Until Pokémon arrived, no animated series had a larger cast of unique characters than G.I. Joe. But as cool as Snake Eyes was, or comically unhinged Shipwreck seemed, the reason most kids tuned in week after week was for the incredibly over-the-top arsenal of vehicles used by both the G.I. Joe forces and Cobra. The series started with the usual military mainstays like tanks and F-14 fighter planes, but quickly expanded to some of the wackiest purpose-built machines of war ever imagined—and I was there for all of it.
Some defied physics, while many defied basic safety concerns, putting soldiers in the direct path of rocket exhaust or dangerously close to spinning propellers. That didn’t matter. I desperately wanted to fly to school every morning in a Trubble Bubble, or cruise across town occupying six highway lanes at once in a rolling fortress like The General. Americans in the GI Joe universe must have been taxed to death to fund their nation’s military, but to the kid version of me, that was a small price to pay if it meant there was a small chance I could one day own a flying chariot.