1994 was a sad year for this GI Joe collector, especially since I was an adult who had come back to the line just a few years before. The rug was pulled out too quickly for me. I had been excited to see each year’s new offerings, even though I had a different purpose for my little plastic men than I had as a kid. At the time, I was still thinking about toys purely from a collector standpoint. I wasn’t quite as capable as I am now of seeing GI Joe simply for its inherent value as a toy line. I had my share of moments of “I’m buying these things; why aren’t they all exactly what I want?” Well, because they weren’t made for me. They were made for kids. Duh.
Lifeline showed up in the Real American Hero era’s swan song assortment, and he was a great addition. Thanks to a solid design, and some wonderful card art, he was impressive, and more than ever looked the role of rescue trooper. The card pictured him in a very dynamic fashion, descending from above on a line, with his med kit at the ready.
Unlike many of the later figures, with their often random “tree” full of gear, Lifeline’s accessories made sense within his specialty. With a medical case, searchlight and grenade pistol (I like to think of it as a flare pistol, since I like the Sunbow pacifist angle) he was ready for medic and rescue duty. Even his missile launcher tied in, to an extent. It’s one of the few that incorporated a grappling hook, perfect for search and rescue missions. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the larger launchers. Lifeline also wears a small helmet microphone, although it’s not nearly as tiny and easily removable as those on Heavy Metal, Lift Ticket or Sneek Peek.
In the midst of a Skittles-esque rainbow of color, the final year of GI Joe’s first small scale era offered a few of its heroes in more subdued hues. Lifeline is among them, as his red is not such a big change from his first figure. The accessories are yellow, but I can pretty much forgive that too, due to their inclusion with a rescue trooper. What impresses me more than the colors, however, is the detail on the figure. He’s equipped with a veritable medical supply kit on his vest. It’s too bad some of those details didn’t get a paint app, but that’s to be expected from the time. Things truly did appear that year to be winding down for Joe. That’s too bad, as the line seemed to be headed into an interesting direction. All was not lost with this mold, however, and someone on the brand in later years must have liked it as well, as this Lifeline has been reused twice since 1994.