As boy growing up in the 80's, I knew one thing as fact...
G.I.Joe was the super-shizitz.
The Marvel G.I.Joe comic books were the first comics I actually read and they were so much cooler than the cartoon. They didn't talk down to me like the show did and the stories flowed more or less like one long soap opera of Secrets, Ninjas, Fake Deaths, Covert Ops and Doppelgangers.
So as a forward-thinking little kid, the problem for me was that the TV show and the comic book had all these background characters and Grunts and troopers running around. There were also incidental characters like politicians, civilians, Army brass. There were bases and secret hideouts…
But the toys gave you none of that.
Those stories took place in a real-ish world populated by real-ish people and all you had were the figures you had. Just those particular characters. My toy-world had no background extras. One day, playing with my figures,I realized this and I wondered why this might be… it turned out easier to explain than you'd think.
I decided there had been a nuclear-ish Armageddon, you see…
And only these Joes and Cobras had survived because, you know, they had been injected with a "special serum". The Joes had been inoculated a long time ago and when Cobra found out they stole the formula, copied it and used it. Presumably, right before the big boom. The world now was a near future, Mad Maxian wasteland of survivor packs, small clans protecting fuel and random freaks of nature from other toy-lines that could now be re-branded and intermingle with the Joes in a CONTEXTUAL fashion. Of course Fisto from Masters Of The Universe could join in! Here, in this Hasbropocalypse, he was a highly irradiated dunce powerhouse, called Dimwit! The Dreadnoks welcomed him open arms! By the way, can I mention how Fashion-Foward the 'Noks Were for this? They came designed as little Road Warriors already!
When I would get new figures, they would be discovered or rescued by whichever Pack he looked coolest with. I didn't have a G.I.Joe base but that didn't matter because they found a castle that unearthed itself in the desert. It's front, a giant Grey Skull. A massive thing to behold to behold, I'm sure, especially if you are three eights scale. But it was an evil place in this world. The Joes couldn't stay and eventually Serpentor took it over.
It was an ever expanding universe. New stories, tales and revelations would occur in the TV series or comic and lay groundwork for something I could play off of - that stuff was documenting past history, after all...
Sooner or later, I figured out you could take them apart and reassemble them. Jackpot. Soon they all looked like the End Of Days version of themselves. Mixed and matched, they were my own custom toy line. But alas, some figures had no "cool" parts to swap. Most often, the Joes had this issue. I mean, in a dying world like this, who wants Chuckles' Hawaiian shirt? Shipwreck's bell-bottoms?
Sadly, sometimes these were the first victims to suffer "Radiation Poisoning".
It turns out that for certain heroes or villains, after a while, the Serum wouldn't hold and they would develop horrible lesions. This entailed taking one of your mom's cigarette lighters and putting the flame justclose enough to the plastic to make it bubble and blister, but not burn too much. Poor Raptor. A shame you ended up as my equivalent to the Trashcan Man, but you were kind of lame and sacrifices had to be made.
Did I read a lot and watch too many post-apocalypse, wanna be Thunderdome movies of the 80's? Yooouu betcha. But I can't imagine that I was the only kid who came up with outlandish backstories for his toys. Or maybe I was.
Eventually all I had were these figures stashed away in a box. Not long after I first moved out of my parents house, I got a call one day my mother. She told me she had given them all to my young cousin. I was a little miffed at first, she hadn't asked, but then thought it didn't really matter, at least someone was playing with them.
I can only imagine when he opened the box…
"What the hell happen to these guys?"