1987 Sneak Peek

SneekPeek

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.

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1987 Raptor

Raptor is one of the 1987 COBRA operatives. That alone tells one all they need to know about Raptor, he’s obviously going to be an outlandish and fairly silly figure and character. One that was a far cry from the Saboteurs and other grim characters that had previously made up the bulk of the named COBRA Operatives. It was quite the sea change, and one that was certainly not all that successful, based on the lack of named COBRAs released in the next few years.

1987’s cast of COBRAs is something that’s consistently been made a mockery of, even COBRA Commander is usually regarded as the imposter, Fred VII instead of the true blue Commander, just because of the negative feelings around the year, considering that the 1987 figure is very well done. Hasbro released 5 named COBRAs, and only two of them are good figures. Big Boa is somewhat middling, and Raptor and Crystal Ball are almost obnoxiously bad, because they’re poor designs and really don’t fit in with the overall theme of the G.I. Joe line, though they’re still G.I. Joe action figures, which puts them above most other things.

Raptor

Raptor is a ridiculous figure. He’s dressed up like a goddamn bird, he isn’t wearing a shirt, and his main accessory is a cape. I don’t know if it means he can fly, or if he’s just another example of things getting really weird around 1987. Some of the sculpting on the figure is actually quite good. The feathers on his arms and back are well done, his hook nose is a funny detail, and the boots and belt buckle are good designs, that tie in with the overall theme of the character. Though his main accessory being a cape hides a lot of the good sculpting. At the same time, I dunno, the dude has feathers on his back.

Raptor’s a troublesome figure, because he’s got his decent areas, but he’s also got some issues. The headdress is well done, and his face has a lot of character, but he’s also got a Hamburgalar style mask on, though it might be facepaint, I have no idea. The back of his torso is well done, while his chest is odd looking. Still, he’s a figure with some nice little details, like the talons in his boots, and his beak like nose, and he can look good in a photograph, so long as he’s not involved with too many of the Flints of the line.

The one plus I’ll give Raptor, is that he’s very dynamic looking. It’s not that he’s a good figure, it’s just that he’s really distinct, but, hey, when you’ve got the head of an enormous bird on your head, you’re going to stand out. I take a lot of pictures, so much like bright colours, a distinct appearance is going to help the photo a lot, even if it’s something coming from a direction, I don’t personally find too appealing.

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Character wise, his filecard is interesting, if not hokey. The whole yuppie who got into Falconry is a funny idea, and I like that COBRA is a despicable enough organization to farm Mink. Still, it’s kind of odd that Destro would take a look at this crackpot and think “Yeah, you can join our terrorist gang”. However, that’s pretty much what happened.

A while back, I got a text from my friend Paint Wipes, who’s got a knack for bringing many of the stranger aspects of G.I. Joe into a usable idea. In it he suggested that COBRA Commander had inflated his ego to the point he was surrounding himself with complete charlatans and fools, like Crystal Ball and Raptor, hangers on exploiting the Commander for money and clout. I really like that way of looking at things, because it helps explain the totally detached from reality direction that COBRA had taken in 1987, without having to invoke pod people or imposters. It’s COBRA Commander’s equivalency of Hitler post-Berghof.

Raptor had an interesting run in the comics. He was around for Fred VII’s replacing of COBRA Commander, and he was responsible for locating Jinx. Then he kind of disappeared, returned to help kidnap the president, and then he wound up facing the wrath of the returning COBRA Commander. Sorry for spoiling a 33 year old Comic book story!

I don’t often find much use for Raptor, he’s just not a good fit for G.I. Joe. He tends to get thrown into the “assassin type to go against Quick Kick types” it’s not really a good role for the figure, but it’s something that at least makes for a fun thing to photograph. It’s laziness on my part to toss shirtless weirdo villains at the silent weapons team, but, hey, I’m not the Neil Young of G.I. Joe fan content, and at least I’m finding these types some work!

