1982 JC Penney Christmas Catalog: GI Joe

Here’s the first offering of the Real American Hero line in the JC Penney Christmas Catalog. I find these catalog shots fascinating for several reasons: the often missing or incorrectly assembled vehicles, custom made diorama elements, and non-Hasbro accessories.

This setup looks quite hastily assembled in comparison to later gorgeous displays featured in 1983 and 1984. First off, the GI Joe logo. I know, this is the era before Photoshop and digital imaging, but the poor Joe logo looks like a rushed cut-and-paste affair. Maybe Penney’s didn’t get their product in time to put together a real smash-bang display for their photo session. There is something to be said for such a stark display of product, however. The figures sell themselves.

Sometimes the catalog shots get the some assembly required wrong, or leave out parts of the line. The FLAK and VAMP are noticeably absent. The lack of a major first year Joe ride like the VAMP is surprising. The JUMP is missing the jet pack, and its control unit is simply sitting to the side. Maybe Grand Slam has it out for repair.

My favorite part of this page is the military command HQ. That’s actually what it’s called in the listing. At first, I thought this thing was a re-release of the Mego Batcave playset, but on closer inspection of the tiny inset photo, it appears to be something different. I’ve checked around online, and this thing is a real mystery. It also apparently came with the playmat in the photo. Anyone have info on it? The scale of the playmat and the cannons on the top make me wonder if it might even be a repurposed 54mm (think Marx army men) playset. Certainly Intriguing.



  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    Is that HQ supposed to be for Cobra? That picture’s so small, but I can make out that the three Cobras look to be just chilling out in there, minding their own business and relaxing.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    Also, on the subject of enemy HQs, I always wished that Hasbro had released the Dreadnok Swamp Cabin and Destro’s Castle playsets.

  • Ok I want to know what that HQ is too. Wasn’t the Cobra Missile HQ a JC Penny special too?

  • I had that HQ. Got if for xmas the year it was in the catalog. It was pretty cool. It was very similar in design to the of the Mego Batcave. However it was not the same mold. It had a mat for underneath, and several movable chairs. It got a lot of use in my Joe world.

    • I had the HQ also and the reddish brown color matched really well with all the red clay near my house. It was a painfully simple set (mat, base, canopy, 3 chairs, stickers) but versatile and fun. Biggest drawback was the plastic was rather thin (about the same thickness as a red Solo cup) and it did not survive being ‘accidentally’ stepped on by an older sibling. But once the base was gone, the canopy was still useful as a terrain piece in my ongoing Joe adventures.

  • This looks about right for a “knock-off”, fledgling toyline competing with Star Wars. 😉 I’ll bet that HQ was pretty flimsy, but I’d have made use of it. My Cobras were usually camping on top of couch cushions – always on the move.

  • Those howitzers look a bit out of scale.
    That should work. Just dont forget the chocolate doughnuts and grape soda.

  • Great Cobra Bunker! More pics of it, please!


  • Dunno if they made it, but those cannons on that bunker hq were used in DFC (dimensions for children) army men playsets.

    The cobra 3 pack was something that the experts/guides/price guides took years to acknowledge as existing…some probably still don’t.

  • ”1st Series 1982 G. I. Joe line. Brings back memorable Christmas memories.”

  • Ok So I have that “cobra bunker” BASE… I have been looking for information for a few years now. It says in the ad FOR GI JOE SGT ROCK etc… and there are no brand markings on it…its made of like Hollow cheap like thin Platic Sort of like the inner bubble the joes comes in now just brown… came with chairs steps cannons and top the top I recall as a kid had a cover and no pliability to it. I think it came in a package but can not recall image. I could be wrong about that part…so dont quote me on it. It was a JC penny items because I remember that Consumers were sold out on joes… had none in the back warehouse… ordered a few ( got my first rock and roll breaker and stalker) and had to wait…. I remember going to JC penny’s right afterwards for something for my mother and my father got it for me because I was bummed…My father passed away last year… so I started to go through a huge box a few days ago to look at old photos and I opened up a smaller package in side and there it was.. flooded back to me tooootally forgot about it… So if anyone has any other info on this or know anything about this please feel free to contact me. I have pics I can post… its still in great condition and the top part was not in the smaller box just whats in the pictures, Any additional help info would be helpful. Thanks!

  • I had the “Military Command HQ” playset too. Thanks for confirming that it wasn’t a non-G.I. Joe product, even though it wasn’t an official G.I. Joe product!

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