Zangief (1993)

What’s the least likely three words you’d ever think to see strung together on a GI Joe package? How about Russian Bear Wrestler? This is Zangief, from the Street Fighter II sub-series, a set of figures that were based in the popular video game and branded with the GI Joe logo. Crazy? Of course. It was the 90s, and the operative phrase round the Hasbro offices may very well have been, “Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.”

The Street Fighter Joes mostly used re-purposed parts from old figures, some more effectively than others. Zangief here gets some laughably bad leg choices from the version 2 BAT. What is going on with his bare legs? He’s got robot flesh! In all honesty, though the feel of the figure is crazy, wild and wooly (literally), that’s just how I like it. The figure almost reaches the dizzying heights of nutty knock-offs like Enemy Leader. Delightful.

The Street Fighter figures also couldn’t escape the Hasbro tendencies of the day, including an overabundance of bright weapons (many pointless to the characters) and a spring loaded missile launcher. I can’t imagine why Mr. Zangief would have use for his equipment in a world martial arts tournament, but hey, if everyone is bringing guns and knives to a brawl, better to follow suit. You wouldn’t want to be the only fighter with an armaments gap.

If you’d like a more sedate version of this guy, check out his 1994 movie version. I personally miss the robot legs, but it is a nice looking figure.

So in the midst of the crazyness of the concept of Street Fighter crossing over into GI Joe, what’s my favorite element of the Street Fighter II figures? The inclusion of blood type on the file cards.


  • Not all the figures reused parts–Dhalsim, E. Honda, and Sagat all used original molds. As for the leg situation, I think it had to do more with the waist and lower legs resembling Zangief’s in-game model. Ironically, the entire upper half of the figure was used for the 2004 Dreadnok Crusher.

  • Why did they have to use the b.a.t legs? My Zangief is made out of a C.O.R.P.S figure which had a simmilar design. He broke when my brother ‘dragon punched’ him against a wall

  • Ironically? More like “uncreatively”. Everybody who ever customized a dreadnok used Zangiefs parts. Then they go paint him like Ganwgahyde, too.

  • The head is just asking to be made into a Dreadnok. I’m not up to speed on these guys but I wonder if the Honda mold could ever be used again. A Joe Sumu wrestler? Stranger things have happened. Adding the blood type is an original touch at a time when Hasbro was running out of ’em.

  • Jeremy "troublemagnet"

    I’m not a compleatist because of figures like this one.Trully terrible.i like the more military aspects of Joe and could never understand why it turned weird in 84 when they introduced Zartan. Even when I was a little kid I thought the concept was far-fetched and not in the spirit that was first established in the begining of the line.I know a lot of collectors like the weirder aspects of Joe including Ninjas.Bikers,circus freaks,falconers,street fighters and what ever else,but they don’t do nothing for me.

  • I prefer the 1994 version!

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  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    The Joes actually have a lot more pro wrestling references than you might think. I might be mistaken, but I’ve often heard that the Street Fighter character, Zangief was named after pro wrestler, Victor Zangiev. “The Russian Bear” was also the nickname of former WWWF (now WWE) World champion, Ivan Koloff. Balrog from Street Fighter is based off of Mike Tyson, who has been involved a handful of times in pro wrestling.

    Pretty much any celebrity Joe has been involved in wrestling at some point. Sgt. Slaughter and Roddy Piper being the obvious two. William “The Refrigerator” Perry wrestled at Wrestlemania 2 in the battle royal and all three men (as well as Mike Tyson) are members of the WWE Hall of Fame.

    If Habsro had made the Rocky Balboa figure, you could tie that into wrestling as Rocky took on wrestler, Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan) in Rocky III. It was Stallone who inducted Hogan into the WWE Hall of Fame.

    The Rock, who starred in the most recent Joe movie as Roadblock, was a professional wrestler.

    Road Pig and Super Sonic Road Pig both have the same head sculpt which resembles Canadian wrestler, Dino Bravo. And the card art for the original Road Pig resembles Don Muraco.

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