G.I. Joe has seen it’s fair share of renditions and incarnations dating back to the 60’s.I hopped on the Joe wagon in the mid 80’s,right around the time the cartoon was released and have been hooked since.What you are about to read are my personal opinions on G.I. Joe action figures throughout the years and which line of Joes i feel is the best.
The 1980’s saw the first ever release of a 3 3/4 G.I. Joe action figure and what figures they were!Equipped with removable helmets,weapons and accessories,Hasbro would take the ball and run with this sculpt and design and hit a home run with pretty much every figure released in that decade.
In 1990 Hasbro stayed with the same formula that made the 80’s line so popular by creating unique characters and figure sculpts.Characters like Ambush,Bullhorn and Salvo all had that military vibe to them sporting camouflage fatigues and packing some serious heat!Similar to the ROC and POC line of Joes,the 1990 product came laden with accessories!
1991-94 marked the beginning of color splashed characters and neon weapons.Cobra Commander receives a not so appealing make over and Snake Eyes dons the infamous purple and black commando suit and is packaged with a bright red sub machine gun and two red swords along with other brightly colored weaponry..ugh!
1995 to 2006 was somewhat of a blur for me probably because i wasn’t collecting at those points in time ,although i always found time to stroll down my local department stores toy aisle to check on the progression of my long time favorite action figures.What i found were basically team packs of rehashed old time favorites like The Baroness and Navy seal packs that included Wet Suit,Torpedo and Shipwreck but nothing that made me say “WOW these Joes have come a long way” or impressed me in any way shape or form.Valor vs. Venom,Sigma Six and G.I. Joe Extreme was also out around those times but never sparked my interest.Well..Sigma Six a little but none of the others did anything for me.
From 2007 -’08 Hasbro seems to get back on track with the release of their 25th Ann. line by going back to the character designs that made Joe action figures so popular in the first place,only this time with added articulation and a slightly taller sculpt than the ’80’s version it payed homage to.These figures also came with a slew of accessories as well as personalized figure stands.I believe the 25th Ann. line was the first time Joe’s were released with stands although i could be wrong.Any ways it was a great addition nonetheless that stood the test of time and are now the norm with all G.I. Joe figures that have been released since then.
In 2009 the animated film/mini-series G.I.Joe Resolute hits the airwaves and i don’t now about you but i absolutely loved it.Hasbro then releases figures based on the film and boy did they hit a home run with these guys!The art on the single carded figures packaging was slightly different than the 25th ann. art and more true to the way the characters looked on the Resolute mini-series.Then came G.I. Joe The ROC live action film and with it a line of movie based action figures.I can’t say much about the base figures because most were bland but at
the same time very high quality.These too came with there own figure stands and an enormous amount of accessories.Hasbro then took it one step further by releasing ROC figures that never made a movie appearance.Characters like Barbecue and fan favorites like Shipwreck and Doc could be found exclusively at Toys R Us,Wal Mart and Target . These waves of ROC figures ,my friends would ultimately pave the way for the release of my personal favorite line and IMO the best line of G.I. Joe figures in terms of originiality,quality and quantity…2010 G.I. Joe The Pursuit of Cobra!These figures stayed true to the characters they portrayed while giving them just enough of a make over to breathe new life back into characters like Snake Eyes,Dusty,Zartan and the list goes on.Figures like Low-Light,v.54 Snake Eyes w/ extra head along with the Cobra Shock Trooper were popular among collectors and(Low-Light & v.54
Snake Eyes) are still regarded as the best versions of their respective characters.
2011-12 would see the release of G.I. Joe 30th Ann. along with the cartoon based Renegade figures which except for the Storm Shadow I’m really not too thrilled about.This summer,along with the blockbuster film, we should expect to see the pegs filled with G.I. Joe Retaliation figures and from what I’ve seen it seems like Hasbro may be taking a step backwards from ROC and POC with these,almost like they did in the mid 90’s.The figures seem to be more “kid-oriented” with bright colored weapons and although I’m not absolutely sure of it,there doesn’t seem to be any figure stands included.I’m digging the new look Cobra Commander and the ROCK as Roadblock will be a must buy but I’m not too crazy about the other figures in this line.
All in all the 30th Ann. line is solid and the jury is still out on the Retaliation figures but in my book G.I. Joe POC still holds the title in terms of character selection,design,sculpt quality and awesome accessories 😉