Friday, November 27, 2015

Celebrating 25 Years as a GI Joe fan

Today is a pretty special anniversary for me. On the day after Thanksgiving, 25 years ago today, my brother introduced me to the world of GI Joe, and it would go on to play a major role in my life.

Picture it, if you's 1990, and I am all of 6 years old, having turned 6 just five weeks previously. My brother, who is 13 years older than I, had to go work, his very first job, and I was not happy with this. I wanted to be able to play with him but he had to leave. (My brother has always been my best friend, too) Even by then, putting up the Christmas Tree on the day after Thanksgiving was an annual tradition that I loved- truly, the day after Thanksgiving is always one of my favorite days of the year. To keep me entertained, he got his GI Joe figures out- and introduced me to them. This was a wondrous experience. Although I had already been a fan of action figures - DC's Super Powers line, Masters of the Universe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were my previous favorites - I had never seen these.

I was hooked, in an instant. GI Joe has been a part of my life ever since...and in fact, before I discovered NASCAR, it was my favorite thing in the world.

Even today, I can still remember some specific events from that day, which is even more meaningful to me because health problems have robbed me of a significant portion of my memory...and these memories also involve my dad, who I don't really have a whole lot of memories of- he worked two jobs up until 5 days before he lost his battle with cancer.

I remember my brother didn't have time to teach me the characters names, so we made up our own (By we I mean myself and my dad). At this point in time I can only remember one of the names we came up with- Tattoo for Gung-Ho. I can remember not being strong enough to lift the Headquarters, and following my dad down the stairs as he carried it to our main room. I remember after my brother got home, him sitting on the couch reading the file cards to me while I sat on the floor playing with the figures. (At this point, my dad was putting the Christmas tree together, which was a lengthy process). I remember my brother reading the cards to me after he got home, until mom finished dinner. The memory is so important to me, so ingrained, that I'm pretty sure I even remember what dinner WAS! (I usually do not remember what I had for dinner two or three days later. I can remember Wednesday's dinner but not Tuesdays, just three days ago, or anything before that...lousy health problems).

The one thing I do not have is any pictures. In those days before digital cameras, photos were reserved solely for people, and in fact there is not a single photo of me playing with my GI Joe toys. Not one. The only photo taken when I was actively collecting them is this staged photo where I lined them all up. (I still have all my figures, and have photo documented them, but it's not the same)
I have this photo labeled as 1991, but it might be 1992. This was likely the extent of my collection at the time, which of course included those my brother gave me.

As I've mentioned in the past, I am a lifelong comic reader. My brother read me my first comic at 5 days old, but the first comic I read in a series- not just random issues- was the GI Joe comic.
I remained collecting until 1994, when the toy line and comic were cancelled. But that wasn't the end of GI Joe. In 1997 the toyline came back and so did I, but the newer figures were of poor quality, and I stopped collecting them...I found out later, once I got on the internet and became active on GI Joe forums, that I quit with only 3 or 4 figures not in my collection. I don't remember if I ever hunted them down, but I think I did. The comic came back in 2001, and of course, I started them again. I would go on to get my first letter published in a comic in this title- possibly even more than one. This issue is the first that recognized I sent in a letter, although I do not have a letter actually in this comic. (it was not my first time being referenced in a comic, however- I am mentioned in one of my brother's letters, by name, in an issue of DC's Damage)
The toyline also came back in 2001 and I collected them as well, but by then it was mostly just me collecting them because that's what I did. I have little to no interest in the 2001 and later figures, and I stopped collecting them circa 2003...the last item I purchased was a 4-figure set which came with a DVD, and I purchased it mostly for the DVD. The figures are still being produced but they are poorly made, with proportions that don't look anything at all like a real person, or even the good figure design of 1982-94. I have no interest in getting them. I mostly retired from action figure collecting in 2007...I still pick up a random Star Wars figure here and there, and I have also started trying to complete the seasons of Starting Lineup figures that I was close on. Had I discovered the world of blogging before I did, there is a very good chance I would have created an action figure blog. (And, truth be told, I'm considering one anyway, to document all my figures- I still have them all!)

In 2010 (I think), the original comic series was re-started and continued even with the same numbering system. It's still running and I'm still reading it, which is today my only connection to the GI Joe brand. This is the most recent issue. Still written by the same man who has written them since 1982, by the way.
I remember the first time I added any figures to my collection. It was at our local Kay-Bee, a place I really miss. This was my first figure that was all my own...
You can see why I named Gung-Ho "Tattoo"
And while some of our figures have had "health issues" over the years...

 I still have them all, safely packed away, where I can pull them out and take a trip down memory lane when I need to.

I have not had the figures out now, except to photograph them in 2012, in about a decade, though. I have considered hunting for some of the ones I missed but so far have not done it. One in particular has eluded me all these years, repeatedly (Starduster)

Since this is a card blog, although I have gone off-track to my other hobbies from time to time, there are some GI Joe cards, and in fact I believe the 1991 Impel set was my second completed card set ever, after the 1990 Classic Monster Trucks set.

This was a 200 card set that covered most of the characters and even some of the comics.

There was a smaller set, from 1993, called Mission: Search & Destroy, that was available in several versions. (With and without foil, and at least one version without text on back- I don't know about that one, or if it was the only one produced that way), These were live-action photos of current year action figures. I still have a sealed copy of comic #135 with a card in it.

There is also a card set from 1986 or 1987 (I'm not totally sure which) that uses the drawing that was on each action figure's packaging. I'd like to get those for my collection at some point as well. I have none as of right now.

There was a set issued in 1994 for the GI Joe brand's 30th anniversary, but I believe that was for the 12 inch dolls of the 1960s only; I have only one card from the set, not sure where I got it.

So, there you have it. 25 years is a long time to be involved in a hobby- and while it's no longer the huge part of my life it once was, I would not be the person I am today without it, and although I have not purchased an action figure, or card for that matter, in more than a decade...(21 years for a card)...I still consider myself a GI Joe fan...and I expect I always will.


  1. Very nice! I like taking those trips down Memory Lane and your blogs let me do that. I remember you'd sit with your GI Joe figures for hours on end....wherever you went, they went.

    1. I remember when we went to that motel and I brought them...the one with the pink rug that years later the HVHMG held the NorEastCon in

  2. Nice post. Sounds like some great memories. I inherited my cousins GI joes back in the early 70's..I think I inturn passed them on to a family member

  3. Cool stuff. I was a big fan of the GI Joe toys and cartoon when I was a kid.

    1. Thanks! I loved the cartoons as well. They are all available on DVD now, which I have, but have not watched yet.

  4. Loved G.I. Joe! Have you seen the new Funko Pop figures that recently came out?

    1. No I havn't...I'm kind of way out of the loop when it comes to stuff like that.