Payload (1989)

It’s too bad the greatest small scale GI Joe astronaut figure was released at a time when I had stopped buying the large sets. The Defiant looked like a cool vehicle, and I loved the look of Payload, but I just couldn’t bring myself to seek out such a huge toy at the time. 1987 was the last year that I collected as a kid, and the figures were most of my focus. Soon after picking up what I found interesting that year, I stopped buying. Much of the reason came from my new obsession: cars. My father bought an old ’55 Chevy Bel Air that year, and we began working together to restore it. What fifteen year old could choose toys over a car?

If this figure had come out in ’85, I would have been all over it. I had been a space nut ever since watching the first space shuttle launch. Much of my enthusiasm came from my father, who followed the space program religiously back in the 60s. He kept a notebook in which he recorded all of the launches and other happenings from Mercury through Apollo, and he even collected the newspapers, magazines, and other material that were released at the time. Now that I think about it, I can see where my passion for collecting probably came from. It’s in my genes.

The second version of the mold, which came with the Crusader, a shuttle-only alternative to the gargantuan Defiant complex, ranks second only to his initial version because of some bright yellow coloring. It doesn’t bother me too much, since actual shuttle space suits have also sometimes been colored brightly. The fact is, this mold is so cool, I would buy it figure in any color. I thought I was going to in the 90s, as the Payload mold was pictured on the back of Star Brigade sub-line’s cards, but ultimately Eco Warriors Barbecue stood in for it. Too bad.


  • Sometime in ’88 or so, I told my dad that I would get a motorcycle and a helmet to go with my leather jacket. I was half kidding, but he quickly nixed the idea. He was a pathologist at the time and seen guys with splattered brains flowing inside their helmets. He did have an interest in the Apollo program back in the late 60’s. I still have a Life magazine and silver coin commemorating the first lunar walk which he kept for years.

    Payload is a hard figure to get. After missing out on the HQ, Flagg, and Terror Drome, I had no interest in the Defiant or most of the ’87 line for that matter. When the Crusader was released two years later, I had stopped collecting Joes altogether. So with no further releases beyond ’89, both Payload (and Hardtop) ended up on my Holy Grail list and have been there since.

  • This is a truly great figure. So much better than the Star Brigade figures. Roadblock is close in terms of mold and cool helmet, but just close.

  • I’ll never forget the day i missed out on a school gettogether before my year 12 [thats seniors class] broke up so i could stay at home and watch the first few episodes of Transformers Energon…yah thats something ive always regretted.

    Anyway. I heard Payload is many peoples holy grail as his accessories are really frail. That combined with the huge toy he was packed with makes him hard to replace. The only Payload i ever had was the black Starbrigade version.

    If anyone wants a Payload, talk to Airdevon. I noticed she had something like seven Defiants [and my freinds think i have too much Joe stuff]

  • He’s a great figure, I never have gotten the other version. One of my favorites. 55 Chevy is awesome BTW!

  • He’s a great figure, I never have gotten the other version. One of my favorites. 55 Chevy is awesome BTW!

  • Nice taste in cars. The 55 Bel Air is a pretty good looking car (some of the late ’50s Bel Airs too). That was about the start of a 5 or so year block where cars had so much style and were the epitome of cool.

    Payload here looks like such an astronaut. And as we all know space, shuttles, and astronauts were beyond cool in the ’80s. If the characters were recruited, the Vipers created, in the order they came out in, Payload would’ve been the only Joe the Astro Vipers encountered.

    I wonder if the reuse of Payload and the shuttle itself was an effort to make back some of the money from developing the epic Defiant space shuttle complex.

  • My dad worked for NASA in the 60-70’s. I was surprised I didn’t get the defiant. But he did get me the Crusader. That was one of my favorites as a kid. That and the Skystriker. As my dad was an Aerospace guy, one of my first joes was the Skystriker. Also Ace worked well with countdown, payload and the crusader. I really love the detail in the Crusader. From the landing gear to the docking hatch to the Star Trek TNG type control panels for the pilots. And of course the small shuttle which was a repaint of the night Raven’s small craft attachment.

  • Heres something nerdy

    In the Transformers kids story book “The big car rally”; Megatron can be seen driving in ’55 chevvy Bel air [for whatever purpose that served]

  • I’m a big Bel-Air fan myself, nice touch! I’m currently trying to get this figure’s waist and backpack.

  • Its my humble opinion we never landed on the moon. It was most likely filmed by Stanley Kubrick. This ain’t the Fantastic Four.Our astronauts could never deal with the radiation of the Van Allen belt despite what NASA says. Great figure, though.

  • Never Released in the UK neither the Defiant base version sadly. He looks more like a Cobranaut with that helmet on. Hasbro should have turned him and his shuttle also into a Cobra version to tie in with the comic story at the time. His helmet reminds me of the Secto Vipers masked head.

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