Karate Rocket Launchers – Mortal Kombat’s 1994 Toy Line
If you forgot (or never knew) about Hasbro’s bizarre Mortal Kombat toys, you’d be forgiven. Fans were not impressed by the cash grab, and they fell into obscurity. So let’s dig ’em up!
Almost everyone that played video games in the early 1990s knows about Mortal Kombat. Not only was it a very good fighting game, but it received tons of criticism for the gushing blood effects and fatalities.
Video game enthusiasts loved it, and a lot of boring people who were worried about games corrupting their kids hated it.
The game brought us some amazing characters like Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Goro, and Shang Tsung who had special moves and motivations for entering the tournament.
After the game was released, Midway partnered with Hasbro to release a line of toys. To say that they left a lot to be desired is an understatement.
These toys were an absolute disappointment in the form of re-used GI Joe models and nonsensical additions.
You got your ticket to the freak show by clicking on this page, so check out these horrible Mortal Kombat toys, figure by figure.
Yeah, someone dropped the ball on naming this toy. To be honest, this toy looks pretty decent. The figure has the Asian Conical Hat that he is known for wearing, and the outfit looks pretty close to what he wears in the game.
At least, that’s what it looks like at first glance. When you look a little closer, it becomes more apparent that this figure has some holdovers from the G.I. Joe model. You can see a knife on Rayden’s shoulder belts, and something tells me that is not the Elder Gods’ standard attire.
He does come with some sweet weapons including a massive sword which I like to imagine he uses to channel lightning and zap people like He-Man.
The first thing that you’ll notice about Liu Kang’s figure is how it looks nothing like Liu Kang. Unlike the guy from the video game, this guy (I’ll call him “Lou” Kang) is absolutely jacked. He has monstrous proportions with his chest about twice as wide as the video game models.
I don’t know what is going on with his face, either. I know it’s hard to get an idea of what a character looks like in a 16-bit game, but this is a travesty.
Also, what the heck is up with that hair? The little curl coming down from the top of his head? I am assuming this was a recolor of a different G.I. Joe model because it’s such a mess.
At least they got the color of his pants right, though. Except for the massive combat boots. And while we’re on the topic of Kombat, our buddy Lou Kang is not about to leave this fight up to chance. He’s not using his fists, feet, and fireballs, no.
He comes loaded for bear with a missile launcher, a katana, and hook swords. Just in case.
It appears that Hasbro put in a little bit of effort on Mortal Kombat’s big bad. Just a little. Enough to pass muster if you looked at it and then away real fast.
It’s kinda funny if you pay attention to the details between the game Shang Tsung and this one. For example, in the game, Shang Tsung has wicked male pattern baldness, but he keeps the sides and back long. The toy only has the hair on the back of his head.
Next, you’ll see that the original Shang Tsung has a Fu Manchu mustache. The toy has a goatee. The “similarities” don’t end there, of course. While Hasbro kept the blue and gold color scheme of Shang Tsung’s outfit, that’s all they did.
The toy has a jumpsuit complete with grenades and a knife. The character comes with a sword, scythe, and some other weapon I can’t figure out. All in all, this toy came off a little silly, too.
The Sonya toy comes close to being accurate. She has blonde hair, headband, and the color green. So far, so good. The problem, in terms of accuracy, comes when you look at the outfit as a whole. It’s like a green jumpsuit with a black belt tied around it. At least you know she’s good at karate.
The original model doesn’t share many of these attributes. The game model of Sonya has her wearing a green sports bra and some green spandex pants that look like they crawled out of the 1980s.
I’m not entirely sure if Hasbro made her outfit into a jumpsuit out of convenience, or if the designers didn’t want to release a toy that showed a woman’s stomach. It might have driven the youth mad with carnal desire.
It wasn’t a bad-looking toy, but it was a bit disappointing to anyone that wanted an accurate Sonya.
Sonya also comes with a missile launcher since she was in the Special Forces. At least, that’s how I make sense of it in my mind.
I can’t help but think how interesting the fights would be if I fired a missile at Sub-Zero instead of getting frozen and subsequently uppercutted all day.
The Johnny Cage toy is a very accurate rendition of the character. Generic-looking dude with a dad’s haircut, hot bod, and some killer shades— check, check, and double-check.
Hasbro even remembered to give him a red sash to match his sandals, which are the biggest inaccuracy that I see. I know someone out there is comparing the sunglass brands and UV protection levels, but I’m not going that deep with this.
This toy looks good but it does come with one fatal design flaw. It cannot perform the infamous nut punch. That’s right. Unless you wanna break this toy’s legs off, it cannot do the straddle split necessary to pose in the one way that everyone wants it to.
He also brought a missile launcher, sword, and Rambo’s knife. So far, humans should be winning this tournament on firepower alone.
There was an alternative Johnny Cage released with Goro as part of a “Versus” set, and we’ll get into that next.
Goro is completely faithful to the character in the game because Hasbro probably didn’t have a G.I. Joe character to base him on. He even has the Yin and Yang symbol on his belt!
Goro could be bought alongside Johnny Cage in the Versus set, and it even featured a nifty background and a bunch of weapons for them to use. Well, I’m assuming they’re for Goro because Johnny Cage has a missile launcher.
