Snake Eyes (1982)

The first Snake Eyes figure I purchased was a straight arm original. I bought it at a TG&Y close to my house, and I was excited to see an original Snake Eyes at a store. This was sometime in 1983, and the figure had eluded me to that point. I was initially a little disappointed in it, as I really wanted a swivel arm version. I’ve since come to appreciate the differences between the first series figures and their improved successors. At the time, however, it was a simple matter that I thought Snake Eyes just didn’t play as well without Swivel Arm Battle Grip. He also looked a little funny next to his newer teammates. That’s not to say I didn’t play with the figure, as he was in constant use during play, and I even remember him traveling with me in my pocket on a couple of trips. He remained in my collection until I sold almost all of it off as a teenager. He also managed to keep both thumbs intact, a minor miracle for a straight arm figure. My ’82 Flash was not so lucky.

What can I say about this figure? It’s the first Snake Eyes. All black, mysterious, and not a single paint app to be seen. ‘Nuff said.

I’ve heard over the years various stories about why he was all black where the other figures were more colorful. I always assumed he was simply molded solid black to add to his air of mystery. An interesting side note to the lack of color on the Snake Eyes figure is a sticker set from 1983. Among the characters featured on the sheet was a strangely colorful version of our favorite commando. Very odd. Maybe it was just the result of laziness on the part of the sticker manufacturer, but it is interesting to see old Snakes in a different outfit.

Snake Eyes has had dozens of action figure versions over the years, in every scale, and sometimes in odd colors. He’s gone from commando to ninja commando to Wolverine-esque levels of overexposed quasi super-heroic ninja. While I find something to like about most all of his versions, I’ll always have great memories of and a preference for his original commando version.

3DJSECan’t get enough of Snake Eyes? Check out this figure, and every other A Real American Hero figure, from every angle on our partner site,



  • Oh the irony in the Wolverine comparison–when I met Larry Hama at a comic convention this year, he definitely agreed with that, and this was fitting, coming from a guy who at one point wrote on the Wolverine series.

  • I’m one of the few who am absolutely sick to death of Snake eyes, Stormshadow and Duke but this Snake eyes is my favorite version of the guy. I’ll take the veteran commando over the ninja shtick any day. Not even Bill Gates could pay me to read those Ninja force comics again.

    I heard rumors that he was made in black plastic as it was cheaper. Wonder what would have happened if he wound up as someone else?

    I heard Stan Lee absolutely hates Wolverine as he was the single X man character he didnt create. And he was always getting swamped with fan mail about him.

    On the subject of loosing toys. Ihad this idiot freind back in 1997. He swapped a streight arm Zap [loose mint] for the POTF2 Rebel trooper. Later he swapped a v1 Destro for a single Darth Maul. I might have made some stupid disissions in my life but i’d never do that!

  • I had forgot about TG & Y, that is a trip in the way back machine.

  • I think my first Snake Eyes was the swivel arm version from ’83 since he was tough to find for some time. I know my first two Joes were straight arm Flash and Short-Fuze, with Zap turning up soon after in a bag of carded rack toys given to me by a friend of my grandma’s.

    By the time my birthday rolled along, I was actively collecting everything released in ’83, so I picked up the remaining team members from the previous year at TRUs. We were in a hurry for some reason, so a couple of straight arm figs ended up in the mix by mistake. Stalker was one of them and Scarlett might have been another, but I think Snake-Eyes was the swivel version. I do remember taking him to a parent/teacher night at school, safely tucked in my pocket for the meeting’s duration.

    Snake Eyes was cool but far from my favorite character or figure: Flash, Clutch, Rock ‘n Roll, and Steeler all spring to mind first, but Snake wore an masked, all-black suit and didn’t talk. What’s not to like about the guy? I always preferred him as a commando, though. Once the whole ninja clan backstory began after issue #21 of the comic, he sort of took over and overshadowed most of the other neater Joes. Incidentally, the sticker pictured above makes him look like he’s wearing Grunt’s shirt combined with Firefly’s pants and boots. Very odd indeed.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    The coloring of Snake Eye’s pants on the sticker makes me think of the original Shockwave. I would think the sticker manufacturer went with the more colorful outfit thinking that consumers (and especially kids) wouldn’t find much appeal in all-black stickers.

    I love Snake Eyes as much as anyone. It doesn’t matter to me if he’s a commando or if he’s joined up with some ninjas. But, there were times when I was tired of always seeing him as the Joe’s Superman. Not to mention when the comics chose to focus mainly on him rather than moving the focus around from one character to another or the group as a whole.

