The Mean Dog has the honor of being the very last vehicle I got in the original G.I. Joe line. The year was 1988 and I was a few months away from going on a one year toy-buying hiatus. It wouldn’t last, I would eventually buy some Joe figures again, but as far as that magical combination of vehicle and driver went, Mean Dog was it.
As far as “lasts” go, the Mean Dog was a large, angry beast of a machine that split into three sections and carried its own heavy metal soundtrack infused into the very plastic. It had a huge gatling gun and rocket launchers and was just…a damn beautiful toy. While it was in no way the largest Joe vehicle, it definitely had presence.
To drive something that ferocious looking, you need a driver who emitted an aura of utter badass. You need some dude that looks like he bleeds motor oil and sweats diesel. You need someone like Wildcard.
Wildcard had a ripped green vest, a pair of burgundy pants and a helmet. Wildcard went to the Gung Ho school of fashion, which states that a simple vest is all you need in any temperature/setting/warzone. Wildcard didn’t need your sissy flak jackets or armor or bulletproof things. Wildcard drove his bulletproof vest. Wildcard aimed his bulletproof vest at the bad guys and unleashed holy hell.
But the Mean Dog wasn’t his only option. When he was outside of the safe and snuggly confines of that rolling engine of destruction, Wildcard had…
Now I know what you’re thinking. “This guy brought a machete to a firefight? Is he nuts?” Well, if you were a kid in the 80s, then you know that the machete is the most dangerous thing a guy can own. Because there was another dude who killed people with a machete in the 80s, and his name was Jason Frickin Vorhees.
So this Joe, this man code-named Wildcard who drove a psychogore killing machine, he also had a machete that came with its very own sheath that attached to his back. Oh, there were other Joes that came with swords and knives, but a machete is somehow angrier than any of the other edged weapons. A machete has attitude. A machete looks like it was made specifically to slice parts off of your body. I do not want to be the Cobra trooper that has to deal with Wildcard once the Mean Dog has been put out of commission on the battlefield. Because that is an angry man with a machete.
Wildcard’s file card stated that he’s the type of guy that breaks things, and his initial comic appearance backed that up, because he ended up breaking the controls of the Mean Dog. This is not a guy that you want as your personal chiropractor.
Wildcard never made any cartoon appearances, because despite the fact that it would have been the coolest thing ever, a guy with a machete was not going to be unleashed in a half hour cartoon. There was a very brief animated sequence in the 30 second commercial for the toy, but that was it. Unfortunately, Wildcard did not behead anybody in that commercial.
The vehicle/driver combinations in GI Joe were always this perfect synthesis. The vehicles were fun, but the individual figures did not suffer by comparison. Wildcard would have been equally awesome if he had been sold on his own. It’s just fortunate that he had a bigass destructomatic 5000 to wrap around him.