“The future’s so bright, you’ve got to wear shades!” I think I may have stumbled across the mantra of someone who was working on the design team at Hasbro starting in the late 80’s. After all, how else do you explain the retina-burning color scheme of figures like the Mega-Marines, Skidmark, and others from that era? Many a child grew into adulthood with the silhouettes of 3.75” Joe figures burned into the backs of their eyes, much to the secret amusement of their optometrists. Now, if the neon-90’s were an example of a decade of sculpts nearly ruined by bad colors, then poor Spearhead has the distinction of being “a man ahead of his time.” Sporting a great mold and nearly horrific colors, he’s a figure that definitely makes an impression but doesn’t really fit his specialty.
Now, before the Spearhead fans starts chucking rocks at their monitors and flooding my email box with hate mail, let me just start off by saying that no one is going to take your Spearhead figures away. This review reflects just one fan’s opinion—that’s what a review is. However, I’ll be honest and I’ll be blunt in my opinions both favorable and less-than-favorable of this figure.
Much like other figures from 1988, Spearhead’s uniform design is both simple and practical. The foundation for the first Joe Point Man appears to be a standard set of desert BDU’s with the “digital” camo print that Hasbro seemed inclined to use well before it was adopted by the US Military. Over the torso is worn a padded vest with a molded ammo belt over that. The molded belt features several raised pouches as do the biceps. Interestingly enough, the mold also features elbow pads that I can’t recall seeing on too many Joes up to this point. So, it’s a functional uniform without an over abundance of details—practical for a “Point Man”. (The file card for this figure is unusually vague for what Spearhead actually does. Sure, it tells us that he’s extremely likeable and that he used to sell insurance but as far as his specialty goes, that’s it. Does he lead recon patrols? Does he simply lead charges into buildings? Is the guy that runs out for more Point Beer when the cooler runs dry?) In fact, as far as character sculpts go, it’s a pretty solid design. The torso doesn’t quite blend in with the rest of the body and seems a bit bulky to my eyes but otherwise the design is solid.
Hasbro seems to have started experimenting with brighter colors around 1988. Previously the Joes, with a few exceptions, tended toward more realistic and every day colors in their uniforms. Sure, the clothing might have appeared a bit unorthodox but that colors were things that you would see in the real world. All of this seems to have gone out the window when it comes to Spearhead. The overall body is molded in tan plastic, indicating that Spearhead is equipped for desert combat. In fact, this base color isn’t that far off from what was used for Dusty v1. It would appear, however, that someone in Rhode Island is convinced that “creamsicle orange” is the best color to use for desert camouflage. Later figures, including a desert version of Duke, are painted with similar yet darker hues of this awful shade of “shoot me, I’m here!” orange. The original Dusty’s camouflage was painted in dark brown but apparently the onset of competing toy lines such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pushed Hasbro toward a brighter color scheme. As such, poor ole Spearhead was left with the dubious honor of being one of the first “horrifically bright” color schemes—at least until his Night Force repaint. So while I understand what Hasbro had intended, I’m a bit baffled by the execution on this figure.
When it comes to head sculpts, there’s not a lot to say about Spearhead. Taking a minimalist approach to detail, this head sculpt almost seems more at home in the 1982 line up than it does in 1988. Between the bland expression and the use of brown for both his hair and eyes, it’s just not a very dynamic look. Again, I’m not really certain why Hasbro made some of the choices that they did on poor ole Spearhead but it would seem that the design team worked on his head on a Friday afternoon before a particularly long weekend. It’s the only way I can explain the lack of detail in a year that was otherwise filled with some dynamic sculpts. Spearhead comes equipped with a long gray rifle with bayonet, machete, backpack, helmet, and his trusty bobcat Max. While I love the included animal, I have to laugh at how effective Max would be as a trained creature. I’m reminded of my cat Smeagol and how effectively he responds to voice commands. (“Come here Smeagol. Okay fine, just keep doing what you’re doing Smeagol! Good boy!”) Dogs are far more domesticated than cats, so this might have been an instance where yet another Joe pooch would have been a better choice. Still, I like the sculpt used for Max and I do admit that having a bobcat for a sidekick makes Spearhead stand out just a bit more.
So, aside from the garish colors and odd choice of animal companion, how is Spearhead? He’s not bad—but he’s not one of the more outstand characters I’ve seen design-wise. The reason I ended up picking him up and adding him to the Joe collection is due to his specialty. While his file card fails to accurate define what a “point man” really is for, it does give some great insight into his personality and how it plays into his position on the Joe team. Plain and simple, he’s an infantry squad leader—well liked and respected by his teammates with the ability to convey both trust and intimidation. He’s the kind of soldier that you’d follow into the thick of battle because you knew he’d be right there with you. So, after reading his file card, I rethought my decision to skip Spearhead and ordered him from GIJoeHQ.com. He’s not an essential part of my collection but he’s a figure that I feel definitely fills a niche, even if I do display him with my desert figures.