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.
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.