Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Coleco Industries Follows Its Cabbage Patch Dolls with Rambo Action Figures / Character Emerges as National Hero

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Coleco Industries Follows Its Cabbage Patch Dolls with Rambo Action Figures / Character Emerges as National Hero

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Coleco Industries, the company whose cuddly Cabbage Patch Kids became a national craze, has announced it would market a line of dolls and accessories based on Rambo, the muscle-bound movie hero portrayed by Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone plays a gun-slinging ex-Green Beret on a one-man mission to retrieve Americans missing in action in Vietnam, and the character has already become something of an American phenomenon.

Johnny Carson has parodied him on television and President Reagan, in off-the-record remarks before a speech, said that after seeing the film he would know how to handle terrorists.

But while some toy experts predicted Coleco could well have another hit, others were quick to criticize it for introducing a toy based on a character featured in R-rated movies, ""Rambo: First Blood Part II,'' and its predecessor, ""First Blood,'' that some critics have said glorify violence. The rating prohibits people under 17 from attending unless accompanied by an adult.

""Wouldn't you know they would pick up on that movie to turn into a children's toy and a children's hero,'' said Peggy Charren, president of Action for Children's Television, a Boston-based group that advocates improving television programs for children.

""The problem with Rambo as a doll is it's a doll for children, whereas the movie is not a children's movie, it's a movie for adults.''

Coleco, however, was quick to present Rambo in a different light.

""We believe the character is emerging as a new American hero, a hero that has a high degree of excitement and patriotism and a thirst for justice associated with him,'' said Barbara C. Wruck, a Coleco spokesman. ""We are convinced of the potential of the license.''

Coleco said it would offer the first figures of a line of six-and-a-half-inch plastic characters from the movies that would reach stores in time for Christmas. A full line of accessories and other items will follow early next year, it said.

The dolls, which would sell for under $10, would be the latest entry in the growing field of ""male action figures'' that includes Hasbro Inc.'s G.I. Joe and Mattel Inc.'s Masters of the Universe dolls, and may well be successful, toy industry analysts said. But they predicted that Coleco would have difficulty getting out many of the dolls in time for the crucial holiday season.

In fact, despite the popularity the character is enjoying, other toy companies appear to have been hesitant in making it into a children's toy. Amy Kastens, a spokesman for Carolco Service Inc., the Los Angeles company that produced both movies, said it initially had trouble licensing Rambo products to toy companies and others that make products for children because of the movies's R ratings. …

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