Arise, Serpentor, Arise! (1991 VHS Tape)
Home video, like GI Joe, was a big deal in the 1980s. Video rental stores were everywhere. From the beginnings with local mom and pop stores, to the emergence of rental giants like Blockbuster, the video stores of old were filled with the newest releases, along with forgotten and repackaged catalog titles. The early home video offerings were rife with incorrect and outright deceptive promotion. In a bid to gain the attention of the many eyeballs scanning shelves, some video companies employed advertising tactics that would have made old time carnival hucksters envious. Old public domain and newer cheeseball made-for-video films were given covers that often belied their cheapjack origins. Things did settle down into the 1990s, though there were still plenty of exaggerated video covers along with “they just didn’t care” releases. To wit; the cover of this particular GI Joe video.
The compilation of the Arise, Serpentor, Arise! mini series, hit shelves in 1991, while the Real American Hero toys were still a commanding presence on store shelves. I snapped it up when I first saw it after coming back to Joe collecting in 1992. At the time, I was also buying up all the sci-fi, horror and animation videos I could find, including the huge clamshell style Sunbow episodes released in the mid 80s. Though the gargantuan tape cases didn’t fit on video shelves, they could double as personal shelters in a pinch. It was a glorious time to be a videophile.
Arise’s cover painting is a rather cartoonish partial interpretation of the 1986 Live the Adventure catalog cover. Low-Light is decked out in an odd color variant, more suited to the desert scene pictured than his usual night operations. Roadblock is swinging into the action as before, yet this time without the benefit of trees or anything with which to anchor himself. Maybe he’s coming in from the Tomahawk. The famous heavy machine gunner and gourmet chef is also looking quite… Caucasian. Ouch, talk about not doing your research. I also have to wonder exactly what Low-Light is doing in this shot. He appears to be motioning to Hawk like he’s not quite ready to go into battle. Maybe it’s because the artist forgot to give him a weapon. I’m beginning to think they just didn’t care.
A final odd touch is the tape’s rear image, which features the Desert Fox, a vehicle which was released in 1988. The older vehicle’s presence here certainly wasn’t a cheap ploy to sell a current toy, since the vehicle would have been gone from store shelves. Yep, they just didn’t care.
Here’s the 1986 catalog cover used for reference to create the VHS box. Can you spot the differences? Let me know in the comments. It’s fun!