1988 Voltar

1988 Voltar

Among all of the non-Cobra entities GI Joe has to deal with, the Iron Grenadiers are easily my favorite Cobra alternative. Most of their figures weren’t perfect, but as villains, they make a lot of sense and have an interesting esthetic. Voltar’s a good example of this, as he’s very much not perfect, but also a cool little figure in some other ways, that does a lot of things I like.

Voltar was originally part of my brother’s collection, but was one his odd figures that captivated me a lot. I think it’s because he had several things I liked going on, which included: A robotic monocle-helmet, gold, and evil facial hair. He wasn’t enough of an evil cyborg to outclass Vapor, but he fell into his role as a general. At this point in my childhood, he had Power Rangers style battles with Ninja Force Bushido and the ‘92 Eel (who was a good guy, to me).

My fascination with Voltar didn’t end there though, and I continued to like this figure in particular, even into my teenage years when 25th Anniversary was my collecting focus. I really wanted a Voltar to go with my Destro from that line, but that was at the point when acknowledging the GI Joe line after 1986 was a blaspheme. Mixing modern and vintage figures has always looked way too dumb to me, but I still think there was a few odd moments when 25th Iron Grenadier Destro hung out with Voltar and Metal Head just because I liked them that much.

All that sentiment aside, Voltar’s a nice figure in some ways, and a weak figure in others. There’s a ridge on top of Voltar’s helmet, that seems to nicely line up with the one on the normal Iron Grenadier: an underappreciated bit of continuity between them. I also think his head sculpt is nicely sharp, best illustrated by the prototype Long Range figure that reused his head, and looked much better without the oversized helmet (instead, Long Range got a new head that looks much worse). A few parts of his design leave something to be desired, around his knees and his gloves in particular, but other than that it’s a nice looking figure. I like that he uses gold and black to tie him into the Iron Grenadiers, but also introduces magenta as a color for the group.

I like his parts, but they’re definitely not for everyone. He included a backpack, SMG, and a condor. His SMG is pretty unpopular, frankly, I don’t like it much myself. However, when I see it, I just recall a lot of memories of using this gun in various colors as a kid. It looks powerful, and fit into hands pretty well too. The backpack’s okay, but kind of a mess. Then you have his pet bird, which is probably the strangest part of the figure. It really doesn’t tie into the character any at all, though I sometimes wonder if including a vulture was a play on his role as a general for a war-mongering arms dealer. Was there a quota for animal pack-ins? Either way, I’d use the birdy, but mine’s missing the feet.

Voltar was sold in an “Ultimate Enemies” pack with Muskrat. I don’t know why these two have each other as nemeses, but it seems like something fun and goofy enough to think about. While we’re on his role in the fiction, I really hate how Hama treated a lot of later characters like this in the comic. Sure, Raptor was dumb and nobody cared if he was tossed into a volcano and never seen again, but Voltar? He seemed like a fun and resourceful enough character to keep having some kind of role. But, he wasn’t Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Zartan, Scarlet or Baroness, so he had to get killed off in favor of continuing to over-expose the soap opera of five or six characters.

Voltar’s a cheap figure surprisingly enough, you can get a mint complete one for around $15 with some regularity. Given that I was losing bid-wars on broken Iron Grenadiers at the beginning of the year, I thought he’d be a tad pricier just as a member of the group. Obviously, most folks just don’t care about this guy a whole lot, though part of me wants to be hopeful it’s a sign prices are starting to soften again overall.

1988 Voltar gi joe hasbro cobra iron grenadier vintage 1988 Voltar gi joe hasbro cobra iron grenadier vintage

1988 Voltar Links:

Forgotten Figures

Joe a Day

3D Joes

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6 Responses to 1988 Voltar

  1. A-Man says:

    Character wise, I’d almost call him a correction from 1987’s bare chest/bare arms crop of new villains. He’s definitely more combat oriented. But it’s the colors that hurt him with most people. His magenta is arguably worse than the 1987 baddies colors.

    The uniform has some quirks. He’s very much Hasbro of the era, the Visionaries, Air Raiders, BF 2000 style. A (now dated) sci-fi futurism meets historical. The ribbings, paddings…the quasi 1500’s style helmet. The one-eye covered by some siting thing.
    I just don’t see what he needs 3 holstered pistols. He’s like an early 2000’s figure.
    The spikes in the biceps were silly, upholstery damaging action.
    The gloves are banded like he’s trying to create seal…I guess.

    The gun is supposed to be a modified uzi. Riiiiiight.

    In the early 2000’s Destro’s General was on some Hasbro fan poll thing, but he never appeared, General Mayhem doesn’t count. Weird. I guess DePriest remembered Voltar was dead.

  2. theygone238 says:

    Love it man thanks for the write up and the shots.
    See you on the time line.

  3. Mike T. says:

    I want to like Voltar. I really do. Even the color isn’t a huge issue for me. But, the design is just so bizarre. As such, even the repaints that you see just show off the limitations of the sculpt.

    He could have benefitted from a 1993/1994 redesign. It might have made the character a little more palatable. Gen. Mayhem is a good enough approximation of Voltar. But, it should have just been Voltar instead of trying to tie it to MASK.

  4. General Liederkranz says:

    Great review. I love the pic with Metal-Head, it’s a nice connection. You are SO right about magenta (I think of it as fuschia, but I have no idea of that’s right). It is definitely an original, valid Iron Grenadiers color, as much as black or gold or red (and khaki too). I feel like the anti-neon crowd strategically ignores Voltar and Nullifier so they can feel better about the Iron Grenadiers.

    It’s funny what sticks with me as an adult. When I was about 6, one of my best friends had Voltar, but I didn’t. So he’s always been “someone else’s” in my mind, even though I’ve had my own Voltar for at least 20 years by now. The fuscia annoyed me for a long time but lately I’m more tolerant, and he can be fun to use in pictures.

    I completely agree, it was a waste for him to die in the freighter. He got some interesting flashes of character in Special Missions #26 when he killed off the Oktober Guard, and I would’ve liked to see more of that. Or at least a more interesting death.

  5. Josh Z says:

    Voltar has always struck me as looking like a space pirate from some 1970s or early ’80s anime. Like he comes right out of Captain Harlock or something. But I don’t know enough vintage anime to place him exactly.

  6. R.T.G. says:

    Voltar’s an interesting figure, who I think is pretty much as good as the mold can be, with the original.

    The design is somehow both practical and ceremonial at once, but failing at being good at either. The three pistols are over the top, but at the same time I really like the conquistador helmet.

    He’d be better remembered if his accessories weren’t so bad.

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