Pathfinder

By KansasBrawler

Part of what I loved about the Joe line as a kid was the wide range of specialties that characters had. Sure, there was some overlap between guys like Grunt and Footloose (though
the original Grunt was before my time), but generally speaking, there weren’t too many duplicated specialists. When it came to specialties, one of the more interesting Joes I was exposed to came from KansasBrother’s collection. That Joe was Pathfinder. He was listed as the Joe team’s “jungle assault specialist” and while that’s important, I’ve always felt that his gear better reflected his secondary specialty, forward observer/recon. Up to that point, neither of us had a character in our collection that worked well for that kind of job. Sure, I had Recoil, who was a LRRP and my brother had Spearhead who could be the squad’s point man, but to me, once he came out, Pathfinder was the Joe’s primary scout because not only was it listed on his
filecard, but he also really looked the part.

Since this a figure from 1990, when the brand was still going very strong, that means Pathfinder has a completely new mold. Pathfinder’s legs are fairly basic, though as someone who appreciates real world military details, I’m a little surprised the pants aren’t tucked into his boots like most jungle fighters would do. The baggy pants are more effective than Beachhead’s (which looked more like sweatpants), but they just don’t quite fit with the jungle fighter motif that Pathfinder has. However, I think if you pull him a little more away from the jungle and have him more as an all-purpose recon expert, it does work a little better. Pathfinder’s crotch piece is unique because it has built-in attachment points for some of his accessories. His belt has a lot of high tech details, though I’m a little surprised on closer inspection at how thin his belt is.
Considering what gets plugged into it, I’d expect his belt to be just a little more substantial. Up top, Pathfinder’s torso is simple, but well executed. He’s wearing a basic shirt with a vest over it. The vest is sculpted to look just a little baggy and, like the pants, I don’t know if that fights with a jungle assault specialist, but it works just fine as a recon expert. Pathfinder’s arms are also quite simple and it’s clear that he’s actually wearing a long sleeve shirt, but has rolled up the sleeves to keep himself cooler out in the field. Topping off the figure, Pathfinder is yet another vintage figure with a great head sculpt. Even though the filecard doesn’t expressly say it, I’ve always gotten a slightly older vibe from Pathfinder and the head represents that well. As an added bonus, ever since I’ve seen that name on the filecard, I’ve always felt that Pathfinder
had Italian heritage and there’s a little bit of that in face sculpt as well. Interestingly, I’m
wondering if Hasbro may have used the Iannoitti name as a tribute to a local veteran. When Iwas doing just a little Googling to make sure I was on point with my belief that Iannotti waspotentially an Italian last name, the first result was for the Iannotti Funeral Home in Coventry, Rhode Island, which isn’t terribly far away from Pawtucket. The funeral home was established by a Korean War veteran and considering the proximity to Hasbro’s home base, it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s where the name came from. It would be kind of par for the course for Hasbro to use real last names and the GIJCC filecard actually mentions that Pathfinder’s father was a Korean War veteran and was the person that helped him hone his survival skills in the swamps of Florida. Tangent aside, the figure is well executed and if the Iannotti connection is real, that’s another neat little detail that makes me like the figure just a little more.

If Pathfinder has one weak spot, it’s his color scheme. It’s by no means bad, but the colors just seem a little off to me, especially if you’re using him as a jungle assault specialist. Surprisingly, Pathfinder’s base color is black. Both the pants and shirt are mostly black. On his pants, he’s got light green and orange-ish tan camouflage stripes and the orange-ish tan is also used on his vest. None of these colors really scream jungle fighter to me. On his crotch piece, there’s some darker green and some very light gray for his belt. Beyond that, there’s not much to the paint work on Pathfinder’s body. Up top, the paint on his head is well done. His sunglasses are a very light green while his hat is mostly the same dark green that was used on his belt with a black band around it. For the most part, Pathfinder is molded out of the colors he needs to be, and that’s a plus. That always makes for a fairly crisp and clean looking figure. His color scheme isn’t that flashy, but it’s serviceable. I just don’t know how well it works for a jungle fighter and I kind of wish Hasbro would have gone with a little more standard green camouflage look for him.

