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A Joe in the Sights: Dusty

Dusty was the coolest looking Joe whose original figure I never owned. He was one of a handful where the first time I was able to get their figure was the Tiger Force version. So my Dusty was less dust-colored camouflage than he was jungle colored camouflage. But he refused to change his name to Mossy.

These were strange times.

I have absolutely no idea why I never ended up with the original 1985 Dusty. 1985 was a busy year for toys, so it’s possible that he didn’t make the cut between so many other toys. Other 1985 figures that I never managed to acquire—and will all make an appearance in this column at some point—include Footloose and Airtight. Oh, and Lady Jaye. That one was definitely not my fault. I just plain never saw her in the store. I would have loved to get her to fight side by side with Flint, but it was not to be.

The toy aisles could be cruel. It’s how I ended up with only one of the three original 1985 Dreadnoks. Oh, I do remember seeing Buzzer and Ripper, but I only saw them once, and it was right after my parents had purchased some other figure. I wasn’t about to ask them for yet another toy at yet another store. Much later when I told her about it, my mom said I should have asked, but I knew money was tight and I knew they probably would have sacrificed something they wanted to get something I wanted.   

I remember seeing Dusty on the pegs. I don’t remember the exact circumstances surrounding why I didn’t end up with him, but just based on the fact that it was 1985, he was in competition with Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Thundercats Super Powers and Secret Wars. Sometimes you had to draw lines in the sand. Or…in the dust, as it was.

Somehow I didn’t mind only getting the Tiger Force version. Sure, I would have liked having the original, but at least I had the character. I guess I was far less anal retentive then. But it didn’t hurt that I was a fan of the Tiger Force thing also. The whole “specialized team within the specialized team” really appealed to me. It was a chance to get some characters that I hadn’t been able to get the first time around. Lifeline was another, although I did end up with the original Lifeline with a mail-in order they offered in 1988. Flag points and the price of shipping, beeyotch. It’s the only way to Joe. That’s how I ended up with Major Bludd and Copperhead. Mail-in orders were like toy mulligans without the long walk.

Dusty made it into the line to get some decent comic and cartoon time. During the time of the Great Joe Purge where a bunch of old toys were available for killing, Dusty SPOILER ALERT

carried his friend Sneak Peek’s dead body all the way back to base because he promised Sneak’s mom.

The comics were brutal sometimes.

He had an even larger role in one particular cartoon plotline, where he was branded a traitor and joined Cobra. SPOILER ALERT

It was all a setup, and he was a double agent. Giving Dusty his own two-parter was something of an honor. Not many Joes managed that.

The interesting thing is that his real name according to the file card was “RONALD TADUR,” a take on GI Joe toy designer Ron Rudat. But in the cartoon they skipped the anagram and just referred to him as “Rudat.” Someone either didn’t get the memo or didn’t care.

Interesting side-note. Cartoon Dusty was voiced by Neil Ross, but his voice reminded me slightly of James Best, who played Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on Dukes of Hazzard. I have no idea why that was interesting.  

Dusty’s action figure—both original and Tiger force versions– featured one of the rare occasions of what we call “soft goods.” That flappy thingy (that I’m sure has a name) on the back of his head was a small scrap of fabric that allowed him to retain full head motion.

He got a radical redesign in 1991 along with a coyote sidekick named “Sandstorm.”

I regret never having had Dusty’s original action figure, but the Tiger Force version made a decent stand-in. It didn’t keep him from doing Dusty things—like killing Cobras—but there’s definitely a thematic thing going on with his original uniform that the Tiger Force version lost with the color swap.