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Monday, October 10, 2022

G. I. JOE #68 - February 1988 (The Commercial, Not the Comic)

 


Battle Force 2000

The secret force of G. I. Joe

Battle Force 2000

They can take on any foe

For G .I. Joe...a real American hero!

Last time, I was able to break some big news...I'd stumbled across the only known television commercial for the spinoff title, G.I. Joe: Special Missions something not archived in the 25+ years of online Joe fandom. Joe fans spread the link and the post took off, for which I'm grateful. I'm also perhaps a bit of a dunce for not plugging any of my novels on Amazon, or my Kindle Worlds Joe novels you can read for free on Smashwords...but ah, well.

Anything shocking and newsworthy this time? Nope, but we do have everyone's favorite late '80s additions to the Joe roster.


The original, character-specific jingles are back, so that's something, maybe. And classic Joe voiceover announcer Jackson Beck is still around, in addition to Michael Bell and Chris Latta as Duke and Cobra Commander, respectively. And it closes out with the show's iconic tagline, as if the 1980s version of Joe is gripping tightly to a beloved past as the decade draws to a close.

Sometimes these commercials feel like lost episodes of the show, other times they're a showcase of a vehicle doing something toyetic. We have the latter here. They pass by far too quickly, but this time we have  Cobra Maggots, Wolves, a Sea Ray and HISS tanks on the Cobra side (all nicely animated in the "Sunbow style"). On the Joe team, we're introduced to...it had to happen eventually...Battle Force 2000. 

After some business, the various Joe vehicles are joined together to form the "Future Fortress" and tease something cool in this issue of the Marvel comic. Battle Force 2000 has become the Joe equivalent of Cobra-La -- the official line amongst fandom is that you must hate them, as they're an awkward attempt to drag the franchise towards science fiction and far away from realistic military action-adventure. You could argue there's some dangerous groupthink here, and a brave individual needs to speak up on behalf of an unsung concept...but, seriously, it might be okay to go along with the herd this time. Save that energy for Crystal Ball.


Even as a kid, I had no interest in Battle Force 2000, even though I was maintaining some excitement for the latest Joe characters (like Muskrat, Hardball, and Shockwave) and new to buying the comic off the newsstand. This is very likely the first issue of the monthly Joe series off the spinner rack I bought as a kid. It's a fun issue with fantastic Ron Wagner art that's more about Cobra's scheme to sell Terrordromes and "paranoia radiowaves" (inspired by an actual Soviet plot) to assorted dictators than pushing Battle Force 2000.

So, it's another stage in the collapse of the "real" Real American Hero years, but it's another commercial with quality animation and the voice actors everyone loves. And if you're a hardcore Joe fan, it's also fun/weird/"wrong" to see Cobra Commander's silver armor in the Sunbow style. The plane crash sequence looks particularly impressive, making me wonder if Russ Heath was still working on the animation at this late date. We only have a few of these Marvel ads left, so let's appreciate what we've got while it lasts.

Now, if you'll excuse some gratuitous self-promotion... It would mean a lot to me if you'd sign up for my mailing list.  Right now, you can get a free "lost" chapter of my latest '80s-inspired thriller Blind Cerulean, but in the coming weeks, I'll also be posting some free, exclusive short stories via the list. I only send a few emails out a year, and I'm not selling your emails to anyone. Also, I have a pretty big announcement coming soon, so why be left out? Click here, folks!


5 comments:

  1. I think this is one of only two ads where Duke talks (the other being issue 28) -- and this is by far the larger of his two speaking roles. He's glimpsed to varying degrees in several of them, mostly during the 1983-84 period, but has lines only in those two. (As I recall, his role in this actual issue is miniscule, showing up on the very last page for a brief moment).

    I sometimes wonder what Michael Bell thought when he was called in to record this ad... "Wasn't I killed off??"

    I've never quite understood all the hate for Battle Force 2000. I do think most of the figures are kind of boring looking (especially Blocker, the guy in the gray/orange camo), but I always liked Dodger, especially in his recolored Sonic Fighters version, and I thought some of the vehicles, particularly the jet and the tank-on-skis, were very cool looking. I didn't own all of them though, so I've never seen the "future fortress" assembled in person.

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  2. I don't know how the logistics of the voiceover work were managed at this date. It would've been easy to keep a few actors late, or ask them to come in early, and do these spots when the show was in production. But after it had been cancelled? Were they still calling Wally Burr in? (Though now that I think about it, likely all of these actors were still doing Sunbow/Hasbro shows until this era of Sunbow ended).
    Gene Kendall

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  3. Once you run out of these commercials, I vote you take a look at those old GI Joe PSA overdubs that one guy did in the early 00s.

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  4. Even as a kid, I had no interest in Battle Force 2000, even though I was maintaining some excitement for the latest Joe characters

    I loved Cobra-La as a kid and I still carry some affection for it today, but Battleforce 2000 then and now leaves me cold. I think the big problem with it is that GI Joe was already embracing more sci-fi elements, which is supposed to be Battleforce 2000's whole deal. So they come off as just being *more* sci-fi, which isn't really all that catchy. Plus, in presenting the whole "near-future technology" thing, they fall into the trap all such efforts do: in trying to imagine the not-too-distant future, they immediately become dated.

    it's also fun/weird/"wrong" to see Cobra Commander's silver armor in the Sunbow style

    Fun thing I only recently realized about that battle armor - at least based on the card art for the figure, I think it's meant to be modular armor that is just worn over his usual blue suit-esque uniform, and not a completely new uniform.

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    1. I'd never considered before that the silver armor might be modular. I guess it could be one way for Hasbro to justify so radically changing his look. I'm not sure if they strayed too far from his two classic looks as the years went on.

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