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A Joe in the Sights: Psyche-Out

You know what? Psyche-Out was weird.

Psyche-out was an ’87 Joe, which was one of those years that defined a certain direction that the Joes would be swerving into. The theme broadened, both on the Joe side and the Cobra side. It began to incorporate some different elements and designs. Much of that had to do with some new behind-the-scenes blood, but also the brand was a few years old and could stand some experimentation.

I was completely on board for whatever they wanted to throw at us. Cobra-La? Sure. Guys with pet Crocodiles? Sure. Helmeted dudes with boxing gloves? I’ll buy it. Guys dressed as birds? Why not?!

Psyche Out was a guy with radar dishes on his body. He was a different kind of soldier, one that specialized in psychological warfare. This was more than a guy that shot you with bullets that go bang bang. This was a strange dude that aimed low noise at your damn brain and made you deathly afraid. This was a guy that made Thurl Ravenscroft crawl into your squishy lobes and regret every decision you ever made.

That was weird.

That was scary.

Psyche-Out was an interesting design, with bold colors, and he seemed to play in the same general lane as a figure like Sci-Fi, feeling more like the latter’s science-fictional namesake than strict military, but the Joes had long since moved past strict military. They were all encompassing. And now they were waging war on the enemy’s minds.

I don’t think I ever quite got a handle on how to best use Psyche-Out when I was a kid. With his radar dishes and antennae and backpack filled with creepy frequencies and stuff I tended to go for the obvious. And by obvious, I mean he used those special frequencies to make the bad guys’ heads explode, Scanners-style. That’s one way to instill paranoia in the other guys. It’s a lot harder to have your toy make the other toy twitchy and anxious. I mean, yes, you can, but there’s a lot of subtlety involved in such things, and the living room floor was no place for subtlety when you can have the radar dish guy turn the bad guy’s head into scrambled eggs.

Have you ever mimed an exploding head? The motion you make with your fingers looks a lot like that chef’s kiss thing that is all the rage with people. So basically, whenever people do that in real life it looks like tiny heads exploding.

Psyche-Out made absolutely no Sunbow cartoon appearances, because the cartoon had gone into hibernation. If he came back during the DiC tenure, I have absolutely no memory of him, but I’ve only watched that all the way through once.  

In the comics, Psyche-Out’s appearances were based around him psychoanalyzing people, but to be honest he’s never really used to his fullest potential there either. No heads popped. No heads popped at all!

In case I haven’t hammered it home yet, Psyche-Out was a weird one. But being a person that liked the weird, I didn’t mind him at all. I may not have played with him according to strict regulation, but he used those radar dishes to wreak a lot of havoc, psyching out the enemies with sheer head poppery.

Paranoia indeed.

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