#2276: Orion

ORION

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“The Scourge of Apokolips. Orion is Darkseid’s son and a half-brother to Kalibak. He turned against his father’s evil ways to fight on the side of justice. Orion wields the astro-force, an energy beam of tremendous power, and bears a computer-like device whose rays disguise his true face, the visage of one born on Apokolips. Although Orion is greater than mortal, he can be defeated in battle by a stronger warrior, or injured by conventional weaponry. When traveling on Earth, Orion has used the alias ‘O-Ryan.'”

This year’s Post-Christmas reviews sure do involve a lot of me coming full circle on some stuff and “going back to the beginning” so to speak.  Today’s focus is perhaps not back to the beginning for the site so much, but it is certainly a return to form for my collecting as a whole.  But that’s for the last section of this thing.  Let’s get through the lead-in first.  I’ve reviewed Kenner’s Super Powers six times before on this site; I’ve probably discussed it a few more times than that.  It’s kind of the quintessential DC toy line, and quite frankly, it’s kind of the quintessential comic book toyline.  Mego may have really gotten super heroes out there, but Super Powers is the genesis of most things we think of in terms of super hero toys.  The line ran three years, each year stranger than the last.  As it progressed, they got some help on it courtesy of Jack Kirby, whose Fourth World characters would become a fixture of the line.  Orion, central hero of the Fourth World would join the line not long before its end.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Orion was released in 1986, as part of the third and final series of Super Powers figures.  He and series-mate Mister Miracle rounded out the line’s New Gods theme.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation….7 if you count the neck, but that’s not *really* a point of articulation.  Orion, like every Super Powers figure, was a totally unique sculpt.  While the line’s first assortment stuck to the DC style guide, but the second year there were sizable changes for some of the more secondary characters, especially the Fourth World stuff.  Orion followed suit, with one of the more intensely different designs.  Honestly, if it weren’t for his name being on the box, you could be forgiven for not realizing this guy was supposed to be Orion.  The base color scheme is the same, and you can see some remaining elements of his helmet and astro harness, but only slight elements.  The helmet in particular, typically the one constant piece of Orion’s design (and honestly the best piece of Orion’s design) received a major overhaul.  It’s…well, it’s goofy to say the least.  The sleekness of his original design is gone, and while there’s still a lot of Kirby in this look (fitting, since it was an authentic Kirby design and all), it’s just not as strongly heroic as the original design.  Some of it is a symptom of the line’s knack for action features.  Most of them weren’t an impediment to the design of the figure, but Orion was notable exception, because you can definitely tell that a lot of that helmet design had to do with being able to fit in flipping Orion’s face from “good” to “bad.”  It’s certainly a memorable trait of his from the comics, but I’m not really sure it was worth upending his classic design.  All that said, it doesn’t make for a terrible looking toy, and Kenner still put their best foot forward on translating the design into plastic form.  The paintwork is all pretty solid, with a bright palette that is nothing if not eye-catching.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Super Powers may have ended six years before I was born and nine years before I began collecting action figures, but that didn’t stop it from being a huge impact on my collecting as a child and as an adult.  The line first become notable to me as a kid due to my love Hal Jordan, and his notable lack of then-current action figure coverage.  This one being just a few scant years removed made it relatively attainable to me, and so I, with some definite help from my parents, set out on collecting my first “vintage” line.  The Super Powers archive was my home page, I knew the line-ups to each assortment by heart, and I knew the rumors for the failed fourth line-up (before we actually knew the official fourth line-up).  I would scour ebay, looking at auctions for all of the figures.  And, for Christmas every year, I would put two more figures from the line on my Christmas list, and my dad would dutifully track them down.  Interests change, and I fell out of Super Powers for a bit, and when I got back into it, I was doing most of my own buying.  At one point, I was even planning to round out the line-up by buying one figure for myself out of every paycheck.  That didn’t pan out, as you can see by my not owning the whole line yet.  This year for Christmas, I decided I to ask a Super Powers figure again, so I made up a list of the ones I didn’t have, and then this guy was the very last thing I opened on Christmas morning.  It was a nice throwback.  And with that, I have 26 Super Powers figures; just eight left.

#2232: Undertow

UNDERTOW

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…

#2218: Mercer

MERCER

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“The Renegades don’t answer to anyone but themselves. They don’t officially exist. They can function with very little restraint but if they are compromised, they’re on their own.

