Infantry Trooper (Code Name: Grunt)
It’s a new year, and I thought a fresh start was in order to ring in 2019. With that in mind, we’re going back to the beginning of GI Joe’s reintroduction in 1982. My plan is to continue most weekdays in release order, covering each of the straight and swivel arm figures in one post each.
Who better to start things off than the early “face” of the line? Grunt was nicely generic and thus was pictured on a lot of product packaging. I imagine the idea was to bring out the military Everyman aspect, and to harken back to Joe’s roots.
To further push the early focus on the unified team, take a look at the heading of today’s entry. Rather than the code name being prominent, the first few years of figure packaging put the specialty first. The cardback cross-sell didn’t include code names until 1985, and the package fronts in 1986.
The straight arm figures aren’t as refined as their later counterparts, but there’s also a charm to them that goes beyond just an appreciation of the initial concept and design. From a historical standpoint, the straight arm figures serve as a reminder of the small scale Joe figure’s origins in Takara’s Microman and Mego’s refined o-ring action figures. The swivel arm version is still a go-to figure for me, despite the fact that later Joes are more detailed and varied.
One element the line adopted early on was signature equipment. Grunt’s M-16 and small backpack are synonymous with this figure, yet they’re also easily used by other Joes. For me, the weapon was the de facto team rifle until Snow Job’s laser rifle came along.