As a child of the 80’s I have much love for GI Joe. I thought about capturing my love by whipping up your standard “Top 10 Favorite GI Joe/Cobra” characters but then I realized there were a lot of figures who seemed a little out of place for the military. So with that thought in mind I took a twist and came up with my top 15 wussiest GI Joe/Cobra figures of all time!!!
Now before we get started let me clarify a couple of ground rules here. First, I excluded everyone from the original 1982 wave of figures because 90% of them shared the same molds and its not really fair to call a figure crappy from that time. Second, I pretty much stopped my GI Joe obsession sometime around the 1988 wave although I do remember one or two figures from the 89 wave. This is important to note because I stopped buying the figures before they went off the deep end and became obsessed with neon colors, fighting drugs, becoming eco soldiers by shooting each other with water, fighting aliens, ninja forcing it up and inviting along the Street Fighter II gang. If I had included any of the 1990 – 1994 waves of figures in this list, well lets just say it would be the top 100 wussiest GI Joe/Cobra figures ever. Perhaps we can revisit the crazier aspects of the Joe line in a future post. But for today we are strictly dealing with 1983 – 1988 GI Joe/Cobra 3 3/4″ action figures.
Okay to be fair, I could put the entire Dreadknok team on this list (With the exception of Road Pig that guy was a beast). Those were some colorful looking bikers. But Zanzibar, the swamp pirate, featured one thing no other Joe figure (to my knowledge) did. A real hair ponytail…that’s pretty wussy.
Whoops that should read Tollbooth not Toolboth. I only have one thing to say about Tollbooth. While everyone else was busy fighting a war, Tollbooth decided to strap on a construction hat and start making bridges. I wouldn’t say he’s a wuss, but he definitely wasn’t looking to get into the heavy fighting.
I don’t think I need to say anymore…
Now for the list proper:
“I’m not an Admiral but I play one on TV!” Side note, why did so many Joe and Cobra figures feature heavy porn-staches? Its amazing every kid who grew up on GI Joe doesn’t have a ‘stache today because we grew up thinking that’s what men did dangit!
Don’t think sneak peek was a wuss? Well aside from the fact that his whole position in the military was basically to observe from miles away and stay out of conflict, I give you exhibit A – The artwork on his card. Look at that face man. It’s a well known fact that many of the character designs in the GI Joe universe were based off of real people. I feel bad for the poor sap that inspired Sneak Peek.
The Character of Zartan was a bad, bad man and I grew to appreciate him more over the years (pre neon green/ninja force-mohawk) but the figure was a gimmick that didn’t work well (changing color in the sun) and his chest armor would never stay attached. So we were treated to his pudgy looking, sometimes slightly greenish/gray, undefined chest at all times. That and his “Mask” made him look like a leather queen from the 70’s. He did have a knife strapped to his boot like so many random figures with knifes, guns and grenades molded on so I guess he has that going for him. Oh and the skiff he came with would never stay together either because it was designed to, get this, turn into garbage for hiding and was made of stinky plastic. I hated this figure…
Shipwreck the character was awesome however this figure looks more like a member of the village people than a member of the most elite fighting force the world has ever seen…and he came with a parrot who undermined his authority at all times. When everyone else was shooting each other with laser rifles Shipwreck broke out his old school pirate pistol, complete with Wii-like wrist strap and shot his enemies down with one shot every 10 minutes. Oh and he had an anchor too, not sure how I can see it being helpful to haul a heavy anchor into combat…
11. Cross Country
Okay minor confession time. Shortly after obtaining the “H.A.V.O.C.” (which by the way was one of the more outlandish yet totally awesome Joe vehicles of all time. It had a separate hovercraft and huge laser cannons that couldn’t pivot!) I pulled my cross country figure out, realized the rebel sympathizer was junk after seeing the constipated look on his face and tossed him to the side. One time I tried to put a gun in his hand but being a pacifist, rather then hold a gun and go to war it broke all of his fingers off leaving him with only a thumb on his right hand. In my world that meant he was useless to me and he became Cobra fodder for the rest of his days (which in GI Joe world was until his crotch broke off, you were no longer a man after that happened). Side note, who in the military wears white boot covers in combat? What are we the British from the revolutionary war? You know how unpractical this is?
Ahh who could forget Cobra-La. I have great love for “GI Joe the movie”. It spawned some of my favorite memories and characterizations of the entire line. However the figures that were released for the all powerful (all crazy) Cobra-LALALALALALALALALALALA left a little be desired. For proof look no further then their leader, the mighty Golobulus (voiced by Burgess Meridith in the movie). His character was half snake because hey, they were called Cobra so they might as well be based secretly on snake people, but the execution of this figure was something else. I think the marketing meeting went something like: “I got it! Lets get rid of the legs from a figure and replace it with a bendable snake tail that really won’t bend all that well to make the evil snake emperor. That way kids won’t be able to play with him at all and he’ll be worthless!” YEAH!!!!
