When he was introduced in 1964, the original GI Joe was a massive hit. By the end of the decade, however, Americans were fed up with the Vietnam War, and sales of military toys reflected that. In order to keep the cash flowing, Hasbro transitioned GI Joe into an explorer rather than a soldier, and introduced the new "Adventure Team" line in 1970. 1972 saw the biggest sales Joe had ever had, so obviously they were doing something right. To celebrate the Adventure Team's 40th anniversary, the Official G.I. Joe Collectors' Club offered four exclusive AT figures, breaking out of the 12" scale for the first time. They also offered another unexpected first.
Dr. Monev was a brilliant scientist with unmatched evil tendencies and a super ego that told him he could do no wrong. However, the US Government thought otherwise and banned him from ever working for them again. After being shunned by the scientific community Dr. Monev relocated to a remote jungle laboratory to conduct illegal research. He has continued his genetic experiments on the local plant life and the indigenous population by extracting botanical toxins and using them for mind control applications. Some of the results have been terrifying. It is becoming more difficult for him to keep these activities secret. If he is exposed, or exhausts his Swiss Bank account reserves, it is almost certain that he will accept an offer from a certain "hooded" leader and shis "snake-themed" organization that is willing to fully fund his evil experiments.
Recently, some of his more successful experiments
have been drawing unwanted attention. When a number of natives became victims of his latest crop of carnivorous flora, rumors began to spread and the Adventure Team Commander was sent to investigate. Deep in the jungle, the Commander discovered what looked like an abandoned lab, but he was quickly ensnared when the surrounding vines came to life. The Adventure Team is needed in South America if the Commander is going to survive.
As the bio up there alludes to, Dr. Venom isn't really an Adventure Team character: he comes from the Real American Hero continuity. Long before Dr. Mindbender started doing all Cobra's scientific dirty work for them, Dr. Venom was the man with the test tubes. He only appeared in eight issues of the comic, but he was a huge influence all the way through. He's the guy who invented the Brainwave Scanner, the thing that kept everyone under Cobra Commander's thumb all the way through to the end of the G1 story (and well into G2, as well). Dr. Venom is one of the few major characters to never get an action figure, but at last that's been rectified.
The figures are sold on cards that match the other G3
figures, both the shape and GI Joe logo across the top. Even the filecards on the back are the same size, and use the same graphic design - this one even gets the familiar Cobra logo, in case there was any question who he was working for. The character art is, in the case of the updated characters, inspired by the original '70s packaging artwork. In Dr. Venom's case, there was no old art to refer to, so his is just done in the same style: a large headshot, with in a very rough, sketchy, impressionist look, with an exotic landscape visible over his shoulder. The Adventure Team logo (which is not-coincidentally similar to a peace sign) is in the upper right corner, and the Hasbro logo in the lower left is total old-school: it's the one they were using in the '70s.
Dr. Venom is done in the G3 style, which means two things:
he's taller than the '80s figures (topping out at an even 4" tall), and pretty much every inch of him has been used for different figures before him. Want the recipe for making your own Dr. Venom? Cobra Trooper torso and arms, Storm Shadow thighs, Shipwreck shins and feet. Then top it off with the white version of The Doctor's coat. The bodyparts all work very well, but there is one small problem: he's wearing a necktie, but it's just painted on; since there's no way to fit the entire tie above the chest joint, it's painted on both sides, so it breaks whenever you move the joint. The coat hides it a bit, so it's not a glaring problem, but it really, was the James McCullen XXIV mold not available?
Depending on your point of view, Dr. Venom's head is either brand new, or it's a re-use. It's certainly not one you'll see on any other G3 figures. Technically, it's never been used for a GI Joe figure at all - in reality, this is a heavily retooled Liu Kang head, from back when Hasbro was making Mortal Kombat toys. And when we say retooled, we mean it: the head is smaller, overall, and the neck has been turned into a socket for the G3 balljoint.
If you order Dr. Venom through the Collectors' club, he comes in a two-pack with Adventure Team Commander and a big man-eating plant (a repurposed 12" Joe accessory, and the entire reason for all that rigmarole about botany on his filecard). I got mine on eBay, so his only accessories are the ones that fit in his blister. He has a Cobra display base with two footpegs - the first time such a thing has been seen, I think? The Joe one's had two pegs for a while now, but the Cobras have been lagging behind. Other than that, he includes two test tubes, and two pistols. These all come from the G2 release of Dr. Mindbender, so the guns are way too big for his hands: they make a Desert Eagle look compact and reasonable by comparison. The test tubes are perfect, though.
The GI Joe Adventure Team introduced a lot of what we think of as "classic" GI Joe features, like Kung-Fu Grip and "lifelike hair." Now it's introduced our first figure of Dr. Venom, a character who lived (and died) 25 years ago in the pages of the comic, and was never seen anywhere else. Even with a few small flaws (and a too-large pricetag, no matter how you choose to buy him), it's great to finally have this classic character in action figure form.