12 Joe A Days of Xmas Day 5: Combat Pay

Everybody sing along: Five GI Joe Combat Pay Dollars! Isn’t the five gold rings verse everbody’s favorite part of the 12 Days song? It’s the one everyone knows, to be sure. Some people even belt it out louder than any other. Eddie Izzard thinks so too.

Combat Pay was an offer tied to the 1990 series of GI Joe figures. Packages included special themed “play money” available in denominations from $5 to $10,000. Poor Snake Eyes ended up on the fiver. I wonder who was on the ten grand bill? Anyway, the money could be redeemed for items from the tie-in Get Tough catalog. Merchandise included Joe branded posters, shirts, hats, sunglasses and other non-Joe items like basketballs and baseballs, as well as some decidedly 90s products like a Vision Street Wear fanny pack. Nice.

A special serial numbered stub was also attached to the Combat Pay. For three months during the Fall of 1990, a serial number was announced during the then-new DIC animated GI Joe TV show. Winners could claim more than 2,000 prizes. So yes, not only was DIC paying Hasbro to produce a cartoon, but Hasbro was effectively paying kids to watch DIC’s cartoon. Talk about paying it forward–or backward, in this case. Give credit where it’s due however, as Combat Pay was a pretty impressive attempt at a one-two punch of marketing both the Joe toys and television show with a product pack-in.


  • Thing that always got me to think about the 12 days of christmas song was the turtle doves. Is that some sort of genetic experiment?

    I remember these. I wanted to get my parents to take me to the U.S for a holiday. So i could spend a five “dollar” voucher.

    These days. The only way i could ever get to watch the DIC series again is if someone payed me to watch. Even then they’d have to pay me a lot. No way in hell am i sitting through Revenge of the Pharoa’s again without apt compensation

  • So that’s what Combat Pay looks like. Now I know…

  • And knowing is half the battle.

  • This was another in Hasbro’s endless list of clever promotions and given the “combat pay” of trading in funny money for stuff, it made all kinds of sense. Had it come out around 1983 or so, I would’ve been cashing in on those fivers like crazy, sort of like we all used to do with the flag points in general.

  • I wondered what each combat pay denomination looked like, wondering who were the Franklins, McKinleys, and Clevelands of the combat pay. Anyone know the full list of denominations to characters?

  • @Little Boa
    Snake eyes is the fiver so does that make him Lincoln?

    “Did you invent the five dollar bill?” [Hank venture]
    “Yes i invented the five dollar bill” [Ghost of Lincoln]

  • I loved Combat Pay, a young me was able to buy many GIJOE figures and get discounted vehicles, essentially.

    If you found figures on the pegs with Combat Pay in them, those were the figures best to consider purchasing for more, or less, free figures.

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