Go Joe Saturday continues with a look at another famous Joe; the only one you could meet in-person and who frequently appeared in the flesh… in the toy commercials. I’m talking about the soldier who could take on 100 Cobra agents bare-handed and still come out on top. The constantly surly but never pessimistic Sgt. Slaughter.
We can be pretty certain that Robert Remus did not intend for his wrestling persona to become one of the most popular action figures of both the 80’s and 90’s. His alter ego would have a new toy almost every year until his eventual heel turn in the WWF. If one were to venture a guess at what made Sgt. Slaughter so popular, it might be how involved Remus got with his character. Voicing him in the animated series, showing up for live action episode intros, participating in competitions/events and of course, the famous commercials where he spouted off the patriotic awesome that was the GI Joe toy-line.
This wasn’t the first or only time GI Joe would use real life inspiration for characters. Some figures were based on famous sports athletes or people that worked on the show. One great example is the GI Joe Tunnel Rat who was based off of their creator, Larry Hama.
Slaughter really was the top-dog among them all, though. Besides getting leading roles in both the comics and show, he had a killer toy. The second version of the shade wearing bad-ass came with his personal transport, The Triple T, which stood for Tag Team Terminator. A tread traveling vehicle, armed with enough side guns and firing missiles to start the Sarge’s own private war. Heck, there wasn’t even a cover or anything for the pilot of this thing. Sgt. Slaughter just hung out full-frontal and completely exposed because he wasn’t afraid of laser fire to vital organs, no sir.
Having one of these figures must have really been a treat back in the day. Owning not just a toy, but the face of GI Joe – someone you could actually go out and meet – must have made it all the more special. Thank you for so much for that, Mr. Remus, you really did add to a lot of kids’ lives.