It was a few years ago that I went to the theatre to see “We Were Soldiers”, a movie starring Mel Gibson and Sam Elliot which detailed the events of the Air Cavalry’s first involvement in the Viet Nam war. While the movie focused primarily on Gibson’s portrayal of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, I found myself much more interested in Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley who was played by the dour Elliot. A veteran of ever major Para drop since Normandy, he was an experienced soldier and a grizzled veteran who seemed to take everything in stride. Nothing fazed Plumley when the Air Cav’s situation went from bad to “even worse” and he helped keep the men under his command together until the tide began to turn. Upon reading Skydive’s file card, I was amazed at just how much he reminded me of the Sgt. Major. Sky Patrol had an experienced commander whose men would follow him into the very fires of Hades and back… all in the name of stopping Cobra.
I’ve never owned a Gyro-Viper figure (as I’m not a huge fan of the Mamba) so it’s much harder for me to recognize Skydive’s mold as a reuse of the Mamba pilot’s body. The figure design actually works extremely well for a paratrooper. The uniform is surprisingly simple—a blue jumpsuit with some white piping and a silver harness adorning the upper torso. On the right leg is what appears to be a black pad similar to that used by Backblast for artillery calculations or by Wild Weasel to hold his flight map. His left thigh sports a holstered automatic pistol. The silver collar around his neck, which might have originally been intended as a flotation collar on the Gyro-Viper features a molded rope pull which in this case could be explained as his ripcord. Upon his right bicep is the Sky Patrol logo of the eagle and sword. While the blue is slightly darker, Skydive’s colors are otherwise the same as those used in the uniform of his subordinate Static Line. As I said in that review, while not the most practical colors for a paratrooper to use, the combination is aesthetically pleasing and makes for a solid character design.
Is it me or does Skydive bear a passing resemblance to Sir Sean Connery circa “Zardoz”? Maybe it is my imagination but the cheekbones, moustache, and eyes certainly do remind me of the actor who brought Ian Fleming’s famed spy to life. Regardless, I think that Skydive’s head sculpt is a terrific example of the character design fitting the character depicted on the file card. The sculpt appears to be that of a much older man than the other members of the team with a deeply lined forehead and the type of chiseled features that one gains later in life. The hair line has receded and is combed back and the expression is stern. I’m left with the impression of a seasoned soldier whose entire life has been dedicated to the service of his country. This is a trooper for whom retirement means that he’s no longer permitted to drop out of a plane at several thousand feet, fall to an altitude that others would consider “pre-impact” before deploying a chute, landing in enemy territory, and conducting an “operation” that will never be part of any public report. That’s just not an option for someone like Skydive and so the Sky Patrol will be his posting for as long as he’s able to serve. Even his helmet seems much more traditional than the rest of the team, as if Skydive has found head gear that works for him and won’t even consider any of that “new crap”. Skydive comes with the requisite parachute pack and chute as the rest of his team. He’s also got a helmet, an automatic pistol and an over-sized M-16 rifle. I’ve gone ahead and replace his gear with Marauder Inc gear simply because his equipped rifle seemed more appropriate for a figure from a 4” – 4.5” line than it did for a Real American Hero Joe.
I’ve found that I like Skydive far more than I initially thought I would. I had sought out to obtain the Sky Patrol after hearing so many positive comments about them from a great many Joe collectors. Yet I was surprised by just what a dynamic group they are—especially considering that they’re a bunch of repainted figures. Skydive is no exception and just oozes personality with a great body mold and a distinctive head sculpt. I can’t help but look at this figure and picture him leading his team through a covert insertion behind Cobra-held lines, out-foxing and out-flanking any resistance that he and his men encounter. I’d like nothing more to see this figure and the rest of his team released as a convention set some day with more realistic (and darker) colors and better-fitting gear but I can still whole-heartedly recommend this figure and the rest of his team as “essential” to any Real American Hero collection.