Face Camouflage Insert (1988)

Ever thought about painting your face a la one of the members of the Joe team? I hadn’t, mostly because I can’t remember many of them who did so during my childhood collecting days. I guess there was Dusty in ’85 and Tunnel Rat in ’87, but that was it. Hit & Run got a big feature in this insert, since he was prominent in 1988, the year of this pack-in premium release.

I must admit, it was a pretty neat idea. After all, what kid doesn’t like smearing dirt all over their faces? Why not make it official, and brand the GI Joe name on some cheap make-up to capitalize on young boys’ propensity for getting their faces dirty?

I bet you didn’t know that face camouflage had been carried into every major battle by the Joe team. Well, that’s what it said in the insert included with the paints. The concept presented in the insert itself is actually more compelling than the little tubes of glop that accompanied the figures. There’s some pretty interesting comic style line art in the insert, and three of the four faces cross-sell some of the ’88 Joes very effectively.

According to the instructions, there were four different kits, including jungle, desert, night/snow, and sea. Wait a minute–snow and sea? Would painting white streaks on your face really make a difference in the snow? And yes, the instructions suggest that if you paint blue streaks on your face, it can simulate ocean waves. Ridiculous as that sounds, I have to give them points for originality, and also for thinking like kids. My only complaint here is the lack of representation for air camouflage, though I suppose you could paint some white on your face to simulate clouds.

I have to wonder how many of the more dense kids of the 80s were confused, and thought that the stuff was meant for the toys. They were probably gripped by frustration at trying to apply tiny streaks of color to their toys, and just squeezed the entire tubes out onto their figures. Somewhere, there must be a pile of 1988 figures smeared with black, brown, green, white, and blue make-up. Whatever the kids did with them back in ’88, I sure hope they heeded the instructions and washed up with plenty of soap and water.


  • While I had some of the face camo as a kid, I never used any. Pretty sure I had the unopened tubes for a pretty long time before they got thrown out, too. I had the jungle camo and I’m thinking I had the desert, too. I know one was included with Shockwave.

  • I remember having the jungle camo from some Joe and using it on Halloween. I wasn’t a soldier or anything like that, but I just wanted to use it so I did.

  • What a fun idea! Although, I have to assume more than a few kids didn’t heed the instructions, and smeared the gunk all around their eyes. Yikes!

  • For my 7th birtday party, my parents threw me a g.i.joe themed event. My friends and i all ran around the back yard with camo make up on our faces. We never found Charlie though.

  • I have the Night/Snow kit here in my desk drawer along with a Command Ring and a Body Transfer Decal. I remember trying to collect these Camo Kits as a full set back in the day rather than actually using them. At age 16 or so, I felt a bit too old to do so. (I was in my Sophomore year in High School.)

    It’s still a fun concept, though. Younger kids probably enjoyed it, although it would have likely sold better as an actual product during the earlier 12″ inch Backyard Patrol days. There was less canon to deal with and a greater incentive to use your imagination and play “pretend” with toy guns and helmets.

  • I never saw a package with these.

    Saw Battle Ribbons, micro figures, combat rings, but never saw the face paint packages.

  • I had some of it back then. I didn’t want to scare the girls away. Now at 40, I would totally wear it to work.

  • We wore camo make up during my stints in the regular army and national guard. My platoon leader made me reapply it to my face, because my first attempt “looked like KISS” lol

  • Cheap fun, and that’s cool in my book. I never had any, though. Night Force Muskrat might already pass for a naval team version. And I’ve never thought of making an arctic team Tunnel Rat, but this insert has me thinking.

  • It was an interesting idea. The Micro Figures (like Transformers’ Decoys) appealed most to collectors or just provided interesting paperweights for a bookshelf (or perhaps miniature Joes and Cobras to play with, as if they had been shrunk down), the body decal seemed to be mediocre (TF had something similar). The Triple Win contest was cool though that was random. Here, one could discern between copies of a figure, choosing the face paint they wanted (like Micro Figures, it looks randomly assorted, not specifically pegged to certain figures though it seems the jungle kit was much more common). This was quite different, something the kid would use on themselves. It did stand out quite a bit. I never interpreted as anything else. The size of the tube made it seem for a human face, not a figure’s face and the instructions look like product instructions for human use, not a toy.

    And it looks like the Face Camouflage is from 1989. It’s seen on 1988 & 1989 figures’ cardbacks and the specific case assortments we see it on (6120, 6121, 6122) are the three 1989 assortments. The Micro Figures came with the same assortments as well. Doing a quick search, you can see a 1989 figure with it here-

    “Remember to carry all G.I.Joe Camouflage colors with you at all times– you never know where your next mission will take you!”. Hah. Gonna play hide & seek outside? Break out the jungle kit. Being dragged to a restaurant you don’t like the food? Break out the desert kit. Did something wrong and want to hide from parents? Break out the night kit.

  • They should’ve made a Tunnel Rat figure based on that insert. Half night and half snow. LOL.

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