When looking at the figures released for the Joe team, 1987 kind of splits into a few different territories. There’s a couple outliers like Chuckles and Jinx, but then it kind of splits into either the continuation of the 1986 series’ stylized appearance, and then there’s the figures that fall into the much more “traditional military” appearance that was common prior to 1985. Sneak Peek falls more into the former category. It’s an oddity about the already strange year that is 1987, because it’s rare that a year is so split in regards to the designs of figures, and in fact the only other year that it seems as noticeable is 1984.
Sneak Peek is an interesting figure, he’s not a particularly bad figure, but he’s also not really all that good either. I think he might also be the most common vintage figure, considering that any time you see G.I. Joes for sale, there’s probably a Sneak Peek, even if every other figure is from 1985 or Battle Corps. I’m sure if you were to look at an eBay auction of 10 or more vintage Joes, there’s probably going to be at least two of the Sneak Peek, Countdown and Blizzard trifecta of incredibly common and always incomplete late 80s G.I. Joe figures.
One kind of interesting aspect of Sneak Peek, is that Hasbro decided to sculpt him to be heftier than the typical Joe, which I think probably should’ve happened a little more often, not everyone is going to be jacked like Outback. His figure has some decent sculpting, he’s got some armour, and a couple of other little strapped on pieces, but it’s a fairly simple figure, as most of his defining traits come from the accessories he was packaged with. The big green periscope is probably what people think of when they think of Sneak Peek, it’s an odd accessory, I’m sure there’s probably an actual item it’s based off of, but any time I’ve looked it up, it’s always some stuff from the Red Army of the 1940s. It’s an awkward accessory, I’ve never been able to get him to hold in a convincing manner, so I don’t think it’s all that useful, but you kind of need it more than any other Sneak Peek accessory.
His others aren’t too shabby, he’s got a nice pair of binoculars, that aren’t as detailed as Duke’s but it’s a useful, and neutral accessory. He also comes with a strapped M-16 that is the same as the one originally included with Footloose, a radio that hooks to his thigh and a microphone, which like every other microphone is fairly often missing, though despite it often being missing, it doesn’t take away from the figure the same way a mic like Dodger or Lift Ticket missing does.
Since he’s supposed to be a recon specialist, one of the nice things about Sneak Peek is the fact that all of his accessories, minus the tower periscope, are capable of being on the figure at once. The mic and radio hook onto the figure, and the fact there’s a strap for the binocs and gun, means he can hold one of those and strap the other across his chest. If a figure’s going to have a bunch of parts, it’s nice that they can keep them with them!
Sneak Peek is grey and red, in a year that features a lot of grey and a lot of red in it. He’s very similar to Crazylegs, and while the figures pair up well together, it’s not as common a thing to see, as one would expect. I think some of that goes back to early fandom’s strict adherence to Marvel continuity and both figures were ones that bought the farm in the Trucial Abysima storyline.
Earlier I mentioned that 87 figures kind of split into two groups. Sneak Peek and Psyche Out strike me as the two figures who follow the 1986 stylings the most. They both have the larger domes, and the colouring and sculpting are more in tune with 86 Roadblock and Mainframe, then they are Falcon and Tunnel Rat. Sneak Peek and Fast Draw tend to work as good bridging figures, that allow the ’86 and ’87 figures to mesh well together.
Character wise, I’m not really sure what Sneak Peek had in the way of characterization, he didn’t make the Movie, and the only issue of the comic I remember him from, he gets KIA’d by a Range Viper. Apparently he was friends with Dusty. Otherwise, he was just a background character, such as his role in the recon team during the COBRA civil war. He was there, but wasn’t one to leave an impression.
Personally, to me, while I like the later releases from the Joe line as toys, I tend not to view them with the same way as I do earlier figures. I don’t do the same kind of world building with them, but that’s also started to change somewhat, as the more of these figures I acquire, the more big picture view on some of these years, I tend to develop. Still, shirtless weirdos fighting martial artists, is a little more exotic that “Infantrymen that look different than the infantrymen I’ve grown to know and love”
I’d probably be doing the figure a disservice if I didn’t mention that there’s a bit of notoriety about Sneak Peek. He’s one of the first figures named after a fan of the toyline. Owen King, was the son of horror author, Stephen King, and was apparently a huge fan of G.I. Joe, which makes sense, because G.I. Joe fucking rules. His dad wrote Crystal Ball’s filecard too. I’m sure this is all well-known, but it’s an interesting factoid about a figure that isn’t entirely interesting.
At the end of the day, Sneak Peek isn’t a top tier G.I. Joe figure, but he’s distinct, and recognizable, and therefore is worthwhile enough to be usable. He’s one of those everyman figures that is useful as a figure that can bridge multi-year gaps in a diorama or photo, without being too overpowering a figure or character that he takes precedent. G.I. Joe was made by it’s best figures, but the strong selection of B and C tier figures helped keep the line a lot of fun to collect, and provides a way of keeping things fresh.