The animals that (over)populated the G.I. Joe universe
G.I. Joe featured a lot of animals. They were cute. And then they piddled on the Joe Team's welcome mat. Not cool.
by Dave McAwesome
Apart from Sit 'n' Spin, no childhood toy had more impact on my life than G.I. Joe (Sit 'n' Spin because nothing's more fun when you're a kid than being dizzy, and G.I. Joe because it was a rockin toy line, more rockin than...a...band...that, uh, rocks really hard...like, maybe Metallica or Night Ranger...yeah, Sister Christian, oh the time has come, and you know that you're the only one, to say, okay…dunh dunh dunh dunh Motorin'!!! What's your price for flight?). Indeed, what IS your price for flight? In finding Mister Right? You'll be alright...tonight. Yeah, that's a satisfactory answer. Thank you, Night Ranger, for your guileless insight. Allmusic.com describes the mood of Night Ranger's music as "rousing." So there you go. I'm totally roused.
Not so in my childhood. I would describe my mood as 'psyched.' Psyched about all the cool Joe versus Cobra stuff. I loved all the little intricacies of the toys. Tripwire's backpack, for example, had three removable land mines. In this fashion, you could create a small mine field to halt the evil practices of Cobra agents. Then, after the operation is over, you pull out, head back to HQ forgetting where you left the mine field, and helpless Fisher-Price children get blown to pieces while planting corn. Ah, the cycle of life.
One day, Hasbro decided to up the ante. They started packaging animals with some of their figures. For example, Mutt, the dog trainer action figure, had a dog, also named Mutt in all probability (Editor's note: the dog was in fact named Junkyard but also answered to 'Filthy Cur'). Snake Eyes came with a wolf named Timber and...whoa, hold on a sec. Snake Eyes didn't talk. So how the hell would the wolf have a name? What would he do if he wanted the wolf's attention? Did he nod his head assertively? Did he kick the wolf in the ribs? Gently? Normal people don't get away with kicking wolves in the ribs. Even gently. It's just not done. Then again, Snake Eyes isn't a normal person. He's a ninja, and if we've learned nothing else from Michael Dudikoff's American Ninja movies it's that ninjas can do ANYthing.
After a while, the population of the G.I. Zoo pretty much exploded. We got wild boars, cats, a kennel full of dogs, an alligator (yeah, an alligator for the Croc Master...the Croc Master gets an alligator...oh, Alanis Morissette, where are you and your 'irony' song when I need you?), even a damn manta ray.
I can only speak for myself, but 'myself' would like to let it be known that he had plenty of time to play with moo-cows and other assorted animals when he was, like, two years old. Beyond that, it was time to bring on the toys with guns. I honestly have no use for a dog with my action figures. Flesh-eating pet dinosaur? Sure, what the hell. But a pet pooch or cute kitty just doesn't match the toy howitzers I'd grown accustomed to. And I haven't even begun to discuss the G.I. Aviary. Parrots, eagles, falcons…it didn't stop. Now I remember why the G.I. Joe base had a jail cell: to cage all these wild beasts.
Grrranimal, what a mess. I'd hate to be the G.I. Jerk who had to clean up after these pets. "Jeez, Snake Eyes, do you have to feed your semi-tame wolf the soft, Beef-a-Roni-style dog food? His poo reeks like sour ass tarts. Gah." And Snake Eyes would only shrug in silence 'cause the guy couldn't speak. But you suspected he muttered something derogatory under his breath. The bastard. But, hey, you can't say anything; he's a ninja. And ninjas can do ANYthing. So you ditch your poo mop, pack your bag, kick-start your Honda and wave good-bye to the G.I. Zoo. This hombre's goin A.W.O.L. Into the night air, you howl familiar bars of an old rock tune. As bugs plaster your teeth, the lyrics have new meaning. Yes, new meaning indeed. "Dunh dunh dunh dunh Motorin! What's your price for flight? Dunh chugga dunh chugga dunh dunh."
Next up: The War on the Floor. G.I. Joes and Transformers battle for supremacy on my living room carpet.