Tuesday, November 22, 2016

G.I. Joe's Cryptozoolical Adventures

           The moon’s glow gave an eerie outline to the towering giants. The mountains of the Himalayas towered above the mysterious land for miles. These were the highest mountains in the world and the largest of them all, Mount Everest, sat as a mighty guardian and cast it’s shadow on this desolate but mysterious part of the world.  At the base of these snow-covered monoliths, a lonely figure moved across the snow. Appearing as only a tiny speck on a large blanket of snow, the figure glided long on skis with only a small sled in tow behind him. A mist moved through the valley like a large serpent as he pushed ever further into this land of legend. 

The Himalayan mountains at night
            A scream echoed through the Himalayan mountains that night. The figure stopped and scanned the mountains for any sign of movement. He waited and listened, but the only sound was an avalanche in the far distance. He watched for any sign of movement, but the mist shrouded any signs of life. After a couples of minutes, the figure continued on his way. As he journeyed further into the snow lands, he found himself continually looking up at the mountains.  He had this over whelming feeling that someone or something was watching him.

Mount Everest
When he reached the top of one of the hills, he stopped and found himself struggling to catch his breath. He knew that the air was a lot thinner at this elevation. The tall figure stood with his white snowsuit and skis. When his breath slowed down, He pulled back his hood to revel a brown beard and a small noticeable scar on his right check. Removing his goggles, reveled strong blue eyes. He took out a pair of binoculars and scanned the area. He adjusted the rifle slung around his chest reveling a large patch on his suit. It was red and black with what appeared to be an A on top of a T with a circle around it. This was the symbol of the G.I. Joe Adventure Team. A group known worldwide for taking on dangerous environmentally sensitive missions, often to help other nations. "Adventurers" as they were called, had traveled all over the world on many adventures and seen a lot of amazing things, but he still found himself marveling at the beauty of the magnificent snow-covered mountains. Joe, as he liked to be called, watched in awe as he could make out the wind blowing around Mount Everest’s peak, even at night.
The Yeti for Disney's Expedition Everest ride at Animal Kingdom
Joe hadn’t journeyed all this way to look at mountains. He was on a mission. He had journeyed to these this frozen parts of the Nepal in search of a legend. A legend that has haunted these mountains and lands for ages. The Adventure Team had been tasked with finding and capturing the legendary Abominable snowman. Called the Yeti by the people of this land, was described this bipedal beast as being eight-foot-tall and covered with white fur. Reports were coming from this area was that the large beast was coming into the village at night and making out with their livestock causing panic and concern. The villagers were terrified of the Yeti. With a concern about the villages food supply, the village elders contacted the adventure team and asked them to capture the yeti and stop the livestock from disappearing. Joe had brought a tranquilizer gun and a large net in attempt to bring the beast back alive. Joe had been searching this desolate snow covered land for over a week checking out every sighting. Now he was zeroing in on the elusive beast.

Again, another scream echoed the mountains. This caused Joe to shiver a bit. Joe had hunted for tigers and gorillas and other animals, but this was first. Reports of strange animals came from all over the world. Scotland reported a large aquatic animal in the deeps of Loch Ness. The eastern part of the United States was riddled with numerous reports of another large bipedal animal, the newspapers named “Bigfoot”. These animals were categorized in a field called Cryptozoology and these animals were referred to as crytpids. Though modern science refused to acknowledge these animals there was to many reports to ignore and Joe was now tasked with finding one of these cryptids.

A Tibetan monastery in the Himalayan mountains
On the day Joe, had set out on his mission, he was stopped on the outskirts of the village by a small Tibetan monk. The man stood not more than five feet tall dress in the traditional Tibetan dress of the monks that occupied the large monastery that rested on the mountain overlooking the village. Separated by a large hundred-foot gorge, a large rope bridge was all that connected the village to the monastery. The castle like structure was said to be centuries old and one of few left in the country. The monk began speaking in Tibetan dialect. Joe only spoke a few words of the dialect but understood that the monk did not want him to go look for the Yeti. Joe responded back in English that the village doesn’t need to live in fear of this beast. The monk did not respond. After an long awkward silence, Joe then secured his ice pick and walked past the monk toward the direction of mountains with his sled in tow. 
Tibetan monk
Just as Joe was lowering his binoculars, he caught movement down to his left. He quickly aimed at the movement. At first he saw nothing. Then suddenly one of the rocks moved. Not only did it move but it started walking. The large animal covered in white fur stopped and appeared to be sniffing the air. “Could this animal actually smell him from this distance?” Joe wondered. The animal looked around and then resumed walking. It walked along really small path on a ledge and Joe saw that it ends into a cave. Just as the Yeti approached the cave entrance, it suddenly stopped, turned and let out a terrifying scream. This was the scream Joe had heard earlier. Was the Yeti calling out to other of its kind or simply warning anyone that this was its domain? Joe watched as the beast disappeared into the cave. “So that is where the Yeti makes it home” thought Joe.

