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Top o’ the Lot: Members of G.I. Joe

Top o' the Lot Image Updated

From time to time Outright Geekery brings you a slanted and biased opinion on some trivially specific topic of geekery. We call it Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot.

I continue my series of Top’s o’ the Lots focusing on the my favorite 1980’s cartoons with this weeks installment of the Lot. Last week and the week before I gave props to my GI Joe Logofavorite robot stars of weekday afternoon cartoons, and now it’s time to devote some time to the second half-hour of my favorite hour of every week day during grade-school, G.I. Joe. I had a ton of Transformers toys and comics growing up, but the number of G.I. Joe toys and comics I had in my youth puts those numbers to shame. I had all the bases; all the vehicles, both small and gargantuan; all the figures, with duplicates where appropriate, and G.I. Joe made it quite appropriate to own more than one of anything. While my mom couldn’t justify 2 7-foot long aircraft carriers in my room, multiple planes, towers, and especially figures made my room a dangerous looking place…if you were 6 inches tall. Oh, how I wish I still had all of those beautiful pieces…and a warehouse to store them all in.

So, without further ado, I begin a series of G.I. Joe lists, and we yell “Go Joe!”, hope Sergeant Slaughter’s drilling pays off, and enjoy what must have been the largest international military budget ever to exist, as I run down my personal, slanted, and biased choices for Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: Members of G.I. Joe.

Honorable Mention: The Fridge

The FridgeThis was just too funny to keep off the list, and The Fridge acts as a great example of the way this cartoon’s duality would have only worked in the 1980’s. Here’s a professional football player, William Perry, who weighed in at an incredibly unfit 335.lbs, whose job on the Joes, according to his “official G.I. Joe ranking”, was the Physical Training Instructor. Now, I’m not saying that football isn’t full of great athletes, but certainly there were better choices available. Almost as crazy as having a professional wrestler as a Drill Instructor, I know, and it sort of explains how the Joes were never really able to beat the badguys once and for all, but this one is so crazy that it deserves at least a mention in this Lot. Other slots in this Lot o’ the Top Joes are occupied with actual soldiers.

5. Bazooka

The Jersey-clad missile specialist of the G.I. Joe team was one of my favs not because he Bazookawas really anything special, but because he was the perfect balance of awesome and funny. His friendship with fellow Joe Alpine, his severe lack of common (or other) sense, and even the way he constantly chewed bubble gum, certainly an homage to the Bazooka Joe brand of bubble gum, just made him an endearing character. Easy to love, hard to hate. Episodes like “Bazooka Saw A Sea Serpent” are surefire ways to get the full appeal of the character, and, as tough as it is to define the perfect member of G.I. Joe, Bazooka definitely epitomizes the inclusive aspect that was a singular facet of The Joes overall. That gets him a spot in this Lot, and that tone of loving unique characters quickly becomes a trend in this Top.

4. Lifeline

While it had to be one of the most boring jobs in the entire G.I. Joes (seeing as it was rare that anyone would actually be shot or hurt in any way) the medic/Rescue Trooper never Lifelinereally got much work. Lifeline makes the list because he was a pacifist, a soldier that turned away from violence, and despite every damn version of him coming with a gun of some kind, he made for an intriguing element of the entire G.I. Joe cartoon universe. The whole dynamic of the continuing struggle between G.I. Joe and Cobra was war, and it was a nice breath of fresh air for a show geared toward children to throw a character like Lifeline in the mix. Some Joes criticized his choice, others respected him more for it, and there was that one time he fixed Roadblock’s eyes, but it’s okay to be pretty much useless as long as you make a statement. Well, it is if you want to make the Top o’ the Lot, anyways.

3. Blowtorch

BlowtorchSometimes all it takes to make my list is wearing an awesome costume, having a great job, and being a really cool looking toy. And that’s why Blowtorch makes this list. Just look at that! A flamethrower;  An asbestos suit in bright as the noonday sun orange and red (cause who needs to hide when you have THAT kind of firepower?); A completely out-of-place Irish accent that gave the Joes that sense of internationalism it needed. I just really like this character, and it’s a slanted and biased list for a reason. For the next spot on this Lot, though, it’s more of a “love” thing.Blowtorch 2

2. Lady Jaye

Lady Jaye2I’m not even ashamed or embarrassed to say it. Eight year old me had a huge crush on Lady Jaye. She was everything a boy wanted in a woman: confidence, strength, beauty, terrific flying skills (both helicopters AND Trouble Bubbles), and a great javelin throwing technique. That was another thing: Javelins? Really?! But it so worked, the same way Marvel’s Hawkeye’s crazy arrows work. Sure, she may have been related to Destro, and Lady Jaye1sure she was with that loser Flint, pretty much the reason he doesn’t make the list (I mean, who the hell wears a beret? Not even the actual Green Berets wear the damned things all the time! What a douche?!), but she was my very first cartoon crush, throwing her onto the second to the Top o’ this Lot. Is it any real surprise who takes the Top spot?

