My interest in toy collecting has something of a historian slant to it. I find the behind the scenes stories of creation, production, and even cancellation to be fascinating. With GI Joe, those stories are being unearthed constantly thanks to the efforts of some seriously dedicated fans and collectors. It seems like every toy line has that mythical final series that never made it into production. It also seems like those unproduced toys are almost always the most interesting. I’m sure that the unattainable mystique fuels some of that thinking.
Lately, I’ve been hooked by 12 inch GI Joe figures, and most specifically, 12 inch figures released in the late 90s through the 2000s. Even though I’m primarily a collector of the small Joes, I find myself drawn into the large scale world more often. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll see them sprinkled throughout the past year of entries.
Dusty comes out of the first year of the relaunch of the small Joe line. Amazingly, Hasbro supported a new concurrent 12 inch line along with the more popular small scale. Some of the designs followed closely to their smaller brethren, but others went off on a different design path. I admit to not having much interest in these larger figures at the time, but as my horizons have broadened, I’ve discovered that some are actually pretty cool toys that deserve a second look.
This Dusty fascinates me mostly because of its origins. Outfitted in a black suit with a helmet and monocular, he doesn’t appear at first to resemble the famous desert trooper. That’s because this figure offers two outfits in one package. You could say that this toy can perform double duty. Hmm, where have I heard that term before?
This figure sports an outfit and accessories that were originally intended to be among the Double Duty line of a previous year. That defunct segment of GI Joe featured outfits that could be reversed, and accessories that could be switched out to create different missions. It was a two-for-one concept that I’m surprised didn’t catch on. Dusty’s black outfit, suited for a night ops mission, complete with night vision helmet, features a reversible that converts to a backpack.The body itself is painted in a desert camo pattern, and once the switch in clothing and accessories is made, the figure looks quite convincingly different from the other. This kind of change wasn’t always so successful in the Double Duty line, but here, Dusty really looks like two different toys for the price of one.
I’ve wondered why, with all the time, money and effort that’s spent developing toys, that the product which “almost” makes it to shelves doesn’t somehow see a release more often. One would think a toy company would want a chance to recoup some of their effort. In this case, as different as the figure looks in relation to the small line, it’s good to see a previously unreleased toy get a second chance.