Zap (1983)

There’s a charm about the original thirteen Real American Hero GI Joe figures that transcends the differences between the early figures and later releases. Say what you will about the repeated parts and simple sculpts and paint schemes, but I still love the class of ’82-83. I find it hard to pick out a favorite among them, but every time I break out the original Zap, he grows on me more and more.

One of the things that I hadn’t appreciated with the original team as a kid was the variation in uniform colors. I noticed it in the Sunbow cartoon (even though those designs weren’t always true to the figures) but somehow it slipped by me with the toys. Now that I’m looking again, I think I prefer Zap’s lime green color over many others. It’s not quite neon, but I find it pleasing to the eye. Yeah, I’m strange.

Varation hunters have something to be pleased about with Zap. If Joe collectors were like Star Wars collectors, Zap would be a variant superstar. His bazooka comes in three flavors. There’s a two handled version, and two variants of the single handle. One of the single handles is much wider, and just looking at it in comparison to the average RAH hand gives me the heeby-jeebies. Since I’m pretty sure he likes his right thumb, I’m not putting that thing in Mr. Melendez’s hand anytime soon. The other version of the weapon has a thinner handle that doesn’t risk an unfortunate thumb snapping incident.

Of course, Zap’s countenance doesn’t match up with his comic or animated counterparts, as it’s simply a reuse of the Grunt mold. This was remedied in the 90’s redesign and also in a comic pack, although the uniform didn’t feature the distinctive harness. The modern style version finally got it all right



  • Of course, there are probably collectors who painted the mustache on Zap…

  • I understand Zap’s arms are really brittle and that its difficult finding a decent loose Zap on the aftermarket as many kids tried to get him posed as though he were holding his bazooka with both arms only to have them shatter.

    I made a custom Zap out of R.O.C parts. Mixing up a hispanic skin tone was hard.

    The voice i hear when i red Zaps lines in the comics is the sarchastic man from the Simspons

  • You mean Bumblebee Man?

  • A classic! Zap is awesome and easily one of the best figures from the line’s debut year. He was always a favorite and enjoyed frequent deployment in many a mission when I was a kid. By 1984, I was bandaging his right arm with scotch tape since the swivel joint had loosened up considerably. I was lucky enough that his thumbs didn’t break as well!

    I had the straight arm version with its two handled bazooka, which I then gave to the swivel arm version the following year. And yeah, the first thing I did was to give him his pencil thin mustache, albeit with a blue pen. Never quite looked right in blue…

    The mustache and lime green uniform carried over from the card art to the comics and even the Sunbow cartoon, with Zap turning up in “The Funhouse” and “Cobra’s Candidate” long after his figure was discontinued. Hard to believe that he wasn’t updated until the 90’s Super Sonic Fighter version showed up.

  • @ Acer
    The man who says ‘Heres the problem someone set this thing to evil” The Charles Bronson guy. I dont know why but thats the voice i hear when i read Zap

    A pity Zap didnt appear in the cartoon more. By the time the series was in full swing he had been replaced by Bazooka.

    In issue #1 of the comics he is able to fly rotary wing craft. I would have liked to have seen more of that in the comics

  • Why do you say Zap’s head is a reuse of the Grunt mold? Since all these guys were released in the first wave, it’s just as easy to say Grunt was a reuse of the Zap mold, or the Grand Slam mold. But it’s really the Grand Slam/Grunt/Zap mold.

  • The ’82/’83 line up makes for the best stand alone look with most in green, as well as the vehicles mostly in green. I think ’82/’83 have the best ability to work with vehicles, too.

    By the time I got this Zap, I already had my ’91 Zap firmly in use. With the exception of driving my old A.P.C., the old Zap here didn’t get much more action. So many later run figures were just not going to sit comfortably in that A.P.C., so even in toy form there is a lot of teamwork.

  • Just paid 40 bucks online for an ’83 Zap.I was very fortunate to be able to replace his o-ring, as his screw was almost stripped, but the screwdriver got just enough grip to get it out. Zap is a very fragile figure,his heel can break off quite easy with too much force,such as putting Zappy on a figure stand.I made an “Emerald Zap” using parts from the 97 series, and the vintage stays on display,barely holding his weapon…

  • @skymate, Zap flew the helicopter? huh. as many times as I’ve read that issue I never noticed Zap was the pilot. that certainly adds some depth to the character.

  • @NFCJ at the tail end of the issue when they need to get out of the Cobra base before it goes up, Hawk finds a helicopter and tells Zap to fly them out. Zap replies that he hasnt flown a chopper in ages

  • WHY DON’T I REMEMBER THAT SCENE? I am definitely slipping in my old age.

  • I never got the swivel arm Zap. I went through 2 or 3 straight arms, breaking thumbs/fingers on all of them. Why did I still buy toys that broke so easily? That’s just how cool GI JOE was, I guess.

  • @Skymate
    Oh, THAT guy–yeah, that’s Hank Azaria. Funny thing–Chris Latta, the voice of Cobra Commander, was the first voice of Moe on The Simpsons, but only for the pilot episode. Azaria took over soon after. In the Family Guy episode “PTV”, which came on years after Latta’s death, Cobra Commander makes an appearance as the head of the FCC, voiced by Azaria.

  • Zap- the first Joe wounded in action.

  • @Acer The only episodes of Family guy i can bring myself to watch now are the ones with Transformers or Gi joe referances. Flint onece told Chris it was bad to drink [i think], Stewie and Brian aparently once did a Tomax and Xamot impersonation, Soundwave works at the brewery, Megatron hangs out with Joe, Optimus worships at the Quahog synagog. And Stewie has an Energon Starscream toy [which is miscoulered as Dirge]

  • @Skymate
    I thought it was a G1 Starscream.

    Anyway, back to the figure at hand, I actually think Sonic Fighters Zap appeared on the DIC cartoon too–it was in the episode with that rocker, Billy Blaster. At least in the Sunbow toon, Zap got some lines (courtesy of Buster Jones).

  • @Acer
    I dont think i can ever bring myself to watch the DIC series again. I’d rather watch My Mother the car

  • Or its middle-Eastern equivalent, My Mother the Camel. (It’s a joke from The Critic–they also did “Brown Acres”.)

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