I've said before that sometimes an accessory does a figure make. Never is that thought more demonstrated than by the 1984 Ripcord and his parachute pack and mask accessory. They alone make the figure worth getting. The fact that the Ripcord figure, if a bit plain, is also very nice just adds to the overall satisfaction this figure can offer a collection.
Back in 1984, a buddy of mine managed to snag most of the '84 Joes very early when his family went out to California. He wowed us all with not only the catalog of what was to come that year, but also several new, fabulous Joes. Among those, Ripcord really stood out. Most of us had gotten the Skystriker the year before. The parachutes that came with that plane, though, were kind of lame. Still, my friends and I all wanted a parachute trooper who could jump out of the plane. Most of us had gotten by with Airborne. When we saw Ripcord, though, we all had to get him. Of course, this made the figure nearly impossible to find. I remember going to a K Mart in Chillicothe, Ohio that summer. They only had 2 Joe figures. One was Recondo, the other was Ripcord. Of course, being K Mart, the Ripcord was torn open and someone had stolen all of his accessories. I had to settle for Recondo. The reason I was in Chillicothe, though, was because my youngest brother was visiting my grandparents in Dayton, Ohio. Imagine my surprise when we went to pick up my brother and I discovered my grandparents had bought him not one, but two Ripcords! Needless to say, I quickly commandeered them both and put them to immediate use.
The Ripcord figure has always been, at least to me, rather plain when you are missing his chute pack and mask. He is in a very nice camo pattern and works great for forest or jungle missions, but he was just too plain to use without his gear. Since I had 2 of the figure, though, I often gave the second pack to another figure that was more fun to use once the chute was off. Still, Ripcord was a staple of most of my missions. His gear enabled him to be used in all sorts of situations. He was either the guy who was stranded behind enemy lines and had to be rescued, or was the last minute cavalry who would fall out of the sky to save the day. Either way, he was a figure that I used extensively. I loved green camo figures. I've always liked, and still like, to have multiples of these types of figures. For some reason, though, I have only recently added a new Ripcord to my collection. It was quite by accident, but I was very pleased to have another one. He is a nice figure to have.
Ripcord had quite a run in the comic. He was the focal point for many issues. I think this exposure helped keep him around in my collection. I most often had him jumping off the Dragonfly skids rather than parachuting from a Skystriker. I always had more fun with the helicopters rather than the planes. The original Dragonfly was great, but the Tomahawk copter is one of my three favorite vehicles of all time. With vehicles like this, figures like Ripcord could really be utilized. I think that Joes most enduring feature is that it was a fully accessorized line. The figures were great, but wouldn't have enjoyed the success they did had there not been the full complement of vehicles to accompany them.
The Ripcord mold got quite a worldwide workout. After he was released in the US, Ripcord was sent to Argentina where he was released in brighter green as Fuego. The mold was then painted tan and used for the excellently done Sokerk figure. After that, the mold went on to Brazil. There, Ripcord was also released in colors similar to his American figure. In 1988, Hasbro intended Ripcord to be a member of Tiger Force. A hand painted mock up of the Tiger Force Ripcord appeared in some toy advertisements. However, as the mold was in South America, Ripcord never got a chance to be repainted in the US. However, the mold was not quite done. Around 1991, Estrela repainted the Ripcord mold as a Cobra in Python Patrol colors named Relampago. After that, the mold disappeared and it is likely that the Ripcord tooling was forever lost in South America.
Ripcords are getting tougher to find. The parachute pack and mask were made of soft plastic that easily tears, especially over time. He also has a brittle crotch that is often broken. It is nearly impossible to find a sample that doesn't have at least some paint wear on the hands. That being the case, near mint, complete Ripcords are starting to get pricey. While he is certainly not at the price point of Storm Shadow or Firefly from the same year, this guy is still going to set you back a little more than many of his other contemporaries. That's really too bad, as this figure really lends himself to army building. If you have the cash, I recommend picking up a couple of these guys. I love having extra masks and chute packs. It's just a shame that they were never offered in any other way. The accessories, though, make the figure worth having. Ripcord is one of a handful of non ball headed figures to still be used in my collection. I think you will find he is one of the few figures in the line who was truely timeless and was never improved upon.
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