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Having a Blast with GI Joe – Part 1

Vintage GI Joe Grenades – GI Joe Action Soldier Combat pack

The first GI Joes that I played with were the vintage Action Marines and Action Soldiers. Of course, they were not vintage at that time. During my backyard battles, front yard battles, vacant lot battles, and alley battles, grenades were indispensable equipment. At least with those, you could do more than just make “Bang, bang, bang,” noises. With grenades, you could toss them at your enemy then make a big “KABOOM,” noise. 

I would clip on as many grenades as my squad could carry – on every pocket, belt, or backpack strap. Since they were so small and valuable, we counted them out, so we knew how many we would have to find in the grass later. To secure them between missions, I kept them in discarded Tic-tac containers, which also made them easier to recount.

GI Joe Soldiers of the World Russian Infantry Man and German Soldier

In those early years, we only had the small silver “pineapple” grenades. Later, I found the gear and clothing sets of the GI Joe Soldiers of the World, so we had the big Russian grenades and the classic war movie German “potato masher” grenades.

If you were very lucky, you had the big green grenades from the Marx answer to G I Joe – Stoney Smith. These were about twice the size of a Joe grenade. I never saw a Stoney as a child but was fortunate to have the same big grenades in black from the Marx Mike Hazzard Double Agent. Since they were so much larger, we pretended these were “atomic” grenades or “plasma” grenades.

While the GI Joe Adventure Team did not have many grenades, that did not stop my local team from using them, since those Joe’s were less aggressive, we re-tasked the grenades to be “stun” grenades or tear gas” grenades otherwise all those white tigers and pygmy gorillas would have been blown to bits instead of being captured.

Chunky Grenades

When Hasbro rereleased GI Joe as the Hall of Fame GI Joe’s, all of the accessories were big and chunky. On the Classic Collection GI Joe team (where they PAID ME to play with GI Joes – Woo-Hoo!), we were slowly replacing all of the chunky accessories. There were several minor variations on the fragmentation grenades (the pineapple grenades where the deep lines help the casing explode into deadly shrapnel). Some variations added a perpendicular pin on the end of the spoon/clip, which did help them stay on Joe better.

One version was just molded in reverse (…what a waste of tooling dollars), but eventually, they went back to the correct scale and had good detail and even cool little metal rings. Sometimes, the tops were even painted to look more realistic.

Canister and Special Grenades

Canister grenades (with smooth casings) could hold buckshot, tear gas, or be “flash-bang” grenades. Once again, the first ones were big and clunky but were later updated in Classic Collection with correct proportions, metal rings, and some even had printing or color codes designating the type of grenade.

In the clunky grenades, there was also a variety of colors that the grenades were shot in. I understand the variations of silver, gray, black and even gold, but the red and real ones that came on the Mortal Kombat figures were just too dorky for me.

GI Joe bomb US marine Grenade Thrower

The most fun use for the chunky grenades is on the Marines… This figure was one of the first Joe’s that I worked on, and he throws well with a push-button on his back. I also made sure to equip that Joe with a few different types of grenades assuming the next generation would play as I had (okay… still do).

GI Joe Medal of Honor Francis Curry with Rifle grenade

With Classic Collection in full swing, there were many specialized grenades tooled. Francis Curry came with two of the rifle grenades that could, kind-of, clip onto the rifle barrels.

GI Joe Desert Grenadier – Assault Rifle Grenades

We also made the grenade shells for the grenade launcher that fits onto an M16 and also fit into a molded grenadier vest. They were fun – but a little undersized.

GI Joe WW2 Russian Infantry Soldier and Battle Gear

The Russian GI Joe became the best-equipped grenadier with three different and specific Russian grenades. There were the large anti-tank grenades that came with the figure. But in the hard-to-find Battle Gear set came with fragmentation grenades with a unique spoon/clip shape and the oh-so-cool Molotov cocktail grenades. Sadly, many of my Joes are in storage from my recent move (imagine the last scene from Indiana Jones…), so I could not shoot or find clear pictures of these, but they are one of the nicest small Joe accessories every produced. The Pawtucket designer took special care to make them perfect.

GI Joe US Army Mine Sweeper

I was always trying to add more play to any toy I worked on, so when I made the Mine Sweeper GI Joe, I added a more cost-effective method than the vintage metal mines and battery-operated finder.  Each of these mines had magnets added so that the child could detect with a turning magnet on the minesweeper. If you take your mines to the beach, put just a little sand over them, just enough to bury them all the way. Then set the flipping magnet to the black side up.  When it moves over a mine, the magnetic force from the mine flips the magnet in the sweeper.  Note also for the military purists – that set looks very accurate except for the flipping magnet. So, if you want a perfect one for a diorama, you only need to replace that disk with a new blank disk.

GI Joe and Action Man – dynamite stack

This accessory may have been used in a Hall of Fame set, but I know this stack was used on several Action Man sets. Sometimes it even had a magnet attached in the back so you could have the fun of sticking it so metal surfaces.

GI Joe vs. COBRA Firefly bomb with suction cup

That dynamite stack always looked cheap to me, so first chance I had, I updated it to look more high-tech with an electronic detonator.  I know that canisters of C4 or plastic explosives putty are more modern, but they do not look as much like a cool bomb, so I stayed with the traditional dynamite sticks. Since that figure had a feature of suction cup knees pads and a hand suction cup, I added a suction cup to the back of the bomb so he could climb, attach and getaway.

Stay tuned next week for the bigger bombs and explosives in GI Joe’s arsenal!

What is your favorite GI Joe tactical explosive?