G.I. JOE: THE BLACK SERIES – A PITCH TO HASBRO

Where is the G.I. Joe Black Series line of figures? Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself a bit. Yet, with the announcement of Hasbro’s new Lightning Series for their recently acquired Power Rangers property, I have to wonder why G.I. Joe has not been given the royal treatment. Hasbro has certainly found success in both Marvel Legends and Star Wars: The Black Series 6-inch lines, but their oldest property, G.I. Joe, seems to be in cold storage.

The reason for this could be two-fold. First and foremost, G.I. Joe is, currently, not a viable property. There is no film on the horizon (at least not one in pre-production) or a cartoon series being shown on TV. It’s not in the kids' minds so why would they want a toy for it? The second and probably more believable reason is that the current political climate throws a dark shadow over G.I. Joe, probably no more than Vietnam did back in the 70's 12-inch line, but mentioning politics alone breaks one of our own rules here at AFJ, so let us move on.

AFJ started to speculate about what a G.I. Joe Black Series line would be like. What would it be called? Who would be the figures in the first wave? What would the first exclusive be? Would there be wearable helmets? Vehicles? Think of the following as a pitch to Hasbro, a step in the right direction. Perhaps it is all just wishful thinking, however, we have learned a thing or two about the toy industry and supplied that knowledge here.

A special thanks to the site G.I. Joe The Pit! for their incredible database and images that helped us in nailing down this pitch.

The Name:
We have the aforementionedLightning Series, Marvel Legends, and The Black Series (Star Wars). Here are our top 4 choices:

The Pit Series - Named after the original G.I. Joe Headquarters that Larry Hama spotlighted in the Marvel Comic. However, the word "pit" probably won't help sell a toy line.

The Dog Tag Series - A very straightforward name, but something the Shout! Factory DVDs inspired.
Yo Joe! Series - The possibilities are really limitless, but with the “Lightning Series” for the Power Rangers being that properties moniker, we thought the battle cry for “America's daring, highly trained special missions force” seemed appropriate.

The Patrol Pack - You might be scratching your head on this one, but this was the name of the original and wearable G.I. Joe action case that went on your belt. It’s already half the battle!
Packaging:
Star Wars: The Black Series and Marvel Legends have easily identifiable boxes. We know that the box will be olive drab (see the Patrol Pack above). What we have to ask is where will the trademark G.I. Joe filecard be placed? Certainly not on the box, it will have to be an insert. Why is that? Because it was always on the back of the card in the 80's. Today, to save on costs, Hasbro produces one package for the majority of the countries they sell their figures in. This means the back of the package has to have multiple languages detailing the character, safety precautions, and the like. This is the main reason we probably don't have every figure in the wave or line on the back of the box. Below, we have the back of a G.I. Joe package (1982) on the left and on the right, we have the back of a Star Wars: The Black Series box (2017).

Figures:
What you have been waiting for. Who would be in Hasbro's first wave? We went one better and did the first 3 waves. The no-brainer and number 1 figure to be produced (in mass quantities) is Snake Eyes. From this point on, it does get a bit tougher. Think of this, that first wave really has to sell. Not only does it have to sell to collectors, but also to general toy buyers (are those children anymore?), namely parents. That very first wave also has to be easy to manufacture. So don’t expect to see the likes of a Battle Android Trooper (B.A.T.) and Serpentor in the first wave. These figures are going to have to some (yes, some) similar arms, legs, and chests for Hasbro to turn a profit. They are also going to have to use those pieces over again on wave 2. This is why we’ve decided to go with the original Hasbro G.I. Joe line as a start for the series. Obviously, there will be some modifications, but let’s face it, we won’t see the likes of Buzzer and Ripper (both Dreadnoks) for quite some time.

Wave 1 - (L to R) Snake Eyes, Cobra Soldier, Stalker, and Rock N' Roll

Wave 2 - (L to R) Torpedo, Scarlet, Gung Ho, Cobra Officer, and Cobra Commander

Wave 3 - (L to R) Snow Job, Major Bludd, Duke, Destro, and Airborne

Build-A-Figure (?):
The Build-A-Figure concept is not one that Hasbro has applied to every one of their 6-inch figure lines. It is insanely popular with the Marvel Legends. Hasbro did, however, use it on numerous occasions with the 3.75” line of Star Wars figures (usually allowing one to build droids). Would it work for G.I. Joe? Here are our suggestions:

Mass Device Elements - From the original G.I. Joe animated movie in which most, if not all, of the first two series' of original figures/characters, appeared. They would come with little pieces of the elements used to operate the Mass Device. With that being said, if you pack the characters with the elements they acquire in the film, it would take until wave 2 to get the heavy water with (Torpedo).
PACK/ RAT [Programmed Attack Computer/ Rapid All Terrain] - These were great G.I. Joe droids and appeared here and there in the TV series. However, bringing them into this line of figures would give collectors that extra incentive to buy them all. For kids, it would allow them to build a robot.
S.N.A.K.E. [System Neutralizer Armed Kloaking Equipment] -  In the cartoon series, these were more sentry robots. In the toy line, they could be used as battle armor. Going the sentry route would enable collectors to have one extra bad guy figure until wave 2 arrived.
MANTA [Marine Assault Nautical Transport - Air-Driven] Windsurfer - This is one of those mail-away toys that only one of your friends had. It is a windsurfer, complete with guns and a torpedo for covert operations. It’s a bit of stretch, but what if there was a build-a-vehicle (albeit, a small one) in that first wave?
Vehicles:
No, we are not getting ahead of ourselves. The great thing about G.I. Joe is that they made vehicles at every price point (meaning size). We picked only 3 to start with, but when you begin peeling back the layers and look at what Hasbro did in the past, the possibilities are limitless. When would these arrive? Between wave 2 and wave 3.

