Like most boys growing up in the 1980s, I was a huge G.I. Joe fan. It started with the comics- made great by the writer Larry Hama (whom the character of Tunnel Rat was modeled after), then moved on the sillier cartoon – Pyramid of Darkness motherfuckers!- and prompted me- and all other red blooded American boys- to buy the toys.
As time went on and the franchise expanded in all directions, more and more Joes needed to be added onto the roster. And towards the tenth and eleventh iteration of new characters they began to strain at the seams for new names and new ideas. As such, some bad decisions were made in the creation of new characters. So I give you the five worst code names for G.I. Joe characters.
These are not popular characters. They were released as toys, never supported in other media, then fell into the ashbin of history. Some of these are so obscure that even a hardcore Joe fan as myself had never heard of them before.
File Name: Mewett, Cliff V.
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Primary Specialty: Administrative Strategist
Secondary Specialty: Patriot Driver
File Comments: Proper dress and discipline have always been the backbone of the Colonel’s leadership. He works hard to impress these qualities upon his subordinates and insists that anyone who follows his lead will quickly transform themselves into a lean, mean, efficient fighting machine! Because of his efficient work ethic and organizational skills, he is usually assigned to intelligence tasks behind the lines, and behind a desk. So whenever he has a chance for combat duty, he eagerly jumps at the opportunity with an armor piercing weapon in one hand and machinegun blasting in the other.
Military buffs pointed out that the regular G. I. Joe team really lacked a command structure. They had General Hawk and the first sergeant Duke with no one in-between. So they introduced Lt. Falcon, Colonel Courage, and Captain Grid-Iron (see below). Apart from Lt. Falcon (who in the animated G.I. Joe movie was subordinate to Duke for some reason), none of the others ever caught on. Originally part of the twelfth series, it was discontinued in 1994.
And I can’t blame anyone for that. From a toy aspect, the figure doesn’t give you much. There are more weapons included with it than most action figures- seven in total, but they were recycled from other figures and issued in neon green, which is not the coolest color for your war toys.
The appearance of the toy is terrible as well. Even as kid, I would’ve noticed that he seems entirely assembled from different parts of previous characters painted different colors- and none of the interesting ones. In our old battlefields he would’ve just been cannon fodder, someone to be blown up by a firecracker, before the cooler characters came in.
Also the name, although I appreciate the alliteration, is terrible. Sounds like it should be part of a terrible Burger King Kids Club cartoon meant to “inspire children” but just ended up boring them to tears.
File Name: Lydon, Terrence
Birthplace: Evergreen Park, Illinois
Primary Specialty: Hand-To-Hand Combat Specialist
Secondary Specialty: Infantry
File Comments: CAPT. GRID-IRON was quarterback of the West Point football team and graduated in the top ten of his class. It can be said in his favor that he passed up an appointment to the U.S. Army War College for a conventional infantry at the company level. It was this determination to be “where the action is” that brought him to the attention of the G.I. Joe organization.
What was the pitch for this? “Everyone loves G.I. Joe and everyone loves football, so let’s combine the two.” Hence Captain Grid-Iron. He came complete with football shaped grenades, kneepads, and a football style helmet, an oversized rocket launcher, and was completely ridiculous.
He only appeared in one panel of the comic series, but was a regular in the DiC G.I. Joe cartoon series (this was the one who took up the series when Sunbow lost the license after completing the animated G.I. Joe Movie), and all of his dialogue was peppered with football references, which became irritating after the third one.
According to the hierarchy he was in charge of the G.I. Joe team, after the Colonel above and General hawk, but who the hell could take this guy seriously? Sergeant Slaughter should’ve put him in an itty-bitty-ditty bag.
File Name: Skylar, Edward J.
Birthplace: Burlingame, California
Primary Specialty: Infantry Transportable Air Recon
Secondary Specialty: Helicopter Assault
File Comments: Starduster was a circus trapeze artist when he enlisted in the Airborne Rangers. He quickly found that his acrobatic skills and boundless energy would come in handy when swinging from a 150-foot rope. But now he did his famous routines suspended from a Huey Assault Copter- with the audience throwing more than just popcorn and peanuts. It was Duke, however, who recognized how well Starduster’s death-defying act would work with the JUMP Jetpack. The combination has been a crowd pleaser ever since.
