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Having a Blast with GI Joe – Part 2

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Part one of “Having a Blast with GI Joe” discussed the grenades and smaller explosive accessories for Joe. Part two will discuss the larger ordinance.

GI Joe Bomb Disposal bomb

Although this figure was a higher price point and targeted to collectors, I pushed for making the bomb have a feature while keeping it still realistic looking. Since the job of a bomb disposal expert is to diffuse a bomb, I thought it would be fun to play that out. If the user tries to remove the warhead tip by turning it one way, it comes off without a problem. If the tip gets turned the other direction, the side panels blow off as if it detonated. When I created the line drawings and asked if that feature was possible, the engineer looked at me as if I was insane. It took time to figure it out and shook his head at me a few times for the problem I forced on him, but he achieved the mechanism brilliantly. I know if I was still a kid, I would have played with it for hours. Okay… I admit it. Each time I find one if a box of parts, I cannot stop myself from trying to diffuse it.

GI Joe Scouts and Raiders Demolitions Expert – dynamite and TNT

This figure started with the feature. I wanted a GI Joe sized bomb to blow when you push down the plunger of a detonator. For the concept model, I used the guts from the Happy Meal toys of the TV show Dinosaurs which worked with a remote cable. The original model was a stack of dynamite sticks that would blast open at the top. I researched for an appropriate special operations unit that trained to destroy obstacles. This lead me to the “Scouts and Raiders” who were trained to infiltrate a landing area and make it safer for the main troop landings. Eventually, the unit later transformed into the Navy Seals.

To make the set more accurate for WWII, we researched to confirm that the teams used yellow cans of TNT. When we redesigned it to match the reference, it was a cube about 1 ½” x 1 ½” x 1 ½”. The engineers put a very strong spring in it that lifted the top of the cube a short distance. This way, you could put in under a cabin made of Lincoln Logs and blast it apart (…yes, it really can!) Everything worked well except for one obscure safety testing requirement; the toy cannot be used to shoot a dangerous object. This ruling is why most projectiles have specific grooves so only the correct projectile can key into that launcher. With a flat surface on top, a thumbtack could be placed there and shot up into an eye. The engineers were ready to drop the whole toy, but I was not willing to give up on it and asked for a day to create a solution. The next day I came back to suggest turning the whole block 45 degrees as if the block was shoved into the sand under an anti-tank mine. In this way, it looked the same but no longer had a flat surface to launch a projectile, so it was finally safe – unless you are a Lincoln Log fort.

GI Joe SEAL Smart Bomb Accessory Pack Concept model – Smart Bomb

This toy bomb is a version of the bombs dropped by planes to hone on a laser signal projected by a team on the ground. This bomb was demonstrated dramatically in the film “Clear and Present Danger.” I know this was part of a large accessory set that shipped, but I lost track of which one it was. The version shown here is a concept model for a Battle Gear set themed for a SEAL to “paint the target” for the smart bomb to hit. One of the fun things was on this accessory are the spring-loaded fins that pop out.

GI Joe Navy SEAL Limpet Mine

The original intent on this figure was to add a limpet mine for the SEAL to attach to a ship or obstacle – that could pretend to blow up. Magnetic bombs and suction cup bombs had been sold, as noted in part one of this discussion. I wanted something more. I wanted something to seem like it would really blow up. To get the effect on the original concept model, I used a carnival toy alien that you stick onto a surface with a suction cup, but it also has a spring, so it pops off after a short time. The model was fun and worked well. The problem was the reliability side of quality. It worked – but not in a consistent time frame. Sometimes it would pop off in five seconds and be very fun. Other times, it waited forty-five seconds or more. In the eyes of the consumer and the quality standards of Hasbro/Kenner, it would appear to be defective if not consistently working. In the end, the engineers made it with panels that pop open on the sides when a trigger is pushed. It looks accurate, but the play lost its drama.

GI Joe Navy Underwater Demotion Training – Anti-Ship Mine

My favorite explosive device came from my early years for Vintage GI Joe. The Joe lunch pail has one panel showing a frogman with anti-ship mines floating behind him. I always thought those were really cool, but Hasbro never made any. So, we had to pretend with other household items like old racquetballs or by painting a tennis ball black. Not only did I finally get to make one for Joe, but the plan was simple enough for me to make a working concept model of it. Most of the pins are fake and do not move. However, one of them is the trigger. When nudged a little, the mine springs apart with a jagged edge. Just in case you are wondering (yes, I know some of you are!), these float in water. Just attach the line to an appropriate weight at the bottom of the pool, and when it detonates, the other half will float up to the surface.

GI Joe Navy Dolphin Handler – Anti-Ship Mine

If you are looking for a more accurate Anti-ship Mine, this figure has one. It was copied from the actual ones the Navy used to train with the dolphins. Note that it is smaller and has the detonators only on the top.

GI Joe Kamakura concept model – grenade bola

There was a Kamakura figure released as a special, but this one was designed later for the mainline Joe line. This version had a special assault rifle with hidden blades for Ninja fighting. This figure was tooled and preproduction models made, but it was stopped just before it shipped. For the purpose of this article, the fun feature is his grenades. I wanted a more fun way to use grenades than we normally did; since the figure is a ninja. So, I took two of the small round grenades and attached them with a cord to be a bola. In my mind, he would spin them and toss them at an obstacle like a traditional bola, but if he removed the pins first, it would wrap around it… then blow it up.

GI Joe Perimeter Defense claymore concept board – Claymore Mine

This is the concept board shown for the GI Joe Perimeter Defense. Since claymores are too small to keep accurate and add a mechanism, it was designed as if it was deployed against a wall of earth, so there would be enough room to hide the mechanics inside, then blast panels out. The plan was to have a tether release as on the Scouts and Raiders TNT. The Perimeter Defense was one of the final concepts still on the drawing board when the decision was made to end the Classic Collection line.

What is your favorite GI Joe tactical explosive?

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