures are why aren’t Chip Hazard and Butch Meathook wielding their weapons? If you look at the box you will see they have put little illustrated versions of the characters in each scenario. In the kitchen, Butch is swinging from a grappling hook raining fire down, Chip is firing from the cover of a cupboard, and Archer looks like he is furiously barking orders at someone behind him. The garage has Slamfist leaping clear of an explosion, Archer is angrily shaking his fist at Chip Hazard and Chip is firing at Slamfist whilst furiously pointing his finger at him. And then you see the figures, which are kinda just stood around looking like they are making polite chit chat. They couldn’t look any further away from the action poses they are doing on the box. It makes me want to shake my fist and point furiously like Chip and Archer for being duped, though not too much because I think this is one of the last lines of toys which bear the Kenner logo before they were completely merged into Hasbro. Everyone loves Kenner and the many iconic toys that they gave the world so I shall try not to let it bother me too much. Anyway, here is a look at the kitchen scene of this set.
There isn’t as much going on in the kitchen as the box would have you believe. Apart from a few opening cupboards which open for you to hide the Gorgonites in, there aren’t that many features at all. It’s too easy to compare it to other sets like Mighty Max which have things like traps, opening doors, sculpted scenery made up of dead things and hellish environments but this is just a trashed looking kitchen which isn’t too exciting really.
Even with the figures in the scene, it doesn’t look that much more interesting. With his hands on his hips, Archer just looks like a mother who has come home to a mess her kids have made and Slamfist looks like he is trying to explain things away despite the fact he is still clutching a large ball of feces.
Most ’90s micro playsets were plastic cases (often in the shape of a character or a head or something) that opened up and had a little setting and figures inside. This breaks from that trend in the sense that it is fixed in place but by turning it upside down it becomes a different scene.
Although this is neat, I definitely prefer the cases which close up as I probably would have lost the figures in about three seconds without some way of imprisoning them after I was done playing.
I prefer the look of the garage playset as it looks a little more realistic (I love the tools hanging on the wall next to the saw blades!), and it does have a few more gimmicks than the kitchen scene.
The first thing I like about this scene is that it has a rotating turret at the top of an old broken washing/drying machine.
There is actually a little lever behind which makes it rotate, as though Chip is controlling it all by himself. It still might not look as good or be as exciting as the box makes out, but it’s a good start.
There is also an ‘exploding’ generator or engine that you can attach a character to and then ‘detonate’ it by pushing down on the pipe, and it catapults the figure and engine.
Slamfist actually catapulted off camera as this picture was taken. It’s a fun little feature but it’s probably something that would guarantee a loss of one of the figures.
In case you are someone who really really enjoys hiding your figures, there are a few little hidey-holes for them in this set too. The tool box which you cans see propped up in a number of the pictures is on a hinge so you can hide a figure in there.
There is also a little trapdoor thing in the ground and another washing or drying machine (or whatever it is) which you can conceal some figures in.
The neat part is that if you turn the playset back to the kitchen, they are retrievable the other side with the one compartment acting like an elevator that can be raised up or down.
I think that covers all of the things in this playset anyway. Overall, it’s not a bad little toy. It certainly isn’t on the Mighty Max scale of awesomeness and it is a bit dull, but seeing as I have a huge fondness for Small Soldiers I can’t help but like this set.
There were a few other little sets, some of which just looked stupid, like giant statues of Small Soldiers characters, but there were a few of the vehicles with figures released as well. If ever I come across any, they might feature on here in future.