Despite a failed Snake-Eyes movie, the G.I. Joe Brand Continues to Make a Comeback
Consider this writer one of the people who has to tip their hat to the creative minds at toy-maker Hasbro. If you were to tell me that one of the leading toy brands in the market right now was the six-inch figure line of G.I. Joe Classified – which works as an updated homage in larger scale to the original 80’s brand of G.I. Joe – A Real American Hero – I would have laughed in your face.
While G.I. Joe has been around since 1962, it hit mainstream popularity in 1982 with the launch of the 3.75 inch scale line of figures and matching animated television show. G.I. Joe exploded in popularity as the heroes, a diverse group of men and women, fought against the evil terrorist organization known as Cobra. Originally starting simply as fun military toys, the popularity of other properties in science fiction – like Kenner’s rival brand Star Wars – would help influence the direction of the brand as it continued in the 1980’s.
Addressing the elephant in the room – the Cold War was still a thing and the Soviet Union was still around. A Republican was president and the nation’s attitude towards the military was much more favorable than it has been in the last 10 years. But wars end – as did the Cold War (and Soviet Union) – and an age of prosperity washed over the United States. G.I. Joe hit its popularity before the days of Nintendo, before mobile phones, before the Internet.
So how can a brand about military action figures and vehicles survive in 2021?
That is a question that, for all intents and purposes, it would appear Hasbro has answered. Dropping the phrase “A Real American Hero” and removing any and all details of the figures save for their name and code-name, G.I. Joe has just become a cool-looking superhero action figure line (with cool weapons and accessories as opposed to superpowers). But it works – tickling a nostalgia itch while giving something new. The six-inch scale is one that Hasbro has cornered the market on, and toy collectors seem to have an infinity for wanting to display Captain America smacking around Cobra Commander and Destro.
The Snake-Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins movie failed to meet any and all expectations from Paramount and Hasbro. Some can blame the never-ending pandemic, others will blame poor marketing, while this writer blames a combination of both along with the stigma that G.I. Joe always has been – and always will be – an action figure and not a movie franchise. While that would normally signal the end of a brand for so many years until another reboot, G.I. Joe the toy brand has no intent on slowing down anytime soon.
G.I. Joe Classified takes the fan-favorite 3.75 inch figures from the 1980’s, upscales them to 6 inches, gives them 20+ points of articulation, boat-loads of accessories, and modernizes their look and feel. For the majority of 2020 and 2021 if you found a G.I. Joe Classified figure at retail you were one lucky son of a gun. Target ran exclusive line of figures – G.I. Joe Classified: Cobra Island – which saw fan-favorite characters get very limited release. A Cobra Trooper figure with extra accessories would go for over $150 in the after-market (retail at $19.99). Over the summer, Target and Hasbro teamed up to reproduce all of the figures and nearly every collector who wanted one now has one, and the after-market has since crashed on the Cobra Island figures (save for the Viper).
For 2022, Target continues their exclusives but this time as a repaint line – Cobra’s Python Patrol vs G.I. Joe’s Tiger Force. These are repaint lines from the late 80’s which saw fan-favorite characters in snake or tiger decos. The first set of figures see Python Patrol Vipers, a never-before-released Python Patrol BAT, and the G.I. Joe Tiger Force Outback.
For those craving a real nostalgia itch – Hasbro has launched a brand new 3.75 inch scale line of figures exclusive to their Hasbro Pulse website. To celebrate the launch of the new series, they’ve also launched a brand new HasLab for a Sky Striker jet – a remake of a classic early 80’s G.I. Joe toy. You can also find some of the retro figures at Wal-Mart.
Check out some of the figures available via Amazon! Support EFNcool by using the links below!