Studies in Crap presents ’80s Action Heroes Where They Don’t Belong, Part One: Rambo Coloring & Activity Book!


Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Rambo Coloring & Activity Book

Author: Frank Stinga and Carrie Fink
Publisher: Modern Publishing
Date: 1985
Discovered at: antique mall
The Cover Promises:
You expect and demand little of your children.

Representative Quotes:

“Rambo is a real freedom fighter.” (page 8)
“Rambo is a real woodsman.” (page 18)
“Ka-pow!” (page 14)

Not long after the extraordinary success of Rambo: First Blood, Part II, 1985’s R-rated orgy of torture, guerrilla warfare, and sensual moments spent tying bandannas beneath waterfalls, market research conducted for Carolco Entertainment revealed a surprising fact: The United States was now home to just enough terrible parents for a syndicated cartoon based upon Sylvester Stallone’s Vietnam-haunted ammo-fetishist to achieve profitability.

Of course, Rambo and the Forces of Freedom, the resulting series, eliminates the movie’s killshots and avoided First Blood concerns such as PTSD or Rambo’s wish that this country love its soldiers as much as its soldiers love it. Instead of smearing himself in mud and strangling Vietnamese soldiers, cartoon Rambo jumps over a motorcycle and then dispatches the driver with a cardboard box. (It does share with the movies a devotion to lingering shots of a half-dressed Rambo prepping for battle.) Any time spent with Rambo and the Forces of Freedom should scratch one theory about Sylvester Stallone movies: They’re not cartoons. Cartoons, at least, are inventive.

What’s not inventive is this detestable ancillary product, a coloring book created with such contempt for its audience that, somewhere, George Lucas must be jealous.

For example, what possible joy might kids find in switching from light to dark gray as they color-by-number this canon?


The book opens with exposition so flat that the reader longs for the snap and excitement of actual Sylvester Stallone dialogue scenes.
Another joy: coloring the static faces of grim adults! Also, it’s worth noting the goofiness of the eyes, here. The colonel’s pupils bob alarmingly …


…  while Rambo’s demonstrate that the artist has dared some symbolic exploration of the hero’s soul. Let’s look closer.
That’s no eye — that’s a vulture wearing a bib!

Flip it over and we have a nipple in a gondola.


Eyes and nipples remain a motif on the next page, which finds Rambo undertaking this satellite mission …

…  with the eyes of a Jack o’ lantern carved into his chest.

For a page or two, your Crap Archivist almost believed the artist harbored some ambition. Then I came to this.

Much like his country did to him, Rambo turns his back on this embarrassing maze. If you insist on conquering maze mountain, here’s a hint: GO UP.

After Rambo finds the satellite, unconnected bursts of nonsense pad the rest of the story:

  • Rambo is attacked by helicopters on top of a mountain, so he does what any real woodsman would do.


  • Rambo befriends a fawn.


  • Rambo pulls on a shirt, whips out a knife, and violates all rules of perspective and limb-length.


  • Rambo is attacked by a letter-jacket.


  • Rambo turns his eyes into snails.


Shocking Detail:
Yes, each aspect of Rambo Color and Activity Book smacks of such half-assedness that “half-assedness” fails to describe it. This is no-assedness.

But nothing in it can prepare for the laziness of this dot-to-dot.


Dear Frank Stinga and Carrie Fink,

Pop Quiz!
This sketch took me half a minute.

Does it depict …

  • Rambo eyes?
  • Bibbed vultures?
  • Gondola nipples?
  • Parenthetical olives?
  • Mustachioed eclipses?
  • A sleepy peacock?


Join us right here next Tuesday for a Bonus Studies in Crap, featuring part two of our ’80s Action Heroes Where They Don’t Belong series!