Ripcord has been a fan favorite for as long as I've been collecting Joes. His original figure with the amazing accessories caught the attention of a generation of kids. But, his run in the comic established the character as more than a niche player in the Joe mythos. Despite the popularity, though, the Ripcord figure only had one release in the United States: the 1984 version.
This figure coupled a base, military green with some basic camo to create a solid figure that hearkened back to the first year of Joes while still incorporating the more modern sculpting of 1984. What made the figure, though, was his gear. Aside from the rifle and helmet, the focal point of Ripcord was his parachute rig with attachable air mask that affixes over his face around the helmet.
Hasbro produced the figure in 1984 and 1985. Hasbro also packaged Ripcord figures for release in Europe under the Action Force banner. This kept the figure in circulation for several years.
In 1988, Hasbro planned for a subset of repainted figures called Tiger Force. Among the original members was a repainted Ripcord. This would have been Ripcord's second appearance in the line and would have been a welcomed version. Handpainted samples of Ripcord appeared in some early advertisements for Tiger Force figures. But, when Hasbro went to put the mold into production, it was missing. Well, not so much missing as it had been sent to South America.
This leads to the second appearance of Ripcord: in Brazil. Here, the figure was released as Fumaca. This Estrela produced figure is a darker green than the American figure. The regular accessories were included with the Fumaca figure. What was notable, though, is that Fumaca features exclusive card art. The Brazilian artwork showcases Ripcord freefalling, but also pulling his mask down a bit to expose his face. It's a subtle difference. But, Ripcord and Airborne were the only two American characters to get Brazilian exclusive card art.
The timeline for Ripcord's release in South America is a bit murky. Typically, Estrela released figures first and the molds then showed up in Argentina where Plastirama used them. It's possible that this timeline was followed as the Ripcord mold showed up in Argentina where it was released as a figure named Fuego.
However, around 1990 or 1991, Estrela released the mold again. This time around, though, the mold was not Ripcord. This time it was released as a Cobra member of Python Patrol named Relampago. This new character was a Cobra, but utilized the full Ripcord body mold. His gear, though, was gone. (Though his rifle did appear with his exclusive contemporary, Gatilho.)
The interesting point on Relampago is that there are new paint masks. Aside from the obvious cammo pattern (which matches that of the Python Tele Viper that was released in the US) the figure also includes painted cuffs around the neck and wrists.
Finally, we have the Plastirama release. Like I said above, the exact timeline is unclear. Maybe Plastirama released Fuego after Estrela released Relampago. It would make sense and would explain why the Plastirama molds are largely gone. The figure's green is brighter and he has flesh painted hands.
Plastirama, though, then used the Ripcord mold as a repaint of their exclusive Sokerk figure. This figure was an all tan repaint of the full figure mold. It did not, though, include any of the classic Ripcord accessories and, instead, features a light tan Doc helmet and an M-60 from Rock and Roll. Originally, Sokerk was a repainted swivel arm Grunt figure. But, later editions were this Ripcord repaint.
Here is a full comparison of all the Ripcord figures released:
You can see the difference as the figures go from left to right: Hasbro US release, Estrela Brazilian release, Plastirama Argentina release and the Brazilian Relampago. The Fumaca figure is darker than the Ripcord figure, but the dark green cammo is colored blue. The Fuego figure is much brighter green, but keeps the blue from the Brazilian release. The accessories have similar differences with Fumaca's being darker green and Fuego's pack being a greenish brown and a glossy black rifle.
In the end, the figures are different, but not overly so. For fans of Ripcord, none of the foreign releases aside from Relampago and Sokerk are not really all that different from the US version. It would have been great to get a Tiger Force Ripcord and if that cost us the chance at Fumaca and Fuego, I would be OK with that. But, when given a choice between the Python Patrol Ripcord, Sokerk and a Tiger Force version, I'll stick with the Python Patrol version or Sokerk since they something so different and allows for a great expansion of the Cobra or Joe ranks.