1983 Zap

Outside of factory customs, I hadn’t purchased many G.I. Joe figures online since probably 2011-2012, I made a few purchases here or there, but I wasn’t actively looking at G.I. Joes, so in the late 2018ish, when I started collecting Joes with a bit more enthusiasm again, I was shocked at how STOOPID some of the prices had become, one figure in particular, really shocked me, the original Zap. Zap isn’t really a fan favourite, and while the figure is somewhat fragile, I never would’ve imagined he’d be commanding between $50 and $70 dollars. That’s not even factoring Double Handled Bazookas.

Zap’s one of the more unique Original 13 Joes, he’s got a seldom used torso, and he also received the green colouring only a couple of the 1982 figures got. He’s a nice looking figure, even if he’s still somewhat generic looking. Zap also shows that bright green had been a main stay of G.I. Joe since day one, since his pouches are pretty much the same colour as Col. Courage’s highlights.

Zap copy

One place Zap tends to benefit from is having a memorable specialty of being a Bazooka man. His weapon is also fairly stereotypical looking as what you’d think a bazooka would look like. It’s cool, but the fact Zap is walking around with something that looks like it came out of the Korean War is kinda of odd, but that’s the nice thing about G.I. Joe, it’s got a degree of realism, that’s much more entertaining than if it were to actually be realistic.

His Bazooka though is part of what makes this figure interesting, since there’s three major variants of it, and there’s also the fact it seems to be made out of different plastic than most Joe weapons, it almost feels like it’s made out of the same plastic that figures are made from. I think that might be part of the reason that so many of the Bazookas are missing the sight, and why it breaks so many damn thumbs! Of the three Bazooka variants, I’ve never actually seen a double-handle, and there’s also the thin and thick handled Bazookas. The thick isn’t terrible, and as long as you’re not being an idiot, should be safe with figure’s thumbs. The thin handle is great though, as it takes away a lot of the weariness from using the Bazooka.


Zap’s got some decent character traits. He cracks wise and isn’t thrilled with being forced to fly helicopters. It’s not much, but what’s Short Fuse ever done? To me, Zap’s got a specialty that’s actually pretty useful for the Joes, since having mobile anti-armour support would come in handy. To me, Zap’s in the second tier of figures I choose for photographs, because of this. He’s definitely not one of my favourite figures, but he’s got a place. He stands out more than a lot of his 1982 brethren, not only due to the light olive base colouring, but the, bright pre-neon green used on his pocket highlights provide just enough “pop” that he can meld in with later figures a little better than Short Fuse or Grand Slam.

It appears that some of the 1982 characters were going to have new heads, at some point. Zap is one of the ones that it has been shown to be the case, it appears to be a head that looks very similar to the one used for Deep Six, featuring a cheap painted on moustache that makes him look like Freddie Prinze. It’s no better than the black haired Grunt head, and while I don’t doubt the authenticity, I don’t really feel we missed out not getting it. Though when the hubbub about it’s surfacing happened, it made me realize something about my interest in G.I. Joe, and that was, there’s a lot of secretive and behind the scenes stuff that never saw the light of day, and I honestly couldn’t care less. It seems a lot of my interest is rooted in things that are actually attainable. Unused concepts and stuff are neat, but a Zap that looks like Chico Rodriguez (AKA worse than the production figure) isn’t all that interesting or impressive.

Zap to me, is the Joe who gets brought along, because he’ll be useful to use to soften up hard targets, and enough secondary skills that he’s not a one-trick pony. Though with how much a Zap costs nowadays, I think I might start using the 1997 in photos instead!





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6 Responses to 1983 Zap

  1. Mike T. says:

    Good Zap’s break $100 now. It’s stupid. He’s not really all that more rare than any other nicely conditioned ’82 or ’83. But, lots of Facebook guys trump up the brittleness and how mint copies are “rare”. So, noobs overpay. It seems any figure with a “variant” now sells for a premium, even if you’re buying the common and easily found version.

    I think Zap photographs better than most of the early Joes. The distinctive colors really stand out. But, like you say, with the current pricing, it’s far safer to use the ’97 figure which is good enough and, in my opinion, has better colored accessories. It sucks that Joe is where it is as it makes the prospect of breaking something far more expensive. I didn’t mind snapping a thumb on a $5 figure. But, a $50 figure is a totally different thing.

    I agree with you on the unproduced ’83 heads. I don’t think they were an improvement. And, we’re likely better for it that they weren’t released. I suspect that many of the heads planned eventually ended up on other ’83 and even ’84 releases.

  2. The artwork confused me, no stache on the figure. As a kid didn’t know it was to save as production to re-use the Grunt head.

  3. A-Man says:

    I think I went through 2 or 3 straight arm Zaps, the thumbs or fingers breaking.
    My brother got the swivel arm version, but my interest in getting JOEs waned in late 1983, and mostly stayed that way until 1985.

    Yeah, his weapon is anachronistic in style, but I see the 1982 batch as poseable army men more than anything else. I miss that concept, in today’s NEW SNAKE-EYEZ VERSIONS, a very character centric fanbase, caring less about squads and function, more about masked bad arses and tatted up DUDES with muscles.

  4. generalliederkranz says:

    “I miss that concept, in today’s NEW SNAKE-EYEZ VERSIONS, a very character centric fanbase, caring less about squads and function, more about masked bad arses and tatted up DUDES with muscles.” — this is a good point, and I think it reflects our times. In the early ’80s kids knew veterans of the draft in Vietnam and WW2 so they thought of war as something ordinary men did, in teams. Now after 20 years of the war on terror it’s more common to think of war as something done by a small group of overworked, hyper-elite special operators, set apart from the rest of the population.

    Zap was special to me since he was the first swivel-arm early figure I had with accessories. I got all my early figures from flea markets in the ’90s and for some reason I found tons of straight-arm figures, but very few swivel arms. The straight-arms weren’t fun to play with and were usually broken. Only when I got my swivel-arm Zap with his bazooka did I realize what fun the early figures could be.

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