20th Century Toy Collector

By The Power Of Greyskull!


“Mobile Army Surgeon Hospital”

The television series M*A*S*H is up there somewhere in my list of favourite TV shows of all time. The show ran for an amazing 11 seasons from 1972 to 1983 and produced a whopping 251 episodes. The M*A*S*H finale episode used to hold the record for most number of viewers for any single television program in history with 106 million viewers tuning in to see the end of this wonderful series. Only recently has this record been broken by the 44th edition of the Superbowl in early 2010.


Much to my surprise I only recently discovered the existence of M*A*S*H action figures and toys by watching Chad Hucal’s documentary Collectible Spectacle on YouTube featuring super collector Mark Bellomo and part of his immense toy and action figure collection. Disregarding the apparent contradiction of producing children’s toys to what is considered as an adult oriented television series, the toyline was released in 1982 by Tristar International Ltd and consisted of action figures, a couple of vehicles and a playset.

“Many Tri Stars”

Tristar International Ltd is sometimes confused with Tri-Star Pictures, which is a totally unrelated movie and television company founded, coincidentally, also in 1982. Mark Bellomo mistakenly refers to Tristar International Ltd as the movie studio “now known as Columbia TriStar” in the above mentioned documentary. Tri-Star Pictures was actually founded in 1982 under the initial name of Nova Pictures and is currently known as Columbia TriStar, part of Sony Pictures Entertainment and has nothing to do with Tristar International Ltd, maker of the M*A*S*H toy line of 1982. To further add to the confusion, there’s another totally unrelated toy company/importer called Tri Star International, Inc., based in Newark, California, mostly known for recalls of toys due to choking and laceration hazards in 2007.

The Tristar International Ltd that made the M*A*S*H toy line has nothing to do with either of these companies and is known for having produced toys much earlier, even as far back as 1963 or so, when it released Poor Pitiful Pearl dolls, based on William Steig’s eponymous cartoon character from the 1950s. Tristar International Ltd was located at 5 200th Avenue in New York, a location still known to house several toy or toy related companies according to Google Maps.

“Cross Dressing”

Back to the toys! Tristar released a total of 7 action figures, consisting of the main cast of M*A*S*H towards the last couple of seasons of the show, being Hawkeye, B.J., Klinger, Colonel Potter, Hot Lips, Winchester and Father Mulcahy.

What’s really cool is that Klinger was actually released in two versions. The first was the regular army uniform wearing Klinger, which is the easiest to find. The second, also pictured on the back of the cards, is a cross dressing Klinger wearing a pink outfit! This one is a lot harder to find and is usually a lot more expensive! I’m not sure whether this drag queen Klinger is just a variant or a mail away figure, but it’s really cool that Tristar produced this variation. Actually, when I think about it, it’s pretty amazing they got away with producing a cross dressing action figure in 1982. How cool is that!

Moving on to the vehicles. Tristar created a total of 3 vehicles, being a jeep, an ambulance and the iconic Bell 47 helicopter. All three vehicles came with an unnamed “G.I. action figure” and look very much like their television series counterparts.

“Kick Ass Playset”

The coolest piece of all from the Tristar line, which is conspiciously absent from the back of the action figure cards and vehicle boxes, is the M*A*S*H military base playset! Featured in the afforementioned documentary on Mark Bellomo this is one kick ass playset that’s currently high on my wish list.

I currently have most of the action figures in my possession (including the cross dressing Klinger variant) and the Jeep. Still looking out for the helicopter, ambulance and ofcourse the military base playset! Check out the forthcoming individual pages of the M*A*S*H items in my collection for more photographs!


posted on March 28, 2010 by 20th Century Toy Collector in M*A*S*H and has Comments (11)

11 Responses to “M*A*S*H”

  1. F. N. Estrada says:

    Good day,

    I find your M*A*S*H Military Base very interesting since it says to be in scale with GI Joe figures. Would you be so kind enough to post or send me some pictures of your M*A*S*H Military Base with modern (25th Anniv, Rise of Cobra, Pursuit of Cobra) Joe figures? I’d appreciate if you can strike some Joes posing…

    1. inside/outside the tents
    2. standing beside the doors on all 4 tents
    3. sitting on benches/chairs
    4. lying on beds/stretchers.

    I really am interested with the scale comparison.

    Thanks for your time and more power! :)

    My email -> fn_estrada@yahoo.com

    • 20th Century Toy Collector says:

      Hi, Unfortunately I do not own the Military Base (yet)… So sorry I couldn’t be of any more help to you.

  2. F. N. Estrada says:

    No worries, thanks anyway. :)

  3. JD says:

    My brother & I had the M*A*S*H play set as kids. We used to play with it using our G.I.JOE s. There is a M.A.S.H. Play set listed right now on EBAY. Check it out. Good luck!

    • 20th Century Toy Collector says:

      Thx for the tip!

    • Surendra says:

      well it’s hard to say. Are you sure you have concented a load to it and not concented the hydro to it? The diversion load controller is concented to the battery and to a load. Not to the hydro. you could try the tech support at Morningstar. They are good. I cannot understand the problem to be honest.

  4. marillyjane says:

    I have all of the original M*A*S*H figurines in their original boxes, but have never heard of the military base. This was interesting to read, thanks.

  5. B. Bjork says:

    I have the figures except pink Klinger (off card) all 3 vehicles (loose) and parts of the playset loose. It was a cool set. I used MASH unit to care for GI Joes injured…

    • 20th Century Toy Collector says:

      Cool! The MASH play set goes perfectly with G.I. Joe it seems! Still hoping to pick one up one day. Seen several of ’em online over the years, but the shipping costs this guy is asking for shipping abroad are just crazy (150 to 200 bucks shipping alone!) so I’m going to hold out for a little while longer :-)

  6. Kevin says:

    Are the mash figures that come 4 to a box for sale thank you for your time. Kevin

  7. Kevin says:

    I have an exemplary mash complete collection along with hand signed photos of the cast and co stars such as Ed winter Alan Arbus my the entire tri star toys that are mint inboxes 9 action figures a script of the dear sigmund episode verified by USA with Alan Aldo’s signature it’s the ultimate collection for sale.Kevin

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