Action Sailor (1996)
In 1996, I was still collecting vintage 60s GI Joes. I had amassed a little assemblage including a boxed original Action Soldier, a loose complete Green Beret, and a partially complete Scramble Pilot. Unfortunately, I would sell my collection within a few years, as college expenses mounted. Bummer. Enter the Masterpiece Edition figures. At a fraction of the price of the originals, these reproductions made for nice stand-ins for a collector on a budget. They also came with a pretty wonderful book about the toy’s genesis.
At the time the Masterpiece figures were released, there was no Target store within a reasonable distance of my home. I had to drive to Topeka to pick up the set. At the time, I was nervous because I had made the same trek a few years prior to get the Hall of Fame styled World War II figures and come up empty, even after calling the store. I guess that’s what a two hour drive plus the horrid scalping climate of the day could get you. I did manage to pick up my fill of these figures, and replaced at least a couple of my then departed Joes.
The Action Sailor, like the others, was also available in an African-American version. Though the mold on these early figures was simply the Caucasian Joe molded in brown, credit is due for the simple attempt at diversity back in the 60s. The figure itself differs in some respects from a real original, obviously, but for the sake of display, the end result is good. Over the years, my example has developed stress cracks in the arms and legs (just like a real vintage Joe!) and some of the joints have become a bit loose. Thankfully, the sailor cap hasn’t hardened or shrunk.
The Masterpiece Editions also paved the way for a myriad of later reissues, redubbed the Timeless Collection. With those releases, I was able to get another Scramble Pilot, one I didn’t need to stress over getting a bit dusty. I really miss the series, and now that Joe’s 50th has passed, I’m still down about the fact that the year didn’t give rise to any classic twelve inch releases.