After climbing with a sled, going the wrong way and finally finding the path, it took Joe the better part of two hours to make his way to the cave entrance. The path was even smaller than it looked from on top of the hill. When Joe neared the cave entrance he carefully and silently looked in to see how far the cave went back. The entrance was dark and Joe could not see too far in but he knew that the beast could emerge at any time. Joe quickly unpacked the net and set it in front of the cave entrance. He made sure not to expose himself in front of the cave as his lay the net down. He set up a device to pull the net up when stepped on it, spring up and entrapping the beast. With the trap set up, now all Joe had to do was wait for the Yeti to emerge from its den. Joe also made sure the tranquilizer gun was loaded and ready to go.

           As Joe kneeled behind some rocks, waiting, a light snow started. He hoped that he wasn’t going to have to wait all night. After an hour, Joe decided to make some kind of disturbance to get the beast’s attention and cause it to come investigate. Joe saw a large rock protruding a few feet down the ledge, If he could dislodge it and send it rolling down the hill, it would cause a small avalanche and make a lot of noise. Joe carefully moved to the rock and unslung his rifle and placed it next to him. He then started pushing on the large rock. At first the rock refused to move. Then suddenly it gave way and started to move. It took almost all of Joe’s strength to move it. Suddenly the boulder came loose and started rolling down the hill. The sound echoed through the hills and mountains.

           Joe quickly got up after almost falling off the cliff with the boulder. As he watched the rock roar down the hill, he suddenly heard a growling come from the direction of the cave. Joe froze as he gazed up at the Yeti, who was not standing at the entrance of the cave glaring at him. The beast looked angry as it exposed his long sharp teeth. Joe reached around for his rifle, never taking his eyes of the large cryptid. Just as Joe felt the touch of the rifle’s barrel the beast sprung at Joe. The adventurer tried to move but the beast was too fast and knocked Joe over the ledge. He felt himself tumbling helplessly down the hill. He tried franticly to grab some to stop his fall. All his felt was ice and snow. Out of the corner of his eye, Joe caught site of a boulder protruding from the snow. He reached out and quickly grabbed it. He felt his muscle ache in pain as he struggled to grasp it and hold on. Luckily the boulder has small enough for Joe to hold on to and he quickly came to a stop. The adventurer caught his breath and looked around.  It was a good thing, because not more than five feet, the hill gave way to a hundred foot drop into a frozen raven. He would have perished if he had gone over.

As scream shot through the valley. Joe looked up to see he Yeti looking down at him. The both looked eyes, for what felt like minutes. The beast just stood there and looked down at Joe. It didn't seem to be angry anymore. Then it backed away from the cliff and retreated back into the cave. “I guess it doesn’t see me as a threat anymore” thought Joe as he moved himself more securely on the boulder. Joe thought it strange that the Yeti didn’t make sure he was either dead or leaving the area. He moved his body around to make sure he hadn’t broken any bones. He felt sore but not brakes or cuts. Joe looked around and felt around for his ice pick that he had thankfully had secured to his belt. He tied the rope attached to the ice pick to his belt and then started climbing up the hill. The climb was slow due to the soft now and loose rocks.

