Ranger (Code Name: Stalker)
Yesterday we covered Grunt, the Everyman figure of the initial 1980s series. Today we start to venture into the more specialized individuals. Versatility is the keyword for the mix of characters produced in the first year of the Real American Hero series. With just a few different body parts and key paint app choices, Hasbro was able to introduce enough variation to create a team of unique characters. Key among them is Stalker, the Ranger.
Everything about Stalker is different from his comrades. He’s the only team member with painted camo patterns and the only team member with molded headgear. So what’s the big deal about that? Not a lot individually, but together these elements contribute to a figure that stands out among the others. I wonder how much of the design is responsible for his being a major and memorable character from the get-go? The same could be said for other highly individualized figures like Snake Eyes, Scarlett and Flash.
As soon as I picked up a Stalker, he was the field leader, much as he was in the early Marvel issues. He was cool-headed, capable and a natural leader.
Looking at the figure with modern eyes, I can really appreciate the fact that Hasbro, way back in the early 80s, chose to make the Joe team a diverse group of individuals. Consider this: an African-American, a Latino, a woman and a disabled man were all part of a team of Real American Heroes. That’s pretty dang cool.