The G.I. Joe Bridge Layer was certainly one of the more creative vehicle toys in Hasbro's years-spanning line of Action Figures At War. Also known as the Toss 'N Cross, it's a machine with several purposes. Firstly, it's big and green, and can easily run over stray Cobra soldiers. Next, it's adorned with oodles of missiles and cannons, so the Joes won't have any problem blowing up Cobraland or Cobra City. Most importantly, the Bridge Layer is effectively a transportable bridge, allowing the Joes entry past the most chilling of obstacles.
All that aside, this seems a little strange to me. Sure, maybe they'll be a few times where a truck that can create small bridges will come in handy, but was the need so intense that they'd actually commission the mass production of these things? They might work for real armies (see picture far below), but the Joes usually battle Cobra in the middle of abandoned South American temples, or in shopping malls. I mean, surely there's better avenues of defense and attack. I think the Bridge Layer is a result of G.I. Joe and Cobra's constant attempts to top each other. The Joes make a tank, Cobra makes a tank with an extra tread. Cobra makes a helicopter, the Joes make a helicopter that can fly underwater. The vicious cycle never ends, and these battling entities end up overlooking the basic point of victory just so they can say they were the first ones to have talking metal blimps shaped like sharks.
Cobra Commander didn't start wearing a hood till he saw Duke in his winter hat.
Still, the Bridge Layer was one of the classics. Here's a closer look...
To set things up, there's three kids playing with their G.I. Joe toys. Two of them are playing the heroes, while the third - a more inherently evil kid - is playing Cobra. Now, if you'll recall your own days of playing with action figures, you probably don't recall the behavior of the kids playing the bad guys all that fondly. I don't know what it is - associative rage, pent up angst, too much sugar - I'm not sure what, but when you make a child portray the villain characters, he really takes the role to heart. Soon you're faced with one of your friends actually acting like the bad guys. They get rowdy and rough, start trying to break your toys, and generally act like total dickwads till you make your mother make them go the fuck back home.
Whenever I was playing with this dumb kid from the neighborhood, and he had a Darth Vader figure, he'd insist on using the Force to choke me. Though unlike Vader, his version of the Force was a little more manual. He'd just grab me by the neck and start shaking me. The Dark Side sucks, especially when the evil Jedi's choking you with hands covered with mud or chocolate.
My point is, the child playing with the Cobra toys in this commercial was acting like such a moron, I'm surprised the director didn't yell 'cut' just so he'd have the chance to wail him upside the head with a clacker board.
See? See what he's doing? It's criminal! His friends went through all the trouble of finding plywood and digging a sand pit in the middle of a sound stage so their G.I. Joe vehicles could drive over a real bridge, and what does the evil kid do? Breaks it! With one slap of his insidious white paw, the would-be bridge is but another misplaced floor plank. What's worse? He tells his friends that he'll do it again if they try putting the bridge back up!
Is there any way to stop Little Davey's rampage of destruction? Sure. The kids could go play elsewhere, or threaten to tell all the kids at school that Davey's really a lesbian. Small boys hate being called lesbians. Conversely, they could wrap their fists in double-sided tape, dunk 'em into jars of tacks, and beat the holy hell out of him. But hey, that wouldn't be very heroic. Their recourse needs to be a little less violent and a little more innovative - good thing Aunt Trudy brought one of the good kids an early birthday present this morning! Watch out, Little Davey. Here comes the Bridge Layer!
I really hope these things had test runs, because it seems like a mightily flawed design from where I'm sitting. Okay, let me get this straight. Okay, I can't get this straight. If a bridge needs to be heavy and stable enough to support the weight of a freakin' tank, how could the very same tank carry said bridge on it's roof? Wouldn't it just collapse under the weight? Okay, I know they use technology like this in real life. I'm just remembering that the Joes' troops are guys who prance around in basketball uniforms and who wear ski-masks in the middle of summer - I refuse to believe this is an art they can master. There's something more at work.
I've always had this secret fantasy where, when you die, you're allowed to ask any one question and get a definitive answer from a higher power. And you know what, I really don't want to skip my 'how did we all get here?' inquiry just because I need to know what kind of super mega ultra metal G.I. Joe used to build the damn Bridge Layer. So if anyone has a theory, please pass them along to me before I die. Don't rest on your laurels, either - at the rate I smoke and at the rate I drink ape blood, I could be dead by next Wednesday.
Up above, you'll see the ol' Toss 'N Cross in action. This was a pretty neat premise for a toy - the foldable bridge extended off the top of the tank's hood, creating a nice arched roadway for vehicles to pass. It was detachable, so you could use it with any vehicle that fit. 'Any vehicle that fit' is something that should've been defined a little better. I broke my Bridge Layer by trying to use the bridge as a bike ramp. Hasbro has always prided on the durability of their toys, but they ain't no match for a Huffy.
