In honour of the release of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra this week, I thought I would scour the internet and my own memory to unearth some of the weirdest and lamest G.I. Joe action figures ever released. Considering the vast number of toys that Hasbro produced throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, you can bet there were more than a few stinkers. Here’s to hoping some of these characters end up appearing in the sequel!
Every military operation needs a network of top notch spies, and G.I. Joe is no different. I’m not quite sure why their undercover specialist would be wearing the loudest, most attention-grabbing Hawaiian shirt, but hey, what do I know? As for his wacky codename, apparently he is just a fun guy with a knack for “cracking jokes and punching shoulders” with the enemy. I’d definitely grab a beer with the dude.
Both G.I. Joe and Cobra were known to have animal trainers on their teams, but Raptor has got to be the lamest of the bunch. His official position is “Cobra Falconer”, and he wears a kooky bird suit with wings. From his file card: “Raptor was a yuppie tax consultant who took up falconry as a pasttime and soon became obsessed with the avian blood-sport.” Now it all makes sense.
Most people remember that professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter was a part of the G.I. Joe team, but did you know that there was another real-life celebrity who was immortalized with a G.I. Joe figure? Yep, NFL star William “Refrigerator” Perry was available through a special mail-in offer back in 1986. He was a “physical training instructor”, and his weapon was a steel football attached to a chain. Yikes.
Here’s another interesting bit of trivia: Rocky Balboa almost had his own G.I. Joe figure, but I think they ended up giving Stallone’s other popular character, Rambo, a cartoon and toy line instead. Too bad, that would have been amazing. Anyway, Big Boa was supposed to be Rocky’s arch enemy. Knowing this, his character makes a lot more sense because as a kid, I always thought that a Cobra officer with boxing gloves as his only weapon was pretty lame.
In the early ’90s, G.I. Joe launched a series of figures called Eco-Warriors. Apparently Cobra decided to start “dumping tons of hazardous toxic sludge into the environment in their quest for world domination”. How that helps their cause, I’m not sure, but either way G.I. Joe needed people like Ozone, the Ozone Replenisher Trooper, to help clean up their mess! I’m just really glad Hasbro was able to teach kids about the big issues through G.I. Joe.
Gristle (Drug Elimination Force)
Speaking of big issues, Hasbro also had plans at one point to introduce a line of G.I. Joe figures called the Drug Elimination Force (some of which were based on C.O.P.S. characters). While not all of them ended up getting released, it’s pretty hilarious that their enemies were called Headhunters, and they were basically just common thugs. Check out Gristle, who has the official job title of “Urban Drug Commander”. Yep, this was when Cobra started getting really nasty, pushing drugs on the street and all that. I just love the fact that one of his accessories is a pager.
There are some G.I. Joe characters with pretty weird specialties, but you know they were running out of ideas when they decided to give G.I. Joe their very own embedded journalist. His codename is Scoop… how clever. Scoop comes equipped with his very own video camera and backpack with satellite uplink, and his likeness was supposedly based on NBC news reporter Mike Leonard.
When you’ve already got The Fridge and Sgt. Slaughter on board, I guess it’s not all that weird to have another athlete on the G.I. Joe team. But still, is that baseball uniform really standard military issue?
Worst. Codename. Ever.
Ice Cream Soldier
Scratch that, this guy has the worst code name ever. But it’s all about deceiving the enemy. “The last thing you would expect from G.I. Joe’s fiercest flamethrower commando is for him to be called Ice Cream Soldier. However it’s a perfect cover because when Cobra hears the Joes are sending a guy into battle with a code name like that, they don’t expect much more than a kid with chocolate ice cream splattered on his fatigues.”