1987 G.I. Joe Crystal Ball Action Figure

By:  Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

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Crystal Ball is both hated and beloved by many within the G.I. Joe community.  To say that G.I. Joe fandom is divided over this odd action figure is an understatement.  Crystal Ball was released in 1987 as the "Cobra Hypnotist".  He seemingly has zero military application in design so he was essentially shoehorned in as a sort of interrogator as we will see.  His face is sculpted to resemble horror icon Vincent Price and he comes with a ridiculous "hypno-shield".  

So what, exactly, is there to like about Crystal Ball.

Well, Crystal Ball is a G.I. Joe link to popular culture.  Acclaimed horror author Stephen King's son Owen was a big G.I. Joe fan and King used his influence to essentially create an action figure for the line.  Many of the design elements of Crystal Ball, as well as his filecard, came from Stephen King. (On a side note, the G.I. Joe team member Sneak Peak's real name is listed as "Owen King" on his file card.)

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Stephen King added many, well, Stephen King elements to the character: American mother from Bangor, Maine; seventh son of a seventh son; supernatural powers; etc.

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So, as you can imagine, G.I. Joe fans love to proclaim, "And Stephen King even created one of the characters!" but also, well, the figure just isn't very good.  The "Hypno-Shield" accessory is dumb.  His clothing is dumb.  His premise is... well... dumb.  But I will say I do sort of like his red eyes which makes him stand out from the pack.

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Never the less, in the wacky late 1980s world of Cobra, Crystal Ball isn't too outlandish.  I mean, they have a psychotic shirtless dentist for Pete's sake and neon ninja's so it's hard to hate on Crystal Ball too much. 

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Crystal Ball is hardly the most ridiculous thing you might see walking the streets of Springfield on any given day.