1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire – Cheat Day/Team Up Review

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

1988 Tiger Force Tripwire aka The Skoog aka Cat Skoog– today on The Dragon Fortress!

He dropped out of high school and got kicked out of a monastery. He’s an explosives expert. He’s a total Klutzy Karl.

And today, this Klutzy Karl shows off his Kitty-Kat Makeover.

Let’s cut the blue wire!

A Teamup and a Very Special Review

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

As you know, The Dragon Fortress is dedicated to toys from the 1990s. As you can also tell from the title, today’s review subject comes from the 1980s.

But, it was inevitable that I had a Cheat Day. In fact, I always knew I’d look at a few toys from the late 80s and early 00s on the blog, since they were a big part of my childhood, too.

My friend RTG of Attica Gazette asked me to do another crossover review, and I happily said yes. I’ve known him for 10 years, and he’s always been one of my favorite people and best friends in the GI Joe community. He’s also probably the best GI Joe photographer in the world.

When RTG told me Mike T of Forgotten Figures was participating as well, I definitely couldn’t say no. Mike and I have teamed up before, but that’s an opportunity I’ll never turn down. I’ve been reading and loving Forgotten Figures for almost 18 years now, and the way he writes about GI Joe can’t be beat. He gets the essence of the characters, building a world around them, and telling a compelling story. He’s also a hell of a photographer.

With that, the first Dragon Fortress Cheat Day was born.

You can find Mike T’s 1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire review at Forgotten Figures.

You can find RTG’s 1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire review at Attica Gazette.

I Had No Connection to 1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

I’ve never had a connection to Tiger Force. The same goes for Night Force, Python Patrol, and Slaughter’s Marauders. I love the 90s GI Joe sub teams like Ninja Force, DEF, Star Brigade, and Eco Warriors– but those came out when I was growing up, so I had that connection to them.

The most vivid memory I have of Tiger Force from my childhood came from a 1988 or 1989 GI Joe catalog. The catalog was at my father’s house, and possibly came with either Hardball or Spearhead, which were two of my earliest GI Joe figures.

I stared at that catalog for hours, and Tiger Force was a big reason for that. The bright yellow, black, and white color schemes for vehicles like the Tiger Rat were mesmerizing. I also remember looking at Flint and Roadblock, two characters I liked from the cartoon, but two characters who weren’t represented in my collection until much later.

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

So, Tiger Force came too early for me as a kid. As an adult GI Joe fan, I’ve never been especially interested in it or the other 1980s sub teams for one simple reason– they’re repaints.

As a collector now, I’d much rather find a character I don’t have instead of buying an expensive variant of a character I already own.

Tiger Force and Night Force are popular with collectors, though, and I often felt left out when hashtags such as #TigerForceFriday came up on Twitter and Instagram, because I couldn’t participate.


1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

Last spring, as I got heavily into GI Joe again, I tracked down a Tiger Force Jinx early on. She’s one of my favorite figures in the ARAH style. But, even though she was the only one I had, I wasn’t really looking for more Tiger Force figures.

Then, as this story often goes, I found a lot on eBay. That lot contained a very nice Dodger with his microphone, a figure I’ve wanted since childhood. The lot also contained a Strato Viper wearing an Astro Viper jetpack. That, to me, was worth the $30 asking price right there. But the lot also contained Sea Slug, Wet-Suit v1, and three Tiger Force figures– Dusty, Recondo, and Tripwire.

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

When the box arrived at my house, I was surprised to see that all of the figures came with accessories, as well. Their gear wasn’t pictured in the auction, so it was a pretty exciting moment for me when I opened that package.

Suddenly, I had three complete 80s Tiger Force figures in very nice (almost new) shape. Dusty’s crotch was broken, but it almost always is. And that gave me a lot more options for #TigerForceFriday. I soon purchased a Tiger Force Stalker, and had a pretty good team put together.

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

My friend RTG of Attica Gazette, seeing my newfound enthusiasm for these handful of Tiger Force figures, suggested we both review the 1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire at the same time. He also suggested we get Mike T of Forgotten Figures involved.

That sounded like a great idea to me, even though this Tripwire isn’t a 90s figure. But I am looking at him through fresh eyes, and have no nostalgia associated with the toy. I didn’t even know Tripwire (let alone Tiger Force Tripwire) existed until the early 2000s. That, coupled with my general disinterest in Tiger Force, means I had no preconceived notions before getting the figure.

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire Review

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

Though I didn’t know who Tripwire was as a child, I’ve always liked him as an adult. I enjoyed his few comic book appearances, and get a kick out of his filecard. I also quite liked the 25th Anniversary version of Tripwire, and got a lot of use out of the figure before I sold most of my modern era GI Joe collection.

