1983 GI Joe Product Catalog – Part 1
Catalog. Pamphlet. Brouchure. You can call the little neatly folded pieces of paper whatever you want. I don’t know that there’s any official term for them within the Joe collecting world. Call them what you will, they were brilliant little insidious marketing tools that wormed their message into impressionable brains like mine. Look at all these cool toys, kid. You know you want them all, they whispered. It worked. Too well, in my case, because here I am, thirty years later, spending my evening writing about them.
1983 was the first year that I came into GI Joe collecting. My childhood years since 1978 had been dominated by a galaxy far, far way. That changed when I was introduced to a Cobra Commander figure at a school barter day activity. I traded a Weequay for the Cobra leader, and I was hooked. Soon after, I picked up a Polar Battle Bear, and found one of these beautiful little catalogs inside the package. I wore that magical little square of folded fun ragged over the ensuing year, carrying it in my pocket most everywhere I went, folding and unfolding it time after time, pining for the figures, vehicles and playset contained within.
The cover itself is striking, featuring a painting familiar to most 80s GI Joe fans. This same image was featured on other products during the Real American Hero line’s early years. It captures not only most of the first year team and their gear, but also the sense of action and adventure that awaited us inside. There’s all sorts of action going in here, with the team running, gunning and driving in all different directions. The odd thing about this painting is the lack of an enemy force. I wonder if it was produced at a time in the pre-Cobra stages of planning for the relaunch of the brand. Regardless, it’s a great showcase of the early team in action.
Stay tuned, as I’ll be covering each section of the catalog over the next few posts. It promises to be a fun look back at a piece of Joe history that enticed and excited us. Imagine a time when you could hold images of all the current GI Joe toys in your pocket! I know, you can do all that and more these days with a smartphone, but wasn’t it more fun to flip back and forth over a dog-eared pamphlet?