1. Snake Eyes

Snake EyesSnake Eyes may have officially been labeled as a Commando, but he was so much more than that. Ninja, silent assassin, loyal friend, ever-present thorn in Cobra’s side, cartoon star, movie star, comic star, an amazingly cool toy, and an animal lover. He had it all! Whether he was kicking it with Shipwreck in my fav Snake Eyes cartoon episode, or saying absolutely nothing at all in the now famous “Silent Issue” of G.I. Joe, or cutting and shooting through battalion after battalion of Cobra troops on my childhood bedroom floor, or even meeting a fellow kindred spirit in the form of a timber wolf, there is simply no comparison and no other possible choice for the tippy Top spot o’ this Lot. Sure, it’s the obvious choice, but it’s obvious for a reason.

Snake Eyes Toy

See a mistake? Disagree with the choices? Tell us what you think about this installment of Top o’ Lot, join in the discussion and share your opinion.

Top o’ the Lot: Decepticons

Top o' the Lot Image Updated

From time to time Outright Geekery brings you a slanted and biased opinion on some trivially specific topic of geekery. We call it Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot.

I’ll make this short and sweet. As we continue through our series of Tops o’ the Lots Decepticons Symbolrevolving around my personal favorite ’80’s cartoons, I ran through my fav Autobots last time, so this time it’s all about the bad guys. The energon hungry, power striving nemeses of Optimus and the gang were by far the better group of toys, and made for some really good love-to-hate villains. So, without further ado, we attack Autobot City on Earth, steal the Matrix of Leadership (despite us having no idea how the hell to use the thing), and hate our own teammates just as much as we hate the “other guys”, as we round out another biased and skewed list in the Top o’ the Lot: Decepticons.

Honorable Mention: Reflector

ReflectorBecause he’s not a single robot, and that’s the only reason he gets honorable mention. I could have went all sort of ways with this one – the Insecticons or even one of the Combiner teams would have worked here – I really liked the 3 Amigos of Spectro, Spyglass and Reflector ToyViewfinder because they were really cool toys (that will be a recurring theme on this Lot). They may not have had much going on in either the comic OR the cartoon, but they were there, and the sheer creativity that went into this toy gives him, um, them a mention in the Top.

5. Tyrypticon

TrypticonJust like most of my other favorite Decepticons, Trypticon makes the list simply because he was really fun to play with. His three modes included a city, a mobile battle-station, and, the freakin’ coolest, a robot version of Godzilla that could even walk thanks to a battery-powered motor. Ahh, the ’80’s had the best toys! Although he was created to match the Autobot city, Metroplex, and it was awesome to see him fight the Dinobots, under the monster was layers of subtle story-telling depicting a torn and questioning character. That was deep for weekday after-Trypticon Toyschool TV in the 1980’s, I assure you. My favorite moment, however, was when Starscream stole his eye, and it’s priceless moments like that, and just a whole lot of coolness, that put Trypticon on this list. Speaking of Starscream…

4. Starscream

StarscreamStarscream wasn’t a very cool toy to play with as far as Transformers go. He basically had the same recognizable style as all the other Decepticon jets – like, Thundercracker and Skywarpbut Starscream had something those other wannabes didn’t have: Initiative! If he wasn’t outright trying to ruin Megatron’s attempts to get ahead, he was talking trash on the plan the entire time; and usually right to Megatron’s face in front of the other Decepticons. That takes balls bigger than Devastator’s from that one movie I swore I wasn’t going to mention. Forget about THAT version of the robot known as Devastator forever, and know the TRUE Constructicon Amalgam.

