G.I. Joe’s Ode to the Laser Trooper

Sung to the tune of Ballad of the Green Berets comes …

G.I. JOE’S ODE TO THE LASER TROOPER

Cobra’s soldiers in Flash’s eye
Sci Fi action figure gi joe


The Commander’s men their time to fry
Men who die just at his say
Filled with holes by laser ray


Neon colors upon our chest
Flash and Sci-Fi, G.I. Joe’s best
One hundred men will test today
But only three get the laser ray


Trained to hack Cobra’s broadband
Trained in shooting, not hand-to-hand
Men who fight with lasers today
Skilled to blast villains away


Neon colors upon their chest
Flash and Sci-Fi, G.I. Joe’s best
One hundred men will test today
But only three get the laser ray


Back at home a computer waits
Laser troopers get no dates
Flash and Sci-Fi, tech obsessed
Go send’em a friend request


Put neon colors on Red Spot’s chest
Make him one of G.I. Joe’s best
A Greenshirt they’ll test today
Have him win his laser ray. 

As a young lad, CotB loved the G.I. Joe cartoon. We’ve covered this before, of course. But one of the characters the pint-sized CotB zeroed in on was one who barely got any screen time. And in the comic? He was practically non-existent.

Of course, that means you can rule out “the popular guys” in the Joeverse: Snake-Eyes, Duke, Flint, Shipwreck and Quick Kick. Nope, I dug Sci-Fi, the Joe’s Laser Trooper.

G.I. Joe cartoon

In the cartoon, being a laser trooper was absolutely nothing special. Everyone was a laser trooper in the cartoon because bullets weren’t allowed. Heck, knives and swords were only allowed if they never got stuck into people. Even the lasers and missiles in “G.I. Joe” were notorious for missing everybody in every battle of every episode of the show. A single blast could down the U.S.S. Flag, but they’d be gawd-derned if they ever actually hit a “living, breathing” cartoon.

And it was that lack of marksmanship on the teams that spelled doom for making Sci-Fi into the amazing character he could be in the cartoon.When no one is allowed to be a dead-eye, you certainly can’t have a character who has that sole purpose.

The comic was the exact opposite. It strived for as much realism as it could muster for a property based on a toy line. There were bullets, death and honest-to-goodness carnage. But there wasn’t much call for Sci-Fi, the Joe who wore a neon-green jumpsuit and specialized in a weapon only available in science-fiction stories (or in the mind of the president of the U.S. in the form of the “Star Wars” laser satellites).

So, in all the media outlets for G.I. Joe, Sci-Fi was sidelined. He sat the benches while Beachhead, Low-Light, Gung Ho and Wet Suit stormed the shores of Cobra Island. Sure, he might show up as a background character, but that was it.

The life of a Laser Trooper sucked.

Laser Weapons G.I. Joe

Little did CotB know that Sci-Fi wasn’t even the first Joe to tap into laser technology. Years before Sci-Fi was churned out by the thousands in Hong Kong, the shelves were already brimming with Laser Troopers.

The Joe in question? None other than Flash, one of the original soldiers in the G.I. Joe line-up.

Just like Sci-Fi, Flash was a techie nerd. He studied electronics and in-the-field repairs were his specialty.

And, most important to the superhero-lover in CotB, he too stuck to the vibrant colors “first” sported by Sci-Fi. While Sci-Fi was an over-the-top green, Flash stuck with camo-green, but accented his uniform with bright orange padding¬† — over all of his vital areas.

Yep. That’s the way the Laser Troopers roll! They don’t need to worry about being snipered, because they take aim at you from three miles away with a high-intensity beam of light. They don’t need camouflage. They just need a comfortable place to sit while they drill a hole in your head.

That’s how CotB sees the Laser Troopers. Way out of combat, but deadly with every shot.

Over the years, multiple versions of Sci-Fi showed up. His neons were traded in for more of a standard look. He still had a science-fiction edge, but he was definitely toned down to look more “Army-Navy-Air Force-Marines” and less “Star Wars-Star Trek-Tron.”

Those versions of the Sci-Fi figures hold no interest for CotB, it’s that eye-bursting green or nothing at all.

It wasn’t until 2003 that another Laser Trooper joined up with Sci-Fi and Flash. By that time Flash advanced to sergeant, and even got a codename upgrade to match: Sgt. Flash.

The new Laser Trooper was Red Spot, and like Sgt. Flash and Sci-Fi before him, he was labeled as technical genius who also was a crack shot.

From his file card, CotB was thrilled with him, but gosh, what a boring uniform. His name is Red Spot, yet there isn’t a lick of red on him.

Hasbro clearly didn’t understand the Laser Trooper tradition.

ROLE OF THE LASER TROOPER

The question remains for many Joe fans. Just what should a Laser Trooper do for the team that deals with bullets, missiles and ninja swords? Well, let’s look at the common traits of the Laser Troopers:

  • Excellent marksman
  • Excels in technical areas, particularly electronics and optical/laser technology
  • Loner in a personal sense and able to operate alone in the field
  • Snappy dresser — bright and crazy colors are a must!

Now, let’s just look at some of the possible duties for the Joe’s Laser Troopers

  • Long distance sniper, using high-tech to do so
  • Generally average at hand-to-hand combat
  • “MacGyver”/”A-Team”-type of jury-rigger
  • Provides exposition/technical explanations for Cobra super-science
  • Works to contain Cobra super-science on the battlefield
  • Actively searches for new technology
  • Primary tester for up-and-coming technology
  • Trains/briefs other Joes on new technology

Future writers of the franchise can use these points to provide a greater role for Laser Troopers. These troops can be more than an oddity. They are soldiers for science, and they shape the future of G.I. Joe.

The writers just need to look past those bright colors to see their potential brilliance.

WHO ELSE SHOULD BE A LASER TROOPER?

If CotB were to add to the ranks of the Laser Trooper elite among G.I. Joe, here are our top picks:


  • Agent Helix — A covert operative with the science background.
  • Dee Jay — Because his outfit is just crazy enough.
  • Lifeline — Medic first, technical genius second.
  • Ghostrider — A pilot who specializes in mobile mega-sized lasers.
  • Grand Slam — Operator of the original H.A.L., a laser weapon, and later jet-pack trooper. We like a man of action and science! Plus, he shares the same mold as Flash.
  • Low-Light — The badass of the Laser Troopers.
  • Mainframe/Dataframe — Technical work is his focus, second comes his romance with Zarana and lasering the eyeballs out of his enemies comes in a distant third.

But that’s just a few ideas.

Now, on to a file card parade of the amazing Laser Troopers!

Sgt Flash Filecard

Sci Fi Filecard

Red Spot File Card

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE LASER TROOPERS?

I can say one good thing about Hasbro, they were smart enough to release new versions of Sgt. Flash and Sci-Fi.

In 2008 a new version of Sgt. Flash appeared. His uniform was totally different, but the flavor was right. In 2011, Sci-Fi reappeared, in his original uniform.

And Red Spot, well, expect him to remain in limbo for a while, but when he does, he needs a better uniform.

Still, things are looking up for the G.I. Joe Laser Troopers. The top brass realizes the future is now.

 

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