Upon reaching the ledge Joe carefully peered up on the path before climbing the rest of the way up. He didn’t want to walk into a Yeti ambush. The beast was nowhere in sight. Still feeling sore from the fall, he carefully and slowly pulled himself up. He quickly secured his rifle, all the time watching the cave entrance. Thankfully the net was still in place. Just as Joe approached the entrance, the Yeti emerged from the cave. He could see that the it was not only angry again but surprised to see him there. Joe was ready this time. He saw that the beast was standing on the trap. Just as the beast tensed to jump, the adventurer quickly pulled the rope triggering the net. Before the animal could react, the net sprung up around the Yeti, incompasting it quickly. The beast struggled but found itself hopelessly tanged in the net. Waiting to make sure the animal was secure, Joe raised the rifle sight to his eye and shot a tranquillizer dart into the thigh of the might beast.
The Yeti knowing that it was caught, let out a long scream. Joe quickly looked at the entrance waiting for more of the Yeti to come out. The beast then succumbed to the tranquilizer and stopped struggle. Then it started making a loud breathing noise which Joe knew that the beast was now asleep.

the Abominable Snowman for the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland
Joe secured the sledge and after hours managed to get the Yeti, still in the net, onto the sled. Now looking at the size of the animal, he wished he had brought a bigger sled.  It was going to have to do. Joe loaded up the rest of his gear and started to move down the path in the direction of the village. He had not gone more than a couple of feet when he heard a noise behind him. He quickly spun around with his rifle at the ready. At first he didn’t see anything but the blackness of the cave entrance. Then a small head emerged, followed by a small white furred body. It was a small yeti, an adolescent. It started at the large yeti on the sled and began to make a whimpering sound. The small yeti made no attempt to move at them, but just stood there and cried. “That is the yeti’s off spring” came a voice from behind Joe. He quickly looked to see the Tibetan monk, that he had met earlier standing on the path. The monk then moved up next to Joe and looked at the small animal as it cried for its mother.

The monk began talking in English “The people who hired you to come find the Yeti were looking at nothing more than to make money off of the legend. This animal has been here for centuries living up here away from man. It came down to the village looking for food for it’s young. The Yeti has not harmed any human and it just wants to be left in peace. The mother thought you were after it’s young so it pushed you down the hill. It could have easily have killed you if it had wanted to. You have a choice here to make.”
            An hour later Joe walked silently down the path toward the village. He was glad he didn’t have to haul that large beast down on the sled. The monk walked alongside him. He looked over and saw that the he was smiling at Joe. He didn’t respond to the monk. The adventurer suddenly stopped and looked back up toward the mountains. He then saw them. The mother Yeti and it’s young one. The two beasts stood on the ledge and looked down at them, and then slowly turned and disappeared into the cave. Joe then turned and continued walking to village with his sled in tow. “What are you going to tell your team and the village?”  asked the monk. “I’m going to tell them that there are no such as monsters” said Joe. He then looked away and smiled to himself “Well” he thought, “There’s always Bigfoot”.

The G.I.Joe Adventure Team

                 In the mid-seventies, the G.I. Joe Adventure was in its peak of popularity. Every kid I knew had a G.I. Joe (which is what we call called them back then) Hasbro was pumping out new and exciting sets to go with the them. My favorite set had the adventure team journey out of the norm and into the world of cryptozoology. Before I talk about this awesome set I want to tell you just how this set became my all-time favorite and changed my life.
It was a great time to be a kid in the seventies. If you were lucky enough to live in the north east United States, one of the great things to do beside playing with G.I. Joes, was Saturday afternoon monster movies. Growing up at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, kids would crowd around the television set on Saturday afternoons and watch a show called “Creature Double Feature” on WLVI Channel 56 out of Boston. It would feature two old black and white monster movies like “Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman” or “Godzilla” movies.  After the movies were over I’d go outside and either go bike riding or play with our G.I. Joes.

The original movie poster for the 1957 film
On one of these Saturday afternoons the Creature Double Feature featured a movie that I would always remember. It was the 1957 Hammer movie called “The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas”. It featured monster favorite Peter Cushing and American actor Forest Tucker. The story was about an English botanist (Cushing) and a fortune hunting American (Tucker) lead an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the legendary Yeti. I watched the television screen both scared and excited, waiting to get a look at the monster. At the end of the movie I was given a quick look at the beast’s face.

