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Spacer Classics

Spacer GI Joes
by Jager

Click here to openWhen I was 8, GI Joes were my life. Every spare moment I would roll out the convoy. Intricate battles were laid onto my living room floor: Joes on one side, Cobra on the opposite. Each figure set in the perfect position to capture the moment. Like I had a camera in my head taking pictures of the action. Slowly, the two forces would inch toward each other. Each advancement calling for another positioning. Finally, the two battalions would collide and the battle began. Each character got their moment in the sun. Battle after battle, fight after fight was laid out perfectly to capture the moment of struggle. The defeated lie at the victors' boots. A stop motion film was made in my head every Saturday.

Yo JoeBut rubber band spines don't last, ball joints get loose, and the fire crackers are sometimes just too tempting. The survivors were placed carefully into boxes around puberty. After marriage, I started wondering just where the troops could be. This warranted a trip to mom's attic. Indiana Jones never felt this excited unearthing his relics. Once found and brought back to my home, it was time again to roll out.

The first thing I remembered when seeing these action figures was the amount of detail laid into a playable toy. I say playable because that's what they were. These guys weren't made to sit on your computer and look cool. (But they could) You beat the hell outta these guys! And for the most part they took it. For all the wear and tear I gave them, they're still in decent shape. They all still had molded seams and zippers on their suits, pockets on their sleeves, watches, boot laces, eye brows, and multiple paint aps. Their proportions were correct and both hands held their weapons for the most part. Also, there were 12 points of articulation. That's pretty sweet. The head and shoulders were ball joints, and we can't forget the kung-fu action grip, giving the bicep a twist to help hold their guns. All of this made us feel we were commanding real soldiers. But it was the soldiers' personalities that really sucked me in.

Yo JoeThe diversity of characters is what made the line so collectible. There were whites, African Americans, Asians, Native Americans, Latinos, robots, mutants, and even women. And each group had different personalities. There wasn't just the token minority figure. This was very cool, and even though it escaped me at the time, looking back I'm glad it was there. My favorite was Destro. He was the leader in every battle, and never missed a chance to show those Joes who was the real brains of Cobra. Sadly, after a glorious career on the field, he blew his rubber band and was never seen again. But he will live on in my memory.

Click here to openWhat my memory lost was the amount of time spent in setting the buggers up! While setting some of mine up again for old time's sake and to take the corresponding images, I was amazed at how long it took to set up a battle. Each figure must be placed in a vehicle, or be armed and ready to hit the trenches. Then everything must be set at just the right place to make it work. And to think I did this numerous times as we crawled across the living room rug. Ah, youth. A whole day wasted on GI Joe. Bliss.

GI Joe is the best line of action figures ever produced. The characters were interesting and diverse, the vehicles were to scale and figures fit into them easily. The articulation was great, the detail was spot-on, and it latched onto patriotism just to seal the deal! We need more toys of this quality today. Toys that don't sacrifice detail for playability. Toys that have working accessories. Toys that you stare longly at the back of the blister pack wishing you could find the elusive Snake Eyes. Now that my generation has the ability to buy our childhood back, things are on an upward swing. The new Master's of the Universe and Marvel's Classics line is on track, but nothing will out do GI Joe!

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GI Joe ™ and all associated likenesses are copyright Hasbro. All photos are copyrighted 2003

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