The saga of the Payload figure is one of sadness and missed opportunity. When the Star Brigade line was launched (no pun intended) in 1993, early pictures and even the back of the packages depicted a Payload figure using the original 1987 mold. For me, this was an exciting prospect, as I never had the Defiant or Crusader, and therefore also never had their pilot, Payload.
The 1987 figure is one of the most impressive figures in the Joe line, with an incredible amount of detail, removable helmet and awesome EVA backpack. Payload would have been the crown jewel of the Star Brigade line; the figure was even on the card art for all the first series figures. But this is where the story takes a sad turn, as somewhere between planning and execution, the Payload mold was unavailable. Lost–destroyed–who knows?
Countdown or the jet pack General Hawk would have made a nice stand-in, but they were also being released in the Star Brigade subset. So with a limited amount of other appropriate molds to work with, Hasbro went with the Eco Warriors Barbecue. I suppose it’s passable as an astronaut, but the figure still seems more hazmat than spacesuit.
This particular version of Payload was repainted three times in 93-94, with a black, green and silver scheme, then this blue one and finally a primarily white with red highlights and blue helmet. By far the rarest of the three, this blue version also gives off a Cobra vibe with its blue and black design.