I imagine if Cobra was real then the following conversation happened with every Tele-Viper. “Son, you failed at every single test here at Cobra Academy. Since you are no good to us in the field what I would like you to do is to strap on this purple vest, purple shoes, giant bulky helmet and silver goggles and go take calls in the Cobra Call Center…” Now you know who is behind all those telemarketing calls asking you to switch your long distance carrier in the 80’s and 90’s, and knowing is half the battle!
For a guy who’s whole gimmick is that nobody ever notices him, he sure does dress a bit…umm…loud I guess you could say. What with the shirtless/gun holster combo, weird blue shoulder armor (just like Zartan’s) and the scarf, oh yes the fluorescent pink scarf. Not to mention the red lightning bolts on his chest and face…wait are those supposed to be scars? I’m confused. And then he tops the whole ensemble off with gold knee-pads…I got nothing.
By 1988 I had started growing out of the GI Joe toyline but they pulled me back in by calming the line down and putting out a fantastic array of figures (Astro Viper, Blizzard, Budo, Repeater, Road Pig, Shockwave, Storm Shadow in awesome Urban Camo, Gold Head Destro, Tiger Force and Night Force repaints). They knocked the series 7 figures out of the park. But not all of them. Witness Voltar, Destro’s Iron Grenadier general (if Voltar was the General, what was Destro?) who dressed in a garish bright fuchsia jumpsuit with golden accessories and golden helmet complete with red targeting spectacle. Oh but that’s not all, he also came with a vulture…I think I need to repeat that, because it bears repeating. HE CAME WITH A VULTURE!!!
FYI, I think its funny that when I looked up Voltar on YoJoe.com that under Body Construction it lists that Voltar’s body is completely original and no parts were ever used to create other figures. Oh really? They didn’t deem any of the awesome Voltar figure to be reusable even throughout the awkward color repainting 90’s phase? No way!
No Cutter wasn’t the emo/goth Joe who spent too much time wearing black and listening to cradle of filth. He was the pilot of the W.H.A.L.E. (I loved the Joe acronyms). Cutter has two things going against him. The first is that he is apparently a Red Sox fan and if you squint he kinda looks like Boston Rob with red hair. The second is that he is wearing a life jacket. If the pilot of your W.H.A.L.E Hovercraft is wearing a life jacket you know that not only will he go down with the ship but he is planning on taking the ship down so he can do it. Side note, I’ve noticed a decent number of “pilot” figures on this list. I’m thinking not a lot of design time was spent on some of these pack in figures…
Look I don’t know how to politely say this. I know Torpedo was a Navy SEAL and the SEAL’s are some of the baddest men on the planet. But to put this one simply, the Torpedo figure appeared to be skinny and have man boobs. Combine that with the lifeless stare in his eyes, guy looks like a corpse in a wetsuit. What more can I say?
Man this one is self explanatory. What self respecting doctor runs around without a shirt, in a metal harness, purple pants and a cape. And an eyepiece of course cause he is an evil doctor, oh and again with the mustache. His Mind wasn’t the only thing bending if you know what I mean…
Okay this one goes right up there with Mindbender. Dude running around in combat wearing leather and tights armed only with a lenticular motion version of Captain America’s shield trying to hypnotize you. I imagine him and Mindbender are living somewhere in Vermont, happily running a bed & breakfast and taking turns brainwashing each other…that came out sounding dirtier then I intended it. Lets just move on.
Whew this whole mind control thing in the GI Joe universe really led to some awful designs no? The guy wore neon green and satellite dishes on his wrists, how many fights do you think he got into? I bet his wedgie count out weighed his Cobra kill count. My favorite thing about Psyche Out, aside from the giant silver empty gun holster on his chest (Oh no guys I forgot my gun, looks like I can’t go fight today darnit!), was that he had a hole in the back of his head where you could stick an antenna in (thus the giant red headphones I guess). Of course I promptly lost the antenna so he walked around, in all his “parted in the middle, wavy, blonde haired” glory with a big hole in the back of his head. I can’t tell you how many Cobra (and Joe) plastic guns ended up with their barrels occupying that hole.
You know, now that I think of it, I think Psyche-Out was the first person in the Matrix, what with the hole in the back of his head where you could insert electronics and all. He was jacking into the Matrix back in 87. Maybe he was the One! Take that Keanu…
Worst figure ever! Can I get a figure with no articulation, who is designed to go underwater but when he does his helmet fogs up and you can’t see his head? Is that to protect his secret identify? This guy basically wore a steel suit to dive in. I think he took a deep six every time he touched the water. He also came with some weird pump and tube thing that was supposed to make him surface and dive in the water. Yeah that worked about as well as it sounds. Oh and he was of course the driver of a flying submarine. How does he pilot his ship when his legs/elbows don’t bend and he can’t turn his head? Laying down of course. That’s right, he piloted a flying, underwater bed. On second thought I think he’s the best Joe ever…
I like to think he has no body in there, he’s just a head attached to a robot. That almost makes more sense in the GI Joe universe then this weak figure.