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Beachhead

GI Joe 25th Aniversary
by yo go re

The GI Joe team is loaded with the best of the best, so imagine how tough a guy has to be to boss them around. And we're not talking about rank, here, but actual intimidation. It takes a special kind of hardass to serve as the Joes' drill instructor, but you'd probably mold yourself into a tough guy, too, if your real name was "Wayne Sneeden."

Beachhead was a Lane instructor at the Ranger School in Fort Benning and an Observer/Advisor at the Covert Ops School in Central America. He's meticulous, patient, and strong-willed. He likes getting up at 0600 hours to take a ten-mile run and PT (physical training) session before breakfast. He enjoys squatting motionless beside a jungle trail for three days straight waiting to ambush bad guys who might never show up. What he hates are people who aren't interested in doing their best. Qualified expert: all NATO and Warsaw Pact small arms.

For the most part, only the info on the Joes' filecards and in the comic is considered canonical. The stuff in the cartoon? Never happened. However, Beachhead has the rare distinction of being an exception to that rule. When, in "Arise Serpentor, Arise! (Part 3)," he and Mainframe were forced to hide out in Vlad Tepes' coffin, Beachhead mentioned that he doesn't wear deodorant. It was just an off-hand joke, but it got adopted as a running gag for the cartoon, and became a popular piece of fanon. It was finally brought into the comics via the GI Joe Battlefields exanded bio, making his poor personal hygiene official.

Beachhead (at various points it's also been "Beach Head" and "Beach-Head") shares his mold with Firefly, but he came out one series sooner than the Cobra saboteur, so technically it belongs to him. However, don't think that means the two figures look alike: Hasbro's really mastered the art of the repaint, using new paint and new parts to set its characters apart.

One part of the figure that didn't get re-used is his head. Hasbro probably could have gotten away with it, too, since both Beachhead and Firefly wear full-head masks that only expose their eyes, but where FF's hood looked like some high-tech, shed-proof fabric, Beachhead's wearing a common balaclava. It has the same striated look as his shirt, suggesting they're the same kind of knit material. Only his eyes are visible, and he looks ready to beat someone's ass.

To complete his old-school look, Beachhead has a black tactical vest with enough pouches and pockets to make Cable blanch. It really looks impressive, since all the buckles and snaps get silver paint apps, and a red beret is tucked into his shoulder. There's also a silver "75" printed on his left arm, as there was on the original toy. His pants are brown and green camo, and he's wearing some impressive boots. There's a knife tucked in his right boot, and a holster strapped on his thigh.

Even Beachhead's accessories are impressive! He's got a pistol for the holster, and a black machine gun. The backpack is really neat, with several large pockets, a flap over the top and a distinct texture all over. There's a rope coiled underneath, and slots for four crossbow bolts on the side. It's a tremendously detailed piece, and there's still more to appreciate here: the final accessory is a small two-piece crossbow (explaining the bolts on the side of the pack) which can be stored safely in a notch in the middle of the backpack.

Not only is Beachhead one of the only Joe characters to ever adopt anything from the cartoon, he's also one of a handful to have direct connections to another show. In 1988, Hasbro released a new original property, C.O.P.S.; set in the year 2020, the line featured cybernetically-enhanced police and villains. It had a goofy charm (the lead officer was Baldwin P. "Bulletproof" Vess, for instance) and some trippy Bart Sears designs, but more importantly, it had a fairly vanilla MP character codenamed Checkpoint. According to his filecard (written by none other than Larry Hama), Checkpoint's "father was a member of a top secret military team." Checkpoint's real name? Wayne R. Sneeden III. I guess that makes Beachhead "junior."


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