G.I. Joe

G.I. Joe 1980-1990

‘GI’ is a term most Americans are familiar with as slang for a soldier and in society’s imagination one usually conjures up a WWII army man (which probably has a lot to do with the toy’s television ads) but actually dates back to WWI when soldiers were issued equipment made of ‘galvanized iron.’ By WWII it was more associated with “Government Issue’ and by the time Hasbro brought the ever-popular Joe into the world during the Vietnam War, GI and Joe were inseparable terms. Called ‘moveable fighting men’ to refrain from the usage of the word ‘doll’ in marketing, the first Joes manufactured from 1964-1969 were a towering 12.5″ and three prototypes were developed under the names Rocky, Skip and Ace who were a solder, sailor and pilot, respectively. Later editions made up til 1976 included an African-American Joe, a female nurse Joe, flocked hair, ‘eagle-eye’ vision, and kung-fu grip.

Joe’s figure was actually based on Barbie’s (!); a trade secret kept under tight wraps by Hasbro. Developed by Stanley Weston, Joe was the boy’s version of the world-famous doll because after all, how many boys stole their sisters’ Barbies? Why not just make a doll especially for boys and what ‘doll’ could be more manly than a soldier? Joe wasn’t met with open arms in the toy world however; he was too big. Toy soldiers had been made for years- the small leaden or plastic sort. It took some time for Weston to find a manufacturer and when he did, he called on an old friend in the National Guard who gave him access to weapons in order to design Joe’s accoutrements as realistically as possible. And while Barbie had shoes in every shade, Joe had real firing guns!

In the early 70s the public’s opinion of war and the military had lessened (I ain’t gonna study war no more…) and GI Joe became less a soldier and more and adventurer. The toy was re-imagined and his ‘adventures’ had much to do with capturing animal enemies (Barbie took a chunk from popularity during this time too from rising feminism). Rising costs in plastics by 1976 produced a Joe 4″ smaller than the original and a space-themed Super Joe was released but this didn’t stop him from taking a complete haitus from toy shelves until 1982 when Joe made his comeback as a soldier with a military enemy Cobra in 3 1/4″ form similar to the Star Wars figures at the time and kept going strong with books, cartoon, film and playsets until 1994 when he exited the toy world again during his 30th anniversary year.

Joe continued to captivate young boys’ imaginations in and outside the US with editions being put out steadily from 1994 to the upcoming 50th anniversary figures on pre-order through Toys R Us and Big Bad Toy Store. Luckily for Joe fans it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere soon.

International Issues
Britain- 1983 Battle Action Force: Red Shadows era, 1985 Battle Action Force: Cobra era
Japan – 1986
Argentina – 1983/1984 Comandos Heroicos, 1986 unnamed series
Australia/ New Zealand- early 80s Action Man/ GI Joe, 1993 Drug Elimination Force
Belgium – early 80s Action Force, 1987 GI Joe
Italy – early 80s Action Force, 1987 GI Joe
Mexico- 1985 Commandos Heroicos, 1994, 2001 GI Joe
Brazil – 1984 Commandos in Action
Canada – 1982-1994 GI Joe
Netherlands – early 80s Action Force, 1987 GI Joe
South Korea
China – early 90s GI Joe
France- early 80s Action Force, 1987 GI Joe
Spain – early 80s Action Force, 1986 GI Joe: the Action Force, 1987 GI Joe
Greece- early 80s, early 90s
India – early 90s-2002
Venezuela – 1990-1992
Egypt – 1991
Finland/ Sweden
Philippines – early 80s

Other Joe Merchandise
Comic books: Marvel, Devil’s Due Publishing, IDW Publishing
Cartoons: 1985-1986 (Sunbow/Marvel), 1989 miniseries, cartoon 1990-1991 (DiC), 1995-1997 (Sunbow), 2008 webisodes/ cartoon (Cartoon Network), 2010 (The Hub)
Films: 1987, 1994, 2003, 2004, 2009 (stop motion animation promos/ live action film), 2013
Video Games: 1983 (Atari 2600, Intellivision), 1985 (Apple II, Commodore 64), 1987 (Commodore 64), 1991 (NES), 1992 (Konami Arcade, NES), 2009 (Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PSP and Nintendo DS)

Toy List
S= Straight arm
M= Mail order
SA= Swivel Arm
J= Joes
C= Cobras
V= Vehicle
W= Weapon
P= Playset
O= Other

1982 Figures
Flash -S
Breaker -S
Clutch -S
Grand Slam -S
Grunt -S
Hawk -S
Scarlett -S
Rock ‘N Roll -S
Zap 1 & 2 -S
The Enemy -C, S
The Enemy Officer -C, S
Enemy Leader (Cobra Commander) -C, S, M
Major Bludo -C, M

