1982 GI Joe Product Catalog – Part 1
1982 reintroduced GI Joe for a new generation of kids. The first year also brought the first of many cross-sell catalogs, which were packaged along with boxed vehicles and accessories. From the get-go, Hasbro’s 80s GI Joe marketing team was hitting on all cylinders. Compared to later catalogs, the 1982 version is an almost minimalist design. From the stark white and yellow text on a black background, to the bold new GI Joe logo and its red white and blue stripes laid out across the bottom of the pamphlet, the look is simple, but effective. The toy themselves are also depicted in a basic diorama format. There are no epic landscapes or volcanic surfaces against which the figures and vehicles stand; just the wonderful texture of burlap and strategically placed rocks.
Grunt is the face of GI Joe for 1982, and that stands to reason. After all, he most fits the established everyman tradition of the old toys. I have to wonder if Grunt was prominently featured in early advertising to sway parents who themselves played with the Joes of old. I can certainly remember hearing a bit of backlash in the 80s media over GI Joe being “shrunk down” to a smaller size. The story of this new GI Joe team is laid out alongside the graphic. It’s interesting to see the file cards mentioned so prominently, another great marketing tool that set GI Joe apart from other toy lines. Competing with Star Wars, Hasbro had to create a story to get kids interested in a bunch of mostly green colored toys. Everybody knew what Luke, Han, Chewie, Darth Vader, et al, were all about, but we had to find out just who Grunt, Stalker, Snake Eyes and Scarlett were.
The MOBAT is the first vehicle to get center stage, and that makes a lot of sense, considering it was the largest and most expensive item in the line’s first year. Like many of the other toys in the catalog, the tank and figure pictured are prototypes, and vary from the final product. Steeler appears to have a different body, and the story goes that these early figures were mocked up using Mego’s 3 & 3/4 inch figures. The tank itself is very different, from the wheels to the turret and main gun. It stands to reason that with the lead time required to design and produce toys, that they would often change from the product and Toy Fair catalogs. This continued through the years with the GI Joe line’s later catalogs as well.
Again, there’s a simple backdrop of burlap, and a few rocks to simulate terrain. It’s kind of a melding of a modelmaker’s diorama and the practical way that a kid would utilize a bedspread to create a battlefield on the bedroom floor. The real world intrudes into the inset picture in this way, as the MOBAT is pictured climbing a book. Hopefully it’s a copy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
Come back tomorrow, as we’ll take a look at the second part of the 1982 catalog, featuring more vehicles, more mocked-up driver figures, more burlap, and more Duty, Honor, and Courage: the motto of GI Joe.