1985 Dusty

Some figures wind up being the definite look for the character, the 1985 Dusty is one example of this. His 1991 Figure, and it’s various repaints are all decent figures, but they don’t feel like Dusty. The 1985 mold is just about perfect in every way for a desert soldier, so it’s not all that surprising that other versions don’t quite match up with the high expectations.

Dusty’s a very solid military mold, he’s got camouflage fatigues on, and isn’t burdened down with a ton of strapped on equipment, which I feel works for the figure. While sometimes the more straightforward Military based figures, tend to become lifeless and bland. Dusty, doesn’t really fall into that trap, as he’s got one unique feature that helps set him apart from just being another guy in camo. Dusty has a cloth that’s affixed to the back of his head, providing him with cover from the sun, but also giving the figure itself a unique look and an overall defining characteristic. It wasn’t seen often in G.I. Joe, and unlike Rip Cord’s parachute, it wasn’t something that was situationally specific.

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Dusty has some pretty interesting paint apps, while the base figure is one colour, there’s a real heavy camouflage pattern, that even extends over the elbow joints of the figure, which is not all that common, there’s also facepaint that I’ve seen a few variants on, some are quite heavy, others not so much. Mine has fairly heavy paint apps, and I’m glad to see that, because the Dusty face sculpt is one of the ugliest in G.I. Joe.

Dusty’s torso is also fairly neat, because it’s received some different style paint apps, than what had been seen prior. While a lot of figures had received shoulder patches on their arms (Which Dusty also received), on Dusty’s chest there’s an American Flag, Jump wings, and two identification patches which in all the media appearances would have the figure’s last name “Tadur” (Mirrored version of “Rudat”) and “G.I. Joe” on them. These details are neat, not only because they’re unusual in comparison to most G.I. Joes having sculpted detailing, and they also break up what’s a rather muted figure, but without doing anything that has a negative impact on the figure’s realism. Of course, this being the first major attempt at that kind of thing, and it being 1985, the colouring on these does leave a bit to be desired, since the American Flag is only white and red, but the attempt is strong enough that it gets a pass.

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Dusty comes with a sick FAMAS submachine gun, and one of those dastardly easy to lose bipods. Much like 1982 Rock ‘N Roll, Dusty’s gun requires the bipod for it to look right, it’s not like Big Ben’s machine gun or whatnot. In recent times, someone has made up a fairly close, but not quite perfect version of the 85 Dusty bipod. I have no problem that it’s got slight differences, and it works well enough for me. As surprising as this may sound G.I. Joe really isn’t something I actually care about enough to go and spend 25 dollars on a small piece of plastic so that I can say my Dusty is 100% complete. I’m fine with the replacement, and the people that get really hard-up on original accessories, or 100% completeness tend to be the people that make G.I. Joe collecting, less fun than it should be, especially considering that G.I. Joe isn’t something with any legitimate pop culture standing, so the legitimacy of a bipod or microphone isn’t going to impress anybody except other people who are into G.I. Joe.

Dusty also comes with a fairly large backpack, that shows he’s a desert specialist based on the very large canteens attached to it. 1985 was the year of bulky backpacks. A lot of them had a lot of depth to them, that extended them out from the back of the figure much more, than say the Airborne or Gung Ho backpacks, which were at the time the largest available in the line. I honestly prefer the less protruding backpacks that were common earlier in the line, because even though they have less “oomph” to them, they didn’t act like a counterbalance to the figures.

1985Dusty

Dusty is one of the best examples of a secondary G.I. Joe character. He’s got an environmentally specific specialty, which allows him to be just a secondary character. Not every mission is taking place in the desert, so Dusty’s not one that’s going to be on most missions, but when he’s called upon, you’ve got a strong figure and character for all the fun in the sun. That was one of the cool things about G.I. Joe, you could have your favourite characters, but there was always enough figures that were useful when needed, but could also be a guy that’s killed in action, when you need a body.

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He is symbolically climbing out of the quagmire of his past

 

Alpine

 

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1989 Python Patrol Tele Viper

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There used to be a time when the Python Patrol were disregarded outright. It was strange since they were army builders in a time of army building mania, but they didn’t seem all that popular. Maybe yellow and red were too gaudy a colour scheme, either way they weren’t talked about often, they were (and still somewhat are) not seen often, and because of the lack of attention on them, I’d never really bothered to put any effort into finding the three ball necked figures.

