1988 Spearhead & Max

1988 Spearhead & Max

I’ve not put enough time lately into writing and taking photos. Part of that is because I’ve been going through tubs of childhood toys looking for lost vehicle parts, and usually finding everything except the one I’ve been looking for. In spite of that, I needed a Joe who I have at least two photos of this week to post about. Looking through my options, there’s quite a few figures that inspire some thought on my part, but I want to take a little more care while having fun with them; I needed someone to essentially be filler. In a lot of ways, that kind of sums up my feelings on Spearhead & Max.

So yeah, of the 1988 single-cards, Spearhead & Max is probably my least favorite release. To me, everything about him feels obligatory, forced and somewhat lackluster. Starting with his character, his filecard is just WEIRD:

Spearhead was the youngest and most successful insurance salesman in the Pacific North West. It was said that he could sell a term policy to a dead cow. Everybody like him, trusted him, and bought more insurance from him than they could afford. Spearhead denies that guilt was a factor in his decision to join the army—he simply felt that somebody had to do it.
“Some guys, they’re gonna lead a combat assault, right? They jump up and holler, ‘Follow me!’ and charge full tilt at a bunker—halfway there, they look back, and no one’s behind them! Of course not. The guy was a jerk. Spearhead could jump face first into a vat of rabid hyenas and fifteen guys would follow him. No hesitation. They’d jump SMILING. And of course, Spearhead’s mad cat, Max, is always a source of inspiration.”

He’s supposed to be really charismatic I guess? The text doesn’t really say anything interesting about him. It feels like some kind of joke I’m not getting, which may be the case, but even then his character just feels phoned-in. His secondary specialty is finance… Which I guess is unique, anyway.

The sculpt on this figure doesn’t do very much for me. His proportions feel really out of place and distinctly of lower quality than every other sculpt from ‘88. His head’s on the smaller end, his torso is super bulky, then his legs are really skinny looking. Kind of a shame he looks like a stern and cool trooper on the cart art, but the figure just has this ho-hum random dude kind of look to him.

The colors don’t really do him any favors, either. This entire year of figures was hurt by the more sparse paint applications, but among the few colors you’ll find on Spearhead is a heaping helping of orange camouflage. My current mentality for GI Joe is that if colors look good, then it’s enough reason to have them on a fantasy commando toy. With a similar looking figure, ‘92 Duke, he uses bright red for highlights, and it looks great against his light tan. A peachy tan with orange is both bright, and rather unappealing to me visually.

For accessories, you get his helmet, a rifle, sword, backpack and of course Max, his bobcat. The inclusion of a bobcat always came across to me as if they had a checklist of features to have in every year, and “good guy with pet” was one of them. His rifle looks like crap. For years I’ve had this figure and completely forgot I never bothered with getting his real gun, but I have other copies of the sculpt; I’m familiar enough with it to know I don’t really need it. It’s so cartoonish looking, why is the tip of the barrel so huge? It looks like some kind of weird suppressor. Then it has two magazines too: why? They look like different kinds of ammunition, but I can’t figure out what the second feed would be for. The only mildly cool thing is it has a strap, which adds a bit of play value. His sword is another mystery, it’s oddly kind of ornate like some sort of ethnic weapon.

A mint complete Spearhead & Max runs a solid $15, but even one imperfection often drops him down to being $6. He’s always been on the cheaper end, and because of that he does tend to make a fun addition to a turret, or just as buddy to go with someone cool like Shockwave or Repeater. All things considered, I don’t hate Spearhead (& Max), I just don’t really have any reason to like him, either.

gi joe spearhead & max 1988 arah figure v1 version 1 gi joe spearhead & max 1988 arah figure v1 version 1

1988 Spearhead & Max Links:

Forgotten Figures

Attica Gazette

Half the Battle

Joe A Day

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4 Responses to 1988 Spearhead & Max

  1. A-Man says:

    I liked him when he was new. I think cuz of the cat. I had a short tailed cat at the time.
    I dunno know about his character, was he the year’s hero (he’s not even a sergeant) or the year’s Grunt/Dusty type or the year’s Mutt guy with animal type? All of the above?

    His helmet is too thick on top. I don’t know what happened. They did better in the early years with removable helmets, like Crankcase and Blowtorch, but after 1985 removable helmets got thicker and looked worse. Spearhead looked so stoic on his card art, but the figure, yes, is not so much.
    Maybe the orange would’ve been better digital camo style? That was the trend in 1988.
    The torso being a color that only ties into the pads on his forearms. The ammo belt, I guess is for his teammate Repeater.
    Overall, the underpainted details don’t help him.
    Odd boots, that became a thing. All these guys and their unique boots.
    I liked the gun but it’s absurd.
    The sword seem Romanesque to me.

  2. cyko9 says:

    I don’t know why, but I always wanted to like Spearhead. Must be his charisma! If he weren’t peach but tan, I might forgive the orange camo. Can’t stand the helmet, though, and the sword is ridiculous – it has no ties to a former insurance salesman or a point man. Maybe someone misinterpreted what a machete is? The gun is oversized but maybe should be a light machine gun/SAW? I can’t think of any real world inspiration for a 2 magazine firearm, though.

  3. Mike T. says:

    Not much to say about Spearhead. Except, his gun was the only thing that really drove my interest in him. I have no idea where it came from, but one of his guns entered our childhood collection. I cut off the strap (it got in the way) and the bayonet. And, then used it with a similarly mysterious Salvo figure that also showed up at some point.

    Other than that, though, the figure is just kind of there.

  4. R.T.G. says:

    I might be the only person who actually likes Spearhead. I’m glad to read this one, because it reminds me I should write about that guy.

    As a figure, he seems proportionally out of whack, especially since he’s so broad in the torso, it’s almost as knock-off feeling as Wild Boar. Though, I find his proportions improve when he’s equipped with the majority of his accessories, since they’re also so out of whack that they balance out the figure. I hate his gun though.

    In the end, I think my fondness for him, is he’s a 1988 Joe, but I’d say he’s a figure that even from that year, ranks higher than Shockwave, Hardball and Charbroil

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