8 pieces of merchandise that prove M*A*S*H was the biggest show of the early '80s
From toys and games to beers and bed sheets.
Image: Revell Models
Anyone who questions the popularity of M*A*S*H needs only to look at the ratings for the series finale. "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" drew an estimated audience of 120-plus million Americans in 1983. The U.S. population was only 234 million at that time.
So, with half of America tuning in, you can bet the powers behind M*A*S*H saw marketing opportunities. That would explain the wide array of M*A*S*H merch that filled stores in the early 1980s.
There was something for the entire family. Yes, a dramatic sitcom about war surgeons even made toys for little kids. There were adult beverages, too.
Here is some of the more interesting M*A*S*H stuff that was on sale back in the day.
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1. Revell 'Swamp' Scene Model Kit
The detail on this 1:35 scale model kit was impressive, right down to the teddy bear in Radar's left arm. Hawkeye and Hot Lips were paintable figures, too. You needed a fine brush to get the "Morton Grove" lettering on one of those sign slats. Revell also sold a Bell H-13H Helicopter model kit for M*A*S*H fans.
2. M*A*S*H Beer
While the show took place in the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, alcohol did play a larger part than mere sanitization. Hawkeye, Trapper and B.J. were all seen tinkering with a homemade distillery in the Swamp. Moonshine might have made more sense as a product tie-in, but it does not quite have the market share of beer. M*A*S*H was not the only television series with a novelty beer, either. Dallas had its own JR Beer — as in "Who shot J.R.?" — labeled "J.R. Ewing's Private Stock" on a blue ribbon.
3. M*A*S*H Matchbox Jeep
The Matchbox "Star Car Collection" came around for collectors years after M*A*S*H ended and included several beloved MeTV series. There was an Adam-12 cruiser, a Brady Bunch station wagon, a Shotz Brewery van for Laverne & Shirley, a taxi from Taxi, and a, er, pickup truck for Happy Days.
4. M*A*S*H Bed Sheets
Did these come in cot sizes?
Image: Etsy / DebbysHouse
5. M*A*S*H Trading Cards
Many popular TV shows had trading-card sets, even The Waltons. The M*A*S*H collection featured stills from the show on the front and tiles to complete a massive puzzle picture on the flip side.
Image: mash4077tv / Donruss
6. M*A*S*H Military Base Playset
Now this is awesome. This detailed playset from Tristar (seemingly enjoyed by a young Conan O'Brien on the front of the box) included just about every nook and cranny of the 4077th. Col. Potter had his headquarters. Little plastic surgeons could prep in the pre-op ward and tend to patients in the hospital. The officers' mess offered a place to relax. M*A*S*H action figures and vehicles sold separately, of course. Those included a Jeep and the following…
7. M*A*S*H Action Figures
What use is a playset without action figures? The Tristar action figure collection included Klinger (in Army gear), Klinger (in pink), Potter, B.J., Hawkeye, a rather ripped Father Mulcahy in pink suspenders, Hot Lips and Winchester, seen here. Move over, G.I. Joe! Here comes David Odgen Stiers! These toys hit stores in 1982, just as M*A*S*H was nearing the finish line.
8. M*A*S*H Golden Trivia Game
With 11 seasons and 256 episodes involving dozens of characters, there is no shortage of M*A*S*H trivia. No wonder Golden was able to come up with four decks of cards loaded with six questions on each face, separated into the categories of "Early Episodes," "Closing Seasons," "Love and War," and "Personnel Files." Want a sample question to get a sense of the difficulty level? Here you go: What is the nickname of Klinger's father?
Image: eBay / seharr-77