The TOP 13 GI JOE ADVENTURE TEAM Accessories and Playsets

TOYHEM: Adventure Team time with Jim Beard!

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

UPDATED 12/3/22: This first ran in 2021 but makes for a wonderful companion piece to Jim Beard’s new column on 13 COOL VINTAGE GI JOE FIGURES. Click here. — Dan

Last week, we kicked off this year’s TOYHEM with 13 GREAT ACTION JACKSON OUTFITS AND PLAYSETS since it’s the 8-inch hero’s 50th anniversary. 13th Dimension columnist Jim Beard did the honors and you oughta click here to check it out.

But, hey, even those of us who love Mego’s AJ know that he was a response to Hasbro’s GI Joe. So turnabout being fair play, Jim is back with the TOP 13 GI JOE ADVENTURE TEAM ACCESSORIES AND PLAYSETS.

Most of you know Jim from his Batman ’66 books or his Marvel expertise, but he’s also a writer who’s published two novels about a character very much like G.I. Joe (and Action Jackson): DC Jones – Adventure Command International.

The covers look just like retro outfit boxes and have appropriately pulpy titles: Secret of the Sunken Tomb and Rescue at the Arctic Outpost. So now you have a couple things to add to your holiday list: They’re both available at Amazon (click here).

Not just that, but Jim was the editor of The Joy of Joe, a history of the beloved action star. (Click here to grab it on Amazon.)

Anyway, Jim’s GI Joe bona fides are crystal clear — so here we go with his TOP 13 GI JOE ADVENTURE TEAM ACCESSORIES AND PLAYSETS:


My problem is that it’s hard for me to know where to start with the GI Joe Adventure Team.

See, since Christmas of 1969, GI Joe has remained not only my most favorite toy of all, but a part of my psyche. The Adventure Team looms so large in life, it’s become an inspiration in my writing and a basis for friendships. Given all that, the idea of picking just 13 aspects of the action figure line seems a daunting task, but in the spirit of action and adventure taught to me by Joe and his colorful crew, I brave the challenge and present my TOP 13 GI JOE ADVENTURE TEAM ACCESSORIES AND PLAYSETSstarting with the first things I had and ending with the one thing I wanted most…

…but the whole thing may change tomorrow.

Spacewalk Mystery. Gotta start here. Technically, I had the Spacewalk Mystery set that was part of the 1969 “Adventures of GI Joe” line, but the Adventure Team picked up the mantle and continued the set into the 1970s, albeit with a “Life Like Hair” Joe figure and new box graphics. I still fly that space capsule around the living room in my dreams.

Eight Ropes of Danger. The year after I got my Astronaut and Space Capsule, I was gifted with my first real adventure set, Eight Ropes of Danger. My parents ordered it from the Sears catalog, so it came in a plain, brown box, not the one with the incredible Don Stivers underwater artwork. This set is the reason I went around for years after telling people an octopus was my most favorite animal.

Jungle Ordeal. Hasbro was smart having many levels of AT gear, from the most basic to the more expensive. This one was part of a line of sets that were basically a uniform and one piece of equipment, but with a little imagination a kid could be plopped right down in the middle of a jungle with only a trench knife and a whole lot of gumption.

Helicopter. Does it get much more “GI Joe Adventure Team” than this? The iconic yellow helicopter was a focal point of my childhood collection, and I never got tired of pumping that button to whirl those blades. Did I occasionally hit architecture, objects, and even other human beings with the blades? Yes, yes I did. Stay out of my way; there are golden idols to be rescued, dammit.

Missile Recovery. I didn’t have one of these sets as a kid, and don’t own one now as an adult, but I simply love this entry in the mid-level Adventure packages. It’s something about the red-yellow combo of the suit, and that cool “missile detector.” It’s all present in the opening scene of my first D.C. Jones story, of course.

