The Power of Packaging: 1984 Mutt Cardback

The 1980s GI Joe line continued the tradition of compelling package art that began all the way back in 1964. The gritty, realistic paintings of Joe’s original incarnation sold a world of adventure via a cardboard coffin box. The Adventure Team era took things to a bold new level in selling a toy based on box art (what 70s kid didn’t want a figure that was shouting at them right from the cover of its package?) By the time of the Real American Hero series, toys were also promoted via comic books and cartoons. Not that the card art needed much help to practically jump off of a peg and tell us unsuspecting kids “Buy me!” In retrospect, we really didn’t stand a chance against such insidious marketing.

I think that the card art played as much a role of getting me to pick up this figure as the toy inside did. I remember being just a little disappointed that the figure inside didn’t totally match up with the painted portrayal. The helmet/muzzle combo really bugged me–it just seemed too big and unwieldy. My Mutt rarely wore both. I did keep the cardback around for quite a while. One of my favorite pieces of GI Joe package art, for sure.

Mutt Cardback (1984)

Mutt (1984) Back

12 comments

  • Did you cut the bubbles off?

  • It seems like the marketing was trying to put him as a counter balance to the dreanoks. They talk about him as a raging man more at home with animals than people….. Like the Joes un leash him in cobras direction and wait for the dust to settle.

  • I heard that both Mutt and Beachhead were intended to be Cobra figures but were switched over to Joe figures.

  • The first figure that has a weapon with suppressor.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    I’ve always been partial to the Baroness card art.

  • Mutt is a great figure, and I agree his art is intense! Always love seeing the gallery on the back, too.

  • Two things still strike me to the day about vintage Joes:

    1. The artwork was just amazing. Seeing an entire wall full of awesome characters exploding off the packages was an awesome sight to behold. It’s a shame my kids will never experience that.

    2. The pricing of vintage Joes. They were basically around $3 from 1982 through 1994. I thought that seemed expensive, but a $3 figure in 1984 works out to around a $7 figure today. So, you can take that for what you will when you consider the cost of current action figures.

  • I just noticed Mutt was muzzled while Junkyard wasn’t. Seems they were going for irony, which we saw in depicting the character of Mutt as being rather wild, animalistic, not to mention he was a person but had a dog-based name.

  • The backs of the cards were even better. I remember certain time back then when I’d go into Toys R Us and find some new figures I didn’t recognize, and then flipped the card over and look at all the new Joes. I swear I can still remember getting excited to see a new Hawk figure was on the way in ’86!

  • Mutt was the very first Joe figure I ever had – my mom bought him for me (seemingly at random, since I had no other Joe figures) for reasons I know longer remember, but as a result of being my first, he kicked off:

    1. My love of GI Joe (and all that ensues).
    2. My love of GI Joe figures with animal sidekicks.
    3. My love of GI Joe figures with lots of accessories.

    DItto the sentiments about the card art and the figures on the back as well – I remember many times as kid using it as a checklist, mentally crossing off the figures I had, the ones I wanted, etc.

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