Dusty (1985)

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.


  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    This Dusty is a classic figure! Easily the best Dusty figure they made and one of my all-time favorites. Glad to see this one featured.

  • One of my all time favorites! He’s perfect in every detail, down to the dual canteen backpack.

    Man, those were the days: perfectly designed figures, unique detailed accessories, interesting file cards, and exciting illustrations.

    If they could fire on all four of those cylinders again, I’d pick up the new carded figures.


  • Dusty would be the inspiration for one of my 40K Imperial Guard armies.
    Yes, i collect Transformers, Star wars figures and spend all evening painting little model soldiers because i have no girlfreind and also need glasses because of my terrible retines but i draw the line at Star Trek.

    I dont mean to sound negetive or anything but i was once treated badly by an obese nerd in a comic shop. He badgered me for buying 40k stuff but he was the one in the “Kirk is my Captain” shirt, buying the monster manuel

  • Dusty is definitely a classic. I never had him growing up, but I can definitely see the appeal. His look is unique and even though he may be a desert trooper, unlike arctic troopers or even some other desert and jungle troopers, he’s not overly limited by environments even though he’s technically an environmentally-specific trooper. And one the plus side, if you really want a jungle version of Dusty, the Tiger Force rendition of him fits the bill pretty nicely.

  • you’re speaking my language, Carson. such a consistent line, joe was, bitd.

  • I found Dusty at a Fedco store in March of ’85 along with Snake-Eyes II (with Timber) and Lady Jaye. Needless to say, I was a happy camper returning to the parking lot on that one day. 🙂

    Early on, Dusty was firmly established as a fan favorite in both the comic and cartoons. Having an awesome figure to go by sure helped a lot. I lost his bipod early on as well but the figure took part in many a mission, often teamed up with Footloose as in the Sunbow episode “Hearts and Cannons.” The two shared a similar style of camo which I’ve always loved.

    You can’t go wrong with this classic figure and he deserves to rank high in many top ten lists of Best Vintage Figures Ever.

  • I wondered why Neil Ross gave him such a drawl, despite the character being a Las Vegas native. Still, I hope to get this version of Dusty at some point.

    I wonder–if Broken Arrow Toys sells repro’s of stuff like helmet microphones, why haven’t they made repro’s of other easy-to-lose items like Dusty’s bipod, or the stock for Crazylegs’ rifle?

  • Well, Dusty did have some big roles in the cartoon, like the 2-part “The Traitor”. And Rob is right. The Gulf War is what really put desert warfare on the map. Before, you had to draw back to the North Africa campaigns in WWII, which seemed to be well behind the France to Germany theater and the Pacific theater in the minds of people and tv shows (wasn’t, what was it, The Rat Patrol?, set in North Africa during WWII?)

    Two things stand out with the figure- the face paint and the fabric, which were new (for the ARAH line at least). Later on we’d see some fabric (Dr. Mindbender, Serpentor, Destro ’88, etc) and even some hair (Zanzibar) but this was new. The face paint was just a paint app, but it stood out.

    Neil Ross was also Shipwreck (probably his most known role from the cartoon). He was also the Green Goblin in the ’90s Spider-Man cartoon, Springer from Transformers (and some Constructicons too).

  • @ Acer
    Given how small Vegas’ population was originally and even by the 1980s, there were probably few natives. Just like Arizona, the population boomed and drew in people from all over the country, particularly out east. Maybe Dusty moved out to the desert when he was like 10-15 or so?

  • @LittleBoa Neil Ross was also Heavy Metel in Pit of Vipers. He used the same voice for Heavy Metel as he did for Springer

    So what happened to Springer in Transformers season 4? He stayed on Earth and hosted a horrible day time talk/fighting show

    I hate to rub it in everyones faces but at a collectables fair a couple of years ago, i went looking for Transformer pretenders and came back with a huge bag of 84-85 Joes. Many old favorites in the bag including Dusty

  • @Little Boa: The Rat Patrol was indeed set during the North Africa campaign. Port-Normandy invaded France was the basis for Combat! In the 70’s, Baa Baa Black Sheep/Black Sheep Squadron dealt with the South Pacific theater around the time of Guadalcanal.

    @Skymate: Congrats on your haul. Nice in-joke regarding Ross and the two Springers, too.

    Shipwreck always got on my nerves and Springer was the Autobot equivalent of Han Solo. I didn’t know about Neil voicing Heavy Metal. I think that Pit of Vipers was his only speaking role? Much better than the break Crankcase got.

    Dusty was my favorite of Neil’s voice work. Dusty was always such a nice guy. I mean, how could anyone not like the dude?

  • @Clutch it makes sense when you realise their girlfreinds have the same hairdo

    Ive been looking for Blacksheep squadron on DVD but it doesnt seem to have been released down here yet. The Corsair is one of my favorite ww2 planes. I also noticed that Rat patrol had toys at one point but they were given M16’s and the Jeep was the same model that Hound was [none of my Desert campaighn books note Hound fighting Rommel]

    And Yes Shipwreck annoyed me when i was young but not so much today. My Mother is a huge Jimmy Buffet fan so she loves the sailor figures

  • I got this Dusty back in 85… I was a little hesitant to do so because I liked troopers whose appearance was more adaptable to different environments and walking around with desert camo facepaint all day. But the design certainly is one of the most cohesive and compelling of the 1985 set, and he was prominent in the cartoon (and apparently YES, he wore desert facepaint in the arctic).

    Of course, when the tiger force Dusty came out late I got it simply for the reason that you could see what Dusty “looked like” without facepaint.

  • One of the characters on The Rat Patrol (the one wearing the civil war kepi) was probably the inspiration for Cross Country.

    Though, the Rat Patrol guy wore a red kepi, which IIRC is associated with Civil War era artillery crews, you’d think he’d wear yellow for cavalry or light blue for infantry.

  • @Skymate: The Rat Patrol had toys made? You mean the 60’s G.I. Joe desert jeep and figure who resembled Sgt. Troy, right? The jeep does resemble Hound from what I remember.

    And hey, Jimmy Buffett? Cheeseburger in Paradise! An awesome song.

    @Naga: Yeah, Pvt. Mark “Hitch” Hitchcock wore the red kepi and even blew gum bubbles like Breaker, Cross Country’s fellow Southerner.

  • @Clutch i saw a small picture in an issue of Lee’s toy review. From what i remeber it was the same issue that had a sideshow Luke Skywalker on the cover and they had a feature article about the first Joe toys [from the 60’s]

    I collect these British war comics titled Commandos and they had a very popular series called RAMSEYS RAIDERS; a team of internation allied commandos who wreaked havoc against the axis. In an early issue they were fighting the D.A.K so it looked as though it was inspired by Rat Patrol

  • A great and classic figure. We didn’t get the cartoons and Dusty didn;t appear much in the Marvel run for a quite a while so the resonance for me is puely due to the quality of the figure!

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