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Friday, January 25, 2008

A Mechanized Assault From the Nostalgia Artillery: Rambo Toy Commercials!

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 9:11 AM

Yes, the '80s were as bad as you remember — and here are the commercials to prove it.

By Joe Eskenazi

With the latest "Rambo" film coming out today promising a body count exceeding even a Great White concert booking, it's hard to remember that the initial movie in this series, "First Blood," traced the ordeal of a disrespected, mentally unstable Vietnam vet who just wanted to walk through a rural Washington town in peace.

Yeah, OK, he blew up a gas station. But the deeper meaning behind a soldier giving his all (including, really, his sanity) for his country only to be treated like dirt by the establishment upon his return home was not hard to miss. Let's put it this way: It's a good bet the bullying cops Rambo picks off in "First Blood" had cushy tours in the National Guard during 'Nam. Right?

As difficult as it may be to now comprehend, "First Blood" was actually based on a book.

The sequels, however, were decidedly not (and no novelist would come up with a sequel title like "First Blood Part II." Isn't that just "Second Blood"?).

Now it's symbolism, shmimbolism — We get to see Sly Stallone make the Carl Spackler face while he's blasting holes in Viet Cong, Russians or whomever he's perforating in this latest installment (Burmese? Mynamarese? Well, it doesn't make much difference when Rambo's done shootin').

Fair enough. But I learned long ago not to take these films seriously after watching these Reagan-era Rambo toy commercials, which were cheesy even by the standards of the day (and, keep in mind, Steve Guttenberg was a bankable star back then). As kids, my cousin Eric and I actually flipped through the channels looking for these unintentionally hilarious ads, the same way my Uncle Steve used to search the airwaves in Brooklyn for "Crazy Eddie" commercials.

But don't take my word for it — click "More" to see Rambo (toys) in action...

How did that one guy manage to get every voice-over job?

Perhaps it's the fact that those involved with the Rambo franchise took themselves so deadly seriously that makes the films such a prime source of unintended humor today (Admit it: Given a roomful of pals and a hefty supply of beer, a Rambo film sounds mighty inviting).

You'll have to tell me how the new film turns out. I'm going to the Rimbaud flick instead.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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