Brief history of the GI Joe action figure

GI Joe (from GI , US infantry soldier) is the name of the first action figure and consequently the first action figures series. The original figure, which was an American soldier, was published by the US toy manufacturer Hasbro in 1964. Apart from a few interruptions, the series still appears today, but has always been adapted to the respective time. In later versions, for example, “GI Joe” is no longer the name of a single character but the name for a complete soldier or agent team whose members have individual names.

…the first GI Joe

The series is primarily successful in the USA, in some other countries the figures were adapted to the respective market and distributed among other names.

In addition, there are also comic strips and comics, in which the adventures of GI Joe and the team of the same name are portrayed. A feature film titled GI Joe – Secret Mission Cobra came to the cinema in the summer of 2009.

Since 2008 the American character maker Sideshow Collectibles as well as Hot Toys (2013), 12 inch GI Joe figures under the license Hasbro. This series is one of the most detailed and costly of the Sixth Scale figures .

History of development

As an inspiration for GI Joe is the very successful doll Barbie by Mattel . It was speculated that a masculine doll with many different and separately available outfits could be similarly successful with boys as girls with barbie.

the first talking action figure ever

However, skepticism prevailed. As early as 1963, the director of the US toy manufacturer rejected the idea of ​​introducing a soldier into the puppetry of Tammy in order to sell it to boys. The reason was that boys would not play with dolls in 100 million years.

Hasbro, however, risked it a year later to bring a soldier puppet for boys on the market. The original figure was developed under the direction of Hasbro employee Don Levine. It was named “GI Joe”, borrowed from the title of the US war film ” The Story of GI Joe from 1945. The patent, registered on June 15, 1964, was Toy Figure Having Moveable Joints. At first the success was limited, but after the promotion of GI Joe, and in the advertisements not of a doll, but of a male action figure , a male action figure , the boy’s aversion was overcame Dolls and laid the foundation for a new toy category.

 Later versions

Over time GI Joe has undergone many changes. During the Vietnam War, for example, the US military lost much of its prestige among the population, turning from the military theme, and creating a so-called adventure team led by GI Joe under the title The Adventures of GI Joe . In the 80s, the new series GI Joe: A Real American Hero was developed in cooperation with Marvel’s comic publishing company. Contrary to the title suggests, this version of “GI Joe” is the name of a US special unit, which fights against the terrorist organization Cobra. Here, the military theme was combined with the Marvel-typical superhelden theme, which is why every member of the unit has a codename, an individual uniform, and special abilities. Marvel and the production company Sunbow have also developed a successful comic and cartoon series for advertising purposes. All subsequent versions of the series are based on this reinterpretation since then.

In 1985 Epyx published a computer game for GI Joe.

this is the 90’s joe. pretty amazing if you ask me

From 2005 to 2007 the series GI Joe appeared : Sigma 6 , which plays in the 21st century and acts by a six-headed agent team, which fights against the criminals organization Cobra Command . Again there was a drawing series.

Over the years there have already been several official GI Joe fan clubs. The current one is run by Brian Savage and his company Fun Publications, which are also the organizers of the annual official GI Joe Convention .

After the success of the feature film Transformers from 2007, which is based on the Hasbro series of the same name , on August 5, 2009, a Kinofassung of GI Joe with the title of GI Joe – Secret Mission Cobra came to the cinema.

GI Joe in other

Because of the title, GI Joe could not get through to any other country except the US. In some cases the toys appeared under a different name, for example in Japan from 1971 under the name “Combat Joe“, published by Takara (now Takara Tomy ) under license from Hasbro.

In Great Britain and Australia, Palitoy, under license from Hasbro, released a version called “Action Man” adapted to the British market from 1966 to 1984. The toy series, however, developed later in a separate direction. In 1993, Hasbro then began a new edition, but since 1996 he has refrained from any military elements. The new series appeared until 2006.


In 1982, Palitoy released a series called “Action Force” under license from Hasbro, which initially began as an offshoot of “Action Man”. From 1985 the series was then distributed by Hasbro himself in Great Britain and now represented an “international” version of the 1980er series GI Joe: A Real American Hero . The British Marvel UK published a comics series to Actionforce, Team made an international squad. Later, however, there was a crossover with the American GI Joe team, with curious consequences – so the “Doppelgänger” in the two teams within the story were not addressed.

In Germany, some of the later Palitoy action force figures were available in the 1980s, but many elements that were perceived as “violent” were changed; For example, shotguns were turned over to anesthetic weapons and skull symbols were removed. The comics series of Marvel UK was also published by the Condor-Verlag in German. In addition, GI Joe figures have not been distributed in Germany. This changed with the toy series to the Kinofilm GI Joe – Secret Mission Cobra , which has been available in Germany since July 2009 under the original title GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra .