1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro Review

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

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.

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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:

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

(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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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:

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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.

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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. 

1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro

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

Additional Resources:

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

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!

22 thoughts on “1993 GI Joe Star Brigade Destro Review

  1. A-Man

    The most that will ever be written about Armor Tech Destro.

    My memories, being a loser and still collecting in 1993-1994 (these showed up relatively late in 1993 in my region), I bought Destro, BAAT, Rock’n Roll and ROBO-JOE right away. But I wasn’t crazy about them, so Duke and Heavy D (sans the Boyz) would have to wait. The Armor Tech guys were $5 each retail. Regular joes were around $3.29. Armor Tech didn’t really justify the extra $1.70 too much.

    Definitely used them as virtually invincible warriors. How else could anyone use them?

    Destro’s missile arm is lame, if they made it longer, once could believe his arm is inside there. But the missile arms for human guys were not a good call, BAAT and ROBO-Joseph could’ve had them, though (or not, since they’d be better off with arm-arms). I like RnR’s shoulder mount option spring action weapon best.

    The real fragile Armor Tech release is Hawk due to gold plastic thing. I have a broken one…part of him…somewhere.

    The scoop on Star Brigade, made and unmade:

    Click to access Declassified_Report_06_2013.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment and the good info, my friend! I’m excited to read that PDF you linked.

      And you’re totally right about both BAAT and Robo-Joe. It’s funny, you’d think the only fragile part of Robo-Joe would be the gold weapons (they are), but mine snapped at the elbow right after I bought it a few years ago. I’m betting the orange speckly plastic is also weak, as many speckled/marbled plastics used from the 80s-early 00s has that problem– not just gold. But anyway I glued him back together and he’s basically as functional as he ever was.

      I like Rock n Roll’s shoulder cannon too, but mine doesn’t fit quite as well as Robo-Joe’s does. It’s a shame. I find they all have pretty cool head sculpts and look good with their helmets, minus Duke who just kinda sucks all around. He’s bad and lazy even for an Armor Tech figure. At least the rest all look unique.

      Like

  2. Awesome review!! My first experience with any Armor Tech figures was at a comic book/collectibles store that had a bunch of them brand new on the card for like $6-to-$8 a piece. I got a B.A.A.T., Heavy Duty and this Destro. I also dug the clear dome helmet and the cannon arm was a really cool feature (which also would have worked better on the B.A.A.T.). My theory is that his arm is partially in the cannon and partially in the suit, I’d have to lay a standard figure over it and see where the limbs line up.

    Also Eric killed it with that comic, it’s cool to see one of his strips with more then just 10 photos via Instagram. And sweet merciful crap is that Star Brigade Cobra Commander amazing. I seriously love that helmet, and now regret giving the carded one I got like 3 years ago to my friend for his birthday LoL. I was thinking the helmet was a little on the obnoxiously large side but then I remembered: it’s Cobra Commander so of course it would be as large and grandiose as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the kind words!

      I feel like these would be an easy $8 purchase now, since as A-Man said, they were only $5 when they were released. What a score! I also tend to agree with your theory on where Destro’s arm is.

      And yeah, CC’s helmet is huge but it’s perfect for him! It’s a beautiful figure and goes great with the 93 Astro Viper, too. I also love that they sculpted his face to resemble the Hall of Fame version’s.

      Like

  3. Eric from Toys and Tomfoolery

    Ah man, Armor Tech couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I only had one shot at getting one back in the day, and of course I chose the BAAT, which became a staple of every story I played with my Joes. My friend got Heavy Duty and Destro, and we were WAY into the space theme, so they were used as intended (though my BAAT was used everywhere). Our space story ended up being a sort of horror story, so the suits ended up being a necessity to combat the growing alien threat (played by Koosh balls. Look, you wouldn’t want to fight a carnivorous Koosh, would you?).

    Nowadays I do lament the lack of articulation, especially when taking pictures, but they’re still really fun as just toys. I don’t regret any of the purchases I’ve made since getting into buying 90s Joes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dracula

      Koosh balls are honestly the perfect thing to use as an enemy space alien. Heck, I had some of the later ones that had extraneous creature parts, which were even better!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for the comment, Eric! But even more thanks for the comic.

      I think you chose well since the BAAT is obviously the best Armor Tech figure, and fits in the best with both GI Joe and other toy lines.

      Koosh Balls were such a huge thing back in the day. I wish I’d been smart enough to use them as monsters. It’s an inspired idea– like something you’d see in a golden age pulp sci-fi comic or an early John Carpenter movie.

      Like

  4. Dracula

    I was around the same age during the Armor Tech era, and I also loved them! I remember a moment of delirious excitement when I was given the Armor Tech Heavy Duty as a gift (maybe a birthday?), and I had the BAAT as well, and possibly Destro, though I’m not sure. I didn’t have much else from Star Brigade, so I mostly used those guys as armored-up ground troops just like you describe here. The only things I don’t super care for about them are the way the accessories feel kinda incongruous, and how the missiles stick out way too far when they’re in the launchers. But I always threw the missiles in the bin anyway.

    Also I hope someone’s gonna avenge the deaths of all those Lanard space guys. You did them dirty!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Drac!

