Head: 87 Gung-Ho/86 Leatherneck
Torso: Wild Card
Arms: Big Boa
Waist/Legs: 85 Bazooka

Gung-Ho is an a figure and character that I've had an interesting relationship with. When I first saw him on shelves in 83, I thought he looked ridiculous. The baby blue and vest w/ no shirt look simply didn't look proper alongside all the 82/83 OD green releases and the cool, new environment specific guys like Torpedo and Snow Job. However, when I got ahold of some of the comic books, specifically the Kwinn/Snake Eyes/Dr. Venom/Scar Face saga that ended with Cobra "destroying" GI Joe HQ, I got to really see him in action. When he got annoyed with the impatient motorist honking at the Joes while a wounded Hawk was being tended to, I really appreciated and understood him as the Joes' bruiser.

However, a funny thing happened... I saw the toon. I didn't much care for his characterization in the Sunbow toon. He didn't quite seem as no nonsense, and he didn't have a Cajun accent. He was sorta blah, and just became a Joe who dressed funny. As such, the imperative to get him subsided.

Around 86ish, I got back into the Joe comics and Gung Ho was again front and center, every bit as hard nosed and tough as he previously was. Sadly though, the figure was no longer on the shelves. Desperately wanting Gung Ho to join my ranks, and not being able to help but notice the similarities between Leatherneck and Gung Ho, I first tried scratching off Leatherneck's hair with my fingernails (hey, it worked with Cobra logos.) From there, I moved up to rubbing his head on the corner of a brick wall. When my Mom found out what I was doing, she helped me out with a nail file. And so, Gung Ho joined the team, at first wearing Leatherneck's outfit, then Outback's with SURVIVAL scratched off his chest. Looking back, it was the first time I had ever intentionally modified a Joe part to create a character.

Fast forward to 2000-01. As an adult with 20 years of the Joe saga coalescing in my head, Gung Ho was an essential character, and one of the first customs I wanted to do when I moved on from O13 remakes. After reading the dio story GI Joe: Warfare, I HAD to have the character for my blossoming dio world. My standards for a Gung Ho custom were to recreate the figure using beefier, post 84 parts, to evoke his original outfit, and to give him a color scheme reminiscent of his later comic appearances (ie. Cobra Civil War) in which the powder blues were notably absent.

Bazookas legs are some of my favorite from the vintage line for giving a character bulk, and if you want beefy, bare arms, you can't go wrong with Big Boa. The chest was a conundrum, and I scoured yojoe.com to see if there were any vested torsos that might be able to pass for Gung Ho. I came across Wild Card and knew I had a perfect match. For the head, I used the Dress Blues Gung Ho with his head sanded flat, and then transplanted the Leatherneck hat from my childhood Gung Ho custom onto it. The parts went together perfectly after some slight mods and then went through several basic paintjobs. I knew I wanted Gung Ho to be a bit more tan than the average Joe since he runs around without a shirt 90% of the time, so I gave him a slightly darker skin tone. The chest tat was a bit challenging, but the result was very satisfying. The uniform however had a few permutations. I started with OD Green for the vest, and that stuck. I tried OD Green for the pants and hat, and he was bland. Far too bland for Gung Ho. I gave his pants a woodland camo pattern and it was an improvement, and I was somewhat happy with it for the time. However, when I got to see MARPAT for the first time, I really wanted to try it on my Gung Ho figure. I liked the result on the pants so much that I added it to the hat. And with that, I finally felt like I had the definitive Gung Ho for my collection.

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