[Hey, Toyhounds! Today kicks off a six-part feature spotlighting a set of figures that meant a hell of a lot to me when it came out about seven years ago. I honestly wanted to do this feature last week in a more sensible two or three parts, but as it happens I’m going to be away from my computer for the better part of this week and only able to check in with my mobile device. Rather than be MIA, I decided to stretch this little ditty out into a week’s worth of content. Hopefully it’ll turn out to be enough material to carry the week and I can get back to business as usual next Monday. Yo Joe!]
I’m sure many of you already know that we are in the middle of GI JOE’s 50th Anniversary year. With the exception of the Sideshow Sixth Scale figures, I don’t cover a lot of JOE stuff around here these days, and much like Hasbro I was going to let the JOE anniversary skate on by without any kind of notable tribute. And then Donald Levine passed and I got to thinking how sad it was for him to shuffle off his mortal coil during such a momentous anniversary year of something he created. It was doubly sad that he had to go without seeing any kind of resurgence or attention given to it by Hasbro. The paltry 50th Anniversary line that they are offering feels more like an insult than anything else. As a result, I’m dedicating this entire week to a line of toys that I absolutely adored as a kid. Now, obviously the 50th Anniversary is referring to the birth of the original 12-inch action figure, but after hunting through my closet for something to feature, I decided to go with my 25th Anniversary Joe 5-pack from 2007!
That’s not to say I don’t have any love for the original 12-inch figures. As a kid, my first action figure collection came in the form of a toy chest full of GI JOE and Mego Planet of the Apes figures along with tons of accessories. There were also a few Evel Knievel and Matt Mason figures in there as well. They were hand-me-downs from my uncle and I loved the hell out of those toys. Sadly, I don’t have any of them anymore, so we’ll have to go with the 3 ¾” figures. The 25th Anniversary figures had some rough patches, but I still loved it and I all but stopped being a serious JOE collector once it went away. I can still remember finding this set on the shelf of my local Target. Somebody had tripped the sound chip on it and I heard the JOE theme playing from a couple aisles down. I had the thing in my cart a few moments later. Little did I know that these sets would be haunting the clearance shelves for over a year. I didn’t care. In fact, I bought a second one and a bunch of the later Cobra sets. Screw the people that didn’t want them… more for me! Anyway, let’s take a look at the packaging today and we’ll look at each of the figures in turn through the rest of the week.
I really dig this package because it feels like something special. Sure, it may fall short in light of all the different exclusives and limited edition releases that some toy companies produce, but for a mass release action figure set sitting on the shelf at Target, the presentation here is absolutely inspired. About the only thing I don’t like about it is the awkward slant of the sides that make it a bitch to store. But that’s Ok, because the only way to really display this set is by using this box as a backdrop behind the figures. It’s also worth mentioning that the box has a snazzy foil look to it that reminds me of the Rhino release of the Transformers DVDs. Maybe it’s subconsciously an 80’s thing. Time and again, I’ve been tempted to just baggie up the figures, put them with my other Joes and deep six this package to save space, but in the end I can never bring myself to do it. How could I throw out a work of art like this? Finding this box on the shelf in the toy aisle nearly struck me down with a bolt of pure nostalgia and it still gives me the warm fuzzies just to take it off the shelf, open it and admire it.
Moving beyond the box, the top flap opens upward to reveal the five figures spread out in the tray and in various action poses. From left to right you get: Duke, Scarlett, Snake Eyes, Roadblock, and Gung Ho. The figures are set against a Sunbow style backdrop, which looks gorgeous, but it’s hard to resist drawing my eyes upward to the bitchin character art on the underside of the front flap, complete with dog tags bearing their names and the fiery explosive background that made that vintage card art so distinctive.
Did I mention that the centerpiece to the display is a plastic GI JOE logo that plays an abbreviated, but otherwise authentic, opening theme to the GI JOE Sunbow cartoon? Yes, this is one of the coolest extras I ever got in an action figure set and you can actually activate it without even opening the front flap on the box. It’s cheesy and goofy, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t push that thing a thousand times while opening this set and setting up the figures for the first time. And yes, I did it this time too. The batteries still work and it still puts a huge smile on my face.
The back of the box features a brilliant and colorful collage of GI JOE characters. It’s like a full color orgasm of my childhood action figure adventures. It even teases us with images of the Terrordrome and the Defiant… toys we’ll never get again. And look there are those two f’ckers playing with their USS Flagg. But more important than all of that, I love the dedication on the back of the box. It’s every bit as cheesy as the recording of the theme song, but it makes me happy all the same. It also makes me sad that just seven years after finding this set at a major retailer, GI JOE has disappeared from the pegs and shelves all together.
And with that somber note, I’ll be back tomorrow to look at the one and only Duke Hauser!
I remember passing by a lot of the 25th Ann. stuff when they released initially. I wasn’t collecting toys at the time ,but secretly admired the 25th line of Joe figures from a far. So many made their way to the clearance aisles, especially the single carded figures and I foolishly passed on all of them! I’ve backtracked since and tried to fill out the collection with key figs from the line.Now they are all about 8 times more expensive then they were at Marshalls when each figure was selling for about 2 bucks.
It’s crazy! I still can’t believe how much of this wound up clearanced out. I picked up extras of the Crimson Guard and Dreadnok Comic Packs for $3 each at Walmart. Got lots of the single carded figures at Marshalls too!
SO glad to see you covering the 25th anniversary G.I. Joe line. I have an entire display tower dedicated to mine. G.I. Joe (along with Marvel Legends) has always been the at the top of my toy-collecting hierarchy.
Thanks! I loved this line so much that I pretty much retired my 3 3/4″ Joe collecting when it ended. 😦
Yeah. I don’t understand why Hasbro is so against keeping the G.I. Joe line going. Seems like unless a movie is coming out, they aren’t interested in making new figures. There are so many characters that didn’t get a 25th anniversary figure, that they could have continued that line for years. Not to mention all the vehicles/bases they could have updated.
Apparently, Transformers is the only toy line they’re concerned with continuing. *sigh*
It’s great to see the return of G.I. Joe to FigureFan! And it’s very disappointing the treatment from Hasbro to the 50th anniversary…
Thanks, man! I know, the 50th stuff they put out just depresses me.
I wanted this set real bad. It has an “original” Scarlet and an “original” Roadblock both of which I really wanted for my collection. Still want, although I have a Roadblock from another set, which lacks a machine gun.
“That little boy was almost in a word of hurt!
Giving his address to some shady pervert!”
So, just came across this post because of your Scarlett post on the Classified line…I’m gonna have to dig in the next few days!
So 25th in 2007…13 years ago. So we’re a couple years shy of 40th for the 3.75″ iteration, and a couple shy of 65 for the original brand?
A buddy introduced me to GI Joe….or rather, Devil’s Due did with their series, which my buddy and let me know about and thus introduced me. Anyway…that was September 2001 (September 12th…a day late!) which means that this fall will be 19 years of me having any interest at all in the property.
…Which if my math is right, means…I’m over the 50% mark! Alas, my brain has just farted and I’ve lost my point, so I shall shut up for now and comment more later as applicable!
LOL! Rambling comments are the best kind of comments!