REVIEW: OFFICIAL G.I. JOE COLLECTORS' CLUB EXCLUSIVE: FOOTLOOSE
The original Infantry Trooper for the G.I. Joe team, introduced in 1982, went by the name of "Grunt". While perhaps not the most complimentary code-name ever conceived, it wasn't inappropriate, either, since basic infantry soldiers were commonly known as "grunts".
Several years into the G.I. Joe line, the Joe Team had grown to the point where it was entirely plausible for there to be more of one particular specialty within the Team. There was also the little factor that some of the earliest G.I. Joe figures were being phased out of the line, and replacements in certain specialties were needed. Logically, that certainly included an Infantry Trooper.
And so, in 1985, a new Infantry Trooper by the name of FOOTLOOSE was added to the original Real American Hero Team, and it is this same character that has been made in the 25A-style figure format, and offered as the special 2012 Club Membership figure for the Official G.I. Joe Collectors' Club!
Let's consider some of the history of the character.
According to his original file card, Footloose's real name is Andrew D. Meyers from Gary, Indiana. The file card describes really, someone who had everything going for him and then inexplicably turned his back on it. He was high school valedictorian, captain of the track team, an Eagle Scout, and was working towards a college degree when he abruptly dropped out and moved to the West Coast. After several years of wandering and pondering, he decided to join the Army, and did, somehow eventually qualifying for the G.I. Joe team.
Perhaps the most telling comment on the original file card is this: "He's the All-American boy who got lost on his way to the fair and he's simply trying to go home any which way he can."
The animated series in particular played this up every chance they got, making Footloose come across as more than a bit flaky and having spent way too much time indulging in the sort of trendy philosophical movements that were -- well, trendy at the time. He'd sit down in the middle of a minefield to meditate on how to get out of it. (The crazy thing is it worked.) When a squad of Cobra Stinger jeeps were sent onto that same minefield to capture Footloose and Dusty, and promptly started getting blown up, Footloose proclaimed that they were simply, "living out their karma". And his speech pattern definitely made excessive use of the word "man".
Footloose's file card mentions that "Some of the Joes think that Footloose is out there..." It doesn't specify how many of them had trouble keeping a straight face around him.
Footloose was not heavily emphasized in the comics, although he did turn up just in time to take part in one of the more peculiar battles, in which members of the G.I. Joe team pursued Tomax and Xamot to a circus that was rife with Crimson Guards. The battle was the least of it. Footloose first had to deal with checking in with Wild Bill, whose first words were "My, don't y'all have the look of the repple-depple about you", referencing the colloquial term for "replacement depot".
Footloose came across as a bit on the nervous side, and this wasn't helped when Wild Bill casually explained that the "B" in Footloose's Infantry designation stood for "bullet-stopper". Wild Bill then took Footloose along in the Dragonfly copter to join the battle, literally by opening a concealed roof panel in the G.I. Joe headquarters. At this point, Footloose was unnerved enough to remark that he expected that the danger would mostly come from the bad guys, whereupon Wild Bill replied that danger always comes from the direction you least expect it.
Arguably, Footloose's animated incarnation is a little better known among G.I. Joe fans, simply because his personality was a little better defined -- if slightly over the top.
However flaky Footloose might have been, he clearly had to have something going for him just to make it onto the Joe Team in the first place, and this served him well enough to make it onto the Slaughter's Marauders team in 1989. If the Sarge wants you on his personal team, then you've obviously got something serious going for you.
Footloose's file card was largely unchanged, including the speculation that he still had a few screws loose, quoting from the card, but it also was clear to state that when it came to organizing an attack against Cobra, Footloose was as sane as a general, and was the one that the Sarge turned to first whenever it seemed as though the team was caught in a "no-win" situation. Footloose was the one who could get them out of the area, no question.
The original Footloose figure's head saw two other uses during the original run, once as the head of Claymore, the legendary special missions operative from the Toys "R" Us exclusive Special Missions: Brazil set, and again as the head for a character named Rumbler, who was the driver of the radio-controlled vehicle known as the Crossfire. In each case, the hair and eye color of the headsculpt was changed from Footloose's brown, and the bodies were entirely different.
Footloose was scheduled to receive an all-new figure in 1995, but as 1994 saw an end to the Real American Hero line, this figure never came to pass.
Footloose would not return until 2005, as a newsculpt figure. The figure is a capable likeness of the character within that format, if not especially outstanding.
