G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)
“Any frogman can operate in clean water, under optimum conditions, but the UNDERTOW are especially trained to function and fight in the murky, polluted waters that clog busy industrial and military waterfronts. His wet-suit is made of a nontoxic anti-corrosive material. His face-mask is coated with silicone to repel oil slicks, and is organically conditioned against hostile biological agents and infections.”
In 1988, Destro decided he just wasn’t content to let Cobra have all that faceless minions fun, so he got his own group of armed body guards, dubbed the Iron Grenadiers. He then decided he liked that enough to double down, and start adding even more faceless minions. But, in order to add more minions, he’d really need to diversify things a bit. Throw in a little bit of specialization, you know? Cobra had their own group of underwater operatives, so why not get in on that market? Enter the Undertow, Destro’s Frogmen.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Undertow was released in the 1990 line-up of G.I. Joe, and was one of two additions to Destro’s forces from that particular year, bringing Destro’s total numbers up to a resounding 10. Hey, that’s not the worst, I suppose. The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation. Despite not being Cobra affiliated in the slightest, Undertow’s sculpt actually has a lot of the same hallmarks of a lot of Cobra’s forces. Because of this, it’s not much of a shock that the next two times the mold was used, he was transitioned over to Cobra. It’s honestly a pretty solid sculpt, and surprisingly restrained for being a 1990 release. Where most of them were starting to bulk up and go for the more fantastical elements, this one keeps it far more low-key, and honestly feels pretty at home with the line’s earlier offerings. He’s just got a very clean design. It’s kind of a shame that they saddled him with with the color scheme that they did. Yes, if Undertow’s sculpt isn’t indicative of the time period he was released in, his paint is. I mean, it’s not blindingly neon like others, I suppose, but he looks something like a Christmas pageant reject with all that red and green. Not exactly the sort of colors that come to mind when you think of an underwater trooper, are they? At least the application’s not bad, I guess. Future uses of the mold would change the colors way up, which honestly did the mold a lot of favors. Undertow was packed with a mask (with hose), harpoon, sled (with removable missile), flippers, and a…barracuda? Hey, whatever works for you, man. Mine is missing the harpoon, but everything else is showcased here.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
When I was a kid, I actually had the 2002 Undertow figure, which used this same mold, and he was a favorite of mine. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it through my childhood intact, so there was this Undertow-shaped hole in my Joe collection. I was the slightest bit bummed when Undertow didn’t come in with the big collection that All Time got over the summer (but not overly surprised, given how late run a figure he is), so I ended up finding this guy at Yesterday’s Fun during my family’s family vacation. The colors are wonky, but the sculpt is still one of my favorites. Of course, I still kind of want to get a direct replacement of my V3 original one of these days…