The Home for Odd, Ugly and Neglected Toys

Cool Breeze by Olmec Toys

Cool Breeze by Olmec Toys

I have something to admit. I'm white. I've been white all my life. And growing up as a white kid in the 80s, I never realized how every popular toyline and cartoon was pretty much directed at me. It seems that most headlining heroes from cartoons and toylines were either white, or some kind of creature. There was a huge lack of culturally diverse action figures. I'd never considered the fact that 80s black kids were "forced" to play with predominantly "white" characters from He-Man to G.I. Joe to Mask. You name it – white. Luckily, one mother did notice and actually did something about it. She started her own toyline, and specifically created black heroes.

This is where Olmec Toys holds its place in toy history. It was a toy company created by Yla Eason, a mother who "couldn't find a black super hero for her son." She thought her son should have some toys that reflected his skin tone. One of these new toylines was Bronze Bombers... which is kind of like the "black G.I. Joe" (in blacksploitation terms – G.I. Bro).

Bronze Bombers

Bronze Bombers

 

A lot of us played with G.I. Joe. Their white-washed approach to active recruits was countered with Olmec's Bronze Bombers. These guys were supposed to represent iconic historical soldiers who were black.

Here are a few tidbits pulled from the card:

"They stand for justice and they never lose!"

They are bold, they are men of the sun, they are brilliant warriors – The Bronze Bombers™!

Fearlessly, the mighty U.S. 369th Infantry led the nation's greatest Black Army into battle. They fought in WWI and WWII and they never lost. There have been no warriors their equal until today! Today, we have the Bronze Bombers™! Today they defend the country against P.S.B. enemy squad. These highly skilled combatants stand for justice and they never lose!

They never lose. Ever. Ever ever… ever.

So, let's take another look at that card art. It's a bit strange and familiar isn't it?

I get that these guys were supposed to be integrated into kids' G.I. Joe universe, but wasn't there a better way to do that than to rip off the card art? I don't even mean making them stylistically similar. I mean literally, copying/tracing existing Hasbro card art.

Bronze Bombers

Mapman Jackson vs. Road Block

This guys could've been Road Block's grandfather or something. See a resemblance?

Bronze Bombers

Marc "Kaboom" Walters vs. Crystal Ball

Looks like Ol' Kaboom here may have actually lost his hand playing with explosives. Looks like a prosthetic to me.

Bronze Bombers

A. J. Moon vs. Zaranna

This is a strange choice. This guy's art is based on one of the female characters and the artist decided to paint the metallic joints of the actual toy. Weird.

Bronze Bombers

Wayne "Golden" Alexander vs. Psyche-Out

So. this sailor is holding some weird space laser, dangling his arm awkwardly and wearing some kind of sci-fi backpack. Ooookay.

Okay, we now know who the Bronze Bombers are, so now let's take a closer look at this Bronze Bomber figure I got my hands on a while ago.

I present to you – Cool Breeze.

Cool Breeze by Olmec

(I know these characters are supposed to be "with it," but isn't "Cool Breeze" a bit stereotypical… even for a black toyline?)

Bronze Bombers

Not unlike G.I. Joe vs. COBRA, the Bronze Bombers battle PSB Enemy. I don't quite know what "PSB" means, but Cool Breeze is one of the bad guys.

Here's his bio:

Cool Breeze

His Major: Medicine

His Specialty: Germ Warfare

His Motto: Make them suffer.

His Goal: Destroy the health of the Bronze Bombers

Cool Breeze was the twin brother of Chilly Pop Battle. His hands were finely tuned instruments, his mind was a bear trap, his body was strong, powerful, loose and ready. He was known as Cool Breeze, a name he acquired his final year at Hitler Medical School, because he soared to the top of his class without sweating or struggling a day! But he used his talents to do bad. He dropped chemicals into clean water to make people sick. He prepared a poisonous solution to sap the strength of good men. He didn't care who he hurt.

Unreal. Hitler Medical School? That is pretty evil. (Also seems odd that he'd attend a university named after someone who had a leading role in the brutality of blacks… but I digress.)

