What separated the 80s GI Joe from the myriad of other less successful toys to inhabit that most awesome of decades? For me, it was the way that Hasbro went above and beyond to create a mythology to go along with the toys. First, with the comic and later the Sunbow animated series, the Joe team was fleshed out beyond the contents of the packaging. Although those first figures and vehicles on their own were highly articulated and impressively mobile plastic army men, and the file cards were brief yet brilliant bits of marketing, the toy line gained a huge advantage in the toy aisle with media tie-ins.
If you weren’t reading the Marvel comic in the first couple of years of the Real American Hero era, you may not have known that Hawk was the leader of the team. Sure, his file card denoted his rank, and made mention of his leadership abilities, but the fact that the team leader was included only with a vehicle has always seemed odd to me. Shouldn’t the guy in command be highlighted in some way on all the packaging? Even less successful lines like Eagle Force got this right. Maybe it’s all down to the fact that the beginnings of the small Joe line were focused more on the vehicles than the figures. Regardless, by the time the cartoon rolled around, Duke was in the spotlight, and Hawk had to languish in animated form until the second season. I don’t want to get into the whole Hawk vs. Duke thing, but I will say that I’m a fan of both the comic and the cartoon, so they both hold a place of interest for me.
What can you say about the figure itself that sets it apart from the other initial offerings? Well, he’s outfitted with some pretty flashy silver straps and pouches. Maybe that was supposed to be the command indicator. After all, none of the other original thirteen Joes got the same treatment. Okay, Short-Fuze had silver pouches and Steeler wore a gold undershirt, but i think Hawk beats them both in the bling department.
Finally, a Father’s Day note. People ask me how I’m able to continue on with this blog, day after day. Some of it is a love for toys in general, and a love for the GI Joe brand specifically. But a large part of it comes from being raised by parents who not only accepted but encouraged my interests as a child, without judgment, whatever direction they took. As a result, I feel that I’m an adult who values his own efforts regardless of the task at hand, and is capable of seeing most any endeavor through to completion. My father had (and still has) a large part in shaping who I am. It is my goal to pass that same level of caring and support on to my own children. Maybe some day my son or daughter will be driven to pour themselves into a project that means a lot to them. As a father, I’ll be there to support and encourage, no matter where their future takes them.
To all the other fathers out there, I hope you had a wonderful day!