1985 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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6 Responses to 1985 Torch

  1. Mike T. says:

    I’d not heard the story about his missing accessory. I’d love to get more info on that.

    Torch was my first Dreadnok. I got him at Sears in December of 1984 after the kids down the street and I found all three among their Christmas presents hidden in their parent’s room.

    Torch isn’t as frightening as he used to be. And, he and Ripper have not aged as well as Buzzer has. I had forgotten how many international releases Torch had…but never in India so he remained the only one absent in the 2000’s, too.

  2. A-Man says:

    Tom of Finland art…hmm….how are you familiar with that? Ha-ha. Or how familiar with it was Hasbro’s Ron Rudat? I kid, I kid…

    The EWOK story. What I suspect happened, was that Mr. Hama was shown the Fatal Fluffy designs for the cartoon, since animation also took awhile to make, it’s conceivable they were shown as early as 1983? Maybe?

    Poor Torch missed the boat to Europe but was the sole original trio ‘Nok released in Brazil.

    All three original Dreadnoks were solid figures IMHO. . Personality wise, that’s where things get fuzzy. (But not fatal fuzzy), Buzzer was intellectual got native, the most likely to question Zartan and lead the others into mischief. But Ripper and Torch weren’t so defined. Going by file cards, Ripper is greed motivated while Torch is a destruction motivated. Maybe?

  3. Erick says:

    Fantastic write up, my friend! I too would love to know more about this accessory.

  4. generalliederkranz says:

    The entrenching tool is mentioned in Mark Bellomo’s book, and just as you say, he indicates it’s in the accessory list on some card backs. He doesn’t say that it was covered up with tape though.

    I’ve also wondered whether the “Dreadnoks were supposed to be evil Ewoks” thing refers to the Fatal Fluffies. It seems to me that storyline in the cartoon could’ve originally been written for just the Fluffies to be aboard the space station, with no “real“ human Dreadnoks. I’m so glad Hama prevailed on that one. If they’d put them into animated ads, he might’ve had to put them in the comic…

  5. Josh Zyber says:

    My favorite detail about the original Dreadnoks is that their first names were Tom, Dick, and Harry, while their last names were Winken, Blinken, and Nod. Hama couldn’t resist a pun, and he managed to cram in two with the file names alone.

  6. mwnekoman says:

    I always assumed the Ewok thing was going to be the Fatal Fluffies too. It’s interesting to consider that the Crimson Guard came out in ’85 as well, and at least in my eyes they were pretty heavily pulling from the Royal Guard, also from ROTJ.

    While writing this comment, I realized how much of what I wanted to say was speaking about the Dreadnoks as a whole, which in my mind is telling as to Torch’s relatively weak identity. I like having him as a mook essentially, but Torch’s character is certainly weaker than the other early Dreadnoks.

    I managed to finally get a really nice example of this guy sometime last year, though oddly I’ve found that the white paint on his necklace is really delicate. Seemed like half of the ones I came across for a long time always had a chip there, but then again, I may have just not been looking well enough. Overall, he’s a really cool figure, but he’ll always lose points just for not being as nice as Ripper, Buzzer and Zartan.

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