The 1992 Destro is iconic for people of a certain age. The 1992 series of GI Joe was great like that. For kids of the time, the toy line served up great versions of Destro, Cobra Commander, Duke, Storm Shadow, Roadblock, Hawk, Stalker, Wet-Suit, Spirit, and Gung Ho. They were recognizable, cool, and forward-thinking. That 1992 Destro looked like he stepped right out of a Sunbow cartoon rerun. Every kid who was into GI Joe at the time wanted one.
The 1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro figure, on the other hand, is not iconic. In 1993, Hasbro branched out in many different directions with GI Joe and blazed some new trails. It wasn’t always successful, and sometimes the iconography got lost in the shuffle. In an attempt to keep up with other toy lines and pop culture trends, some strange choices were made.
I was a kid in 1993, though, and was not burdened by the jaded Joe collector mindset. I experienced Armor Tech Destro at a prime toy-loving age, but I still had some opinions on the figure. Obviously I’m going to share my past and present opinions in this review, but I’m going to dig a little deeper than “THIS BIG SPACEMAN ISN’T A REAL GI JOE.”
Just a little.
Armor Tech figures are widely hated by older fans because of their reduced articulation. But what did 7-12 year olds think of these toys at the time? I can answer that question.
There’s a full review here, too, of course. And a special little surprise you’ll just have to click through to see.
Let’s get to it.
1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro, the Early Years
I’ve often spoken about my childhood friend Mark who lived across the street from me. He’s the person I share many of my childhood GI Joe experiences with, after all.
Mark was a big Destro fan. He loved the idea of the noble villain, and I think he was also pretty into the whole “shiny chrome head” thing. The 1992 Destro was one of his favorite figures, and he bought the Hall of Fame version as soon as he could. Destro was easily his favorite character on the Cobra side, and he tended to prefer Cobra to GI Joe.
Since Mark loved Destro and owned almost every GI Joe toy made (or made available) in the early 90s, it was only a matter of time before he got a 1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro.
This was the first time either of us ever experienced an Armor Tech figure. We both had several Ninja Force figures, so we were aware that Hasbro sometimes changed GI Joe’s articulation. But Armor Tech was something entirely different.
This was a big, bulky figure that moved more like some of my Toy Biz Marvel figures than a GI Joe. It reminded us of Mark’s older brother’s old Kenner Star Wars figures, too. The different articulation was weird to us at first, but we got over it pretty quickly once we started playing with the toy.
This bulky Destro also had a cool look. It was more armored than any of our other GI Joe figures, it had an actual chrome head (unlike the 92 Destro), and wore a cool clear space helmet. It honestly looked like it could take on a whole squadron of GI Joes by itself.
And that’s what it did.
This Armor Tech figure became Mark’s default Destro. I loved space adventures, but our own GI Joe sessions rarely went there. Instead, this figure came to represent an overpowered suit of armor for Destro, where he won every battle– much to my chagrin. Once Destro was joined by a BAAT, the only other Armor Tech figure either of us owned, the GI Joe forces had a much harder time in their fight against Cobra.
And that’s how I remember this figure– a big, hulking presence on the battlefield, with articulation and detailing that set it apart from the other GI Joes in my childhood. I never owned this figure as a kid, but because of how Mark treated it, it’s always had a legendary kind of presence to me.
I wanted to track one down ever since I started re-collecting the ARAH era figures in earnest many years ago. But it was strangely hard to find one with its helmet and all limbs intact. I’m not sure if they were all trashed by kids who loved them, were disregarded at the bottom of vast toybox chasms, or were just forgotten. It certainly wasn’t actual rarity that made the figure hard to find. I saw it all the time as a kid.
So, I finally settled on an Armor Tech Destro that included his helmet (the most important part), one missile, and one gun. That was good enough for me.
And that’s the figure we’re looking at today. Here’s 1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro in all his clunky glory.
1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro Review
In 1993, Hasbro released the Star Brigade sub-line. That sub-line also had a sub-line, which was called Armor Tech. The Armor Tech figures were bulkier (due to the armor and the tech, try to keep up) and featured less articulation than a standard GI Joe figure. This was probably Hasbro’s attempt to see if kids preferred simpler toys like Kenner and Toy Biz were creating at the time. This Destro belongs to the Armor Tech sub-sub-line.