Mercer was the only Cobra Viper that ever defected to the Joes and survived. He had joined Cobra for the adventure and the promise of material gain but soon grew disaffected with the Cobra philosophy. He escaped Cobra island by hot-wiring a hydrofoil and outrunning his pursuers across the Gulf of Mexico. Mercer is proficient with all Cobra small arms and explosive devices.”

In 1986, GI Joe got their first real-life celebrity member in the form of professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter, who would serve as a high-stakes drill instructor for the team when Beach Head just wasn’t enough.  In 1987, both the toyline and the movie would give Slaughter his own specialized team of hard-hitting trainees, dubbed Sgt. Slaughter’s Renegades.  The three man team was made up of Red Dogg, Taurus, and today’s focus, Mercer, a turncoat Cobra Viper.  Gee, I wonder why Ethan likes this one…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mercer and the other two Renegades were released as a special three-pack as part of G.I. Joe‘s 1987 line-up (except for in the UK, where Mercer and his teammates were available individually).  They were one of a pair of three-packs based on characters introduced in the movie.  There were plans for a third, but they were scrapped after the less than stellar performance of the Cobra-La pack.  Mercer stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  His sculpt was all-new to him, and apart from the head being re-used for another Mercer figure in 2006, the parts would remain unique to him.  Mercer’s design is important, since it has to read as a Cobra uniform without actually being one.  Now, why it’s not just a broken down Viper uniform is really anyone’s guess, but I’d say Mercer’s not super keen to get mistaken for the enemy.  He’s got a lot of similarly styled elements to the Viper figure, with the vest and the quilted elements on his pants.  That said, he definitely reads as just a little bit more heroic than a Cobra operative.  All things considered, though, Mercer’s sculpt does seem a little more basic and light on the details than some of his compatriots, with the hair being noticeably devoid of detail.  He’s still more detailed than the line’s earlier works, but compared to some of the figures that hit the same year, the fact that his hair’s so smooth does stand out as a little odd.  He also shows the line’s shift towards more exaggerated proportions, with his arms being quite bulked up, and his torso getting more of that V-shape that later figures would receive more regularly.  With the proportions, it is a little more excusable for a character like Mercer, since the Renegades are supposed to be a little more hardened, though.  Mercer’s paintwork is decent enough, keeping with the sculpt’s “suggest Cobra, but not actually Cobra” aesthetic.  He does end up a little oranger than he looked in animation, but it’s at least a deep orange, not a safety orange.  Mercer was packed with a pistol and a backpack, both of which are missing from my figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m a huge fan of the Vipers, so it’s not much of a surprise that I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Mercer (the other two Renegades I can kind of take or leave).  When piecing together the huge Joe collection that came into All Time, I was a little sad that the Renegades weren’t included (though not as saddened as the time Red Dogg and Taurus came in without a corresponding Mercer.  That one really stung deep).  As luck would have it, I happened upon Mercer at Yesterday’s Fun while on my summer family vacation, so I wasn’t without him for too long.  Honestly, after going through so many Joes in the last few months, Mercer is perhaps not as exciting as I’d hoped, but it’s still cool to have him.

#2190: Falcon

FALCON

G. I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Lt. Falcon is a second-generation Green Beret, his father having served with the 10th SFGA (Special Forces Group Airborne) from its very beginnings at Fort Bragg’s Smoke Bomb Hill. Falcon was cross-trained in demolitions and served briefly with the 5th SFGA ‘Blue Light’ counter-terrorist unit as an ‘A’ Team XO. He is proficient in Spanish, French, Arabic and Swahili and a qualified expert with NATO and Warsaw Pact small-arms.”

