G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)
“Destro is the faceless power behind MARS (Military Armaments Research System), largest manufacturer of state-of-the-art weaponry. To Destro, war is man’s most natural state: the fittest survive and the greatest technological advances are made. He maintains a luxurious lifestyle around the world. Destro provides high-tech arms to any side able to meet his price and will incite war where it does not exist. He dons his silver battle mask (a family tradition) and enters battle himself, either with COBRA Command (Destro is their major weapons supplier) or against them if it’s better for business.
Destro respects the G.I. Joe team for their combat skills and expertise, but abhors them for wasting such skills to maintain peace. He’s totally dedicated to seeing them undermined, subverted, or destroyed! Destro respects the G.I. Joe team for their combat skills and expertise, but abhors them for wasting such skills to maintain peace. He’s totally dedicated to seeing them undermined, subverted, or destroyed!”
The villainous component of the A Real American Hero line in its debut year was somewhat small compared to what it would later become. Apart from Cobra Commander’s later inclusion the first year, there weren’t really many villains to go on. And yet, before the two sides of the conflict were even fully formed, we already had a potential middle ground (though he’d eventually prove a pretty strict villain for just about every version of the franchise going forward) in Destro, steel-faced arms dealer.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Destro was part of the 1983 assortment of GI Joe: A Real American Hero, where he’s actually one of only two single-carded villains, the other being Major Bludd. The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation. Though they had added the bicep swivels by this point, the necks hadn’t yet been upgraded to the ball-joints, meaning he’s just got the side to side motion. I guess it’s not the end of the world for a guy in a big metal mask, though. There are lots of distinctive Joe looks, but it’s honestly kind of hard to top the classic Destro look. It’s hokey as all get-out, but its undeniably unique, and would go on to play a major part in influencing the less “standard issue” parts of the Joe mythos. For what its worth, Gung Ho’s presence in the same year’s line-up means that Destro doesn’t quite have the most absurd design, but it’s definitely up there, with the popped collar, low-cut shirt, and chrome mask. Said mask is certainly the star piece of the figure; unlike later versions, it actually looks like a mask, and has much sharper angles than a normal face. It’s also a little larger, so there could conceivably be a head underneath of it, which was most definitely dropped as they progressed. At the time of his release, Destro was the beefiest figure in the line, which would serve as an inspiration for the character’s imposing stature going forward, though it’s certainly more underplayed here than you might expect. Destro’s paintwork was pretty basic, with the chromed helmet again being the star attraction. Everything else is straightforward, though it’s worth noting things like his pendant were especially prone to wear as time went on. Destro was packed with a small pistol and a backpack, which folds out to showcase an array of weaponry, as you would expect to see for an arms dealer.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Destro is actually the earliest thing I recall about the small-scale Joes. I remember seeing him (though it was definitely a later figure) at Ageless Heroes when they were closing down. At the time, I mistook him for Deadman (who was still without figures in those days), and his look kind of stuck in my head from thereout. Despite that, I’ve not had many Destros in my collection, for one reason or another. I’ve been wanting to get the original for some time, and fortunately the large Joe collection that came in at All Time gave me just such an opportunity. Destro’s original figure is one of the gems of the earliest days of the line, and a real showcase of where things would end up going.
As noted above, Destro came from All Time Toys, who got in a rather sizable vintage Joe collection, the remnants of which can be checked out the Joe section of their eBay page here. If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.