I saw a Python Patrol Tele Viper for a decent price, and picked it up, I was already buying some other stuff, and felt it would be a good time to buy a figure I’ve never actually owned. I think the original Tele Viper is a pretty decent figure, though somewhat harmed by the obvious late change in neck designs, and honestly my biggest issue has always been the lack of colour that provides any breaks in the figure’s design. Which leads to the the nicest thing about the Python Tele Viper, is that while it might not be the traditional COBRA blue, it does happen to have a much more vibrant and broken up colour scheme. The yellow might be a bit much, but it’s not over powering, and breaks up the grey and provides some separation between the figure’s head and torso, that the original was sorely lacking.

The original Python Patrol sub team, can be split into two camps. The first three, are early molds with like colours but very little in the way of uniformity. The second set of three, are 85-86 era Molds, and feature far more uniformity, without following any actual pattern. With the second set of Pythons, there’s a really decent cohesion between the Viper and Tele Viper (less so the Python Guard). They’re not perfect matches or anything, but the black helmet with red visor and the predominantly grey fatigues allow them to form a fairly uniform squadron, without being too close that they blend into each other. It’s not something that was often done with COBRA army builders, which is understandable from a retail perspective, but in the repaint era there were some opportunities that could’ve been afforded, yet were missed.

What I’d never realized until having the Python Viper and Tele Viper’s standing next to each other, was how similar their uniforms are. Hasbro doesn’t always get the credit it deserves for maintaining an aesthetic amongst it’s figures, not just as an overall toyline, but there were some real examples of going hard to ensure there was internal consistency amongst the two factions. With the Viper and the Tele-Viper sculpts there’s some obvious differences, but those actually go to highlight both the similarities and the fact that the two figures aren’t representing the same role, in regards to combat operations. The colouring has too many differences for it to really come to light with the 1985 and 1986 figures, but the Python scheme really helps illustrate it.

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The Tele Viper is an interesting mold, it’s plain but visually appealing enough to be a classic design. The head is probably the biggest source of criticism because it’s such a large one. While I do think it’s too big, the communication gear aspect does skew it a bit, in my opinion. It’s design really shows that Tele-Vipers are not meant to be combat operatives, and the lack of sculpted weapons, show they’re intended to be support staff for the COBRA legions.

I previously mentioned what I felt was an issue with the figure being the late neck design switch. A lot of the 1985 Sculpts look as though they were intended to be swivel necks, like the previous three G.I. Joe series. If you look at catalog photos and the portraits of Vehicle Drivers like Heavy Metal and Lampreys, a lot of them appear to be Swivel Necks. This isn’t just an interesting factoid, it also helps to explain why some of the 1985 figures have odd torsos or heads that seem a little “off”. A friend of mine once retrofitted a Flint torso into being a swivel neck, and it makes Flint’s head/beret seem less lopsided, I feel that the Tele Viper head was probably made a little off-kilter based on the elongation of the neck.

Otherwise the mold isn’t all that intricate, as most of the  highly detailed sculpting and telecommunications gear is based on the figure’s head, but the cargo pants and vest look neat, and practical. While I earlier mentioned the similarities between the Tele Viper and Viper, the Tele Viper also has some of the utilitarian design aspects of the earlier 1982 COBRA army builders.

PythonTele

I like this figure, but I purchased him mainly because I had decent squad of Python Vipers, and this version would tie in well with them, plus there was the novelty of buying a brand new to me figure, which becomes harder and harder to do as the years of collecting grow. While I don’t think I like the figure enough to go out an acquire any more of them, but that’s not really a condemnation of the figure, but it’s more that it’s not a figure that would ever have a big enough role in my collection, to require more than one.

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1985 Torch

Torch

The original three Dreadnoks are some of the most interesting figures and characters in the G.I. Joe line, especially in the context of the line’s halcyon days, where they pretty much broke it out of the military fantasy realm. These were bikers, not soldiers or blue suited terrorists. To be honest, I’m not sure how the line would’ve progressed, if the Dreadnoks were a failure at the onset. It likely would’ve been a much different line.

Since Buzzer and Ripper have already been looked out, it was important to get around to Torch. Torch is interesting, because where Buzzer and Ripper have some semblance of military in their appearance, Torch is a straight up Biker. He looks like a piece of Tom Of Finland art, but a biker none the less.