      And yeah, the missiles totally stick out too far. I wonder if they didn’t make the launchers longer/bigger because it would throw off the toy’s balance, or because they didn’t want to spend extra money on more plastic. I guess we will never know.

      And I didn’t do anything to Star Force! It was all Destro. But maybe a hero like LIGHTNING MOBUTU will avenge them some day.

      Like

  5. Tyler M. (@baltimore_bivouac)

    “If you think these figures ruined the line, I suggest you buy your 17th ‘mint on card’ v1 Storm Shadow instead.” I love it!! I love to read this blog man, it echoes so many of my own opinions on G.I.Joe collecting.

    I don’t have this figure, but I have a few armor tech dudes and remember being confused as to where the line was going with this new arm arrangement as a kid as well. I like the idea of him being an unstoppable robot though, it sounds like fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Tyler!

      93 and 94 were overall a little confusing when you were a kid who liked GI Joe, lol. But luckily you could always still find something to suit your tastes as there were a ton of different figures on the pegs.

      Like

  6. So, now for the perspective of an “adult” collector who grew up in the ’80’s and found these as a college student in the ’90’s.

    I simply couldn’t wrap my head around them. They were simply too far afield of what I considered to be Joe. I gave Ninja Force a try. (And, was pleasantly surprised.) But, I could never stomach the higher retail to try one of these figures. So, I left them behind. They were the last figures at my local Toys R Us store. And, they were the last vintage Joes I ever saw at retail when I found them at a toy shop in the mall in the fall of 1997.

    Now, I’m still not a huge fan. But, I appreciate them for what they are. I’ll argue that the heads are spectacular and deserve more press. And, as toys meant to convey a sense of value for a higher price point, they succeeded where Mega Marines and DEF both failed. I own them now for something different. But, I need to complete my set before they go the way of the rest of the 1993/1994 figures and they cost me $40 each.

    Supposedly, the Destro helmet is a perfect for a Secto Viper. I’ve yet to try it, myself. But, that’s one of those things that, with a little emphasis, could dry up Destro’s very quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment, Mike!

      The head sculpts on all of the Armor Tech figures are really, really good. I couldn’t agree more. Most of the helmets are pretty inspired, too. Except Duke’s maybe, but he is kind of the outlier in many ways.

      I’m gonna try Destro’s helmet with my Bronze Bombers Secto-Viper and get back to you. We’ll see how it actually works. But it could be cool!

      Like

  7. generalliederkranz

    Great review and pictures, as I said on Twitter! I’m enjoying all the fellow early-90s kids here in the comments. I’m in that age range, but I still had misgivings about these. I liked the 94 Star Brigade lineup a lot, but Armor-Tech not as much; I only got one or two at retail. But they were really cheap–they were a staple of KB Toys Outlets for a couple of years and they were marked way, way down. I don’t remember ever seeing them at full retail, and I would’ve passed them up if I did. But for a dollar or two at KB, I got a couple of the Joes. I missed out on Destro and the BAAT though and regretted it pretty quickly since they looked cool on hardbacks and the BAAT seemed like a perfect scary killer robot.

    And I totally agree: these are much better toys than 84 Deep Six. They can hold things!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, GL! And thanks for the kind words.

      It’s crazy how much better 94 Star Brigade is than 93 Star Brigade. Except Astro Viper, of course, who is unimpeachable.

      The BAAT was definitely a perfect unstoppable robo-tank. I always wanted my own as a kid, but never got one. I was pretty happy to get a few of them much later in life, though. I can’t even imagine seeing such cool toys in a discount bin these days. The time of KB seems so far behind us now, but if I had a time machine that is where I’d go. Because I’m boring and predictable.

      Like

  8. Sam Smith

    Oh gawddd…. YES 🙏🙏🙏 Thanks for teaming up w Toys and Tomfoolery on this one.

    All that we need noe is for the Techno-Viper Crew to make an appearance, and all will be right with the world again 😇

    Liked by 1 person

  9. animatedtako

    Destro was the only Armor Tech figure I had, and also my first version of the character! Like you I tended to just use him as a ground heavy assault suit and a “final boss” for when the battle was getting really serious. My personal take is that the pilot’s arms are inside the torso. For Destro, I imagined his mask had some sort of neural interface that let him think what he wanted to do with the arm. I didn’t have to rationalize anything for the other characters since I didn’t have them though, haha. My down the street family friend neighbors had a few more but the only one that really got any play was Robo-Joe.

    Typically, if I got a new version of a character I already had I tended to phase the old figure out or just pretend they were someone else when I needed an extra body. When I got a 97 Destro though, I still kept the AT figure around. It still pretty frequently was used as an armored battle suit but if I wanted to use both at the same time, I just flipped the helmet around so the black plate was facing forward and suddenly the armor was piloting itself using BAT A.I.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like all those ideas! I think if I’d actually had this Destro and another one as a kid, I would have done the helmet trick, too. I probably would have done the helmet trick a lot, anyway. 97 Destro was actually my first version of the character and I still really like that figure, even though he’s a repaint of a figure I already knew well at that point.

      I’ve thought about both arms being inside the torso of the suit before, too, but I’d never considered any sort of a neural interface. That’s a great idea! Very Exosquad.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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