DUSTY v.2 (1988)
Last month I told you about my epic haul where a reader of this blog mailed me a few of his old toys. The “few” toys he sent me consisted of 17 Transformers, 8 Ninja Turtles, and 156 G.I. Joes; all vintage. Of those 156 Joes, 87 of them were 100% complete meaning all of their accessories were accounted for. It was such an epic haul that I devoted a full post to it.
Well now that the box has been sorted, the weapons have been matched to the appropriate figures, and everyone has been placed, I can begin reviewing them individually. The first figure I’ve decided to tackle is Dusty version 2 from 1988.
The first Dusty figure (also included in the epic haul) was released in 1985 which was a great year for G.I. Joe. The ’85 assortment added some of the most memorable characters to the line and was brimming with diversity. Dusty was the Joe team’s Desert Trooper. He wore a tan & brown camouflage uniform, had brown paint randomly splotched on his face, and had a real cloth hood attached to his helmet. He was very unique and cool as hell. My brother Doug owned that original Dusty figure but I was always a big fan of the character too.
1988 was the year that brought us the first G.I. Joe sub-team: Tiger Force. Sub-team’s like Ninja Force and Star Brigade were all the rage in the 90s but it was still a fresh concept in the late 80s. Tiger Force was a squad of 10 established Joe figures from years prior repainted with new tiger stripe patterns. I’m not sure if the premise behind the concept was ever really fleshed out beyond “stripes are cool”. The following year Cobra formed a similar sub-team of repainted figures called Python Patrol whose uniforms and vehicles all featured a checkered pattern. It was explained in the file cards that the checkered pattern made the Python Patrol invisible to radar. It may have been silly but at least it provided a reason for the change of clothes. I don’t think the tiger stripes of Tiger Force provided similar stealth so I’m still not sure what the point of it was. Were they an elite fighting force? The best of the best? That concept didn’t really make sense because that’s what the G.I. Joe team already was. You could say that maybe they were specially trained for jungle combat, but then why include the desert and artic troopers on the team and not Recondo, the established Jungle Trooper. The truth of it is Tiger Force was just a money grab. A way for Hasbro to sell kids figures they already owned because of a flashy new paintjob. It worked on Doug and I because we bought them all up.
You might think it would make sense for me to get Dusty version 2 since Doug already owned version 1 but that’s not how we did things. In our Joe universe Doug was Dusty, case closed. So Doug got version 2 as well and swapped out the 2 Dustys during playtime at his leisure. They were never both on the battlefield at the same time.
Dusty v2 is constructed using the exact same parts as Dusty v1. They even have the same accessories: canvas backpack and sub-machine gun with bi-pod. Tiger Force Dusty still has the cloth flap on his helmet only it’s green instead of brown this time. But his outfit isn’t nearly as nice looking as the first figures. This one is painted multiple shades of green with yellow tiger stripes on the jacket. It’s not pretty but the garish outfit isn’t my biggest problem with this figure; it’s the face.
Tiger Force Dusty doesn’t have any paint on his face and it makes him look completely different. I always pictured Dusty to be a badass but the blank stare on this round face didn’t project badassery the way the original seemed to. Although looking at version 1 now he looks much more docile than I remember too. I think a little face paint would have done wonders for this figure. A few black or brown tiger stripes across his face would have made complete sense given the circumstances. Missed opportunity.
The lack of face paint, combined with the ugly uniform, always made this figure a dud in my eyes. But looking at it now I don’t mind it. It’s really not bad it’s just that version 1 was so much better. 7 out of 10.