Torch has a pretty solid sculpt. his centre-part hair, sideburns and handlebar moustache just screams “violent white trash criminal.” The body is pretty well done too, the heavy gloves and bicep strap fit the role well, the torso with the leather vest also looks pretty biker like, and the skull necklace is a really cool detail. The sculpting is fairly solid for it’s time, and I think it was probably better overall, to only have one figure that was stereotypically a biker, to both sell the Biker Gang idea, but also keep the trio from blending into each other too much. It was also nice to have an outlaw biker, as the line progressed, the biker look for the Dreadnoks began to be replaced with Mad Max stylings.

One thing about Torch, that’s quite neat, but also explains just how much went into paint apps, in the 1984/1985. If you look at Torch’s leg where the knife is strapped to it, there’s a “V” shaped split of the strapping. In it, there’s a blue paint app, rather than just blue from the base plastic. It’s an oddity, at least, but it’s also something that’s impossible to ignore after noticing, because it’s a different shade of blue.

Like his two Dreadnok contemporaries, Torch has a well written filecard. It doesn’t really go deeply into his psyche, like Buzzer and Ripper’s cards did. However, Torch’s explains how he wound up skilled with the acetylene torch, and describes what exactly makes him so dangerous. He’s stupid and violent.

Dreadnok Torch

Torch came with a pretty cool acetylene torch, and backpack tank. It’s cool because it’s exactly what the filecard talks about. The detailing and sculpting on the accessories is pretty solid, even if the cord from the torch to the tank is pretty rigid and not long enough. The cord was a different style from the Tripwire or Flash cords, but also not the accessory hose that became the norm in 1985.

There’s something I’m possibly wrong on, but I recall at one point reading on a message board someone discussing how it was strange that Torch only had his main accessory, and not a secondary weapon, like Buzzer and Ripper received. People went looking at the cardback and saw that early releases (Obvious ’85 cards, rather than the one with the grey filecard from 1986) had a black marker redacting something on the list of weapons near the figure’s bubble. I want to say it was “Entrenching Tool” or “Knife”. I have a good memory for stupid miscellany from decades old Message Board posts, but it’s not perfect.

While on the topic of mysteries related to the Dreadnoks, that doesn’t really warrant an article on it’s own; there’s a piece of lore regarding the Dreadnoks, that I’ve never really bought. That being the story that Hasbro was going to make some “Ewok” style creatures, as the Dreadnoks and that Larry Hama said “why not make them bikers or something”. Part of the reason I never bought that, was the fact that Return Of The Jedi didn’t come out until May ’83, so Hasbro was capable of designing characters and producing figures that would make their first media appearance in under a year? Considering that a lot of designs were in the works prior to G.I. Joe even being on store shelves, makes the whole thing seem far-fetched.

There’s also the fact the real goofy shit, didn’t start creeping into G.I. Joe for a few years, and there weren’t many hints at that direction, and the most outlandish stuff pre-1986 was still more grounded than Ewoks, makes me question that. I could be wrong, and if someone other than Larry Hama gives a similar story I’d like to know.

Overall Torch is a good figure, but definitely the weakest of the three Dreadnoks. For the most part, that’s just due to the lack of usability, the Biker look gives the figure. He looks like a guy who’s gonna ride his chopper from town to town stopping only to commit crime or do crank. The other two ‘Noks give the Biker vibe, but also look a little more military oriented. It’s not the best reason to knock Torch, but it has some relevancy. In a vacuum, he’s a tremendous figure, however G.I. Joe wasn’t a vacuum.

 

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Ladies’ Day

I’ve reviewed one previous Comic Story, Hot Potato the back up story in Marvel Issue # 1. In that article I said I wouldn’t make a habit of reviewing comics, but that they’d occasionally appear. So I figured I’d look at another one of the more forgotten (or likely, forgettable) Special Missions stories.

G.I. Joe was pretty good at being a diverse and inclusive toyline, this also wound up shining through in both the comic book and cartoon. The few female characters (though, more than most other competing toylines) were generally portrayed strong, and competent, and wound up being popular with fans. So it’s not all that surprising, that in the Special Missions they’d do a female centric issue. Did they do it well? Definitely not.

The story starts off with Jinx, Scarlett, Lady Jaye and Covergirl dressed up like cheerleaders or something, doing rockettes style chorus kicks on a parade float at an exhibition game between the “Mites”* and “Dandees”.The president is gonna throw the first pitch or something, but he does it from his luxury box. I guess that’s why he was only a one term president! Anyways the female Joes who feel they’ve been treated poorly because they were put in a ridiculous undercover get-up, then get to stay in the background with the parade float that’s got a lot of surveillance equipment.

