This original version of Barbecue the Joe firefighter was released in 1985 which was one of the greatest Joe years of all time. The line had really caught fire since it’s initial wave was released in 1982. Every kid I knew loved the cartoon and the toys plus the comic book story lines were becoming more complex and interesting. Each new wave of figures introduced us to more colorful Joes and Cobras with a variety of specialties. 1985 brought us a sailor, a kung-fu/silent weapons specialist, a desert trooper, a mountain trooper, a hostile environment specialist and my favorite: a fireman. Long gone was the drab solid green of the original team, replaced by a highly trained technicolor special missions force. These new Joes looked more like the village people than a cohesive military unit but that didn’t stop them from being awesome.
Barbecue looked like no fireman I had ever seen before rocking a full body bright orange jump suit with an almost medieval looking helmet to top it off. The full face mask made him an instant favorite of mine as I always thought characters looked cooler when you couldn’t see their faces. When his face was revealed to us in the cartoon he turned out to be a curly haired goofball with a Boston accent which did diminish his coolness a little bit. He was heavily featured in one of my all time favorite episodes, “The Viper is Coming” which is full on ridiculous. Barbecue hasn’t gotten much love in Joe media spin-offs since the Joe’s heyday in the 80s. After being absent from all media for several years Joe returned with a quiet vengeance in the early 2000s. New CG animated films were being released and new comic publisher Devil’s Due had acquired the rights to G.I. Joe and had begun releasing new comics continuing the story line from the 80s Marvel series. Barbecue was nowhere to be seen. The comic book license has since moved to a different publisher, IDW who started a fresh new look at the Joe universe. Barbecue recently appeared in an issue of the new Joe comic book and I was thrilled to see him. He wasn’t wearing his trademark orange jumpsuit and helmet and he was sporting a bushy new mustache but they called him Barbecue so that was good enough for me. I figured there’d be plenty of time to see him in his firefighting gear later on. Unfortunately he was dead 2 pages later. 😦
They may be able to kill him off in the comics but they can’t kill my beloved action figure. Actually that’s not entirely true, the picture I used for this article I had to steal from the net because I couldn’t take a pic of my actual figure. He is one of many Joes whose O-ring (the rubber band that holds G.I. Joe figures together) has deteriorated over time and now my poor Barbecue is reduced to a pile of loose body parts. But back when he was in one piece Barbecue made for an excellent action figure. He came armed with an axe for busting down doors and a nozzle gun which was connected to the foam tanks on his back via a long rubber hose. These rubber hoses which became common place in the line debuted in 1985. They were much more flexibile and functional than the stiff plastic hoses of previous waves. When not in use, Barbecue could attach his nozzle gun to the peg on his leg which was cool. I always like it when a figure can store it’s own accessories so they’re not just laying around loose all of the time. 8 out of 10.