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A Joe in the Sights: Salvo

Salvo blew so much stuff up, you guys. So…much…stuff.

I’ve said before that I hit a certain age, felt I should stop playing with toys, let that linger for a while, and then decided that I missed toys and liked toys too much, so I jumped back into collecting toys. G.I. Joe was still going strong during this brief lull in my toy buying, and that was one of the first lines I jumped back into. I can’t tell you how good it felt to start buying G.I. Joes again after about a year of cold turkey no-Joe buying.

The year was 1990 and I was a Joe collector again, and that was the year Salvo was released. Salvo carried around an entire military’s worth of missiles and explodey things. He seemed like the culmination of the Joe line’s trend towards bigger and bigger explosions. It had flirted with it way back in the earliest years with people like Zap an then Bazooka, and the previous year had introduced Backblast, who had a triple-missile launcher that he carried around on his shoulder. But Salvo was the glorious Frankenstein’s monster that all of this experimenting had been building too.

I had jumped back in at just the right time, because all of my Joe-buying had been building to a guy who was more missile launcher than man. Salvo had a missile launcher that fired 5 missiles. He also had a mine launcher that…well, obviously it launched mines.

It was extreme and over-the-top and insane and it was the best thing ever.

The Joe line had undergone a weird metamorphosis over the years. You can see a definite trend towards bigger guns, bigger missiles, more accessories and so forth. The line had gone on for quite a while, so they did some tweaking of the concept and brought in figures that had a bit more “action” to them. Toys were adding in what was called “finger-flick” features, which meant you could flick missiles with your finger and they’d fire. Other toys added in spring-loaded features.

I didn’t do either of those things, mainly because I’ve always felt those types of action features suck, but at least the so-called action feature didn’t impede the toy’s play value.

Salvo’s action-feature capabilities were, to me, secondary to the fact that he could blow the crap out of stuff. At this point in time when I was growing older and yet still collecting toys, I still played with my toys, but my playing had evolved with age. I no longer had the time for hours-long events with multiple figures and vehicles like I did when I was yonger. Playtime was concise and to the point. Perfect for a guy who could rapidly nuke everything around him. Salvo did what he did best, which was show, up, blow up and then amscray.

Most Joes shot the Cobra troopers. Salvo launched missiles at them. One missile for a bad guy might seem like overkill, but Salvo was not a guy that believed in the word “overkill.” Just kill. And bang. And sometimes blooey. All that was important was that the bad guys got exploded into a shower of internal organs.

Internal organs not included.

Apparently, Salvo didn’t have many comic appearances. I was not collecting the comic by this point so I’m not sure, but research shows only a couple of appearances. The Sunbow version of the G.I. Joe cartoon had ended, but DiC had taken over the reins and Salvo debuted in time to have a few appearances in that cartoon, where he, of course, blew stuff up.

I was unable to watch the DiC cartoon when it first aired. The cartoon came on at 8:00 in the morning, which was the exact time I had to leave for school. At most, I was able to catch a few episodes during vacations or sick days, but the cartoon wasn’t on by the time summer rolled around. This was a consistent anf frustrating theme for a lot of cartoons, to the point that I believed the programmers did it to me deliberately. As if they were watching me. Watching me through the TV. Watching and judging.

The Joe line still had some life in it by 1990. The neon colors hadn’t completely taken over yet. The characters were different, a little more extreme in some ways–as fitting with the ’90s–but they still felt every bit like G.I. Joe. I was all in…for at least another year or so, and salvo was one of my new favorites.