The GI Joe series hit the US market in 1964 when it was released by Hasbro. The toy manufacturer was inspired so much by the success of the Barbie doll that they wanted to see if similar phenomena could be recreated for young boys; the idea was to produce a doll that would capture the their imagination. It was decided that military themes would be the main focus and the name GI Joe was chosen based on the name of an old army movie from 1940s. GI Joe action figures are also the inspiration for the UK line of Action Man figures.
The original GI Joe action dolls were all based on World War Two themes. There was a different doll to represent the different branches of the military; action marine, action navy, action pilot, and action solider. Each of the figures was 11 ½ inches tall. As well as releasing the main figures Hasbro also produced many accessory packs that contained additional clothes and weapons.Within the first few years of production the GI Joe range was constantly expanding to include soldiers from around the world and in 1965 the first black GI Joe was introduced.
During the early 70s the theme of GI Joe shifted from military action to adventure. A big reason for this was that people were suffering from war fatigue due to the constant stream of bad news coming from Vietnam. GI Joe became influenced by the surge of interest in martial arts and a doll was produced with a kung-fu grip. New adaptations were introduced in 1976 with the arrival of eagle eye; this was also the year when GI Joe’s enemies started to be manufactured.
The original series of GI Joe action figures ended in 1976 but this was not the end of GI Joe. In 1982 he made a comeback in the form of GI Joe; a Real American Hero. These were smaller than the original action figures and were produced for the next twelve years. The last outing for GI Joe was in 2005 with the Sigma 6 series. That ended in 2007, but Hasbro have made mumblings of there being another new line of GI Joe figures in the future.
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The storyline for GI Joe figures can be found in the comic series called GI Joe; A Real American Hero. There were other storylines before this time, but this is probably the most well known. This comic book series was completely tied in with the action figures and it involved 155 different editions that first hit the shelves in 1982. As well as this comic book there was also a TV series and many other attempts to bring GI Joe to life.
In GI Joe: A Real American Hero he battles against evildoers such as Cobra Command. This is a paramilitary force that is determined to gain power no matter what the cost. Cobra is a vast organization with many secret cells; it is constantly able to attract new members because of a huge amount of financial wealth. The only person capable of stopping this evil group is Action Man.
One of the first times GI Joe goes against Cobra it is when they have gotten their hands on a special teleportation device that allows them to create all types of mischief. In order to defeat the baddies GI Joe needs to create a similar machine but first he needs to get the fuel; a special heavy water that lies at the bottom of the ocean.
The very first GI Joe existed in a 1945 movie called The Story of GI Joe. This film followed the 18thbattalion as they fight heroic battles during World War Two. The term GI Joe in the film was used to refer to all the different infantry men. The original series of GI action figures were hugely influenced by World War Two.
The Good Guys
The original GI Joe was comprised of four good guys; Marine GI Joe, Army GI Joe, Air Force GI Joe, and Navy GI Joe. Later with the arrival of GI Joe; A Real American Hero saw a team of elite special forces grouped under the name to GI Joe brought together to fight Cobra. The series has produced many memorable good guys such as the following;
Cover Girl is an expert Wolverine tank driver and she is also a capable mechanic. She is very attractive and has to deal with a lot of attention from many of the male characters in the GI Joe series.
Blowtorch is expert with a flamethrower. His real name is Timothy P. Hanrahan and he comes from Florida. He is skilled in the use of most weapons but favors those that involve creating fire.
Clutch is a transportation expert and likes to drive a jeep. His real name is Lance J. Steinberg and he comes from New Jersey. Clutch is a real womanizer but when work needs to be done he is completely dependable.
Duke is a field commander and his real name is Conrad S. Hauser. He is one of the main characters in the whole GI series. He is a fantastic linguist and he has also received Special Forces training. When he is not fighting he works as an instructor teaching others how to handle battle.
Rip Cord is an expert parachutist who specializes in high altitude low opening jumps. His real name is Corporal Wallace A. Weems and he comes from Ohio.
General Hawk is the overall commander in the GI Joe series. His real name is Major General Clayton M. Abernathy. He comes from a very wealthy background and he is an excellent and much respected leader.
The Bad Guys
GI Joe has needed to deal with many bad guys over the years, and here are some of the most memorable.
Nemesis Enforcer is one of the commanders in Cobra-La. He looks like a bat and seems to be similar to a vampire. He has amazing strength and can creep up on people without them having any idea that he is there. Nemesis Enforcer can use his wings to defend against bullets or as blades.
Zartan is a mercenary and doesn’t care which side he is fighting for so long as they are paying him plenty of money. He is brilliant at creating disguises and used these with great effect. He is with Cobra out of convenience more than any type of loyalty. As well as being a lethal killer he also suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder.
Doctor Mindbender excels at mind control and is a brilliant scientist that understands all there is to know about cybernetics and cloning. He was once an ordinary orthodontist but a machine he created to help with dental pain went wrong and turned him into Doctor Mindbender. He soon falls in with Cobra.
Serpentor was created by Doctor Mindbender as the ultimate solider; he was created by using the DNA of some of the most evil people of all time. The fact that he has so many types of DNA has meant that he has multiple personalities; it also means that he is extremely dangerous. He is hungry for power and makes numerous attempts to take over Cobra.
Baroness is an intelligence officer and she works for Cobra. She is extremely attractive but she will also gladly destroy anyone who gets in her way. She likes to wear a completely black outfit and along with glasses. She hates the American government because she blames them for her brother’s death in Vietnam. Baroness is extremely clever and she is easily able to manipulate people to do her will.
Cobra Commander is evil personified. He is completely crazy, but in a lethal way. He likes to develop outrageous plans that can’t possibly work, and when they don’t work he blames his underlings.
Dastro comes from Scotland and belongs to a clan that has made their fortune by selling weapons to anyone who would buy them. He wears a steel mask made out of special steel. He works alongside Cobra, but has his own private army.