It’s amazing to consider just how many GI Joe figures that still resonate with collectors were part of the 1985 assortment. I’ve often wondered how much of our affection for the year’s toys can be attributed to the Sunbow animated series. When I see this first version of Dusty, I’m reminded of two things: the card art and the cartoon version’s voice.
More than any other figure that year, Dusty’s card art attracted me to the figure. There was just something about the pose and the rendering that made him pop right off the shelf. I think some of it may have also been due to the newness of his specialty as a desert trooper. Having seen many images from two desert wars over the last twenty years, we’re pretty accustomed to military desert garb. But in 1985, things were different, as I remember thinking only of the old OD green or forest camo when it came to army outfits. Dusty’s look was fresh and new, comparative to the other Joes.
I can’t think about Dusty without hearing the voice of Neil Ross, with the distinctive drawl that he imparted upon the character. The variations in accents among the Sunbow Joes are further evidence of the commitment the creators had to making the best show that they could. The characters wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable without well written words and the talented voice artists who gave them life.
Dusty as a figure did not disappoint. With his unique soft goods helmet attachment and all over camouflage, he both stood out from other Joes, but was also infinitely useful. As a kid, I never really thought of him as solely a desert trooper, and he took part in many adventures. His rifle was an instant favorite, as it was exotic and unknown to me. It was years later before I found out it was based on a real world weapon. Unfortunately, I think I lost the rifle’s bipod in the carpet within days of opening the figure’s package.