Back in 1987 fans of G.I. Joe got an animated film that has gone on to become a pretty divisive movie during a time which was probably the height of or toward the end of the height of the popularity for the G.I. Joe brand. Much like the Transformers animated film from the previous year it can quite plainly be seen as a feature length commercial for a new wave, maybe even a generation, of characters. I was overseas as a kid and when one of my friends got this on VHS it was HUGE news in my school, a part of a close knit U.S. military community in Italy. Back then it was just awesome and when you click it on now you realize that the intro remains one of the best in cartoon history.
Yes, there was a time when you watched this and afterwards you wanted and waited for a Pythona figure, and getting Slaughter’s Renegades 3-pack was one of my last childhood toy purchase highlights. As an adult I can kind of see how this was the beginning of the end, my military-based action figure line with accompanying tv show and comics that served as a child’s trinity in the ’80s had just jumped the shark. We could stomach Serpentor because the whole Battle for Springfield in the comic was SOOO dope and MARVEL was doubling down on G.I.Joe debuting Special Missions (R.I.P. Herb Trimpe) but Cobra La, thinking back on it now, yeah, might have gone a bit too far. What should be noted about the Rawhides though is that while taken in isolation they are what we’d now view as something at time painfully stereotypical there is actual diversity introduced with this group, which you had to think was part of the big plan for the movie, introducing this new, young, group of characters for you to read about and collect.
I wanted to take a look back at the the new G.I. Joe recruits and take a not at all comprehensive look at their legacy across multiple mediums. Kind of a highlight reel though with admitted complete bias. That said, I’m not at all hating, share yours if it you want to, it’s all G.I. Joe, it’s all love. Unless it’s Sigma 6.
Let’s get to it.
Jinx just got really big play in the last G.I. Joe film, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, where I thought she not only looked super cool but she acquited herself quite well, portrayed by super cute Elodie Yung. As far as her appearance in the animated movie, that was the first and only time Jinx would appear in a Sunbow cartoon. She would, however, appear in every other incarnation of animated G.I. Joe except Resolute, appearing in the Direct to Video films, Sigma 6, and Renegades.
Jinx ‘s toy also debuted in 1987 but it was in 1993 where she’d get a pretty cool release from the G.I.Joe Convention via a Hasbro authorized custom figure produced by James DeSimone, which came in a cool custom blue backing. Notice the COBRA emblem.
Both Jinx and fellow rawhide Tunnel Rat would make their first appearance in a comic in MARVEL’s G.I. Joe #59. Jinx was always kind of cool because ninjas were at their height and in her first appearance she was exposed to have the biggest co-sign for cool of the time, an Arashikage tattoo.
Jinx got a pretty striking action figure for the movie too, a yellow/black number that almost made me ignore my only o-ring policy for the personal collection. Another tidbit that’s Jinx related is that the original Jinx mold was used to make Vypra, who has a really sweet color gear and is a relatively desired figure (not a tough find but merely not as common as other characters in the way that vehicle drivers can be) having only been available with a vehicle.
Jinx was also an important character in another Rawhide’s, and maybe even one of G.I. Joe’s as a whole, grand moment…
Okay, let’s be clear. In the ’87 animated movie Chuckles did one of the most awesome things in the history of everything when he with his barehands picked up a missile off of the HAVOC, lifted it over his head and THREW IT… a LONG WAY. It’s hard to top that but Chuckles had somewhat of his own version of a personal McConaissance.
When IDW got the G.I. Joe license and before they killed it with some of the worst art imaginable accompanying really solid scripts and stories from the likes of Chuck Dixon, a great find in Mike Costa, and later David Lapham, introducing great new characters like Krake and Mad Monk, they put out one of best comics of that year and one of the best in G.I. Joe ever even though the art was at times a choir to say the least and had me jealouse of the line-up of artistic beasts IDW had drawing Transformers for them.
