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Biker Joes

As discussed in earlier articles, tooling to make plastic toys is very expensive. Therefore, just as the vintage GI Joe continually reused tooling such as the multiple variations of the six-wheeled vehicle Adventure Team Vehicle, the Classic Collection GI Joes reused many tools.

The big advantage for the non-modern or historical military figures (Adventures of, Adventure Team or Real American hero) there was a wealth of tools created for GI Joe Hall of Fame, which equipped Action Man and then that arsenal expanded many times over.

As the Cincinnati and Pawtucket design teams had very little interaction with the London design team who worked on Action Man and Sindy, I was one of the few conduits of information on AM. New products were shown to meetings in Pawtucket once a year but the information seldom made it down to the trenches. I had reference on all the HOF items as I had collected almost all of it. For AM products, I had to scour the toy shows and Joe conventions for product. It was even more challenging as any AM item also had to be in its original packaging so the engineering team could see the factory code on each box to locate the tools.

One of the parts that I found and wanted was the AM Polar Extreme motorcycle. It was really more of a dirt bike refitted for snow but it looked cool and it shot a projectile (always a plus in my mind). It had spikes for more gripping on snow and ice. While those were not really necessary, they looked cool.

There is always an issue to design around in any project. In this case, they had sculpted the front of the motor with streams of ice as if it was clogging up with real snow and ice. It looked fun there, but snow Joes were few and far between so asking for an accessory for a snow figure was never going to be approved as being too esoteric.

Looking at the snow/ice made me think, “What if I could make it look like slime from driving through a swamp?” Then the spikes on the wheels would also make sense for extra traction, so the Real American Hero Swamp Bike was born. I repainted it first to match the greens and browns to blend into a swamp, then added mud and muck detailing to look like it had been driven through the swamps.

While management liked the idea of a motorcycle for 1/6th scale RAH, since there was a new cycle just designed for the 3 ¾” Snake eyes, they decided to use that look and tool an entirely new bike. I assume, the same outside vendor designed both the 3 ¾” and the 1/6th.

At that point, my assignment was to create an appropriate new Snake Eyes figure for it. Since the tooling cost of the cycle was very high, I was asked to create another figure with no new tooling. I was very happy with the result. I reasoned, “Since Snake Eyes was always about edged weapons, that would mean he would be particular about using the right sword for the right job – right?” I used the gear vest from AM Bowman since it had three slots on the back to hold three arrows. Now I had a way to hold three different swords. There was a sword with a straight blade from one of the first Hasbro Action Man figures AM Ninja Warrior. The GI Joe WWII Japanese Zero Pilot came with a sword that had ornate sculpted details and a more curved blade. AM Power Arm Ninja came equipped with a sword that had a serrated edge (so he could cut open a COBRA HISS like a tin can). Therefore, instead of just two of the same swords like previous versions, this Snake Eyes had three different swords.

Now that we had a Real American Hero cycle, why not re-purpose that first bike into a COBRA cycle. The obvious answer was to create a cycle for the real biker arm of COBRA; so the Dreadnok cycle was born. At that time, there was not a 1/6th scale Dreadnok figure so we would need to add a few extra parts to turn a COBRA figure into a Dreadnok.

There just happened to be a good AM Dr. X Viking helmet to make it really look Dreadnok. Of course, it would also need some nasty street fighting gear such as a chain mace. One of the many AM Ninja variations, AM Ninja Kick, supplied that. To complete the look, AM Combat 20+ had a diagonal bandoleer-type gear belt was a good fit. The folding stock on an Uzi sub-machine-gun could clip onto it along with two grenades (to toss as they are screaming by on a motorcycle).

The problem was that ice again. I changed the overall colors to be a basic black street bike to look meaner. Then it hit me, if it had an over-charged engine (just like a Dreadnok is over-charged), why not have dramatic flames shooting out of the engine front like an afterburner. After all, Dreadnoks would be tough enough to be wearing Kevlar pants … right?

Later, we did add Dreadnok Ripper to the line so there could have been an appropriate rider for the bike. Sadly, both versions of the AM Polar bike were dropped.

However, the design of the Snake Eyes Ninja Lighting cycle was exceedingly cool so Joe would still have a fine set of wheels.

Yes – there are three other 1/6th GI Joe motorcycles that have not been mentioned in this article: Harley Electro-glide, WWII Harley and MP Harley. Those will have to wait for another day.

What was your favorite 1/6th motorcycle?

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