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!

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.


  1. Thanks a lot for bringing the old memories I still have all the toys from this page including vehicles and figures except for M.O.B.A.T. I started collecting these toys when I was kid and have them with me since and now I'm 32 years old but do ahave passion for all king of action figures.

  2. excellent section on joes. i'm gonna spend alot of time studying your pix of the carded joes

  3. Seeing these still brings me serious nostalgia. Love that first series, and yes - this is what I loved about it and what killed it in later years - "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." Awesome stuff.

    1. Wow, first and foremost, you went way back in my archives. Good on you, and thanks! Second, yeah, 1986 was really the last "grounded" series. From there, it went on a tangent. I still love the 1987 figures, but a lot of them are way out there in terms of unique.