1988 Sgt. Slaughter

1988 Sgt. Slaughter

I don’t know a lot about wrestling, and generally speaking I don’t like celebrities either. So normally I’d be against anything to do with a celebrity crossover inside my precious military fantasy, but the Sarge is an exception. To me, Sgt. Slaughter is a GI Joe icon; He’s the face of the brand in a way Duke could never be, partly because he encapsulates something of 80‘s culture* that’s lost now. Also, he’s on Twitter and is incredibly nice to GI Joe fans to this day, so it’s hard not to like him. With that said, here’s the less-seen V3 Sgt. Slaughter.

*One of my vague statements that’s probably more amusing left to interpretation. A team of elite American soldiers recruiting a famous wrestler to be their drill sergeant, and help them win fistfights against ancient aliens and terrorist leaders made from the DNA of history’s baddest dudes, is so over-the-top and unashamedly macho. GI Joe seemed a lot less like propaganda for the war machine, but rather a collection of anything cool that would make a boy’s imagination run wild. Ninjas, laser guns, big tanks, killer robots, ninja women in tights, some heavy metal lookin’ dudes; tossing in Sgt. Slaughter kind of gives you the essence of the brand in a nutshell. It’s also something they’ve never recreated in the roughly four decades since.

This Slaughter was the included Driver for the Warthog A.I.F.V., which is a pairing that only makes sense when you think about that fact that Slaughter probably helped move a ton of these vehicles off shelves. With the Triple T, that felt a lot more like an excuse to upcharge for Sgt. Slaughter, but at least with this version he’s actually included with one of the best vehicles ever made. 1988 was a good year for GI Joe in general, but the vehicles especially were better than average.

1988 Sgt. Slaughter stands apart from the first two releases by switching out his more standard outfits for a stereotypical GI Joe design. The result is something that feels well integrated with the line at the time, at the cost of seeming much more generic than the previous two Sgt. Slaughter figures. This version of the Sarge looks like it could easily have been some random Joe just with a head swap, which is a good thing or a bad thing depending upon how you look at it.

It’s a strong figure besides being mildly generic though. The sculpt is nice and sharp, especially around the chest with those bullets and a few other details. The head’s a little large and soft, but it doesn’t bother me too much, since he has a removable hat. Normally I’d prefer a sharper sculpt to a removable piece of headgear, though one of the strengths of this figure is that he’s different enough from the last two Slaughters, so the compromise is worth it in return for something new.

Speaking of the hat, it’s his only accessory, so that’s about it for this paragraph. Kinda weird he’s got an ammo belt sculpted onto him and nothing it goes to, but later vehicle drivers tended to cut corners like that. My introduction to the GI Joe media was an old VHS recording of GI Joe:THE MOVIE, and the Terror Drome infiltration scene was always one of my favorite parts. I think because of that, I tend to pair him with Cobra weapons I imagine he’s stolen while fighting behind enemy lines. That’s how I rationalize the bullets too: He picked them up as spare ammo after raiding a Cobra armory.

1988 Sgt. Slaughters are harder to find than others, and are somewhat pricey at the moment, consistently hitting between $20 to $30 for a good example. Being an ‘88 figure that’s tied to a mid-sized vehicle probably means there’s less of them out there, though the relative scarcity would be offset by the fact that this is the least memorable Sgt. Slaughter figure (I put Slaughter’s Marauder’s ahead of him, since at least he had a sub-team named after him). This is a lot more than I paid for my example years ago, but the seller’s market fades slowly, and Sgt. Slaughter appeals to more than one fandom, so it makes sense.

gi joe sgt. slaughter wwf hasbro vintage 1988 v3 warthog vehicle driver gi joe sgt. slaughter wwf hasbro vintage 1988 v3 warthog vehicle drivergi joe sgt. slaughter wwf hasbro vintage 1988 v3 warthog vehicle driver

1988 Sgt. Slaughter Links:

Attica Gazette

Forgotten Figures

Half the Battle

3D Joes

Joe A Day

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5 Responses to 1988 Sgt. Slaughter

  1. Mike T. says:

    If you go way back in online fandom, prior to the turn of the century, Sarge was pretty disliked. Not as a person, mind you. But, as an element of the Joe line. But, Slaughter really seemed to lean into his G.I. Joe connection and pretty much won the fanbase over. If you ever want a textbook example of how to work with a fanbase, Slaughter is pretty much the shining star.

    A metric butt-load of still bubbled Sarges was found in the late 2000’s-ish. And, at the time, you could buy all the bubbled figs you wanted for a buck or two each. Even in 2016 or so, they were still pretty ubiquitous as the original sellers really couldn’t give them away. So, seeing loose figures for such pricing is just another example of overstock figures being memory holed into scarcity.

    It’s pretty likely that Hasbro had this mold in the 2000’s. I think this would have been much better received in the convention set had it been used instead of the 1992 Gung Ho kitbash.

    I really want a Warthog. But, even the Night Rhino plastic is now so brittle that I’m loathe to even open the bay doors. Warthogs are even worse. I’ve seen big dealers stating on video that they won’t open the doors as that action alone will almost always guarantee breakage and non-mint pricing. It’s too bad as I do think the Warthog is one of the best vehicles in the line’s history.

    • A-Man says:

      Oh, as I recall, the Collector’s Club claimed no vintage Slaughter molds could be located. If you believe them…these after all, were the folks who thought fans didn’t like Iron Grenadiers Destro. Really had that pulse on the fandom. (Odds are the ARAH collectors at the club were some of the Slaughter haters in the late 1990’s.)

  2. A-Man says:

    One thing I noticed about all vintage Sgt. Slaughter figures is that none came with weapons, aside from the ones mounted on vehicles. None even have a sculpted on side arm, though this one has a sheathed knife. I wonder if that was intentional. A “real person” carrying a gun in toys aimed at kids, could be too controversial? Yet, he was armed in the cartoon, so…I don’t know.

    I’d say USMC Sgt. Slaughter (in fiction) coming with a knock-off AMTRAC/AAV makes sense than the Triple T.

    You are right. GI JOE was about fun stuff that appealed to boys. A lot of us get lost in our ideal of what it should be to us. Facebook post comments are full of those people “I’m glad I stopped buying then!” and “The line really went off the rails!” when they see anything post 1986.

  3. Mr. Acer says:

    I remember getting him for $15, still in his bubble, at an antique store in college. Flash-forward to today, and that store is long gone. It was also where I picked up Taurus and Voltar; were I ambitious and had enough dough, I would’ve gone for the lone Cover Girl and 1994 Sgt. Savage Grizzly jeep they also had.

  4. HitandRun says:

    This is a great version of Sgt. Slaughter. The removeable hat really added a dimension to him and I thought it was executed really well. His figure design was strong and versatile. Coming with one of the best vehicles from the GI Joe line doesn’t hurt either (I own 2 Night Rhinos and 1 Warthog – it’s a top 5 vehicle for me). This was the only Sgt. Slaughter I had in my adult collection until last fall when I acquired the original mail-away (a great figure in his own right).

    I never really had any animosity towards Sgt. Slaughter, as a kid he was bigger than life in the late 80s to me but I always identified with his GI Joe character and was not big into wrestling. The animosity towards the character never registered with me as a kid nor does it present day. In many cases he was the quintessential GI Joe and really an embodiment of the larger than life 80s action stars in toy form (since we never got Arnold or Stallone).

    It’s interesting to hear how this figure just popped up randomly in the late 2000s still in the bubble. The collector stories and experiences like this are an aspect of collecting I love to hear about.

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