Updraft (1990)

Updraft is the pilot of the Retaliator, one of the weirdest craft in the GI Joe arsenal. Advertised as a “Bomb Dropping Rescue Copter!”, the Retaliator was a helicopter with a working winch and a rotating tail with grabbing claw that pivoted out of the tail section. An odd-looking  copter with impossibly short blades, it resembled a dragonfly more than the original Joe Dragonfly.

Updraft is a bit odd as well, most specifically his helmet. I always thought mine was ill-fitting, but a close look at the package art shows the helmet sitting high on his head, with his chin jutting out of the bottom. It’s a strange way to design a helmet, and I have to wonder if the package art was produced to match the figure. I know that’s usually not the way these things are done, but the helmet thing is so odd, I have to wonder. The fact that the figure isn’t shown in the 1990 catalog along with his vehicle makes me wonder further.

Helmet aside, I find this to be an interesting figure. He’s also the textbook definition of forgotten. He doesn’t seem to be either highly loved or reviled. He’s just kind of–there.



  • Updraft is a decent figure. I’m guessing that he flies the Retaliator at a low level, because I’ll agree that Updraft is pretty much below the radar for most collectors.

  • Wow, I never heard of this guy. Thanks for bringing him out.

  • I used to have the Retaliator and Updraft. Liked them both a lot. I used Freefall as the co-pilot and always thought they made for some friendly competition to Wild Bill and Airborne’s Dragonfly. Interestingly enough, the Brazilian version’s boxed art shows Rampart co-piloting with none other than Gung-Ho IN HIS MARINE DRESS BLUES manning the controls! Plus, Hit & Run is hanging from the tow cable instead of Freefall. Poor Updraft is nowhere to be found. I do find the helmet to be really odd, but his flight suit is cool and the gloves are neatly done. I think Updraft made a cameo in the old Marvel comic, but blink and you’ll miss the guy.

  • Head looks a bit like Mark Harmon as Gibbs on NCIS.

    Thanks for remembering him!

  • Jonah Hardenbrook

    I’ve always liked Updraft and the Retaliator. The Helmet isn’t typical, but that’s what I like about it. I really like the figures mold and colors. It’s one of many gems in the 1990 line, which is my favorite Joe year ever.

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