Blowtorch Blowout: Part 1

By Past Nastification

Based on his specialty, Blowtorch could have been one of the most fear-inducing characters of the GI Joe team. If you’ve ever seen any footage of their use in WWII, you know that flamethrowers are effective-but-vile business. Blowtorch has several versions over the last 30 years. But there are enough differences between some of them to provide interest and variety.

1984 Blowtorch: Hasbro, maybe wisely, sidestepped the gruesomeness of a flamethrower by using bright colors on the original Blowtorch. Some figures get a kid pass on their silly color schemes based on their specialty. Blowtorch is one of the best examples, with its yellow uniform with reddish-orange padding. The kid logic is that fire contains yellow/red/orange, so Blowtorch’s costume is an environmentally specific camouflage. But it’s not. Even when the flame is streaming, Blowtorch wouldn’t go walking through jellied gasoline lit aflame. He’d be behind it. Way behind it. Maybe… maybe there’s some logic in that someone on the other side of the flames- the more hellish side of the flames- would have a harder time seeing Blowtorch. But that’s a stretch.

Real world flamethrowers, as least during WWII, wore standard uniforms with the canister backpacks and flamethrower added on. No protective padding. By the mid-80’s, the US Army had retired flamethrowers. But GI Joe pretty much gets to do what GI Joe wants, and that includes special weapons and protective padding. The biggest problem with the accessories is the supply hose to the flamethrower- it’s just too short to work with the figure.

I’m just going to say it: Blowtorch shouldn’t have been yellow. The figure didn’t deserve a pass. I liked the ’84 Blowtorch, but subdued colors would have worked better. Even with the bright colors, the sculpting on the first Blowtorch makes it a memorable figure. The 1984 figures featured a crispness and density of details not seen in the 1982 or 1983 figures. The sculptor(s) found a new level of quality, truly fitting the sculpts to the characters’ specialties.

Come back tomorrow for more Blowtorch, as we light it up with the new sculpt interpretations of this fiery favorite.


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