The male Joes, on the other hand get to do some show of force surveillance and hang out with heavy armor and a helicopter, and their correct uniforms. Zap, Doc and Heavy Metal all make appearances, too.

At the same time, COBRA has decided they’re gonna kidnap the president. To do so, Fred VII has assembled the crack team of, Firefly, Raptor and Crystal Ball. Crystal Ball, uses his Hypno Shield to hypnotize Falcon and Hawk to have them release the security team. Meanwhile Raptor’s bird drops gas pellets and a disguised Zarana and Firefly (Who throws hot dog bombs) show that they’re bad enough dudes, to kidnap the President and they take him on to the Good Year blimp, which is actually a COBRA blimp. Luckily the ladies weren’t affected by gas or hypnosis, gear up and sneak on the blimp. Well, except for Cover Girl, she gets to go wise up Hawk.

The COBRAs take the president and Zap tries to shoot it with a Bazooka (I guess he didn’t have a problem with people getting weekend passes in prison). On the blimp, Jinx fights Fred VII, Lady Jaye fights Raptor (Gets thrown out of the blimp and has to fight and kill the bird too), Scarlett fights both Zarana and Firefly, but gets help from Jinx. Fred VII pulls a gun and has those two dead to rights, suddenly Hardball appears to pitch a smoke grenade at Cover Girl, who is apparently Lou Gehrig  or something and bats it to Lady Jaye. The smoke provides a distraction and allows a ninja kick to put Fred VII out of action, and the COBRAs escape in a plane hidden in the blip, while the female Joes save the President and get a bunch of perks, such as a months leave with double pay and a week in New York (where everything costs 3 to 5 times as much as it does everywhere else)

This is one bogus issue. On one hand they handled the women as well as they could, by drawing some attention to inequalities, and the different treatment they received. Which was done without being too patronizing. The real issues in this comic come from a distinct lack of continuity and a bunch of art mistakes.

For example, Heavy Metal appears in one panel on the third page, then he magically turns into Cutter, while still being called Heavy Metal. It’s really jarring and poorly done. Another example would be when Lady Jaye is fighting a goddamn bird, she’s referred to as Scarlett. It’s interesting that the name mix up happens when they’re in their actual uniforms!

I can’t say I liked the issue, it wasn’t of much substance, and while there’s an interesting cast of characters, it doesn’t matter because it’s so bland. In a way the storyline almost seems like something that would’ve made a far better episode of the cartoon, than an issue of the comic.

 

*As a completely unrelated aside, there was a period of time when I got WPIX 11, a WB Affiliate from New York, I watched a lot of Mets games and Taxi on that channel.

 

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Great Moments In G.I. Joe History

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1984 Rip Cord

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With the success and craziness surrounding the Classified Figures, I’ve been reminded somewhat of the early days of the Modern Era, where the sleepy G.I. Joe community is kicked in the head and gets to learn about collecting a HOT COLLECTOR’S ITEM. The first year or so of the 25th Anniversary, G.I. Joe was pretty popular, and there’d be all sorts of examples of dudes going to a dozen stores only to be disappointed they couldn’t find Tiger Force Flint.

By 2009, a year and a half into the Modern Era, Hasbro decided that G.I. Joe was back in a big way, and that required a summer blockbuster. In doing so, they hired numerous actors at very low points in their careers. So somewhere, someone thought “Shit, Marlon Wayans isn’t really big enough to be Roadblock, and Stalker has some real bad connotations. Who’s he going to be?”, the final decision wound up being Rip Cord, which was super controversial, mainly because it lead to hilariously bad takes by G.I. Joe fans, and a lot of people getting up in arms about a 3rd tier character in a movie most people didn’t bother seeing.

Still, the controversy of BLACK RIP CORD, never really went away, and Rip Cord took a hit in the popularity department, because of this. I personally always found the Black Rip Cord thing, hilarious, as for the most part it really bugged people, and I liked that. However I even stopped using Rip Cord, as I divorced myself from most aspects of G.I. Joe online fandom, Rip Cord kind of reminded me of the utter stupidity that I wanted to get away from. 

Rip Cord

The Rip Cord Figure, is the first real example of removable webgear in G.I. Joe. It’s probably the best example of it in the vintage line, and the parachute pack, was great because it could be used with anyone. Making even a semi-complete Rip Cord, something I’ll pick up if I find it. The basic camouflage fatigues are nice, and partially to work with the parachute pack, don’t feature a lot of sculpted details. It’s a catch-22, because the equipped Rip Cord looks absolutely awesome, but then your stuck with either a dude walking around wearing a parachute pack on the ground, or a super bare figure. 

