Helicopter Assault Trooper (Code Name: Airborne)

If you needed an all-around, useful anywhere trooper follow-up to Grunt, Airborne was your man. This cat could jump out of a perfectly good Dragonfly and pound the ground with the best of them. What’s not to love about the accessories, color and specialty here? Just compare that backpack and rifle to what came just one year before.

Sleekly designed yet highly detailed, Airborne’s uniform and accessories reflect the stepped-up second series production quality. The Real American Hero series was hitting its stride in its sophomore year, and Airborne led the charge in many of my backyard battles. Often teamed up with Gung Ho, he was a bane to my Cobra troops, and they’d turn tail when they’d see him dropping out of the sky. And once the Skystriker joined my air forces, it was game over, as Franklin Talltree was a fixture behind Ace in the cockpit.

As much as 80s would seem to be populated with traditional looking heroes, the Joe team again was working in a diverse group of individuals, reflecting the US military itself. Airborne’s skin tone and features add representation to the ranks, without beefing into my stereotypes. Good on you, 80s Hasbro.


  • Not fair that I think of it as Duke’s backpack, but I still do. Great figure. Apparently a throw-away line from his file card was spun into a unique ability in the Sunbow cartoon as Airborne was given ESP.

  • His rich parents indulged their younger son with psychic powers!!!

    Airborne was better than Grunt, he could hold his gun better. But I didn’t have swivel arm Grunt, so is that fair to say? Airborne was top class infantry…for me, not having any Joe aircraft of my own until like 1988 or so.

    I like that they stuck with the 1982 Joe style helmet but added details to it. And that the rifle looked like a modified version of Grunts…not some differently scaled weapon.

    But if Airborne has a flaw, it’s the code name. It’s not bad but it’s too generic, like calling a marine “Marine” or a ranger “Ranger”. And they reused it for some other guy.

    • James From Miami

      Speaking of flaws, it doesn’t make any sense to me why did the person, or persons who designed this figure, thought that it should had worn a light blue vest over a sweater, rather than just having that vest been designed as part of the figure’s jacket(painted in the same color as the sleeves), with a sweater worn under it. But at least the torso of this figure can be used for many custom arctic Joe figures. Like Duke, or 83 Snake Eyes.

  • ”Airborne can be remembered along with Flash in the Sunbow G.I.Joe cartoon about Airborne’s brother, Tommy being kidnapped by Cobra and trying to use his powers against Airborne when he made the MO-Wia head statues come alive on Easter Island.”

  • I was all Star Wars in 1983. My grandparents’ bought me all the ROTJ figures when I spent a few weeks with them in the summer. When I got back home, though, a neighbor brought over Airborne. The combo of better colors, more interesting sculpt, amazing accessories and swivel arm battle grip forever sent Star Wars to the scrap heap.

  • SpiritoftheBeachhead

    Anyone know why the card art doesn’t have the bayonet? Was that too graphic or just forgone? Gracias.

    • Never noticed that! But that card art man! Sells the figure! lol Because as a toy he is homely lol. This was a guy to have though if you had the dragonfly w/ wild bill! No mission couldnt be completed!

    • James From Miami

      Not only that. Notice how much the helmet on this artwork looks like the head of a cobra(like Serpentor’s helmet). Even the green color on the helmet looks like the color of a green snake. And talk about a coincidence, in Brazil this figure was repainted as a Python Patrol character called Gatilho(Trigger). But they did not used this artwork for that figure’s card, instead, they created a new one.

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