Earlier this year, RTG sent me a care package with an original 1983 Tripwire, a Shockwave, a tan Clutch, and a few other goodies. I immediately tracked down Tripwire’s accessories and started incorporating the figure into photos.

Sure, Tripwire can seem a bit boring. His outfit is plain and utilitarian. He doesn’t come with any weapons. He never had a big, heroic presence in any GI Joe media. Next to Snake Eyes, Stalker, Gung Ho, and Scarlett, he’s downright vanilla.

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

But that’s what’s great about him. As a character, he is unassuming. He does a non-glamorous, thankless job. He finds mines and disables explosives, which is something a special forces team needs, especially when they’re dealing with an organization like Cobra.

On top of that, he’s got personality. Some people may say he just has one personality trait, which is that he’s clumsy. To me, though, it goes deeper than that. He’s clumsy until he has to do his job, and then he’s the best in the business. You can’t be sure he won’t trip over a stray extension cord, but you know he can defuse any bomb Cobra can throw at him.

But, as a clumsy person, I know that Tripwire is always clumsy. There’s no off switch. That just means that Tripwire cares about his job so much, and he was so committed to getting it right and saving lives, that he worked extra hard to overcome his clumsiness in those situations. There’s nothing supernatural about it– he just put in the hours, and he’s passionate about what he does. If that’s not a heroic trait, then I don’t know what is.

So, here’s 1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire:

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

The sculpt itself is basic and unassuming. He’s a guy wearing a jumpsuit, some body armor, boots, gloves, and a helmet with some goggles. The helmet doesn’t come off. He doesn’t look badass, tactical, or really cool in any way. There’s a single pistol holstered on his leg, which might be the only hint he might belong on a team like GI Joe.

Here’s his gear:

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

Tripwire comes with an intricately-sculpted mine detector with a cord that plugs into his backpack, a backpack with a hole for the detector’s cord and a recessed cavity, and three landmines that fit into the backpack’s recessed cavity.

While other figures at the time came with cool and exotic weapons and gear, Tripwire kept it simple. He doesn’t even come with a gun.

Here’s Tripwire All Geared Up:

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

Without his gear, Tripwire is as basic as it gets. With his gear, he’s no longer basic. The gear is fantastic– he can find landmines, as well as plant them. Everything fits together perfectly. He looks very nice with his mine detector and backpack in place. But, you could still argue he’s a mundane figure even with his gear.

To me, though, a figure and character like Tripwire helps tell a story. He fleshes out the world of GI Joe. He’s not a perfect, barrel chested sergeant who knows 13 languages and can fire two M16s at once. But, he is a dedicated soldier who fills a very necessary role on any team, and brings some real color into the Joe mythos.

Speaking of color, that’s where this Tiger Force deco comes in. Most every Tiger Force figure has a totally different color scheme, and they usually don’t look like a cohesive unit together. But the colors are generally interesting, if unrealistic.

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

The orange and black Tiger pattern on Tripwire’s body armor looks great. It’s vibrant, and really elevates the figure from the first version’s more sober greens and greys. He also wears a brown jumpsuit, green helmet with black goggles, green gloves, a green belt, and grey boots. It’s a pretty nice color scheme, and it’s much more eye-popping than the original Tripwire.

I love figures that look interesting. That’s why I embrace the neon elements of GI Joe. I really like the 1983 Tripwire figure, and that one is much more realistic. But Tiger Force Tripwire is a bold little weirdo, and I love him for that. He’s by no means a “realistic jungle trooper,” but that was never a big priority for Tiger Force anyway. Let’s be honest about that.

Overall, I’m very pleased to own this figure. He didn’t convert me into a Tiger Force fanatic, and I don’t feel the need to complete the sub team anytime soon. He did, however, convert me into a Tiger Force Tripwire fanatic. And that’s a job well done.

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

Verdict: Tripwire is a classic GI Joe figure and character who fills a necessary role on the team. But, as far as his character and specialty go, he’s the opposite of flashy and memorable. But, the 1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire is a much bolder version of the character. With this figure, you can own a more exciting Tripwire without paying a king’s ransom for either the Listen N Fun or Funskool versions. If you need a more realistic Tripwire, skip this one and go for the 83 version. But if you want a more fun, party-ready Tripwire, this is the way to go. Highly Recommended.

Additional Resources:

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire – Closing Thoughts

1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire

There, see?

I don’t hate the 80s. I actually love every era of GI Joe, including Sigma 6.

I’m also grateful to be involved in this crossover with Mike and RTG, so thanks again to them.

I’ve been slowly working on another Exosquad review. I’m reviewing one of the biggest items in the line, so photography has been a challenge. But hopefully it’s worth the wait!