The Yeti from the 1964 Hanna Barbara cartoon "Jonny Quest"

I had remembered an episode of the popular 1964 Hanna Barbara cartoon “Jonny Quest” which also featured the Yeti. Later I talked to my friends of the movie and one of my friend’s father related that there actually sightings of a large bipedal creature in the Himalayas called the Yeti.
          Excited at the prospect of real monsters, I went to the school library and researched the yeti and found numerous books on the subject. I also found out about other legendary monsters called cryptids, like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. I started reading every book I could find on the subject of Cryptozoology. If I had to do a book report for school is was always on the books on the unexplained.

Now like I said earlier, every boy of the street block had a G.I. Joe. Birthdays were always exciting besides the cake and ice cream, because you knew that the birthday boy was going to get at least one of the new Adventure Team sets. The great thing was that if you didn’t have that set, one of your friends usually did. With G.I. Joe Adventure Team, our imaginations had us on a secret mission as a secret agent or looking for the lost mummy in Egypt or Searching for a lost satellite, which unfortunately I can remember we actually do lose it and never did find it.

On my twelfth birthday, I received a G.I. Joe set that would solidify my passion of Cryptozoology. The set was called “The Search for the Abominable Snowman”.  The art work on the box was awesome. It featured the Adventure Team Land Adventurer in a white snowsuit with skies on a ledge looking over to the other side. There the large white cryptid beast was walking away Joe. I immediately opened the box and removed the contents. The white suit was pretty much what I expected along with the equipment (skies and ski poles, small sled, rifle, equipment chest, binoculars, snow shoes, and net).  
The Yeti figure from the "Search for the Abominable Snowman" set for G.I.Joe

I found the yeti figure and it wasn’t what I was expecting. My friend was quick to point out that the yeti was nothing more than the pygmy gorilla for another set, painted white. I was disappointed that Hasbro didn’t go the extra mile and make a really cool Yeti figure. After looking the whole set over again I pretty much said “Oh Well” and set up my land adventure with his new clothes and equipment and set him up to finding the yeti. I pretty much had it that Joe was looking for a baby Yeti. February in Massachusetts has snow still on the ground so I had a whole front yard to have my Joe look for the Yeti.
The mini comic that came with the set

On a side note, I did really like the little comic book that also came with the set. Even with the yeti lacking in size and furiousness of the one depicted on the box[, The Search for the Abominable Snowman was always my favorite G.I. Joe Adventure team set, because it took Joe out of the norm for looking or white tigers and pygmy gorillas. Joe was venturing into the world of the unexplained.

The new Search For the Yeti set for G.I.Joe
Later when I grew up, I continued my fascination with the unexplained, more exactly cryptozoology. When I retired from the military to Florida I started going out on Bigfoot hunts with various groups. I also still had a fondness for G.I. Joe. Raising three sons, I wanted them to experience some for the excitement of G.I. Joe. Every time I looked at the action figures I remembered a time when I wanted to go out and look for the yeti and have an exciting life. I was thrilled when Hasbro brought back the 12-inch figure line.
The new Yeti figure
In 2001 Hasbro made my day when they brought back the Adventure team to its roots and had the “Search for the Yeti” set which featured an awesome looking Yeti. I wasn’t crazy about the Adventure Team figure’s suit, but the Yeti figure more than made up for it. I actually purchased two set and dyed the second Yeti figure dark brown to make a Bigfoot figure. When my family and I appeared on a television show as the legend tripping family, the brown bigfoot was featured. It was later donated it to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine, where it is featured with other exhibits from television shows.

In 2008 the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club which was having their convention at Dallas Texas that year offered a special edition figure and set. That set that year was “Search for the Sasquatch”. It was in my opinion the best set they have offered. It featured the Air Adventurer with a rocket pack and a special bazooka that fired a net. It also offered a Sasquatch figure that was essentially the 2001 Yeti figure except that it was now repainted and had dark brown fur.

The art work on the front of the box was fantastic and again it also featured a mini comic book. Unfortunately, the price was out of my range at that time, but my wife surprised me with it for my birthday, two years later. She secretly purchased it, when G.I.Joe the conference was held at Orlando, Florida.

the mini comic

I know display all three of the G.I. Joe’s cryptozoological adventures in my den. I today continue to look for Bigfoot and other cryptids. I wrote a book “Legend Tripping: The ultimate Adventure” where I mention the G.I. Joe sets and how they influenced me to engage on my search for the unexplained.

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