Night Force is probably the most popular vintage subset of figures. (You might make a case for Sky Patrol, but it is close.) The two year Toys R Us exclusive theme always featured repaints of figures from the prior year. Most of the characters were just straight out of the molds Hasbro had recently used. But, redone in Night Force colors, many of the figures took on new life. The trend continued in 1989 with series two of the Night Force group. This year featured some figures in drastically new takes on a mold's coloring. None was more different than Lightfoot. Gone was the bright yellow base of the uniform. It was replaced by muted browns and blacks. Suddenly, a solid mold with terrible colors was fixed and Lightfoot had a place of usefullness in any Joe collection.
The Lightfoot mold is well done. It features intricate details and is bulky to the point where you know he is armoured, but not to the point where he is overdone. The Night Force colors accentuate the mold in a way that the bright yellow of the original never did. The muted brown offset with black and grey highlights make the figure useful in ways that no other figure with Lightfoot's specialty is. The black helmet with red eyes is the perfect capper and makes this figure everything that the vintage Trip Wire should aspire to be were he redone.
My interactions with the original Lightfoot figure were minimal. By 1988, I was out of Joe and only bought 2 figures in February of that year. But, as the year progressed, my youngest brother still bought new Joe figures from time to time. As such, I do recall figures such as Repeater and Lightfoot being around on the rare occasion when I'd pick up a figure or two. I do recall Lightfoot, though, due to the helmet. I liked the look of the helmet and desperately wanted it to be cooler than it was. But, my main memory of it was the fact that I accidentally sucked it up with the vacuum one day. Rather than let the helmet die a horrid death in a landfill, though, I took out the vacuum bag (remember those?) and pulled out months' worth of dust, lint and dirt to find the helmet. I did find it, washed it off, and the vintage Lightfoot was useful again.
In the times when I did use the figure, I liked Lightfoot's mold. But, unlike Airtight, I simply could not justify the bright yellow color. By the time this Night Force version was released in 1989, though, I was truly done with Joes and had no idea the figure existed. (Now, I'm sure that had I know of the figure, I still would not have bought it.) When I returned to Joe collecting as a adult, the Night Force Lightfoot was one of the few Night Force figures that really intrigued me. It was a figure that was capable of making a good mold relevant again. However, even in those early days, Night Force Lightfoot figures were hard to find and rather expensive. (I distinctly remember balking at paying $15 for a mint, complete with filecard version in 1998 as I could buy 7 or 8 other figures in similar completeness and condition that I did not have for the same amount.) As such, I delayed the acquisition of the figure for many years. By the time I did acquire one, it was after the point where a figure like this would get great use. As such, this figure's fate is probably to be stored away in a closet, in a box where he will wait for the off chance that someday I will have the desire to display him in a place of prominence.
While not overly used, Lightfoot's mold did have a bit of a history. After he was released in the US in 1988 and again as this Night Force repaint in 1989, the mold was shipped off to Brazil. There, the figure was released in colors very similar to the original Lightfoot and named Desarmer. After that, there is no trace of the mold. Two of Lightfoot's Brazilian contemporaries: Spearhead and Tracker, both later appeared in India. But, the other contemporary, Sci-Fi, did not appear anywhere else except for in the later series of Brazilian Eco Warriors. As such, it is impossible to know where the Lightfoot mold is today. It could have died in Brazil, been lost in India or sitting on a Hasbro shelf over in Asia just waiting for someone to say they want another Lightfoot figure.
Lightfoot's accessories are bulky, detailed, and an essential part of the figure. But, they are also largely useless. He does not include a weapon of any kind. That alone sunk him in the eyes of kids during his retail run. (Well, that and the bright yellow....) The backpack is large, but is well engineered as it can hold his explosives detector and the hose plugs into a socket on one of the arms. The robot is actually a realistic piece of detail that makes the character more effective. But, the hologram that represents the controls of the robot also date the accessory more than I would like. The helmet, of course, if the coups de gras. It fits the head well and, combined with the other gear, gives the figure an appearance that befits his specialty. Without the helmet, the head is very well sculpted. But, the figure loses most of his usefulness without that one accessory.
Lightfoot is probably the hardest Night Force figure to find: especially if you want him mint and complete. As such, he is also among the most expensive. Mint, complete with filecard Night Force Lightfoot figures will easily sell for over $50 and often get as high as $70. Even if you sacrifice the filecard and one of the accessories, though, the figure will sell for more than $40. For the character, that's probably a bit high. But, for a figure as cool as this one is and that is this hard to find, though, that is right in line with other figures of similar circumstances. This is easily the best version of the Lightfoot character. But, that's not saying much, either. I've found the figure to be a useful part of my collection. And, were this figure as plentiful and cheap as the original, full retail Lightfoot, I think that more collectors would use him in their dios and photos.