1997 Gung-Ho

1997 Gung-Ho

I think I’ve mentioned before I’m not a huge Gung-Ho fan. I probably should be, as whatever complexes I have about shiftless hill billies aside, he’s a pretty perfect fit for GI Joe’s Vietnam War inspired visuals. Hasbro only repainted this mold once in full (though his skinny biceps cursed many others), which was with this 1997 release as a pack-in with the Slugger. Weird, since they had the Thunder mold, but I guess they wanted to get Gung-Ho out quicker.

Certain figures entered my collection at memorable times with a flood of sentiments behind them. Others, came in on a bit of whim so forgettable, I wouldn’t know when I got the figure if not for a dated photo from around the time. Although he’s very nice, this Gung-Ho is a bit of the later; I remember getting him in the early 2010‘s and that’s about it. I have the Slugger he came with, but I have no recollection if I bought them separate or together. The 2010‘s were a fairly miserable time in my life, so I think a lot of toy acquisitions were less memorable and more of a coping mechanism. Though, I’m glad now I coped by buying cool figures that have only gotten more expensive and harder to find.

Indeed, there’s nothing super special about this figure other than the fact that it’s one of the only alternate coloration out there for Gung-Ho. Action Force repainted him into Gaucho, and there’s some oddball Funskool variants that are all extremely rare. Those toys aren’t too practical to get a hold of though, so this version is your only real repaint of Gung-Ho. In the 2000‘s, Hasbro seemed to favor the Battle Corps mold over this one, and while that seems like a bit of a shame, I do think that toy is better than this one, as a sculpt.

The colors chosen here seem really tasteful and logical compared to a handful of other ‘97 releases. He’s mostly brown with camouflage, and has his details highlighted in a teal similar to the original toy’s color. Compared to the ‘83 version, I feel like the head sculpt comes across better and sharper looking, though I’m not entirely sure why. The paint masks are similar besides the whites of his eyes now being painted, yet the head just looks slightly less bulbous to me.

Like all 1997 releases, he’s plagued by the oversized rivets. So sometimes when you bend his shoulders, the arm runs the chance of crumbling around the rivet. Besides being big, the rivets are also unpainted, which looks super cheap and off compared to almost any other figure. I think this problem gets worse in the winter when the temperature is cold, though I’m not entirely sure.

His accessories are really nice, it’s the full classic kit of parts, but this time they even painted his backpack. So you get a black China Lake grenade launcher similar to the original, and a brown and teal backpack that perfectly matches the figure. Painted accessories are pretty rare with GI Joe, especially backpacks, so it’s just a bit of an odd choice that the straps were painted for this one. At the same time though, I also really appreciate it as something that makes this figure a tad more unique. You also get a figure stand, which we all know better than to use, but still, it was nice for a pack-in figure.

The cheapest a complete figure has sold for in the past six months was $50, which is pretty absurd given he used to be much cheaper than a mint V1 Gung-Ho. Of course, that’s a little exaggerated by the fact that no one does auctions any more, but even then $50 is a little nuts for this figure. Yet, that’s the modern state of GI Joe collecting, so it is what it is. For me, I’m a little hesitant to acquire 1997 Joes at their current prices just for the risk their shoulders could crumble at any given time, though I’m very glad to own this figure, which in my opinion is the superior Gung-Ho.

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1997 Gung-Ho Links:

Hlaf the Battle

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4 Responses to 1997 Gung-Ho

  1. A-Man says:

    I waited for clearance to get the Slugger with Gung-Ho. A wise choice given their quality.

    Just why the Slugger of all vehicles in 1997? That and the Rage were intriguing choices for exclusives. The Slugger was from the classic vintage era, but not heavily used compared to Vamp or AWE Strikers. The Rage was well outside the nostalgia era they seemed to be aiming for.

    The rivets/shoulder issue is so bad with 1997 figures, that I’ll say that if factory customizers want to remake the 1997 Joes, they can go for it. They sort of remade the 1997 Baroness, though lacking the circle Cobra logo. I can’t recall if they remade the Viper, Alley Viper or Storm Shadow.

  2. Mike T. says:

    This was a weird figure. The aqua and dark brown just don’t mix. It’s like they had a very different color scheme in mind and then one of the fan consultants convinced Hasbro that they couldn’t release a Gung Ho without his trademark blue. Sadly, the olive Funskool vehicle driver variant proved that a drab repaint of this mold could actually work quite well.

    Turns out, I do have this figure. But, he’s in crap shape. Years ago, I had his gear, the Slugger, his filecard and no figure. Not sure how that happened. But, I managed to sell his weapons and the Slugger: only to acquire a crappy figure a while later.

    The original Gung Ho look really hasn’t held up for me. I see it as too scrawny and dated. And, his later figures were just too much better for me to have any connection to the original other than nostalgia. But, I do kind of want this guy, just to complete the 1997 run.

  3. HitandRun says:

    The 97 figures were really all over the place. My experiences with the 97 version goes back to 2017 when I acquired a MIB Slugger w/ Gung-Ho. I was initially excited to get this version as I was getting back into o-ring collecting and I initially planned on focusing on the Battle Corps era up to the RAHC figures from 2000-2002. My main gripe with my figure was that the torso and waist piece did not line up right, the legs never stayed straight and it just seemed off to me and I never tried replacing the o-ring to remedy the problem before selling him off a couple of years ago. For me the bitter taste that the Stars and Stripes set which I also acquired around the same time just kind left me disinterested in this version and most of the 97 releases.

    With that said I can certainly appreciate the figure in retrospect. The mold to me while not the best Gung-Ho mold is certainly iconic and the brown with the aqua accents calling back to the original figure was a nice touch. He pops enough in the photos above as well and the original mold looks great along with the Roadblock figure in the background. The 97 Slugger is a solid vehicle besides the paper stickers. Gung-Ho was an odd choice for the driver but then again Heavy Duty was an odd choice to be paired with the MOBAT.

    Collecting as a coping mechanism is certainly a very real thing. I’ve gone through periods in my life where collecting really helped provide a form of escapism for me as well.

  4. R.T.G. says:

    This is a figure I had at one point, but disappeared (Probably ripped off by someone on Flickr).

    This is a figure that design wise is kind of bi-polar. The “realistic” base colouring was a nice thing to see on the figure, but then the strange desire to tie him back into the 83 with the teal just doesn’t work.

    It’s a shame in some ways that the Gung Ho mold didn’t get any real use, it could’ve been a pretty solid repaint in pretty much any other era.

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