If you asked ten year old me who my favorite Joe figure was, I probably would have said the name of the latest figure I had gotten. Yeah, even back then I could find something to like about each one. For a while around Christmas 1983, Airborne was my favorite. ’83 was the year that I really got into Joes, moreso even than Star Wars.
Airborne came to me that year along with Snow Job, Doc, and Destro via a JC Penney multi-pack. You may remember the kind, three or four figures packaged in a white mailer box, each one individually bagged with accessories and a red backed file card. My forces expanded greatly that year, going from a couple Joes and one Cobra to the entire ’83 lineup. Airborne stood out among that group, even though it contained other great figures. Snow Job was really fantastic in terms of accessories, but he wouldn’t be in every battle. Airborne fit that bill perfectly. He stood together with tan Grunt as my Joe team’s go-to ground fighters.
The figure encompassed the ’82 to ’83 transition perfectly. What was a simpler look was now more elaborately sculpted and painted. Accessories were more plentiful and well detailed, and the military specialties were expanded. I loved the backpack, even though it had already been included with Duke. The M-16 with bayonet was simply the coolest new weapon of the year.
Airborne made his fair share of comic, and a few Sunbow episode appearances. His animation model however bore little resemblance to this figure, and so Sunbow Airborne stands alongside Steeler as another strange deviation from the toys.