Tuesday, November 20, 2018

2001 Pathfinder

I'm a Pathfinder fan.  On one hand, this makes sense since he's a good figure from a solid year of G.I. Joe releases.  On the other hand, though, Pathfinder was released long after I had stopped collecting toys and he never played a part in the comic.  (My only G.I. Joe consumption of the time.)  So, there's no real connection to the figure that explains my affinity.  Mostly, Pathfinder seemed exotic.  When I first started collecting Joes, all of the 1990 and 1991 figures were actually quite hard to find.  You never saw them in photos, beyond the fact that Pathfinder's head was often used in customs of the members of the LRRP that also included Snake Eyes, Stormshadow and Stalker.  When I first acquired a Pathfinder, it was as part of a large lot of figures that I had never owned before.  And, Pathfinder stood out among all the new acquisitions.  He remained a personal favorite for a while and kept his generally obscure stature in the collecting world until 2001: when Hasbro created this repainted version as the driver of a Toys R Us exclusive AWE Striker repaint.

At first, it was great to see Pathfinder.  In 2001, Hasbro hadn't really let the extent of lost vintage molds be known.  So, seeing a figure like Pathfinder gave us hope that many more exotic gems would follow.  (Spoiler, they didn't.)  But, in and of himself, Pathfinder was a good release that gave many collectors their first exposure to the sculpt.  Of course, though, he dark black and grey colors joined the muted look of his contemporaries and he faded into any group shot due to the over-saturation of various color hues.  But, seeing Pathfinder included with a vehicle gave hope that there was more great stuff to come in the line.

As a character, Pathfinder is a blank slate.  His sunglasses obscure his eyes and give him an eerie, mysterious look.  But, his specialty does not really lend itself to anything other than a standard infantryman who took on the dangerous work of blazing the trail for his team.  There's probably something slightly off about someone who would volunteer for point duty while wearing a massive buzzsaw that would be heard from miles away in a combat zone.  So, should I ever undertake a Pathfinder characterization, that will be my likely starting point.

This coloring of Pathfinder was largely seen as a "Night Force" incarnation of the character.  While there was nothing official to denote this, collectors of the era took the figure's colors in conjunction with the all black AWE Striker as a direct Night Force homage.  For that reason, this Pathfinder did see a bit of online notoriety for a couple of weeks.  But, that soon petered out and even the AWE Striker repaint fell off the radar.  There was simply so much going on in the Joe world of that time that new releases (unless they were spectacular) fell to the wayside once most people had them in hand.

Pathfinder has few variants for collectors to find.  There is the 1990 figure.  It has a European accessory variant, though the figure is the same.  The figure was planned for release in 1998 in a pack with Outback and Dial Tone.  But, that pack got cancelled.  We got this figure in 2001 and then a re-release of that same figure, though now with accessories in 2004.  The "Chocolate Chip" Pathfinder is a great miss for the collecting world as that set would have been great.  And, the 2004 figure could have been something different.  But, he was released in a set of two vehicles and three figures for $20, so there probably wasn't much budget to get something new.  Hasbro kept the Pathfinder mold after Funskool had stopped producing Joes, so there are no foreign repaints.  So, we get to enjoy two solid Pathfinder figures even if we could have gotten more.

While many vehicles from the 2000's have risen dramatically in price, the AWE Striker has not.  This is likely due to the mold's later overuse.  And, that disinterest in the vehicle has dragged this version of Pathfinder down, too.  Loose figures can be had for $1-$3.  (You'll pay around $9 for a 2004 version complete with the repainted accessories, though.)  You can get AWE Strikers with the figure for between $10 and $20.  Of course, neither the figure nor the vehicle are as common as they were a few years ago.  But, it's worth tracking down a version of Pathfinder for a couple of bucks.  He's something different, even if the 1990 figure is substantially better.  And, he's aged better than you would have thought back in 2001 just because we didn't see him again and the colors appeared with less frequency in subsequent years.

2001 Pathfinder, AWE Striker, 2008, Toys R Us Exclusive, Anti Venom, Mutt, 2004

2001 Pathfinder, 2002 Mirage, ARAHC, Clutch, 2004, 1988 Mean Dog


  1. Not Night Force Pathfinder...at least the VAMP set release has his gear. Without the nubs on his sides seem odd.

    One fan speculated he was intended to be Asian based on his facial features. His last name is Italian, though. The Dic cartoon just made him a vague southerner, since he is from Florida. But like most Dic cartoon characters, there's not much personality at all. He did disguise himself as a nurse to sneak out of the base hospital (along with Ambush and Salvo...yes, the Dic cartoon WAS that stupid).

    He seems the opposite of Recondo, who valued stealth and blending in. Or maybe it the weed eater. 1990 had other opposites. Salvo didn't like high tech weapons systems like FAST DRAW had. Sub-Zero HATED the cold, unlike Iceberg (but it seemed like most arctic joes hated the cold). Stretcher was a strong guy and seemed to carry a weapon unlike the average looking and pacifist Lifeline. Night Creepers used high tech gear, unlike traditional ninjas.

  2. Always liked this figure, and in 2001 that AWE striker repaint was pretty cool. The fact it actually had to be assembled was always a big plus for me

    I ended up with a couple extra 01 pathfinders, with a simple head swap you have a group of shady CIA guys to use as background characters

  3. He was definitely Night Force Pathfinder in my universe. His colors match perfectly with the rest of the night force team. He also sort of reminds me of the blues brothers. The original Pathfinder was also a favorite of mine. I wore glasses as a kid, so when I played, Pathfinder was me. For some reason, Crimson Guard Commander was his nemesis and the two would have long drawn out battles. Good memories.