Mike Costa turned Chuckles into a deep cover agent infiltrating COBRA in the G.I. Joe: Cobra series and it was a psychological, brutal, and absolutely unpredictable title that made Chuckles instantly one of the most developed vehicles in G.I. Joe history. The run included a special one-shot called G.I.Joe:Cobra Special #1 which is nothing less than one of the best single comics of the last several years. I put very few G.I. Joe projects up there with that great work Hama did for the first 80 issues or so of the MARVEL run, but this Chuckles stuff in Cobra is in that class.
I always liked the original Chuckles figure (also from 1987) but I also loved his update for Operation Moth, where he was coupled with Shipwreck.
Chuckles first appeared in the MARVEL comic with issue #60, which was also the first appearance of fellow rawhides Falcon and Law & Order.
Law & Order
Kind of a new character to slot in that Mutt and Junkyard spot, though they have very different training, and there’s not a whole lot to go on here. I’m not really into the new mold action figures but Law & Order have some very cool ones, including a really sweet Renegades one.
Sorry dude, I don’t have much more. Solid and wildly successful tv show that would debut just a few years later was 100% named after this iconic duo though.
Don Johnson was a star and Falcon was supposed to basically replace Duke as kind of the most prominent member of G.I. Joe. How? Well if you ever watch this ’87 animated movie again and turn off the sound during the Serpentor and Duke fight and its aftermath, it’s pretty clear Duke was originally supposed to die, but HASBRO got cold feet for a couple of reasons, perhaps because the death of Optimus Prime a year before in the Transformers movie didn’t go over so well. In even earlier drafts he was supposed to be Hawk’s son, which is probably why Falcon was named Falcon. Back to Duke for a minute, watch that fight with Serpentor again, he throws a snake javelin into his heart, and remember Serpentor isn’t a normal dude, he has a bunch of DNA in him, including Sgt. Slaughter, who is somewhat superhuman in these cartoons. Let me remind you:
I’m not so sure how firmly entrenched Duke was for fans, personally I fully accepted the ascension of Flint, and the comic book Scarlett/Snake Eyes angle always worked for me more than Duke/Scarlett, and to be honest Flint and Lady Jaye seemed more of a happening pair.
The Falcon ’87 figure was one of my favorites and I think in general to the base because it’s really one that is somewhat classically military, rocked a Green Beret, and seemed very easy to believe to be a new face of the next wave of G.I. Joe. It’s kind of like they took the best of Duke and Flint and came up with Falcon, and the movie is basically his story. I LOVED his training with Slaughter and Renegades and while some of the movie’s elements didn’t sit well with me, I had no issue with Falcon and liked the idea of him being the G.I. Joe lead and the movie kind of sets up a really cool origin that we understand. Guy came through and saved the world and tried to smash Zarana. You will notice a lot of the licensed projects of this era will feature the Falcon image you see on his card.
That said he wasn’t huge afterwards. He has a really nice Night Force figure and he was pretty cool during the super dope COBRA Civil War from the Marvel run and was the featured character on the cover of the first issue of that arc but he didn’t really ever have another animated appearance that wasn’t making him out to be kind of a loser. They really backtracked on him, which is a shame because I thought he worked. I bought in even though he may be one of the most problematic characters I’ve seen in a children’s cartoon and may have told ’80s kids it was okay to slap a women’s ass as a form of salutation.
Tunnel Rat started off official from jump because he’s actually Larry Hama. Hasbro often based their sculpts on real people and Tunnel Rat was based on the likeness of Hama. Like Tunnel Rat, when Hama was in the military, he served in Vietnam like real American heroes did, and was an explosive ordnance expert. He’s had a really cool figures throughout his history in multiple lines, and also played a central role in the recent Renegades cartoon and was pretty sweet in the completely rad Resolute cartoon that Warren Ellis wrote.
He even has a sweet Kre-o figure. Really good mold and character.
Man…. it took AWHILE for Hasbro to give us a Big Lob figure and it’s one of the few moments of my adult life where a toy announcement was important to me. “Big Lob make his move” still lived on and was said an unusually large amount of times at various times in and around my life. Like today. We finally got a figure in 2010 from the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club, and I had to snag about three of them.
