Spirit (1991 UK exclusive)
How is it that in 1991 the UK and Europe got a cool repaint like this and we in the US got a neon skinned Road Pig? Spirit is still one of my favorite vintage Joe molds, and this repaint is endlessly intriguing to me. I’ve never seen an explanation as to the origins of this figure. Other countries did repaint Joe figures; the UK also had some exclusive Tiger Force sub-group repaints around the same time. The UK Tiger Force figures threw in some different colors from their US counterparts, but were still based on an existing theme. This Spirit (and a repainted Mutt from the same year) are anomalies. Why did older figures get a repaint so late in the line? What is the point of the paint job, if any? Maybe there isn’t any reason. It’s mysterious and fascinating.
The original Spirit wore such a distinctive outfit that he hardly looked military. He could have been equally at home as part of the Adventure Team. He’s also one of those figures that folks tend to point to when making a tired Village People reference about the 80’s Joes. By changing the colors, it gains a more military feel while maintaining the Native American background of the character.
The plastic seems a bit more brittle than most US figures. Combine this with the size of Spirit’s rifle fitting his hand and you’ve got an easily broken thumb.
The only drawback to the figure is the lack of painted eyebrows. Creepy. Maybe Spirit was captured and subjected to an experimental Cobra electrolysis gun.