There are amazing stories of how dogs have saved their handler’s lives in the field. In Vietnam, the dogs were so helpful to our servicemen and harmful the enemy forces that they issues a bounty on any American dog killed. Dogs in combat smell or hear dangers that humans cannot. Many times, the dogs stopped their partners from hitting trip wires or stepping on mines. Sadly, these furry heroes were deemed too dangerous to bring back and were left with the local units when US forces were withdrawn.
GI Joe US Marine Dog Unit
Bringing back up the topic of specific breeds for specific uses, the Marines in WW2 preferred to use doberman pinscher. The sculpting on this dog is top-notch with ears perked up as if he just heard something. The paint job is also meticulous. My favorite part of this set is the recreation of the real backpack and harness that the marine dogs used. It is so cool. This set was designed by one of the seasoned designers with a reenactor’s eye for meticulous detail.
There was another use planned for this doberman dog tooling but it never shipped and unfortunately, I cannot find any pictures of the model. So, you will just have to use your imagination. If you take that dog shape, paint it white and add spots properly, it makes a great Dalmatian. The plan was to include it into a set with a fire fighter – which would have been so cool. However, the firefighters stopped using their Dalmatians decades earlier. This created a dilemma; we could create a historical fire fighter set from an era when they were still using dogs to warn about smoke, or add it to a modern fire fighter even though it was less accurate. Sadly, it was decided to drop the Dalmatian as a turn-of-the-century firefighter is very esoteric (not in Joe’s core audience) and we did not want to issue a GI Joe that we knew was not accurate.
The doberman was used in one other product. It was “Action Man X-Missions K9-Patrol.” The harness is not used and it appears that the painting has been simplified.
A reader also pointed out that the doberman was also used in the Jungle Tunnel Rat. The funny thing is that that I didn’t notice it was there. When I designed and turned in that figure, it did not have a dog so it was added after and I did not notice.
Joe General George S Patton
Among the many idiosyncrasies of General George Patton was having a dog accompany him. This dog was “William the Conqueror” or “Willie” which the General often called his dog. The breed is a bull terrier. It may look unpainted in the package but the dog was mostly white and the designers did add the little spot Willie has on his rear at this tail. Since this dog is so specific, it is hard to use for any other situations, unless… you are trying to create a scene from the Black Sheep Squadron version of Pappy Boynton.
GI Joe ATF Sniffing Team concept model
In the timing of moving GI Joe into more civil duties, one such concept figure was the ATF Sniffing Team. This set gave us a good excuse to add a new dog and a feature. The plan was to use a similar mechanism to a Barbie dog that was bending its head down to nuzzle its babies by using the tail as the trigger. However, we wanted to use it so the dog could look sniffing and change to looking ready for action. The set was to come with a small homemade explosive device to find. The set was dropped for two reasons, 1) the entirely civil service direction was looking week and needed more excitement 2) the recent incidents with the ATF and its possibly undue use of force was still fresh in the public mind.
GI Joe Desert MP with dog
The last GI Joe dog to ship was with the Desert MP. This dog had head that could pivot from up/alert to down/sniffing. The painting on these dogs is beyond any other GI Joe dog in its detailing. What I really loved was that they assorted the color of the dogs in the same way we were assorting the hair colors on Joe. Therefore, you could get a dog in tan or gray. If you look at the Paint Master photo, it shows two dogs because the painting and colors of both versions had to be communicated to the factory.
GI Joe’s Continental Cousin – Action Man
There were a few more dogs used only for international sales for Action Man which were never used on a GI Joe. These are courtesy of my friend and collector Alessandro Tardioli Tardioli-Cauwenberghs from Belgium.
Hasbro Action Man Operation SOS
This is another arctic themed set. The dog in this set is smaller but well sculpted. It has an electronic chip inside to make it bark. They cleverly hid the button as an AM logo sculpted into the backpack that the dog is wearing. In terms of a dog breed, this looks more like a Samoyed instead of husky. The dog would fit well in any AT polar adventure.
Hasbro Action Man Urban Mission
This is a dog-shaped robot. It would work well for any AT display or backyard adventure. The dog has a leash which I believe is the trigger for the dog to make three different sounds. This silver/gray version was sold in Europe and there was a blue version sold in a pack with Dr X in some Latin American countries. Note that the dog also has a compartment to stash gear.
Hasbro A.T.O.M. Action Man Mecha-Dog K9000
Many people do not realize that Action Man continued to sell after GI Joe was cancelled in the states. It was still selling when I was down in Mexico about 3-4 years ago. As a side note – so is the Mattel Max Steel. They are both still alive in Latin America. The last version of Action Man is the A.T.O.M. (Alpha Teens On Machines) series which is much more cartoony looking. I believe this is keeping up with Max Steel who wen the same way. This is yet another robotic dog but different than the others. According to the description on the package “Activate Mecha-dogs cyber mode to reveal his light-up robotic skeleton and pop-up vision scope! With electronic sound effects and missile firing weapon.” If you look at the close up, there is a slit in the side of the dog’s head where a scope pops out. It also graphically shows sounds emanating from the dog.
Palitoy Action Man Brutis the Action Man Dog
We should not forget the vintage Palitoy era of Action man. This version is the mail-away one from the UK and later sold in France under CEJI Action Joe. It was also sold with the Palitoy Action Man Royal Canadian Mounted Police accessory set. This bulldog had a nice natural pose while seeming to be ready for action. Its paint job was also well done. One day, I will have to add this one to my collection.
Palitoy Action Man Sledge and Dog Team – reissue
To complete the circle, we must mention that while we had reissues in the US of GI Joe, Action Man had reissues in the UK with the “40th Anniversary” nostalgic collection by DiD (Dragon in Dreams). It is a reissue of the Adventures of GI Joe set with the same dog sled team that started off with dogs.
That was it for all the Joe dogs. I hope I have not missed any variations. There is one more of special note for all the Adventure Team collectors. There was an action figure dog made by Kenner. Originally, I wondered if it was planned to be Jamie Summers’ Bionic Dog but repurposed. However, when I tracked down the designer still working at Kenner and asked, he dispelled that myth. Yes… it is not perfectly 1/6th scale, he is a little big, but he is just so cool, had a trailer, a winch, working flashlight and squirting fire extinguisher. He joined in many of my GI Joe back yard adventures. Enjoy images of the obscure “Duke the Super Action Dog!”
Which is your favorite 1/6th scale dog?
NOTE: We are noticing that our provider is having issues getting the notices through spam filters or just having issue getting them out. (I did not even get my notice last week that they went out). While we sort these technical details out, remember I almost always release the new post on the weekend. So if you go to twelveinchtreasures.com on Sunday nights, there should be a new post waiting for you. You can also look through back articles. ENJOY!