Wednesday, November 14, 2018

1989 Hot Seat

I quit buying G.I. Joe toys in early 1988.  By 1989, even my younger brothers had mostly quit as they moved on to other things, too.  This left me only one real avenue by which I could see the new Joe releases for that year: the comic book.  But, in late 1988 through 1989, even my comic purchases fell off a bit and I actually missed a few months as things like Nintendo took up more of my leisure time.  I did start to catch up in 1989.  But, my interest in those stories fell off from earlier issues.  I retain a general knowledge of each Joe comic through issue 65 or so.  These early issues were key elements of my childhood and I read and re-read them dozens (if not hundreds!) of times.  This left an imprint that lingers with me to this day.  After that, though, the comics and stories tend to blend together.  But, there are individual scenes in the comics that I recall.

One such scene occurred during the arc that introduced the Raider.  At one point in the battle, the Raider raised up its hidden missile racks and destroyed a Razorback, killing the stunned drivers who didn't know the capabilities of the Raider.  Seeing this new vehicle in action made me wonder what the toy was like.  But, it would be nearly a decade before I saw an actual Raider.  Seeing the toy lead to the discovery of the Raider's included driver figure: Hot Seat.  Hot Seat was an incredibly obscure figure that was fairly difficult to find in the late 1990's.  But, I managed to find one and really, really wanted to like him.  But, the figure never really grabbed my attention and it's taken nearly 20 years to get around to profiling the figure, even though I had plans to review him nearly from the start of this site.

Hot Seat's uniform isn't badly sculpted.  His chest seems larger, like he's wearing armor to protect him inside the Raider's exposed, glass canopy.  The tan undershirt with rolled up sleeves is a nice contrast to the black gloved hands.  Hot Seat looks like he's at work, which I like in a vehicle driver.  The dark green flak jacket offsets both colors nicely.  Alas, the figure falls apart from here.  While the legs are nicely designed, they are orange with red canisters painted on the legs.  The orange is bright.  It is ostentatious and it simply overwhelms the figure.  All hope of Hot Seat being a cool, undiscovered gem is erased with one look at the figure's lower half.  It's just an odd choice and doesn't really fit with Hasbro's typical work of that time.  It was rare to see a figure that had such a disparity between his top half and his lower body.  But, in Hot Seat's case, it pretty much spoils the toy.

The best part of Hot Seat is the super bizarre helmet.  Hasbro went all in on the one eyed helmet designs in the Joe line.  (They were a hallmark of the late 1980's and must have had a fan on the design team.)  The practicality of such a design may be debatable.  But, aesthetically, Hot Seat's helmet works in it's uniqueness.  I know that I tend to like weird Joe designs more than many collectors, though.  So, the odd helmet's look on Hot Seat is something of which I tend to be more forgiving.  But, the helmet gives Hot Seat character.  My only real beef with it is that is covers Hot Seat's only other memorable trait: his grey hair.  There are not many grey haired characters in the Joe world.  Even the 1986 Hawk, represented someone who was at least in the mid 50's, had rich, auburn hair.  So, seeing Hot Seat's hair gave him an air of an elder statesman for the team.  It's about the only real defining aspect of Hot Seat's design.

Sadly, Hot Seat never showed up again.  Neither the character nor the mold ever made another appearance in the Joe line.  Really, just one release with better colored pants would have made for a great repaint.  1989 vehicle drivers either ended up dying with Olmec toys and their failed Bronze Bombers or showing up as 2000's era Convention releases.  But, Hot Seat saw neither of these fates.  A single repaint would have been cool as the figure could have worked in a late model vintage vehicle.  (He could have become a new Steeler or Thunder release without anyone batting an eye, too.)  With nothing else out there, Hot Seat remains a character and figure who will likely never see appreciation over what he has today.  (Though, Hot Seat did reference fear of brain injury from repeated head trauma in 1989.  So, he has that little factoid in his back pocket, too.)

Hot Seat figures are not popular.  While dealers will sell them for $10 to $12, they sell for half that on the open market.  (You can get a figure still in the bubble for $10 if you look hard enough and have some patience.)  The tight fitting helmet helps keep the volume of complete figures high.  And, the character's complete obscurity hides him from most collectors.  I've long wanted to like this figure.  But, it took me 15 years to finally get around to profiling him because I just never got motivated to get some solid pictures of Hot Seat out and about.  Even now, I kind of ran out of things to say about the figure or character.  I've had him as a vehicle driver from time to time.  But, it's a deliberate choice to include Hot Seat and not an organic decision where he is the best choice for a photo.  That's likely Hot Seat's ultimate fate and this is his lone moment in the spotlight.

1989 Hot Seat, Raider, Slaughters Marauders Mutt, Desert Fox, 1988

1989 Hot Seat, Raider, 2002 Night Rhino, Warthog, 2004, Anti Venom, Stalker, 1988, Repeater, Barricade


  1. Another non descript driver from the late 80's, much like Long Shot, Cross Country, Steamroller, Backstop, Rumbler, Skid-Mark, Wild Card, and the worst offender, Armadillo, who may be the worst figure Hasbro ever made. Earlier in the line, the drivers and pilots were just as well thought out as the regular line. I also stayed with the comic for awhile, but by #54 I thought Joe had jumped the shark, with the twins, and Zartan before that. So really, anything past 1985 I had little knowledge of until the 25th Anniversary interested me in Joe again.

    1. Long Shot? You must mean Long Range? So appreciated his code name was stolen by a Sigma Six character.

      It's amazing no matter what they did, looking sci-fi or tough guy, realistic colors or bright, most of the post 1986 drivers were obscure. Hasbro somehow created characters that were both unrealistic and generic at the same time. I'd say Wild Card and Ghost Rider were the most flesh out, thanks to the comic. Wild Card's character was cheapened by Hasbro reusing his same head in same color with same helmet for Major Altitude.

      As for Hot Seat, Not sure why they thought Orange Pants would sell the Raider. "Mommy, I want this toy, it's a big tank thing and the figure inside has ORANGE PANTS".

  2. I got Hot Seat earlier this year, and I like him for the same reasons you do. I'm not fond of a few of the similar helmets to his, but the sculpt on Hot Seat's looks really good. I'd have loved to have seen it with more of it's details painted on a re-release.

    Also, another problem I have with his legs is that the contrast between the painted canisters and the orange is really bad. The figure doesn't have a ton of paint apps, so it feels like such a waste that they painted bright red on top of orange.