Written by | Themed Series

Jason Royalty takes on an Exclu themed shoot as he tackles the word “Closer” using GIJOE and Cobra as the vehicle for his creativity. The outcomes may surprise you with an interpretation of the challenge that we didn’t see coming!


The theme word given to me by the Exclu Collective team is “Closer”.  There are several different ways to interpret the word.  I tried to brainstorm the word for a few days before getting started to make sure I had a variety of ideas however I mostly kept coming back to the same thing.  When I think of the word closer I think of GI Joe and Cobra.  Heck, GI Joe is a team comprised of closers.  When I think of a closer I think of big guns, a one man army, in general just a soldier who gets things done.  This soldier’s superiors send him or her in because they can’t afford mistakes.  They need to know they sent in the person with ALL of the tools needed to complete the mission.  The first few shots I offer are along these lines.



Bazooka was always portrayed as a numbskull on the cartoon (and mostly on my Instagram page), but Bazooka is a closer if there ever was one.  Take one look at his FileCard Information and you will see Bazooka was not meant to be a punchline.  You give Bazooka a disposable rocket launcher and point him towards the enemy tanks, nothing else needed but a pat on the back. He is described as a decisive fast-thinker with all of the instincts of a natural survivor.

(25th Anniversary Bazooka and 1982 GI Joe Mobat by Hasbro)



When I was a kid playing with my GI Joes there was always a pecking order.  Basically Snake Eyes could save anyone.  He was a ninja after all, and if the 1980’s taught me anything it’s that Ninja’s are untouchable.  If any of the Joe’s got captured by Cobra it was almost always Snake Eyes to the rescue.  So what to do when Snake Eyes was the one behind bars?  You send in Stalker.  I always thought Stalker sounded like a one man wrecking crew.  Stalker is equal parts brawn and intelligence.  The first line of his filecard says he was a warlord for a large urban street gang prior to enlistment.  The man speaks fluent Spanish, Arabic, French and Swahili.  His filecard also boasts that he functions well under high stress situations.  He moves fast like some sort of jungle cat-silent-fast…strong.

(25th Anniversary Stalker from M.A.S.S Device DVD set 1 of 5 by Hasbro)

Storm Shadow

Cobra’s resident closer would without a doubt have to be Storm Shadow.  Storm Shadow often works alone and needs help from no one.  He can scale sheer walls with bare hands and feet, move with blinding speed, and endure unspeakable hardships and pain.  I always thought as a kid that if it wasn’t for Snake Eyes being on the Joe team Storm Shadow would easily have been able to tip the scales in Cobra’s favor.  I also always loved his sense of honor and respect for some of his enemies.  Storm Shadow to me is grace, discipline, toughness, and bravado.

(50th Anniversary Storm Shadow and 25th Anniversary Red Ninjas by Hasbro)



Something else that comes to mind for me when I hear the word closer is baseball.  The pitcher that closes the game out by getting those last few outs.  The bull pen has always had some interesting characters in the world of baseball.  When I was a around 10 the Cincinnati Reds had “The Nasty Boys”.  This shot is a nod to them.  The Nasty Boys had the same wild and cocky demeanor that The Dreaknoks have.  The Dreadnoks aren’t a crew you want to see strutting onto the battlefield looking for trouble.

(Zartan and Buzzer Carded 25th Anniversary Torch and Ripper 25th Anniversary Comic two pack by Hasbro)

Closer Than The Rest


For this last shot I wanted to interpret the word closer as something familiar.  One of the things that was always cool about the dynamic between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow was the familiarity and history that they share.  They are closer than the rest because of that history.  I wanted to use these two figurers in particular because I wanted to show the matching tattoos from the Arashikage past that they share.  Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are the yin and yang of GI Joe.  If you ask any GI Joe fan to discuss some of the coolest moments from GI Joe lore you won’t have to wait long before someone brings up #021 Silent Interlude from the GI Joe Marvel comic.  It says everything without a single line of text.

(Snake Eyes is from 25th Anniversary Comic two pack however he is wearing extra gear borrowed from the 50th Anniversary Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow is 50th Anniversary By Hasbro.  It’s all from Hasbro. Hail Hasbro J)

A massive thank you to Jason for working hard on a really intriguing mini-series for us and bringing us his interpretation of his theme. Be sure to follow him over on Instagram for a whole load more @backyard_battles. For the very latest from the toy community, stay tuned to Exclu.

Last modified: September 9, 2017

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