1988 Destro

The late 80s seemed awfully turbulent for the G.I. Joe line. Maybe it was the lack of a cartoon, or the Rocky Balboa thing not coming to fruition, but Hasbro really started to change a lot of the ways they’d marketed figures, so things like the Iron Grenadiers came about.

Battle Force 2000 was a an interesting marketing gimmick for the Joe line. It was a futuristic group of figures that had two marketing ploys for it. They were sold in special 2-packs (Though originally issued single carded), and the figures were all drivers for a group of futuristic vehicles that could (sort of) combine into the FUTURE FORTRESS. BF2000 was something that Hasbro obviously had some high hopes for, as they kept the G.I. Joe branding, but provided them with a special coloured packaging, to differentiate them from the main line. They also gave the Battle Force team their own ultimate nemesis, the Iron Grenadiers.

I guess to keep the BF2000 sub-line still somewhat connected to the parent brand, Hasbro decided that the enemy needed a recognizable character, so they took the Destro character, and gave him his own private army. Destro was an obvious choice to lead the new enemy, as he’d been portrayed as a rival to COBRA Commander in both media formats, and the COBRA Commander vs. Serpentor portrayal, left Destro out in the cold. Of course the Iron Grenadiers vs. Battle Force 2000 thing never really wound up being played out in the comic books, and that was something that probably wound up contributing to lack of popularity Battle Force 2000 suffered from in the early 2000s.

As a figure, this is a well done update to the original Destro, while also still reimagining the figure, for his new futuristic role. He still looks like Destro, but he’s no longer the leather clad lounge lizard with a wide collar, open shirt and chain with tacky medallion. He’s now a little more swashbuckling, fits in with the Space Conquistador look of the Iron Grenadiers.

The Iron Grenadier Destro keeps the red and black of the original Destro, but has now replaced his silver with gold. The gold is a subtle but nice way to show that he’s now number one. His golden helmet is the biggest change, and the head sculpt is very nice. It looks almost identical to the original 83 Destro’s mask, though there might be a few slight differences. I’ve always like the 83 and 88 Destro helmets a lot more than latter versions, as they actually look like a helmet rather than the stylized heads that more often than not have too much emotion on them, which gives them the look of it being almost face paint.

The rest of this Destro body is nice, he’s still probably clad in leather, but it’s no longer a leisure suit, and he’s got a cape! Capes were a big thing in 1986, and Hasbro did a few more experiments with soft goods and their G.I. Joe figures, Raptor had that goofy wing contraption, and Destro received this cape, though his is actually affixed to the figure. At least it means that the figure has it more often than not, unlike Dr. Mindbender or Serpy.

While I like this figure, I would be doing myself injustice if I didn’t mention how much I hate the weird asymmetrical boots. For some reason one of Destro’s boots goes up past the knee, while the other goes mid calf. It’s awkward looking and bugs me as Destro’s depiction as a character with a luxurious lifestyle, should probably be better dressed.

As a character, Destro is horribly flawed. The villain with honour stereotype works in the situation of G.I. Joe, it was just an awful awful choice for a character who’s role is that of an arms dealer. It’s something that could’ve worked, if the utter hypocrisy of the two character traits was explored, but it was more often than not done in a way to give Destro the moral high ground. It was bad enough that it was just a re-hash of Kwinn’s honour bound character, but then half the goddamn named COBRAs wound up becoming “reformed”, when they probably should’ve just been killed off so that the Joe Team actually accomplished something (Or at least stayed dead in the freighter in a few cases). Though, by the 90s, Hama’s idea of “Evil” was making COBRA Commander a walking thesaurus.

I’ve always liked the emotionless-ness of the Destro head sculpt. The mask isn’t horrific, or friendly or anything, it’s just cold. I figure a character that’s literally a merchant of death, like Destro, would have to be almost entirely detached from what he’s doing. So, to me, Destro’s never really been into it for the power, or for a cause, he just wants war and conflict to keep on keeping on, because it allows him to live a hedonistic existence of night clubs, yachts, resorts and disco. His self-absorption is so deep he doesn’t even realize what kind of havoc he wreaks.

The 1988 Destro is a great figure, and while it doesn’t really mesh well with the jet setting playboy that I view the character as, it still has merit, and the cold detachment of his steel mask is still there. In a way I can view this as a alternate take on Destro, where he took his craft more seriously than just that of a means to end, with the end being that of a really good party. The line in the 1988 filecard about new dreams of conquest, in a way ties that loose end up.


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11 Responses to 1988 Destro

  1. Love this figure, but I think it came out too late. Didn’t know in that his team were rivals to Battleforce 2000. Good info as always!

  2. Mike T. says:

    This mold has so much detail that’s not painted so you don’t see it. This is the unfortunate side effect of being released in 1988. The 2005 Con Destro would have been this mold. But, the club found it and thought no one liked it. So, we got the weird ass CGI Destro instead. This mold in ’05 IG colors would have really showed the quality of the mold. And, Hasbro not releasing the Destro in a comic pack was just another travesty.

