Psyche-Out (1987)

1987–the last year that I bought GI Joe toys as a kiddo. It was chock full of Cobra strangeness as well as some key Joes that would stand as favorites many years later. Even though my interest in the toys was waning, I was nevertheless impressed with guys like Law & Order, Fast Draw, and Outback. Psyche-Out was pretty much an also-ran to me. He was just so…odd. Funny that as an adult collector, I’m able to find more to like about him.

Sci-fi elements abound in the uniform and gear. Whether intentional or not, I’m reminded of a 50s TV serial look, like something out of Tom Corbett or Rocky Jones. I think Psyche-Out still holds the record for the GI Joe figure with the most antennae and radar dishes on his person. I’m especialy impressed with his backpack and handheld field projector. The idea of a character who specializes in what is essentially a form of mind control, may have seemed far-fetched in the 1980s, but the field of psy-ops doesn’t seem as fanciful these days.

In 1987, I found the color scheme to be rather uninteresting, but I bought the figure anyway. I suppose the science fiction elements were a stronger draw than the colors, or even the odd haircut. If a different color scheme is on your mind, check out the European exclusive Tiger Force version.


  • Don’t forget the Night Force version too.

    I’m noticing a pattern whenever I see loose Psyche-Out figures–their eyebrows tend to have some wear on them more than other figures.

  • I was always kind of indifferent towards him but I have grown fonder the past few years.

  • I can see why so many collectors see 87 as the year Joe jumped the shark. You have a three pack of wierdo bug people a space shuttle [though there is nothing wrong with it],a pogo stick doo-dah and this guy. I’m pretty sure there were a lot of kids asking “Where did all the army guys go?”

    The psych-out i have had a busted torso so i took one of a C.O.R.P.S Lars Laser, put a coat of Scorpion green on it and gave it to him. It also makes him look a bit beefier.

  • I never really liked this version of Psyche-Out. I much prefer the blue Super Sonic Fighters figure with the cool looking black helmet.

  • This was the year I lost interest in the line as well. So many more misses than hits and Psyche-Out is the absolute worst of the lot for me. The colors were garish, the radar dishes made no sense, and the antennae attached to the back of his head might as well be a bull’s eye target. To this day, I can’t find one saving grace on this guy.

    The 1991 Super Sonic Fighter version is a vast improvement, but unfortunately, this original look has become the standard for him. As the team’s resident psychiatrist, Psyche-Out turned out to be one of Larry Hama’s most frequently featured Joes and he is still active in the comics to this day.

    I’ve always liked him as a character, but I really wish that more thought had been given to his design back in the day. Heck, a lab coat would have been preferable. Hasbro gave us an excellent military medic with Doc, so would a shrink have been such a difficult stretch to pull off?

  • I think if you just throw away the wrist anntennae he becomes a more useable figure. The good characterisation in the Marvel run helped too.

  • 87 was my last year seriously collecting too. At the end I was using him and Chuckles together as partners along with the Renegades.
    And then girls came into the picture and the problems really began.

  • I think I’ve said before how the tastes in Joe fans varied depending on when they came to the line: early ’80s, mid-late ’80s, or ’90s. Those who came in the early ’80s were the most adverse overall to sci-fi elements or more fantastic designs, preferring figures that don’t stray far from realism, likewise hating neon colors. Those who came in the mid ’80s were more tolerant towards sci-fi elements & odd designs (though some might be too far for them, like Cobra-La), but also hating neon colors. Those who came in the 90s obviously favored neon colors. Obviously these views have amended in some with age.

  • (Part 2 because 2 browsers had technical trouble posting and Opera was the less dysfunctional)

    Psyche-Out isn’t the only 1950s sci-fi-looking figure from 1987 (that backpack is soooo retro). Notice Battle Force 2000 had some such elements. We saw seeds of retro sci-fi (Sci-Fi) and more exotic elements earlier (Serpentor, Dr. Mindbender, B,A,T.s, the Dreadnoks. I mean seriously, Zartan is strange when you step back and look at him). The Buzz Boar & Pogo are quite exotic and attract all the attention, letting some plain bad vehicles go unnoticed (like the Road Toad or the Joe port-a-potty, pardon me, “Coastal Defender”) and letting some of the great vehicles go unnoticed like the Mamba,Maggot, Sea Ray, Wolf). I think whether one sees the USS Flagg or the Defiant shuttle as the most awesome GI Joe vehicle kind of encapsulates the divide between the early & middle blocks of Joe fans. I also think 1987 was a response to 1986 being in part a replacement year for many 1982-85 figures (i.e. Leatherneck for Gung-Ho, Wet-Suit for Torpedo, Lifeline for Doc, et al), part looking for doing something new (figures I mentioned). I think with a lot of conventional figures from 1986 (still shipping in 1987), Hasbro chose to go creative for 1987. Also, 1986 sales were flat, holding at 1985 levels (which were the all-time high). I think they were looking for ways to expand the line and more sci-fi roles came to mind.

  • @LittleBoa
    I had no idea the Joe sales in ’86 were on par with the earlier years. I expected them to be higher as many consider it to be the peak before things started to slowely fall apart. Though i have seen some fans who seem to live just to hate the second season; because season 1 was soo perfect [sarcasm].
    I can see what you mean though. Kids who loved Torpeedo, Grunt and Gungho were probably annoyed that their favorites were replaced. Though the 82-85 pursists should be happy that most these characters were never blown to peices, unforgetably like so many of the early Transformers characters at the same time.

    My little brother was introduced to the brand in the early 90’s so for years he had fond memories of ninja force. It was only a few days ago when he was looking in my copy of Bellormo’s book that he noticed the cohesive millitary theme until the last few chapters. He was looking at the last few pages [including space aliens, cyborgs and mech suits] and said “Things have gotten a bit silly here”

    And with the ’87 stuff. It is my opinion that Hasbro was just testing the waters so to speak. With things like Serpentor and Battle force 2000. They were just trying to keep the brand fresh and appealing for newer fans. I seriously doubt there was some executive, plotting on how to destroy the brand.

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