Grunt was part of the first wave of GI Joe figures released by Hasbro in 1982. The basic character. A Sergeant in the Army. Expert in all forms of warfare and arms. And as we all know, the original line had the "straight arms".
He was the Infantry Trooper. The man on the front line.
The Straight Arms were a bit limited to the posing of the figure but who cared right !! We got GI Joe and it was AWESOME!!!!
Thing is, back then, Grunt was kinda the "Face" of the franchise. Larry Hama's genius storytelling didn't structure the Joe hierarchy yet. Grunt was featured on the covers of Colorforms, Coloring Books and the Brochure for that years toy offerings.
Then in 1983, Hasbro came up with a greatest running change ever, and incorporated the Swivel Arm Battle grip into the figures. Grunt gained two important points of articulation and slimmed his waist a bit too !!
This should have been what cemented Grunt into stardom ! Look how the Swivel Arm improvement changed his effectiveness in battle !! The poses were almost unlimited.
The "Everyman's Fighting Hero" should have taken over......
Then this guy happened.
Duke was introduced into the mix as a premium in 1983 and it was all but over for Grunt. Even though he was the corner character on the comic cover for the first 100 issues, he wasn't used much, issue # 4 being his only feature mission with Hawk. The cartoon largely ignored him. Grunt was even the first figure to get a second version. Unfortunately, "Tan" Grunt was paired with the lackluster Falcon Glider, which never became a hit due to the flimsy construction. Even in the Comics, when the Falcon Glider was debuted in issue #11, Airborne was the pilot, Grunt was left out. Eventually, he went back to civilian life as just Robert Graves, Engineer.
To me, Grunt was the greatest. He was able to be everything. While the other Joes were specialized in some way, Grunt was able to be the fighting machine. He could handle every battle situation and being an Engineer, was able to use his mind to overcome any other. I used him constantly in my play. Grunt was always on the front line, usually getting Doc's attention from the battle damage he would sustain harms way. The Infantry Man. The first man in, unfortunately also the first man out.