G.I. JOE TROOPER v.1 a-d (2008)
In addition to the Crimson Guard Officer of my last post I also recently purchased four G.I. Joe Troopers from a facebook seller. Rather than blog about them separately I’m just going to lump them all together for a single review.
The idea of generic troopers being members of G.I. Joe is somewhat controversial amongst Joe fans. G. I. Joe is supposed to be a highly trained special missions force made up of the best of the best. Traditionally, Joes have had fancy code-names like “Blowtorch” and “Roadblock” and they have unique military specialties and flashy outfits. So perhaps you can understand why some people find it odd that there would be a bunch of unspecialized nameless grunts on the team. I’m neutral on the topic. I don’t necessarily like the thought of the Joe team being padded with cannon fodder but at the same time I understand the need for them.
Joe Troopers, or “green shirts” as fans call them, have been around since the earliest days of the Real American Hero. They were often seen in the background of the cartoons, comics, and merchandise. However their presence was never really addressed back then as far as I know. Were they actually members of the G.I. Joe team or were they just there as back-up?
The first sort-of generic Joe was introduced into the toy line in 1986; the Steel Brigade Trooper. I don’t think the SB Trooper really counts though because he wasn’t intended to be a generic nobody; he was intended to be you. Kids could send in an order form with a code name and military specialty of their choosing and Hasbro would send them a generic masked figure with a file card that was unique to them. It was a neat idea and I’m sure most kids that ordered the figured used it as an individual character as opposed to an army builder (My Steel Brigade Trooper’s code name was Blackout). But in the years since that figures release in 1987 most fans regard the Steel Brigade as a sub-team of G.I. Joe.
The first acknowledgement of green shirts actually being part of the G.I. Joe team that I’m aware of came during the run of comics produced by Devil’s Due in the early 2000s. The Devils’s Due green shirts had a kind of sci-fi flair which would’ve made for a cool action figure. But when Hasbro released the first green shirt action figures in 2005 in a Toys R Us exclusive Infantry Division 6-pack they went with a more traditional look. All six of the figures shared the exact same build. Their bodies were made up of parts from various vintage Joes dating all the way back to 1982 and they all had the same head which originally belonged to the Joe’s mortar specialist, Downtown. To differentiate the infantry soldiers from one another the head was repainted in 6 different ways. There were a couple of black guys, a redhead, a blonde, a brunette, and a Latino. None of them were given names but they each had a unique file card describing their individual skills. The cards had a blank space on them where a code name could be written. The idea being that once the infantry division recruit proved himself as a valuable member of the team he could choose a code name for himself and become a true Joe. It was another neat idea that added some extra play value to some otherwise dull figures.
Three years later Hasbro revisited the infantry division idea. These modern-era green shirt figures also came in a Toys R Us exclusive box set. The 2008 set was called “Firefly vs G.I. Joe Troopers” and it featured 4 Joe recruits along with a repaint of the Cobra saboteur. Many of those exclusive sets were hard to come by in my area. I never managed to find one in the wild and I never bothered to buy one on ebay because the prices were too steep for what I considered a fairly lackluster set. But it went on my want list and I waited, hoping that one day I would find the figures at a decent price. That day came recently when Robert from one of the G.I. Joe discussion groups I’m a member of offered up the troops for $6 a piece.
I’m pretty happy to finally have these four figures after seven years of waiting, however, my initial assessment of the figures was accurate, they’re pretty lackluster. All four of them share the exact same build from the neck down. They’ve got Snake Eyes’ legs and torso which is fine but then they have the dreaded 2007 Duke arms. Duke arms are the worst. They’re long, lanky, poorly articulated and they have an awful looking joint on the forearm. These things should have been banished from use after they first showed up but unfortunately they were reused multiple times in the early years of the modern-era. Each of these figures has a different head which is nice and a big improvement over the 2005 pack. All the heads come form other Joes. The blonde bearded trooper has Breaker’s head, the ginger has Duke’s head, the brunette has Hawk’s head, and the tan-haired dude has Flash’s head. They’re not the best looking of faces but at least they’re relatively generic so they can pass for everyday Joes and they’re not immediately recognizable as name characters.
I really like the paint job on these figures. They have dark green pants and olive green shirts and helmets which is how I believe they looked in the cartoons. It’s a very basic military look that blends in very well with the original 13 Joes and the old-school vehicles.
For accessories each Trooper comes with a knife that can be sheathed on their leg, a pistol that can be holstered on their belt, a rifle, a machine gun, a helmet, and a display stand. The weapons are pretty standard but perfectly suited to these retro looking troopers. My only gripe about the accessories is none of my troopers’ helmets fit except for the blonde guy who has a huge noggin when compared to the other guys. Like the 2005 file cards these troopers have a card that has a blank space where you can write your own code name. The novelty of the gimmick has worn off over the years but I’m still happy to see it. 6 out of 10.