Okay, back to the figure.

First of all, the head sculpt is great. I can't get over it.

Cool Breeze by Olmec

Seriously. I think Cool Breeze looks like a genuine, black man and not just a bad, blackface repaint of some old Dukes of Hazzard toy.

(Could this not be a Roger Murtaugh figure?)

What the toys lack in originality, they make up for in realism. Awesome head sculpts.

Cool Breeze by Olmec

These figures are 3 3/4" tall with articulation similar to first generation Joes (no Swivel Arm Battle Grip).

They're pretty well-sculpted, having about as much detail as some of the original Joe figures.

Their construction is "okay", but they seem to feel brittle. I'm in constant fear that I'll break his thumb off or something.

Cool Breeze by Olmec

The accessories on the other hand, suck major ass. The helmet and gun here not only look clunky and simplified compared to the detail of the soldiers…

Cool Breeze by Olmec

but the helmet doesn't fit his head. Look at that thing. What the hell were they thinking? Is it supposed to be a Motorcycle helmet?

Cool Breeze by Olmec

Oh, and he can't hold his gun. Well, it's not as much a gun as some kind of weird bubble blower or something. Ha!

Here are some more Bronze Bomber tidbits. Not only did Olmec make a line of action figures, but they even had vehicles. That's how legit the Bronze Bombers were.

Bronze Bombers

"How can we make this white kid look more white?"

"Cowboy hat?"

"Perfect!"

And believe it or not, in the late 90s, the Bronze Bombers returned.

Bronze Bombers

This time they were sold as a multipack and were actually built from reused body molds from Hasbro's G.I. Joe figures (Olmec actually bought the molds from Hasbro). These figures seem fine, but I don't think they have the charm of the 80s toyline.

As I mentioned before, I grew up white, so I wasn't really paying attention to Olmec Toys in their heyday. They are no longer producing toys but Olmec did a few lines to be sold alongside He-Man, She-ra and G.I. Joe – Sun-Man, Butterfly Woman and Bronze Bombers, respectively. I know I've semi-mocked these figures, but I actually truly appreciate the effort Olmec made in their quest for more diverse action figures. It's too bad they didn't have the artistry, writers and marketing budget that a powerhouse like Hasbro has. But if they had that, it wouldn't be such a unique story of the underdog. If you want to dig a little deeper, you can find out all about the rise and demise of Olmec Toys.

 



37 Responses

  1. @Joe_A_Day @GeneralsJoes @underscoopfire @cool_collected – Thought u guys would like this lil’ Joe-related blog entry – http://t.co/CQY4rFUP

  2. Lol, awesome! RT @WeirdoToys Hey. You know that weird, toy blog that never gets updated? It just did – http://t.co/bmRBa3vx

  3. Brian Adams says:

    I hate posts like this. I just feel the money being lifted from my wallet as I hunt these guys down on eBay. ;) Great post. Yo Bro!

  4. Wow. Very interesting post. RT @WeirdoToys: Bronze Bombers – a response to the white-washed toylines of the 80s – http://t.co/FKo91803

  5. Dex1138 says:

    What I find interesting is they’re all in full body suits with gloves which means with simple headswap, these could become “white” (or any other nationality) figures since the head is the only place skin is showing.

    Although there are a couple in that box set where I can’t tell if it’s a bodysuit or they are mostly naked…

  6. Tommy says:

    This reminds me of those C.O.R.P.S. action figures (GI Joe Rip-offs). I always had those as a kid instead of Joes because you could get a huge box with like 10 guys, a couple motorcycles, and a jeep for the price of two Joes. Of course, they were really crappy like these guys.

  7. Jason Gammon says:

    I must have a Roger Murtaugh figure. HA! Cool Breeze’s motto “Make them suffer,” cracks me up. Spotlighting the terrible character paintings is a nice touch too. Thanks for sharing that goofiness. Good find.

