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.
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!
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).
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
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?
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.
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 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.