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.