Road Pig and Big Boa, are the two main figures I tend to have face off with the martial artists, and they’re figures that look like ones that could be more than a match for Jinx and Quick Kick, so it’s nice to have Raptor, a figure that looks like a clown, as someone who can be shown getting whooped.

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Raptor is a figure that I don’t think too much of. He’s someone that photographs decently, and can be used to work in some of the other less military inclined figures. Still, he’s a figure that’s best trait is that he’s a G.I. Joe figure, which makes him an excellent action figure, even if he’s one of the weaker ones of not just his release year, but the entire line. Though I’ll give Raptor a bit of a break, and suggest a lot of this isn’t even his own fault. 1987 was a bizarre year, that went a little too far into the wilderness, but Raptor is left holding the bag, because he’s the farthest out there, and the line went back to “realism grounded Military Science Fiction” almost immediately.

Raptor, however is a figure I use more often than I generally would. Over the years, a lot of people have mentioned that I’m good at helping lesser figures look better. Raptor might be the lesser of all traditionally articulated G.I. Joe figures, so I go back to him a lot. So hopefully there’s a person out there that at least appreciates the Raptor photos.

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Nobody that has ever met him can remember what his voice sounds like.

Zandar1986

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Pictures Of G.I. Joes

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European Exclusive Spirit

Spirit was one of the most dynamic designs that Hasbro came up, in the early 80s. While it was a lot more stereotypical appearance wise than most G.I. Joes, it’s one of those things where the idea of the Braves is pervasive throughout North American culture. Hollywood and a dynamic appearance will do that. 1984 was the year that Hasbro started going larger than life, so Spirit makes sense in that context, without being too over outlandish, which possibly would’ve been the case if he was released in the 85-87 timeframe.

However one of the biggest problems with the 1984 Spirit figure, is that the colouring is less than desirable. It’s not bad, but doesn’t fit in particularly well with other figures, and has the issue of easily rubbed paint and a torso that discolours frequently. So while it’s a good figure, it could be better. The 89 Slaughter’s Marauders version is well coloured, but is probably the least likely figure to have thumbs compared to any other figure in the line.

In Europe sometime in the early 1990s (probably 1991), the  v1 Spirit mold strangely made a reappearance. It’s a reappearance that is both dynamic, and visually appealing, but would also be the source of more derision if it were a domestically released figure, some may disagree with that, but we live in a world where the G.I. Joe fanbase is known to decry the 1991 Snow Serpent for being “Neon”.

Spirit’s mold is nice, even if the raw leather pants with fringe and moccasins are a little too stylistic for my liking, from the waist up he’s a perfect figure, and the knife and necklace work well in the context of the character. On the whole, he looks good and the character was good enough in the comic to overcome my reservations about the lower body’s design.

This European release has colours that really hide some of these details, which is actually not a negative with this mold. The grey used for the base colour is a very interesting one, because it’s not one seen often in the G.I. Joe line, so it helps Spirit really stand out, and the red highlights, mesh very well with one another. Though the majority of the figure is the two colours, there’s also enough white, black and blue highlights that prevent the figure from being too monotone. The red stripe takes design cues from the Slaughter’s Marauders version, while also not being the same paint mask. It’s an odd thing, because it doesn’t really fit the figure’s sculpt, but it’s eye catching and works because of the colouring.

This figure is somewhat interesting for some of the questions it raises about the number of molds for figures. In 1989, Spirit, along with the rest of the Slaughter’s Marauders was produced by Estrela. In 1991, or so, Spirit and Mutt, were both released in Europe featuring unique colours and were produced in China. So either they molds were returned to Hasbro’s Asian factories, or they had separate molds, all I know is it’s strange. Of the Marauders, Spirit, Mutt and Low-Light would all appear under Hasbro’s control post ’89, Barbecue would find himself in India, and Footloose must’ve returned to the West Coast to be weird again.

As a character, Spirit is one of the Joes that I don’t factor into the team setting all that often. He’s got such an unorthodox appearance and weapon that I feel he’s been given a role to track down a specific COBRA Agent. Spirit has enough of a skill set that, he can get into the presence of the COBRA Ninja, and is informed enough about traditions that the hope is he can appeal to Storm Shadow’s humanity. It’s unlikely to work, but it’s a big army and they can always find a replacement.

