New Joes are coming out at a pretty steady pace, but there are always more. I’m going to take a by-the-year look and see what character is my most-wanted for every year of the original Joe line. Will it be fun or infuriating? Let’s find out together!
While I am definitely hoping we get a retro Stalker with brighter camo and a retro Rock ‘N Roll in all green, my most wanted unique figure of 1982 is without a doubt Zap. The original bazooka soldier, Zap was not a Joe to be screwed with. I was not destined to have his vintage figure, despite drooling over the picture of him on the back of the Official Carrying Case. While all of the Original 13 are a goal in and of themselves, Zap is my highest priority.
We’re doing very well with the 83 characters. With Airborne and Wild Bill on the way and Doc getting a mention, Ace is the winner by default. While I don’t know if there’s a chance for a Skystriker, getting Ace all on his own works well enough for me.
Wild Weasel came very close, but I can’t say no to Mr. Ketchup and Mustard himself. One of the most colorful characters in the line, I hope his fire-bright uniform isn’t dulled down one iota.
The Lamprey was a vehicle driver that came with the Cobra Hydrofoil…but regardless of whether that’s on the table the Lamprey is just a completely badass design. The silver and blue is such a great color set and it’s accented by the awesome helmet design.
With Zartan and Zarana already getting their time in the spotlight, it’s time for their brother to make his Classified debut. I was slightly bummed that Zandar didn’t make it out at the same time as Zarana to mirror their vintage releases. I happened to get them both at the same time when I was a kid (thank you, checkout aisle at Best Department Store) and I’m feeling his absence more and more as time passes.
This one’s not even a question. Nemesis Enforcer is without a doubt my most wanted 1987 character, and my most wanted member of Cobra La. Where (or if) they fit in your own personal Joe canon is of course up to the individual, and how you feel about the animated movie is also up to one’s own proclivities, but an unspeaking immortal bat-winged nightmare is exactly the type of thing that shoots off sparks in my brain. For Nemesis Enforcer to beat out Fast Draw is saying something about how much I want him.
Road Pig is a huge lunatic with a split personality that is dressed like he just wandered off the set of a George Miller movie, and he carries a cinderblock on the end of a stick. I don’t know about you, but that says “make me now” in any language I can think of.
Fast Draw didn’t make it, but Backblast, with his shoulder mounted missile-launching insanity absolutely does. From the late 80s into the early 90s, the weapons got bigger, the testosterone got thicker, and the explosions got louder. GI Joe as a toyline had a lot to compete with, so they doubled down on elements that were guaranteed to grab the attention of every toy enthusiast. Backblast did that.
With Night Creepers in the pipeline, the S.A.W. Vipers take the top spot. Not only was a S.A.W. Viper responsible for the most GI Joe deaths in the comic at the time, but it’s just a great design and color scheme. The big purple people eaters are gonna kill you.
I can’t help it. I know we’ve had several V1 BAT offerings, from original to various alternate colors, but the robot fanatic in me wants the Version 2 as well, with some upgraded design work and neon touches that make them stand out even more. And that will lead to the V4 BAT and Inferno BAT…Yeah, I’m a BAT-addict.
We’ve already taken a few steps into Ninja Force, so lts continue down that path with more Ninja. While it could definitely be said that the Joe universe crawled up a Ninja’s ass at some point, those of us who are Ninja fans had no issue with it. I am all Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, and Ninja III: the Domination with this stuff, so I will take any ninja I can get. And Slice is my most wanted of the remaining Ninja dudes.
You have to look at 1993’s offerings with a certain level of wide-eyed appreciation. If you take in everything that the Joe team was doing at the time, you have this slight feeling of…what the absolute hell is going on here? And not in a bad way. I will admit, I had my prejudices at one time. I was no longer collecting the line at this point, having drifted on to different things. At the time, it was a lot of neon, and it felt like the line had jumped the (S.H.A.R.C.)shark. But with the beauty of hindsight, I can now appreciate that the Joe team was taking a gigantic staple gun and nailing their balls fully to the wall with such gusto that it strips the hairs out of your nostrils. This was a now a toyline that was chucking Joes into space and putting them up against wacked out aliens, while also saying “hey, here’s some dinosaurs, let go eff their shit up also!”
So yeah, for 1993 I’m going with ROBO-Joe, because why the hell not just cybernetically enhance a scientist from Casper, Wyoming and aim him at the enemy? Why not?? Let’s get nuts, guys. Let’s get nuts.
1994-Ice Cream Soldier
My 1994 choice has to be the man, the myth and the legend known as the Ice Cream Soldier. And that’s saying something, because 1994 had a character called Carcass. That’s one of my favorite bands!
That…was a list!