1991 GI Joe Cloudburst Review

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from my friend Colin, the mastermind behind Colin’s Joes. It’s my favorite kind of toy review blog– the kind where the author waxes poetic about what a toy means to them and also gives a factual, in-depth review. If you like ARAH-era GI Joe and aren’t regularly reading Colin’s website, I highly encourage you to do so, because he makes every single post something special.)

Review and Photos by Colin H.

The “Neon 90s” weren’t so neon for me. I had a Sunice ski jacket that I got in grade 8 that was so bright it would burn your retina if you weren’t wearing sunglasses. But that was when neon died for me, sometime around 1992.

The decade started with moving from a small town (Fort Smith, NWT) to a small city (Yellowknife, NWT), and progressed through learning to drive, my first girlfriend, my first drink, graduating high school, working at a music store, and dropping out of university. Twice. I spent most of the time cruising around my hometown in a Ford Tempo, listening to Dre, the Wu, Big and Pac. And I remember going to the bars in Edmonton on the night that Y2K was supposed to disable the world’s computer networks, and in the relief of having survived disaster, I may have kissed three different girls at midnight.

I started the 90s hooked on X-Men comics, and I ended the 90s hooked on X-Men comics. But in between it all, I sold off my childhood GI Joes, then lived without toys for a few years, before coming back at 17 as a part time collector, grabbing late-run 90s figures at the local Wal-Mart, ordering classic 80s Joes through mailaway offers from Hasbro Canada, and lucking into a few early ARAH MOCs.

Truth be told, I should hate Dustin. After all, this blog influenced why I’m interested in 1990s Joes now, why I’ve acquired foreign figures, why I have more than a few Corps figures in my collection… Life might be a lot better if I had never found the Dragon Fortress. Maybe I’d be rich, or maybe I’d finally publish that novel I’ve been working on since 2008. 

Most likely, the novel would still be in its current and infinite editing stage, and my disposable income might have instead been spent on discounted figures from the Star Wars prequel trilogy. You can never have too many Darth Mauls and Jar Jars, am I right? 

(I said, banking on a market correction.)

I can’t hold it against Dustin that I have a rubber arm, and that I’m always looking for toys to give additional meaning to my life.

1991 GI Joe Cloudburst

Anyway, I found the Dragon Fortress website four years ago. And as much as I lament how his reviews have impacted my savings account, I also appreciate that his posts have helped create connections between me and toys that I might not otherwise care about. Yet, the thing I appreciate most about Dustin is that he seems to be a genuinely nice guy.

I remember a few years ago, when I was simply following @dragonfortress on Twitter and not interacting with him in anyway. One of his Twitter posts talked about an old man that lived next door, how he would sometimes give this guy money so he could get a cab or a bus to the grocery store, how Dustin had felt shock and sadness after that man had passed suddenly. 

I had a neighbour like that, an old man who asked for my help to move a hot water tank into his basement, a veteran whose truck broke down on Remembrance Day, wearing his dress uniform on his way to attend the service, who passed away rather suddenly a few years ago. And I remember thinking how real Dustin’s post was, how unfiltered and honest his reaction was, how I didn’t expect to see that type of post on social media. So I felt a kinship long before we started to become friends on Twitter.

The kids might call it “Stanning”, but whatever, it led us here.

Honestly, that’s why I wanted to write a post when I heard he was going through a rough time. I know my words won’t help much, but maybe they will give him a moment away from it all. And sometimes you just need a second to catch your breath.

Now to my actual post!

1991 GI Joe Cloudburst Review

1991 GI Joe Cloudburst

I’ve been building my 1989-94 Joe collection for the past three years, after downsizing a bunch of Joes I wasn’t feeling a connection with in 2016 & 2017, then feeling sellers’ remorse, a short time later.

There were easy choices of who to get rid of, and easy choices of who to go after, once I started collecting them again a year later. And there were some obvious choices of who I regretted parting with most, either through latent, retroactive appreciation or through recognition that I had sold certain figures for significantly less than they are worth now, knowing that trying to get a replacement at a reasonable price will be frustrating. 

How can I justify paying $50 for a figure I sold for $5 a short time ago?

When it comes to Cloudburst, I’m not sure any of those choices would have been difficult. Had I owned him five years ago, he would have been on the first bus leaving Joeville. The orangish yellow arms and white pants would have been everything needed to toss him aside, and the pastel pink pads on the sides of his thighs would have just been frosting on the cake.