1987 was a big year for G.I. JoeAfter running a successful cartoon for two seasons, they hit the big time with a feature-length, fully animated feature….or at least that was the plan.  Though G.I. Joe: The Movie was supposed to be the first of the three animated Hasbro productions to hit theatres in 1987 (with the other two being Transformers: The Movie and My Little Pony: The Movie), production delays got it moved to the end of the list, and by that time, the poor performance of the other two films at the box office meant that G.I. Joe: The Movie went straight to video and TV.  The 1987 toy line-up served as the source of the film’s new focus characters, with Falcon serving as a potential new lead as the series’ old lead Duke was planned for a rather dramatic exit.  As with Hot Rod over with the Transformers, being pushed as the replacement for the prior central lead didn’t exactly enamor fans to poor Falcon, who has subsequently become something of a butt-monkey amongst the Joe fandom.  Poor guy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As noted above, Falcon was part of the 1987 line-up of G.I. Joe figures from Hasbro, debuting alongside his movie appearance.  The figure’s bio makes no mention of Falcon’s relation to Duke as mentioned in the movie, because he wasn’t originally meant to be related to Duke.  If anything, wouldn’t it have made more sense to have him be related to Hawk?  You know, bird-themed code names and all that?  I suppose that would have meant actually devoting some screen time to Hawk, though, which the cartoon really didn’t like to do.  Back to the actual figure, though!  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  By this point, Hasbro had the construction of the line down pretty pat, so there were no real surprises with Falcon.  His sculpt was unique to him at the time of his release, but like a number of the ’87 figure, he got a Night Force re-deco the following year.  It’s actually a fairly classically Joe sculpt, going back more to the line’s roots as a proper military force.  Mixed in with the rest of ’87s colorful cast, it’s a wonder Falcon go the chance to stick out at all.  Compared to the likes of Crazy Legs, his sculpt seems a little bit softer, and has less of the unique details, but it’s a solid offering nevertheless.  Falcon’s paintwork continues the rather straightforward realworld approach of the sculpt, placing him pretty much entirely in drab greens.  There was a variation in Falcon figures and the sizing of the camo pattern; some were larger, and some were thinner.  My figure is a thin-camo Falcon, for what it’s worth.  Falcon was packed with a shotgun, knife, and backpack with a removable antenna.  Again, a fairly basic set-up, but if it works, it works.  The shotgun is at least a little more unique, and the backpack is certainly cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Much like Hot Rod, Falcon is a character that I feel a little bad for when it comes to the fan base and their hate for him, and I’ve kind of always wanted a Falcon.  That said, he wasn’t super high on my list when the large collection came in at All Time…at first.  Then this crazy thing happened.  While I was sorting through the figures, I swore I saw a Falcon.  I swore he was one of the first figures I pulled out of the box.  So did Jason, the owner.  So, when I found his filecard, but no figure to match, I was somewhat baffled.  Maybe I was losing it?  There were other filecards without figures to match, so I guess he was just never there.  But as I progressed through the collection, I eventually found his backpack, and his gun, and his knife, making the lack of Falcon even more apparent.  Just as I was about to close the whole collection up, I realized I had one vehicle to check for parts.  And I cracked open the cockpit, and wouldn’t you know it, there sat Falcon.  Not a clue what figure I thought I saw the first time, but Falcon was still in the collection.  And, after the whole mystery of finding him, I kind of felt like I had to buy him.

As touched on above, Falcon 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.

#2176: Crazylegs

CRAZYLEGS

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

Crazylegs could have been the greatest organist in the world if his fingers hadn’t been too short. The Airborne Rangers don’t care how perfectly you can play Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, they’re only concerned with your willingness to jump out of a helicopter into a hot LZ* with nothing but a rifle, a couple of grenades and the best wishes of your commanding officer. Crazylegs is of course, Airborne Ranger qualified and has been cross-trained as a forward artillery observer.”

Craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy Leeeeeeeeeeeeegs!  This guy’s got some Crazy Legs!  That sounds a bit like a Rick and Morty bit or something, doesn’t it?  Like the natural third partner to Baby Legs and Regular Legs.  He’s the loose cannon!  He’s Crazylegs!  ….What was I doing? Oh, right, toy review.  So, we’re back to the G.I. Joe reviews today, with a look at one of the less-remembered members of the team, one Crazylegs.  This guy’s crazy…or at least his legs are.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Crazylegs was released in the 1987 assortment of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero line.  He’s one of the less fortunate members of that year’s assortment, given that ’87 was the year the movie came out, and several of that year’s characters got staring roles.  But not ‘ol Crazylegs.  Nope, there was no space for him.  Had to make room for Big Lob!  Everyone’s favorite!  Crazylegs stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation, though his hips are somewhat restricted by the design of his harness.  The figure sported a unique sculpt when he was new, though it would also be re-used for the v2 Crazylegs the following year.  It’s actually a pretty impressive sculpt.  He’s got one of the most expressive faces of all the Joes, with this big goofy grin on his face.  This is a man who enjoys his legs being all crazy.  His uniform is also pretty darn cool; there’s a quilted pattern on the red sections of the uniform, which seems pretty appropriate for someone doing high-altitude jumps.  Crazylegs’ ensemble is completed by his parachute and harness, which actually connect under the legs, rather than pegging into the back like most of the line’s back gear.  Crazylegs’ paint is a decent offering.  It’s different from the usual greens we tended to see with the Joes, instead going for a red and grey combo.  It actually looks pretty decent, and keeps him rather unique (although it does end up being rather similar to his assortment-mate Sneak Peek).  Crazylegs is packed with a sub-machine gun with a folding stock, which is honestly one of the cooler standard weapons from the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My first introduction to Crazylegs was actually his Pursuit of Cobra figure, which was one of the line’s more oddball choices.  I liked that figure quite a bit, despite not knowing a ton about him.  When I was piecing together a large collection of Joes for All Time, Crazylegs was included and was one of the earlier figures to be pieced together.  As one of the cheaper complete figures, it was pretty easy to throw him on the growing pile of far more expensive figures in the set.  He’s honestly quite a nice figure, with a ton of fun little details.  He’s got that unique expression, the nifty quilted details, a sweet gun, and just the craziest of legs.  There’s really nothing about him I don’t like.

As touched on above, Crazylegs 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.

#2162: Tomax & Xamot

TOMAX & XAMOT

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

“Spell on the name TOMAX in capitals and and hold it up to a mirror. It reads XAMOT. The same holds true for the actual brothers. Each is the mirror image of the other except for a scar on Xamot’s face. Both twins served with the Foreign Legion paras in Algeria before the officers Putsch. They honed their mercenary skills in the bush wars of Africa and South America. They were too smart to be soldiers forever. Went to Zurich and became bankers.

They quickly found the ins and outs of international finance to be too haphazard for their tastes. They preferred a situation they could control. COBRA was willing to give them access to that control. Now they command legions. But their legions wear three-piece suits and fight their battles in executive board rooms. These then are the most fearsome of the COBRA adversaries. They don’t fight with steel and claw, backed with muscle and honest sweat…The chase you with paper, wound you with your own laws and kill you with the money you loaned them.”

If you’re looking for an easy shortcut to the whole creepy villain thing, identical twins are a good way to go, all things considered.  And, when you’re running a broad strokes, everybody’s got a gimmick toy-line, even better.  There’s your gimmick right there.  Such went the creation of Cobra’s own creepy twins, Tomax and Xamot!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Tomax and Xamot were released in 1985 as a special two-pack; rather than forcing you to track down both individually, Hasbro was actually kind enough to give them both in one go, a practice that they would hang onto for all future releases of the characters.  The figures stands 3 3/4 inches tall and they have 14 points of articulation.  Despite their very similar appearances, the fact that one is a reflection of the other and all the asymmetry that brings means that Tomax and Xamot actually share very few pieces.  The pelvis and the lower arms are the only parts that are actually the same, with everything else being a mirror image of the other figure.  For clarification, Tomax is the one on the left up there, with his armor an his right shoulder, while Xamot is the one on the right, with his armor on his left shoulder, and a scar on his left cheek.  Interestingly, both the cartoon and the comics of the time would mirror the figures, with the armor and Xamot’s scar switching sides on their respective characters.  The two sculpts are pretty decently handled.  The Cobra designs were quickly becoming more fantastical at this point, and it starts to show here.  There’s not a practical reason for these two to dress in this particular fashion.  It does give the opportunity to show off some decent texture work, though.  As far as the actual mirroring goes, given the pre-digital nature of the sculpting, they didn’t do a half bad job of matching these two.  The roughest bit is definitely the hair-part change-over on the heads; it appears Tomax was sculpted first, as his feels the more natural of the two, while Xamot’s is not quite identical in its angling.  Still, really strong work given the time and the scale.  The paint on these two follows the established Cobra norms: dark blue, red, a dash of silver, and some black.  It’s all pretty straight forward stuff, and it makes it pretty easy to tell which side they’re on.  The twins were each packed with a laser pistol, as well as a skyhook and zipline to share.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve wanted to get Tomax and Xamot for quite some time, in some form or another.  They weren’t *completely* absent from the 2002 re-launch, but they were packed in with a kind of pricey larger vehicle, which was a little bit prohibitive for me as a child.  I remember eyeing up their Real American Hero Collection re-issues at the time, but never got them, and the same was true of their 25th Anniversary figures.  When these two came in in the large Joe collection that came into All Time several months ago, they were some of the earliest figures I set aside.  I don’t know why they’re so cool to me, but I just really dig the implementation of the concept, and I’m happy to finally have a set of them in my collection.

