That filecard is funnier than anything I could ever hope to write in this opening section, so we’ll leave it at that.
PSYCHE-OUT got his degree in psychology from Berkeley, where he listened to the Grateful Dead while plotting real estate development schemes. He went on to do “groundbreaking research” in the field of paranoia inducement with ultra low frequency radio wave transmissions and whatever leftover LSD his rich white roommate couldn’t sell to people at Hot Tuna concerts. Since joining the GI Joe team and the Sonic Fighters, he has fronted numerous classified Psy-Ops and disinformation campaigns against Cobra and those hippies who just won’t leave their rent-controlled apartments. He sees you, Woody and Janice. Time to make room for an artisanal mayo shop.
“What can you say about a guy whose doctoral thesis was entitled, ‘The Use of T-Shirt Slogans In Enemy Troop Demoralization?’ Probably, ‘This guy paid someone else to do his school work and that was the best they came up with.’ His job involves complicated thinking and multiple layers of deception: making the boys at the local precinct think he’s interested in serving this disenfranchised and the community as a whole, all the while torturing people with slowed-down recordings on Jefferson Airplane concerts– all in the name of “science” and “national security!”
Assigned Armaments: E.C.M. (Electronic Cocaine Measurers), ULF (Ultimately Lasers are Futile) cerebro distortion laser.
Weapons Qualification: One-Eyed Marksman
Thank you for attending my TED Talk.
In 1993 and 1994, many GI Joe figures came with “weapons trees,” which were multiple, reused weapons from earlier figures attached to a plastic sprue. They were all molded in one color, and very often made no sense for the character they were packed with. This often meant your brand new figure would be brandishing Rock Viper’s oversized sniper rifle in dark purple or neon green– hardly the “realistic” weaponry GI Joe fans of the 1980s (and early 90s!) expected to come with their military action figures.
But I’m here to tell you that these weapons trees were just as much of a blessing as they were a curse. Even if you’re currently balling up your fists and loading up photos of 1985 Snake Eyes to remind yourself of the “Good Ol’ Days” right now because the very thought that weapons trees might be somehow positive makes your brain vomit a little bit, just bear with me.
Because, once upon a time, I hated them, too. That’s right– as an unabashed fan of 1990s GI Joe, even I wasn’t always on board with weapons trees. As I became an adult and began collecting ARAH-style Joes again, though, I realized how much I actually used those weapons as a kid, and how valuable they really were to me.
Motto: “Well, with all due respect, nobody told me that was a BBC documentary crew submarine, SIR!”
WET-SUIT has been characterized as being “two Ikea shelving units worth of mean on the hoof” and “twice as frustrating to deal with.” He is definitely not big on social graces, and was recently 86’d from the Oasis. He is not the type who goes over very well as the Chaplain Assistants’ Social Tea, as he only drinks tall cans of Twisted Tea (always shotgunned, always two at a time) and Monster Energy Java. Despite being an elite underwater operator, no one has ever seen him drink a single glass of H2O. Even so, he is exactly the dude you want behind you when you run into a gaggle of Cobra EELS in a shallow mine field or in a kiddie pool filled with Green Jello. Amazing how much damage he can do with a Ka-Bar knife and a Breitbart comments account. Wet-Suit is the head-honcho in charge of piloting the GI Joe Barracuda, which is an unnecessary title he just made up because he needs to feel like he retains some control over his life.
- Totally-real, totally-not-a-movie prop undersea spear rifle
- Air-tight, underwater helmet with 360° unscrambled Cinemax
- High-impact, delayed detonation torpedo (hunter orange for safety reasons)
- Low drag, nautical jet sled with heads-up display and neck pillow
- Pulse-powered, battlefield wrist viewer with scrambled Showtime
- Portable beeper/female body inspector
- Official V8 Survival Juice Drink
- Select-a-charge war crime devices
- Snug fit, deep water flippers (always worn with socks)
Within the last week, I finished collecting the 1991 Cobra roster. I almost have the GI Joe side complete, too– I just need that pesky Cloudburst!
While not every figure I have is complete or perfect, 1991 is the only GI Joe year I’ve set out to complete so far. That’s because it’s easily my favorite GI Joe lineup. As a kid, I had a few figures from 1988 and 1989, and even one from 1987. I had a good amount of the 1990 roster, and those figures were excellent, but it was a year full of all new characters. As a kid, I wanted the characters from the Sunbow cartoon and the animated movie.
1991 fulfilled that desire. It gave us Cobra Commander, Hawk, Snake Eyes, Zap, Grunt, Falcon, Rock n Roll, Major Bludd, Flint, Low-Light, Dusty, Mercer, and Sci-Fi. It also gave us fantastic new characters like Heavy Duty, Cesspool, Interrogator, Big Ben, Red Star, and Ozone. The accessories were still good and still specifically made for each character.
To me, it’s the best Joe year of all time. I was only 6 or 7 when I got most of the 91 figures I had as a kid, but it was my first real chance to have versions of the characters I knew. And the accessories were a bit less confusing to a kid than the complicated setups from 1990.
But, in this quick feature, I want to talk about the 1991 Cobra roster. I’m more into the Joe side than the Cobra side, but this month it special– it’s Cobra Convergence 3!
YouTube toy reviewer Hooded Cobra Commander 788 spearheads Cobra Convergence every year, and this time he’s asked bloggers, photographers, and other creators to contribute.
So, this is my humble entry. Let’s take a look at why 1991 was just as much of a banner year for Cobra as it was for GI Joe.
