Being a perfunctory study of three counterintuitive nominations for the dubious honor of Greatest Destro Action Figure
By Monte Williams
Since 1983, toymaker Hasbro has produced twenty-seven versions of an unlikely G.I. Joe villain named Destro.
According to G.I. Joe Wiki’s Destro profile, “His business is fueled by inciting unstable countries to wage wars against each other and then getting them to purchase weapons from him. To him, war is simply man’s expression of his most natural state.”
The wiki also describes Destro as “cunning”, and yet this is what Destro looks like:
And hell, that’s a relatively subdued look; one of the Destro action figures is so gaudy that it’s widely known as “Pimp Daddy Destro”. And yet he remains one of the most popular and iconic villains of the 1980s; a search for “Destro” in Flickr’s search engine yields more than 10,000 results, and rapper mc chris mentions the arms dealer in his song, “Variety”:
I got my mind on my money and the rest in escrow
Missiles on my wrist like my name is Destro
In 2009’s Rise of Cobra film, Destro boasts a restrained style. He wears no pimp clothes or silver masks—though his skin does turn into a mysterious metal at one point—and his shirt is always conservatively buttoned to his throat. As an exclusive for the 2009 San Diego Comic Book Convention, Hasbro produced an accurate representation of this stylish, subtle look. For the mass retailers, however, Hasbro opted for something of a twist on Destro’s pinstriped Hollywood aesthetic.
Destro never wears aviator pantaloons in the Rise of Cobra film. Destro has never worn an outfit like this in any comic book or cartoon in G.I. Joe history. No one likes this toy, and as a result it spent a sad and lonely eighteen months warming the pegs at Targets and Wal-Marts across America.
And screw everybody, ‘cause this is one of the greatest Destro action figures of all time. There is a charmingly retrofuture sort of two-fisted pulp vibe to this toy. It’s a confusing and ill-timed and frankly inexplicable design choice on every level, but it’s also unique and unassuming, and it invites children (and aging nerds) to decide for themselves who or what the character might be.
During its tragically brief Sigma 6 series, Hasbro produced two Destro figures. The first was a misfire, but the second, bearing the unfortunate title of “Crime Boss Destro”, is what Dave Eggers had in mind when he titled his first book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
Photo appears courtesy of Ed Speir
That gasmask is a thing of beauty, though it has a discouraging tendency to scratch the shit out of Destro’s delicate vac-metallized chrome finish. And those cloth goods Destro’s wearing below the waist? They end just below the knee. And his arms are a silvery gray while his torso is glossy black, and he’s wearing a strange bandolier thingy atop said glossy torso, and he has red eyes and bigass clown shoes and all his mismatched, ill-fitting clothes give him the look of a child who has outgrown his clothes but has yet to replace them.
And I love Crime Boss Destro the way you love Jesus.
More recently, Hasbro produced what might be the most maligned and derided Destro figure of all time: Arctic Destro.
Photo appears courtesy of UGO
Arctic Destro is brilliantly sculpted, and the dusting of snow on his shoulders is clever, and whether you intend to use him as Destro or lazily kitbash him into Mr. Freeze or what have you, he looks absolutely badass. Still, Arctic Destro oxymoronically warmed the pegs in mass retailers across America, and he still serves as a go-to punchline whenever a toy geek wishes to convey the concept of failure.
In closing, I respectfully assert that in a just world, this list would consist of only one figure, for in a just world, the following illustration from The Legion of Mini Figs would exist in plastic form.