I was never much into GI Joe toys as a kid. I'd always wear out their joints so bad that they lost their ability to stand, so I had to make them the sit-down 'audience' while all my other figures battled it out.
Still, some of the figures were pretty cool. The fun thing about Joe figures was that the file card on the package would make you feel like you just bought some real-life war hero or villain. They really got ridiculous at times...I'm not sure how many six year olds understood what it meant when they were told Destro was wanted for missle smuggling and international espionage. I just wanted him because he had a cool silver helmet.
Aside from Destro, there were ten other Joe figures who really struck a chord with me during my childhood. Let's run through 'em...
Serpentor: Serpentor was the king of my room. He had all the necessary elements to make my worship him - neat vehicle, chic glittery cape, and a gold snake outfit. It wasn't until years later that I realized he was nothing more than a paper leader, leaving X-E antihero Cobra Commander to do all the work, but in his day, Serpentor was good peoples.
Sgt. Slaughter: Looking back, I can't believe I bought into the Sgt. Slaughter hype. By the time Hasbro signed the guy to do commercials and get an action figure, he was already a washed up pro-wrestler that couldn't get three words out without spitting all over the camera. On the plus side, he had a hat.
Croc Master: When I was combing through the GI Joe section of ToysRUs back in the 80s, I noticed that Croc Master had two very important things going for him: he wore a black mask, and he came with a plastic alligator. I was sold on him right there. Unfortunately, the same day that I brought ol' Croc Master home, my neighbor got mad at me and threw the alligator down a sewer drain. I cried all day and didn't talk to him for weeks - over a stupid plastic alligator. It was the principle of the thing...
Crimson Guard: Crimson Guard was just a little before my time, so I had to plead with my cousin to give me his. I always had a thing for any action figure dressed in red...if you've read through our archives, you might've seen that I hold the world record for most Emperor's Royal Guard figures owned. Anyways, these guys, though supposedly some of Cobra's best troops, served as nothing more than punch fodder for the Joes on the cartoon. But I don't care, I still wear my Crimson Guard t-shirt proudly to this day. And so should you...
Battle Android Trooper: Not only my favorite GI Joe figure ever - but probably in the top five action figures I've ever owned. This robot just had everything...replaceable limbs, cool outfit, computer chest...it was everything I aspired to be at age seven. Course, my tendency to lose small pieces was more than just a slight possibility, so every B.A.T. I owned was missing half an arm within two hours.
Mercer: I never really liked the human GI Joe figures much, but Mercer was just too cool in the movie for me to resist. Firstly, he's a reformed Cobra soldier. Secondly, he speaks in a weird accent. Thirdly - he liked to spit a lot. We had a winner.
Cobra Commander: What, you think I'd forget about one of the guys responsible for this site coming into creation? Think again. For as long as I can remember, I always thought Cobra Commander was hysterical. His schemes made absolutely no sense. If he wanted to destroy the Joe's headquarters, somehow this would involve mutating parrots and kidnapping chemists. I never understood it. Every vehicle in Cobra's arsenal had about 14 missles...why didn't they just blow some shit up? Add that in to the fact that he has the same voice as Starscream, and was one of the only people in the world of GI Joe who changed outfits once in awhile, and you had one hell of an action figure. He also said the greatest thing of all time...and you can hear a remix of it by clicking here.
T.A.R.G.A.T.: Targat's inclusion into my world of toys was purely accidental. I think he came with some lame vehicle...all I know is that I never actually bought him. Still, I always thought of that big gold visor as Targat's unassuming naive eyes, so he was the ultimate young hero of my toyland. In fact, I think he was the one who got to sleep with Princess Leia in my RoboForce castle, so he had to pull in some serious rank.
Zartan: One of my friends gave me this guy. I wasn't too impressed until I looked at him one day and noticed his face had turned blue. Yes, Zartan was one of the first color-changing action figures ever. Course, I have no idea why he'd change color. I refuse to accept 'camoflauge' as an answer, because I could paint my face blue and be just as visible on any terrain. Still, kudos for Zartan for giving me a valid reason to run my action figures under the faucet other than as a surrogate means of toy-Chinese water torture.
The Baroness: Oh, sweet sweet Baroness. My first girlfriend...my one true love. I've said it before - if Baroness ever evolved into a real living creature, I'd be on her in two seconds. Hell, I've considered it with the toy. Baroness was the ultimate woman - glasses, black outfit, accent, and a gun. Winner.
Talk about your favorite Joe over in the X-E Forum!