G.I.JOE 12" AIRBORNE
By Thomas Wheeler
The original AIRBORNE figure for the 3 3/4" G.I.Joe line was first
1983, the second year of the line, and was described as a Helicopter
Trooper. As such, he was the perfect figure to fill the second seat
in the G.I.Joe Dragonfly Helicopter, which was released that same year
with Wild Bill as its pilot. Airborne was a Native American by the name
of Franklin Talltree.
There was never a second version of the figure in the original 3 3/4"
line, although the name "Airborne" was used for a member of
the Sky Patrol team in 1990. However, this was not the same individual.
This was a slip-up. So technically, the G.I.Joe Team has two members
with the same code-name, although if one assumes that the special teams
are at least semi-autonomous groups, it probably doesn't cause that
much confusion in the ranks.
The recently released K*B Toys exclusive 12" Airborne figure is
definitely based on the original. Has the same real name, Franklin Talltree,
and best of all, bears a respectable resemblance to the original figure.
His full "official" name is now "Sgt. Airborne".
Maybe that's how they're keeping track of him these days. He bears little
resemblance to the 3 3/4" Sgt. Airborne recently released within
the SpyTroops line, who is paired with a Cobra Tele-Viper.
The original Airborne was one of the more highly-detailed figures from
1983. He was dressed in a tan flight suit with a pale turquoise vest,
and was wearing a harness that was clearly designed as a parachute harness.
Unfortunately, the figure did not come with a working parachute, although
the backpack he wore
was clearly designed as a parachute backpack. His helmet was molded
The new 12" Airborne retains the colors of the original 3 3/4"
version. The major difference is that the figure's molded shirt has
short sleeves. His molded vest torso has been done in the same pale
turquoise, and he's wearing fabric trousers with a desert camouflage
pattern. The uniform is completed with a green helmet, black boots,
and a green shoulder strap with molded pouches.
Instead of a parachute pack, the figure is also wearing a black harness
attacked to a white rappelling rope. The end result is a 12" figure
that bears a suitable resemblance to his 3 3/4" counterpart from
20 years earlier.
About the only deficiency to the figure at all is that the trousers
don't quite meet the molded vest, and the lower torso should perhaps
have been molded in the same tan as the shirt sleeves, instead of the
flesh tone. Sometimes Airborne looks like he's having a little trouble
keeping his pants up.
I find it interesting that a number of the 12" figures Hasbro is
producing based on 3 3/4" characters bear a strong resemblance
to their original versions, even if newer 3 3/4" versions of these
same characters don't necessarily resemble
their original counterparts all that much. Flint, Tunnel Rat, and now
Airborne all look very much like their classic incarnations. Coming
soon is a Bazooka figure that based on photos I've seen looks just like
the original 3 3/4" figure from 1985, right down to the red baseball
shirt with the blue "14" on it. I look forward to getting
Meanwhile, if you're looking for a 12" version of one of the less
notable but still very cool 3 3/4" figures, I definitely recommend
a trip to your local K*B Toys, and bring home Sgt. Airborne!