ANNIVERSARY 3-3/4" G.I.JOES
With the 40th Anniversary of G.I.Joe recently behind us, I thought I might flashback ten years earlier, to the 30th Anniversary of G.I.Joe. Both the 12" and 3-3/4" lines were running at the time, and Hasbro chose to dedicate special product to both sizes. I'll be focusing on the 3-3/4" Joes here.
One of the first offerings was a special mail order figure of the "original" G.I.Joe, who had now been given a full name -- Joseph Colton. Colton, it should be noted, was the first name of the son of one of Hasbro's main designers at the time -- Kirk Bozigian.
There was also a 12" version of the figure, and the only way you could get either one of them was by sending in UPC symbols from G.I.Joe products. Unfortunately, this resulted in a lot of people taking a pair of scissors to G.I.Joe carded figure displays in local toy stores. NOT nice!
The 3-3/4" figure was excellent. The classic 12" head suclpt had been very effectively reduced to the 3-3/4" level. This particular figure was dressed as a Green Beret, complete with beret and proper uniform. The right hand of the figure was modified to more closely resemble the "pre- Kung-Fu Grip" 12" Joes, in that the trigger finger was somewhat extended. Nice touch.
But this figure was just the beginning. In 1994, a special series of 30th Anniversary 3-3/4" G.I.Joes were released. Packaged in commemorative boxes, not just cards, this included an ACTION SOLDIER, ACTION MARINE, ACTION SAILOR, and ACTION PILOT, all with appropriate equipment.
The most basic looking of the lot was undoubtedly the ACTION SOLDIER. That's NOT a complaint. He should look basic, since these were intended as 3-3/4" editions of the classic 12" figures. He was dressed in a standard army green uniform, molded helmet, and a harness with two grenades attached to it. Frankly, if Hasbro wanted to release another 3- 3/4" "Greenshirts" set, they could do a lot worse than to use this guy. It'd be an improvement over the first Toys "R" Us six-pack they did.
Next up we have the ACTION MARINE. This figure was fairly basic, but is notable for blue eyes, and a camouflage uniform that very nicely matches the camouflage color scheme used for the original Action Marine, a sort of reddish brown with black streaks over the basic green. An excellent figure.
Then there is the ACTION SAILOR. They "dressed" the figure in his diving suit, something that was a bit of a challenge for his original 12" ancestor. The original 12" figure's rubbery diving suit was known for occasionally tearing, discoloring the body beneath it, adhering to the body beneath it, and other problems. Sometimes having molded-on clothing can be a blessing.
The 3-3/4" figure is very nicely designed, and is wearing a visor with a clear faceplate, with black diving suit and bare feet. I think the only other barefoot G.I.Joe in the entire line was Quick Kick.
Finally there's the ACTION PILOT. Smartly dressed in a yellow flight suit, the figure also has a molded on "Air Vest" complete with authentic stencil reading "G.I.Joe Air Vest - USAF", and he came with a helmet with air hose and goggles.
If you check the bottom of the boots (or foot, in the case of the diver), you can see a number. "Numbered" collectibles were quite the rage in the 1990's, and G.I.Joe got in on it with these figures, although I never thought it made that much difference once you got past the first hundred or so. No one's going to pay THAT much attention to Action Soldier #126408.
Hasbro also produced a boxed set of these figures, which had some significant differences. One of the differences, I will admit, were the collector numbers. The collector numbers on the individual figures all started with an "A" followed by another letter, and then the six-digit number. The figures in the boxed set all started with a "B", followed by the rest.
Although the Action Soldier and Action Marine were identical, there were distinct changes to the Sailor and Pilot. The pilot was outfitted in a blue uniform, instead of yellow, and the Sailor was given a bright orange diving suit, which also then required the painting of the black trim on his uniform, which hadn't been necessary on the all-black Action Sailor.
There was also an additional figure, an immensely cool ACTION ASTRONAUT, outfitted in a very impressive silver astronaut uniform, with a removable helmet with moving visor, and a very correct 50-star, thirteen stripe American flag on one sleeve. This set also came with a 3-3/4" scale replica of the SPACE CAPSULE toy that was marketed in the 1960's.
There was one additional special figure for this line, but he was very hard to get and was produced in extremely limited numbers. He was only available at that year's 30th Anniversary G.I.Joe Convention, which was held (mostly) on the U.S.S. Intrepid Aircraft Carrier in New York City, a truly superb military museum that I recommend to anybody visiting New York -- provided there isn't a toy convention taking place on the carrier at the time. Trying to set up dealer's tables, an entire tent of merchandise for Toys "R" Us, and other assorted displays and activities amidst rather large standing exhibits that couldn't be moved, and still allow a decent amount of walking space for convention attendees, was, perhaps, not the most inspirational idea in the history of G.I.Joe Conventions...
That aside, the figure was given out at the Convention Dinner, a rather difficult event given that Hasbro used it to announce the end of the 3-3/ 4" line, an announcement that was about as well received as a stinkbomb in a crowded elevator. A nice exclusive 3-3/4" G.I.Joe was the least they could do for us given that news -- not to mention the food...
The figure is a recolored version of the ACTION PILOT, done all in black to represent a parachute stunt team that was scheduled to perform at the Convention. The figure does not have his air vest painted, but he does have the G.I.Joe logo with red-white-and-blue stripes running up the left leg. The logo also appears on the lower right arm, and the right leg and lower left arm have the red-white-and-blue stripes. It's really a very cool figure, and a nice addition to the 30th Anniversary Collection.
One other aspect of the 30th Anniversary Joes needs to be mentioned. A few years later, a company called Fun4All, best known for producting what is probably best described as "pop-culture keychains" and is best known for a series of keychains that are functional, miniature versions of popular board games including Monopoly, Scrabble, Battleship, and others, acquired the use of the 30th Anniversary 3-3/4" molds. They also produced several Transformers mini-cars, but that's another story. They marketed the Joes as Classic G.I.Joe Keychains. Although the molds were the same, the Fun4All name was stamped into the mold, and the paint jobs weren't quite as good as the originals. Still, it wasn't a bad way to acquire spares of the Action Soldier, Marine, Pilot, and Sailor.
There were actually two series turned out by Fun4All, the aforementioned set sold in single boxes, and a bosed set of all four, but in this case, the Soldier was recolored with desert camouflage, and the Marine was redone as an MP. Nice additions to the line, really.
G.I.Joe's 40th Anniversary passed without any real store-available product for the 3-3/4" line. There was a Convention Special, a redone version of the first comic set, with a special comic book, and there was the extensive 40th Anniversary 12" line. But it did strike me that there wasn't quite the same level of fanfare throughout the year as there was for the 30th Anniversary.
But, I am very pleased to have these excellent 3-3/4" versions of the original 12" G.I.Joe. It's a nice way, in my opinion, to tie the two lines together. Sort of like when Spock finally appeared on Star Trek The Next Generation...
And there's always the 50th Anniversary... YO JOE!