The Spirit vs. Storm Shadow rivalry is one of the few things from the Sunbow cartoon that found itself being incorporated into my silly little G.I. Joe daydreams. One thing that it has over the Snake Eyes vs. Storm Shadow rivalry, is the fact that a fictional universe like G.I. Joe can give a match up like “Shaman vs. Ninja” that you can’t see anywhere else. Ninjas getting into sword fights is something that happens in everything involving a ninja. It’s also something I went with, because the SE and SS pairing had become almost inescapable within G.I. Joe fandom.

Some of the personalized missions like this, allow a little more freedom without becoming a true focus. Spirit is one of the more larger than life looking figures, especially from the 82-84 era, so pairing him up with the COBRA equivalent, works well. I also blame some of it on seeing Apocalypse Now as an impressionable teenager, and like the idea of certain Joes being given ultra-specific assassination missions.

While, I generally place Spirit into the “Guy who’ll likely wind up killed by Storm Shadow” role, this version has a little more oomph to it, than the ’84, so if I need a Spirit that’s going to be used with other Joes, I tend to go with this one. It’s colouring is much more unique, than the blue and tan, which fits in decently with the Airbornes, Dukes and Cutters of the line, but since Spirit is wearing somewhat less than regulation fatigues, I like him to stand out slightly more.

It’s a definite shame that this Spirit mold never really got a truly great colour scheme. Not that any of the figures are bad, but there’s never been a perfect one. I don’t think that this figure is all that much better than the domestic 1984 version, it’s just different, and the rarity factor is mainly used as a way to deem the figure better. Honestly, the best interpretation of the Spirit mold, is the Brazilian take on the ’84 Design, because the skin tone is so much nicer, and helps make Spirit seem more unique.

Now I’m not sure if Hasbro had access to the ’84 Spirit mold, because the Slaughter’s Marauders one was produced in Brazil, but this one was produced in China, but if they did have this mold, it’s a real shame that Hasbro didn’t do anything with it, in the repaint era. Though that could be said about many molds and figures.

With the 2022 retro line looking to be a thing, where Hasbro’s willing to go back and re-do molds, the ’84 Spirit is one I’m really hoping to see. It’s a classic figure and character, that falls into the era they’re seemingly doing. It’s also one that provides a couple opportunities for repaints, which is something I’m fine with, because there’s been three distinct releases of this mold, and all three have issues (discolouration, easily separated thumbs, European rarity) and none are from truly classic G.I. Joe repaint schemes. I’m semi-hopeful to see Spirit, because of his appearance in the Classified line, and there’s good press to be obtained for showcasing indigenous representation.

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Pictures Of G.I. Joes

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2003 Inferno B.A.T.

As time goes by, and there’s less and less G.I. Joe stuff to buy at reasonable prices, I’ve found myself purchasing figures that I’ve never owned, had a desire to own, or put any effort into owning. On one hand there’s some figures that are real duds, that I now have, but some that were fairly interesting and just never on my radar have also joined my collection. I’m not entirely sure where the Inferno B.A.T. actually lands on the scale, but I do find myself enjoying the figure.

The early 2000s G.I. Joe revival, has some fundamental flaws to it, but it was nice to see Hasbro put a legitimate effort into reviving G.I. Joe, without it being entirely an exercise in “The Good Old Days That Never Were”. Though I think a figure like this, that is translucent and a robot, would probably have been a better decision for a mass retail release, than that of a third of a collector’s oriented 6-pack, that you might not have even received, if you ordered it from The Store on 44. Hasbro was actually fairly cutting edge with some of the stuff they attempted during the 2000s Joe revival, but the corporate internet was in it’s infancy, and the Joe community wasn’t quite understood by Hasbro, so these experiments wound up not succeeding the way they could have.

