Monte Williams of Geek Creek fame stops by to give us some insight on what he thinks would be some fun tributes in modern remakes of GI Joe characters. Check it out!
Much has been made in toy reviews across the internet that Hasbro’s Pursuit of Cobra series of G.I. Joe toys includes a number of subtle tributes to characters from 1980s action films. The Toys R Us-exclusive Quick Kick wears a tunic that boasts the old G.I. Joe Kung-Fu Grip logo—which bears a striking resemblance to the Kobra Kai logo from The Karate Kid. Beneath the tunic, Quick Kick bears scars in a distinctive Enter the Dragon pattern. Meanwhile, Jungle Duke is ostensibly intended to remind collectors of Dutch from Predator, while the Toys R Us-exclusive Spirit is Billy and Recondo is Jesse Ventura’s Predator character, Blain Cooper. Some have even suggested, rightly I think, that Shadow Tracker, with his skull-like visage and dreadlocks, is meant to stand in for the Predator itself.
What follows, then, is a list of G.I. Joe characters whose much-desired Pursuit of Cobra updates could also serve as tributes to characters from action films of the 1980s.
10. Sci-Fi as… Robocop
This would be simpler than it might at first seem; take some futuristic armor in the vein of the Rise of Cobra Accelerator Suit and add to it a repainted Sci-Fi head, and you’re about nine-tenths of the way to an understated Robocop tribute.
09. Wild Bill as… Billy the Kid from Young Guns—with Spirit as Chavez
Believe it or not, I’d completed a rough draft of this list before it struck me that Wild Bill and Billy the Kid share the same name.
Young Guns isn’t a stand-out film, quality-wise, and its music is so distractingly bad that it’s no wonder the producers sought Jon Bon Jovi to provide the soundtrack to the sequel. Still, Young Guns is arguably the most famous Western of the ‘80s, and so it’s the Western most likely to earn an action figure tribute from Hasbro; I’d much rather have figures of Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call from Lonesome Dove, but I have to be somewhat realistic.
Speaking of realistic, it’s unlikely that Hasbro would take a Predator approach and produce thinly-veiled tributes to several characters in Young Guns, for the simple reason that it’s unlikely that Hasbro will produce more than one cowboy-themed figure within a given series. The obvious choice, then, would be Wild Bill, whose head sculpt could resemble a mustachioed Emilio Estevez or Keifer Sutherland. But if Hasbro did decide to produce more than one Western-themed figure, my vote for the second character would be Spirit.
While I’d love a long-haired head sculpt in the vein of Lou Diamond Phillips’s Chavez character, Hasbro could also simply repaint their current Pursuit of Cobra Spirit head (or his headband, at any rate); as a bonus, a cowboy with Spirit’s skin tone could lend itself to kitbash customs of Marshall Bravestarr. And while we’re on the topic of space cowboys, Hasbro could theoretically pay tribute to Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Serenity with a Wild Bill cowboy pilot, too.
08. Your Dreadnok of Choice as… The Terminator
It’s obvious that Hasbro’s sculptors are fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger, so why not pay tribute to his most famous role? Choose your favorite Dreadnok, give him lots of leather and some sunglasses and a shotgun, and you’ve got a squint-and-you-see-it Joe-scale figure of the Terminator.
07. Chuckles as… Ash
Take a figure with somewhat disheveled hair and a loose-fitting button-up shirt, and he could be either Chuckles (as he appears in the G.I. Joe: Cobra comic book series) or an Ash stand-in.
Admittedly, Hasbro might struggle to account for why Chuckles suddenly has a chainsaw for a hand, but I’m sure they’ll come up with something.
06. Thrasher with Thunder Machine as… Mad Max
In response to my recent Pursuit of Cobra-themed list at Poe Ghostal’s Points of Articulation, a couple-few alert geeks at the HISS Tank forums suggested a Pursuit of Cobra remake of the Thunder Machine, a Real American Hero-era vehicle so badass it could probably be rereleased in its original form today to rave reviews.
The Thunder Machine’s driver was Thrasher, a Dreadnok in suitably thrashed clothing who looked cool when you were nine years old but bears a disheartening resemblance to Rikki Rachtman of Headbanger’s Ball today.
It’s time to bring Thrasher and his ride back to the toy aisle… and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to make him resemble a certain post apocalyptic road warrior.
05. Mobile Armored Strike Kommand’s Calhoun Burns as… Michael Knight (with the Raven as K.I.T.T.)
Picture this as the follow-up to the surprise G.I. Joe figure of M.A.S.K.’s Matt Trakker:
A black M.A.S.K. Trans-Am… like the vintage Raven car and its driver, Calhoun Burns, whose modern G.I. Joe update could easily (if loosely) resemble Michael Knight of Knight Industries.
As a bonus, the car can come with a red sticker with a “pulsing” effect for the bumper, to make the Raven—no relation to the Cobra jet—look more like KITT.
04. Mainframe as… the Dude in Tron—or Maybe the Dude in Automan
I’ve never actually seen Tron or Automan, but I’ve already requested a Pursuit of Cobra Mainframe figure patterned after the character’s tech-obsessed look in the Devil’s Due comic book series, and that look plus a few transparent blue bits would make for a convincing tribute to the day-glow heroes of ‘80s television and cinema.
03. Doc as… Winston Zedmore
The 25th Anniversary mail-away Doc featured the dreaded Duke arms, with a glaring joint cut on the wrists. The more recent Toys R Us-exclusive Doc featured a color scheme that Rainbow Brite would dismiss as garish.
The new and improved Doc would be clad in a loose-fitting, vaguely medic-themed jumpsuit that would bear a striking resemblance to the uniform worn by a certain buster of ghosts and his three colleagues. Further, the figure’s accessories would include a medical supplies backpack that could double as a proton pack.
This raises the question: which Joes could serve as Egon, Ray, and Peter?
02. Barrage as… John Rambo
Barrage was after my time. I cannot even recall precisely how I stumbled across a photo of him. But I’ll be damned if a straight-up remake of Barrage wouldn’t serve as a decent facsimile of Rambo. And who can deny it’s a tragedy that there is as yet no G.I. Joe action figure of Rambo?
01. Dr. Mindbender as… Herbert West from The Reanimator
Mindbender only appeared in the Rise of Cobra film for thirty seconds or so, but his soft-spoken pleading and creepy persuasiveness were rather arresting even in such a brief scene, and an imaginative take on a Mindbender toy could capture this creepiness while also paying tribute to the protagonist of the greatest movie to ever be inspired by an H.P. Lovecraft story and feature a sex scene involving decapitated oral sex.
The kids would love it.