1986 Low-Light

1986 Low-Light

Low-Light’s a figure that hits all the right notes, which makes him a favorite for me and probably most other Joe fans. His character was great in Sunbow, his toy had a fantastic specialty, and it’s colors were perfect. He’s not perfect, and I think he might be a slight step-down in quality from some of the ‘85 icons, but he’s still probably one of the best GI Joe figures ever made.

I feel like for myself, Low-Light offers an alternative to Snake Eyes, especially after Snake Eyes became primarily a ninja. In my mind, he’s a top-tier commando badass who can do basically anything, and sometimes may have been a slight Golgo 13 expy. This is also what I’ve usually used Commando Snake Eyes as, but I really just don’t like Snake Eyes that much, so Low-Light suits me better. He has a face and a personality that Snake Eyes lacks, and also isn’t caught up in the overexposed Arashikage plot-line, which tied up a few too many characters in my opinion.

Low-Light’s design is super cool. He has one of those futuristic vests you saw a lot in his year, with figures like Roadblock and Cross-Country. The quality of the sculpt is very strong, and the details are both crisp and plentiful on him. I also really like his goggles, which make him look a tad more mysterious, and also introduce a nice splash of red to an otherwise drab figure. There’s enough zippers and pockets on Low-Light to almost make him look busy, but it works in the figure’s favor, especially helped by having enough paint to make these details stand out nicely.

There’s one thing that bugs me about Low-Light, and it’s his head. Like a lot of the ‘86 cast, his head is pretty big. I think it’s a bit better than Beachhead’s, but it’s still on the larger end. I think I’ve commented on it before, but the big heads in ‘86 are just bizarre to me. It seems like a lot of the ‘85 figures were moving towards more solid proportions with what you can see in Flint, Alpine, Footloose and others, but then we go back to big heads a year later. It doesn’t ruin the figure or anything close, but it’s always something that stuck out to me about figures from this year.

A classic part of the figure is his gear. He included a sniper-rifle, an uzi, and a nice black backpack. The sniper rifle appears to be an Enfield L39A1, though years ago I always assumed it was an M14. It’s a really nice sculpt with a night-scope, and a detachable bipod. Of course, the bipod is flimsy and seems to be always missing, but it’s a nice play feature either way. The uzi got around to a few other figures, and is the same one later included with Law and Order. It’s inclusion here is nice, as it really provides Low-Light with some action oriented roles and allows him to be more than a guy taking pot-shots with a sniper-rifle.

In my opinion, ‘86 Low-Light is the only Low-Light you really need, but the subsequent uses of the mold, and updates to the character are all pretty solid too. This mold got a great repaint in Slaughter’s Marauders, and then was used in green for an ‘08 Joecon figure. Sadly, the SM figure is very brittle, and the Joecon figure is worth a fortune, while not really providing anything this figure doesn’t already give. As an alternative, there’s the ‘91 sculpt which had strong colors, and two fun repaints. I like that toy, but I’ve never really liked it as Low-Light for the lack of his cap and goggles.

Finding a complete Low-Light seems to be mildly tough, as they’re usually missing either the bipod or the uzi. Despite that, he’s extremely common, and also not very expensive, running around $20 for a complete figure, and between $6 to $10 for one missing a part or two. I’m surprised he’s not been hit worse by the price surge of late, though, maybe that’s a sign things are slowly winding down on that note.

low-light gi joe vintage hasbro cobra arah 1986 low-light gi joe vintage hasbro cobra arah 1986 low-light gi joe vintage hasbro cobra arah 1986

1986 Low-Light Links:

Forgotten Figures

Half the Battle

Icebreaker’s HQ

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5 Responses to 1986 Low-Light

  1. Mike T. says:

    As a kid, I liked Low Light. He got some decent use. Many times, he’d snipe a Cobra leader and then a Joe commando team would have to get him out of the Cobra controlled city.

    Now, though, I just don’t use him all that much. The figure is excellent. But, really, I never liked the blonde hair. And, I find the 1991 figure to be better and more useful. I see this figure as a spot need. When you have occasion to need a sniper, there’s no better figure. But, that’s a tough proposition as it’s not a lot of fun to play with snipers who just sit in trees and await their quarry. (Though, I do remember leaving Low Light in a small pine tree in our back yard one day as I had plans for him to save the day for the Joes on the ground. But, I then forgot he was there and didn’t realize I’d left him until I got inside and did an inventory.)

  2. A-Man says:


    Since all of 1986 were replacement characters, Low-Light got Snake-Eyes’ colors and moodiness and Beach-Head got the masked badarse look with being a ranger like Stalker.

    I liked Low-Light V1, too bad about cancelled walmart release. All of the Marauders needed do-overs thanks to that Estrela brittle plastic (they were made in Brazil for Hasbro but not by Hasbro).

    The idea that a guy like Low-Light would be more at home with Cobra was talked about in the GI JOE Yearbook in an article about Sunbow season 2. Makes him more interesting.

    Maurice LaMarche gave him a Clint Eastwoody voice for Dic, I guess as close as he could get to the Sunbow actor.

    • Jester says:

      “Since all of 1986 were replacement characters, Low-Light got Snake-Eyes’ colors and moodiness…”

      …and blondness. 😉

  3. cobramotorpool says:

    I didn’t get a 1991 Lowlight until recently. I like the sculpt, but can’t think of him as the same character. Kind of the same for red beret Dusty.

    I always liked the original Lowlight, big head and all. His accessories were great and the details on his figure are excellent.

  4. Jester says:

    “He has a face…”

    Ooh, low blow…

    “…and a personality that Snake Eyes lacks.”

    I wouldn’t say that Snake Eyes lacks a personality (except maybe in the Sunbow cartoon where they seemed loathe to let him do literally *anything*, even proper commando/infiltration work), it’s just kind of muted because Snake was always kind of reserved, even as a young G.I. in ‘Nam, and then he became (not unsurprisingly) further withdrawn when his family was killed and he lost his face and voice. Still, you can pick up on things here and there that slip through in less guarded moments or in times of stress. He likes animals and animals seem to like him (except sharks), he cares a great deal about his teammates, he has a strong sense of honour and a surprisingly dry sense of humour (as well as seeming to enjoy using his ninja training to spook people), and a devotion to carrying out his missions that demands an almost superhuman force of will at times. Like Low-Light, he’s also carrying around a great deal of suppressed anger, albeit resulting from his experiences as a soldier rather than from his childhood.

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