Designated CVN 99, the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier U.S.S. Flagg was quite possibly the largest toy playset ever sold. Measuring seven and a half feet long from bow to stern, the marvel of toy engineering was the defining piece in the G.I. Joe set, assuming you and your team of Joes could get it assembled properly. In stores for only two years ('85 and '86), the U.S.S. Flagg made Omega Supreme look like Bumblebee, and put the Ewok Village to shame. Among it's features...
- A working deck elevator allowed storage of smaller vehicles below deck.
- An anti-aircraft missile system that swiveled and elevated for "precision targeting".
- An aircraft arrestor system (like those used on a real aircraft carrier) caught the Skystriker as it touched down on the carrier deck (Skystriker was sold-separately, and had a hook on the back that would catch the Flagg's cable).
- A working microphone and sound was included for "realistic" battle sounds, including an air raid siren and an "All Clear" signal
- Admiral Keel Haul (real name Everett P. Colby) was included with the aircraft carrier. Somehow the admiral was also an in-service pilot.
- A working boat crane that could lower pretend boats into the pretend water
- A special "admiral's launch" that allowed Keel Haul to escape were Cobra to sink the aircraft carrier in your playtime scenario
- A tow vehicle and fuel truck were included to help move the planes around and refuel them
Hasbro spared no attention to detail on the U.S.S. Flagg. There were deck chairs, consoles, radio panels, ladders, radio antennae, mast caps, bulkhead doors, access covers, and over a hundred decals. While this made the Flagg especially cool, it also meant that there were hundreds of pieces that could be lost or eaten, with no easy means of replacement. While this meant that assembling the Flagg was a parent's nightmare, it has also caused the Flagg to become one of the most sought-after G.I. Joe collectibles.
And now... a personal story...
It's tough to appreciate the magnitude of the U.S.S. Flagg without having seen one, or worse, put one together. I had the misfortune of both one Christmas long ago.
My friend's younger brother, Patrick, had received the U.S.S. Flagg for Christmas, but his dad had left it in the box and promised to assemble it later Christmas day. His house was where we normally congregated to show off our loot, and when we saw the U.S.S. Flagg, we decided it would be a good idea to put it together. After deciding which room it was going to be stored in (you can't really pick the thing up and move it once it's built), we broke open the box and went to work.
Like I said, this thing has a thousand small pieces, and they all have to be put together modularly. Instructions for two completely separate parts are included on the same piece of paper, so there's really no way to multitask either. The decal positions are printed on another sheet, forcing you to swap back and forth between instructions to figure out where the decals go and how the pieces fit. All told, it took us about three hours to put the whole thing together.
After putting the last decals on the deck of the Flagg, we triumphantly called for Pat to come upstairs. Pat comes screaming up the stairs, catches his foot on the lip of the last one, and goes flying through the air, landing square in the middle of the Flagg, shattering it into pieces (so much for quality construction). Pat cried and cried, and his dad promised to buy him another one. It never happened, and that was the last time I ever saw the U.S.S. Flagg.
Some information about the Flagg was pulled from yojoe.com