Enemy Weapons Officer (Demon Enemy)
Uh, yeah. So as you can see, the 80s weren’t the height of cultural sensitivity in terms of the toy aisle. If you thought Lanard’s Bengala or Tracker Tom were bad in terms of stereotypes, check out the face sculpt on Enemy Weapons Officer.
He hails from National/American Defense, the same also-ran series that brought us Enemy Leader, the infamously S&M garbed answer to Hasbro’s Cobra Commander. Like his compatriot, he assaults the senses with an amazingly ugly face sculpt. I have a hard time seeing a child wanting to play with such an ugly, ugly toy, even if said toy is supposed to be a bad guy. It’s like the sculptor was a nihilist and poured all his hatred for all that is good an innocent about childhood (and humanity in general) into a toy design. Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh, but the toy sports one of the most unattractive action figure visages I’ve ever seen.
I will give the American/National Defense line some credit over a more well produced “me-too” line like Lanard’s CORPS; it put out a clear cut enemy force for the pseudo-Joes to go up against. The antagonists even had their own separate assortment, called The Demon Enemy (and Demon Ranger), compete with an exclusive, and also incredibly ugly cardback. There’s no colorful code name for the figure, which is unfortunate, but the specialty makes me wonder if he’s meant to be a weapons dealer a la Destro. Doubtful, I’m sure, and I’m probably just projecting my own needs for this series to be somewhat meaningful.
This body will look familiar to those who had the Galoob A-Team 3 & 3/4 inch figures, as it was later used to create B.A. Baracus. Its broader shoulders were repurposed for several other figures in the National/American Defense series. It’s an interesting feature for a knock-off line to work with two body types, as well as several different heads. On another positive note, the weapons for this line were generally well done.
There’s a sort of knock-off toy renaissance going on right now in certain circles, in terms of both the appreciation of the slapdash nature of these imitations as well as the outlandishness of some of the concepts. There’s also a custom/art toy movement that has produced some pretty far-out designs, and more than a few interesting mash-ups. A large segment falls along the lines of Masters of the Universe and Star Wars, but I’ve seen a few GI Joe concepts here and there. I find it a much more intriguing outgrowth of toy collecting than the superdeformed or urban vinyl genres, but then again, I’m a weirdo.