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Feb 07

Grand Slam and HAL (1983)

No, it’s not the title of a TV show in which a former baseball slugger and the computer from “2001: A Space Odyssey” team up to solve crimes. But if I had my way, it would be.

The story of the relaunch of GI Joe goes that it was intended originally as a vehicle line. I think that’s apparent in the first series of vehicles, especially when looking at the limited amount of tooling used to create the first series of individual carded figures and drivers. That’s not to say Hasbro didn’t do a great job with what they had. There’s enough variation among the original thirteen GI Joes to keep things interesting, with head swaps juxtaposed with changes in paint details. Grand Slam may share a body mold with Flash, but a little creative painting, a different head (and a little imagination on the part of an 80’s kiddo) created a new Joe.

Grand Slam gets the distinction of being included with two different vehicles, which is pretty impressive considering he’s not a superstar on the level of some of the other original team members. Even the other version his own figure, the “silver pads” Grand Slam, gets more of the limelight among collectors than this one. Done up in a darker green, and wearing the same padded armor as Flash, he looks every bit capable of manning the Heavy Artillery Laser or HAL.

The HAL is one of the beautifully simplistic early accessories. Not as flashy as later vehicles, it was nevertheless one of my early faves. It doesn’t do much beyond swivel and elevate, but it doesn’t have to. The thing just looks like it means business. Cobra didn’t have any early hardware to match its firepower, though the Missile Command HQ is deadlier from long range.

Grand Slam got a little focus in the Marvel GI Joe comic, most famously capturing Major Bludd by climbing onto a moving bus and smashing through the windshield before knocking out the Major and sending him to the hospital. He’s always seemed to me like an all around tough guy, which plays impressively against type since his file card paints him as an introvert into escapist fantasy.

The design and box art both capture the imagination. I know I was captivated when I first spotted one at Montgomery Wards while looking for Star Wars figures. It was an impressively large piece of hardware for the time, and is still imposing as a battlefield accessory. The ability to tow it behind the MOBAT or VAMP is a useful bonus. For a grab and go accessory to to battle against Cobra, you still can’t go wrong.

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13 comments

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  1. Acer

    Another in the list of vehicles I hope to own, I think this was during a time where people still envisioned a future where laser weaponry was prevalent.

  2. Skymate

    I know lots of people argue that Grandslam never made it onto the cartoon but he kind of did. In the commercial for the 1st issue of the comic he appears next to Flash in one of the animated segments

  3. Anonymous

    Never liked this as a kid. But as an adult I really enjoy it.

  4. Anonymous

    Never liked this as a kid. But as an adult I really enjoy it.

  5. Stars

    This was one of my prized Joe items!!!! I had this, the VAMP and RAM of the first year vehicles. I love the HAL and recently have been looking into getting a one to replace the one which I traded off in 6th grade. I STILL love Grandslam because of my fond memories of him at the helm of this cool laser!

  6. Clutch

    Nice tagline, Rob. That would have made for a great 80’s TV show. :)

    The HAL was and remains my absolute favorite of the towable weapons and various early cannons. I got mine not long after the VAMP and they made a great combo. The folks at Sears thought so too, it seems. I only wish that Grand Slam had used it in the comics beyond the first issue or somehow made it into “The MASS Device” mini-series along with his vehicle. It’s a great piece of machinery which played many a decisive role in my childhood battles with Cobra.

    Grand Slam has always been one of my cult fave Joes. I love Flash as well but easily dig him and Grand Slam as two different characters. I’m probably in the minority of fans who prefer the dark green/red pads version who operates the HAL rather than his rarer, silver padded JUMP pilot counterpart.

    I tend to forget about the whole “vehicle-only” angle. It’s not too likely that Hasbro would have dethroned Kenner’s Star Wars franchise without any figures to go with their modern military line. They made the right call to create the Original Thirteen in the end.

  7. Scott

    I think the modern (more) figure-oriented line is what I find the least interesting. More vehicles, gear, battle stations, and all the things that make for a whole play-verse would be much more fun for me.

    Grand Slam is a fine enough figure as any of the first ones, and if any year had the best uniformity to it, it was the 82-83, and even 84. With the simpler figure designs, I think any of these figures could be anything without being stuck as, say, Budo, who is stuck as a Samurai.

    The vehicle interactivity and playability is the strongest aspect to me for the early ARAH years.

    The HAL is a must, especially if one owns the ’83 HQ. All the ’82, ’83, ’84 series is a must to collect as a whole. It works together so well, and all the figures work and look good together.

  8. Skymate

    GI JOE [ARAH] was about compatibility. Any figure [except GOLOBULOS] could opperate any vehicle or playset. Every other toyline of the 80’s couldnt. Several star wars figures cant fly the x-wing because they wont fit and there werent Transformers small enough at the time to acuratly interact with Fortress Maximus. A pity that compatibility is now dead. Its now all about the figures

  9. Big Joe

    This was my first Joe toy. I got him for Christmas of 1982 and I played with it everyday for several months. I can’t remember when I started leaving it on the shelf, but I know it took a long time. I got off to a slow start with Joes as my family didn’t have much to dedicate to what grew to be a near obsession for me, but Grand Slam and the old Pilot Luke from the Kenner Star Wars line held many evil forces at bay working in tandem. Just some great memories associated here, and I will always treasure this toy.

  10. Jeremy

    I recently paid 80 bucks for a Silver Pads Grand Slam complete with JUMP pack and base, but this version is definitly on the want list. I concur with the modern age stuff. I’ve lost a ton of interest with the ME stuff. G.I.Joe has never been about “just figures”. I’m not interested in spindly legged modern figures with that stupid chest joint selling for insane prices. Just look at the upcoming “Night Force” con set. Most of the figures barely look like their ARAH versions. Vehicles these days (when Hasbro does make ‘em) are cheaply made crap for the most part.

  11. Nega

    I had it and liked it. Must’ve played with it a lot. One of the barrells of the cannon broke off and had to be glued back on. Also, misplacing that kickstand a lot.

    It suffered from not having any enemy vehicles to destroy. Part of Hasbro’s early mistake, not adding an enemy force until the last minute. By the time Cobra got vehicles, I had drifted off into other toys…sadly not getting seriously back into GI JOE until 1985-86.

  12. Neapolitan Joe

    I never liked the H.A.L., but hey! this is part of the G.I.JOE’s history|

  13. Carson

    I loved the dark green, somewhat simple first year vehicles. They had a military purity to them. They might not have ALL been based on existing technology, but they looked like they COULD have been.

    I got into Joes in ’86, and traded anything I could to secure the earlier more realistic vehicles.

    Don’t get me wrong, I loved vehicles like the Thunder Machine too, but I really appreciated the military roots of the original vehicles.

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