Like I noted above, the Twins 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.

#2148: Lady Jaye

LADY JAYE

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Lady Jaye graduated from Bryn Mawr and did her graduate work at Trinity College in Dublin where she acquired the faint Gaelic lilt that adorns her speech. An accomplished actress and mime as well as a studied linguist, she can easily pass as a native in France, Italy, Poland, Russia, Germany, Afghanistan, Spain, and Portugal.  Airborne and Ranger qualified, graduated intelligence school Fort Holabird. Qualified expert: M-16, M1911A1 and reflex crossbow.”

The female component of the G.I. Joe line was more present than you might think, given it was a primarily boys-driven toyline, but that didn’t mean they were letting the girls bunch up in the lineup.  From ’82-’87, there was exactly one new female character introduced each year.  In ’85, that character was Lady Jaye, who like Baroness had actually been introduced elsewhere, specifically the Sunbow animated series, where she would serve as the second most featured character in the series after main baddie Cobra Commander.  That earned her quite the built up fanbase, as did her consistently established connection with another fan-favorite, Flint.  Though she may not have been the first female Joe, she certainly made a very important impression in the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As noted above, Lady Jaye was added to the line in 1985, after making her debut in the cartoon the previous year during the Revenge of Cobra mini-series.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall (actually a little bit taller than the V1 Flint figure) and she has 14 points of articulation.  1985 marked the first year that the ball-jointed neck joints were included in the line, meaning that Jaye is a bit more mobile than her predecessors, at least in terms of moving her neck around.  Lady Jaye got an all-new sculpt, and one that would see no re-use, which is a little surprising.  Her design was considerably different from the cartoon’s take on the character, but unlike Baroness’ change from the comics to her toy, Lady Jaye’s toy design would not inspire a change in the cartoon design for the character.  So, we just had this completely different look for the character, at least until the 25th Anniversary line finally did a cartoon version.  ’85 was when the characters really started looking more unique from each other, in ways other than just “this guy’s got a different gimmick.”  Jaye’s distinctly different from the likes of Scarlett, Cover Girl, and Baroness, and seems like a character that more properly fits the military aesthetic than those three did.  She’s also not really skinny, which was another change, and makes for a figure that doesn’t feel as frail as those others.  Jaye’s paintwork is one of the more reserved schemes of the ’85 lineup, sticking pretty much just to basic military colors, but it doesn’t end up looking quite as drab as the original ’82 figures.  Jaye is packed with a javelin (always her main armament), a back pack, and a spy camera.  A little lighter than some figures in the line, but not a bad selection.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was getting into G.I. Joe in the early 2000s, the only available media outside of the toys were the reruns of the cartoon running early mornings on Cartoon Network.  Jaye’s prominent role in that show definitely stuck out to me, even if I was never able to track down the ’00s figure.  She and Flint are definitely a favorite pairing of mine, and in fact I even quit reading the Devil’s Due comic series when they killed her off.  After getting a vintage Flint a few years back, I had been on the lookout for Jaye, and was definitely happy to see her turn up in the large Joe collection that came into All Time Toys.  I still prefer the cartoon look, but there’s no denying this is a pretty solid figure.

As I touched on above, Lady Jaye 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.

#2134: Baroness

BARONESS

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“The spoiled offspring of wealthy European aristocrats, the Baroness graduated from student radicalism into international terrorism and finally into the ranks of COBRA. She was severely burned during a COBRA night attack operation and has had extensive plastic surgery. Rumor has it that she is the only one who knows Destro’s secret identity. Qualified expert: M-16; AK-47; RPG7; Uzi; H.I.S.S. tank operator.”

