The 1997 Stars and Stripes Forever set is a little bit infamous. At the time of it’s release it wasn’t too popular, the figures were poor quality, and mold choices were… strange, to say the least. For those reasons among others, many of the figures from this set have gone overlooked for a long time. Possibly none more so than Short-Fuze.
As a simple repaint, there’s a number of things I find rather nice about this figure. The first thing I’d like to mention is that the entirety of the 1983 mold is present here, with no tooling swaps like we saw on other ‘83 figures that showed up later in the line, or even in this very set. Most of the original thirteen Joes were rarely repainted from their original molds without a couple of part swaps, so this is something fairly nice for this version of Short-Fuze.
The deco is also really good on this figure. It’s mainly green and almost similar to V1 Short-Fuze, but at the same time it’s more vibrant and detailed. His pants now feature an interesting airbrush like pattern on them that helps break up his colors more too. I really appreciate that since the 1982 guys could be a little bland sometimes, especially Short-Fuze. Oddly, he now features red hair and eyes too, which is a little strange but not uncommon for 1997 figures, and easily overlooked in this case.
The parts on this figure are also fantastic. He still features the mortar, backpack, helmet and visor from the original, but also includes a spare bazooka like Zap’s. A M16 or some other gun might’ve been better since it wouldn’t have stepped on Zap’s toes so much, but I still really like the inclusion of this part and it makes Short-Fuze more suitable for action roles.
I can be a bit of purist when it comes to GI Joe, but honestly I prefer this version of Short-Fuze to the 1983 figure. They’re very similar, but to me this one has better colors and better parts. It’s one of the few examples of something like this I can think of.
Similar to other 97‘s, this version of Short-Fuze isn’t the easiest to come by any more. At one point him and the other figures from the Star and Stripes Forever set were relatively cheap, bargain figures. But as the GI Joe market has shrunk, so have your options for the niche and obscure figures from the line. I see these go anywhere from $10 to $14 at the moment, which seems fair, but finding them is still somewhat difficult.