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Jan 01

Harpoon (1995)

It’s a new year, and what better way to start it off than with a new direction. I’ve been working on this blog for a year and a half, and though things are going wonderfully in terms of traffic and engagement by the readers, improvements can always be made. With the aging of the Real American Hero generation, the demographic for this GI Joe fan site is skewing more heavily toward the dreaded over age 35 category. That’s why I’ve decided to take Joe A Day in a bold new direction, one that reflects the hip, edgy style that’s so popular with today’s youth market. Witness the birth of Joe A Day Extreme. I will be consuming mass quantities of Surge, wearing giant shoulder pads and toting an oversized laser rifle when writing each post. I’ll also be shouting, “Not on my watch!”, “That’s the way we like it!” and of course, punctuating phrases with “Extreeeeme!” whenever possible. You know, like the kids do.

If all that sounds familiar, it’s just what Hasbro did after axing the Real American Hero in 1994 and then giving Sgt. Savage the heave-ho. Soon after the RAH era’s end, Joe had been Kenner-ized. GI Joe Extreme was the second flop follow-up to our beloved Joes, offered up in a style meant to appeal to–well, I rightly don’t know who. Maybe the fans of Rob Liefeld. First up in the GI Joe Extreme pantheon, we’ve got Harpoon, the sea operations specialist for the newly redesigned GI Joe team. He’s no Action Sailor, Torpedo, or Wet Suit. Harpoon makes his debut in the animated series when he’s found calmly fishing off the side of an offshore military installation that he apparently single handedly saved from an enemy attack. Now that’s extreme. It’s also quite extreme for a naval specialist’s action figure to include no underwater apparatus whatsoever. Maybe it’s all stored in that big honkin’ gun.

If you can recall Kenner’s DC Comics Total Justice line from the 90’s, this figure’s body type will look very familiar. Harpoon is posed in a perpetual half-squat, with an exaggeratedly cut physique of a type that was a hallmark of that particular 90’s comic line. This figure stands out among the other Extreme Joes with his whisper-thin build. While Harpoon isn’t as bulky as many of his teammates, he is wearing a heavily accessorized vest, one of the de rigeur Extreme fashions. In the 90’s, everybody this side of Marvel’s Cable was wearing them. Harpoon’s head sculpt looks either upset or constipated, and he is also sporting the extreme hairstyle of long-on-the-top and shaved-on-the-sides.

Harpoon is equipped with a weapon called a Hydro Surge Water Cannon. This weapon could be loaded up with the liquid of your choice (preferably water rather than actual Surge, to avoid residual stickiness) and fired at the enemy, unleashing a tidal wave of raw power. That is, I must say, quite extreme.

Harpoon and Black Dragon, two of the more interesting looking figures in the GI Joe Extreme line, made their debut a bit later than the other figures, and as such are somewhat harder to find. Of course, this is all relative considering there are probably all of three people in the world who would bother to seek them out. Extreeeme disinterest!

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11 comments

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  1. Stars

    HA!!!

    I actually used this figure for my very first custom! I made him into a Jack Knight Starman to fit in with the then DC Total Justice line!!!

    OMG he is terrible!

  2. big Joe

    Just looking at this photo and reading about this beast made my feelings hurt. Of course, I’ll still be here daily to see what’s next… Tomorrow I’m going to wear my Zubaz pants and drink some Mountain Dew (who can find Surge?) while reading the “extreme” Joe of the day.

  3. KansasBrawler

    Ah, yes, the Kenner-style squat…that’s amazingly, awesomely bad and so EXTREEEME!!!! (cue loud wailing guitar music)

    I’ll freely admit, I remember seeing these guys on the shelves after Joe got canceled (of course, this was before the Internet so I didn’t know the line was gone, gone) and honestly wondered what happened to my G.I. Joes. Where’s all the poseability? Where are guys I know? What’s with all these weird looking dudes with dumb names? These guys were stinkers, pure and simple and honestly, I was pretty glad as a kid to see they weren’t sullying the name of MY G.I. Joes when they disappeared. (Also, loved the Rob Liefeld comment, Rob…pouches and straps do not a uniform make.)

  4. Clutch

    Loving the biting sarcasm for this entry. Back during the Golden Age of its Star Wars Trilogy and Super Powers Collection lines, it seemed like Kenner could do no wrong by me. Then came the 90’s.

    Oh, how I tried to get into this line simply because it was a Joe brand. But I couldn’t force myself to buy a single pre-posed figure from this awfully botched attempt at Image-izing the Joes. Now, Sgt. Savage I could understand, but watching the Extreme cartoon made it clear that there was nothing to be loved about the characters. There were clones of Duke, Cobra Commander, Snake-Eyes, Roadblock, and Scarlett to be found, but they had all gone through the Extreme Grinder, salvaged from any redeeming qualities whatsoever.

    I had also hoped for a Super Powers revival later on, but Total Justice saw to that as well.

    1. Jester

      Interestingly, Larry Hama actually did some writing for the cartoon.

  5. Skymate

    I was going to make a Rob Leifeld joke but everyone else beat me to it. Instead i would like to say that his awkward squat stance and constipated expression reminds me of Kenners ‘Monkey face’ Princess Leia

  6. Acer

    I actually saw a carded sample of Harpoon gracing the shelves of a local thrift shop for $9.99 of all prices. I agree, the figures look terrible–but this would be a fun project for the Collector’s Club to tackle.

    I believe the comic book from Dark Horse written by Mike W. Barr worked better at distinguishing these characters from those Rob says they’re clones of.

  7. Nega

    I never saw Harpoon or Black Dragon in stores. Not that I was looking too hard. More of an occassional train wreck look…”how could they let Kenner ruin GI JOE like that?”

  8. Little Boa

    This figure looks like a parody, like a deliberately bad action figure made to be the subject of a sitcom episode or a comedic movie. I guess he’s so extreme, he needs 2 straps to keep him from rocketing out of his boots. He looks like a figure kids would have laughed at on toy aisles, not a figure they would buy.

    At least it looks better than Liefeld’s pigeon-chested Captain America. Yikes! That monstrosity of a cover was one for the ages.

  9. Neapolitan Joe

    Just…why!?
    ;)

  10. G.I. Anon

    I was just too young to get into the original Real American Hero line but I still wanted GI Joes so I ended up with almost all of the extreme figures. They’re really ridiculous but I didn’t mind as a kid. They should make Real American Hero style figures for these guys and the Sgt. Savage characters. Also the Sky Stalker jet is still pretty cool.

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