Needless to say, these are still some of the most hated figures in the ARAH line for longtime fans. I’d make some snarky comment about why 1984 Deep Six gets a pass but these toys don’t, but it seems like most of those fans hate Deep Six, too. So we have one whole instance of consistency! I would argue that any Armor Tech figure is a better toy than the original Deep Six, though.
Let’s go over the articulation before we get into the bulk of the review. The 1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro figure features joints at the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, head, and right wrist. The shoulders and hips have no outward movement and the elbows have no swivels, which means the figure cannot achieve most poses that a regular ARAH-style figure can. There is also no waist joint, and the head is on a swivel instead of a ball joint. The articulation scheme is very similar to what you’d find on some of Toy Biz’s nicer X-Men toys from the era.
Anyway, here’s the figure:
Armor Tech Destro is cast largely in dark red plastic, but features some black and grey plastic, as well. The grey is light but looks semi-metallic in some lighting conditions, so it’s not bad. There is also some small amount of silver and black paint on the figure, but most of the job is done by the plastic itself. I’m not sure if it’s due to age or not, but the red on the torso and the red on the legs don’t quite match up on my figure.
(Thanks to Eric of Toys and Tomfoolery for donating this photo, as I realized too late that mine was blurry.)
There are some nice details on this figure, with cool spikes, panel lines, tubing, and assorted gadgetry. The little doohickey on his right leg is especially neat.
Now to address the space elephant in the airlock– Destro has a missile launcher for a left arm. It’s just permanently there. When we were kids, we always debated whether he replaced his arm with a weapon or if his arm was nestled inside of his armor somehow. I’ve seen fans pose this question recently, too. I actually like that this toy inspires a little bit of imagination.
The BAAT, Destro’s fellow Armor Tech figure on the bad guy side, had a missile launcher that attached to its lower arm. I think the Destro should have had the launcher and BAAT should have had the cannon arm. It just makes more sense. I really don’t see Destro having his arm amputated just so he could have a built-in missile launcher for space missions, but a BAAT having a dedicated cannon arm is totally reasonable. Of course, you could say Destro lost the arm in battle and replaced it with a weapon, or that his arm is totally fine and intact inside his space suit, too.
Speaking of the BAAT, Destro shares some parts with it. Both figures feature the same legs and right arm.
This Destro’s head sculpt is very similar to the 1992 version (and it could be the same mold, but I’m not sure), but features some very nice chrome instead of silver paint. The way Hasbro did the eyes is also very nice, with a little bit of exposed skin visible through the mask’s eye holes.
Also note that the figure has no screw hole on its back, so you can’t easily open it up to swap parts. It doesn’t have an o-ring either, but that’s probably for the best when you can’t actually replace the o-ring. There is a hole in the figure’s back that will accept a standard GI Joe backpack, though.
Now let’s move onto accessories. Since I don’t have most of them, here’s a screenshot from YoJoe.com:
Destro comes with Sci-Fi v2’s laser gun, Snake Eyes v3’s submachine gun, Voltar’s submachine gun, Iron Grenadier’s laser pistol, and Hydro-Viper’s knife, along with two missiles and a figure stand, all cast in silver plastic. He also has a dual-molded helmet, which features both black and clear plastic. The helmet is obviously the coolest accessory, and the only necessary one.
The helmet fits securely. It is clear all around, which gives you a nice view of the figure’s head, but has some black detailing at the back. If you’d like, you can rotate the helmet around so the black part covers Destro’s face. It’s not how the toy is officially supposed to look, but it gives you another cool option.
I think the Voltar SMG and Iron Grenadier pistol are pretty good choices for Destro, as they’re both Iron Grenadier weapons. The knife is also fine. I don’t love using Sci-Fi’s weapon for anyone other than Sci-Fi, but Destro using a high tech laser weapon in space does make sense. I only have the Snake Eyes SMG, though, so that’s what my Destro uses. Thankfully, it looks pretty good with him and seems like something he would use.
