January 2009 Recap

Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in January 2009. If you missed any, or simply want to see them again, click on each "title" to be taken directly to that post. As always, thanks for reading.

G.I. Joe 1982
G.I. Joe 1983

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G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero 1983 (Hasbro)

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero

In 1983 the popularity of G.I. Joe grew ten fold. Demand for the toys was way higher than the supply could ever keep up with. The first series was virtually impossible to find.

Though what was cool about Hasbro was that the mail away figure released with the first series would find its way to store shelves on a card back. While they did this for a little while with some of the other mail away figures, they eventually became just that, and were not offered in stores. But, this wouldn't happen for while.

The second series launched with seven new "grunt" figures which included; Airborne, Destro, Doc, Gung Ho, Major Bludd, Snow Job, Torpedo and Tripwire.

Backed by the cartoon series, kids were being introduced to new characters with each episode, so while some of the figures were virtually unknown just yet, this didn't stop children from high tailing it to the stores to swoop them all up.

New to this series was also the swivel arm battle grip. Meaning that the arms were now capable of swiveling not only up and down, but also side to side, giving the figures a more realistic “feel” to them. Kids ate this concept up, and over time, every toy making company went this way for their action figure lines. The swivel arm would be in place from now until the series end.

Seven vehicle drivers were also released with this series and also introduced fans to the second female character in the series, Cover Girl. The seven figures included were; Ace, Cover Girl, Grand Slam (sporting a new silver chest plate as opposed to the original 1982 version with the red), Grunt (now sporting a tan pair of fatigues as opposed to the green ones from the original 1982 version), H.I.S.S. Driver, Viper Pilot (essentially a Cobra Soldier with a silver Cobra insignia as opposed to the red) and Wild Bill.

Again most were only available with the purchase of specific vehicles, but some were available carded by themselves.

New to the mail away game was the Joe leader himself, Duke. While Duke would later be available carded, and in the more rarer JC Penny and Sears "bubble" versions, this particular release was sent in your usual mail away bag which included his stat card.
An accessories pack and figure carry case was also made available this year. But, the downside to the case was that it only held 12 figures - Far from enough space for all your toys.

Hasbro released a wide variety of vehicles this time around. A Joe base was also produced for the second series of toys.

The vehicles released in 1983 are as follows; A.P.C., Cobra Viper Glider, Command Center Headquarters, Dragonfly XH-1, F.A.N.G., G.I. Joe Falcon Glider, H.I.S.S., Polar Battle Bear, Skystriker XP-14F, Wolverine, J.U.M.P. (rereleased with Grand Slam figure), PAC/RAT (flame thrower), PAC/RAT (machine gun), PAC/RAT (missile launcher), S.N.A.K.E. and Whirlwind.

Hasbro also did something that many children loved. They re-released the entire first series, but updated them with the new swivel arm concept. Not only did this make those hard to find figures easier to obtain, but also made them fit in with rest of your Joes. Not only that, but Hasbro also included the mail away Cobra Commander on a card.

They were all back for another go (left to right, top to bottom); Breaker, Cobra Soldier, Cobra Commander, Cobra Officer, Flash, Grunt, Rock N Roll, Scarlett, Short-Fuze, Commando (now officially dubbed "Snake-Eyes"), Stalker and Zap.

While they didn't fly off the shelves as quickly this time, supply was at least able to keep up with demand. With most action figure lines, one could always find an abundance of female characters on the shelves, but some of the cooler male looking figures were always a little tough to get a hold of. That's just how it was back then. Guys played with guy figures.

To add even more icing to the delicious Hasbro cake, Hasbro also re-released all the original vehicle drivers and vehicles.

It basically felt like while the first series came out in 1982 that the series didn't begin until 1983. All the figures were readily available, and children could pick and choose with glee. It also helped that at this time in the world, collecting action figures was still a child's joy, so kids could find what they were looking for without paying outrageous prices or more than likely, doing without.

But, now-a-days, collecting action figures has become more of an adult hobby. Toys are marketed specifically towards adults because toy companies know that they're the ones with the money...or credit cards.

For the rest of you who have moved on from plastic toys, you'll always have our memories, and that's really what counts.

Stay tuned for our look at Masters of the Universe!