  • I actually prefer the 83 improvements over their 82 straight arm counterparts. The waists were more streamlined and you can’t beat the improved articulation. The only thing I could never figure out was why Flash’s and Grandslam’s upper arm pads became painted on orange squares.My goal is to replace any straight arm figures with the 83 version. Suprisingly (or not), the swivel arm 83’s are tougher to come by. I do have the 83 version of Snaes and I’m happy with it.

  • This incarnation of Snake Eyes feels more iconic to me of the character before the myth. A pre-superhero version. He’s a badass commando who did a lot of classified stuff in SE Asia and is on the Joe team (Super Delta Force?). As a toy, it’s hard to play with him, so my kid & I just make him the guy that doesn’t have to talk much.

  • I got into Joes in 1986, and so Snake Eyes and timber were always a duo, and Snake Eyes always had the Geordi LaForge visor. He was that way in the cartoon too (at that time at least). As I dug back into the older comics and the earlier cartoons, I discovered the 1983 version of Snake Eyes and fell in love with that design. To this day, the 1982-83 version is still my all time favorite Snake Eyes.

  • Love the sticker, btw. Can you scan and email me the stickers to put on 3DJoes?

  • A quick check shows Larry Hama wrote for Wolverine from #31-118 (9/90- 11/97), much of the big years for that title’s run.

    @ Skymate
    That sounds like an urban legend. Stan Lee last wrote for X-Men in 1966. The new wave of X-Men (Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and the ill-fated redskin redshirt Thunderbird) were created by Len Wein & Dave Cockrum in 1975. Chris Claremont took over very early into the revived-from-reprints-run and wrote for X-Men til 1991. Wolverine was created by Len Wein & John Romita Sr. and brought over from his 1st appearance in Hulk a few months earlier into the revived X-Men lineup. IIRC, Stan Lee just wrote #1-19 of X-Men. So, all he created were Professor X, the Original Five, and Mimic. Havok, Polaris, Banshee, and all the X-Men introduced in the ’70s on were created by others. Somebody at Marvel deserves credit for not cancelling X-Men in 1970, instead putting it on hiatus (maybe it was cancelled for months then) and bringing it back as a reprint title. It was an odd situation for a series to be in. Usually a series goes on monthly, bimonthly, or it gets cancelled. And X-Men ran a little over 4 years as a reprint title.

    And Snake Eyes… was he the first action figure all in black? That was before the black/dark color palette figures were so cool and I don’t think toys took their cues from clothing fashion (black is the new black) at the time. Just wondering if Star Wars or another toyline then had a cool, mysterious all-in-black figure.

  • @Little Boa
    at that time Star Wars had a mysterious figure cast in all black–Darth Vader!! There was a time we didn’t know much about George’s imposing “space samurai”–sometimes I wish we could go back…

    I dig this Snake Eyes the most!

  • @Little Boa
    I dont know much about x-men so I was actually basing my comment about Stan Lee’s feelings on Wolverine from a Simpsons audio commentary [the one when Homer becomes the Hulk]

    On the subject of Star wars. I think Snake eyes here and Boba Fett are in the same boat. They started out as one dimensional bad assess but that was just blown out of proportion and they both became super soldiers.

    I think the stupidest expanded universe story i read was when Boba was in the sarlecs guts and he was having a philosophical discussion with another guy whom had been swallowed

  • 3 pouches on explosives pack accessory, 4 on card art… interesting, i think.

  • @Skymate

    That’s one of the better EU tales (albeit not *quite* as good as Last Man Standing), and far and away superior to the ridiculous backstory that Lucas came up with for the character in Episode II. The only really bad thing about it is that other SW writers have taken to using “Barve”, which, in context, is clearly meant to analogous to a pig (as in, “you don’t eat a pig like that all at once”) as a sort of SW-specific synonym for “guy” or “bloke”.

    As for the topic of the post, I will never tire of Snake Eyes, no matter how many new costumes he goes through. The man is the be-all and end-all of G.I. Joe.

  • @Jester
    Want to hear something really stupid?

    When l took my little brother to see AOTC [on the assumption it might somehow be better then the last trainwreck] he idolised Jango as though he was the greatest character in the whole saga. He was so angry when he died.
    A few hours later when we went to the super market to check out the AOTC toys, he tore a Mace Windu off the peg and stomped on it until it was nothing but a shattered bubble and twisted plastic which i had to pay for as the manager saw it.

  • @Skymate (‘s first comment): I don’t think it was black plastic, per se, but the fact that he was cast in a single color with no paint applications that made him less expensive.

  • @Captainswift I read the comment about him made from black plastic in my bible [Belomo’s book]
    On a completely unrelated note. I’m just back from the local mall. I heard this lady call her young daughters by the names of Scarlet and Courtney. Might be a coincidence but hey. The parents could be Joe fans

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