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RETRO REVIEW: Barnyard Commandos

It’s possible that you remember a little line from 1989 called Barnyard Commandos. It was something straight out of Animal Farm…if George Orwell had dreamt up strapping heavy artillery to the backs of talking pigs and sheep.

The R.A.M.S. (Rebel Army of Military Sheep) and the P.O.R.K.S. (Platoon of Rebel Killer Swine) were rival groups of farm animals that somehow got into radioactive materials left over from an abandoned military experiment. Was it a big government conspiracy that they were trying to trick little kids into thinking that radioactive waste creates wonderful monsters rather than causing cancer and/or a painful death?

Playmates, which also released those other mutants – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, produced the toy line. In all, there were 16 characters produced – 8 P.O.R.K.S. and 8 R.A.M.S. There was also a 13-episode run of cartoons that’s likely still available at your local Blockbuster Video in VHS form.

I went on eBay and picked up a trio of Barnyard Commandos – all from the P.O.R.K.S. lineup. When I received them, I noticed the first one had a bubble that was slightly opened on the bottom. I opened the thing up and could have sworn that a live pig had been trapped in there for the past 26 years.

The line features rotocast vinyl toys. And the thing about cheap rotocast toys is that they eventually start to break down. The toy was sweating this wet, oil-slime substance. And it smelled like it had been securely packed away with a decomposing cadaver for the past two decades. Luckily, I opened up the second pig and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first. A little slick…yeah. But breathing in the vicinity of it didn’t cause immediate nausea.  

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What you end up with is a pig that’s apparently been doused in its own fecal matter. It has a nose ring, because those were nouveau in the late 80’s. And then there’s a rubbery feeling accessory – the flamethrower and goggles than strap on to Private Side O’Bacon’s back. I’m assuming he drew the short straw when they were assigning weapons.

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The packaging also touts a “Secret Code Book Included”. There aren’t any secrets or codes in there. There is a photo of the figures on one side and some crazy ramblings on the other. I imagine they slipped an LSD laced pork chop to some poor bastard and had him sit in front of a typewriter designing a backstory for the Barnyard Commandos.

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While some toy lines should be loved by multiple generations and something passed down from father to son or mother to daughter…it’s probably a good thing that Barnyard Commandos didn’t become the next Rubik’s Cube or Slinky.

I do believe that in some alternate universe there’s likely a huge war between sheep and pigs for control over America’s heartland. But then again, it’s quite possible that I’m hallucinating due to whatever toxic chemical was seeping out of that Barnyard Commando.

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