Action Soldier (1998 keychain figure)
At the height of Joe’s popularity in the 80’s, there were tie-in products of all kinds. Basically, in the 80’s, before the internet even existed, there was a different version of Rule 34. Let’s call it Rule 13. What’s Rule 13? It’s the idea that anything you can conceive of as a tie-in product for a big 80’s property, it was made. Just search online for ancillary product for Star Wars, He-Man, Transformers, GI Joe and the like and you’ll find a head-spinningly amazing selection of sometimes strange merchandise. On a side note, my favorite of the Star Wars tie-in universe–this.
Anyway, back to Joe. There were coloring books, board games, school supplies and yes, GI Joe also had a toothbrush holder–or toothbrush Command Post to be exact. But it wasn’t until the late 90’s that someone had the idea of making a spin-off product out of a figure itself. Hence, the keychain figures.
Made by a company called Fun 4 All, there were four figures sold individually and based on the 1994 30th anniversary molds. As such, they were 3 & 3/4 inch interpretations of the classic 60’s Joes: solder, marine, sailor and pilot. The four figures closely resembled their Hasbro counterparts, with the exception of being made from a cheaper, more brittle type of plastic. Oh yeah, and they all had a loop on their backs into which the removable keychain clasp fit. Overall, no big deal. I passed them up.
A four pack was also produced, and this time the figures were repainted. Repaints–now you’re speaking my language! The marine was given a then-current chocolate chip desert camo, the pilot outfitted in blue, the sailor given an orange wet suit, and the soldier was painted up as an MP. There was a time when I collected some of the 60’s Joes, and the MP was one of my favorite uniforms. I don’t really know why; maybe it was just because it was so different from the usual combat fatigues. Regardless, I was drawn to this figure as well, and he’s a fun little diversion from the norm, even if he’s just done up in a darker green and given an extra dab or two of deco.