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.