CLAW [Covert Light Aerial Weapon] - A personal favorite and about the size of a Star Wars Speeder Bike. The CLAW would come with a Cobra Soldier, with a slight variation on his uniform.
RAM [Rapid Fire Motorcycle] - Not only do you get a motorcycle for the Joes but one that comes with a sidecar Gatling Cannon. The RAM would come with the Joes’ Communication Officer, Breaker (with beard).
FANG [Fully Armed Negator Gyrocopter] - The smallest and most ferocious weapon in Cobra’s arsenal. Complete with a pilot.
Helmets:
One of the big draws of the Marvel Legends line is the wearable replica toys of many of Marvel's iconic weaponry, many of which do not resemble real-world weapons (guns and swords). G.I. Joe is a tougher sell. Our first suggestion would be Cobra Commander's helmet, complete with voice changer and see-through face shield. The Darth Vader Black Series helmet raised the bar, and Cobra Commander’s helmet could surpass it. After this, it gets tricky with weapons and additional helmets. Down the road, in wave 6 or 8, the Cobra Viper helmet would be our next choice.
The Exclusive:
The possibilities for convention exclusives are limitless. Cold Slither, the entire Dreadnoks crew pretending to be a Rock Band, is a must-have. However, we have to remember we are launching this new wave, so baby steps. For the San Diego Comic-Con, HasCon, and GIJoeCON. we suggest an exclusive Zartan. Yes, the Dreadnoks leader complete with special faces and his Chameleon Swamp Skier. After these convention sales are over, Zartan, without the Skier and the additional faces, can have a regular release.
There you have it, Junkies. AFJ hopes that a Black / Legends/Lightning Series of G.I. Joe is in the works. None of this is ludicrous or asking for too much. In fact, outside of the scale, everything on this list has been made by Hasbro in the past. The property is certainly as iconic as Star Wars and ripe with possibilities for a 6-inch line. I doubt we’ll ever see the likes of a 6-inch scale USS Flagg, but a Cobra H.I.S.S. tank is just within our grasp.

19 Comments
  1. Reply
    Anthony August 22, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    NO. Just NO! GI Joe hasn’t been in the public eye since 2012 and you think a 6 inch line will bring it back?! Nah man, G.I. Joe needs to stay 3.75 inch. You would be alienating all the collectors who for the last 36 years have been invested in a 3.75 inch line. GI Joe if it goes 6 inch say goodbye to vehicles all together. Say goodbye to the original card art too. It will be the same old small paragraph in multiple languages that ML and the BS gets. The black series barely gets vehicles and they have a much larger budget. On top of that the BS vehicles don’t sell well. Just look at the tie fighter. It had terrible sales. G.I. Joe just makes too much sense at the 3.75 scale. G.I. Joe needs good live action something. Weather it’s a movie or a Netflix series to get the ball rolling. G.I. Joe needs new playsets, vehicles, and some new characters in 3.75 inch scale. If they wanted to do a 6 inch Exclusive line down the road, then fine. I just can’t see it taking off like the BS did. The audience and collecting community is much smaller for GI joe than it is for ML or the BS.

  2. Reply
    Hil August 22, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Going to join the NOPE squad on this as well. Hasbro already bitches at the cost of molds I can’t see the risk of a line they don’t think sells well enough now going into a whole new set of issues. And Anthony is correct that vehicles are out. It would not be economically viable at this time. As a collector I do NOT wish to start collecting a whole new line. I didn’t do it for Marvel and I didn’t do it for Star Wars. Better suggestion to Hasbro is go the way of Mattel and make a collector’s club like they did for He-Man etc. Direct from the seller could lower the cost for collectors and costs for Hasbro.

  3. Reply
    CaralhoVoador August 22, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    I think you mean “Lightning Series”.
    I would be down for a limited 6″ line of G.I. Joe figures, but those name ideas are rough. And 3 waves with no Roadblock? Fail.

    • Reply
      Robert Trate August 22, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      Over 8K hits and you were the only one to notice. Lightning!!!!

  4. Reply
    Jeff August 22, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    I was on YouTube yesterday suggesting many of the same concepts. I had the same thoughts on the “build a mini vehicle” idea. I love it and I’d be all in. They could just do It like Jabba’s barge and make a Kickstarter-esque enterprise. The more money we throw at them the more they unlock and make.

    Full Dreadnok wave with build a skiff parts with each fig… Do it!

    • Reply
      Robert Trate June 1, 2019 at 11:43 am

      Love it! Awesome idea!

