It’s still Ozone October at The Dragon Fortress, and today we’re taking a look at the figure who started it all– 1991 GI Joe Ozone from the Eco Warriors sub line. This figure, despite representing a character with very few media appearances, had a long life within GI Joe’s classic A Real American Hero series.
After all, Ozone had more figure releases than popular cartoon/comic book characters like Shipwreck and Major Bludd. The figure obviously did something very right and captured some imaginations. Or, at the very least, someone at Hasbro was quite fond of it.
So grab an organic kombucha, take out the recycling, and strap in. We’re about to start an Eco War.
1991 GI Joe Ozone (Eco Warriors): Childhood Hero or Product of the Times?
I think I received the original Ozone figure in late 1991. The 1991 Eco Warriors Flint figure became an instant favorite the second I got him, both because Flint was my favorite character on the Sunbow cartoon and because I loved the bright colors. The Eco Warriors concept really resonated with me, too. So, in that sense, 1991 Ozone became forever linked to Eco Warriors Flint and Barbecue, the other two good guy figures from the subset I had.
“Saving the environment” was a big media push in the early and mid 90s. You had Captain Planet, Widget the World Watcher, Zen: Intergalactic Ninja, and Eco Warriors in the limelight. And, if you watched as much Nickelodeon as I did in the early 90s, you were exposed to the message even more.
I can’t find the exact details, but Nick had at least one campaign encouraging kids to go pick up litter and call a special 1-800 number. I don’t remember what the “rewards” or “prizes” were, but I do remember my friends and I picking up a lot of litter. I still generally pick up litter to this day, as long as it looks like it won’t stab me or give me an incurable disease.
(Side Note: Nickelodeon had a song for the campaign to the tune of ‘If You’re Happy and You Know it’ that went something like “If you see a piece of litter pick it up/If you see a piece of litter pick it up/You can help clean up the planet/So pick it up and can it/If you see a piece of litter pick it up.” I still remember it after all these years but cannot find it on YouTube or anywhere else.)
People are much more cynical about the environment and climate change now than they were in 1991. After all, we’re now in the “finding out” stage, whereas in 1991 we were still at the tail end of the “fucking around” stage. Global warming and the ozone layer were popular subjects in the early 90s, and children’s media really made the scientists, activists, and normal people fighting the good environmental fight seem like heroes.
Hence, Ozone the GI Joe character really struck a chord.
The figure itself was awesome, too, of course. I instantly loved the removeable helmet and the surly, bearded head sculpt. I also loved the toy’s color scheme. He became Flint’s right-hand-man, and worked as both a scientist and a traditional action hero.
Ozone never had the “main character” status that Flint, Heavy Duty, Storm Shadow, or Tunnel Rat had, but he was always there to help. He was basically the capable sidekick character the heroes could always rely on. He had a brilliant scientific mind, but he could also hold his own in any fight with Cobra, too.
But, by late 1992 or so I’d lost Ozone’s helmet. I still liked him without his helmet, but he became far less important to my GI Joe stories without it.
Luckily, in 1993 I got a new version of Ozone, complete with that vitally important helmet. He joined the other Joes on space missions and on Earth, and took on the same role his earlier Eco Warriors counterpart held a couple years before.
The Star Brigade figure still took on the persona of the Eco Warriors figure, of course. He was just a tiny bit more realistically colored. But I still associated him with idealistic environmentalist heroes, scientists, and conservationists.
While many adult Joe fans (and the public at large) cringe at Eco Warriors and consider it a hollow, trend-chasing cash grab, I have to disagree. I’m grateful for Eco Warriors, Captain Planet, and those old Nickelodeon campaigns. I think they helped raise a generation of kids that were a bit more environmentally conscious than their parents.
I grew up in a small town surrounded by beautiful wilderness on all sides, and I understood how bad it would be if those forests and deserts succumbed to man-made disaster. The first time I went to Los Angeles, when I was 10 or 11, the difference in air quality between LA and my small Idaho hometown was staggering. I knew this was real shit.
I’m not some holier-than-thou environmental crusader. I buy plastic toys, after all. I could reduce my carbon footprint more, drive my car less, and use less water. I’m not coming at this from a soapbox perspective. All I’m saying is that I think I’d be even less conscientious about the environment if it wasn’t for the Eco Warriors and other “trend-chasing, cash grab” media.
So, this Ozone figure is important to me because he represents that. But he’s also a great figure in his own right. Let’s jump into the review and find out why.
