Flash (1983)

In the previous post, I mentioned my first Joe figure, and how it changed me from a Star Wars kid to a GI Joe kid. When I think back on getting my first GI Joe figure from a store, I can still smell the tires. Tires? Yes, tires. The smell of tires takes me back to the 1980’s and my local mall’s Montgomery Ward toy department. Trust me, this will all make sense in a moment.

The Ward’s toy department was located in a small offshoot building on the side of the mall, right next to the Automotive department. Every time dad took the car in to for maintenance and the like, there was a good chance I could look at the toys, especially since a visit to automotive usually meant a wait of some sort. Having been freshly exposed to Joe figures via the Cobra Commander figure I obtained at school, I took a trip with Dad to pick up car parts, and instead of picking up another Gamorrean Guard, I grabbed up a the coolest looking Joe figure to catch my eye–Flash. Oh yeah, Dad was a much easier sell on buying a new toy than Mom; another plus to having the toys right next to the car stuff.

Flash is my favorite figure of the thirteen original Joes. For pure figure design and accessories, Flash is far and away the most interesting of the lot. The uniform blends with the other figures while standing out with its own unique elements. The padded chest piece and thigh pads are some of the most iconic elements of a Joe figure at the time. Add in the laser gun, visor and backpack accessories and it’s no wonder that he jumped off the pegs at me.

Flash was also featured prominently on some of the packaging, including the accessory packs of the time. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much of a presence in the Sunbow cartoon. He was a regular in the comic until new figures–I mean characters–began to edge out the original team.

So thank you, Montgomery Ward for your ingenious marketing strategy of placing your Toy department right next to Automotive. Because now as an adult I can’t go into an NTB without being transported back to a wonderland of ’80s toy memories. Yeah, I need professional help.




  • Flash is one of the very BEST figures ever for all the reasons you mention. SA Flash and Short-Fuze were my two very first Joes back in 1982 when the line debuted. Flash was so awesome that he remains my favorite from the initial wave. I loved his appearances in the comic as they always made him look even cooler. He’s right up there among my top 5 Joes of all time as the best example from the original 13 era. Incidentally, my local Wal-Mart now has their toy section placed next to the auto shop entrance, so history seems to be repeating itself for a new generation of kids and collectors!

  • Flash here is one of those vintage figures that looks cooler than his Anniversary update.

    And that’s not nostalgia talking; I never had this figure!

    We tend to overuse the word “iconic”, but I’d suggest it suits this figure.

    Also, I don’t remember looking at toys at Ward’s (except I do remember they had Pogo Balls and Talking Pee-Wee dolls), but right next door was Woolworth’s, where I got Snake Eyes version 2 and Shipwreck.

  • I never had much love for Flash as he was admittedly before my time. I remember him in the cartoon with Airborne fighting the giant Stone people on Easter Island, but that’s about it.
    He like many of the originals that went unloved, should have received an early 90’s update. He would have been a cool fit for the Star Brigade instead of releasing two more versions of Sci-fi.

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