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.

4 comments

  • Not a fan of the straight arms or the OG 13, but stalker is undeniably one of the best things to come out of that first year.

    What a cool looking figure. Simple but so classicly outfitted. Camo, beret, smg, grenade , posable. And
    holy crap for diversity in toys, a black guy as the good guy and a leader to boot! Hasbro was forward thinking even back then! His backstory was a bit stereotypical but believable.

    Most of his updated figures have been very cool, but none as iconic as this one. One of the few figures i still dont have. Maybe i can snag the comic pack version somewhere.

    Rob, thanks for a great post! I check the site everyday. And thanks for posting the card art! Its so awesome to see! I wanted to get the 3d joes books but missed out on the black friday sale.

  • I love that you’re going back to the Iconic first run of figures. Stalker is a great character, both in design and personality. Hama’s work in the early run of the Marvel comic cemented Lonzo Wilkinson as one of the great original minority characters in comics. Seeing him here (mine is in storage and missing thumbs) along with his beautiful card art is powerful positive nostalgia! Thank you!

  • Disabled man? But Robo JOE wouldn’t be introduced until 1993.

    Of course Snake-Eyes’ mute/scarred thing was Hama’s doing. Hasbro just saw COMMANDO.

    Stalker ex-gang leader who moves like a jungle cat. Yeah, there’s a bit of the 70’s in Stalker.

  • Stalker was always ,a very special action figure from the G.I.Joe Series 1 line from 1982 for me.When I first saw him at the local Bottom Dollar Department store, I thought he looked like a Vietnam Veteran.”

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