The Power of Packaging: 1985 Lady Jaye

Female figures don’t sell. That’s the inside story action figure collectors have heard for years which supposedly accounted for the boys’ toys industry’s lack of ladies among the males in the toy aisles. Of course, things are somewhat different now, with prominent female characters marketed within brands like Star Wars, Marvel, DC and others. Kudos by the way to DC for turning conventional wisdom on its head by creating an entire action figure line aimed at girls.

The GI Joe brand has been including women in its team regularly since the 1980s, and while they weren’t as numerous as the men during the Real American Hero era heyday, the strong characters that emerged still resonate with fans.

The example of a diverse group of characters that the 1980s Joe design and marketing teams set for impressionable young fellows like me is to be commended. Now, I realize Lady Jaye’s card art presents a little more decolletage than would be appropriate. However the character in the associated media was not portrayed as a sex object or damsel in distress. She was a wholly capable and valuable member of the team.

11 comments

  • Met the actress at JoeCon in Indianapolis, I still love her voice!

    • That’s awesome. Mary McDonald Lewis was great as Lady Jaye. She, Bill Ratner, and Michael Bell, were some of the greatest voice over actors ever in the history of all G.I. Joe cartoons. Check out Bill Ratner as Flint in The Family Guy. Bill Ratner is the real Flint, and he’ll always be.

  • I never understood why was this figure of Lady Jaye designed with a non removable cap on it’s head, even though I don’t remember ever seen any episodes of the 80’s tv show where she ever wore that cap. Or any other cap. By the way, how many female characters exist in G.I. Joe today besides the ones that came out in the 80’s, and the 90’s? Let’s see how many of these characters can anyone name. And which ones already have an action figure made(like Chameleon), and which ones do not yet have one made(like Evy, the female Range-Viper). And does Chun-Li, and the other female Street Fighter characters, still count as part of G.I. Joe today? Meaning, if they still exist in the same universe, like they did back in the mid 1990’s. I know that there is, or there might be(I’ve never seen it), some comic book called Street Fighter X G.I. Joe(which might be a joke, I don’t know), but, I still have to ask that question just to be sure.

  • Oddly enough, the one female in the line who was supposed to be presented as the most feminine and physically attractive based on her character (Covergirl) is probably the one the designers got furthest from the original idea. The original MASS Device mini-series got it right with their design, but on the regular series, they made her almost identical to Scarlett with regards to face and hair.

    I always forget Lady Jaye is supposed to be a covert operative. Even her action figure looks more like a mechanic.

    • I think the original Scarlett and Cover Girl figures still look great. I never had them as a kid (before my time), but as an adult I think they both have really good overall sculpts– especially their heads.

  • Also, let’s not forget Mattel had an action figure line devoted to girls, too: She-Ra. Although the popularity of He-Man was dwindling, I think it was a huge mistake to outright replace Masters of the Universe with She-Ra, rather than have both running concurrently. As a kid, I never had a problem with female action figures. In fact, as I’ve stated before at this site, my very first G.I. Joe figure was the Baroness. Prior to that, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up both Teela and Evil-Lynn together at a trip to the mall. With the exception of Teela, Evil-Lynn, and Wonder Woman from the DC Super Powers line, female action figures in major boys lines were much harder to find at the time. For example with G.I. Joe, Scarlett and Lady Jaye (who were always very visible on the cartoon and two of the most popular characters) seemed scarce to me as I rarely if ever saw them at the store. And I think one thing that might’ve negatively impacted the sales of female figures is that many parents weren’t comfortable with the thought of their sons playing with what they would look at as “girls’ toys” and just wouldn’t buy them.

  • That line about female figures not selling has got to be a myth. I always liked Lady Jaye & Scarlett, and they were active members of my GIJoe team. But then recently, I’ve seen pegs full of Star Wars “Rebels” Leia figures, and “Force Awakens” Leia before that. So maybe the toy designer adage is true, or maybe those were just weak figures (super-animated style and terribly painted, respectively). I mean, you’d sell a lot more Stormtrooper figures than Leias, and I’m sure more Snow Serpents than Lady Jaye. But I wouldn’t have passed her up for Bazooka or Quick Kick.

    • I doubt it’s a myth. I suspect the reason that action figure lines can support the presence of more female characters these days is that the demographics have changed; action figures are more and more the domain of adult collectors these days rather than 5-10-year-old boys.

  • I remember seeing a breakdown of which characters had the most lines of dialogue in Sunbow’s cartoons, and I believe Lady Jaye and Baroness both ranked in the top three. The toy line kind of treated the women as tokens, but the show writers turned them into prime movers, which is something I’ve always appreciated.

  • Great figure. Great character in the old Marvel US and UK comics and the cartoon. In the UK, her bio stated she actually was born in Ireland. Ladybird Books did audio stories and the actress played her with a Gailic lilt…

    Flint was renamed David R Fairborne in the UK. Born in England too according to his UK filecard. It’s how I think of him. Posh, stiff upper lip type Sandhurst trained Officer…

    I had the original Jaye figure as a kid. Now I have the 25th and DVD pack versions….my favourite is the 25th DVD version…

    I love th3 cardart. She’s sexy but tough. Perhaps too much cleavage on show for a kids toy…maybe to attract Dads to buy it for their kids?

  • Some things you just notice more as an adult collector than as a kid…

Leave a Reply