1983 GI Joe Product Catalog – Part 5

The new Skystrikers are real beauties, opined Stalker in the first line of the Sunbow series’ GI Joe animation. I echo his sentiment, and would add that they’re also quite photogenic. The Skystriker photos were my favorite of the many shots in the ’83 catalog. The plan and elevation style inset shots show off the detail and scale of the toy, and the space dedicated to it is second only to the HQ playset. This is obviously the centerpiece vehicle of the year. Even Ace gets a full figure shot, unlike most other drivers in the catalog. The toy itself didn’t disappoint in its play value. From the swing wing design and moving landing gear to the ejector seats with parachutes, the Skystriker remained of of the most well used Joe vehicles in my collection for many years. There are some differences between the catalog shots and the production vehicle, most notably the black tail fins.

The aircraft spotlight continues with all-new Joe and Cobra ‘copters. Does it get much better than the FANG and Dragonfly when it comes to iconic copters? The two vehicles were used throughout the Sunbow years, and there were toys produced based on them even decades later. The Dragonfly survived to be part of Tiger Force, the Street Fighter line, and also the 2000 collector series. The FANG was repainted as part of Dreadnok Air Assault set, but the FANG concept lived on through the 2000s era, and even into the 25th anniversary series.

As long lived as the helicopters have been, the foam Falcon and Viper gliders were a one and done concept. Although the glider theme would return in the 90s with two entire assortments, these fragile foam flyers wouldn’t be seen again. I know that my Falcon glider didn’t survive too many flights. Both gliders pictured in the catalog are shown with a much brighter color scheme than what was produced. Again, the pilots weren’t too visible in the photo, but we all know what those two look like.

Finally, the focus is on Flag Points. This promotion, that ran through the entirety of the Real American Hero era, was another brilliantly conceived bit of marketing. Though the mail-in plans were notably vague at the time, the program would soon take off like a guided missile.

Looking back on the small Joe era’s second year catalog has been both a memory jogger and a nice overview of the toys of the time. It’s also been a nice break from the grind of just figures and vehicles and such. Someday, maybe I’ll continue the series, or even expand it to cover some of the various contest and mail-in brochures or catalogs, pamphlets or whatever you call them. What do you call them again?


  • I call em “catalogs and offers”: http://www.3djoes.com/catalogs.html

    Let me know if you scan anything I don’t have at 3DJoes, and I’ll add it to the archive!

    Keep up the great work!

  • Looking at the FANG & Dragonfly side by side reinforces the budgets and safety considerations each organization gave their vehicle engineers. The Dragonfly looks contemporary (by 80s standards) and modern with weaponry, armor, and safety. The FANG by contrast looks like some helicopter or gyrocopter prototype. No enclosed canopy, much much smaller, which would suggest smaller engine & equipment and thus less power, speed, height capabilities on it.

    Ah yes, the Flag Points. GI Joe seems like it had by far the best selection of items, both original and at-one-time retailed over many many years. Transformers had the same point system, but past the Omnibots & Reflector (right now, whenever I read his name, the Arcade Fire song comes to mind), they had almost nothing except for leftover shelfwarmers. At least GI Joe repainted Dee-Jay and paired him up with 3 other cool figures. I’ve seen their catalog selections, who was available. It was quite lacking. Of course, I suspect design cost & development time was a factor, though they bungled a few opportunities there (Cassettes had to be among the cheapest/easiest to design. They could have made the Autoscout or a few new cassettes. Also, Cassettes were carried thru 1988 yet 1987 & 88 did not have Soundwave or Blaster available at stores, nor for mail-order. They should have become mail-orders like Serpentor did for most of the rest of GI Joe post-1987). I do wonder though, if Hasbro had produced a 1993 style selection of original mail orders back, say, in 1989 or 1990, how many more sales they had. I think I still had loads of Flag Points left by the time I got out of toys.

  • Careful with the Skystriker, Harmonygold might sue

    I used to have that “Escape from doom” catalouge. Was great to see it again 🙂

  • Out of all the awesome items shown on this final section, the only ones I had were the Dragonfly and the Falcon Glider. Whereas the Dragonfly was a frequently used vehicle in my missions and battles, the Falcon lasted one or two crashes before it went into the dumpster. Alas, the Tan Grunt figure fared a lot better after he returned to his infantry duties, complete with Grunt’s repainted tan backpack from the first Accessory Pack which fit his variant to a tee.

    The Skystriker was indeed the centerpiece vehicle for that year, and as such, it was beyond my financial reach. But, oh, how I fantasized about owning it after reading issue #34 of the Marvel comic! I eventually got the updated version from a year or two back but it’s not the same since it comes with no parachutes and it’s not even a two-seater! That was a major bummer for me. 🙁

    Never had the FANG either, which made no sense given how it was an inexpensive item.

    The Beatles sang about all the lonely people. I think about those thousands upon thousands of unused Flag Points still languishing somewhere, never having been trade for a cherished figure or vehicle, and a cut cardback that is all the more miserable for losing a piece of itself for nothing.

    Rob: I vote that you place the ’84 catalog on your agenda. It’s another great year well worth revisiting.

  • @Clutch
    Two weeks ago i went to sydney [a seven hour train trip] to see if i could find the reissue Skystriker as Kingscomics had it listed on their inventory. Turns out they were all sold out [d’oh]

    Anyone know what the differances are between the Skystriker and the matchbox valkyrie [apart from robot kibble obviously]

  • It’s amusing that the gliders had their names for more memorable characters.

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