SPEARHEAD & MAX v.3 (2013)
Most old school Joe fans would probably tell you that 1985 was the best year ever for G.I. Joe toys. I’m inclined to agree but only by a slight margin. I think that the toy line was totally solid from it’s beginnings in 1982 right up until 1988, maybe even ’89. Each wave introduced so many cool new characters. By the time we got to the 90s the brand was mostly just rehashing what had come before. Today almost every wave contains a Duke and a Snake Eyes and a bunch of other characters you already own a dozen times over; new characters are rare. 1988 was a great year for Joe, rife with newbies , and it was the year my favorite Joe figure was released, Shockwave. Other great new characters included Hit & Run, Charbroil, Roadpig, Lightfoot, and Voltar. After Shockwave, my second favorite joe released that year was Spearhead who came packaged with his Bobcat Max. Spearhead was an insurance salesman turned infantry point man.
I’m not sure what I liked so much about Spearhead because he had his share of problems. First off he had a bad orange camouflage outfit. I don’t know if it was intended for desert combat or what but I don’t think he would’ve blended in anywhere in that uniform. Then there were his accessories which were all cast in dull gray or bright orange and were all comically oversized. His gun wasn’t so bad but his machete was ridiculous. The worst accessory was his helmet which sat atop his head in a very goofy way making him look like he had a massive melon.
Then there were the good parts. I really liked his overall sculpt. It was simple and believably militaristic. The face made him look like a really nice guy which was also part of the appeal I suppose. The file card added some fun personality to the guy and best of all was the inclusion of Max. I was a sucker for any Joe with a pet and a bobcat was something we hadn’t seen before.
While they were overshadowed by Shockwave to a degree both Spearhead and Lightfoot became key members of my Joe team. Both of them have been high on my want list of old characters to be released in the modern style. Alas, 1988 is a year that has been largely ignored by the modern Hasbro design team. No new versions of Cobra troopers like the Astro Viper, Hydro Viper or Secto Viper and no new versions of Joes like Blizzard, Budo, Lightfoot, Muskrat, Repeater, and Spearhead.
Well thank goodness for the G.I. Joe collector’s club. In their 2013 convention set not only did they give us great Cobras like Cobra Mortal, the SAW Vipers, and the Frag Vipers but they also filled in a bunch of holes that remained in collector’s modern joe collections. The 15 figure box set dubbed “nocturnal fire” had the first ever modern sculpt versions of Repeater, Muskrat, Psyche Out, and Spearhead, along with updated versions of Hit & Run and Charbroil. That’s 5 1988 Joes in one box. The only disappointing aspect of the set for me was the Night Force theme. None of the Joe characters were wearing their original outfits, they were all wearing their darker toned Night Force outfits. Most of these character were originally released in their Night Force colors in a series of Toys R Us exclusive 2-packs in 1989. I never owned any of the 80s Night Force figures so I have no nostalgic connection to the subset.
The 1989 Night Force Spearhead used the exact same mold as the 1988 original only it was re-colored in black and brown with black accessories. This 2013 version does a pretty good job of replicating the look of the ’89 figure. The pieces are all borrowed from other figures, including the vest and bullet belt but they come together nicely to make a pretty decent Spearhead. This version has a dark brown base color instead of black like the original but the brown vest and green boots remain. A couple of noticeable changes the Club made are the addition of green gloves and a pair of goggles on the helmet. The inclusion of goggles is kind of weird because Spearhead never had them before and red goggles on the helmet is kind of Hit & Runs’ thing and H&R is included in the same set. Whatever the reason I like it. They add some much needed color to the figure and they tie him to Hit & Run for a cohesive team look. The head is borrowed from a previously released Dusty figure but it looks pretty close to the original nice-guy Spearhead face.
The Club sculpted an entirely new Max the bobcat. This version has a lot more personality than the solid orange hunk of plastic from ’88 which was painted black and green (?) for the 1989 version. This Max is still a solid hunk of plastic with no articulation but he has painted eyes, teeth and spots. it looks great but the legs are sculpted a bit close together so he doesn’t stand very well.
Spearhead was one of the main reasons that I shelled out the cash for this box set and I am not disappointed with him. As much as I wanted an ugly orange one since that’s what I grew up with, there’s no denying that the Night Force colors are better. I’ve become accustomed to them and if they never release an orange repaint I’ll be fine with this being my only modern Spearhead. Another great piece of work from the Collector’s Club. 8 out of 10.