2002Inferno

1991 features some of the best quality designs and sculpting in the entire catalog of O-Ring figures. The quality of sculpting had improved year over year for 10 years at this point, and the designs hadn’t gotten out of hand at the point, due to the need to compete with the growing larger scale competition in the Action Figure line.  The 1991 B.A.T. is no exception, it retains numerous aspects of the original 1986 B.A.T., but streamlines them into a new take on the figure. It’s sleeker, and does not feature any of the sculpted on weaponry of the original. While it’s less detailed, I think the removal of the grenade and pistol is an interesting take on the evolution of the Battle Android Trooper. I like to think that the manufacturing of the B.A.T.s must’ve become cheaper and easier to do, so the need to provide them arms was deemed unnecessary.

Since I’d never owned this figure, I was actually quite surprised by how many paint apps the figure received. The copper and black colouring on the figure provide some contrast, and if you hold the figure up to a light source, it really glows, and the black bands on the thighs and the black visor really do a lot to provide some levels of what’s what.  Where the black really winds up being a strong design part, is it helps to cover up the big issue a lot of transparent figures have, and that’s the black O-Ring “guts” of the figure. The copper is nice as well, since it’s really unusual for a G.I. Joe colour, and matches well with both the red and black. It also works well because it’s a metallic colour on a robotic character.

This figure is an interesting idea, the translucent plastic is viable for a robotic character, and translucent red is probably the best look they could’ve gone with, and the overall theory on the Inferno B.A.T. being a B.A.T. that overheats to the point it glows red hot is a silly concept, but no sillier than mute commandos, or a USAF Pilot flying a Navy fighter jet. However, a reasonably bright, and gimmicky figure like the Inferno B.A.T. is probably a better example of something that’s going to appeal to kids (G.I. Joe’s then target market), then a lot of the actual retail releases. There were numerous examples of this, where a figure with probably more cross over appeal than a lot of retail releases, was squandered because of failures to understand what the early 2000s Collector wanted. I know Hasbro did wind up releasing a translucent figure or two as a retail figure later on in the G.I. Joe revival, but it was too late, and I still think the Valor vs. Venom line was too far gone, even for kids. It veered too far into fantasy, had action features that negatively impacted figures, and featured worse overall sculpts and designs.

InfernoBAT

The specialization of the Inferno B.A.T. is a novel take on the Robot Soldier. Rather than just be a mindless killing machine, the Inferno B.A.T. being a robot that heats up to the point of exploding. I figure that would a legitimately terrifying battlefield opponent. Seeing something glowing red rushing towards you is going to make you reconsider your path in life. It’s a neat concept and the execution of the figure is better than one would imagine, the figure kind of reminds me of a stove element glowing hot, which is kind of the way I think a robot designed to reach critical temperatures before exploding would wind up looking.

Robots in G.I. Joe are one of those strange barriers between fantasy and science fiction that can be somewhat of an issue for some collectors. On one hand Robots are a thing that do indeed exist. Not really to the level of the Battle Android Trooper, which is where some of the real issues arise. At the end of the day, I just think this is a figure that looks cool, and the existence of robots and how advanced they could be is something I’m not going to fret over. I’m more concerned with making this figure look like he’s running the same way David Byrne did in the Talking Heads music video for “Road To Nowhere”.

I picked this figure up because it was going to be “new” to me, and it was cheap. I wound up really liking this figure, because it was such a departure from what is the G.I. Joe norm to me, and I had a lot of fun with it. I don’t need more than one, and I’m certain that this is a figure that will not maintain much in the way of long term appeal to me, but it was a fun distraction, and sometimes with G.I. Joe, that’s all you can ask for.

03Inferno

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That Was an Interesting Year…

2021 came to a close, as just yet another extension on the disruptions we’ve endured for a couple years now. So I hope that 2022, is a better year for all of you out there, as well your loved ones. I don’t know where things are heading, but it’ll be a journey, at least.

2021 was surprisingly positive in the G.I. Joe world, and was that way for pretty much everyone. If you liked the 6 inch figures, they’ve made some cool ones. If you like things that look like Star Wars figures, by a company that makes merchandise based off of the really racist Agnostic Front album, you’re also in luck!

