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.
This guy would make a nice buddy for Law & Order to hang around with at the Check Point Alpha battle station. He also looks like a more polished version of the Remco Sgt. Rock figures.
It was neat set. The drawback was the brittle plastic, though. Just gotta be careful what you put in their hands. The MP reminds me of the generic US army forces sometimes seen on the cartoon, which included MPs at least once. Too bad they cheaped out and didn’t paint his chest webgear/grenades.
The first keychain figures did not loops in their backs, but a plug in their “back screw hole” (sounds wrong, lol!) that you could usually remove with some effort/force. They soon changed to the loop on the upper back. Obviously, all the repaints had the loop.
Now, not only do I want a pair of MPs, but I gotta track down a Toothbrush Command Post! Never know when Cobra might come for my Aquafresh.
I don’t remember seeing this figure before.
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