#889: The Dreadnoks

RECORD STORE TALES #889: The Dreadnoks

I’ve always had trouble letting go.  Even though rock music was my true obsession, there was some overlap.  Even  into grade nine, I still bought GI Joe comics and figures.  It was always hard letting go of an obsession.  My “favourite things”, in order of discovery were:

  1. Star Wars until its natural end in 1983-84.
  2. GI Joe/Transformers from 1984 to 1986-87.
  3. Rock music from 1984 to present.
  4. WWF Wrestling from 1985 to 1990.

You can see how the evolution of this worked.  A GI Joe figure was in the same scale as Star Wars, but with far more articulation well suited to an older kid.  The first wave of figures even featured real-world accurate weapons.  They were a natural step for a kid still wanting that action figure experience, but geared for someone older.  Transformers went hand in hand, since Marvel were producing a comic line to go for each.  Transformers resembled the die-cast cars that older kids (and adults) collected and displayed.

I discovered heavy metal music on December 26, 1984.  A  few months later, wrestling appeared on my radar with the very first Wrestlemania.  A lot of those guys looked like rock stars, with crazy costumes, long hair and male bravado.

As my interests shifted and evolved, so did my collections.  The Star Wars toys were put into storage in the crawl space.  I was given tape boxes, Christmas after Christmas, to store my growing music collection.  A typical Christmas would see me receiving some new tapes and action figures.  I’d sit in my bedroom reading GI Joe comics while rocking out to Long Way to Heaven by Helix.  I was a weird kid but I liked what I liked and didn’t much care.

The Joe characters diversified along with me.  In 1984 they got a little more outlandish with the introduction of Zartan and the Dreadnoks.  Zartan, the master of disguise, was a deluxe action figure whose skin colour turned blue in direct sunlight.  This gimmick only worked outdoors, which meant we played with Zartan outside in the summer while giving him a rest in the winter.  His backup didn’t arrive on toy shelves until 1985.  They were three bikers named the Dreadnoks:  Buzzer, the Brit with a ponytail and a chainsaw, the mohawked Ripper, and the flamethrower Torch who had a bit of a Lemmy beard going on.  Their Mad Max inspired outfits would have allowed them to fit into a rock band quite easily, if only they came with musical instruments instead of weapons.  They’d make a cool punk trio.

The Dreadnoks expanded their lineup the following year.  On explosives came Monkeywrench, bearded and obsessed with Guy Fawkes.  Then in a deluxe set came the vehicle driver Thrasher, and his definitely Mad Max inspired Thunder Machine car.  Made of bits and pieces of scrap, it hit the same post-apocalyptic notes as the other Dreadnoks, as well as rock bands like Motley Crue, Kiss, and Armored Saint.  Thrasher had a punk rock streak of green in his hair.  And now they were a quintet.  They were literally begging for me to make them custom musical instruments.

There were always wooden match sticks in the house, so I used them for guitar necks, drum stands, drumsticks, and a microphone.  Cardboard boxes were cut up to make the bodies of guitars and a few drums and cymbals.  Black electrical tape held them all together.  And so the Dreadnoks became a five piece band, and I put them on display in my bedroom on a shelf with my Kiss cassettes.

If only I had a picture of my Dreadnok band.  Not everybody had a camera back then.  Even if you did, it seemed film was always out!  You can imagine what they looked like!



  1. You have an imagination similar to mine. I played with army men until I was 17, I just got more imaginative with them as I got older. Though when I was 15, my mom wasn’t impressed when my friend and I put them on toy boats in our paddling pool and bombarded them with stones. We were simply reenacting the battle of Midway. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Battle of Midway! I love it — that is great! Wish I had thought of that. I had army men, and I made wooden boats out of old lumber, but I never combined the two ideas much less tried to bombard them!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was out of GI Joes by the 80’s. I had a bunch from the late 70’s (I think-maybe early 80’s). It is a shame I didn’t keep any of the stuff, but who knew they might be worth something today. I never made it to the Dreadnoks and never knew anything about them actually.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Man, I got Star Wars figures first but GI Joe came along pretty quickly. Wrestling wasn’t as long for me, or as much of a thing as far as holding my attention – not when there was hockey to be played or watched. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat was always my favourite, though.

    Anyway, I still have all my old figures (Star Wars and GI Joe), and the vehicles and whatevers that came with. I didn’t have a ton but I kept them in really good shape, I think. It’s all in totes in the crawlspace.

    Hey, wasn’t the Zartan thing a special order? Or something related to him? Do I remember that correctly, or is my mind off on that one?


    1. Zartan was not a special order, but he WAS a special figure. He was more expensive because he came with his swamp skier, and so many accessories. His body was sensitive to light and would turn blue in the sun. He had heat sensitive stickers too. Truly one of the best figures of the original line. Never topped him for gimmicks.


  4. I never made it to GI Joe. It was Star Wars, Transformers, Centurions and M.A.S.K. that had me. M.A.S.K. in particular was a real favourite and the toys were pretty ace. The WWF phase didn’t last long when I got there – maybe 2 or 3 years tops. Sky TV introduced me to that.

    I had moved on from most of those obsessions by the time music got its hooks in me in the early 90’s. It was only Star Wars by then… and video games.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. M.A.S.K. were the ones I wished I had room for in my life. The flying car, the truck, all that stuff. They were so cool. They really captured the imagination. Interesting enough, they’re all under the Hasbro umbrella now and I own a GI Joe Matt Trakker figure.

      I was never a video game guy like kids today. I had an Atari 2600 and I enjoyed computer games like King’s Quest.

      Liked by 1 person

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