So, did you know that it's the 40th anniversary of GI Joe? And did you know that a few years ago, they started putting out new editions of the old-school GI Joes -- the old, 12" ones? The ones which TOTALLY FUCKING CAPTIVATED ME AS A YOUNGSTER? And, okay, they're pretty neat, but they're modern versions of the old ones, so they lack a certain resonance.
Now, you may or may not know, I'm not a big toy guy. I have a couple, mostly ones people have given me. I'm nerdy about all kinds of things -- comics, baseball, post-structuralism -- but generally, I don't go ape-poopy over plastic toys, no matter how nifty. However, when I was at the toy store last night buying a gift for some married friends of mine, I discovered that, in honor of the 40th anniversary, they're re-releasing the original "Adventure Series" G.I. Joes.
I'm talking about real-hair GI Joes. I'm talking about GI Joes with Kung Fu Grip. I'm talking about "Yeti Hunter" GI Joes, where a Joe in a brightly colored parka is menaced by a big plastic version of the Abominable Snowman who caught a break from Hermy the dental elf. I'm talking about "SCUBA Adventure" GI Joes, with a real rubber wetsuit. I'm talking about the goddamn "Spy Adventure" GI Joe, who comes with a trenchcoat, a map case that says "MAPS" (and has real maps inside it, made of real paper!), a bright red bulletproof vest that says "BULLETPROOF VEST", and a fake plastic face you put over his real plastic face (he's in disguise, see?!?)!!!
I tell you what: I came this close -- and here I make the "this close" gesture -- to buying not one, but ALL of them. The only thing that caused me to, in fact, buy none of them is that they were thirty goddamn dollars. But know this: if they release the GI Joe Equipment Locker: I'm gonna buy the whole line. Every fucking doll. I don't care if I have to sell my car.
BTW, I was looking at these "The Ultimate Soldier" toys, which are basically cheaper versions of the full-size GI Joes, and three things struck me as interesting.
1. There is something called an "Urban Firefighter". He looks just like a plain old regular firefighter to me, so I dunno. Maybe he listens to Wu-Tang Clan or something.
2. There is an Israeli Defense Force figure, but there is no Palestinian Intifada Rebel figure. Come on! What the fuck is that? Even in TOYS my peeps can't get no recognition.
3. The only "Ultimate Soldier" figure based on a real person is: Field Marshall Rommel. As in Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox. Now, I know he was a great general, and I know Hitler had him killed, and I know he wasn't as fanatical as, say, Goebbels, but still: he's a fuckin' Nazi. You'd think for the one single figure based on a historical person, they could pick, I dunno, Patton, or Grant, or Ike, or MacArthur, or hell, even Custer. But no, the fine people at 21st Century Toys decided, let's make it the guy whose reputation rests on a big pile of dead Allied soldiers. Way to go!
(To reiterate a so-subtle point: the NAZIS get a guy. In fact, the Ultimate Soldier line has 4 Nazis, a Japanese, a Vietnamese, and a Soviet. But NO ARABS!)