Every now and then when updating our site with posts other than our regular podcast or articles from our awesome contributor Claymation Werewolf, I find myself sometimes challenged with what to write about. Yes, there’s plenty to pull from, huge thanks to those of you who enjoy my “Retro Video Game of the Moment” series of posts and of course we get some great updates from Eclectik and Tim Dogg by way of their sites, but there are times where I say “Classick, write SOMETHING!” and the well is dry…
Thanks to my main man J.D. of the General Geekery Cast, I’m inspired to do a quick list of my favorite five G.I. Joe characters and vehicles. In the interest of time, I’ll post my top five Joe figures here and save vehicles for another post.
As with any list of favorites, I caveat this by saying these are MINE, not the official Cold Slither Podcast’s, not the ALL-TIME best ever, not who I’m suggesting you should like. Someone will call me out on my choices, and if so I respect your opinion so long as you don’t be a dick about it, otherwise I’ve got dinner reservations for you and a special guest at the Eat Shit Bistro…
Here are my fave five Joes, in no particular order (I hate rankings):
The G.I. Joe night spotter, Low-Light lives up to his codename. He will stake out in a tree branch, bush or rooftop for hours on end if need be just to line up the perfect shot. I used to enjoy seeing him on the cartoon, albeit briefly, because he had that gritty Clint Eastwood-sounding voice but always spoke silently as if he was whispering. He would be there one second and disappear into the shadows the next. Not to mention when I got the figure, the back story on his file card was a pretty cool origin. So yeah, he’s up there on my all-time favorites list.
The master of disguise, skin-color-changing chameleon leader of The Dreadnoks and one-time front man for Cobra’s Cold Slither band, Zartan has gone through a lot of incarnations in G.I. Joe lore. From his depiction in the 80’s cartoon to his even more sinister origins in the comics involving infiltration into the Arashikage dojo and murder of the Hard Master, leading to the clan’s destruction to his turns in G.I. Joe Resolute (RIP) and the live-action films (Hello, Mr. President.), Zartan has proven to be one bad-ass mofo. Oddly enough, he’s seemed the softest in the Sunbow/Marvel cartoon, with his weaknesses being his inability to tolerate direct sunlight (which, like the action figure, turned his skin purple) and his devotion to his kid sister Zarana (he’d drop anything to save her). Zartan jumped the shark when his younger sister and her twin brother Zandar (THE most useless G.I. Joe/Cobra character EVER!!) appeared on the scene. Oh, and this action figure redesign that UnderScoopFIRE featured today didn’t help much…
Everyone loves ninjas. I’ve even said it before on our podcast and on this site. NINJAS ARE COOL! I get it. So just about anyone’s fave five Joes list is going to have Snake-Eyes and/or Storm Shadow on it. I get that. But not mine, damn it! Maybe as a kid I wanted to be different or maybe it took me awhile to get into ninjas like my friends were back then, but I always favored the karate guys. Martial arts and silent weapons specialist code-named Quick-Kick represented that for me as far as G.I. Joe went. Yes, I know he turned out to be a joke, getting straight mollywhopped by Storm Shadow in the 80’s cartoon and eventually dying in that fateful issue of the Marvel comic, but he was and always will be one of my faves. He was like Daniel-San of The Karate Kid, only he did James Cagney impressions and cracked wise more often. The Quick Kick action figure did come with a sash loaded with throwing stars, a small plastic sword and a pair of plastic nun-chucks, so there’s that. And let’s be for real, how many G.I. Joe’s actually went barefoot? Him doing it made sense!
There were many Joes who were quite comical and amusing in the 80’s cartoon: Roadblock spoke in rhymes, which was cool some moments, annoying other, The Dreadnoks had several funny antics, Barbecue was hilarious in “The Viper” with his freak-out over the mysterious window-washer who kept calling, and who could forget the classic comedy duo of Bazooka and Alpine, who I refer to as the Laurel and Hardy of G.I. Joe? But no Joe was funnier,wittier and had more LOL moments than good ole Shipwreck. The Dan Fielding of G.I. Joe, Shipwreck always made time to sidle up to the ladies. He cracked wise in just about every episode and when he didn’t, he played straight man to his sidekick, the equally wise-cracking parrot Polly. Shipwreck is a sailor but when he first meets G.I. Joe in “The Revenge of Cobra” he’s piloting a sail-barge in the desert (a la Jabba The Hutt’s barge on Tatooine). Sure, there were some episodes of the 80’s cartoon that showed his more serious side (see “Memories of Mara” and “There’s No Place Like Springfield”) but you can always count on Hector Delgado to make with the funny. One regret I have about these live-action G.I. Joe movies is there’s no Shipwreck character. Hopefully if there are more sequels they can finally put him (and Polly) on the big screen!
Tomax and Xamot
The Joes have had it easy!! But now it’s gonna get real hard! Cobra’s hired evil twin brothers! Leaders of the Crimson Guard!!
With that jingle, the most awesome members of Cobra burst onto the scene by way of a toy commercial. Debuting in 1985, twin brothers Tomax and Xamot (last name Paoli) brought an entirely new dimension to the line-up of Cobra villains in that they had several gimmicks going on at once. They were emotionally bonded a la the Corsican Brothers, meaning if you hurt one physically, the other also equally felt his brother’s pain (“My brother’s in trouble!” “How do you know?” “I just knowwwww!!!”). Their specialties were in espionage, infiltration, sabotage, propaganda and corporate law. They were commanders of Cobra’s elite Crimson Guard, which were basically any of the generic Cobra soldiers who wore all red. They also ran their own corporation, Extensive Enterprises, which helped to fund Cobra’s army by way of investments and the set-up of several dummy companies and operations. And like most twins, they wore matching outfits, only they were mirror images of each other. The only distinguishing mark between the two is a scar on Xamot’s right cheek, which Tomax does not have. I count the Crimson Twins as one character since you rarely seem them apart from each other. I doubt anyone will contest this, and if so, well screw you, make your own list in the comments below!
Hon. mention: The ninjas Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes, Spirit & Freedom, Mutt & Junkyard, Sci-Fi, Mainframe, Dialtone, Blowtorch, Barbecue, Firefly, Torch, Buzzer & Ripper, Destro, Baroness, Cobra Commander (Helmet and Battle Armor only, not a big fan of the cowl), Flint, Lady Jaye, Ace (Skystriker pilot), Wet Suit (great action figure!), Snow Job, Bazooka, Alpine, Serpentor, Doctor Mindbender (hated the figure at first, but it grew on me).
Got any faves of yours? Post ’em in the comments! Coooooobraaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!