He’s big, brownish, scaly, and has four arms. It’s everything you wanted in a Goro. My only problem is that Goro is about half a head taller than Johnny Cage. In reality, the dude is 8 feet tall. I know that they’re toys, but if you’re going to release him in a special set, you should lose the size constraints and make him huge.
The 1994 Hasbro Sub-Zero figure is another pretty accurate toy. After all, G.I. Joe did have a few ninja characters to base him on. They got the color right, and that is impressive to me after seeing some of the messes they’ve put out so far.
One thing that I noticed right away is that the outfit doesn’t have the blue overlay tied at the belt and then hanging below. Instead, the blue ends at the chest and he has solid black pants.
To be honest, it actually looks better that way to me. Coming off the back is a belt, I guess. It’s cloth and you could wrap it around his body if you want, but it just kind of hangs there and gets in the way.
Still, the outfit doesn’t hit the mark for me, and I’m sure it missed for many others, too. Sub-Zero did not come with a missile launcher, either.
Instead, he has two hook swords, but he can freeze people and completely rip out their intact spinal columns in a second. I have a feeling he might not need extra weapons.
I bet the people in charge of making this line of toys at Hasbro were thrilled when they got to Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and the other ninja characters. All their outfits are the same in the game, so they just had to re-color the toys over and over again to get an accurate reproduction of them.
Yet, they somehow managed to screw up his face mask color on some of the models. Blue? What?
He had the same weird belts hanging loose off of him, and he came with two hook swords. The very least they could have done would be to give him a spear or something. Anything to replicate his infamous “GET OVER HERE!”
The toy didn’t look bad, though. They even used some White-Out on his eyes to give him that extra creepy undead look. This was certainly not a bad look for him, but it wasn’t entirely accurate.
Imagine what a gray Scorpion would look like. Got that mental picture? Then you already know what Smoke looks like in this toy form.
He has the belts, the weapons, and a gray uniform. The most interesting thing about Smoke was that he never appeared in Mortal Kombat 1. According to the information on the toy’s packaging, he was supposed to protect Shang Tsung.
He had mystical powers that allowed him to appear out of thin air, and the packaging teased a secret weakness.
Nevertheless, it was cool for Smoke to make an appearance in the toy line because he would go on to appear in MKII.
Kano and Kombat Cycle
Kano, the heartbreaker that he is, did not get a very accurate representation from Hasbro. Starting with the head, he lacked the facial hair of his video game counterpart. Also, the people at Hasbro were a lot more generous with his hairline than the game, giving him a nice widow’s peak. He does have that bionic eye, though.
They kept the same white color for his outfit. It’s accurate, but baffling nonetheless. Why would you wear so much white when you routinely rip people’s hearts out?
The oversized knee pads made no sense at all and neither did the dual weapons belts. Well, that might make sense since Kano is not exactly the type to play by the rules. He came with an axe and a spear, too. If anyone should have had the missile launcher, it’s this dude.
Oh, wait. He came with the Kombat Cycle. A massive motorcycle that was loaded with 2 missile launchers on the sidecar. Hypothetically, there is room for two on the Kombat Cycle, in case Kano made a friend. Or kidnapped someone.
Reptile and Dragon MK-1 Boat
Reptile is yet another recolor of the ninjas, but this time he’s green! He shares the white eyes of Scorpion and comes with two hook swords and a Katana. Reptile was not known as Reptile in MK1; he was a recolored Scorpion. He could use Scorpion and Sub-Zero’s special moves, too.
However, the card that came with the toy showed information that was clearly meant for MKII, including how he spied on Kitana. Like the other toys, this one wasn’t bad in terms of looks.
One thing is for certain, though. Bringing weapons to the tournament officially got out of hand with Reptile. He comes with the Dragon MK-1 Boat, and that is just ridiculous if you’re within 500 feet of water.
This gunship came with three different working missile launchers, a variety of machine guns, and a hideous blue color. You could load characters into this thing and roll up to the tournament in style, I guess.
Sometimes, it’s hard to get toys out on time to satisfy customers. I understand the choice Hasbro made. They had assets that they could re-paint and ship without having to make new molds for the toys. Still, there is no denying that the final product was not good.
They avoided the supply pitfalls facing Star Wars two decades earlier, but at what cost? Well, at least the toy line that came after this looked a lot better and more accurate to the game’s counterparts.
By the way, they made a line of toys for the Mortal Kombat film that was just as laughably bad as this set. I still enjoyed that movie, though.
Back in the day, I was a huge collector of the G.I. Joe figures. When the Mortal Kombat ones came out, I for sure grabbed up as many as I could. I didn’t even realize as a young kid that the toys were just re-used assets from previous figures I had. I didn’t care because at the time they sized up perfectly! The battles I would have pitting Storm Shadow against Scorpion and Dr. Mindbender against Kano was just so epic. These toys were epic and I really don’t think any era outside of the late 80s early to mid-90s had better toys.
Thanks for reading, James. I loved me some G.I. Joes as a kid but was done with action figures by the time MK came out. Glad you enjoyed the post and hopefully you’ve subscribed, too. We’re planning more retro
toy content for the future.