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Gung-Ho

GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

Semper Fig.

A tireless brawler who is physically incapable of experiencing fear, Gung-Ho punches first and lets someone else clean up the mess. A genetic anomaly that inhibits his fear response makes him willing to enter any situation, no matter the personal danger. His bayou roots make him a perfect selection for missions involving jungle or swamp terrain.

Wait, he what? Gung-Ho was first introduced in 1983, and being immune to fear has never once been a part of his personality until now. Check the bullet points, son! '83: bare-knuckle brawler and knife-fighter. '87: he cleans up quickly. '92: Marines are special. '93: nothing new. '97: he's proud of his tattoos. '01: he relaxes by swapping stories with Navy SEALs. '02: training camp wasn't worse than his home; he's Destro's sworn enemy. '03: his toughness isn't an act. '04: he's courteous and soft-spoken; he claims he was a "shy" adolescent. '05: he's the first into a fight; no one's sure what rank he should be, because he keeps getting promoted for heroism, then demoted for off-duty brawling. See? Not even a hint of his malformed amygdala until 2020. Weird.

Despite his typically fanatical pride at being a Marine, Gung-Ho has almost never worn a Marine Corps regulation mustache, as detailed in MCO 1020.34H: it can't go past the corners of the mouth, it can't pass above the lowest point of the nose, it can't go beyond the upper lip, and it can be no longer than half an inch. His has always been longer, been bushier, been a goatee... in 2002 he went all Fu Manchu... but the style these days is a horseshoe mustache. That's how he was drawn in the Marvel comics, but it wasn't seen on toys until 2015. If you remove his cap, you'll find that instead of being bald, he's got the silliest little mohawk you've ever seen. It's like the ideological opposite of a comb-over.

Below the neck, Gung-Ho uses the same body as Roadblock - a perfect choice, since they were the team's two "big" guys back in the '80s. Some of the add-on pieces come from the Target-exclusive "Cobra Island" Roadblock we couldn't get away from in 2020: the brace/armor on his right forearm, the pad on his left elbow, and the three grenades strapped to his left thigh (though Roadblock wore them on his left). His vest is a new piece, unique to him, and it hangs open to expose his chest - which also means he retains the chest hinge the original Roadblock lost, due to his vest being closed. The three grenades over his left shoulder get olive drab paint apps, while the protective pad over his right arm is a nice silver (matching the team transponder or whatever that unifying design element is meant to be). There are also some silver outlines on the vest, suggesting it's got protective armor inside. His hat is a simple patrol cap, like the Army would wear, not the pointier Marine utility cover cap he used to have.

Speaking of changes, his paint is dark. Classic Gung-Ho wore a light blue vest with matching camo pants; Classified Gung-Ho opts for green. Considering I just found this figure recently, it's likely the one that's shipping with the Cobra BATs and Alley Vipers, meaning a rerelease: we know that some of the other early figures have been rereleased with altered paint, so why not take the opportunity to change Gung-Ho? It'd make him look different from the existing toy, and give people an excuse to double-dip.

Of course, there might still be complaints about his tattoo. Part of what made Gung-Ho such a memorable character in the early days was not just his boisterous personality and over-the-top accent, but the fact that he had a gigantic Marine Corps logo covering his entire chest. That's obviously fluctuated over the years, more than a real tattoo woulld, but it's been consistent. This version does still have a tattoo, but it's not the tattoo. There are three elements to the official logo: the eagle, the globe, and the anchor. This one definitely has the bird and the ball, but then also a... K-bar knife? The eagle is wrapping around the Earth a bit, rather than being above it, and the knife sticks straight down behind them instead of being angled like the anchor. There's something near the tip of the knife, but we can't recognize it. Maybe they're supposed to be the eagle's talons, gripping the knife? The globe is centered on the Atlantic ocean, rather than the western hemisphere.

The popular theory behind this design is Hasbro wasn't allowed to use the real logo because it's trademarked now, but that doesn't hold up: it's been trademarked for longer than GI Joe has been a brand, and even if you want to count from the time the Marines created a special office for licensing and enforcement, that was in 2009, and there have definitely been traditionally inked Gungs-Ho since then. Nor is it a question of the vest being removable, because existing figures have had that, too. Maybe the Corps got in touch with Hasbro and said "hey, you're not using this as a selling point for the figure or insinuating it's an official product, so we won't complain about the ones you've already made, but how about cutting us a break next time you do the character so we don't have to start looking at you?"

My first Gung-Ho toy was the 1987 version wearing his dress blues, so I can't really speak about what the character's "iconic" weapons are. I do know the 25th Anniversary Collection version had a grenade launcher, so that's what I associate with him. This release gets three weapons, all vaguely sci-fi future tech rather than real stuff, but one of them is absolutely meant to be a grenade launcher! You can tell by the molded drum underneath it. There's also something that would once have been a pump shotgun, and another that would have been a bullpup. He's got a tall, rectangular backpack with clips on the sides and bottom where you can store his weapons. The weapons are all solid grey, with no paint apps of their own, but at least the backpack matches the uniform.

Despite being a re-rlease, Gung-Ho is sold in a box identifying him as figure 07, with art by James Paick on one side and his stats on the other: Environmental Specialist 3, Heavy Weapons 2, Hand-to-Hand Combat 3, and Jungle Combat 3. You might expect a popular vintage character like this to get at least one 4, but clearly Hasbro isn't playing favorites. I just picked this up on a whim, because it was something other than movie Snake-Eyes or Storm Shadow and I was excited to see that. Not doing a "v2" repaint was a missed opportunity, but Gung-Ho still turned out better than expected.

-- 02/04/22


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