Another figure named Footloose turned up in 2009, as part of a movie-related troop-builder pack exclusive to Toys "R" Us. This set features Footloose in a desert camouflage uniform, which was common to this particular set. Again, it's not a bad figure, but it's not all that distinctive.
What's been lacking -- until now -- has been a modern-style Footloose figure that bore a decent resemblance to the original. The Club's Exclusive Membership figure has resolved that very nicely.
One might well ask the question -- why Footloose? It's a fair question, and while I don't know the entire reasons, I can offer some reasonable explanations. For starters, Footloose is an Infantry Trooper. That's always a good thing to have in any military organization.
For another, the character, although certainly not on the level of Duke or Snake-Eyes, is reasonably popular, doubtless in part because of his distinctive personality in the animated series.
But I tend to be of the opinion that one of the biggest reasons is because this was a character that's been sorely overlooked, who probably should have been turned out sooner than this, and due to various circumstances, just didn't get the chance, and probably wouldn't've, had it not been for the Club intervening on his behalf.
Consider how the modern G.I. Joe figure line has proceeded. It commenced with the 25th Anniversary of the Real American Hero, and initially, the line produced modern-style incarnations of popular figures from the first several years of the line. Despite the significant format change of the figures themselves, it was very easy to recognize Snake-Eyes, Duke, Cobra Commander, Destro, Scarlett, and others.
Every once in a while, a new character or figure would turn up, such as the Cobra Para-Viper, or Cobra Diver, or Matt Trakker, but for the most part, the line was devoted to modern incarnations of classic figures, and the majority of those figures were derived from the first four or five years of the line. But the further into the original years the line progressed, the fewer figures from those years actually turned up. By the time the modern figure line started producing figures of characters originally introduced in 1985 and 1986, the numbers started to taper off.
And then, in 2009, the first live-action movie came along, and as one would expect, the toys followed suit. At this point, the line was not so much dedicated to producing figures from the early years of the original line, but from the movie, or at least, figures that looked as though they could have been in the movie.
The post-movie G.I. Joe lines have tended to be a mixed bag of figures that seem to be a little more movie-related than before, or are entirely new versions of established characters, with occasional new faces thrown in, as well as a handful of figures based on the Renegades animated series. Don't get me wrong, there have been some interesting figures to be found here. But the days of modern-style figures being based on their original counterparts was thought to be pretty much over, until Hasbro, seemingly very much out of the blue, brought in modern figures of Lifeline, Sci-Fi, and the Cobra Techno-Viper, three highly distinctive and surprisingly colorful characters from 1986 and 1987, and even added Airtight to the mix, technically from the Renegades line, but looking very much as his original 1985 incarnation did. At this point, this sort of thing was the exception rather than the rule.
And as of this writing, the figure line based on the second live-action movie, "G.I. Joe - Retaliation", is imminent, and will certainly be on the shelves by the time you read this review. There's some very impressive figures and vehicles to be had here, but very little of it resembles anything from the original Real American Hero line. And it's way too soon to predict where G.I. Joe will go from here.
So if we were going to get a modern-style Footloose that resembled his original incarnation, this was the only way it was going to happen. The poor guy had just otherwise been a victim of bad timing, I suppose.
So, how's the figure? Well, I think it's safe to say that the Club has definitely "knocked one out of the park" with this. If you're looking for a modern-style Footloose that looks like his original Real American Hero version, here he is. If you're looking for a modern-style G.I. Joe figure that looks like a very impressive and authentic infantry soldier, you've got him right here as well.
In 1985, the G.I. Joe team hadn't really gotten into the bright colors and unusual uniforms that would populate the line's later years. There were a handful of oddballs here and there. Quick Kick was running around without a shirt and shoes, and Bazooka had his iconic bright red baseball shirt with the big blue "14" on the chest, but for the most part, the characters released in 1985 weren't part of the neon brigades of the later years. Dusty, the team's new Desert Trooper, looked entirely convincing. Alpine, the team's new Mountain Trooper, had a somewhat unusual design to his uniform, but there wasn't anything untoward about the color scheme.
And Footloose, however quirky his personality might well have been, didn't look at all out of the ordinary as a modern soldier. The figure was dressed in a camouflage uniform, mostly green with brown camouflage patches painted on it. Short-sleeved, with gray boots that had green sides, and a light olive green belt and straps, with pouches and other accessories molded to it. He wore a fairly complex helmet, designed to look as though it had leaves and other camouflage debris attached to it.
Arguably the most unusual detail about Footloose's uniform was the company insignia, which was a magenta-colored clover on his upper left sleeve. I have found out in recent years that the various unit emblems used on many of the G.I. Joe figures, especially those from the early years, are based on actual real life emblems.
