Dig These 13 COOL VINTAGE GI JOE Figures

TOYHEM: A veritable platoon of Hasbro’s Movable Fighting Men…

Welcome to TOYHEM! For the fourth straight holiday season, we’re bringing you a series of features and columns celebrating the toys of our youth, which often made for the best memories this time of year. Click here to check out the complete index of stories — and have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays! — Dan


No matter how much I’ve talked about the toy over the years, it’s still a challenge for me to quantify my love for the original GI Joe. We’ve been together, see, since I was 4 and there’s a lot of history there.

I met Joe on Christmas ’69 — Christmas Eve, to be exact — and though I’ve had other toys since that fateful meeting, none have measured up to the stature, the grandeur, the sheer coolness of America’s Movable Fighting Man. If you’re not that familiar with the original Joe, I’m hoping the following pictorial will impart some of what I’m trying to say about the toy. There was nothing like it before his debut in 1964, and in my opinion, there’s been nothing like it since.

So, this is an ode to the so-called “military era” of GI Joe, the 1964 to 1969 stretch when soldier toys were a thing and it was OK for boys to have dolls… err, “action figures.” I’ll keep the verbiage to a minimum so as to concentrate on the figures themselves, because even all these years later — and me having published a non-fiction book about Joe and my homage fiction “DC Jones” series — I still find it hard to shape a solid salute to my old chum.

These are the 13 vintage “soldier era” GI Joes I own. Enjoy.

(Dan adds: Also check out Jim’s TOP 13 GI JOE ADVENTURE TEAM Accessories and Playsets. Click here.)

Action Soldier. It all starts here, the most basic of Joe figures, the common army grunt.

Talking Action Soldier. A variation on the previous grunt, with full pack and loaded for bear. This figure belonged to a childhood friend of mine. It still talks.

Action Pilot. Just as he came out of the box.

Scramble Pilot. “Scramble” is one of the coolest sets for the Action Pilot. Unfortunately, there’s no parachute in the parachute pack.

Astronaut. My original Astronaut, the one I got in ’69, is long gone, but I sure do love this replacement.

Action Sailor. The basic Action Sailor here is dressed up in the “Navy Attack” life vest.

Green Beret. An incredible set. I love the attention to detail here — and the working bazooka.

Action Marine. Another basic figure, just as you would have bought him off the shelf back in the day.

Military Police. This one is the childhood figure of the guy who used to own the comics shop I patronize. He said he wasn’t a fan, thus the amazing condition it’s in.

Japanese Imperial Soldier. In the mid-’60s, Hasbro produced the incredible “Soldiers of the World” series, a subset of the GI Joe line. This one reflects a WWII-era Japanese soldier.

French Resistance Fighter. One of my great honors of being a Joe collector is becoming the caretaker of others’ childhood figures. This is one of them.

British Commando. I just love the gas mask on this one.

Russian Infantryman. My most recently acquired Joe, and a work-in-progress. Please forgive his lack of boots—the very specific footwear for the Russian and German soldiers is hard to find, as well as very pricey.


— The Complete TOYHEM INDEX of Stories and Features. Click here.

— The TOP 13 GI JOE ADVENTURE TEAM Accessories and Playsets. Click here.

JIM BEARD has pounded out adventure fiction since he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. He’s gone on to write official Star Wars and Ghostbusters comics stories and contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history. His prose work includes his own creations, but also licensed properties such as Planet of the Apes, X-Files, Spider-Man, Kolchak the Night Stalker and Captain Action. In addition, Jim provided regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website, for 17 years.

Check out his latest releases: Rising Sun Reruns, about classic Japanese shows on American TV; a Green Hornet novella How Sweet the Sting; his first epic fantasy novel The Nine Nations Book One: The Sliding World; and the most recent Batman ’66 books of essays he’s edited: Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season OneBiff! Bam! Ee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two and Oooff! Boff! Splatt! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season Three.

He’s also published novels about a character very much like GI Joe: DC Jones – Adventure Command International.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Your collection is in great shape! Serve these up on a rainy day with a few episodes of The Rat Patrol and you have some great childhood memories.

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      • Awesome Joe collection!! I still have my collection of Kolchak the night stalker on vhs! Has anyone ever kidnapped their sister’s Barbie and made her the damsel in distress for the Joes back in the day (or was that just me?)

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  2. Where is the German soldier?

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  3. I had one of the original GI Joes when they first came out–my parents even got me the foot locker, which I had for many years (but didn’t get to fill it with very many armaments and accessories. They were very hard to find in the early days, and those that were found were the same ones over and over again. I also seem to vaguely remember they had a club and some mailings, which I had received. Wish I still had those…

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