It’s been a while since I rapped at you about a classic 1990s American GI Joe, so let’s break that dry spell with today’s review.
Today we’re looking at a figure I had as a kid, but we’re also looking at a version of my favorite GI Joe character— the Joe team’s first Ranger, Lonzo R. Wilkinson aka Stalker.
This is probably the least-liked version of Stalker from the classic ARAH GI Joe series, but it’s the one I grew up with so I’m still pretty partial to it. But I feel I can be objective, too, as I’ve accumulated most other o-ring versions of the character over the years, as well.
My Childhood with 1992 GI Joe Stalker (Talking Battle Commanders)
1992 was maybe my biggest year for GI Joe. I loved all the new figures I got that year, and the brand kept my attention over other toy lines for almost the entire 365 days of the year. I think 1991 was a stronger year of releases, and Joe was also a favorite in 93 and 94, but even as a little kid I could tell the toy line was flagging a bit in its last two years. So 1992 was the sweet spot.
But in 1992, I hadn’t really read much of the Marvel comic. Most of my exposure to the brand came from the old Sunbow cartoon, the 1987 animated movie, and the toys themselves. So, while Stalker eventually became my favorite GI Joe character, he hadn’t yet reached that point for me in 1992.
I received the 1992 Talking Battle Commanders Stalker sometime during that year. And, once some kid on my elementary school playground told the rest of us how to remove the “permanently attached” TBC backpacks, I took a huge liking to the figure itself.
The figure’s file card and his overall look let me know he was someone important. Plus, he was a heavily-involved side character in the NES Atlantis Factor video game, which gave him even more street cred for me. I’m still not sure why he wasn’t a playable character in it, though. That would have been great.
The sounds Stalker’s backpack made amused me more than the rest of the Talking Battle Commanders. “Blitz ‘Em!” and “Let’s Party!” were just the most fun phrases found in any of those noise-making backpacks, and I played them endlessly for laughs. Even my grumpy stepfather liked those little catchphrases.
Once the backpack came off, though, he was instantly a part of my main GI Joe squad. He joined 92 Storm Shadow, Heavy Duty, Eco Warriors Flint, Sonic Fighters Tunnel Rat, and a few others as one of my go-to guys. His beret and fancy uniform made him seem like a wise leader type and his perpetual sneer made him seem like a fierce combatant.
And that’s about it. 1992 GI Joe Stalker was a figure I really enjoyed playing with, but nothing dramatic happened to the toy itself. It wasn’t lost and it didn’t go out in a blaze of glory. This Stalker was a big part of my childhood GI Joe adventures, but he was never a main character.
I still have the parts of my original childhood TBC Stalker somewhere. The toy lived through my house fire, but was a little worse for the wear and I never put him back together again. I was on the lookout for a nicer version, though.
Then, at JoeFest in 2019, I found a carded TBC Stalker for a very nice price, so I bought it. I waited a little over a year to open the toy and take some photos for this review. I took these pictures on a summer weekend in 2021 while I was taking care of my mom, as she was doing well enough at the time where I could return home for a couple of days to see my friends and take some photos for this website.
I figured it was about time I put the photos to good use and finally wrote the review. So here it is!
1992 GI Joe Stalker (Talking Battle Commanders) Review
This figure, also known as Stalker version 3, was released in 1992 (some say the tail end of 1991) with all-original body parts and accessories. It was sold at a higher price point than normal figures, as it came with an oversized backpack that made four different sounds.
I love the packaging for the Talking Battle Commanders figures. The combination of eye-searing neon yellow and black is eye-catching and dynamic. It also easily set the figures apart from the other Joes released that year.
Here’s the carded figure:
And the card back:
Hasbro also included some instructions on how to replace the batteries inside the backpack, which required removing it from the figure. Luckily, that also meant you could remove the backpack and have a fully functional GI Joe action figure.
The figure itself is pretty eye-catching, as well. It’s a unique color scheme for a GI Joe figure, but it’s actually fairly subdued for a mid-90s release. He’s wearing a black uniform shirt with crossed orange-yellow straps, orange-yellow gloves, cream-colored pants with black camo, black boots, and a black beret with those same orange-yellow highlights. There are some nice little pops of gold on the figure for things like pistol handles and grenades, as well.
Out of the package, Talking Battle Commanders Stalker is also burdened with a huge orange-yellow backpack that makes him very hard to stand up without the included figure stand. If you want to hear the backpack’s four “realistic battle sounds,” 3DJoes has you covered.
If you turn the figure around, you’ll also notice some really nice detail on the backpack itself. It’s full of pouches, pockets, and gizmos. It’s also framed by some pieces that look like metal or wooden rods, making it look like this backpack has everything he needs to set up a tent and field camp. It’s an unwieldy piece, but at least Hasbro didn’t skimp on the sculpt.
When I was a kid, everyone I knew removed the backpacks from their TCB figures. Except sometimes, the backpacks just wouldn’t come off. That was the case with my Talking Battle Commanders Hawk. I could never remove the screws. That was the case with this Stalker figure, too. To get the backpack off, I ended up having to break it a bit, which was a bummer. A bummer, but not a surprise.
Here are the results:
And here’s the front-facing part of the backpack, just in case you’re curious.
Once the backpack is out of the way, we can look at more of the details.
