Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Little Red Radar Dishes

Doing battle against a ruthless, terrorist organization determined to rule the world day in and day out cannot be an easy job. Granted the G.I.Joe team is composed of some of the most skilled and talented military operatives, you have to imagine that it can get quite stressful. Even if these guys are supposed to be the best of the best, they are only human and like most of us need time to refocus and air out their problems to someone. This was probably the line of thinking over at Hasbro when they decided to give us Psyche-Out…the official G.I.Joe psychologist!

Kenneth D. Rich, codename Psyche-out was part of the 1987 Joe line, which was composed of quite a number of colorful characters. Gone were the days of drab military green outfits and combat specialties like “ranger” or “heavy machine gunner” of the original Joes. In their place were a bunch of “soldiers” who could actually look quite at home at a luau, Transylvanian castle or even a birdcage. It would take quite a lot to actually stand out in this group, and Psyche-out, with his neon green padded shirt, silver antennae sprouting off his backpack and headgear and bright red radar dishes on his arms did just that. And to top it all off, he carried a hand held doo-hickey with yup, you guessed it, another little bright red radar dish.

To be fair, Pysche-Out’s specialty wasn’t really psychology per se. His official combat specialty was Deceptive Warfare, and all his little radar dishes and numerous antennas served a purpose; which was to induce mass paranoia in the field by generating ultra low frequency radio wave transmissions. Of course all this high tech gobbledy gook didn’t really mean squat to a kid. It all just sounded cool. In fact, I thought the figure itself looked cool (I was quite attracted to neon colors back then) and all his high tech equipment didn’t bother me one bit.

Unfortunately, it seemed to have bothered quite a lot people. For many, the idea of a guy sporting little red radar dishes on hi arms was just plain stupid. Psyche-Out wasn’t one of the more popular Joes….ever. To my best knowledge, he was never featured in the cartoon and was rarely shown in the comic. In fact, in the only comic book that I know of where he was heavily featured…he died, heroically of course, sacrificing himself to destroy an infected B.A.T. army.

When it came to the 25th anniversary Joe line, Psyche-Out was unsurprisingly left out. Eventually, when I figured the chances of Hasbro ever releasing a modern version of Psyche-Out were pretty much nil, I decided to take matters into my own hands and just make my own version.

In one of my toy hunts I came upon this Star Wars two pack of Luke Skywalker & Deena Shan. While it was Shan who first caught my eye and sparked the inspiration for a custom, I rationalized my purchase by telling myself I could use Luke for another character. Turned out I was right and Luke’s blonde head turned out to be a perfect start for Psyche-Out. I did take some liberties with his design and ditched the little radar dishes though. And that was that, I had my own modern version of my favorite Joe psychologist.

Eventually though, fortune smiled on Psyche-Out and an official modern version of the guy was finally included in a special convention set by the G.I.Joe Collector’s Club for Joecon in 2013. And as an added bonus, tis new Psyche-Out featured a newly sculpted head, which wasn’t very common anymore. There was a catch however. The convention set was built around a “Night Force” theme, meaning the action figures included in the set were repainted in darker night themed colors. So while we finally got a new Psyche-Out, he was no longer neon green, which for me was fine. The entire convention set was too expensive, so I just settled on cherry picking the characters I wanted off eBay, including Psyche-Out. And I was happy and ready to call it a day.

Luckily, the day wasn’t ready to be called. Since the Collector’s Club invested in new tooling for the Psyche-Out head, it only made sense that they use it more than once. So in 2015, they did just that, finally releasing a new Psyche-Out figure based off his classic design…yup! Neon Green! For some reason though, they kinda switched around the colors for the radar dishes of these two modern Psyche-Out, giving the night force version the bright red radar dishes and the classic version black ones….nothing a quick switcheroo can’t fix though.

So there you have it, the tale of the often forgotten G.I.Joe psychologist and deceptive warfare specialist. While he probably did spend most of his time on a chair listening to his fellow Joe’s problems, I still always thought he was cool. Back in the 80’s, all this talk of deceptive warfare and paranoia inducing ultra low frequency radio waves seemed out of place, but in the modern military world, it fits right in. I guess Psyche-Out was just a Joe ahead of his time.