Gen. Patch (1982)

As a kid, I had ample opportunities to peruse the toy aisle of our local K-Mart. Mom and Dad were quite the landscapers, so a trip to the lawn and garden section was a regular occurence. Naturally, I would wander over to the toy aisle to check out what was available. Alongside the 80’s heavy hitters like GI Joe, Star Wars, Transformers and He-Man were an equal number of me-too lines.¬†Sometimes I would go home with a new Joe or He-Man figure (I picked up my Zartan at this very K-Mart during a garden department excursion) and other times I would pick up a Remco American Defense or even a Lost World of the Warlord figure (both pretty cool toy lines, by the way).

Gen. Patch, although a blatant attempt by another company to catch some of GI Joe’s lightning in their own bottle, at least has elements of an attempt at a concept or story hook. An amalgamation of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos and Sgt. Rock, the line treads some weird pastiche of eras that seem to encompass both the (then) modern world and World War II. The packaging is quite nice considering its budget origins, and the comic-styled images have a Jack Kirby feel.

Produced by Galoob near the beginning of the Real American Hero line, the figure mold should look familiar to anyone who owned the 3 & 3/4 inch A-Team figures. Hannibal, BA, Face and Murdock all used body molds from the Gen. Patch series. Make no mistake, the figure is downright fugly, from head to toe. The head, which can best be described as a chewed wad of gum with an eyepatch, isn’t up to snuff with even the most poorly sculpted Joes.

There are a couple of interesting bits about the figure. The uniform and boots have a similar sort of futuristic styling seen in the first year of small Joes. I guess at the time everyone thought future military footwear would involve elaborate geometric cuffs and laces.

The molds used for this line were not only reused for the A-Team, but also for another toyline, National Defense. That series continued the butt-ugly tradition established by Gen. Patch, introducing some of the most stomach-churningly unattractive mugs in toy history.

While Hasbro was using its packaging to note figure improvements like “swivel arm battle grip” and “snap-on, stay-on” accessories, the Gen. Patch cards touted “Weapons With the Smell of Battle.” My figure’s weapon must have long since lost its smell, which leads me to wonder, what exactly was the smell of battle? Was it a sulphurous smell of gunpowder? Maybe of smoke or oil? Perhaps it was just a generalized stench, meant to convey the fear and confusion of the battlefield. Okay, that last one’s a little too deep for a toy, but I remain curious about this odd choice of gimmick. What do you think the smell of battle could be?

12 comments

  • The helmet and rifle should be salvageable for customs.

  • Sadly enough, the smell of battle often involves a lot of dead people.

    I barely remember this line. The head could make for a General Ryan custom from G.I. Joe #53. Is that a mini-comic packed in there? I would pick up the Gen. Patch stuff for the novelty factor since these knock-offs appeal to collectors more nowadays than back when they fought the bigger guys for aisle space in the 80’s.

  • If wasn’t Joe it didn’t interest me. I hated fake Joes and have no recollection of these as I just skipped them for joes, star wars or he man. I recognized them for what they were and still do. Guess I’m just a Joe snob in that regard.

  • Dak the Knomadd

    The Smell of Battle… gun oil, gunpowder, smoke, sweat, blood, and just a hint of fecal matter (from when the boys get so $#!+ scared that they $#!+ themselves).

    Rather in depth write-up, Rob. I quite enjoyed it. I also enjoyed that I guessed (before I scrolled down and had it confirmed) that Galoob was at fault for this, because I happen to have The A-Team set.

  • IIRC, some of the Galoob weapons for these and A-Team were copies of some smaller scale HEROES IN ACTION figures Mattel made in the 70’s.

    Versions of those figures would be in stores into the 90’s. Last time I saw them was at a Dollar General store. By then shoulder joints were so thin and poor that they might as well have been made from cardboard.

  • Good stuff. My childhood knockoffs of choice were The Corps!, which you’ve covered multiple times. I especially remember the space Corps! figures, and I’m pretty sure our Golobulus ended up with a green chrome arm from one of those guys.

  • I think the packaging alone is worth picking this guy up. I follow marvel comics more then I do gi joe these days, and I’m a huge nick fan

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  • Apparently the smell of battle was… perfume.

  • I had a few of these when I was a child and I believe they were still on the shelves by Christmas 83-84. That’s when I got them for Christmas. I had lost them during moves but I just started collecting them again as an adult. I loved mine and cherished them as my stepdad couldn’t afford the actual GI Joe line. I’m starting to find out that there were other toys that went along with this particular line. Just found the jet.

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