My favorite Joe vehicles were always the ones that came with an 'exclusive' figure. I can't really explain why, but if I had to name fifteen of my fave G.I. Joe action figures, well over 50% would be the ones I got for 'free' with a vehicle toy. I think I made the association that these were more important figures because the normal ones just came with a few plastic guns and a stupid glued-shut backpack. The ones that came with the vehicles owned million dollar transports of doom. Bridge Layer was one such set - it came with a little known soldier named 'Toolbooth'...
Tollbooth's filecard gives more background information than any other G.I. Joe filecard I've seen. This isn't necessarily a good thing - I doubt many official documents would detail a man's love for a childhood Christmas present of a construction set as a really pertinent piece of information. If you read Cobra Commander's filecard, it goes on and on about his various global conquests and all the dastardly skills he's attained over the years. Tollbooth? He gets a paragraph about what he got for Christmas back in 1967. His real name is listed as Chuck X. Goren, and they make a point to note that the 'X' doesn't stand for anything. So don't go callin' him Xavier! Or Xylophone! Or X-Pac! He hates it.
His security number is '373190360.' Isn't that the code that gets you to Super Macho Man in Punch-Out? Whatever, the really important thing is this: he comes equipped with a silver sledgehammer. They're better than regular sledgehammers, since if Tollbooth ever gets a cavity, he can just start gnawing on his sledgehammer until it's all nice and filled. What a handyman this guy is.
With the bridge laid, the other Joes now have the chance to get across that huge gap between the mountains. The buggy making it's way across is fronted by Shipwreck, the G.I. Joe soldier you're most likely to see thrown into a gay joke if you search around the net long enough. I don't really care about his sexual preference, but the damn parrot's gotta go. They're in the middle of a battle with Cobra, and he brought the stupid bird with him? Wouldn't a parrot fly away at the first sight of an explosion? Wouldn't it make Shipwreck a bigger target, since you just know Cobra's troops have a pool going to see who can shoot it first?
The Bridge Layer commercial is leaving a lot of unanswered questions, but I refuse to let this one pass. So here's what I think: the Joes weren't battling with Cobra. They were speeding to a veterinarian because Shipwreck's bird got sick. Cobra ambushed them in the hopes to delay the vet visit long enough to kill the bird and send G.I. Joe spiraling down the dark roads of depression. But, thanks to the Bridge Layer, they just might save him after all.
SQUAWK FOR FREEDOM!
THANKS FOR SAVING ME,
THAT COBRA...THEY'RE FOR THE BIRDS!!
The kids rejoice - they've saved Shipwreck's parrot, and they got a cool new toy. The Bridge Layer isn't incredibly expensive to buy in today's collectors market, but then again, you likely have more important things to spend your money on than old G.I. Joe vehicle toys that create 10" plastic bridges. They've been releasing new G.I. Joe toys, partly using the same mold as the old figures, and so far they look pretty terrific. The new toys don't seem to be hitting their stride with kids the same way they did a decade or two ago, so if you're putting off buying that new Destro, don't procrastinate too long.
I just wonder if Cobra intends to retaliate. They rarely let stuff like this slide...
Dr. Mindbender: Bastards.
Baroness: I told you they made a tank that creates bridges! We've been one-upped!
Dr. Mindbender: This calls for something drastic, my big-titted dark princess.
Baroness: What do you have in mind, my bald-headed carnival pirate?
Dr. Mindbender: Tell Destro to oversee the creation of Plan X-22.
Baroness: X-22?! Not X-22! Mindbender, you've gone mad!
Dr. Mindbender: No, my dear, it is time.
Baroness: But isn't X-22...
Dr. Mindbender: YES, fair Baroness. Once Plan X-22 is complete, Cobra will be armed with a new vehicle. Something even better than that Bridge Layer. I can't wait to see the Joes' reaction when they meet Plan X-22: TRICYCLES COVERED IN SNAKES THAT BLOW UP IF YOU GO NEAR THEM! MAUAHAHHA!
Baroness: ...I wish I was one of the good guys.
How bout that? Damn things actually exist! I feel stupid now. I'm sorry. :*(
Tribute To Serpentor
Cobra Flight Pods
Zartan & The Fridge
Deadly Cobra Balloons
G.I. Joe File Cards
Cobra Commander's Downfall
G.I. Joe Survival Juice
My 1987 Birthday Party
Stupid Sergeant Slaughter
Tomax and Xamot
Instant Messager: xecharchar
More X-E: If you haven't checked out X-E's new 'Updates' section, you're missing out on all the bloggy fun. I update it regularly with various crap, most notably thus far: a guy in a stupid Spongebob costume, a story about an idiot who IM'ed me, and a picture of an action figure shaped like french fries. CHECK IT OUT!
BACK TO X-E!