Action Figure Overview: G.I. Joe - Outback (Hasbro, 1987)


GI Joe Outback Hasbro 1987
GI Joe Outback action figure (Hasbro, 1987)

When GI Joe was re-born as a 3 3/4" action figure under the "Real American Hero" banner in 1982, I was immediately on board!  Each year, a new wave of figures and vehicles was released. For the first several years, I was a huge fan who wanted everything that Hasbro offered!  But as the years went on, Hasbro began to stray from the original concept.  The GI Joe team had originally been made up of the military elite, but with each subsequent wave, more and more figures were showing up who didn't feel very "military" to me.  I didn't mind the crazy Cobra outfits as much since they were a terrorist organization, but I thought guys involved with the US Military should look a certain way.

GI Joe Outback action figure 1987
Outback on patrol with all his gear!

To me, it felt like 1987 was the crossover year for the GI Joe team.  About half of the guys looked great.  Falcon, in particular, was one of the most military-looking Joes of the entire run.  At the same time, you had Psyche-Out who looked didn't look at all like he'd be in the military.  He was pretty much the opposite of what I wanted from GI Joe.  That's the year we got Outback.

GI Joe Outback figure on patrol
GI Joe Outback figure on patrol!

According to his file card, Outback's real name was Stuart R. Selkirk from Big Piney, Wyoming.  He was an Infantry man and Survival Training Instructor at both the Survival School and the Jungle Warfare Training Center.  Recondo had also worked at the Jungle Warfare Training Center training instructors, so it's possible that Recondo trained Outback?  I assume that they were referencing Fort Sherman which, at the time, was an active United States Army base in Panama affectionately knows as "Green Hell" because it was apparently one of the most dangerous places on earth, so if Outback was an instructor there, it would make him one seriously skilled survivalist!

GI Joe Recondo and Outback figures
Recondo and Outback

Outback was dressed in camouflage pants, a white T-shirt with the word "Survival" printed on the front, gray gloves, black boots, and a green headband.  Overall, I felt like this was a realistic uniform with the exception of the white T-shirt.  I felt like making it olive drab instead would have made the figure look more realistic and the next year, Hasbro did exactly that when they released Night Force Outback!

GI Joe Outback with all of his gear
GI Joe Outback with all of his gear!

Outback came with four accessories: He had a Heckler & Koch G3 rifle (which is an actual gun), a light brown backpack and matching web belt / harness, and a green flashlight which could attach to his left leg.  I could never get the gun to fit in my Outback's hand, but I've seen photos of other Outbacks holding the gun, so maybe I was just too nervous about breaking a thumb to really get the gun to fit.  Although having the separate belt / harness was a cool idea, I wasn't 100% crazy about the way it fit.  His backpack was HUGE, but still looked realistic enough that it didn't bother me.  It just seemed that a survivalist wouldn't really need a bunch of stuff.  The flashlight that you could attach to the leg or take off and use was awesome!

GI Joe Outback in Marvel comic book #59
Outback in the GI Joe Marvel comic book #59

The Sunbow GI Joe cartoon ran from 1983 to 1986 and concluded with a feature film in 1987.  Although there were new, wave 6 characters introduced in the film (in fact, Falcon was one of the main characters), Outback was not included. However, he did show up in the Marvel comic book a few times.  His first appearance was in issue #59 and I think that appearance summed up Outback pretty well.  He had been dropped off in the Rocky Mountains to test military survival equipment and freeze dried food.  His report was that the gear was crummy and the food was inedible, so he'd just been living off the land the entire time.  His most prominent appearances in the comic were over a multi-issue story ark from issues 61 to 67 in which he, Stalker, Quick Kick, and Snow Job were on a Top Secret Mission in Eastern Europe.  When the group was captured.  Stalker stayed behind to look after an injured Snow Job and Quick Kick, but ordered Outback to return to The Pit for help.  Unfortunately, the US Government disavowed any knowledge of the mission and Outback wasn't allowed to talk about what happened.  As a result, several of the other Joes, who wanted to rescue their team mates, were furious with Outback for his silence.  Outback made several more appearances in the comic over the years, but was never an A-List character.

GI Joe Outback action figure 1987
My original Outback still has all of his gear!

Because the Outback action figure arrived on the scene close to the end of my GI Joe adventures, he didn't see as much action as my Joes from the first 4 waves.  Still, I always thought he was a pretty cool figure and even now his role on the GI Joe team makes sense to me (unlike several of the other characters over the years).  I'm sure if he had come out in an earlier wave, he would have been on a lot more missions!

GI Joe survivalist: Outback
GI Joe survivalist: Outback
Did you have the Outback action figure when you were a kid?  Did this Survivalist survive your childhood adventures?  Tell me in the comments below!  

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