3. Devastator

Almost as much as kids love dinosaurs, leading to the creation of the Dinobots, kids just can’t get enough of heavy construction equipment. It’s weird as hell, but it’s Constructiconsan undeniable truth. So, it only makes sense that the Constructicons would be such a popular series of Transformers. It doesn’t hurt that the entire group of Transformers ALSO transforms into a giant uber-robot called Devastator. Again, this was simply and beautifully a very, very cool toy. Robots that changed into things were great, but give kids a bunch of robots that change into things AND make it so those robots also change into another robot and you’ve got something special. He may have begun a whole series of Combiners to come down the road after him, but Devastator paved the way. You got to respect the original, but I have a real problem with originality in the next entry in this Lot.

2. Megatron/Galvatron

MegatronI know there are huge Galvatrondistinctions between these two characters, but it’s really hard for me to put one above the other. Attitude: Draw; Alternate Mode: Has to go to Megatron, his gun mode is just cooler than Galvatron‘s and his tank mode is barely worth mentioning; Galvatron ToyVoiceover: Leonard Nimoy inches Galvatron over the legend Frank Welker’s work on Megatron. It’s too damned close to call! Megatron put it to Optimus Prime in ways Galvatron was never able to, but Galvatron caused trouble for the Autobots in ways Megatron could have only dreamed. Megatron may have had the Megatron Toyclassic lineup of Decepticon cohorts, but Galvatron had Cyclonus, Scourge and his team The Sweeps. I refuse to make any distinction whatsoever when it comes to rating these two characters. It would just be unfair to both characters. What’s really unfair is my Number 1 slanted and biased choice for this Lot.

1. Soundwave

Soundwave and FriendsI just can’t help it. I love Soundwave! He was a robot that changed into an audio cassette recorder (for you kids, that was like an iPod that only worked with weird plastic things called cassettes. Soundwave had (kind of) working buttons, and a belt clip that came off where the batteries were supposed to be, but, NO, there weren’t batteries in there, it was lazer cannons…he was the bee knees! I still have my G1 version despite him being well worn from playing with him in my youth. Now, Soundwave was cool in his own right – Soundwave Cartoonimpersonal, loyal, logical, mysterious – but that’s not why he makes the Top. Maybe I’m being just as cheap with this choice as I was the Honorable Mention pick, but the tape deck makes the Top Spot o’ the Lot because of the tapes. Little tapes that went INSIDE Soundwave and ejected just like the show?! O.M.G. It was awesome! His own little personal army tucked inside his chest cavity. When I hear it out loud it sounds really lame, but it sure wasn’t lame at the time, and it’s still awesome enough to put the “uncrasimatic bore” in the tippy Top o’ this Lot.Soundwave and Friends Toys

See a mistake? Disagree with the choices? Tell us what you think about this installment of Top o’ Lot, join in the discussion and share your opinion.

Top o’ the Lot: Autobots

Top o' the Lot Image Updated

From time to time Outright Geekery brings you a slanted and biased opinion on some trivially specific topic of geekery. We call it Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot.

As a thirty-something who doesn’t really care anymore (if 40 is the new 20, by the transitive property I’m like a teenager) I have no problem admitting that after school Autobot Symbolcartoons in the 1980’s were a huge factor in defining my level of geekness. Although that’s where most of my adoration for Transformers found its genesis, early Marvel comics and the amazing full-length feature Transformers: The Movie did a great deal more to solidify the toy brand turned promotional cartoon as my younger self’s go-to 30-minute animated funtime, and was placed in primary position on my presents list to the red clad fat man. With so many different aspect forming my love for GoBots bigger, better robot brothers, my slanted and skewed picks for the Top Autobots is extremely slanted and skewed, but I have my reasons. So, without further ado, we transform Autobot City, pull the Matrix of Leadership from our chest cavity (eww!) and Light Your Darkest Hour, as we run through Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: Autobots.

Honorable Mention: Jetfire/Skyfire

SkyfireWait! A flying Autobot? Who’d a thunk it?! Logically, the fastest moving Autobot, and usually the first one to get to the fight, it always seemed to me that with at least 4 or 5 Decepticon Jets on the opposing side he should have never stood a chance. His portrayal in the cartoon was unique, but his Marvel Comic story was just plain old awesome! Created by Shockwave and turned do-gooder? He’s may be as true as they come now, but that gray area give Skyfire only a mention in this Top, not to mention the severe lack of Rolling Out ability.

