Thunder (1984)

Is Thunder one of the most forgotten of the early 80s GI Joe drivers? I don’t know why, looking at his figure. While he may not have been as colorful as others, his uniform and accessories were unique for the time. Outfitted in a very realistic looking uniform with flak vest and chest holster, he has some of the most realistic sculpting of the early line in terms of his clothing. There’s a lot of the detail that was becoming more prevalent as the line continued.

I’ve always found his accessories to be among the most interesting for the year. The monocular was something unique, and his three part helmet was a fantastic addition that made the figure stand out among the team, even if his colors didn’t.

The file card is pure early Real American Hero brilliance. Terse, yet humorous and colorful, it perfectly illustrates what set the 80s GI Joe line apart from many other toys of the day (and even today’s GI Joe). Just that little bit of succinct exposition put this figure into the ongoing GI Joe story.

While watching some of the first season Sunbow episodes lately, I was surprised at the number of times Thunder appeared, especially in the very trippy two-parter ‘Captives of Cobra.’ Sadly, in the Marvel comic, Thunder was one of the Joes gunned down by the SAW Viper during the infamous Trucial Abysmia mission. Too bad, he was a cool and underused character.



  • I never understood why the secondary chacaters where the ones killed by S.A.W VIPER. Surly it would have made more sense and had a more dramatic impact if someone like Duke or Flint had been killed. But then again Duke “survived” a spear wound to the heart so shooting him might not have done much.

  • Of course we know what became of his mold later on–in addition to Thunder also being offered as a mail-away, his head (and headgear) were reused for the 1988 Tiger Force member Skystriker, while the entire mold was used for the 1998 MOBAT driver Thunderwing (I’ve always thought Thunderclash was a better name). The arms would later be used in 2004 three times–for the Cobra Infantry Troopers 6-pack, the Urban 6-pack Scrap Iron, and the Comic Pack Scrap-Iron. Those arms would also be used for a few convention figures: the Clutch from the Tanks for the Memories set, and the Red Shadows Troopers from the Vacation in the Shadows set.

  • The Trucial Abysmia massacre was pointless given how Larry Hama has gone on to give each character their due in recent years with no annual influx of new characters to worry about. I would love seeing guys like Thunder, Doc, Breaker, Heavy Metal, Crazylegs and the others come back in the same, matter-of-fact way that Sneak-Peek did.

    I got a bad case of déjà vu reading this entry until I realized that Dave from Flag Points had covered him last month or so, but Thunder is well deserving of multiple reviews. As I noted then, I got the Slugger for Christmas of ’84 and loved this figure FAR more than the vehicle. He’s got realistic colors, a cocky look in his eye, nice hair, mature features, and a one-of-a kind helmet. Thunder and Ripcord always hung out in my world due to the similarities in their head sculpts and of course, their red hair.

    Thunder appeared pretty often in the cartoon, faring a lot better than similar Joes such as Grand Slam. He even showed up in the final season episode “The Most Dangerous Thing in the World” among the heavy artillery drivers even as the Slugger was being retired from toy shelves everywhere.

    Being a personal favorite of mine, I’ll say it again: Thunder is the most underrated figure out of all the ’84 releases. Maybe that’s why Hasbro has revisited him or aspects of his design several times over since his introduction.

  • Gosh, as much as I like the figure, he really does suffer from “Forgotten Man Syndrome.” I love the Trucial Abysmia story arc and the S.A.W. Viper gunning down Joes from a storytelling standpoint since it really raised the stakes for that whole arc, yet I completely forgot that Thunder was one of the guys gunned down by him. I mean, some of the Joes that were killed weren’t big players (like Thunder and Heavy Metal), but then guys like Quick Kick and Doc (who both had pretty strong presences in the cartoon as well) were taken out and, holy crap, the first time I read that comic I was shocked. I knew it was coming since I didn’t start reading the comic until I was an older Joe fan since it had mostly run its course by the time I started reading comics, but still, the fact that they took out some pretty big players in a story arc (and then later killing off Battleforce 2000 and Sneak Peek–which is still gut-wrenching to read) showed that Larry Hama was really playing for keeps with his storytelling.

  • The S.A.W Viper massacre did strike me as a pretty grim plot point for a comic book mostly aimed at kids in an effort to buy toy soldiers. I know Transformers comics were no strangers to bloing up characters but Transformers could always be rebuilt and repaired. Its a lot harder to repair a human after being blown up.As far as i’m concerned,the S.A.W VIPER can rot in hell with Stalin and Hitler.

  • This fellow became my artillery man for field units towed and as a vehicle gunner at the high point of my figure collection.

    Anyone have leads on why Gung-ho was included with the ’97 (or was it ’98) Slugger?

  • I didnt know Gung-ho was a trained mobile artillery expert. Then again everyone could fly an F-14 without proper training.

  • Probably to include as many fan favorite/popular characters as they could. It doesn’t make that much sense that Hawk is the gunner on the Thunderbolt or that Lady Jaye is in a pack with Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow, either.

  • Chuck Connors…that’s who he looks like. It’s been bugging me for years. I knew he looked like somebody famous.

  • The S.A.W. Viper massacre came off to me as being a bit inspired by the earlier events of putting so many Cobra characters in that buried ship and Scourge’s massacre of something like 20 minor and forgotten villains at the Bar with No Name in Captain America in 1986.

  • Yes, Thunder is the most forgotten 1984 driver. I had compiled data from’s have & want stats for each figure. Some interesting things in there. Besides the year strongly influencing the highest & lowest (have+want) values from year to year, it was interesting to see who stood out as being far more sought after than the rest or who was the least sought after. It kind of puts a number on how popular/unpopular figures are. Thunder was the least sought after driver from 1984 except for Clutch (v2) (while v1 Clutch and the VAMP are the most sought after driver & vehicle from 1982 respectively, Clutch v2 & the VAMP Mark II are the least sought after driver & vehicle from 1984 respectively).

    You know who Thunder reminds me of? Like a less-outlandish Dee-Jay. Maybe it’s the shades and the headphones/antenna. He also looks like GI Joe’s visual counterpart to Scrap-Iron. Not a bad figure. It is kind of surprising why he’s so forgotten.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    Great figure and I’m glad it went on to play a part in the creation of the vastly underrated and one of the all time best figures in the line, Tiger Force Skystriker!

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