When I first started buying up large lots of figures back in '98, I really focused on lots containing figures from '89 - '91. Those were the guys I didn't have and had never had. In fact, you may see a bias on this site towards figures from the latter half of the line. The reason for this is that they are the ones I have sought out and not had time enough to grow tired of. To me, many of the original figures are worn out. It's guys like Topside who keep the hobby interesting. With nearly 600 unique figures in the Joe run, there is always something new to keep me from getting bored. I think that's why the vintage Star Wars, and now POTFII, bore me. There is just not enough going to keep my interest. With Joes, you can always find new combinations, or new series of figures who mesh well together. At any rate, though, for some reason, those lots never contained a Topside figure. While I quickly amassed Stretchers and Sub Zeros, Topside remained elusive. I also couldn't find just a simple loose one that wasn't horribly expensive. Finally, I managed to snag one. Then, like rabbits, Topsides began to multiply in my collection. Soon, I had the 5 who now call my collection home.
There are a number of reasons that I like this guy. First: he lends himself to army building. I've said many times before that I like army builders for my Joes as well as my Cobras. Topside is a perfect figure to fit that role. Like Shipwreck, he works as a simple, faceless longshoreman or as a fully named Joe. Second: his mold is great. He has the life jacket and naval uniform that look very convincing as a naval commando and make me want to use him as crewmembers of the Tactical Battle Platform, Hovercraft, or Shark 9000. The third reason this guy is so cool is his accessories. His gun is compact, two handled machine gun that looks like something a commando would use. His helmet adds that element of military trooper to him that really allows for a great expansion of his role. His missile launcher backpack isn't an accessory I use all that often, but is a nice add on, nonetheless. (Be careful with this pack. A complete Topside actually has 3 missiles. Of course, his pack only holds 2 and he has no other place to put the 3rd. It is kind of silly, but something of which to be aware.) All of these things add up to a figure that really should be a lot more popular than he is.
From the moment I got my first Topside, he has been a rather prolific member of my collection. I like to center a lot of my use of my toys around water based themes. The reason is that boats are much easier to play with than large planes, but still allow leeway that ground based adventures do not. For that reason, figures like Topside get lots of use. He is both a defender of a Joe position and an attacker of Cobra held installations. In either scenario, the figure works perfectly. I've said before that I hope to someday have a USS Flagg. When that day comes, I'll have a squadron of Topsides who will act as the ship's first strike commandos. Until then, though, I've still got plenty of places where this guy will get more than his fair share of use.
It is also with great sadness that I write this profile. The reason is simple. Topside will be the final figure I profile that has pictures taken from my Arizona home. As most of you may know, I'm no longer a desert rat. I'm not just another ordinary, average mid westerner who lives in no place special just like most other people in this country. As to how this affects this Joe page and my fandom, well, it doesn't. Basically, it means that all the cool pictures of the tropical jungles, pool, cracked desert floor, succulent plant life and, most importantly, the waterfall, are no more. Once I have a new house, then I will once again have the settings for some new dioramas based on mud puddles, overgrown grass, messy leaves, and, Heaven for fend, snow. At any rate, this ushers in a new era in Joe collecting for me. I will still post a few, scattered AZ pics from time to time, but, for the most part, they are up. As a kid I had dreamed of a backyard like that one. Now, at least I was able to have the memories....
Topsides are not hard to find. In fact, they can usually be had for next to nothing. He is just a figure that I had trouble finding at a time when all '90 and '91 figures were tough to find. Now, he can be had with just about no effort at all. Of course, this is not a bad thing. I love having figures like this guy available for reasonable prices. While some other figures from Topside's year, Bullhorn, have become remarkable expensive and very frustrating for cheap bastards like me to acquire, Topside offers a nice opportunity to build armies without breaking your budget. I've heard many collectors complaining that the new releases are too focused on aquatic troops. (They have released a lot of divers.) Frankly, I don't mind this. I've always used water as an integral part of my adventures. In fact, I'm already looking into installing a pond and fountain in my new backyard so that I still have some elements of home around. Toys and water mix and mix well. When a lack of aquatic troops will keep us from getting figures of Topside's quality, then I think we, as collectors, will have lost a great deal.
While I like Topside armies, I've got enough of these guys for now. What do you think of this figure? Let me know.