Since we’re talking about a figure from 1990, that means we get to talk about a lot of unique, specialty-specific gear. All of Pathfinder’s gear can be carried on him, and it’s all pretty impressive. Pathfinder’s backpack is a substantial piece and it carries the ammunition for his weapons and also acts as a power source for his weed eater. It’s nicely designed and it’s made in such a way that even though it’s not something that exists in the real world, it still looks like it could do both those jobs. Pathfinder’s defining accessory is his weed eater. It connects to his backpack via a hose and the handle fits quite snugly in his hand. As someone who has done professional yard work before, the weed eater’s design is pretty realistic, though I will say, I’m shocked that a toy was allowed to have blades as pointy as the ones that are on this weed eater. The weed eater is the main reason I seen Pathfinder more as a scout than a jungle assault specialist. I can see him using this to cut his way through thick foliage to make it easier for other Joes to get to the target. However, a weed eater is a fairly loud piece of equipment. Thankfully,
though, Pathfinder’s covered if Cobra hears him because he’s also toting a pair of hip-mounted machine guns. These pieces plug into the pegs on his hips and are connected to his backpack via ammunition belts. The side mounted handles make it a little hard for him to grab his guns, but, I’ve always kind of felt that if he’s actually going to fire them, he’s probably going to detach them from his belt. A machine gun that size would have some pretty impressive recoil. I think Pathfinder’s hips wouldn’t last long if he touched off a burst while they were in that position. I didn’t snag photos of it, but when the guns are unplugged from his belt, he can actually hold them in a fairly natural firing position. That just reinforces the idea that when he actually uses
them in combat, he probably unhooks them from his belt and that the belt is just there so he doesn’t need to use his hands to carry them. In my opinion, Pathfinder’s gear is absolutely great. It helps define his role in my Joe team and while it’s not the most realistic gear out there, it’s that unique combination of kind of crazy but still cool looking and functional that makes for a great set of equipment.

Pathfinder is a fairly interesting figure. He’s someone that’s strongly defined by his gear, which is why I’ve never quite understood why Hasbro liked releasing him without it after 1990. Pathfinder himself is a fairly simple and borderline uninteresting figure. However, when all his lgear is with him, he turns into something much more. I like Joe figures that have synergy with their accessories and Pathfinder really has that. Without his gear, he’s a basic solider, but with his gear, he looks like he belongs out in the field, cutting his way through the jungles to help the Joes reach a Cobra installation. However, if he runs into trouble, he doesn’t need a lot of support, because he carries his own fire support on his back. Pathfinder may not move the fastest in the field, but he’s going to make an impression on the battlefield if he winds up using those two large machine guns. This is a solid figure and if my theory about his name being a reference to an area veteran someone on the Hasbro team knew, I think that makes him even more interesting.

4 comments

  • Pathfinder was on my top list of Figures i really wanted to get back in 1990, along with Salvo, Captain Grid Iron and Rampart.

  • This guy was a staple of late ’90’s customs for Snake Eyes LRRP. That was about the only reason anyone cared about him. For a lot of collectors of that era, their first exposure to him was the 2001 AWE Striker release.

    It’s a solid figure. He’s not a star of the year. But, he’s pretty good for a second tier design. The weed whacker is a lot of fun, even if the machine guns are impractical.

    I would have liked at least one decent repaints in the 2000’s since they had the mold. He would have been a much better choice than another Duke, Roadblock, Big Ben or Mirage.

  • I seem to remember pathfinder being used as Wade Collins, most vietnam snake eyes usually used a muskrat head.

    I really liked the 2000’s gray repaint, i ended up with quite a few and swapped new heads on. instant shady CIA guys.

  • I likely got Pathfinder in the summer of 1992, maybe in ’93. The angle on the guns handles made for less fun for me. I think the lack of a place for the weed thrasher on the backpack was another thing that stood out to me when the figure was going to grab both guns.

    When it came to accessories, Pathfinders accessories are pretty much Pathfinders accessories. Without a waist swap, or some ingenious knowledge that needs to be shared with me, those twin machine guns are going to just hang loose on any other figure.

    I don’t remember the figure standing out to me back in the day for any real reason. Maybe those waist attachment balls getting in the way of the figure fitting in some vehicles was another thing that bothered me some.

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