1982 Playsets

1983 Figures
Breaker J, SA
Clutch J, SA
Flash J, SA
Grand Slam J, SA
Grunt J, SA
Enemy Leader C, SA
Hawk J, SA
Rock ‘N Roll J, SA
Scarlett J, SA
Short-Fuze J, SA
Snake Eyes, J, SA
Stalker J, SA
Steeler J, SA
The Enemy Soldier C, SA
The Enemy Officer C, SA
Zap J, SA
Airborne J, SA
Ace J, SA
Cover Girl J, SA
Doc J, SA
Grand Slam J, SA
Duke J, SA, M
Grunt J, SA
Snow Job J, SA
Gung-Ho J, SA
Torpedo J, SA
Tripwire J, SA
Wild Bill J, SA
Major Bludd C, SA
Destro C, SA
The Enemy (H.I.S.S. driver) C, SA
The Enemy (Viper Pilot) C, SA

1983 Toys

1984 Figures
Blowtorch C, SA
Clutch J, SA
Cutter J, SA
Deep Six J, SA
Mutt w/ K-9 J, SA
Duke J, SA
Recondo J, SA
Rip Cord J, SA
Spirit J, SA
Roadblock J, SA
Thunder J, SA
Baroness C, SA
Copperhead C, SA
Enemy Leader w/ hood C, SA, M
Firefly C, SA
Scrap Iron C, SA
Storm Shadow C, SA
The Enemy (Stinger driver) C, SA
Wild Weasel C, SA
Wild Weasel (reverse map) C, SA
Zartan C, SA

1984 Toys

1985 Figures
Airtight J, SA
Alpine J, SA
Barbecue J, SA
Bazooka J, SA
Crankcase J, SA
Dusty J, SA
Flint J, SA
Footloose J, SA
Frostbite (Snowcat driver) J, SA
Heavy Metal, J, SA
Keel-Haul, J, SA
Lady Jaye, J, SA
Quick Kick, J, SA
Sgt. Slaughter (Drill Instructor USA logo) , J, SA, M
Shripwreck, J, SA
Tollbooth (Bridge Layer Driver), J, SA
Snake Eyes J, SA
Tripwire (Listen ‘n FUn version), J, SA
Buzzer, C, SA
Eels, C, SA
Crimson Guard, C, SA
Lampreys, C, SA
Ripper, C, SA
Snow Serpent , C, SA
Tomax & Xamot, C, SA
Tele-Vipers, C, SA

1986 Toys

1986 Figures
Beach Head,m J, SA
Cross-Country (H.A.V.O.C) driver, J SA
Dial-Tone, J, SAHawek, J, SA
Leatherneck , J, SA
Lifeline, J, SA
Lift-ticket (Tomahawk Pilot), J, SA
Low-Light, J, SA
Mainframe, J, SA
Roadblock , J, SA
Sci-Fi, J, SA
Sgt. Slaughter , J, SA
Slip-Stream, J, SA
The Fridge , J, SA, M
Wet-Squirt, J, SA
Joe Special Mission Brazil figures:
Joe/ Cobra Original Team Mail Away figures:
Rock ‘n Roll
Major Bludd
The Enemy
A.V.A.C. (Cobra Terror Drome Firebat Pilot), C,SA
B.A.T.S (Cobra Android Trooper), C
Dr. Mindbender, C, A
Motor Viper (Cobra STUN Pilot), C, SA
Serpentor, C, SA
Monkeywrench, C, SA
Thrasher (Thunder Machine Driver), C, SA
Viper, C, SA
Strato-Viper (Cobra Night Raven S3P Pilot), C, SA
Zandar & Zarana (w/ & w/o earrings), C, SA


1987 Figures
Back-Stop, J, SA
Chuckles, J, SA
Fast Draw, J, SA
Gung-Ho , J , SA
Falcon, J, SA
Crazylegs, J, SA
Hard Top, J, SA
Law & Order, J, SA
Jinx, J, SA
Outback, J, SA
Payload (Defiant Pilot), J, SA
Psyche-Out, J, SA
SNeak Peek, J, SA
Rumbler (J, SA)
Starduster, J, SA
Steel Brigade, J, SA, M
Steam-Roller (Mobile Command Centre Operator), J, SA
Tunnel Rat, J, SA

Joe Battle Force Figures:
Avalanche (Dominator Snow Vehicle Driver)
Blaster (Vindicator Hovercraft Driver)
Blocker (Eliminator 4-Wheeled Vehicle Driver)
Knockdown (Sky-Sweeper Anti-Aircraft Driver)
Dodger (Marauder Half-Track Driver)
Maverick (Vector Jet Fighter Pilot)