White Tiger Hunt. This is one of the larger Adventure sets, and one I had as a kid. The tiger was small, yeah, but Joe looked so damn swaggerly in that dark green jacket and Australian-style hat. My dad wouldn’t let me keep the metal wire poles for the tent, because he was afraid there was “grease” on them that would get on the carpet and furniture, but an accomplished Adventure Team member makes do. A clever kid does, too.

Windboat. The Action Packs were a series of vehicles and equipment designed for Joe to carry on his back. I had the Windboat and the Escape Car, but for some reason I always gave the edge to the Windboat. It might seem silly today, and unworkable, but in my mind a strong wind could carry me and Joe to adventure and far away from closed-minded adults.

Laser Rescue. This came out of another, more affordable series of equipment sets, and I loved it dearly. I mean, lasers? C’mon, the 1970s were nothing if not all about lasers, and GI Joe had one and knew how to use it. I featured it in the opening sequence of my second D.C. Jones book.

Flying Rescue. There was a lot of rescuing going on with the Adventure Team. They weren’t warmongers anymore; they were trotting around the globe rescuing people and animals and stuff. And by golly, did they look cool-as-cool doing it on this sweet flying thingamajig, whatever it is. I fly around on it in my dreams even to this day. I think it’s actually made of dreams.

Adventure Team Vehicle. Right up there with iconic AT vehicles is the ATV, which of course we know really means “All-Terrain Vehicle,” but if the Adventure Team wanted to co-opt it for themselves, I wasn’t going to argue. My friend Ricky had this and we played with it until the wheels came off. You can’t have an Adventure Team without it.


Bulletman. Yeah, yeah; controversial. I get it, and I had it. And I loved it. A superhero on the Adventure Team? With a removable helmet-mask? I was right there, and I’m still a fan of it today. To some people it smacked of Hasbro’s desperation in the waning days of the 1970s GI Joe, but I wanted a whole pistol packed with Bulletmans.


Aerial Recon. File this one away next to Flying Rescue. What is it? Is it some kind of anti-gravity machine? Where could a kid get one of them? Nobody I ever knew could say, but Joe looked so damn cool on it, in that slick uniform and helmet, that questions fell away to crash and burn on the ground he flew high above.


The Adventure Team Headquarters. I had to end with this beauty, because once I talk about it, there’s nothing left for me to say. I wanted it so bad as a kid, drew pictures of it incessantly, begged my parents for it, but I never got it. Oh, I have one now, but it’s just not the same. It remains for me the most glorious piece of GI Joe plastic ever made, a home away from home, and a doorway to danger, action, and adventure. Several years ago I had the opportunity to chew Santa Claus out for not bringing me one, and I’ve never regretted it. He’ll never do that to any other kid ever again.


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

— Dig These 13 COOL VINTAGE GI JOE Figures. 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, 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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    • I only had 13 slots and a line had to be drawn in the sand somewhere….and these are my own personal picks, not meant to be universal. Maybe we’ll do “13 More” someday.

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  1. Training Center…

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      • I have one still in the box. (Not from childhood, but not too recent either.) GI JOE TUSKEGEE.

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  2. Jim, you youngster. the Best GIJoes had painted hair. Just kidding, as long as they are 12″, they ruled! My favorite’s were the Green Beret (my first talkie with Foreign Head), Deep Sea Diver, Secret of the Mummies tomb (Sears version with Cobra and crane), and the space walk capsule. Anything that had a record outlining the adventure.

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    • Well, my one and only Joe was a painted hair redhead, which I got Christmas of ’69, right before the changeover to AT. You can read all about it in THE JOY OF JOE.

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  3. I really enjoyed playing with my GI joe’s when I was a kid in the 1970’s.
    I liked them so much I collected most of the 60’s and 70’s GI joe’s to enjoy them on display. Thanks for posting this,

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  4. That Laser rescue was a great set. I turned the Laser into a jet pack for other series figures. I LOVED the Bulletman!

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  5. Where to start?! Your stories seem ripped from my own memories and adventures of my childhood. The deep sea diver was the one I always wanted but like you was also let down by Santa. I wonder if there was some supply line issue going on that year. Thanks for sharing.

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