1991 GI Joe Ozone (Eco Warriors) Review
Ozone was released in 1991 in the inaugural Eco Warriors series. These figures were sold at a higher price point than normal GI Joes, and featured both water-squirting weapons and color-change battle damage. They were also some of the earliest examples of the eye-searing neon figures people associate with 1990s GI Joe.
I loved the bright colors as a kid and I love them now. They tend to stick with me more than the real-ass military greens, browns, and tans of earlier GI Joe figures.
Here’s the figure:
Ozone is rendered in a stunning bright blue, rounded out by dark blue, neon green, and yellow. I think these colors look splendid together. The figure is bright, but he doesn’t look gauche or tacky.
Ozone wears an airtight Hazmat suit with the design flourishes typical of GI Joe’s science fiction military aesthetic.
He’s got an armored chest plate complete with six green grenades. And though the grenades may not make the most sense for his Primary Military Specialty, they are a hallmark of 90s GI Joe figures, so it’s tough to complain too much.
I’m also a big fan of the Eco Warriors insignia on his left upper arm and the little green tech gizmo on his right leg.
On each of Ozone’s forearms, we see what look like unpainted rank chevrons. These chevrons would be painted on later releases. These chevrons certainly don’t denote Ozone’s E-4 Specialist pay grade, so I’m not sure why they’re there. They do look cool and add some visual interest to the figure, though.
Ozone is wearing some sort of thigh padding on each leg, which is perhaps even a continuation of his boots. The yellow bands around each lower leg look cool and break the colors up nicely. I’m not 100% sure what these are supposed to represent, but they do look nice. They kind of remind me of a g-suit like a jet fighter pilot might wear, though I don’t think that really applies to Ozone as a character.
Ozone’s armored chest plate is connected to several yellow straps, which continue around to the back. It looks nice. You may wonder why he needs that many straps, but I always thought they were sculpted there to represent how he wears the HUGE backpack connected to his water gun. In that way, the amount of load-bearing straps is one of the more realistic aspects of the figure. There’s also another cute little gizmo right above his heinie. I always liked that little detail.
Ozone’s head sculpt is great, but the figure really comes together once the helmet is equipped. The helmet received two yellow paint applications, one for the visor and one for the breathing apparatus, and that was pretty unusual (and special!) for ARAH-era GI Joe figures. It looks fantastic.
I’ve gone on at length about the helmet before, but it’s one of my favorite GI Joe accessories. Once Ozone is wearing his helmet, he looks even more like a dude you don’t want to mess with. It makes for a convincing full Hazmat suit, but it also looks intimidating as hell.
As Ozone should be.
Other than his helmet, 1991 GI Joe Ozone (Eco Warriors) comes with 3 other accessories, two of which connect to one another. Ozone comes with a two-piece neon green and yellow “multi purpose backpack,” a green and orange water squirting cannon, and a green “vacuum gun” which doesn’t look like any sort of gun at all.
The file card describes Ozone’s backpack as a high-tech thing complete with sensors that feed into his helmet’s heads up display. He can supposedly trigger its various functions via voice command. That sounds really cool to a kid, but it doesn’t make a ton of sense. The file card says the water cannon can “neutralize atmospheric sludge,” but I’m not sure what that means, as sludge is a liquid– not a gas. You get an A for effort, Hasbro.
There’s some really cool detail on the backpack itself, though. It looks fantastic. The same backpack and cannon apparatus were used with 91 Flint, Cesspool, 92 Barbecue, some movie version of Street Fighter’s Guile, and with Olmec’s 1997 Bronze Bombers figures. It got around. I’m sure it was used with some international figures, as well.
Then there’s the “vacuum gun.” I’ve always called it Ozone’s Fart Detector. Though it’s not really a weapon, it’s Ozone’s best accessory other than his helmet. It’s full of cool details and he holds it easily. I picture it as a more high tech version of Airtight’s “sniffer rifle”– something that can detect airborne toxins, vacuum them up, and neutralize them. If Ozone’s file card is to be believed, maybe it can replenish the ozone later, as well. I think it’s a really cool and useful piece of gear for the Eco Warriors’ atmospheric specialist.
The water cannon, though, is unwieldy. There’s no good way to get the figure to hold it, no matter which way you orient the backpack’s connector point for the hose. The hose pulls on the gun and forces the figure’s arms in weird directions. What you see pictured above is the best way I can get him to hold it.
