Picture it, if you will....it'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)
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.
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.
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.
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.