So let’s end this, eh? Mark Bellomo’s The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994 collects a bunch of Larry Hama’s proposed G.I. Joe character/toy names that didn’t make the cut. I went through the book, jotted them all down, and have been listing them here. Last time, we looked at the releases from 1990 (and before that, 1983 to 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988). Apparently, the final “classic” era Joe years that Hama worked on were 1991 and 1992, which is where my notes end; I know he also wrote the filecards for at least a year or two of the “new sculpt” era (2002-2006ish), but IIRC Bellomo’s book doesn’t cover those releases, so I got nothin’ on em.
So, for our final round of unused Larry Hama G.I.Joe/Cobra character names, we have…
Heavy Duty: Cinder-Block, Bulwark, Brick-Wall
Major Altitude: Air-Cav, Updraft, Whirlwind
Skymate: Digger, Jackaroo, Dingo
Sludge-Viper: Sludge Slinger
Interrogator: Probe, Third Degree, Inquisitor
Night Vulture: Owlhoots
Sky Creeper: Sky Skull, Nightwing
Big Bear: Skulker
Air Devil: Sky-Snake, Vector-Viper
Headman: Big Man, High Roller
Somebody was dead-set on Skymate having an Australia-themed name, huh? I guess he must’ve already had his boomerang by that point in development. Funny coincidence - the Australian reprint publisher for G.I. Joe used an original character named Digger (based on Recondo) to host their issues. The scans I remember seeing of Digger gave him a ridiculously stereotypical Australian accent, despite the fact he was presumably being written by Australians for an Australian audience. (I’ll have to prod my friend Andrew into putting those scans up on Tumblr.) Mind you, I still don’t know what a “Jackaroo” is.
Besides that derailment, there’s not too much here in terms of weirdness. “Spindrift” and “Bulwark” are solid names… “Skulker” is a bit more menacing than I would expect from the sympathetic portrayal of the Oktober Guard team that was concurrent with the toy release, I guess.
With the 50th anniversary of the G.I. Joe brand as a whole upon us, it was fun to look back at this part of its history; in its prime, the Real American Hero line was both a retail juggernaut and real product innovator. These days… well, it’s a hard swallow, but with the near-total absence of the line from store shelves following Retaliation (depending on how you count Kre-O), the fact the 2014 collector’s convention set is themed around zombies comes off like biting commentary on the franchise that no one picked up on.
Welcome to 2014, G.I. Joe. Hope you survive the experience…