The modern Footloose is an excellent representation of the original. The uniform color is right on the money, a proper military olive green, and the brown camouflage streaks are even more intricate than the original. The end result is an extremely intricate and authentic-looking uniform. As before, the uniform is short-sleeved, and Footloose has his proper gray military combat boots with the olive green sides.
The belt and straps are a separate piece, and while not a precise reproduction of the original, still manage to get the job done admirably. They're entirely the right color, a pale olive green, with a black buckle. The belt has assorted pouches on it, and a few of the details on the straps have been painted in a different, more straightforward green than appears elsewhere on the figure. This is also in keeping with the colors used on the original Footloose. And the magenta clover is also present and accounted for.
Footloose is wearing a black wristwatch on his left wrist, and has a silver wristband on his right. These are also details carried over from the original figure. About the only significant difference is that this Footloose has an undershirt visible at the top of his chest. The original didn't.
The headsculpt used is the same one that was used for the 2011 Convention figure of Claymore, who was sold as part of that year's Convention Set. It's certainly fitting as such, since the original Claymore used Footloose's head.
It's difficult to say how close a likeness it is, since generally speaking, the modern heads are somewhat more detailed than the originals. Offhand, I'd have to say that the modern Footloose looks a little older and a little more determined than the original. I can't quite see him acting like the flake that the original Footloose did. However, all the colors are right. Tan hair and mustache, and eyebrows, for that matter.
To be perfectly honest, I think the headsculpt looks more than a little like actor Tom Selleck, but this comes across a lot more on the Claymore figure, whose black hair and mustache are more of a match for Selleck's. To what degree this likeness is in any way deliberate I'm not going to speculate.
Paintwork on the entire figure is very neatly done. Granted, it's hard to mess up camouflage. But the more precise painted details, such as the facial details and those on the belt and straps, has been done extremely well, as have the boots and wrist accessories.
Speaking of accessories, Footloose comes with plenty. Especially notable is his helmet, which is the same military olive as his uniform, and is decidedly more detailed than the original, with visible netting, which has been painted black with some very fine lines, and a clump of tan-colored leaves and other debris very impressively sculpted on the top.
Footloose also comes with a large, and I do mean large, backpack. Exceedingly well detailed even to having a molded fabric texture to it, the backpack has elastic straps to hold it in place, and there's even a slot in the center of it to carry Footloose's flashlight. The backpack is the same lighter olive color as the belt and straps Footloose is wearing.
Of course, Footloose also comes with a small flashlight, as well as a knife, a pistol, a rifle, and a portable missile launcher with a missile. This is not an actual spring-loaded device, but it still looks cool, and certainly results in a very well-equipped Footloose. He also comes with a display stand, just in case he can't maintain his balance lugging all this stuff around.
Footloose's new file card reads a fair bit like his original, but the second paragraph gives him a more professional edge than before. It reads as follows:
File Name: Meyers, Andrew D.
Footloose was valedictorian of his high school class, captain of the track team, and an Eagle Scout. He was going for his degree in Physical Education on a state scholarship when he suddenly dropped out, moved to the West Coast, and spent three years searching for elusive answers to cosmic questions. He was standing on the boardwalk along Venice Beach one day when the randomness of his existence hit him between the eyes like a runaway freight train. "I think I'll join the Army," he said, and did. After completing basic, jump school, and desert training, he joined the infantry ranks of the G.I. Joe team.
Footloose makes himself feel right at home in any environment. However, he enjoys the challenges of trekking through jungle locales the most. If you ask him, he'll tell you something about feeling a connection with everything from the dangerous wildlife all the way down to the pesky mosquitoes. On the flip side, he's the one carrying the latest assault rifle and portable rocket launcher to handle any situation that goes bad. His teammates respect him, although they still think he acts a little weird sometimes.
"That's far out, man!"
Ah, that personal quote. There's the Footloose we know and love, who meditates in minefields...
So, what's my final word? This is a great figure. The Club has really done a superb job in bringing Footloose, very deservedly, into the modern G.I. Joe figure format. He probably should have made it when the retail line was still emphasizing the extension of the 25th Anniversary line, and largely creating modern figures based on original figures and likenesses, but it just didn't happen. Any number of popular characters got left out of that, and it's a shame, but at least now, this one can be added to the overall collection.
The OFFICIAL G.I. JOE COLLECTORS' CLUB figure of FOOTLOOSE definitely has my highest recommendation