Review & pics by: Fred Meyer

Jet Pack Trooper - Code name: Starduster

  Review & pics by Fred Meyer
  Additional v1 reference photo by Justin "General Hawk" Bell



Starduster in action!

It’s funny—I know some guys who can remember when and where they were when they purchased a specific figure. I’m not one of them; with only a few exceptions most of my original collection of RAH-era figure came to me through a combination of saved lawn-mowing money, birthday and Christmas presents, and random purchases. Oddly enough, I can recall the “ones that got away.” Take the ill-fated mail-away figure from GIJoe Action Stars cereal. I can remember munching down this sugary breakfast concoction solely out of “brand loyalty” when one morning I saw a mail in offer on the back of the box for a new jet pack trooper. Bearing the moniker of “Starduster”, clad in light turquoise, and sporting a JUMP jetpack, I knew I had to have him. So, over the next few weeks I ate several boxes worth of the sugary instantly-soggy mess, got a check from my parents, filled out of the form, and addressed the envelope. Oh yes, Starduster would be mine! However, for whatever reason, the envelope never made it out with the rest of the mail that was in the outgoing stack. So, I waited and waited for the figure to arrive eventually just chalking it up to the fact that the order was lost in the mail. However, years later we found an envelope that had fallen behind the cabinet in the kitchen—still addressed, still containing UPC’s, and still sitting in the house! Now, far too many years later, I find myself in possession of two of the three versions of the character. Does this elusive mail-away live up to nearly 20 years of hype? Well, sadly, not so much.

Starduster frontStarduster back

Hasbro has proud tradition of combining existing parts to produce new characters and Starduster is a classic example of this. The parts combination varies from mail-in offer to mail-in offer with only a few parts remaining consistent. Typically in these reviews, I try and photograph a figure with all of its “part parents” which involves a shot of typically two or maybe three total figures. Starduster has a bit more crowded family reunion, however. I currently own a “version 2” and a “version 3” issue of Starduster which both share the use of the Duke V1 torso. To breakdown the various versions, and avoid confusion as to which figure you might own, I’m going with a basic chart.

  Torso Waist Legs Arms
Version 1 Recondo Recondo Roadblock Flint
Version 2 Duke Recondo Roadblock Flint
Version 3 Duke Iceberg Roadblock Flint

NOTE: Based on this parts breakdown, the figure shown in the full body front and back shots above is the v3 which utilizes the Iceberg waist while the various “action shots” showcasing Starduster wearing the JUMP jetpack is the version 2 with the Recondo waist.

Starduster v3 torso closeup

Regardless of which version you will eventually possess, the character’s basic design is the same—light blue short sleeve uniform shirt worn over light blue camouflage pants. His boots are grey; as are his gloves, and his holster, sheath, and bandoleer are all painted tan. His belt and grenade (in version 2 and 3) are painted black. (Version 2 and 3 sport a silver ‘Ranger’ pin on the right lapel due to the use of the Duke torso.) It’s an extremely simply character design and colors scheme from an earlier era in GIJoe when uniforms were far less ornate. As such, the combination of parts is able to blend together far better than if this figure had been attempted in say 1992. The uniform is one that you could picture someone wearing the real world—to a point. Much like the original Gung-Ho figure, Starduster is sporting a color scheme that seems completely out of place in a line full of olive drab. Clad in an extremely pale blue-green hue (‘baby turquoise?’), the uniform will leave you scratching your head over the original intent on the part of Hasbro. Was this supposed to be a denim uniform? Was this meant to be an extremely light green? My original Gung-Ho figure has yellowed over time and so his hues are much more muted and yet I still find him to be a bit too blue in color. Starduster, while a figure that I’ve sought for years, is even lighter in color and almost looks like he’s better suited to delivering announcements stating “It’s a boy!” than combat in any type of environment in the world. It’s a darned shame because over the years I’d desperately wanted a Starduster figure and now that I’ve got one, I’m not certain what I’ll ultimately do with him.

Starduster closeup

Starduster is yet another case where I feel that the head sculpt chosen doesn’t really fit the character. A former circus trapeze artist who joined the Army and eventually qualified as a Ranger, Edward Skylar is the type of person who should just exude personality. His very background in the circus hints at an extrovert with just a bit of flamboyance and panache. If anything, I’d almost expect a bit of a smirk or a roguish grin from someone who is willing to strap a jetpack onto his back and leapt into the middle of a pitched battle to relay back enemy positions to friendly artillery. The Flash/Hawk/Steeler/Ace head was chosen for the figure and I just don’t feel that the fairly aloof expression on the head sculpt suits the character. To fit the character described in the file card, Hasbro would have most likely had to resculpt a new head which wasn’t cost effective for what was originally intended as a cereal box promotional figure. However, given the fact that Starduster was released three times over the years a new head might have been justified and maybe would have helped to breathe some new life into the character. So, in the end I’m not as pleased with the figure’s visage as I thought I would have been. Starduster (in all versions) comes complete with a matching helmet with a painted star, a black visor, and a silver grenade launcher originally seen with Gung-Ho v1. The first two versions of the character were also packed with a JUMP jetpack while the third version came with a “pocket patrol pack”.

Starduster's grenade launcher

For years, Starduster had been the “holy grail” of my GIJoe collection—that one elusive figure that I never had in my youth. Now I find myself in possession of two of the three versions of the character and I find myself faced with an old adage: “Having a thing is not as pleasing as wanting it.” Starduster, having long been the “one that got away”, is a decent figure but not one that I find myself nearly as excited about any more. Perhaps some of this malaise comes from the fact that he’d been built up for so long in my mind that the realization could never truly live up to the anticipation. Perhaps it’s the way in which the baby blue color scheme forces the figure to stand out from much of the rest of my early GIJoe collection. Regardless, I’m going to make a statement that I never thought I would: Starduster is not a required component for every GIJoe collection. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a bad character and he’s certainly got an interesting file card and specialization. However, in the end he’s just not something that I feel that everyone needs to own. I’m glad I own him and I’m especially glad that I only paid $5.00 at my local comic shop for a complete version but I could never justify paying the typical secondary market prices for a figure that really just doesn’t stand out to me. So, if you’re a hard-core completionist, then you’ll want to track down all three versions of this elusive character. If you’re a more casual Joe fan, my advice is simple—if you can find one for a reasonable price, go ahead and snag him. However, I wouldn’t pay any sort of exorbitant price for what is essentially the first real “Franken-Joe”.

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Starduster & his "parents"

Starduster leg detail

Starduster & Gung-Ho on fashion

Starduster in action!




Copyright 2003