Also note that Armor Tech figure weapons are slightly different from normal GI Joe weapons– the grips are smaller and smoother so they can fit in the figure’s closed-grip hands.
Overall, 1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro has a pretty good spread of accessories for a weapons-tree era figure. They’re cast in a pretty good color, too.
Another fun thing I figured out while taking photos of this figure is that the missile launcher’s barrel fits Transformers War For Cybertron Trilogy effects parts perfectly. Almost all of my Siege blasts worked nicely, with no poster tac or other reinforcements needed. I’m guessing that means the barrel is a 5mm hole. Do what you will with this forbidden knowledge.
Star Brigade Destro has some obvious flaws. The reduced articulation and non-standard construction are the biggest ones. But his legs also tend to warp over time, and the elbow joint can be a little bit fragile. He also can’t hold most standard GI Joe weapons and he looks incomplete without his helmet. I think that’s everything.
This figure has a pretty wide variety of uses in a GI Joe collection, though, which might be less obvious than its flaws. It works as a space suit Destro for sure, and the armor seems like it would be equally at home on a Cobra shuttle or in the cold vacuum of space. Destro can go to Mars or plant a Cobra flag on the moon with ease. With Armor Tech power backing him up, his moon landing will not be a hoax.
Hasbro released a TARGAT figure in 1993 as well, so Space Destro can have some space backup. The figures don’t really match one another, but that’s not a big deal to me. For most of the original ARAH line’s run, Cobra (and other enemy) troopers had some wildly different looks, so not everything has to match. Hasbro likely did plan this figure to match up well with the 93 Armor Tech BAAT, though, and they look great together.
Because the figure is wearing pretty standard Destro colors, it has other uses, too. You can use this as an undersea Destro and have him take out GI Joe Barracudas or get into slapfights with your 84 Deep Six.
There’s one more use for this figure, though, which I think is the best one. This Armor Tech figure works perfectly as a suit of Power Armor for Destro. Destro would likely want to protect himself if he actually goes into battle, and he’s a renowned weapons designer. Why wouldn’t he invent a big, armored suit for himself? He needs something that can soak up enemy fire. If he actually goes into combat, he doesn’t want to get hurt.
A normal, land-based armored Destro is something Hasbro approached a few times after this figure was released. It’s a necessary option for Destro to have, and this figure works perfectly in that role. The reduced articulation still sucks, but a person’s movement would be hindered by a bulky suit of armor, so it becomes less of a problem if you think of it that way.
As a power armored Destro, this figure matches up very well with both the original Iron Grenadiers and the Letal Customs red Iron Grendadiers. They look great together. He matches up decently with the original TARGAT, too.
This is a figure I have fond memories of, and I’m really glad to have my own after all these years. I knew what to expect going in, so I was not disappointed by it. After playing around with it, my imagination kind of ran wild. I started thinking of it in terms beyond Star Brigade, and I began to enjoy the figure even more. It’s great for space adventures, but it also works in many other scenarios. Plus, it looks really cool just standing there, and that’s always important for a GI Joe figure.
It’s not the iconic Destro, but I like it anyway.
Verdict: Armor Tech Destro is not for everyone. If you think these figures ruined the line, I suggest you buy your 17th ‘mint on card’ v1 Storm Shadow instead. But, for people with a more open mind, this can be a fun toy. It’s not an objectively great GI Joe figure, but it is a very cool action figure. And, as it just so happens, it’s designed to fit in right alongside your standard construction GI Joe toys. This Destro does suffer from reduced articulation and a few other flaws, but he looks cool and has a weird charisma about him. I have to say he’s at least Mildly Recommended.
Now, as promised, here’s a fun little surprise.
Bonus Star Brigade Destro Comic by Eric of Toys and Tomfoolery
Closing Thoughts on 1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro
I’ve wanted to review this figure ever since I got it back in 2018, so you’ll notice a few older pictures in this review. I’m glad I finally got it done, as I had many thoughts on Space Destro that were itching to get out of my brain and onto the internet.
Thanks again to Eric from Toys and Tomfoolery for providing a full comic for this review! And for saving my ass when I needed a photo.
So, what do you think of the Armor Tech figures. Do you own any? Let me know in the comments!