If you feel like I’m taking too much time in between posts, you can always follow and chat with me on Instagram.

I’m also declaring May 29th International Tiger Force Tripwire Day. Thanks for reading!

12 thoughts on “1988 GI Joe Tiger Force Tripwire – Cheat Day/Team Up Review

  1. A-Man

    “You got to stand tall when it comes down to Tripwire!”
    That might not be the actual lyric.

    The only interest TF Tripwire story I have is my shock to find them at the local Gibson’s store back in fall of 1988. I didn’t know they existed before then and that store probably hadn’t gotten new Joe stuff in over a year. Yeah, sucked to live a town a 30 minute drive from even a Wal-Mart.

    I’d day if you need a classic style Tripwire, I’d go for the 2001 version. I think his crotch is less likely to break than the original. Strange the 1983, Tiger Force and 2001 release all have the same head colors or very close.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The DIC animated series would have been good if they’d only included Tripwire! That was the missing ingredient.

      That does suck to not have many toy store options as a kid. I know we didn’t have a Walmart until 1997 or so in my home town, but we did have Shopko, Fred Meyer, K-Mart, and various drug stores, all of whom carried GI Joe.

      RTG already hooked me up with an 83 Tripwire. I’ve been very, very careful with it since I love the figure and don’t want to break it. I think I still might get a 2001, since it would be easier to use in photos without any fear of breakage.

      And I guess Tripwire just demands a green helmet in his contract!


  2. Cuda

    Cool review as always.

    You want to know what pisses me off about joe tiger force? They do not use john wayne sparse patterns, the best real tiger stripe pattern in existance(also known as golden tiger, or navy seal tiger stripe and a real bitch to find a matching top due to fading and all age). What pisses me off about actual camo bdus, they dont come in a tiger force yellow and black pattern, or even an orange dominant pattern.

    Still, not everyday a band of legitimate war criminals get a toy line named after them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, I had to look up nearly everything you just said. That’s what I like about you and A-Man– you both end up teaching me something new with nearly every comment! I do like that golden tiger camo, and that probably would have appeased Joe fans more, at least today. But they were going after kids, and if you take one look at the TF line, you can tell that realistic is not what they were going for with most figures. And I’m fine with that. Still, not using that camo style is a missed opportunity.

      And I can’t believe I’ve never read about the actual Tiger Force until now. That is some dark, grisly stuff. Seeing as how TF wasn’t a big thing in the comics, we can likely assume actually Vietnam veteran Larry Hama wasn’t the one behind the idea. But who knows”?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Matt

        The war crimes of the real-life Tiger Force weren’t made public until 2003. The military heard scary rumors about them and investigated in the ’70s and then buried the report for decades.


  3. Ha! I could copy your story about Tiger Force to the letter: I know 90s joes, but all I saw of 80s joes was probably the same catalog. It had tiger force and python patrol vehicles in it and they mesmerized me. I looked through that catalog over and over, and never saw even one of those items beyond the HISS II that the catalog came from.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Those catalogs were all magical. Even (or especially) the 90s ones. I was so young then that I don’t remember if I saw any of the vehicles in stores or not. But probably not. But I think they hit the mark with Tiger Force in one crucial way– those bright, weird color schemes were just spellbinding for a kid. And, contrary to popular belief, GI Joe was a line of toy soldiers aimed primarily at children.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, it’s not cheating by much! Tiger Force stuff was still pretty easy to find in the early nineties, my brother got his Tiger Sting in like ’90 or ’91. So it’s not quite a 90’s toy, but it’s fair to say anything from ’88 might’ve been the toy of a nineties kid. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Man, the Tiger Sting is gorgeous. That must have been a great toy to grow up with. As I said to Alexx, I’m not sure I ever saw any TF vehicles in stores as a kid. I think my oldest Joe vehicles were the Desert Fox, Bugg, and Raider, and those were all found in 90 or 91 by my Mom. Most of my vehicles as a kid probably came from 1992, which was my biggest GI Joe year by far. Since TMNT wasn’t distracting me anymore by then!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Matt

        My distraction from 1982-1987 was He-Man. And I regret nothing since by ’87 GI Joe was a lot weirder and more interesting as far as I was concerned 😉


  5. Matt

    I actually have childhood memories of Tiger Force. It was great to get older characters like Duke and Flint, even if Duke’s hair was wrong. And some figures like Bazooka and Lifeline arguably looked better in their new uniforms. But then there’s Trip Wire. Can’t say I was a fan of him. He was so obscure that my first reaction to seeing him on the cardbacks was “Who?”. I might have more appreciation for him now. He finds landmines and he was in the M.A.S.S. Device miniseries, damnit. Both are cool things.


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