If you grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s, you grew up with G.I. Joe. I know I sure did, and I spent hours upon hours playing with those figures, occasionally managing to pop an arm or a leg off that required "surgery."Of course, none of the G.I Joe universe was really real ... minus for one big exception.
That exception came in the form of former WWF World Heavyweight Champion Sgt. Slaughter, who brought his gruff personality from the wrestling ring to the G.I. Joe battle against Cobra. And in doing so, he just might have helped make G.I. Joe a bit more popular than it would have been. Oh, and his line of G.I. Joe vehicles were among the most realistic and best-looking of them all.
Hit the jump to learn a little bit more about the sarge and what he brought to the G.I. Joe line-up!
The real Sgt. Slaughter is Robert Remus, born in Parris Island, South Carolina in 1948. Parris Island is, of course, home to the U.S. Marine Corps training base, so it only made sense that Slaughter joined the Marines for several years before he began his professional wrestling career in the 1970s. By 1980, Slaughter had joined the then-WWF as a heel (or bad guy). It wasn't until 1984 that he became a fan favorite and a face (or good guy) when he started a feud with the Iron Shiek, defending America's honor against the hated Iranian. His popularity soon exploded, putting him up with the likes of Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan, and with that came plenty of other opportunities.
Around the same time Slaughter was getting popular, Hasbro was busy working on their new G.I. Joe line, which they had re-launched in 1982. Of course, having a notable face attached to their new product would do wonders for Hasbro, and someone got the idea to approach Sgt. Slaughter. After all, he was popular and his drill sergeant character would fit in will with the theme of the series. And so, after negotiations, Sgt. Slaughter was added to the G.I. Joe universe via a character that shared his name and likeness, but dropped the wrestling background to become G.I. Joe's personal instructor.
However, it all came at a price: Slaughter's involvement in the G.I. Joe line, and Vince McMahon's disapproval of it, was one of several reasons Slaughter left the WWF in 1985 for the rival AWA. While wrestling there, Slaughter continued to be Hasbro's public face and spokesperson for the G.I. Joe line, starring in a number of commercials and appearing both in the animated series and movie based on the figure line. In 1990, Slaughter came back to the WWF, this time as an Iraqi sympathizing heel in light of the invasion of Kuwait, and as such, his involvement with Hasbro and the G.I. Joe line wound down to a close. Today, Sgt. Slaughter still makes appearances at big events with Hasbro, such as Comic-Con, when they have G.I. Joe-related announcements. Oh, and he still wrestles from time to time, too, even at age 61.
But, of course, you're here for the figures, aren't you? Then let's not bore you any further. The actual Sgt. Slaughter figure was really not much different than any of the other G.I. Joe figures. It just had his unmistakable face, drill sergeant's hat and shades, but otherwise, the construction of the Sgt. Slaughter figure matched whatever Hasbro was doing with the rest of the G.I. Joe line at the time; however, since his body did differ from the rest of the Joes, Slaughter's parts were all unique to his figure. Five versions of Slaughter were released, according to YoJoe.com, with the first being available as a mail-order figure only. The next two versions came as pack-ins, while the fourth was released commercially and the fifth was a G.I. Joe convention exclusive in 2006. All five were relatively similar to one another, and they all did a pretty good job of recreating Slaughter's likeness. Well, as much as a tiny plastic figure could.
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