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REVIEW: G.I.JOE 12" AIRBORNE
By Thomas Wheeler


The original AIRBORNE figure for the 3 3/4" G.I.Joe line was first introduced in
1983, the second year of the line, and was described as a Helicopter Assault
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 to his
head.

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 that one.

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!