#1524: Flash

FLASH

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

“Flash is highly skilled in many aspects of electronic technology and is capable of equipment repair in the field. Specialized Education: Electronics School; Chemical School; Covert Electronics. Qualified Expert: M-16; M-1911A1; XMLR-1A (Shoulder-Fired Laser Rifle).”

In 1982, Hasbro was looking to revitalize their G.I. Joe brand.  Two different iterations of the 12-inch line had come and gone, and the market just wasn’t there for the style.  What the market totally *was* there for, however, was 3 3/4 inch figures, which had been super-popularized, courtesy of a little movie called Star Wars.  So, Hasbro partnered with writer Larry Hama and created a brand new iteration of G.I. Joe, dubbed A Real American Hero.  Now the Joes weren’t just your average soldiers, but were instead a group of specialized operatives, each with their own style and code name.  The line began with 13 figures, built from a common pool of parts.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of those 13, the Laser Rifle specialist, code-named “Flash”*

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Flash was released in the original 1982 assortment of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Unlike many of his compatriots, this wound up being his only figure for 23 years (well, apart from his 1983 re-issue, which I’ll touch on in a second).  Flash stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation.  That articulation count’s a little lower than usual for a vintage Joe.  Why’s that?  The first year of Joes didn’t sport the swivel arms that became a standard for the line in ’83.  These original releases are known as “Straight-Arm” figures, and are an interesting quirk of the earliest offerings in the line.  All of the straight-arm figures would see swivel-arm re-releases in ’83 to help bring them up to date, so there’s two versions of our boy Flash out there.  The lack of swivels does impact posablility, of course, but I didn’t find it to be quite as restricting as I’d expected; I guess I’m just used to my Micronauts.  Another change in motion is the neck joint.  Later figures got actual ball-jointed necks, but the earlier guys just had swivels.  Not a huge difference, but certainly a noticeable one.  In terms of construction, Flash doesn’t actually have much that’s unique to him.  His head was shared with Hawk, Shortfuse, and Steeler.  It’s a reasonable enough piece, and generic enough that changing the hair color is really all that’s needed to make him look different.  I certainly prefer it to his 25th Anniversary sculpt.  The lower legs were shared with Snake Eyes (they’re just generic boots, so it works fine), and the rest of his sculpt is shared with Grand-Slam.  As Grand-Slam was his fellow laser trooper, it’s a pretty sensible re-use, since they’re presumably both in uniform.  The sculpting on this guy is indicative of the time.  The details are a little soft by modern standards, and proportions are less traditionally heroic.  But, if you know what you’re getting into, it’s all about standard for the vintage line.  In terms of paint, Flash is mostly basic work, but it’s all pretty clean, and surprisingly bold for the line.  A lot of the early figures had very washed out palettes, but Flash gets some bright red to keep things a bit more interesting.  Flash was packed with a removable helmet (with flip-up visor), a back-pack, and his laser rifle, which my figure happily still has all of.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Flash has been on my list for a little while.  He was ranked as #16 on ToyFare magazine’s “Top 20 G.I. Joe Toys,” which is what really got him on my radar.  Since then, I’ve been on the look out for him, albeit at a reasonable price.  I ended up getting him very recently, courtesy of Lost In Time Toys, during one of their December sales.  He was in a case of items marked 50% off, meaning I got him for about $10, which is great for a vintage Joe.  Unfortunately, when I opened him, I discovered the o-ring holding him together had dry-rotted.  As luck would have it, Hasbro used standard parts for these guys, so all I needed to do was run over to Home Depot and pick up a box of #9 plumber’s o-rings, which ran me about $2 and took me less than 20 minutes to swap out with the old one.  It was actually pretty awesome to get to rehabilitate this guy, and now he’s ship-shape, and hands down one of my favorite Joes in my collection.

*DC was a bit less productive of their trademarks at this point, I suppose.  Future figures of this character would all add a rank of Sergeant to his name to denote him from the scarlet speedster.

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#0514: Sgt. Flash

SGT FLASH

GI JOE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY

SgtFlash1

YO JOOOOOOOOOOOE!!!! If you’re gonna review action figures, every so often, it’s important to take a look at something from the original action figure line, GI Joe. And, while the original 12 inch Joe was the one who created the whole freaking industry, when you mention GI Joe, most people are probably going to think of the A Real American Hero incarnation that first appeared in 1982. In ’82, Hasbro was looking for a way to revitalize their brand. Instead of selling one large figure, why not a bunch of smaller ones? Each of them could have their own specialty, and if done properly, they could make use of a lot of the same parts, keeping costs down. Thus, the line started off with a group of figures affectionately known as the “Original 13.” The figures offered a mix of more realistic soldiers and some that were a bit more sci-fi inspired. Today’s figure is one of the latter, a laser trooper by the name of Sgt. Flash!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

SgtFlash2Sgt. Flash (originally just Flash, but I don’t think a certain Distinguished Competition was too happy about that name) was released in the 2008 assortment of the GI Joe: 25th Anniversary line. He was part of that year’s first wave of single-packed figures. The figure is about 3 ¾ inches in height, with 22 points of articulation. Flash is obviously based on his original 1982 figure, though a few liberties have been take here and there with the sculpt. The original Flash figure shared more than a few parts with his teammates, but that’s not the case here. The good Sergeant has been fitted with an all-new sculpt. It’s not one of the greatest sculpts the line had to offer. The head is easily the figure’s weakest point. The original was sort of plain and generic, but here he’s kind of a little dopey looking. Something about him really makes me not want to trust this guy with the lasers. Another problem with the sculpt is something that actually affected a lot of the initial 25th figures. The nature of how the lower/upper arm pieces were sculpted seriously inhibits the range of motion on the elbow joints, which ends up being quite limiting on a figure like Flash, who needs to hold stuff. There’s also the issue of his chest armor being divided in half, but that’s a more minor thing. The articulation is actually pretty nice to have there. The rest of the figure’s sculpt is actually pretty great. His jumpsuit has lots of great work on the folds and such, and being able to see the collar of the knit shirt underneath is a cool touch. The quilted pattern of the armor and the etched patterns on the gloves are also very well handled, and add some character to the figure. The paint ends up being the weakest part of the figure. The red, in particular, is pretty bad. It’s uneven, it frequently bleeds over, and there’s a rather noticeable spot on his chest where something got stuck to it while it was drying. The paint on the head does an already lackluster sculpt no favors. The eyebrows are really thick, and just a tad too high, and his eyes look rather lifeless. At the very least, the boots and gloves are well painted, so there’s that. Sgt. Flash includes a helmet with a flip up visor, his trusty laser rifle, a backpack that it can plug into, and a GI Joe logo-stand with his name written on the front.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Sgt. Flash was picked up for me by my Dad and my brother. I had just gotten my wisdom teeth out at the time, and I was sitting at home watching my DVDs of the cartoon. They felt kinda sorry for me, so they bought me Flash (as well as General Hawk, who was the real winner of the two). The original Flash figure is one I’ve always wanted, but never gotten. This one’s not quite the same thing, and he’s certainly not one of the best figures this line had to offer, but he does make for a decent stand-in, and he really isn’t that bad.