Stalker has a bunch of magazines for his smaller submachine gun strapped to his left leg, which is unorthodox but cool. It kind of makes him look like a Todd McFarlane or Rob Liefeld character, but I’m not bothered by it. It adds some character to the figure.
1992 Talking Battle Commanders Stalker also has a knife strapped to his left leg, which looks pretty cool.
If we continue around the back, we can see that those yellow straps are at least partially painted on the rear of the figure, which is more than Hasbro had to do since they weren’t really planning on you seeing that part of the toy. The back is flat, sadly, which is the case with all of the TBC figures. Stalker can wear a normal GI Joe backpack, though, if you want to cover that bit up.
Another little detail I particularly like is the small holdout pistol strapped to Stalker’s right inner wrist. That’s another unique thing for a GI Joe figure. I like that Hasbro tried something new with all of the TBC guys, even if it wasn’t always successful.
1992 GI Joe Stalker (Talking Battle Commanders) comes with three real accessories– a huge machine gun, a smaller submachine gun that resembles 1992 Destro’s weapon, and a black figure stand.
With the backpack still on and both weapons in hand, he certainly looks like a one man army. Sure, it’s not practical, but I don’t think that was a major concern for most kids in 1992.
Here is he is All Geared Up, without the backpack:
He can certainly hold both weapons at once, but I doubt most adult collectors will photograph him that way. The machine gun is a very cool piece– it’s nicely sculpted and looks different from any other machine gun in the GI Joe toy line. It’s also as tall as the figure is and would certainly require two hands to operate.
I tend to use the smaller SMG with him more, as I don’t see Stalker as a guy who uses a full size machine gun very often. The SMG is nothing special, but it works just fine for the character and the figure looks good holding it. I tend to give the big machine gun to other figures who are more inclined to use such weapons, like Rock N Roll, Roadblock, and Heavy Duty.
In modern social media parlance, this certainly is A Look for Stalker. It’s a bold fashion statement. It’s not neon or even very bright, but it certainly commands your attention. A lot of fans bemoan the “cow pants” but I think the aesthetic is very nice. Likewise, the beret and overall uniform tie this figure in nicely to Stalker’s classic look. It’s just, you know, A Little Extra.
Here’s the figure next to 97 Stalker (a stand-in for the 82-83 version), 89 Stalker, and 94 Stalker. The man is versatile and he has an interesting closet. We can all agree on that.
Fans have noted that Talking Battle Commanders Stalker’s color palette is similar to 1993 Mace’s, and that’s true. The colors don’t match up exactly, though, and Stalker’s outfit is much more interesting.
This mold was only reused once, in a 2003 Tiger Force box set that was a Toys R Us exclusive. I love the figure’s overall color scheme, which is a tribute to the old European exclusive Tiger Force figures. I don’t love his purple skin tone, though. I’m not quite sure what happened there.
Overall, I like this look for Stalker. I don’t mind the grimace or the cow pants at all– I think they make the figure visually interesting, though they might limit his usefulness in the eyes of some fans. It’s not a very “practical” Real Ass Military look, after all.
Stalker has had plenty of looks over his o-ring career, and you’re pretty much spoiled for choices when it comes to the character. You have several figures in nice, basic military colors. You have several arctic versions, a desert version, and even some black ops commando-type versions. I think you’re set. If you want to complain about this figure, just remember that you don’t have to buy it.
I kind of see this outfit as something Stalker might wear at headquarters when he’s in meetings with General Hawk and Colonel Courage. Then, when all hell breaks loose as The Colonel is going over all of Chuckles’ disciplinary infractions, Stalker straps a bunch of magazines to his legs, breaks out his little submachine gun, and yells “LET’S PARTY!” as he heads for the door.
Stalker is my favorite GI Joe character and this was my first Stalker figure, but this will never be the first one I choose to play around with or take photos of. That honor goes to either the 1997 version or the 1994 version. Still, this is a very striking look for a beloved character. The nostalgia is strong here, but I think it also survives on its own merits.
I’m ready to Blitz ‘Em any time you are, Lonzo.
Overall: I like 1992 GI Joe Stalker (Talking Battle Commanders)e even if it’s a little bit divisive. The black, white, and yellow color scheme won’t be to everyone’s liking, and the big “permanently attached” backpack and the flat spot it leaves on the toy’s back regularly sends crusty Joe fans into grumble mode. The teeth-baring snarl might also be a problem for you if you hate fun. But I think it’s a very well done sculpt with unique colors and fun accessories. And, most importantly, it looks like Stalker and upholds the character’s legacy. You’re just more likely to see this version partying at Texas Roadhouse than you are to see him on a rescue mission in Trucial Abysmia. Fans of the character will want this toy no matter what, but if you’re just cherry-picking old GI Joes, then this toy is Mildly Recommended.
- 1992 Stalker at 3DJoes
- 1992 Stalker Review by HoodedCobraCommander788
- 1992 Stalker at Forgotten Figures
- 1992 Stalker at JoeADay
- 1992 Stalker at YoJoe.com
Closing Thoughts on 1992 GI Joe Stalker (Talking Battle Commanders)
Thanks for joining me! It’s been a while since I did a regular-ass review and this one felt pretty good.
October will be a themed month based on another favorite Joe character of mine, so stay tuned for that.
What do you think of this version of Stalker? How do you use this figure? Let me know in the comments!