1988 Hardball

1988 Hardball

All of the GI Joe figures I experienced as a kid that were prior to 1993 were from my brother’s collection. The majority of his collecting started in 1989, but there was a sparse handful of figures he had that were older than that: shelfwarmers. Among them, one was Crystal Ball; another was Hardball.

Hardball’s a bit of a weird figure, in that it’s hard to say if I like him or not, or if I ever did. I tend to really hate sports and sports-themed stuff, so for that reason I find him corny and annoying. Putting that aside, the figure is well done in a few regards, enough so that I’ve been able to overlook the baseball motif.

Hardball has a decent sculpt and a great amount of colors. The figure’s legs look good and offer some custom potential if you just wanted to swap them onto a different figure. Personally, I’ve always been a bit annoyed by how small his head looks compared to many of his contemporaries, but the sculpt is still nice on it. The painted details and amount of colors they used on the figure starts to become somewhat impressive though. There’s about eight or so colors on the figure counting the unpainted plastic colors, which is about in line with a lot of the figures from 1985, like Buzzer and Alpine. Compare Hardball to figures from around the same time like Muskrat or Budo and you’ll start to see how detailed he is.

For parts, you get a two-piece grenade launcher and a backpack full of grenades. This grenade launcher feels a tad too big, but I’ve gotta be honest and admit it’s always been one of my favorite parts of the figure. As a kid, I thought the rotating drum was a really cool gimmick, and the weapon looks really powerful even if you don’t know what it is. The backpack has a lot of nice details going on too, and it’s bagginess reminds of the ones you saw a lot earlier in the line.

All things considered, Hardball’s not a figure without his redeeming elements. He’s got fun parts, a pretty good sculpt and a good amount of paint to show it off. The downside is that he’s not a very memorable character, and still just looks like a random baseball player wondering around. I never think to use him and usually forget about him, until I see him in a photo or in a list of figures from ‘88.

Hardball is not an expensive figure, and even the current GI Joe market has failed to make him valuable. Sometimes a mint, complete figure with filecard will run $12 if it’s photographed clearly, since the torso is prone to yellowing and the GI Joe tampograph wears off easy too. Keep looking though, and you can commonly find a mint figure for around $5.

Gi joe vehicle RPV Hardball Backblast ARAH vintage action figure Hasbro
Gi joe vehicle RPV Hardball Backblast ARAH vintage action figure Hasbro

1988 Hardball Links:


Forgotten Figures

Yo Joe

3D Joes

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3 Responses to 1988 Hardball

  1. R.T.G. says:

    Hardball’s an odd figure, in that he’s not really even that bad, as the figure has a good sculpt and the colours aren’t offensive. He’s just hokey.

    Though, you nailed something about this figure. I could never figure out what separated him from his contemporaries, it’s the number of colours on the figure! He really does seem to have more in line with a 1985 figure than a 1988, in that area. He’d probably be a fan favourite if they’d swapped he and Bazooka’s releases.

  2. A-Man says:

    He was always in my starting line-up. He and Grand-Slam…they’d take the Slugger and listen to The Outfield on the stereo (the Slugger has a stereo?) while enjoying some Big League Chew ™.

    Maybe not. He was one I put off getting back in the day because he was a little off putting. Once I got him, he was alright. He was ripe for a better reinterpretation but since he was not a cool kids, he was one of the Forgotten Figures ™ until the Club remade him as part of Slaughter’s Marauders without Slaughter.

    His head is smaller than others, of course some guys like Slaughter and Shockwave had super noggins.

    Hasbro had 3 “persons of color” in a row who were sports themed: The Fridge, Red Dog and Hardball. Strange.

  3. Jester says:

    I wonder if anyone’s ever tried making a custom of Hardball as a full-on baseball player? There must be some legs with stirrup-pants out there that would work…

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