GI Joe Reservist Redux
Why does this figure fascinate me? Perhaps it’s because he comes from a time when GI Joe wasn’t at the heights of popularity of the 80s, yet was a bold move in terms of being offered as a mail-in for a new line. The Hasbro direct program of the Real American Hero era was a juggernaut in terms of extra revenue, and was a reflection of the sheer numbers of kids who were into GI Joe. I can’t imagine that the relaunched series came anywhere near the old levels of sales, popularity or saturation of the cultural consciousness.
I’ve always been a fan of underdogs, and maybe that’s the real reason this guy interests me. For me, he definitely falls into the category of loveable loser. While the original Steel Brigade figure wasn’t exactly a masterpiece of the perfect melding of disparate parts, it at least came together on some level. I’m reminded of a scene from the movie Ed Wood, in which the infamous low budget director is working as a runner at a movie backlot. He’s stopped by a co-worker who shows him the latest reels of stock footage that he’s about to file away. As the random shots of stampeding buffalo, an octopus and various military scenes of explosions and cannons firing play on, Ed quips excitedly, “If I had half the chance, I could make an entire movie using this stock footage.” Funny enough, he did, and the result were sublimely, wonderfully bad. I can imagine someone at Hasbro in 2002 huddled over a bin of random parts thinking along those same lines.
Why does the Reservist even exist? What was its true purpose? In the end, the Reservist to me is like a GI Joe custom as created by Andy Kaufman. Is it intentionally bad, or is the joke really on us? Who knows?