I bought the Baroness G.I. Joe figure from WalMart

I suspect I am experiencing a midlife crisis.

I bought the Baroness G.I. Joe figure from WalMart

I suspect I am experiencing a midlife crisis. I saw a G.I. Joe action figure that looked awesome (h/t Sam Thielman) and decided I must have it (no, I haven't gotten this exact one yet):

Highly detailed Cobra Officer action figure. Blue and black uniform. Wide stance, machine gun aimed and ready to fire.
Everyone's using this image to sell the toy. If it's yours, let me know and I'll credit you.

The helmet, as noted above, comes on and off; the gun has a detachable magazine; they've got plenty of other cool weapons and ways to hold them. This officer is ready to lead and do serious damage. They've got the uniform and equipment, so they must have training, focus, devotion, and flexibility. Otherwise, they wouldn't be sold at retailers.

The 80's were wild. I remember at least once the commercials for the toys came first, even before a TV show. The characters those toys were supposed to represent were secondary, as were their stories. Here's Sam on a phenomenon which is going to make aliens wonder how our species survived weeks, let alone centuries:

...men my age (39) are the market for G. I. Joe action figures now. We were conditioned to love toys with stories attached: When President Ronald Reagan put conservatives in charge of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the 1980’s, children’s rights groups failed to have the “G. I. Joe: A Real American Hero” (and “Masters of the Universe”) cartoons designated “program-length commercials,” despite the fact that they were made by toy companies. The result was a glut of top-selling action figures like the Joes, Transformers and ThunderCats who also starred in their own cartoons and movies.

Product first, story second. It's a horrible way to be a fan of anything, but since the shows were nothing but additional toy marketing, there was an incentive for us kids to make whatever toy we had a star. A star, of course, in a fantasy of unending violence.

I don't know if having a midlife crisis entails wanting to be a better kid, but honestly, I can think of worse things. I would hope, if I could be 10 again, that I would 1) take care of my stuff better 2) share more 3) create stories others could add to or tweak. I saw Baroness available at WalMart while shopping for boxes for the move. I bought her promptly:

Toy of the Baroness, Cobra Intelligence head, wearing articulated black armor and wielding an MP5K with suppressor.
Baroness, from the G.I. Joe Classified Series, exclusive to WalMart

Baroness testifies to the limits of a much younger me. Not only is she a woman, but she's into a guy with a metal face (probably the most realistic plotline in G.I. Joe), and she's an intelligence officer. I don't even know if I understand "intelligence" now. I could have told you what a spy was, but I had no ability to grasp she made COBRA possible. Cobra Commander's schemes can't be conceived if she doesn't identify opportunities, get agents in place, and create a feasible plan. "An army isn't just guys who fight," to be fair, is a tough concept for someone who recently learned their state capitals.

But I'm pretty sure I could have understood the concept of "collateral damage," though I wouldn't have known that specific phrase. The Baroness going too far to punish so-called "good guys" who also went too far? The Baroness joining up with bad causes in order to protect family who've gotten themselves in trouble? Those would make sense to me, and solutions like putting weapons away and quitting bad behaviors would make sense too, especially after an entire base was razed in a rocket attack.

I believe this woman is badass would have been a useful lesson for me at 10. Sure, school tries to introduce you to that sort of thing, but I simply was not going to appreciate Mme. Curie or Emily Dickinson until I was much older. But someone who avoided a fight with a ninja by stepping away and sniping at a distance? That I would immediately respect.

A few words about the figure: yeah, it's really cool. Her outfit is all black but has a lot of rich textures. She's stealthy AND fashionable. The large COBRA insignia on her belt looks like the furthest thing from cheap. The gun has a high level of detail, and I wanted to get the suppressor into focus, because the barrel looks especially menacing. She's got two blades called kukris with handles resembling snakes, and they fit into her belt at the back:

Detail of Baroness' kukris, focusing on the snake handle

You can read more about the figure at Action Figure Barbecue – I cannot top his write-up, it is excellent. For myself, I'm hoping to take good care of this toy. It was sold for all the wrong reasons. Nostalgia, as we learn over and over again, can be a deadly trap. But I can't tell you how awesome it feels, 30 years later, to know you can do something more with a toy.

Baroness is currently available at WalMart, part of the G.I. Joe Classified Series—the Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins line—manufactured by Hasbro.