Shooting at people with light and energy has been a staple of science fiction for quite a long time. From Star Trek’s phasers to various instances of lasers, blasters and the like, bullets start to feel a little obsolete. Comic books and science fiction movies filled people’s heads with lasers constantly, so it’s no wonder that by the time we hit the ’80s we were in full futuristic laser overload. We were even playing tag with them!
With Star Wars figures and their omnipresent blasters, a toyline didn’t feel like a toyline unless the toys were somehow firing lasers at each other. Every line, from Transformers to Masters of the Universe, was loaded down with characters firing laser bolts at each other. G.I. Joe was a quasi-outlier, in that the toyline was rooted more in real world military stylings. Most characters featured a real-world gun that fired actual bullets and explosives. Most. That’s not to say it was completely immune; even the Original 13 featured a laser trooper. But Sci-Fi came along and quickly made Flash seem quaint in comparison.
Where Flash fired lasers while still looking like he was part of a group of soldiers, Sci-Fi looked as if he had been teleported out of some strangely colorful future. He seemed like he was more a Starship Trooper than a Joe. Even by 1986 standards, when the Joes had long forsaken regulation outfits, Sci-Fi stood out, with his hints of chrome layered over what seemed like a lime green space suit. But the Joes by this time were fighting androids and a terrorist cabal led by the clone of great military leaders. Shit was nuts, y’all.
Regardless Sci-Fi was exotic and interesting. Even his weapon was a heightened version of Flash’s. It was larger, and it was aggressive. The tube was flexible, allowing him to utilize it in a more natural way than the stiffer cord on Flash’s laser rifle.
Also his name was “Seymour Fine.”
Grammatically unsound and yet hilariously apt.
Sci-Fi hid his features behind this visored helmet that looked exactly like what you would expect a “laser trooper” to wear. This looked like a guy that would be fighting the killer robots sent after the last dregs of humanity by Skynet, except cooler because he was part of an elite anti-terrorist organization.
Sci-Fi was a strange one in the Joe lore, and I’ll explain. In the cartoons, where each and every member of both GI Joe and Cobra shot colored lasers at each other, a laser trooper wasn’t so special. It’s like Shipwreck would take one loo at him and his laser, shrug and say “Yeah, I’ve got a laser too, so why are you here?” Which would make Sci-Fi cry.
But in the more grounded Joe comics, Sci-Fi made a lot more sense, being a “specialist” where everybody wasn’t toting lasers around. However, it was hard to work a laser guy into that grounded setting, especially if the lasers in a real world setting don’t quite work like they do in a fictional surrounding so Sci-Fi didn’t get a lot of action in the comic. In essence, Sci-Fi was redundant on the cartoon, difficult to work into a comic so…that’s why Sci-Fi cries. He’s the ultimate Catch-22.
This is why Sci-Fi is yet another Joe whose perfect venue was as a toy. “My” Joes shot real bullets and ammunition (like the comics, card art and file-cards intended) so Sci-Fi (like Flash before him) stood out in his particular choice of weaponry, and never had trouble finding things to do from sending a bolt of stimulated light through a Viper’s faceplate to melting the treads of a HISS tank. Sci-Fi was the face of the army of the future…except in 1986. But it worked, because of the aforementioned androids, genetically altered pilots and whatever Cobra La was. It’s ok to have “some” grounding, but it’s as dull as an old shoe to be “too”grounded. Sci-Fi exemplified that for me.