Joe Sgt. Slaughter’s Regenades:
Ref Dog

Big Boa, C, SA
CObra Commander w/ Battle Armor, C, SA
Croc Master , C, SA
Crystal Ball, C, SA
Gyro-Viper (Mamba Driver), C, SA
Ice Viper (Cobra WOLF Driver), C, SA
Raptor, C, SA
Sea Slug (Sea Ray Navigator), C, SA
Techno-Viper, C, SA

Cobra-LA Team:
Royal Guard
Nemesis Enforcer

W.O.R.M.S. (MAGGOTT Driver), C, SA
Zanzibar , C, SA


1988 Figures
Armadillo, J, SA
Blizzard (Arctic Attack Solder), J, SA
Budd , J, SA
Charbroil, J, SA
Ghostrider (GI Joe X-19 Stealth Fighter Pilot) , J, SA
Hardball, J, SA
Hit & Run (Hasbro, Target Exclusive), J, SA
Lightfoot, J, SA
Muskrat (Hasbro, Target Exclusive), J, SA
Repeater, J, SA
Sgt. Slaughter, J, SA
Shockwave, J, SA
Skidmark, J, SA
Super Trooper, J, SA
Spearhead & Max, J, SA
Wildcard (GI Joe Mean Dog Driver) , J, SA
Windmill (Skystorm X-Wing Chopper Pilot), J, SA

Joe Night Force Figures:
Assault Trooper
Green Beret
Sneak Peek
Tunnel Rat

Joe Tiger Force Figures:

Astro-Viper, C, SA
Destro, C, SA
Ferret (Iron Grenadier D.E.M.O.N. Driver), C, SA
Hydro-Vipers, C, SA
Iron Grenadiers , C, SA
Nullifier (Iron Grenadiers A.G.P. Pilot)
Road Pig, C, SA
Star-Viper (Cobra Stellar Stilleto Pilot, C, SA
Storm Shadow, C/J, SA
Secto-Viper (Cobra BUGG Driver)
Toxo-Viper, C, SA
Voltar, C, SA


1989 Figures:
Backblast, J, SA
Countdown, J, SA
Dee-Jay, J, SA
Dogfight (Mudfighter Pilot), J, SA
Downtown, J, SA
Deep Six , J, SA
Hot Seat (Raider Driver), J, SA
Long Range (Thunderclap Driver), J, SA
Payload, J, SA
Rampage, J, SA
Recoil, J, SA
Snake Eyes, J, SA
Rock ‘n Roll, J, SA
Scoop, J, SA
Stalker, J, SA
Windchill (Arctic Blast Driver), J, SA

Joe Night Force figures:
Spearhead & Max

Joe Slaughter’s Marauders figures:
Sgt. Slaughter

Aero-Viper (Condor Z25 Pilot), C, SA
Alley Viper, C, SA
Annialator, C, SA
Darklon (Evader Driver), C, SA
Frag-Viper, C, SA
Gnawgahyde, C, SA
H.E.A.T. Viper, C, SA
T.A.R.G.A.T., C, SA
Track Viper (H.I.S.S. II Driver), C, SA
Wild Boar, C, SA

Cobra Python Patrol Figures:
Python Crimson Guard
Python Officer
Python Copperhead
Python Tele-Viper
Python Viper
Python Trooper


1990 Figures
Ambush, J, SA
Bullhorn, J, SA
Captain Grid-Iron, J, SA
Freefall, J, SA
Major Storm, J, SA
Cold Front (Avalanche Driver), J, SA
Pathfinder, J, SA
Rampart, J, SA
Rapid-Fire (W/video of Gi Joe cartoon episode), J, SA
Salvo, J, SA
Stretcher, J, SA
Sub-Zero, J, SA
Topside, J, SA
Updraft (Retaliator Pilot), J, SA

Joe Sky Patrol Figures:
Drop Zone
Static Line

Laser-Viper, C, SA
Decimator, C, SA
Metal-Head, C, SA
Night Creeper, C, SA
Overlord (Dictator Driver), C, SA
Range-Viper, C, SA
Undertow, C, SA
Rock-Viper, C, SA
S.A.W. Viper, C, SA
Vapor, C, SA

Sonic Fighters Figures:
Lampreys, C
Dial-Tone, J
Law, J
Dodger, J
Tunnel Rat, J
Viper, C

Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe 1982-1994, Matk Bellomo, KP Books
Excellent resource for serious collectors of figures, playsets, vehicles and accessories with backstories, prototype info and a general all-around good sense of collecting humour. Even if you’re not into Joe, this is a good 80s nostalgia trip and is fully and intricately illustrated. Get a copy today!