I will say, though, that the water squirting feature works very nicely. I never used the water cannon with the actual figure as a kid (it was cumbersome then, too), but I did use it on its own to spray water at various things around the house. It was a fun time.
Clean Sweep and Deep Six truly got the best of the bunch when it came to the Eco Warriors’ water squirting accessories.
If you do want to use more conventional weaponry with Ozone, I find the guns from both 93 versions work well with him. He also looks great with some of the yellow Star Brigade weapons and Colonel Courage’s neon green weapons tree.
Now for the “color change battle damage.” In theory, cold water activates it and warm water makes it disappear. I maybe used it 3 or 4 times as a kid. These days, many Eco Warriors figures are permanently stained with color change battle damage. This Ozone is. The feature just doesn’t work anymore. Still, I don’t think it looks too bad. It looks like he’s Seen Some Shit, and that makes sense for Ozone.
And, just in case you missed my post on the 1993 Star Brigade version, here’s 1991 Eco Warriors Ozone compared to the 93 versions.
Now, for Ozone the character. In my review of the 93 versions, I discussed how it made sense for a scientist to join Star Brigade. But this figure represents Ozone before he was an astronaut.
There weren’t too many scientists on the GI Joe roster. Certainly Doc, Stretcher, and Lifeline were men of science, but they were in the medical field. Grunt and Sci-Fi do stuff with electronics, but they’re more technicians than scientists. Most of the Battle Force 2000 guys worked on and designed experimental technology, but they were more engineers than proper scientists. That basically leaves us with Airtight, Clean Sweep, and Ozone.
A team like the Eco Warriors needs scientists. And, since they’re fighting a ruthless international terrorist organization, they need military-trained scientists. That’s how I see Ozone. He’s a thinker and a problem solver, but he’s not above using violence to get results.
Ozone hates all of the people destroying our planet in the name of greed, and that includes both Cobra and the Fortune 500 CEOs who are ruining the natural world in the name of record annual profits and appeasing shareholders. Coincidentally, Cesspool fits into both of those roles.
I see Ozone as a militant environmentalist. He’s more Earth First than Greenpeace, if you catch my drift. I don’t see him as cruel or sadistic, but I do see him as someone who’s particularly ruthless when it comes to taking down people who are endangering all life on the planet with their wanton polluting. Of course the pollution isn’t usually the goal for these people, but it is a byproduct of making a ton of money.
Cobra’s team led by Cesspool also specializes in biological and chemical warfare, which are two of the top three nastiest kinds of warfare. The GI Joe team needs someone who understands those chemical and biological agents and knows how to neutralize them. That’s the very real reason they need guys like Ozone, Airtight, and Clean Sweep.
I don’t think Flint is equipped to deal with shit like that on his own, no matter how brightly colored his Hazmat suit is.
So yeah, Ozone is pretty important to me. I’ve loved the character and toy ever since childhood. And, as my perception of the real world around me evolves, so does my perception of a dude like Ozone.
I’m grateful for the childhood lessons I associate with GI Joe’s Eco Warriors and I’m also grateful for all the fun I’ve had with the toys over the years. To some people, they’re distasteful and tacky. But to me, they’re one of the best parts of GI Joe.
Overall: Ozone is a very well done, carefully-considered, eye-catching figure. The Hazmat suit looks both cool and convincing. The character concept is also great, as GI Joe needs scientist heroes. The head sculpt is fantastic and the helmet is an all-timer, and I personally love the color scheme. The water cannon and backpack combo isn’t really usable with the figure, though, and the color change battle damage may not properly work on most figures anymore. Still, if you equip Ozone with his helmet and Fart Detector, he easily steps into the role of GI Joe’s legendary scientist hero. Highly Recommended.
- 1991 Ozone at 3DJoes
- 1991 Ozone Quick Shot from HoodedCobraCommander788
- 1991 Ozone at Forgotten Figures
- 1991 Ozone at YoJoe
Closing Thoughts on 1991 GI Joe Ozone (Eco Warriors)
I hope you enjoyed me prattling on about one of my favorite GI Joe figures! I’ve always loved Eco Warriors Ozone and I always will.
Next week, a special guest will take a look at the one remaining Ozone figure we haven’t covered yet. Get hyped!
Who’s your favorite Eco Warrior? What do you think of Ozone’s original color scheme? Did you ever use the water shooting backpacks when you were a kid? Let me know in the comments!