If you’re into classic O-Ring G.I. Joes, 2021 was a better year than we’ve seen in a long long time. The Black Major released three different molds this year, the COBRA Soldier, W.O.R.M.S. and The Crimson Guard, all three were done up in very high quality, some very interesting colour schemes and were a change of pace from Alley Vipers, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.

Of course, when discussing a change of pace from Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, Hasbro announced that O-Ring Joes were going to make a comeback, with those two figures. I’ll probably buy them, because I’m an idiot. Hasbro also went the internet panhandling route, and got a bunch of people to buy the new Skystriker. In 2023, I’ll yell all of my opinions on that, but I’m glad it happened, and that we’re finally getting an O-Ring Black Rip Cord (That’s a joke, since it’s based on Night Force rather than Marlon Wayans!)

I’m glad to see the O-Ring finally get a decent push behind it, and hope that it’s something with greater availability than the recent Wal Mart retro offerings. If we’re living in a dream, I hope that there’s enough success to the line, that something similar to the Transformers Selects, a subline that reduces packaging costs in order to release fairly out there and odd concepts. A two pack of Tiger Force Rip Cord and Sabretooth (We all know that eventually Firefly is getting into this line!) would be something very cool to see.

The Attica Gazette, did very well last year, with a lot of views and visitors. I hope it continues, but if not, c’est le vie. I appreciate everyone stopping by to read about whatever I’m posting about. Last year was pretty 1988 heavy, so this year will probably be a lot heavier on 1987 and foreign figures, though that might just be due to what I’ve got in the can at the moment.

1986 Roadblock was the most popular article on a figure this year, which was mind-blowing! 1986 Zandar was the least popular article, this year, which isn’t surprising but very on brand for Zandar.

While I always enjoy that people stop by here, I also implore you to check in on the following whenever you get the time!:

Colin’s Joes: Colin is another Canadian, who has a very cool collection, and always writes great stuff!

Forgotten-Figures: Mike T. has been doing this the longest, and was right more often than not.

The ARAH Gallery: A photo website that I post on, as do a bunch of other cool dudes! It’s a good place to see some G.I. Joe photos you might not see anywhere else.

The Surveillance Port: Erick’s the only website I actually use to get G.I. Joe news!

The Dragon Fortress: It’s a very loud website, but it always provides intricate detail on what the topic at hand is. Always an enjoyable read!

Nekoman’s Viper Pit: Nekoman has a good perspective on figures, that’s different from most peoples, based on the fact he was a kid at a different time than most of us. He’s also really good at predicting which figure I was going to post, and posting his like two weeks earlier.

Sintechness: Sintechness rules, he’s one of my favourite photographers, because he’s damn good, and more importantly does whatever the hell he wants. I always enjoy seeing his stuff, especially since it puts the onus on me to be better!

General Liederkranz:  General Liederkranz has a wonderful collection, and takes some great pictures. He’s consistent, as he was able to do 52 weeks of Techno Viper photos, without repeating too many ideas or photoshoots!

Mr. MikeV In The Pit: Great pictures and wonderful custom vehicles.

The Homie from KZ: Your twitter involves Bruce Lee, and you’re always providing a lot of information when you can! You single handily explained Russian Funskool figures! Thanks for always stopping by

And, most importantly, The Amazing A-Man,  you always have wonderful comments, and you are a wealth of knowledge.

 

Take care, everybody!

 

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Pictures Of G.I. Joes

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1982 HAL

The first series vehicles are real hit and miss, there’s a a few classics like the V.A.M.P., the R.A.M. and the J.U.M.P., there’s also the M.O.B.A.T., which isn’t a classic based on being a good toy, it’s a classic because it was quite iconic in the first couple years of the G.I. Joe line, in all forms of media. The three other vehicles released that year are just kind of there, including today’s profile, and perhaps the most fun to use of the towed vehicles, the H.A.L.