While the GI Joe comic was designed primarily to sell the toys in the toy line, it wasn’t entirely without its roster of non-toy-bearing characters.  On the Joe side, it was most limited to higher ranking officers who didn’t get in on the action quite so much.  On the Cobra side, however, there was the Baroness, who would go on to be one of the franchise’s most prominent fixtures.  Though introduced in the very first issue of the comic in 1982, Baroness wouldn’t join the toyline for another two years, and in fact would only have a single figure during the original vintage run.  I’m reviewing said figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Baroness was added to the GI Joe line-up in 1984.  The line was at the time doing one female figure per line-up, making Baroness the third female figure to be inducted into the line.  She was the first female Cobra added, and she would remain their only female member until Zarana jointed the line in ’86.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 14 points of articulation.  Baroness’s sculpt was all-new to her at the time, but would go on to see re-use for a few other Baroness figures later on down the line.  It’s probably the most attractive female sculpt that the vintage line produced, and certainly a step up from the likes of Scarlett and Covergirl.  It’s pretty decently proportioned, and really captures that femme fatale thing that Baroness had going in the comics and cartoons.  Additionally, it follows that great trend with a lot of these mid-run Joes, where there’s just so much depth to their sculpts.  You can make out what’s body armor, versus what’s the underlying jumpsuit.  It gives her a definite weight that a lot of similarly styled figures tend to lack.  They even manage to not make the glasses look totally awful, which is certainly not a bad thing.  Compared to others, Baroness’s paint is perhaps a bit lax, with a majority of the figure being un-painted black plastic.  What paint is there is really made to count, as she’s one of the cleanest vintage Joes I’ve ever handled.  Baroness is packed with a small back pack and a laser rifle.  The rifle would later see itself repurposed during the 2002 line for the re-issued Vipers, which is kind of nifty if you ask me.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the large Joe collection that netted me the previously reviewed Destro figure arrived at All Time Toys, Baroness was one of the earliest pieces to jump out at me, even though the figure’s never been at the top of my must-have list.  There was just something very impressive about this figure in-hand, and finding both her and Destro complete and together was really what sold me on getting the two of them.  She’s a very strong figure, and I can definitely get why Hasbro felt this one would do it for the whole vintage run.  Certainly one of the strongest figures the vintage line had to offer.

As noted above, Baroness 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.

#2093: Destro

DESTRO

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.

#2079: Motorized Battle Tank – MOBAT (w/ Steeler)

MOTORIZED BATTLE TANK — MOBAT (W/ STEELER)

GI JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Steeler comes from a blue collar middle-class background. He put himself through college on an ROTC scholarship and work as a heavy equipment operator. Familiar and proficient with all NATO and Warsaw Pact AFV’s. Graduated Armor School, top of class. Special Training: Cadre-XAFV Project; Artillery School; AFV Desert Exercise; Covert Ops School. Qualified Expert: M-16; M-1911A1; MAX-10; Uzi.”

