Toychest Time Machine: Hasbro’s G.I. Joe Extreme (1995)
We talk a lot here at the clubhouse about 80s era nostalgia, but the 90s were full of some pretty great stuff too (however gimmicky it may seem now). Stretch Armstrong made a comeback (along with his dog Fetch and evil twin Wretch), Saved by the Bell was in its prime, and just about everything had to have “EXTREME” next to its name… such as G.I. Joe Extreme.
Following in the mold of its predecessors as a reason to sell more toys, G.I. Joe Extreme was conceived as a total reboot of the franchise by Hasbro and Sunbrow Productions (The Tick, Conan the Adventurer). It even went so far as to replace all of the characters from previous series and creating a new Cobra Command in the form of SKAR (Soldiers of Khaos, Anarchy and Ruin) led my the evil Iron Klaw. I suppose using the letter “C” was either too obvious or not “extreme” enough. Gone too were favorites such as Duke, Lady Jaye, Hawk, Snake Eyes, Scarlett, and Sgt. Slaughter; instead we got Lt. Stone, Ballistic, Mayday, Black Dragon and Quick Stryke (among others).
While the cartoon itself wasn’t that memorable (aside from some all-too-funny live action intros), it reminded me of something between WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams and Inspector Gadget (maybe because of the whole “klaw” thing), the franchise did take another notable deviation from its past incarnations in that the action figures were much larger. Instead of the standard 3.75″ scale, the “extreme” Joes were 5″ tall (most likely to accentuate their “extremeness”). This equaled the playing field for using them in battle alongside all of my TMNT and other assorted figures which was great, only… the articulation of each G.I. Joe Extreme figured sucked. In order to sustain their “Ultra Slam” firepower each figure only had 5-6 points of articulation (arms, legs, head, and waist), they were otherwise paralyzed.
Since I wasn’t a big fan of the cartoon, I didn’t get too excited about the figures either with the exception of Iron Klaw- that bad mofo with an “extreme” skull for a face and a Darth Vader voice. Armed to the teeth and looking all sorts of Special Forces Green Beret-style awesome, Klaw instantly became my new favorite bad guy once I convinced my parents to fork over some dough for him. He also had some robotic minions were pretty much just like him except all black and grey which I would often “borrow” from my younger brother. The coolest thing about these guys were they’re giant-freaking claw accessory that came with each one (kinda like Wolverine on crack).