The H.A.L. is one of the towed weapons, that were prevalent early on in the G.I. Joe line, it was a gimmick that probably helped sell more toys, as it made it necessary to own more than one vehicle, if all you had was the H.A.L. or M.M.S.. As a toy the towed weapons are kind of neat, there’s a pretty decent towing system, which was consistent for years. The compatibility amongst G.I. Joe items is one of the reasons it was such a successful line. That doesn’t make the towed items good, but they exist as a fairly interesting marketing ploy.

HAL

Science Fiction elements were in G.I. Joe since day 1, the Heavy Artillery Laser is one of those. Honestly things like robots and lasers aren’t too much of a big deal to me, as strict military realism isn’t why I like G.I. Joe, and early on enough, these more science fiction and fantasy elements were done with more of a facade of realism. One thing G.I. Joe was great for, was it took itself seriously. It was a fictional universe, but lasers and ninjas and robots weren’t viewed as abnormal or a joke. They were taken seriously within the universe, which is all I can ask for when it comes to the funnier concepts.

The H.A.L. is a fairly detailed sculpt, with enough details that at least make the fact it’s a death ray plausible.  As a toy, it’s pretty nice, the colours are quite rich, unique enough from other Joe items, it kind of stands out, since other than the F.L.A.K., I can’t think of anything that matches with it. The early G.I. Joe waves had enough removable parts, that it didn’t feel skimpy, but there wasn’t so many that the toy felt like it would fall apart if you looked at it funny, so the H.A.L. has a monitor, and a stabalizer leg that if they’re missing, kind of ruins the fun of the vehicle. I’d never owned a usage H.A.L. mold that had it’s stabilizer leg until I picked up this sample, so I didn’t realize how much that stupid little thing adds to the toy. With the leg, it allows you to rotate the gun station 360 degrees without it deciding to point at the ground. Funny how until you’re exposed to some of this stuff, you don’t know.

The two legs that work as the trailer hitch, are quite long, and have enough range to them, you can find yourself working the H.A.L. in a variety of positions. They fit well with the vehicle’s tow hooks, and the holes are a good size, so that it’s not a fight to hook them, and there’s enough slack to allow the vehicle a little wiggle room when positioning them together. The H.A.L.’s hitch connects to the tow hooks that were included on a fair number of the 82-84 vehicles, so it’s got more life than one would expect. It could be dragged behind a V.A.M.P. (which it was most often shown paired with), but also other combinations could be done, like a Polar Battle Bear or a H.A.V.O.C.

Being that it is a towed vehicle, the H.A.L. is behind the 8-ball for it’s usefulness almost immediately. Unless it’s the M.O.B.A.T. towing it, the vehicle is probably going to be more fun than the H.A.L. So it’s kind of detrimental to use it, because why would I want to make the V.A.M.P. worse? Still, when paired up, it can wind up looking pretty good. The H.A.L.’s rotation can be used to make for a dynamic photo, which considering some of the issues with vehicles, that isn’t the worst thing in the world.

I mainly bought this vehicle because it was a good deal, however I find myself liking it more than I remember liking the last one I owned, and it’s a nice enough piece that I’ll probably find reasons to photograph it. There’s a classic element to it, while also being slightly more usable than the FLAK, which is a thing I used to take a lot of pictures of. However it’s also one of those things that doesn’t lend itself to particularly interesting scenarios. I think this is one of those items that’s a far more kid-friendly toy where it’s a thing you can develop a fun play pattern around, but as an adult it doesn’t have that charm.

G.I. Joe is such a vast line, that a lot of the stuff released has a high likelihood of falling through the cracks. The H.A.L. is one of those items, that didn’t get much spotlight, and it’s driver wound up being far more famous for being repackaged with the J.U.M.P. a year later. The other thing that the mold is more likely to be remembered for, is being repainted red and finding itself designated as the Laser Exterminator in Action Force, because it was packaged with the red repaint of the v1 COBRA Commander. Does the H.A.L. deserve a better fate? It’s hard to say, because it’s not really something that jumps out for being a “great” vehicle, but that’s not to say it’s not good, as it’s a hell of a lot better than many things that were released in the G.I. Joe line.

HAL2

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