Mainframe (1986)

I suppose since Mainframe didn’t include any weapons, one could assume he might be a pacifist along the lines of Lifeline. However, he breaks the stereotype for what you’d consider a computer specialist. He’s former Airborne and reinlisted as a Marine, and as the file card states, “He’s got brains–but he’s hard.”

Though the technology that he carries seems quaint and out of date today, in 1986 this was high tech stuff. There were no laptops, smartphones or handheld GPS back then. I can remember a “portable” computer that my father brought home from work back then. It was similar in size to Mainframe’s, had a monochrome monitor built into one end, and probably weighed forty pounds. Now imagine hefting that around the battlefield. Yikes.

Mainframe had a line in Arise Serpentor Arise that struck me. While he and Dial-Tone were being berated by Beachhead for playing a video game while on guard duty, he mentioned learning in Vietnam to avoid the “thousand yard stare” by diverting one’s attention. The reference to a historical war (excuse me, conflict) took me by surprise. While the GI Joe comic of the 80’s recalled Vietnam often, I can’t recall other instances than this one in the Sunbow cartoon. Just a neat little aside, and a nod to his file card background as well.

I remember at the time this figure looked so different from anything in previous years, a common feeling I had about the ’86 figures in general. Mainframe certainly had a lot of “stuff” attached to his uniform. However, it’s not pointless sculpted bits, but rather parts that he could need for field repairs of computer equipment. That’s no surprise, considering that a computer specialist could need quick access to components. After all, you can’t just run to the Trucial Abysmia Radio Shack while on a mission. But again, don’t let appearances deceive, as his Marine Corps background is on display on both his helmet and belt buckle.


  • Mainframe was one of the last figures from ’86 that I bought off the shelves just as they were phasing him out. I quickly warmed up to him due to the eventual prominence of his specialty. The Hub just ran Arise Serpy and I caught the ‘Nam reference as well. I always thought he was cool because he didn’t seem that much older than the other Joes and didn’t act tough like Leatherneck to prove the point.

    Mainframe’s classic look is still the best. The vintage figure is highly detailed and realistic. Devil’s Due Comics revamped the guy, made him a major player, then killed him off. But Larry Hama seems to like him a lot and he is back in the IDW continuation of Marvel’s series, probably showing up more than the other characters introduced in ’86. He’s virtually an A-lister.

    Now, if only Larry could bring back Doc…

  • I understand his “laptop” was origonally meant to come with legs.
    I dont get it. Lifeline came with a pistol which he never used and Mainframe was a marine but all came with was an old phone and antique computer. On the plus side he is fully compatable with Zarana

    • LOL! Yeah, I never knew what was up with that particular plot twist but it made Zarana seem more palatable than the comic book version.

      • I didn’t get it as a kid, but in retrospect… he’s an old married guy hanging around with a hot biker chick. That was practically inevitable.

  • I like this figure, he was among one of my later flea market hauls from last year. He had everything with him except his microphone–which is going to change thanks to a trade I just did.

  • Mainframe, on the vanguard of the tech industry. How different computers seemed to be viewed then compared to even just 10 or 12 years later. In a way, he looks geared to be the software (and a little bit of hardware) counterpart to the Techno-Viper, who is more on the mechanical side of repair, like engines and treads.

    I agree, he looked different, but he looked like someone in a solid support role. And that shade of gray kinda seemed like it matched the field of specialty.

  • They aught to do a cartoon version with the darker pants. More tones of grey. Atleast fifty shades [with Zarana]

  • Mainframe is a better name than Dataframe.

  • Mainframe was great. I always thought his character was Hama’s nod of respect to Vietnam vets–he was a capable soldier who could learn, adapt and succeed (all while being hard as nails), the opposite of a Rambo-type loose cannon, blowing up a world he didn’t fit into anymore. There’s a lot of depth there.

    And in the cartoon, hooking up with a punk-rock hottie–bonus points!!

  • Every time I see Mainframe I think of the descriptions of the field computer tech in Chrichton’s Congo – how he lovingly describes a computer that has less tech in it than your average Tickle Me Elmo does. Mainframe’s gear is the same way.

  • One of the few Joes I had as a kid. He has always been my favorite. Gonna have to watch Arise, Serpentor, Arise.

  • One of the few Joes I had as a kid. He has always been my favorite. Gonna have to watch Arise, Serpentor, Arise.

    Honestly I can’t believe he didn’t make the Top 100 Joes list you posted a while back.

  • Pingback: Review Round-Up (January 21st-27th) « It'sAllTrue.Net

  • Pingback: Toy Reviews From Around the Net - January 21st - 27th, 2013 - Mint Condition Customs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.