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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  1. From this page I have all the figures except for Destro, Doc, and all the vehicles. I don't like vehicles lot.

  2. ''All of the years from 1982 to 1994,and later 1997-now, G.I.Joe/Cobra action figures and vehicles are enjoyable to all,but you have to admit, the #1 vehicle that stands out as being ever-popular since the 2 live -action G.I.Joe movies is,''The 1986 Cobra Night Raven S3P Black Jet Spy Plane.'' You can not go wrong with this popular collector's vehicle.''-Thanks,''RAVEN''.

    1. That was definitely a great vehicle, but it's just so hard to say any one Joe toy is better than all the others. At least for us it is.

  3. I was 11 at this time. I loved the first series, but really didn't know how merchandising worked. I thought that was it - series 1 only. Then I purchased GI Joe comic #11 that had the snowmobile, Snow Job and Gung Ho on the cover. All these new characters. Wait? What? There's going to be more. Interestingly enough, as excited as I was, I started turning my attention to other stuff so I only got Doc, Polar Bear Snowmobile, Destro and the Cobra Viper Glider. That was the end of my GI Joe collecting except for a few single figure snags that really caught my attention.

    1. That's interesting. You strike me as someone who would have been all over Joe as a kid. My collecting started around 1986 / 1987, and I fizzled out around 1990 / 1991.

    2. 1983 was a weird transition time for me. I loved the whole new Joe concept and loved everything about it. I also hit that time where I started thinking I was too old for toys and turned my attention to girls and sports. The other weird thing was my cousin visited from Hungary. She was a big Star Wars fan so we got back into the Kenner Star Wars kick. And then I just stopped. Every once in awhile I picked up a Joe figure that I thought was too good to pass up, but 1982 was the beginning and the end. The other weird thing was, I was so excited for Return of the Jedi toys to come out. When they finally did in 1983, I didn't buy a single one.

    3. 1983 was big for me with Return of the Jedi figures. It makes sense that I transitioned to G.I. Joe in 1986, since 1985 was the last year for Star Wars toys. Of course, I was only nine years old in '86. So toys were still a big deal for me.