This character first appeared in 1987, when G.I. Joe was still pretty popular in comics and cartoons, but I’m sure plenty of people don’t recall it. That’s because he was only first available as a mail-in exclusive from G.I. Joe Action Stars Cereal. Afterwards, the figure was available as a mail-in offer from Hasbro Direct. The character was never released in stores and was discontinued in 1990.
The only media he appeared in was three mini-comics that was available in G.I. Joe Action Stars Cereal. Ironically the Jump jetpack he was debuting got more usage than the character, as it appeared very often in the Sunbow cartoon series.
Let’s face it, the name Starduster lacks punch. It sounds like it should belong to a magical pony on Rainbow Bright, or Strawberry Shortcake, or some other godawful feel good, lets-teach-a-lesson, piece of crap cartoon. The character itself looks cool, granted most of the toy was recycled from the Recondo, Flint, and Roadblock characters, to a young me the helmet, jetpack, and grenade launcher looks pretty awesome put together- I think my friends and I would’ve renamed him.
File Name: Roth, Edward J.
Birthplace: Allentown, PA
Primary Specialty: Stopped-Rotor Aircraft Operator
File Comments: Windmill was a flight instructor at the Army Flight Warrant Officers School in Fort Rucker and later flew experimental helicopter prototypes at the same facility for the Army Aviation Department Test Activity. You might think that test piloting is easier, or even safer than, testing jet fighters. Consider this- helicopters don’t have ejection seats. If you make a mistake, you ride down with it!
Windmill was the pilot character packaged exclusively with the Skystorm X-Wing Chopper toy. It was released in 1988, rereleased the following year, then shit-canned because no one wanted the stupid looking thing with its ugly pilot. This character and his aircraft didn’t appear in any other media until one of the mid-2000s G.I. Joe vs Transformers: Black Horizon comics where he was quickly killed.
Goddamn this is a stupid looking character. The colors are a fucking eyesore. Safety orange, puke green, blood red- was the person who designed this color blind? The head piece makes no sense and looks like a reject from a Buck Rodgers line of toys. Plus, the oversized revolver (while mercifully black in color) just looks stupid. Like the head, it seems as if it came from another line of toys altogether.
Had I been gifted this character, I would’ve disassembled it and used it as spare parts in a miniature landmine scene. That would be cool.
The Ice Cream Solider
File Name: Ragan, Tom-Henry
Birthplace: Providence, R.I.
Primary Specialty: Fire Operations Expert
Secondary Specialty: Barbecue Chef
File Comments: The last thing you would expect from G.I. Joe’s fiercest flamethrower commando is for him to be called the Ice Cream Solider. However, it’s a perfect cover for him because when Cobra hears the Joes are sending a guy into battle with a code name like that, they don’t expect much more than a sweet toothed kid with chocolate ice cream stains splattered on his fatigues. Cobra’s perceptions of him change fast when they see the Ice Cream Solider fire up his super-charged flamethrower and blast 75 foot streams of flaming gasoline into their foxholes and munition dumps… talk about a firefight! The Ice Cream Soldier is a one man inferno who scorches those slimy snakes until they melt like hot fudge on a summer sidewalk.
If there was ever an indication that G.I. Joe had well and truly jumped the shark, it was the creation of this character. Not the actual figure which looks pretty cool (despite the bright orange and yellow accents). The mold would eventually be used to create the Cobra Shock Viper character and, once repainted, shows that the design of it was decent, it was the name that cast the character in infamy.
It was released in 1994 as part of the deperate “battle corps” line. These had oversized spring loaded weapons, and many accessories with each character. It was an unsuccessful attempt to add life to the G.I. Joe line.
I can’t tell if someone let their four year old design a character or if they had become so complacent that they figured the fans would lap up whatever shit they troweled out. However, by 1994 the franchise was in its death knell- No more cartoons. The comic series had been canceled. Ideas must’ve been low. Why not the Ice Cream Solider? Kids like ice cream. It’s a fact. So kids would like a toy named after their favorite dessert. Not so much. As far as G. I. Joe figures go, it is one of the cheapest to pick up on eBay.