  8. Ben says:

    I never knew Ozzie Smith went to Hitler Medical School! I think the most confusing part is that he attended a school named after Der Fuhrer, “BUT he used his talents to do bad.” Perhaps it’s my over analytical writer’s mind looking at that sentence, but shouldn’t it read “AND he used his talents to do bad”? Is anyone who attended Hitler Medical School going to use their talents for GOOD? And I agree with you, if the school held to the ideals of their namesake, would Cool Breeze have even been accepted into Hitler Medical School? Although, to be fair, turning brothers against one another…that IS a horribly evil plan!

  9. ShenaniTims says:

    I was more shocked to find out Cool Breeze is a bad guy. Proving once and for all that “good guys don’t wear white!”

  10. Colin says:

    http://ihscslnews.org/view_article.php?id=212

    Really, there is a great book here. About the battle to bring an ethnically diverse brand to the market involves China, an American toy giant, the Clinton administration and child labour.

  11. For you non-morning readers (and for lazy tweeters like myself), I give you “Cool Breeze” by Olmec Toys – http://t.co/CQY4rFUP

  12. yo go re says:

    You know, what’s really crazy is that there’s a real Joe named Cool Breeze: http://gijoe.wikia.com/wiki/Cool_Breeze He never had a toy, but you have to wonder if there was any cross-pollination going on. “Cool Breeze” isn’t exactly a name you’d expect to see applied to two different black soldier guys…

  13. This article about a black toy line that is like GI Joe is awesome, as are the toys: http://t.co/XVZQAQGl Bronze Bombers!

  14. TL says:

    This kind of stuff fascinates me. Not necessarily the line of toys themselves but the copied art on the packaging and the marketing tactics used to sell the toys (white kid in a cowboy hat…just awesome!).

    As usual, another great post you’ve done here!

  15. Action figures created by Yla Eason, a mother who “couldn’t find a black super hero for her son.” http://t.co/FK9DvrG6 via @WeirdoToys

  16. Cool post by @weirdotoys… http://t.co/onmCqilj …GI Joe knockoffs. Bad knockoffs.

  17. H-Balm says:

    Great Post!

    (Pssttt…. this is another reason why you need to keep up this blog!)

  18. My unintentional toy tribute to #BlackHistoryMonth – http://t.co/CQY4rFUP #BronzeBombers

  19. Full of WTF cowboy hat goodness :) RT @WeirdoToys My unintentional toy tribute to #BlackHistoryMonth – http://t.co/kWC5at9Q #BronzeBombers

  20. So I’m settling in with all the #gijoe goodness but took an extended break to read this amazing post. http://t.co/QrpBl0Va @WeirdoToys rules

  21. Triona says:

    i had 1 of these many years ago, hated the helmet, used 2 make him look like i was gagging him, which made the verbal fighting kinda silly. funny i had an eyeball monster power rangers bad guy as well n for some reason they were always on the same team. must have been the white outfits, does ur eyeball guy have a staff/trident just wondering because mine does? tap back xx

  22. Customizer says:

    Huh. You learn something new every day. I’ve known about the Bronze Bombers for years but didnt know the card art had been copied lol. Niiiice.

    You don’t notice these things when your 10-11 yrs old and scanning the toy aisle for new action figures.

  23. [...] over at WeirdoToys recently featured a Roger Murtaugh lookalike figure, but here’s the “real” deal. [...]

  24. Brian says:

    I think Cool Breeze looks like the Red Stripe guy.”HooRAY-Beer!

  25. Sam Wells says:

    Haha! Thanks for posting, I forgot about this and I actually had the same thing on my old GI Joe site a while back (as you can tell by the URL) http://www.angelfire.com/mo2/3inchgijoepriceguide/bronzebombers.html

    Please be warned, even in the world of Chrome and Firefox, Angelfire sites will still give you pop-up ads… :)

  26. Joseph says:

    Wow! This site is awesome! I love this stuff, man. I’m glad I stumbled into this while looking for Mighty Max info. Bookmarked it and gonna read up on this a lot. Are you still posting? I noticed this was from January! Anyway, great work and keep it up!

    • I’m still posting in theory… I’m just in the midst of some life stuff. Will get posting soon I hope.

      Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from new readers/toy lovers.

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