The accessories Rip Cord came with are top notch, and probably some of my favourite in the line. The parachute pack, is excellent, with enough flexibility to it, but also not being flimsy. He also included an air mask, that plugged into the parachute. It’s belt is a little big, but for a first time experiment Hasbro did a pretty solid job. His rifle is a personal favourite of mine, the FN-FAL (L1A1 in the Commonwealth) which is a really strong design, and works well in the G.I. Joe scale. It also has a grip on the top, that with a little work, can be hooked into the parachute for aesthetic reasons!

The Parachute has an interesting design, which I’d never really noticed until recently, but the typical way people tend to strap it, where the belt is over the back part of the parachute. Turns out, if you tighten it by two ridges, it’ll fit UNDERNEATH, while also keeping the back from flapping upwards.

Rip Cord lucked out, in that his major appearances in the Marvel comics, wound up with him getting tied in with Zartan, the figure Hasbro decided was going to be the big push of 1984. So while, Rip Cord is a sold figure, his appearances in the comic were memorable, and this helped an already solid figure, gain popularity and notoriety with early online Fandom. Unfortunately, Rip Cord pretty much disappeared following this story arc, and outside of random appearances, never really did much. It was a memorable storyline he was involved in, but it was more about Zartan, than Rip Cord.

I’ve always liked Rip Cord, he’s such a solid figure, and he’s usable in most situations. While he might be a little plain, when looking at the figure in the context of the entire line, however he’s also a lot thicker than many of the 82-84 figures, so he can still fit in with some of the later figures. Though a lot of my memories of Rip Cord, revolve around wishing there were better 3 3/4″ scale parachutes, rather than the wimpy plastic ones from the Skystriker. 

At the end of the day, Rip Cord is an excellent figure, that has enough interesting history behind the character, that you can’t accuse him of being boring. His strong military figure allows him to work well in the background, and there’s always the ever-popular Zartan conflict, that can be worked into a photo or diorama.

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Great Moments In G.I. Joe History

Comic Pack 1

 

 

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Heads up!

Last year, my friend Plastic Battles and I did an overview of  the 1990 Dutch G.I. Joe catalog

Now you can listen to us discuss the 1991 version!

https://www.plasticbattles.net/1991-gi-joe-benelux-catalog

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-qqpch-e6290e

A big thanks, to Paul for having me on, and I hope you people enjoy listening, I stayed up late and drank a Pepsi to do this one!

 

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Interesting Facts About Rifles

 

1983SnowJob

There was an awful lot of unnoticed and undocumented parts reuse and retools in the vintage G.I. Joe line. With figures it was easily identifiable, and made sense, and sometimes things like repurposing Dragonfly and Skystriker parts for the TTBP just made sense, even if it was often under the radar.

Hasbro really loved the 1983 Snow Job rifle, the XMLR-3A. In addition to it being the standard Sunbow Cartoon weapon for the majority of it’s run, it was also consistently modified for additional accessories in the toyline. It made sense as it was an excellent design and worked well with the figures.

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The first modification of the Snow Job rifle was with the 1984 Ripper figure.

Ripper’s gun is a Snow Job rifle, with the addition of the scope, magazine and blade on the end. The changes to the weapon are good enough to change up the look, even though it’s still fairly recognizable as a modification. It does help that it was released in Silver, as opposed to charcoal or black.

Ripper

Next the Snow Job rifle became the basis of the grappling hook gun, that Alpine came with. It’s like the Ripper weapon, in that it’s easily spotted, but also changes itself from the original base rifle that it’s okay. Since Alpine was quite popular in the cartoon, it’s a neat fact. It almost looks like an attachment to the Snowjob rifle.

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The Crimson Guard Rifle uses some parts of the Snowjob rifle in it’s design. The butt of the rifle is from Snowjob, while part of the body is from the 1983 Airborne AR-15. It’s cool that Hasbro would do these kinds of modifications. It gave G.I. Joe it’s own internal continuity.

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The last modification that I’m aware of came about in 1990. With the release of the Night Creeper, Hasbro upscaled the XMLR-3A and then added the crossbow and bolts atop it. It’s an interesting choice, especially considering how much later in the run it is. It doesn’t work as well here, not due to the design, but just because of how much they upsized it.

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One other fun fact about the Snow Job rifle, is that Hasbro intended it to be a laser rifle from the beginning. The classification of XMLR-3A is very close to Flash’s XMLR-1A laser rifle.

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