The first year of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero didn’t just serve up its original 13 Joes and their two enemies, it also took a page out of the Star Wars and Micronauts playbook and went hogwild on giving them some vehicles with which to play around.  There were eight vehicles and playsets that first year, but perhaps the most impressive was the Motorized Battle Tank, or MOBAT for short.  Though lacking in some of the fancities of later vehicles, the MOBAT gave the Joes some serious offensive power, and definitively gave us the sort of vehicle to which the old 12-inch line could never really do proper justice.  And, of course, it had one of the cooler launch-Joes driving it, which is always a good point in its favor.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The MOBAT is definitely the main focus here (well…for most people; at my heart, I’m still a figure guy), and is a pretty straightforward “tank.”  It’s specifically patterned after the MBT-70, which was a scrapped US/German tank design from the 60s.  It’s fitting that it would get repurposed here, and really fits that experimental angle that the Joes were getting into, while tying them more to the real world than they would be later.  It’s also a fittingly “all-American” design that just looks like the average US tank to most people who don’t spend their time researching these sorts of things for toy review sites.  What an uninformed life that must be…with so much free time!  Though it would be dwarfed fairly quickly as the line progressed, the MOBAT was the largest vehicle in the line at the time of its release, measuring about 10 inches at its longest length, and sitting about 5 inches tall.  Its mold was brand new at the time, but has subsequently been re-used for both re-releases of the MOBAT, as well as both versions of the Crimson Attack Tank, Cobra’s equivalent.  While not a high-quality scale model, the sculpt on the MOBAT is still pretty solid for the time, and certainly looks a bit less dated than the figures it was meant to accompany (which is why it was still able to be used 25 years later, when the figure molds had been long since retired).  The details are all clearly defined, and there are lots of great little bits, with all the panelling and grates and rivets.  It’s mostly a hard plastic construction, but uses a more rubbery material for the treads, as vehicles tend to do.  There’s only space for a single figure (probably this vehicle’s main drawback), in the turret at the top, and the rest is a solid construction.  And I do mean solid; this thing’s got some definite heft on it, with a potential for even more.  The name’s inclusion of “Motorized” isn’t just a fancy naming scheme, it actually refers to the tank’s special feature, which was a full working motor that could run off of two D Batteries.  Sadly, my MOBAT doesn’t move, a common problem with most vintage MOBATs these days.  I’ll have to tinker with it to see what’s up.  Still, I bet that was pretty cool when it worked.  Paint’s not really a thing on the MOBAT, which instead has a whole ton of decals.  They haven’t held up super well over the years, but they do offer up some nice extra details to give it more of a finish.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The MOBAT’s driver was Pennsylvania-native Ralph “Steeler” Pulaski.  Steeler, like a number of the original Joes, sort of fell by the wayside as the line continued, and was never a major focus in the first place.  He did get a pair focus episodes thanks to the cartoon’s alternate-reality-based “Worlds Without End,” which gave a respectable send-off to Steeler, as well as fellow O13-members Grunt and Clutch.  This (and the 1983 swivel-arm re-issue) would be Steeler’s only figure for the entirety of the vintage run.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 12 points of articulation.  Like all of the original ’82 figures, he was available straight-armed or swivel-armed, and mine is the former.  Additionally, there are two different styles of thumb thickness, and mine is the thin-thumbed version, which is something I’ll be touching on a bit later.  Steeler was largely made from shared parts, with the most egregious being his head, which he shares with both the previously reviewed Flash and Hawk, as well as the as of yet un-reviewed Short-Fuse.  It’s generic enough to work, and in Steeler’s case there’s a unique helmet, which further helps in masking it.  Unlike Hawk and Flash, Steeler does actually get one new part on his person: his torso.  He’s got a zippered jacket (instead of the usual sweater) and a shoulder holster that goes across the chest.  It’s a nice, unique look among his companions.  Steeler follows the trend of rather basic, rather drab paint for the original Joes.  He’s a slightly different shade of green than the others and gets a darker hair color than Hawk and Flash.  He also gets gloves, because he’s very special, I guess.  Steeler included a standard helmet, but had a non-standard, and in fact quite distinctive visor.  He also included an uzi, making him the only vehicle driver from the first year to actually be armed, and with a fairly standard weapon at that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, so first of all, I need to throw in a very, very important shout-out to my Super Awesome Fiancee, without whom this review would not have been possible and I might very well still be a quivering mass on the floor of my toy room.  Remember how I mentioned that Steeler was a thin-thumbed figure?  Do you see how he still has both of his thumbs?  Yeah, that’s actually a pretty big deal, and I was pretty excited to have found him that way.  Then I was a big dumbo who decided to stick Steeler’s uzi in his hand, and when I went to take it out, off came the thumb, which went flying into the oblivion that is the floor beneath my photo stage…before I had even gotten a single shot of him.  I was feeling pretty dumb, but Jess was having none of that, and marched upstairs to help he search for the missing piece, which she managed to find in a few short minutes, thereby allowing me to repair this guy, get the photos taken and regain a good deal of my sanity.  Truly she lives up to the “Super Awesome” monicker.

With that out of the way, where the heck did this guy come from?  Well, recent reader’s will likely guess correctly that it came from All Time Toys, who got in a really huge GI Joe collection last month.  I got the pleasure of sorting through all of them to get all the figures, vehicles, and parts matched up, and this was one the somewhat expensive haul of figures I picked up.  I’ve only recently gotten the opportunity to collect the straight-armed Joes, which is a set that’s always fascinated me.  Steeler called out to me due largely to his slightly more distinct look among the basic grunts.  He’s pretty cool for what he is, and the MOBAT is certainly a nice centerpiece to my Joe display.

As I noted, All Time Toys are absolutely swimming in vintage Joes at the moment, so check 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.