Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Memory Lane: G.I. Joe File Cards

This one is mostly for my brothers...

The other day I made a Storm Shadow reference on the video of Roller Skate Ninjas. Storm Shadow was/is a ninja character in the G.I. Joe universe. When looking for a link to add, I stumbled across a website that had scans of all the original "file cards."

As a boy, much of my life revolved around those G.I. Joe action figures. They were as important as my soccer team The Jedi. That's true. We really were The Jedi. My folks figured out that the ultimate bribe for a 7-year-old was a $1.99 action figure. On the packaging of the figures was a "file card." The card was on the back of the package. It had some of the vital statistics and bio information on the character. Real names (sometimes), hometowns, hobbies, weapon proficiency, etc. The cards were carefully cut out and filed in an old, metal recipe box my Mum gave me.

I studied those cards. Read them over and over and over. It felt like inside information. I was most fascinated when the card said the soldiers real name or other information was "classified." That amazed me. Classified. The mystery made the character much more cool. It's why every kid loved Snake Eyes.

Also on the boxes were "Flag Points." Those were also cut out and stored in the metal recipe box. They were essentially proofs of purchase, but they could accumulate and then be sent in for a special "mail order only" figure. Those were plastic gold. I'd count the Flag Points over and over until I had the right amount. Then I would do a couple extra chores and my Mum would send the accompanying check to cover postage and handling. Then 4 to 6 weeks crept by like time in the hole at Folsom. I was like Ralphie in A Christmas Story waiting for his Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring. After what seemed like a year, a special Sergeant Slaughter would appear in the mailbox.

I spent a few minutes looking at those old file cards. I was amazed how much I remembered from them. Well, not that amazed, but I did remember an awful lot. Especially from my favorites. Other than Snake Eyes, I tended to like the Joe's that were of ethnic backgrounds. Don't really know why.

Some of my favorites:

Clutch - He drove the jeep. Didn't shave and combed his hair with motor oil.

Road Block - A machine gunner. He had a huge .50 caliber Browning.

Quick Kick - Karate expert. 'Nuff said.

Torpedo - The SEAL. Had scuba gear and everything. He came with me to the tub.

Tracker - His real name is Charlie Iron-Knife. An American Indian tracker and shaman.

Recondo - Two words: Jungle Warfare. The jungle fascinated me. Still does.

Gung Ho - Probably my favorite. He was a Marine. My Dad was in the Marine Corps.

Most people romanticize their childhood. My Father does. So do I. How do you think the idea for Toy Story came into being? There was something magical about those pieces of cardboard that held the data of my toys. They were my own secret files in my bedroom on 306th Place.


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