The frontlines are well defended from the tyranny and anarchy of agents of destruction threatening our democracy now that Hasbro has reinstated its first line of defense with the contemporary reimagining of G. I. JOE CLASSIFIED SERIES line of action figures.
The 80s were all about “tough built” toys! Whether they were tailored to appeal to boys or girls (or many of those who would emerge “undecided” from the era) toys were built to last. Toy manufacturers weren’t dependent on just one major figure to win the hearts and affection of a child, although Barbie would prove mighty endurable with her endless aisle of accessories, and multi-tiered dream house, and no doubt she may have provided the template when it came to conceptualizing similar figures that were made to appeal to boys. The original, nearly 12” inch, highly articulated G.I. Joe soldier had a kung-fu grip and weapons locker that was just as menacing as Ken’s clothing closet!
Though all bets were off in the toy business when Kenner appeared on the scene with “action figures” based on the heroes and villains fighting a rebellion in a galaxy far, far away. In order to bankroll his sequel to his first blockbuster movie, George Lucas sold the manufacturing rights to Star Wars with the caveat that he would also profit from the sale of every bit that went on the production line. With an army of rebels and an empire racked with stormtroopers, and all their weapons of destruction, the possibilities were literally endless. The financial windfall that was the success of the Star Wars toy line, inspired other manufacturers to follow suit.
Hasbro didn’t have to go very, in fact, the profitable toy manufacturer went back into its chest of ideas and resuscitated one of the most popular brands. It was the era of Reagan and The Cold War with the possibility of nuclear annihilation on everyone’s mind, so why not feed into the climate and put G. I. Joe: A Real American Hero in the homes of every boy in the country? Taking a lead from Kenner’s success, Hasbro redesigned the army soldier to a more manageable 3 ¾-inch size with vehicles and accessories to match. And to enhance the mystique of it all, the release of the new line was timed to coincide with a cross-marketing, multimedia campaign that included its own Marvel Comic and animated TV series.
The popular series of action figures grow behind anyone’s expectations and G. I. Joe: A Real American Hero would introduce multiple iterations of fighters on both sides of the aisle, as the Joes dedicated themselves to battling the evil enemy of COBRA, a ruthless conglomerate determined to destroy our democracy — reminiscent of today’s Republican Party! It’s no wonder that the toy line has remained significant and more than just nostalgic and appealing to collectors. It’s been rebooted several times and even gained traction when a big-budget movie was adapted for the screen. Most recently, Hasbro returned to the toy chest and released and redesigned the original to appeal to today’s adult collectors who still had a fondness for that 80s nostalgia.
The G. I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES of action figures were introduced in February of 2020 and were launched with the introduction of perhaps the most popular character in any iteration of the toy line. SNAKE-EYES the G. I. Joe Commando and stealth agent that works best alone and in the shadows was released as a pre-order special edition that introduced the new 6” line of figures, modeled after one of the most popular designs of the original 3 ¾ inches releases and loaded with accessories. The full-color blister packaging enhanced the “CLASSIFIED SERIES” branding and featured familiar art reminiscent of the initial release; the most obviously missing component in the line is the collectible clip and save “File Cards” that was on the back of the blister card packaging and provided insight into the character.
To inaugurate the prestige line of highly articulated and heavily detailed 6” Classified Series, Hasbro released some of the most favorite characters in the line, including Master Sergeant Duke, Counter Intelligence Agent Scarlett, and Heavy Artillery Soldier Roadblock among the offerings for fans, who were now mostly adult collectors recapturing their beloved youth. In 2022, Hasbro expanded the line and offered its loyal fanbase unique collectible packages, and among them couple an “alternate” SNAKE-EYES deco that calls back to the figure’s 1982 OG look, and is accompanied by a fully articulated TIMBER the wolf who becomes a loyal companion of the otherwise solo operative.
The callback to the original design is undoubtedly a boon to fans of this action figure and beloved character, that has since been brought to the big screen in his motion picture which depicted a Hollywood-ized origin story that dramatically deviated from the more impactful story elaborated in the pages of the popular Marvel Comics. The line G. I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES of action figures, has since increased in popularity and many of the figures in the upcoming line capture much of the feel of the original figures definitely directly appealing to the eager youngster in all of us that rallied the call: “Yo, JOE!”
SNAKE-EYES and TIMBER | ALPHA COMMANDOS G. I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES Action Figures | Hasbro | $45.99 each | is available from Amazon and other fine retailers.