''You command them to penetrate enemy lines, infiltrate and perform sabotage missions! They're warrior specialists with the best warfare technology in their hands. They've got the right stuff to get the toughest job done! They've got...GUTS!''
GUTS! was a line of small (2.5''-3'') army men. Released in 1986, each figure was molded in one piece, had no articulation and was painted. They were available in packs of 2, 5 and 10 and there were 6 squads for a grand total of 60 different soldiers to collect.
I loved army men as a kid. I probably had about a hundred of these plastic guys and they got at least as much play time as my Joes. So when GUTS! were released, I jumped at the chance to collect some. The TV commercial was really cool too. Aside from the size and the paint, the thing that set these apart was the styling. These little guys looked like they jumped out of 80's action movies like Rambo or Commando. Also, each one had a name and a one-line bio on the back of the packaging.
After I made my first 6 customs (in early 2016 for PHX Customs Retro Toy Chest project) – one from each squad – I continued looking at the rest of the original figures. I thought I would make a few once in a while and fill in the squads gradually. However, when I jump in, it’s with both feet. Anyway, before I knew it, I had all the figures for Aikido Force, the Jungle Fighters and Green Berets built on my desk and waiting to be painted.
Aikido Force was finished first because of their simple color palette. I tried to stay as close to the originals as possible without extensive mods. The originals were all black, but this was boring on a 4’’ figure so I added subtle gray and silver highlights.
''Fierce and powerful king of the knife''
Head: AVAC Cast
Webgear: 25th Cobra Trooper
Everything else: Renegades Storm Shadow (Amazon 4-pack)
''Hot shot hurler with bullseye precision!''
Head: Retaliation Combat Ninja
Torso, arms: PoC Snake Eyes
Vest: 25th Zartan
Legs: 25th Storm Shadow
''Holder of the ancient secret of the iron hand!''
Torso: Resolute Snake Eyes
Upper arms: 25th Gung Ho
Lower arms: Resolute Storm Shadow
Legs: RoC Starm Shadow
''Master of devastating feats of prowess and speed!''
Head: resolute Duke
Torso, legs: 25th Storm Shadow
''Fast and unseen, out of nowhere, he pounces on the enemy!''
Torso: Retaliation Firefly
Arms: DG Snake Eyes
Upper legs: Resolute Storm Shadow
Lower legs: ROC Neo Viper
''Armed and ready to spring into action!''
Head: Star Wars Clone Trooper
Torso, arms: Retaliation Kamakura
Legs: PoC Hawk
Vest: PoC Storm Shadow
Helmet: RoC MARS Officer (modified)
''Flashes a blazing path against all enemies!''
Head: Retaliation Storm Shadow
Torso, upper arms, legs: 25th Iron Grenadier
Lower arms: DG Snake Eyes
Skirt: PoC Storm Shadow
Helmet: PoC Snake Eyes