G.I. Gary Reviews – G.I. Joes Crystal Ball and Sneak Peek
This odd pairing of less than the most popular figures from 1987’s Hasbro G.I. Joe line have one big thing in common, Popular horror author Stephen King.
The story, as Stephen King recalls, is his son Owen came up with the idea of a G.I. Joe character that could read minds, and the name “Crystal Ball.” The idea was brought to Hasbro, who turned Crystal Ball into an actual figure with the filecard written by Stephen King himself. As a thank you, Hasbro named Sneak Peek after Owen King, even listing his birthplace as Bangor, Maine.
Stephen King’s file card for Crystal Ball states that he’s the seventh son of a seventh son of a Romalian father, with his mother from Bangor, Maine. And because of the supernatural powers granted by such familial connection in gypsies, Crystal Ball CAN SOMETIMES read minds.
Hasbro gave Crystal Ball looks inspired by Vincent Price and of gypsies. Fur lined vest with gold piping. Bracelets that continue the motif with grey pants, a brown leather belt with gold buckle. He’s got buccaneer boots topped off with a gold accent on the left thigh coloring his holster and side arm. This suggests Crystal Ball is left handed. His eyes are read to elicit the fact that his powers are (maybe) working.
So overall the mysticism that was intended to be injected into the G.I. Joe line with Crystal Ball wasn’t really out of line for 1987. With characters like Golobulous and Nemesis Enforcer and Cobra La being the subject of the straight to video movie, it’s a small wonder why Crystal Ball didn’t make it in. He hasn’t made any TV or movie appearances. He almost didn’t make it into the original Marvel comic run, being used by writer Herb Trimpe and art by Dave Cockrum. Larry Hama has since re-introduced him for the current IDW run.
Sneak Peek was inspired by Owen King. As a thank you from Hasbro, they used Owen’s face as inspiration for the face sculpt and package art. His file card states he’s a Ranger, and he’s a legend for failing to get an order for withdrawal and staying hidden and spying on the enemy for weeks afterwards.
He shares a similar color pallet to Crazy Legs, also from 1987. The head sculpt is of fair quality and details with the molded on helmet. The microphone is the most often lost accessory. Over 90% of the value of the complete figure is in that one piece.
His body is of a bulky sculpt. The body armor in the waist and chest are logically going to do that to a person in real life, but compared to most other G.I. Joe figures, it is out of place and makes him look less like a man of an elite military fighting force.
Here he is all geared up. The green periscope tower is ridiculously large. His binoculars don’t fit his hand or lay well across his body (unless diagonally). His walkie-talkie hangs well off the hook on his waist. His M16 rifle has a strap that commonly breaks. Also, it can be confused with 1985’s Footloose.
Sneak Peek, like Crystal Ball, never made it into any TV or movie productions. However, Sneak Peek had a larger role in the Marvel comic. His first appearance is during the infiltration of Cobra Island at the beginning of the Cobra Civil War. His most notable appearance, though, is in G.I. Joe 113. He dies while sacrificing himself to save a child caught in a crossfire during the conflict in Trucial Abysmia. The other thing is Sneak Peek has died in the same continuity, TWICE. Larry Hama brought him back in IDW’s issue #164, and completed the retcon a few issues later. In issue 241, Sneak Peek passes away after injuries sustained during a firefight in Darklonia.
So the Kings’ contribution to the G.I. Joe is a bit infamous. Both characters are not likely to make many people’s top character lists. Sneak Peek would be released in muted colors the next year for the Toys ‘R Us “Night Force” line. Are they must have’s for most toy collectors? Not really. But in a time before mail away Steel Brigade figures and Create-A-Cobra where you could get personalized action figures, a famous Dad could get you immortalized as an action figure.