1988 Tiger Force Tripwire aka The Skoog aka Cat Skoog– today on The Dragon Fortress!
He dropped out of high school and got kicked out of a monastery. He’s an explosives expert. He’s a total Klutzy Karl.
And today, this Klutzy Karl shows off his Kitty-Kat Makeover.
Let’s cut the blue wire!
Motto: “I’m a back-breaker, a face kisser, and heartbreaker! Don’t mess with me, or I’ll go Pat Benatar on your ass!”
Rumor has it that DICE was once a Cobra NIGHT CREEPER, but was kicked out for being TOO evil! He refused to donate to the Broca Beach Fire Department for their annual Cobra Hook and Ladder Viper calendar, and that was more than NIGHT CREEPER LEADER was willing to tolerate!
Dice operates as a partner to the Cobra Ninja Swordsman SLICE, specializing in choke holds, pressure points, snares, traps, blunt instruments, woodwind instruments, and eye-gouging. His weapon of choice is the Bo-Staff, which he can manipulate with blinding speed and bone crushing power. It’s a hockey stick, wrapped in duct tape, with a steak knife taped to one end, but that doesn’t seem to blunt its effectiveness in combat.
His most dreaded technique is a motion he calls the “Flying Dragon.” Everyone else calls it “a sort of awkward backhand slap.” Dice is most troublesome when he gets behind the wheel of the Cobra Rat, simply because he never wears his glasses while he’s driving.
- Double bladed steak knife and salad fork bo-staff
- Battle axe
- Throwing spikes ammo pouches, spare car keys
- Delayed blast smoke bombs
- Tranquilizer throwing spikes for sleepless nights
- Steel-piercing throwing stars, bought in bulk discount at local mall
- Combat bandolier
- Padded, combat knee protectors/dashboard denters
- Traditional Dice Clan face mask (there is no Dice Clan, so traditions are arbitrary)
- Arm brace with convenient tattoo viewing window
Back in November, I bit the bullet and ordered a lot of 24 Russian Funskool GI Joe figures from eBay. It’s possible you’ve seen the lot, as the seller seems to have many of them, and it’s also possible I directed you to the lot. I’m seeing these pop up a lot more on Instagram now, where people are selling them for over $25 a piece.
I ended up paying about $6 per figure, which is a fair price for any carded GI Joe– Funskool or not.
Funskool released Hasbro molds in India for quite a long time. And, for a while, they were cheap and readily available. In the early 00s, you could get many figures for $5 or so from YoJoe.com and SmallJoes.com.
As I was around 16 at the time, and my income was Pretty Bad, I only ever got a few of them. A Hydro Viper, a Cobra Eel, A Toxo-Viper, and Tunnel Rat. I’ve kicked myself many times for not scooping up Night Vipers and Crimson Guard Immortals. But I can’t change the past, since time travel is socially irresponsible, so there’s not much I can do about that now.
Funskool GI Joe figures are much more expensive now than they were then. I’m not sure what the distinction between the Russian and Indian versions of these figures are (as my Russian and Indian Hydro Vipers and Eels seem nearly identical, for example), but none of them should fetch $35 carded.
But the GI Joe market is weird right now.
Anyway, if you’re looking into buying any of these figures, I hope this post helps you. I’ll be keeping each figure’s write up short and to the point. Also, if you do decide to buy these, I recommend buying them in a lot from Russia, as that’s bound to be cheaper than buying them for $20+ each.
And before you say “wait these aren’t from the 90s,” understand that at least some of them are 90s molds, understand maybe some were released in the 90s, and understand that I absolutely don’t care.
(Update from Mike T. of Forgotten Figures: “I believe [These Russian Funskool Figures] were produced in the early 2000’s, at the same time that Funskool was pumping out all the figures that ended up in the US, too.”
It’s Cobra’s interplanetary attack craft that’s “hoppin” mad! It’s also sincerely “hoppin” you won’t notice it’s just an older toy, which no one liked the first time around, with a missile launcher glued to one of its legs!
The INVADER attacks by plummeting from the upper atmosphere and pouncing on unsuspecting victims dwelling on planet surfaces. That is, it would if its targeting read out was any larger or more sophisticated than a Sega Game Gear, and its pilot had even rudimentary military training. Instead, when you see the INVADER coming from a mile away, you’ll notice it looks like a big neon blender with legs, and you can just either take a few steps to the right or get into your car and go out for a pack of smokes.
Don’t worry, the INVADER isn’t going anywhere. Regardless, this ballistic battle ball features lunar landing legs, an opening command canopy, and a spring-fired missile launcher. So basically it fires one shot, it can fit a plastic spaceman in its neon green innards, and it can stand up on its three legs. And we use the term “stand up” in the loosest possible sense.
Before we look the top 5 best GI Joe characters, I need to tell you a little story.
On the morning of Saturday December, 2nd, I sustained a nasty head wound. It required a 3:30am visit to the ER, an ambulance ride, a CAT scan, and three layers of stitches– with 30 stitches on the outer layer alone. The wound covers my forehead and goes down to my nose, which means my eyes are swollen, black, and blue. I looked like I just got jumped into the Los Locos gang from Short Circuit 2.
I say this not because I’m asking for sympathy (it was a dumb, clumsy, non-car related accident that was totally my fault) but because the photos in this post are a bit sub par. I’m not the world’s best photographer, anyway, but I’m always trying to steadily improve.
Because my eyes are swollen, my vision is not the best. My hands are even shakier than normal. But I wanted to get this post out, even with inferior photos. This blog is one of my favorite things to do, and I don’t want to let something like a little head injury stop me.
That said, this will be a Quick And Easy Article.
Now, on with the top 5 best GI Joe characters.