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G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero 1982 (Hasbro)

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero

Welcome to our first (of what will hopefully be many) posts. We launch this blog with one of the most iconic toys from the 80's, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. The roots of the Joe team can be traced all the way back to 1964 when Hasbro produced the first line of 12” dolls. Though a the time it was determined that boys would not play with dolls, thus a new term was created for the series, and since the first produced character, Joes around the world have been known as “action figures.”

The 12” line ran strongly throughout the 70's, though by the early 80's the G.I. Joe toy line was given a major overhaul, and a new era of boy’s toys was born. Under the helm of Larry Hama, who also wrote the majority of the newly launched comic book series through Marvel Comics, the series went on to be an iconic staple of childhood toys of the 80's.

Reduced from their 12” size to the smaller 3 ¾ size of the now commonly known action figure, the first series spawned an incredible line up of toys. They were available via several avenues, such as through local department stores and/or catalogs and via direct mail away offers from Hasbro. Some were available carded, others were only available as boxed vehicles, and then there were those pesky mail away exclusives that came in a simple clear plastic bag inside of a white or tan box, or bubble sealed on top of a colored piece of cardboard.

No matter how you got them, the G.I. Joe craze was set in motion once again, though hands down it was larger than ever. Children of all ages were eager to nab these plastic joys off shelves in order to recreate their favorite G.I. Joe versus Cobra battles.

The first series had eleven carded figures - Nine Joe members, and two Cobra members. They were; Breaker, Flash, Zap, Rock 'N Roll, Snake Eyes, Scarlett, Grunt, Short-Fuze, Stalker, Cobra (Trooper), and Cobra Officer.

For those children out there who were particularly organized with their toys, a reward was to be had for keeping the cardboard backings of your figures or boxes of your vehicles. Flag Points allotted kids a certain amount of points for each G.I. Joe related product they purchased. These points could then be used to get exclusive mail away figures. The mail away concept would become a staple in collecting every G.I. Joe figure as several more would come about over the years.

The first mail away promotion included the highly coveted Cobra Commander. Two versions were available, both different by way of the “Cobra” symbol on the front of the figure's vest. The figure was mailed in a bubble package mounted to a red card backer, and included; a gun, file card, an invitation to join the G.I. Joe Fan Club, and a catalog. Our photo also shows the original order sheet for the figure.

Hasbro produced a fair amount of vehicles and playsets to coincide with the figures. This ensured that the line not only launched on a high note, but stayed strong, ensuring that the series would continue.

Before the series got out of hand, the vehicles were actually sensible. They ranged from tanks to motorcycles, but were based on current styles of actual army equipment. The series would later get more creative and produce all new vehicles created strictly for the show (which launched in 1985).

Four items came packaged with exclusive figures, but unfortunately due to the price of the vehicles and accessories, many parents were not eager to purchase them. During this time, a standard figure cost roughly $1.99, while the vehicles were upwards of $19.99.

The figures/vehicles were as follows; Vamp with Clutch, Mobat with Steeler, MMS with Hawk, and HAL with Grand Slam.

Hasbro also produced three smaller items that didn't come with figures. This enabled children, or rather the parents who bought the toys for their children, who didn't have as much money to still enjoy the world of G.I. Joe, but at a fraction of the cost.

The three items were; RAM, FLAK, and Jump. While prices varied, the average cost was $3.99 per item.

Hasbro also produced a two pack of the Vamp and HAL, which came out to just slightly less than buying the two together. It was available exclusively at Sears department stores, and typically was easier to find in their seasonal catalog then on the shelves.

The most difficult item to find intact from the first series is the Sears exclusive Missile Command Headquarters. It included all three Cobra figures from the first series, Cobra Trooper, Cobra Officer, and the mail away Cobra Commander. What makes this particular item difficult to track down these days is that it was made of cardboard. The majority of those that got played with were destroyed by your average child being "rough" with his toys.

All these great toys encompass the first series of what would run for the next thirteen years.

Without question, G.I. Joe is one of the greatest toy lines still sought after by collectors. Now that we children of the 80's have our own money, a lot of us want our toys back, or to simply complete the collection with the ones we could never convince our parents to buy. Whatever your reason, I'm sure G.I. Joe will live on forever.

Join us next time for G.I. Joe 1983!

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