Now you might wonder why a #14 Jersey? It’s been talked about before. Your first thought should be to wonder if it was simply an homage to another Jersey wearing Joe, Bazooka, who also wore #14. Bazooka’s jersey was more than likely Steve Grogan’s, the QB of the New Engand Patriots of that era. Hasbro is from that area of the U.S., and one of the primary sculptors of the Joes, Ron Rudat, is a Patriots fans. The year before the Patriots were getting demolished by the ’85 Bears in the Super Bowl. We should remember because The Fridge was a member of G.I. Joe.
Also my twitter handle namesake.
Some fans have suggested maybe maybe it was 13 + 1 in reference of a new era and homaging the original 13 Joes (if you don’t include Shooter from G.I. Joe #1). Then again, it could have just been random.
Thank you Hasbro, I love Big Lob. Finally the Rawhides can assemble officially!
A little bonus here for the Rawhides trainer and one of the DOPEST G.I. Joe characters ever. Almost in every iteration this guy is just the coolest and IMHO, while maybe not to most iconic (which is probably Snake Eyes v2), he has one of the 3–5 coolest figures ever, and I’m not even talking about his OG U.S. release which is super ill by itself. I’m talking about the Funskool figure, specifically the yellow one.
If anyone is selling, hit me up, I’m not cheap and I’m looking. Not enough awesome? One of the great Marvel G.I. Joe covers is by one of the great comic book artists ever, Mike Zeck’s killer issue #47 of the MARVEL run, his debut, which had a lot of things going for it. First, it’s one of the most memorable comics of the run. It features Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow on COBRA Island and the Baroness rocking childhoods with a kill shot that blew my mind and would later help aid the creation of Serpentor. Secondly, the comic was featured in a commercial that mirrored it that ingrained itself in my head.
Beach head is also central in a pretty common and recurring discussion about the G.I. Joe Chain of Command. I think it comes from probably having a base that has served or had family that served plus there is a little nerdism in the question. The truth is the chain doesn’t make too much sense and most people write it off as kind of a fluid chain of command that’s unique because of the special nature of the G.I. Joe team, which is basically depicted as the special forces of special forces teams. It is, however, oddly addressed when Flint in the second season of the original cartoon said to Beach Head:
“First comes Hawk, then Duke, then me, and finally you”
Which makes very little sense but Serpentor kind of repeated it later, stating to Dr. Mindbender that Hawk was the head of the team, followed by Duke, Flint, Beachhead and Sgt. Slaughter. Hawk is a general and the CO of G.I. Joe, that make sense, but Duke, who could be the senior NCO, is still enlisted and so is Beach Head who is an E-6 (Staff sergeant). Flint is a Warrant Officer, which is above enlisted, usually a specialist, but not above a commissioned officer. Some one like an Ace is a fighter pilot, he’s an officer. So are other Joes like… Falcon, who as a lieutenant outranks everyone we are talking about besides Hawk, though in the animated movie we see that doesn’t mean much because big bro Duke ain’t having it. Remember, at one point Falcon actually says he’s “pulling rank”, which may have been trying to address the debate. With Beach Head it almost felt like he took the spot of another of my faves, Stalker, both of whom were Army Rangers. It’s also in canon that Beach Head doesn’t wear deodorant. As a side note, as the Joes set off to Springfield, they broke up into teams, and Beach Head is with all of the badasses.
IDW. Please do something with G.I.Joe. I need me a new book, it doesn’t feel right that I haven’t been interested in years. The Scioli project is this really funky and fun remix that there definitely is always room for but I need a Joe flagship book that’s worth reading to go with it. I need more G.I. Joe in my life. The Transformers comics for several years now have been awesome.
Neither the Transformers or G.I. Joe animated films were successful but for projects that were such bombs I have to say I have love for both and I feel like somehow almost anyone of that age knows basic tenets of both, be it ‘You Got the Touch” or the aforementioned iconic opening of the Joe film.