5. Perceptor

One of my favs from the 1980’s Transformers: The Movie, as well as one of the prides of Perceptor Toymy personal collection leftover from those “good old days”, Perceptor was, in a single word: Weird. He was a scientist (which was really cool), who changed into a microscope (which is probably the strangest thing ANY Transformer has ever changed into), but also has some crazy third form that was supposed to be some kind of half-track missile launcher…whatever! Perceptor was really cool, because he was a brainiac nerd, he had a completely out of place British accent that actually worked in a some silly way that only my 8-year-old self could understand, he turned into a freakin’ microscope! And the microscope even kind of sort of worked to an extent…but not really. Still, he makes the Top simply because this list is slanted, biased and skewed, and he remains one of my favs.

4. Omega Supreme

Omega SupremeOne of the tings that always bothered me about the seemingly never-ending war between the Autobots and the Decepticons was the overwhelming tactical advantage the bad guys always had over the good guys. I guess that was supposed to be part of the appeal; it’s always easier to root for the underdog; but I always thought the Autobots should have had some bigger guns (despite building the Dinobots, see below). I think that’s why I’ve always been such a big fan of Omega Supreme. He’s the big hitter the Autobots need! In robot mode he can keep up with the like of Devastator himself; with a plasma gun for an arm and everything; and his vehicle Omega Supreme Toymode was an oddly cool combo of a tank, a railroad track, and a rocket ship. A what a awesome toy this made! Being cool in an odd way, and uniquely badass for an Autobot, puts Omega Supreme launching into the number 4 spot in this Lot. But, when you need a true warrior, you call on the next robot on our list.

3. Ironhide

IronhideLoyalty. It’s the mark of any good Autobot, and Ironhide carried it like cubes of energon. Although he most most significant in his role as a warrior and a team leader in many occasions, Ironhide is best exemplified in his capacity as Autobot leader Optimus Prime’s most loyal bodyguard. Sure, he transformed into an ’80’s style soccer mom grocery getter, and famously bought it in the movie with “Such heroic nonsense”, but Ironhide came off as the quintessential soldier that no other Transformer, Autobot or Decepticon, just didn’t quite meet. And, in a story based upon a grand robot war, he was a steady sail on a ship that required a mass appeal and not just an ongoing war story. While I didn’t cry nearly as hard when Wash died in Serenity, I WAS almost 20 years younger when I bawled about Ironhide’s passing. But I’m over it; *sniff*; yeah, I’m over it.

2 Bumblebee

BumblebeeOut of all the Autobots; or the Decepticons for that matter, few are as recognizable as Bumblebee. Maybe it’s the fact that the VW Beetle is such a recognizable vehicle, or the fact that Bumblebee didn’t come off as a holier-than-thou dogmatic bore or a megalomaniac dictator, but rather as a honest-to-goodness young grunt in a war he’d rather not be fighting in, for a reason he doesn’t quite understand. He acted as a “little brother” character that most young children could relate to, best friend to the human Spike and his dad, and quickly became a mascot for the entire toy line, although I never did figure out what was up with Bumblebee2those tiny horns on his head. You can keep your all growed up Goldbug, the horrible movie version Camaro, or any of the other so-called Bumblebee’s, there’s simply only one, and he’s a Beetle Bug. Does it hurt the character that my first real car was a ’72 Super Beetle Sedan? Nope, which is why he sits in the number 2 spot in this Top o’ the Lot, leaving only a single favorite to go.

1. Grimlock

GrimlockI truly don’t know what it is about kids and dinosaurs, but there certainly something there. Rugrats go crazy for giant, extinct monsters with hard to pronounce names. So it made sense when Wheeljack and Ratchet decided to add some brute force to the Autobot lineup. Although his almost immediate betrayal of the Autobots and subsequent rethinking of that betrayal, only compounds just how stupid Grimlock really was, hey, he was the smartest of the Dinobots, and that counts for something. While he was originally going to be part of the same origin as the rest of the Autobots, and that origin was explored fully in the Marvel Comics storyline, Grimlock’s G1 cartoon origin Grimlock-Toyis still the best, and I strongly recollect dragging my mom to my local KMart soon after his premiere. I’m not sure what ever happened to my figure, but I miss it. I really miss it. Me, Gaumer, miss action figure! 😦 And with a soon to be released movie starring the T-Rex turned robot, Grimlock’s stardom should get back to Super-stardom by year’s end. Did I mention the comedy relief in the movie? He’s just an all-around cool character, and my favorite, earning Grimlock the Top spot in this weeks Top o’ the Lot.

See a mistake? Disagree with the choices? Tell us what you think about this installment of Top o’ Lot, join in the discussion and share your opinion.