  5. Reply
    ero August 22, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    Can’t believe you didn’t have Storm Shadow in there!

    They need to make wave 1 as strong as Black Series wave 1 was. You do Snake Eyes (v2 with Timber), Storm Shadow (v1), Cobra Trooper, and Cobra Commander (v1) with swappable heads. Second wave would be Destro, Duke, Baroness, and Snow Serpent.
    I think a Chameleon with Zartan would sell well, especially if the color change features were maintained. And I think the name needs to stay simple. Best course of action would be to call them Legends or Classics.

    I for one am ready to leave behind the 3 3/4 scale. The anniversary line and beyond just had too much parts reuse that left new collectors not quite able scratch the nostalgia itch. The most important thing about a move to 6” is that they need to invest in the tooling for accuracy’s sake. And my personal preference would be to have more Sunbow-specific designs, but I think if they do it, they’ll stick to the core ARAH era toys. But there really seems there is a large faction of 6”-only collectors out there waiting for this line. Why not give it a try?

  6. Reply
    Dev71 August 22, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Id have no interest in 6in Joe’s. Especially after seeing what it’s done to Star Wars. I dont need the same figures I have in a size that is impractical for vehicles, I need new and innovative characters or new takes on old ones. Some creativity, not a new size.

  7. Reply
    Steve August 23, 2018 at 9:37 am

    All the people who say they have no interest in 6″ GI Joe are basically fooling themselves, because when they see them in store and how great they will look, they would still buy them anyway.

  8. Reply
    Patrick Moore August 25, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Not a fan of this idea at all. Vehicle and playset interaction are just as important to the GI Joe brand as the characters themselves. We have seen the attempts made for 1:12 scale vehicles in the Star Wars Black Series line see little to no success at retail. Expensive and take up a lot of shelf space for vehicles scaled too large to be practical.

    By keeping the line at 1:18 scale, fans can continue to build their collections with new offerings without having to start from scratch. It’s also the perfect scale for action figures, because they are small enough to interact with vehicles/playsets and yet are large enough to allowing excellent detail and articulation in the molds.

    What GI Joe needs is a new movie or cartoon to jump start the franchise and get interest high enough to sell product at retail chains like Walmart and Target again. Changing the size of the figures and losing any realistic chance of having Skystrikers Vamps, and Hiss Tanks to go with them is absolutely a step in the wrong direction.

  9. Reply
    John Papasergio August 25, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    having a 6″ line does not take away from the 3.75″ line at all. the original 3.75″, and 25th anniversary 3.75″ lines are great. always will be. so those who are against a 6″ line and feel like it will kill the 3.75″ line.. that isnt true.
    some collectors prefer different scales. I’m all for a 6″ line.. the more joes the better. I also still love the original 3.75″ line. nothing could ever replace those. I say go for it. 6″ joes are a must in todays times.

  10. Reply
    Patrick August 26, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    I’m a huge fan of 1:18, not just Joes but in general. With the absence of new Joes in stores, my money has been getting spent on filling gaps in my Joe collection as well as branching out to other 1:18 lines of toys, especially from World Peacekeepers, Boss Fight Studio and Marauders Task Force. If Joes commit to 1:12 scale, I can honestly say that I don’t think my current buying habits will change. I may pick up a Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow…but I really don’t see myself investing into the 6 inch line beyond that.

  11. Reply
    Casey March 13, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    I think this would be a wonderful opportunity for the G.I. Joe line. They were 12 inches tall for a while and then 3.75. That change was revolutionary for the line. Old collectors still have the later, but it sounds ignorant to hinder creativity and a new approach. Vehicles would be a challenge, but being collector focus might be the key. It’s worth a shot.

    • Reply
      Robert Trate March 14, 2019 at 9:46 am

      Thanks, Casey! We were told by an insider that articles and buzz like this put it back on Hasbro’s Radar!

  12. Reply
    Ap June 1, 2019 at 8:47 am

    I would call the 6 inch line GI Joe Classified
    -Marvel legends
    -Star Wars the black series
    -Gi Joe Classified

    • Reply
      Robert Trate June 1, 2019 at 11:44 am

      “Classified” very cool. Almost too perfect. you know something I don’t?

  13. Reply
    Chris July 2, 2019 at 12:38 am

    GI Joe absolutely needs a 6” Sunbow line. 6” is now the standard action figure scale. GI Joe is all but disappeared from the toy world and holding out for new 3.75” is crazy, expecting vehicles is even crazier. A 6” Cartoon line is likely to pull in more old fans and fans of retro toys with something new.

  14. Reply
    Robert Trate July 2, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Sit tight… watch the skies… and AFJ

  15. Reply
    Hayden Ludlow September 5, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    I think this idea is somewhat promising. However, I do agree that wave one needs to go bigger than what is listed. I’m thinking 5-6 figures including a Joe and Cobra foot soldier, Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, and Duke. Yes this is a lot, however it give the line a solid start and if it loses traction, fans and collectors at least got some of the core characters. Vehicles will definitely be down the road, but I don’t think it’s impossible. Even if we just got a solid limited release 2-3 wave series, I would be happy just having them in my collection.

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