Headhunters (1992)

By 1992, I was fully back into Joe collecting, and (in those pre-internet dark ages) waited with bated breath every February for the annual Toy Fair issue of Tomart’s Action Figure Digest to reveal the year’s Joe offerings. I won’t pretend that the idea of anti-drug plot within the Joe toyline didn’t seem patronizing and ridiculous when I first saw it. But then I remembered that these toys weren’t being marketed to a 20 year old. A valuable point for an aging Gen-X’er to remember even today.

Here’s proof that it is possible to find a classically awesome Joe figure in the midst of what’s often perceived as the line’s lesser years. The late 80’s and early 90’s did produce some effective and memorably designed Cobra troops, but few for me have had the impact of this figure. Even though this isn’t a Cobra trooper in the strictest sense, it incorporates elements that the great enemy forces possessed.

First off, the color. You can’t go wrong with black. The detail colors of brown, gold and blue mesh nicely in a time when paint schemes were beginning to rely on bright hues for highlights. Then there’s the uniform design itself, which is heavily biker influenced, yet maintains a kind of  The unique sloped helmet and featureless facemask provide an almost robotic sort of look that is quite intimidating. Finally, the weapon. I go absolutely crazy for weapons and accessories that store on a figure, and this figure fulfills my wishes with a sawed-off shotgun that nicely tucks away into a backpack. Awesome. On the whole, the figure has the air of an elite trooper, much like the classic Crimson Guard.

In the end, I’m amazed that I found something to really like in a non-ironic way in the DEF sub-line. I’m more amazed that Headman, a guy with a penchant for unfortunate fashion choices, was able to outfit such a slick looking bunch of troops.

7 comments

  • While you were going back to Joe collecting I was heading out, so this guy flew under my radar. He’s a nice, subdued change of pace for the neon era. I like how the helmet kind of looks like a beret. It gives him an anarchistic look that goes nicely with the black and brown threads. Faceless troops are always cool going back to the original Viper, so he gets points there as well. The Headhunters were worked into Joe lore on an unpopular premise but the figure itself shows promise if used under different scenarios, such as yet another category of Cobra troops, perhaps as CC’s elite bodyguards.

  • Headhunters, Headman and Gristle were in origin good ideas and characters, but in the 1992/’93 comics (my only and true G.I.JOE’s “bible”) they were a little stupid…
    So, since I start collect with Ebay (2006) I never bought them.

  • I agree that this guy was a diamond in the rough. I was out of Joe by then but my lil bro was still buying up the neon ninja stuff. I remember thinking how much cooler this guy was than anything else that had come out in quite a while.

  • With the almost biker jacket, I’d probably use him as a Cobra/Dreadnok liaison or something. I think a modern update would be a welcome addition.

  • I was just getting back into Joe in late ’92. When I saw this guy on a cardback, I had to have him, but couldn’t find one on the pegs anywhere. When I finally got one, I wasn’t disappointed. This guy is a perfect blend of mold, colors and accessories. (Though, giving him an Alley Viper gun in lieu of the missle launcher would have been nice.) I’d love to see one in Cobra blue someday.

  • Yeah, another figure from often hated era that rose in value because some previous fickle collectors noticed it wasn’t as terrible as they thought all post 86/87/90 (whatever year they quit) figures were.

  • Everything about this figure is absolutely awesome. The spurs on his boots are another nice touch.

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