Figure Flashback

FIGURE FLASHBACK: Galoob’s Starship Troopers Warrior Bugs (1997)


In 1997, Galoob caught my attention with their awesome action figures and vehicles based on Paul Verhoeven’s violent R-rated sci-fi movie, Starship Troopers. I was one of the first people in line to watch this movie, not because I was a huge fan of the Robert A. Heinlein novel it was loosely based on, but because anything from the director of Robocop and Total Recall had to be cool.


Alas, Starship Troopers was a box-office bomb. Many critics found the movie silly and juvenile; with its young, attractive cast (Doogie Howser!), wooden acting and over-the-top gory action. To me that’s all part of Starship Troopers’ cheesy charm. The “bug” battles in this movie are everything (it was nominated the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects). That brings us back to Galoob’s Starship Troopers toyline, in particular, their killer looking Warrior Bug action figures.


Collectors had their choice of two Warrior Bug action figure sizes: a 5-inch Battle Pack version with Micro Machine-sized Mobile Infantry figures to eat (fight it), or a massive 10-inch Electronic Warrior Bug with (annoying) sound effects. Both figures had their pros and cons, but for the money, the bigger bug was the better value.


The Battle Pack Warrior Bug impresses with its bold black and yellow Arachnid design and easy to display smaller size. Standing approximately 5-inches long and 4-inches tall, this Warrior Bug featured a decent range of movement with its swivel “waist” and four ball-jointed main legs. However, it has always frustrated me that the jaw on this figure can’t open and close. The jaw sure looks like it can move (and it would have been easy enough for Galoob to have included ), but no dice. To make up for it, Galoob concealed a small magnet on the Warrior Bug’s upper lip so you could attach a micro figure to it, you know, so it looks like the creature is eating a soldier. Humm, yeah.


Another irritating design choice was the figure’s action gimmick. By pressing down on the Warrior Bug’s front claws, the creature’s head popped in half to reveal gory green bug brains. Personally I wish you could freely articulate the Warrior Bug’s front claws without the figure bursting into pieces. It reminds me of Kenner’s exploding Scorpion Alien released in 1992: a fun looking toy with an annoying action gimmick.


Size is everything when it comes to Galoob’s Electronic Warrior Bug. Large and in charge at 10-inches long and approximately 9-inches tall, this Arachnid toy impresses with its amazing movie sculpt, durable plastic construction, and solid articulation. Unlike it’s smaller cousin, big bug featured a swivel waist, four ball-jointed main legs, two fully articulated front claws AND a jaw that could open and close. OH SNAP!


Best of all, the large Warrior Bug had no exploding action gimmick, although it did feature “crashing” sound effects. One grating sound was activated by pressing the button on top of its head, the other one when you closed its jaws. Thankfully, the batteries on mine died long time ago.


Due to Starship Troopers being a flop in theaters, Galoob’s toys were pretty easy to find back in 1997. In fact, they quickly found themselves marked down at clearance prices (much like Trendmasters’ Godzilla toys released the following year). Even years after the movie, alert collectors could get these on eBay for relatively cheap.


Today, Starship Troopers is considered a cult classic by many, with its legendary Warrior Bug design quite popular with collectors. Uninspired Battle Pack “Hopper Bugs” and the crappy 6-inch Mobile Infantry action figures are still quite common on the secondary market, but way cooler designs, like the Warrior Bug, have become an expensive rarity. There is some good news, though! Max Factory is releasing a Figma action figure of the Warrior Bug (pictured below)! While it’s design is based on the animated Starship Troopers movies, any new Warrior Bug toy is a good thing.


And if $150 is too rich for your blood, Funko has slowly been dropping new Starship Troopers Pop! vinyl figures as convention exclusives, including Johnny Rico and a recently released super-sized Tanker Bug. While those two characters wouldn’t have been my first choice for Starship Trooper Pops, it gives me hope that Funko will release a Warrior Bug next.

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  1. Erik

    The Starship Troopers toyline was awesome and I was fortunate enough to score the Warrior Bug at Savers of all places in pristine condition. A cool toy for sure. Such a shame we never got the likes of the Tanker Bug and others to complete the set but I guess the movie not doing so good back then pulled the plug on the toyline. The Micro Machines line was cool, too.

    The toyline is notable for being one of (if not the) last toylines based off of an R-rated movie aimed at kids. This was somewhat common back in the 80s and 90s, with toylines based off of R-rated properties like Alien, Predator, RoboCop, Terminator, Rambo, Toxic Avenger, etc. and this was really the last toyline of it’s kind. Though it seems they’re making something of a comeback with the recent Lanard Aliens toyline.

    • Jeff Saylor

      GREAT point on these being the last of the mass market R-rated toys aimed at kids! Time for me to do a Figure Flashback on the 1979 Kenner 18-inch Alien now… the FIRST of the R-rated movie toys aimed at kids! 🙂

      • Erik

        There was also Police Academy of all things that had both a toyline and animated series aimed at kids. Let’s not forget HBO’s Tales From The Crypt, which also had both. It was the funniest thing back then seeing such a violent, explicit show like TFTC spun off to become a cartoon and toyline for kids and how such a ghastly-looking character like the Crypt Keeper was being marketed to kids back then.

        This reminds me, what a good article for a future Figure Flashback. Toylines based off of R-rated movies aimed at kids.

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