From nineteen eighty nine to nineteen ninety two DiC produced a G.I. Joe animated cartoon. They had a difficult job, they had the follow the Sunbow produced series that ran from nineteen eighty three to nineteen eighty six, which yielded ninety five episodes and including a film. The DiC series produced only forty four episodes. Here are the links to Operation Dragonfire and the regular series intros;
G.I. Joe is the longest running toy commercial ever, and I’m ok with that. So with the new wave of Joe action figures coming out Hasbro wanted to market the line to kids, so the DiC series had a whole new cast of characters, which is exactly what happened in the Sunbow series with Arise Serpentor Arise. So what happened? Why is the DiC series almost passed and forgotten by fans? Let’s see if I can answer this question with the hindsight of time and reason.
Let’s start with where the series… starts off, like the Sunbow series Operation Dragonfire was a five parter that ran throughout the week, the same as The M.A.S.S. Device. But what could’ve been better would be the inclusion of the older characters that they were trying to phase out, but unlike Arise Serpentor Arise, we just get the new cast, with no mention of what happened to the old chain of command.
Another example is with The Transformers series after the Movie, Five Faces of Darkness five parter, includes all the new Cybertronian characters that we got introduced to in the movie (Rodimus, Ultra Magnus, Springer, Kup, Galvatron, Cyclonus…) it begins with a race, where we still have Jazz, Bumble Bee, Warpath in the mix. They aren’t simply forgotten.
In Operation Dragonfire we’re introduced to Scoop and our other new characters, also some familiar characters like Sgt. Slaughter, Low-Light (one blonde and one with a dark goatee…), Rock n Roll and Stalker, although they are sporting new uniforms and sound different…
Back to Scoop, he’s a Crimson Guardsman (awesome) who infiltrates GI Joe to get revenge on them for blowing up his parents’ house (less awesome?), his Cobra contact is another Crimson Guardsmen (awesome)… who later becomes an Alley Viper (not so awesome), but that’s also his name, Scoop calls him Alley Viper? Um, aren’t there supposed to be a whole battalion of Alley Vipers? And isn’t an Alley Viper a demotion from a Crimsons Guard? So a new foot soldier in the Cobra Army is reduced to one character.
Operation Dragonfire also has the tough job of coming after G.I. Joe The Movie. Cobra-la and all is taken in to their continuity, that in and of itself is a difficult task to tackle. So they have to bring Cobra Commander back in to power, and humanoid form, as well as get rid of Serpentor. With this new Cobra Commander we get a new suit, it’s a armored suit, reminds me a lot of Darth Vader, so yeah, I do like this version of Cobra Commander, and he’s also voiced by Chris Latta again, so that’s a plus.
So the new characters we get, from the Joes they build up Captain Grid-Iron as the new Duke, and then Pathfinder and Ambush as the new Alpine and Bazooka. But for some reason I didn’t find myself being connected to them as much. It could be that with Alpine and Bazooka you had others in that episode to round out the team, where some episodes seem to be driven solely by just Pathfinder and Ambush.
You also get Rampart and Bullhorn, two more straight forward Joes. Rampart likes playing video games, so he sees a battle as one big video game where he’s earning a high score, not bad. It also doesn’t hurt that Rampart was one of the first GiJoes that I ever bought with my own money.On to the Cobra cast, we get Cobra Commander back as the head of the organization, we get Destro in his Iron Grenadier uniform, and we still have the Baroness. Gone are Firefly, Scrap Iron, Dr. Mindbender and Storm Shadow (from season 1), now we get Gnawgahyde, Nigh Creeper Leader and Metal Head.
Where the DiC series really suffers from is the Cobra cast, their roster is mainly filled with comic relief characters, and not really anyone menacing. Granted that the action figure line had more Cobra foot soldiers than actual characters, but why did the animated renditions have to be so slap sticky?
Storm Shadow is absent for the first part of this new series, so Cobra loses one of their coolest characters, but no one was there to fill the void he left, instead we get Metal Head… sheesh.
Some might say that the series suffers from lower animation quality, but so did the Sunbow series, you could totally tell when the C-Team was animating an episode. It boils down to characters that we care for.
Despite my criticisms, I’m glad that I can relive this series. Thanks Karina, for getting me this.