This article is my take on the current state of the hobby with GI Joe right now. It is an article from the perspective of someone who not only enjoys the line but wants to see it stick around for years to come. This is not necessarily the opinion of others on the site but just some observations over the past few years that I have seen since I’ve gotten back into it in 2007.
The 25th anniversary was a great way to draw more attention to the brand of GI Joe. It got people such as myself who have not been in the loop for a long time to recognize the label again. By making the cards similar to those in the 1980’s was a great nostalgia and made it hard to say no. When I was a kid I had to really try to get what I wanted with toys. I couldn’t just get 10 troop builders and call it a day. Now that I had my own income the possibilities were endless. Well, kind of. There was still the reality of responsibility but at least there was a nice outlet once everything was taken care of. It was like going through a childhood all over again. The main characters were there to set up battles. Who wouldn’t want that? Well, by wave 7 that was about everybody. Unfortunately there were many repaints and if kind of dulled the desire for the line. The vehicles were good to see also but they too got the repaint bug. By the time the good stuff like a Stinger was supposed to show up it was canceled and only sold online. It was a good run but needed something fresh. So then they made a movie.
Personally, I never saw Rise of Cobra the movie. It had no appeal to myself and the casting just did nothing for me. The toys on the other hand were hit or miss. The first two waves were fairly weak in my opinion but this caused an issue with distribution since retailers ordered a bunch of them. There were a few gems in the pile but it was far and few between. One thing it did show us was that Hasbro was willing to give us more accessories with the figures. Now that’s a win for myself. I rarely keep stuff together so more weapons means more figures to have better arms. The figures did at least offer some good customizing fodder. They had a more modern look to them so it was nice to update your favorite figures in a more “real world” look. The vehicles were something to be desired though. Very outlandish designs and too high of a price point for their size. There were a few battle stations but it was too late in the game. I think most people may have bought figures when they were on sale. I know I did. Then when the better stuff was supposed to show up, canceled once again. These sets were going for a high price on the secondary market once the over seas sellers put them up. Who would have known what was to come about a year later.
Then Hasbro announces they are doing a Pursuit of Cobra line. This is something completely different from what we all knew as GI Joe. The characters we grew up with were getting a face lift and a modernized look to them. On top of that, accessories! They loaded up the figures with all sorts of guns and knives. The vehicles we were shown were a bit more realistic with a touch of future looking in a few of them. The figures were great for those that wanted something they could actually use in an environment. They made desert, jungle and winter specific figures. One problem, they started to show us the only making Duke, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Destro again. This could not happen to such a good line. Finally, some major players were announced and a sigh of relief was let out in the collective community. Still, distribution was a problem again. Many stores were still gun shy from the Rise of Cobra ordeal so they most likely did not order as much as before. Now, some places would see stuff while others got snubbed. This could not be great for the health of the line.
Then the discount store ordeal. All of a sudden ROSS stores and other discount stores starting seeing droves of GI Joe product. Not only over produced 25th anniversary items but now canceled product too. This had caused a huge ripple in the collector community. Now, people that had paid hundreds for a toy could get it for $5.99 at a discount store. This caused quite a panic, especially since vehicles from the Pursuit of Cobra line had shown up. It seemed to be items that stores may have been wary to order considering they were still sitting on product. Either way, this caused a bit of concern for collectors. Not only was what most had confirmed as a failure of a movie line started showing up at discount stores, current product was. Most chalked this up to “the death of the line”. It’s hard to not think that when you are seeing stuff like that show up. Still, Hasbro says things are fine and is moving forward.
They did throw the adults the Resolute cartoon which was nice. We finally got to see the characters we grew up with get in real fights with deaths. How many shots were fired in the ARAH cartoon an not one injury? This was great for us but was only about an hour long. What a tease! Then the Renegades cartoon came about and kind of divided the community. It had some decent story building but not much action and the animation was something to be desired. Still, a good bone to throw the adults while trying to get kids into it. It’s was a good effort but between the time slot and being on a Hasbro specific channel it made it tough to catch.
So in conclusion, I have hopes that the line will be able to handle the future. It seems that Hasbro has been changing up the line too much to keep the attention of anyone for more than a year. With luck, they can keep a somewhat modernized look to GI Joe coming while throwing in a few bones for the ARAH people that are in it mainly for the nostalgia. I think we can all win down the road but is Hasbro committed to trying to keep multiple people happy? I hope so because if they keep the look of Pursuit of Cobra and give us some ARAH love it could be a major win for GI Joe and possibly a bit of a renewal of the line.
Anthony Spatucci AKA MAJOR BLOOD from The Fighting 118th