What can I say about Shipwreck? He’s probably one of the more divisive characters in the GI Joe fan world. Some his can’t stand his portrayal in the Sunbow cartoon, citing his nature as comic relief in many an episode. I’ve never had a problem with the guy, especially once I became an adult. I didn’t find him all that grating back then, and now I have even more respect for what they tried to do with him, considering the voice and attitude owed a lot to classic Jack Nicholson. Being voiced by the great Neil Ross didn’t hurt, either.
I picked up several of the 1985 figures at the same time in a local mall’s Sears store. This was a time when department stores were, for me, the most accessible place to procure toys. Sure, we had a Children’s Palace, but a trip there required special coercing of my parental units. It was much more likely that Mom and Dad would be going to Sears or Wards for some sort of household need, and I could usually make my way to the toy section without any begging or special convincing. On one particular trip to Sears, my folks were extra generous, and let me get three figures. I snagged Barbecue, Airtight, and Shipwreck. All three would quickly be among my favorite Joes, though Shipwreck, as the most prominent cartoon character of the three, got the most use.
Regardless of opinions about his portrayal in the Sunbow cartoon, the figure stands as one of the greats of the era. It’s a simple figure, really, but it had so much personality. The look of the uniform was unique, and echoed GI Joe’s past as both an Action Sailor and a Sea Adventurer. The drapery of the clothes, and the detail of things like buttons, pockets and straps were all rendered wonderfully. Shipwreck’s accessories were unlike those of any other figure, and captured the spirit of the character as the quintessential sailor. Strategic details like his rank insignia and forearm tattoo just added extra icing on the cake. And how cool is Polly? I truly appreciate the fact that the GI Joe design team of the time wasn’t afraid to try off the wall things like parrot sidekicks.