    I’m glad you bring up the problematic nature of his character. I used to be OK with him. Now, though, he’s a freaking arms dealer. There is no moral highground that offsets that aspect of his character. And, that aspect has made the character less interesting to me. He no longer has an inner conflict as he’s just another evil grifter, profiting off the suffering of others who does some crappy machinations to allow him to sleep at night. Those guys just suck.

    • A-Man says:

      It’s good to remind everyone the Collectors Club were clueless elitists. They also thought modern era collectors wanted an updated WAVE CRUSHER. (Hardly anyone ever gave a crap about the original!)

  3. A-Man says:

    One of the only 2 good Destro figures.

    Destro the iron monger in the iron mask. I don’t hate arms dealers per se (and the world’s biggest arms dealers are nations, not eccentric characters). Now, with the Iron Grenadiers, Destro actively worked to create new markets by inciting conflicts. He’s about as honorable as a drug dealer.

    I think Hama even admitted there was delusion to Destro. But he rarely, if ever, portrayed that. Destro have never gotten his comeuppance. And I think that would be a Tony Stark moment when he sees his products used to kill something/someone he cares about.

    Some people disliked the Iron Grenadiers, or used to. There’s this weird thing were some fans just wanted a status quo maintained. They want Cobra’s leads plotting against each other but never want Cobra Commander deposed or killed. They want Storm Shadow’s backstory but don’t want him to stop being a Cobra.

    Not fighting BF 2000 in the comics. Odd, Hama thought BF 2000’s natural enemy was the Dreadnoks!

    Regarding the figure. The asymmetrical boots….yeah. The sword was cool, but sheathed it’s just decoration. No wrist rockers, something Hama liked and brought back in the 90’s. We never quite got a 90’s comic Destro. A 25th Ultimate Battlepack made a silver masked IG Destro but left off his cape and he stil didn’t have the wrist rockets.

    • generalliederkranz says:

      “And I think that would be a Tony Stark moment when he sees his products used to kill something/someone he cares about.”

      He came close: his father’s weapons were used to kill the Baroness’s brother, and Destro was there, but Destro didn’t care at the time since he hadn’t met the Baroness yet. That almost has the makings of a lesson that he could’ve learned, that any of his faceless victims could end up being someone he’d care about…but the comics didn’t go there.

  4. Colin's Joes says:

    I love the imagery of the 83 Destro being a lounge lizard. The open collar with medallion does have a bit of a Larry from Three’s Company-vibe.

    In many ways, the IG Destro just created chaos in the comic book as he played both sides. E.g. saving the Joes from the fallout of the Cobra Island debacle. With comics the story needs to show some evolution to continue to compel people to read, but for Destro his different sides prove too much of a dichotomy, and his evolution became less plausible.

    The advantage of having the figures at our disposal is that we could take the character in different directions, beefing up his honour, making him more ruthless, or even an alien under the mask, and we can walk away from the Destro we don’t like and reinvent the Destro we do. Not so easy with the serial nature of comic books.

    You brought up some important considerations about a key character. And your pictures – as always – are superb!

  5. mwnekoman says:

    Another weird case of us apparently looking at the same figures at the same time: I just bought his Despoiler and was going to do a post after taking some pictures with it!

    Destro is one of my favorite characters, though his portrayal in media usually sucks. There’s something really fascinating about the more behind-the-scenes nature of an evil arms-dealer, compared to the showy and over the top nature of Cobra’s terrorism. Because it’s a tad more mysterious, it gives me something fun to contemplate on my own.

    This figure’s really nice. The asymmetrical soft-goods cape is unique and sets him apart from a lot of other action figures from the time, as I can’t think of too many figures that did something like that even in other toy lines. The helmet is another one of the most defining aspects of the figure, I really like the continuity it has with first Destro.

    Probably the only thing that sucks about him is his lack of decent parts. The sword is a nice decoration, but all it does is hang there, which personally always felt cumbersome to me. The 25th figure came with a cool gold revolver I liked a lot, but as I remember, it had a really thick handle that was way too big for vintage figures. I wish I could find something similar to that to give him.

  6. Rudy Yamada says:

    Woo! A Battleforce 2000 reference! Easily my favorite subset in the entire toyline.

  7. paint-wipes says:

    i’ve always pictured destro as the bigger get and the higher profile target for the united states. he’s someone whose been on their radar for decades by the time Cobra is formed. supplying weapons to various post colonial nation states or communist/socialist groups throughout the global south puts him in the CIAs crosshairs. the iron grenadiers are essentially just a mercenary group dressed up in flashy MARS gear. Cobra is another account and a means to an end.

  8. I always enjoy your analysis on later updates to the 82-84 figures you’re really passionate about. This is absolutely my favorite Destro figure, and I never even noticed the flaws you pointed out until I read this. v1 is also a fantastic figure, though, and one I didn’t even care about until I got him in hand. I always thought Destro’s original design was just so goofy, but that figure sells it. And, I have to say, your take on his personality and lifestyle sells it even more.

    I still like 97 Destro though, so everyone else here in the comments can line up to fight me.

  9. Pingback: 1986 Serpentor | Attica Gazette

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