Lightfoot is the last carded Joe figure from 1988 I acquired, partially because I had a fairly low opinion of the figure for a long time (so low, I think I once stated something about the shame of them not using a “good” figure in his place, in a Belgian diorama), which was possibly due to the fact I confused him with Scoop a lot of the time. Still, Lightfoot was a figure who’s first look hides a lot of the overall quality of the figure’s mold. Upon getting him, a lot of the things I felt would be warts on the figure, wound up not being all that big a deal, and that Lightfoot was a sorely underrated gem of a figure.
The 1988 molds are high quality sculpting, with some questionable decision making in regards to some of the aesthetics of the figures. A lot of the 1988 figures feature very little colour, in fact a lot of the figures, Lightfoot included, are generally limited to three colours total. Some figures, were given extra splashes of colour via their accessories, as Lightfoot’s helmet is blue with red painted highlights.
Some of the figures like Muskrat or Hit & Run kind of suffer from the plainness of the colouring. Lightfoot doesn’t suffer the same way, because the green, yellow and black all contrast with each other. He’s a more dynamic looking figure, even if he really isn’t all that more colourful than his year’s pack mates. The yellow is similar to the one used on Airtight, in that it’s a bright colour, but subdued in comparison to other uses of yellow throughout the line. The green used on the figure matches well with the green on Muskrat, while the yellow pairs him with Shockwave and Charbroil. 1988 might be the best year in terms of overall cohesiveness since 1982, which probably plays a pretty serious role in my decision to consistently use 1988 figures together. Lightfoot lucks out and gets paint apps on most of his details, outside of the loops on his waist he’s pretty well detailed, though the stripes on his legs are an odd choice, since they don’t go over any sculpted details, nor do they look all that cool.
Lightfoot’s sculpt is quite impressive. The figure is in a bulky blast suit, and features some hefty armour on the chest, as well as really bulky boots. The boots are an impressive thing to me, as figure’s feet generally were pretty consistent size-wise, mainly for overall compatibility for accessories and vehicles. Lightfoot’s aren’t actually any bigger or wider than the average Joe, but the sculpting on them provides the illusion of that. For a guy who’s job is to detect explosives, it makes sense.
Where Lightfoot’s got some real issues, are his accessories. They’re not really “bad”, especially in the traditional G.I. Joe sense, but rather the fact that they’re utterly bizarre. The robot, who I’ve taken to naming after random Gordon Lightfoot song titles, isn’t bad, and might be the most true to life robot in the vintage G.I. Joe line. The backpack and explosives divining rod are okay, not good or bad, as they’re somewhat fidgety and they aren’t things that scream to you what they are, the way that Tripwire’s mine detector did. On the bright side, the backpack and divining rod and attach to each other, so there’s a little more depth to them, than some accessories tend to have.
Lightfoot’s helmet is one of the nicer ones in the line. It’s large without being buffoonish (like Blizzards comes off as), it gives Lightfoot a dash of colour, which sounds kind of strange for a figure that’s clad in yellow, but it’s true. The blue might seem a little odd, but it works very well with the rest of the figure. The red eyes are a nice touch, as 1988 is the year of painted helmets, it seems. For a long time my Lightfoot’s helmet was missing the antennae at the back of it, as I didn’t realize it was A. part of the design, and B. That it was something that was removable.
As I mentioned earlier, 1988 might be the most cohesive batch of figures since 1982, and I like that. It’s a year of plain and nondescript characters, but to me, that’s somewhat of the charm of the year. The figures are a team, because none of them really stand out. I’m probably the only person who feels this way, but I think it’s because the 1988 figures for some reason reminds me of a middling hockey team I played on as a kid, that actually had a little bit of success, and it was mainly just because there wasn’t any “star” player on it, and most everyone knew their role. I have no idea why that hockey team and the 1988 G.I. Joe line are entwined, but they are.
Lightfoot’s a figure with a specialty, that might realistically be needed, but it’s hard to justify using in the thrilling world of 3 3/4″ action figures. He also suffers from sharing a specialty with Tripwire, a character who is one of the most dynamic characters in all of G.I. Joe, despite what people might think. This combined with the somewhat awkward aspects of the figure’s accessories kind of does Lightfoot in, in the popularity department. I guess people also probably dislike him because he’s yellow, but I think that’s a little more symptomatic of the figure and character’s actual issues. People are willing to disregard colouring or like issues when the character is popular.