Airtight (1985)

The Joes’ original Hostile Environment specialist hails from the second great improvement year in the line–1985, when Hasbro added neck ball articulation. In 1983, when they introduced a bicep swivel, it was emblazoned on the packaging as “Swivel-Arm Battle Grip.” I don’t know why they didn’t use they same kind of ballyhoo for the neck ball. I think “Head-Nod Battle Pivot” could have worked. Anyway, this year not only introduced the ball joint neck but also built upon the 1984 series inclusion of more detailed and varied accessories. Check out the easily lost (or easily swallowed, sucked up the nose, etc etc) tiny black hose that hooks up to his backpack.

Airtight also stands out to me as one of the first weird-ass figures. His file card epitomizes the characterizations that Larry Hama injected into the line with just a few short sentences: Airtight was…”the kid who could hold his breath the longest. He was also the kid with the largest collection of plastic dinosaurs on the block. He was a weird kid who grew up to be an even stranger adult. It takes a mighty weird person to walk into a cloud of toxic gas strong enough to fell a mutant  weight-lifter cockroach wearing a protective suit built under contract for the government by the lowest bidder.”

The inclusion of out of the ordinary figures like Airtight is part of what I’ve always found fascinating about GI Joe. Sure, there are plenty of traditional military types in olive drab and camouflage toting M-16s and the like.  But then there’s also the dude rockin’ a bright yellow hazmat suit and vacuum cleaner rifle.



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