1991 GI Joe Cloudburst

Nor was he one of the first figures I tried to find after I started collecting 90s Joes in 2018. In fact, he was one of the last figures I acquired from the 1991 series, just eight months ago, with only a few of the Eco-Warriors and Super Sonic Fighters outlasting him outside of my collection. His hard-to-find status, with impossible to find accessories, and premium price tag were major deterrents from hunting him down. Couple those with a seemingly unattractive visage, and I put him at the bottom of my want list. 

Had I owned him, though, he might have been one of the figures I regretted selling off because, in-hand, he’s grown on me. Orangish yellow, black and white are complimentary to each other. I could do without the pink, but the blue visor draws your eyes away from the frosting stains on the side of his pants. 

(Yes, I know my pictures make the visor look green.)

1991 GI Joe Cloudburst

The Cloudburst mould is extremely well done, with wrinkled leggings, textured straps on his thighs, back pockets, well-equipped harness, collared shirt, chin strap and stoic disposition. His arms are comically disproportionate – did he spend everyday in the gym, doing bicep curls only? – and mismatched, since the texture on his arms doesn’t align with the shirt on his chest. His arms are well-designed, they’re just not meant for this figure. Uniform black paint on his arms, with proportionate dimensions, and sheen, texture and faux wrinkling to match the rest of his shirt would have made a huge difference. But when you cover his arms and look at the rest of his body, you have the core of a solid figure.

1991 GI Joe Cloudburst

If I was ever customizing him, I might steal Mace’s arms. In addition to black, the two figures share Cloudburst’s orangish yellow, and it’s likely that the Air Commando’s missed potential inspired the colour choices for the later, DEF figure.

In addition to the super cool blue visor, Cloudburst also came with a rifle. This is not up to the usual Hasbro quality, however, as the handle seems too short, the clip seems too narrow, and the barrel seems too bulky. And it’s pink. The less said about it, the better. Though this is Dragon Fortress, so maybe I should lie and say I love the 1990s colour choices…?

1991 GI Joe Cloudburst

The other thing of interest with Cloudburst is the glider he was packaged with.

Since I’m so old, I remember Hasbro’s first kick at producing gliders kids could throw. Not pretty! This seems a lot sturdier. Although mine is worn and weathered, I’ll take it out for a toss and let you know how it fares. Why the hell not…!

The original Falcon and Viper gliders were cheap and flimsy. This feels cheap but not flimsy, and that’s a huge difference. 

1991 GI Joe Cloudburst

As a sales tactic, marketing gliders on the card with the figures is gimmicky. The bulk of GI Joe vehicles and playsets were hard plastic, and this thing is soft plastic. And the colours don’t mesh with the figure, apart from the orangish yellow.

There were various Air Commando gliders released in 1991 and 1992, all the same style, but you really only need one. Maybe two, if you wanted one for GI Joe and one for Cobra. But you don’t need scores of them, so most kids would have picked the figure or glider they liked best and left the rest on store pegs. It’s similar to the Sky Patrol parachutes, in that having a bunch of figures packaged with shoddy, duplicate accessories does not give enough incentive to get every figure that was released within a subset.

My target, as a child, was always getting as many carded figures as possible. But had I been eight years old when these were produced, I would have only bought just one.

In summary: Cloudburst has a few obvious flaws (pink pads and weapon, weirdly textured yellow arms) but generally he is well-crafted and the glider – if it works! – is fun enough that he would be worth grabbing, both back in the neon 90s, as a child looking for a new Joe toy to enjoy, and now, at the right price, as an adult looking to add another Joe figure to your collection.

As an additional note, I didn’t know that Mr. Dragon Fortress didn’t own Cloudburst when I picked this figure to profile. Apparently, it’s his last 1991 figure to acquire, so I think it’s a good fit that I did. But I look forward to Dustin’s take, too, when he acquires one.

And, as a last note, the test flight did not go as planned. Yikes. The glider fared no better than a poorly crafted paper plane with a led tip. I can only hope that’s the impact of age and previous playwear.

Signing Off

1991 GI Joe Cloudburst

Thanks so much to Colin! If you’re always searching for more GI Joe content, make sure his website is in your rotation. It’s great stuff. You can always find a link to it on my sidebar, too.

I loved this review and I probably won’t ever feel the need to write my own. This one’s permanent, Colin. And, above all else, thanks so much for the kind words.

Sidenote: I actually did acquire a 91 Cloudburst! He was the last figure from 1991 I needed, and I finally found a “deal” on eBay at some point. I still paid too much, but at least he came with his visor, weapon, and a trading card. I think the seller threw in some unrelated accessories to sweeten the deal, too.

1991 GI Joe Cloudburst

I think this is the only photo of Cloudburst I ever took. Oops!

