G.I. Joe (1994)
1994 was a bittersweet year for this GI Joe collector. While the 30th anniversary salute was a fun tribute to the brand, the Real American Hero line also came to an end. Having just come back to collecting Joe in 1991, I was disappointed to see it exit when it did.
The last mail-in of the first small Joe era, an actual GI Joe figure was finally revealed to a generation of 80s and 90s kids. If an actual “named” GI Joe figure had come out in the mid-80s, I most likely would have been both excited and confused. After all, I had little to no experience with either the original 60s toys or the later Adventure Team. I had heard from my dad, and other adults that GI Joes used to be bigger, but I didn’t quite grasp what they meant. My only exposure to them had been a one-time experience with a neighbor kid’s Adventure Team figures, but I honestly didn’t know what the heck the huge figures were. I was a Star Wars kid, you know.
I probably would have been excited at the prospect of owning the real Joe, the one who started it all. What kid wouldn’t want to find out that the supreme leader of your good guy army was available? Duke, Hawk or Flint were of course in charge on most of my childhood Joe adventures, but Joe himself would have been the go-to in terms of handing out orders, etc. He may have just hung out at the HQ, but I think he would have seen a lot of use nevertheless.
The only disappointment from a toy level, is the uniform that was chosen. I understand the green beret set homage, as it was one of the most current US uniform used in the 1960s Joe figure sets. It also reflected Joe at the inception of the team, part of the tie-in with all the 30th Salute figures. I think as a kid, I would have preferred Joe Colton to be decked out in a more modern military uniform, much like the 80s team. He would probably have needed a beard as well, since nothing in the 80s beat the commanding power of facial hair.