What do you think of the Air Commandos? Did you find the gliders fun? Do you enjoy throwing your toys into the wind? Let us know in the comments!

8 thoughts on “1991 GI Joe Cloudburst Review

  1. A-Man

    The weapons on the Air Commando gliders themselves were specific for the characters in 1991. Then in 1992, they were random sort of. The Joe gliders had 2 options (silver grenade launcher or 4 barrel machine gun), the Cobra ones also had two (green double barrel gun and some odd multibarrel/minigun). BUt it should be noted that Sky Creeper and Skymate were only shipped in North America in 1991, making them somewhat scarcer and meaning their gliders had specific weapons (Skymate had the 4 barrel mg) on North American cards. European cards is another story, there’s MOC examples of Skymate with the grenade launcher.

    Which isn’t really that relevant to Cloudburst.

    I used to have a few Cloudbursts mint in baggies I got from a n odd close out store. They came with NO ACCESSORIES, which is a huge bummer…without the visor. he’s lacking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      I had absolutely no idea any of the glider weapons had variants or were even interchangeable. As a kid, I only owned Skymate and Cloudburst. Cloudburst was lost early on in a glider accident (go figure). I still have my childhood Skymate, who is beat to hell. You can see him in some of the photos in my SF2 Vega review. I do not recall which weapons their gliders had at all.

      Cloudburst is one of those figures that needs his visor to look good (or even look right). Skymate looks better with his visor, but passable without it. So it’s a bummer that the majority of Cloudbursts had no visors to begin with, and most of the rest of the visors were sucked up by lawn mowers.

      I couldn’t even imagine trying to track down a complete Skymate or Cloudburst right now. Especially Skymate. Yeesh. And I’m still looking for Spirit and Air Devil. I’m not convinced either one of them actually exist.


  2. I got my first Cloudburst from Hasbro Canada in 1999. It was like A-Man’s in that it had no accessories. Air Devil was the same. But, yet, the 1992 Ace included his full complement of gear. Hasbro was weird, sometimes.

    All of the Air Commandos were figures that needed repaints in the 2000’s. Great molds with better colors that showed them off would have been nice. But, they would have all been olive drab or tan and that would have left them still lacking. The fact that none showed up, even in convention sets, really showed that Hasbro just DGAF about Joe at all. It’s a shame to think that Hasbro destroyed all these molds, mostly out of spite, without using them or getting one final hurrah from them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment, Mike!

      I would have loved to see some repaints. I honestly love the loud colors on Sky Creeper, Skymate, and Night Vulture, but more grounded repaints would have been very nice, too. At least Spirit got a very nice repaint, which I do own. It’s probably my favorite Spirit figure. I guess you could mix and match the parts from 92 and 93 to make something more “realistic,” but you’d have to be a millionaire to make that kitbash, at this point.


  3. I picked up a few of the 90s Joes by mailaway through Hasbro Canada, having chosen Ace and Spirit from the list of figures expecting to see the 1983 and 1984 versions, but instead getting the 1992 versions. Like A-Man’s Cloudburst, my Spirit was missing his pistol. (I know for sure he exists, though jury’s still out on Air Devil!) And like Mike’s Ace, my Ace had his accessories.

    Thanks again, brother, for letting me contribute. Can’t wait to do it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a bummer that Spirit was missing his gun. I think it’s actually a pretty cool piece, even though I only own it in red.

      The 92 Ace is such a fantastic figure, but the helmet is necessary. Getting Shockwave’s SMG with him is nice, but not really a needed thing. Though I guess Spirit doesn’t really NEED that particular gun, either. I feel like I’m just rambling at this point.

      Thanks again, Colin!


  4. Dracula

    I never owned this figure or even have a strong memory of him. Transformers has a similarly under-loved character named Cloudburst, who is among my favorites, however.

    I have to say that I adore the color scheme on this figure’s hang glider. Sure it’s incongruous with Cloudburst himself, but show me anything that’s teal and purple and I’m head over heels. Doesn’t matter if it’s a hang glider, fish monster, mobile artillery, or ski jacket.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      I still have Pretender Cloudburst’s inner robot that I bought off some random dude on the internet in like 2001. I’ve never owned his outer shell, even though it’s really cool looking. I did appreciate the little Prime Master Cloudbursrt they released a few years ago, though. All of those tiny Pretenders were great. I only wish they’d made more.

      I agree on the glider! All of the Air Commandos gliders are just so beautiful and perfectly early 90s. People say the 90s GI Joe figures were too bright and bold, but I wish Hasbro had done some of them up like the gliders. But they never got that bold. Lanard did come close a few times, though.


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