1983 GI Joe Product Catalog – Part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post about the 1983 catalog, it’s the section that first greets you at the top of the pamphlet. This section got the most attention from me way back when. I still have a very vivid memory of going to get a haircut, and waiting for what seemed to be an interminable amount of time. I’m sure it wasn’t that long, but to my ten year old mind it was an eternity. Luckily, I had my GI Joe catalog to help fill the time. Funny enough, I see the same thing with my young son, as he’s been fascinated lately by the pack-in brochure included with his Ninja Turtles and Lego blind bag minifigs. The cross sell concept is apparently still effective and going strong.

The figures are the stars of this first section of the catalog, and rightfully so. The breadth of designs and personalities are a large part of what made GI Joe a hit with 80s kids. Most of these same characters are still compelling decades later. The photo showcases the new recruits well, placing them front and center in a marvelously rendered and rocky environment, complete with blue sky over the horizon. Snow Job is the lone exception, getting his own little snowpatch hangout. I assume there’s either a 1/18 scale snow machine or a box of baking soda just off camera. The other environmentally specific figure, Torpedo, gets no special treatment, and simply poses on the rocky ground in his flippers. The refitted first series figures are also on display, and even get a nice onset photo to show off the new “swivel arm battle grip.” By the way, I think that beautifully descriptive term for a mundane feature should be enshrined in the halls of marketing legend, right next to its older Kung Fu brother.

The APC also features prominently in this section. Its appearance here is sensible, as the vehicle also functions as a carry case. I was always impressed with the shot of the topless APC, as its absolutely crammed full of Joes. I may have to recreate that shot in my display someday. I just hope they all remembered to wear seatbelts.

Carrying on with the carrying theme are two carrying cases. The Collector Display Case, which can hold twelve figures, weapons and file cards, functions not only as storage but can also be hung on a wall. The other, a less titanic traveling tote, is the Pocket Patrol Pack, a legendary item in the annals of kid nerdery. This wearable case, while goofy, is less of an overt “steal my lunch money” sign than the Star Wars Chewbacca action figure bandolier.

This catalog sure brings back memories, and just as effectively as the toys themselves. I just need to find a pristine copy that I can dog-ear all over again. In the meantime, I wonder: can anything top the 1983 action figures? What new vehicles and other Joe toys awaited us thirty years ago? Would Cobra finally get its own arsenal of vehicles? Stay tuned…


  • Very cool series of posts you’re working on, Rob. However I do have one question: Was there really a Star Wars action figure bandolier?

  • Great second entry. I’m actually thinking of making a Pocket Patrol Pack-themed costume using all iterations of it.

  • I had everything featured in this section at one point during my childhood. The swivel arm battle grip was such an innovative concept that Hasbro continued to advertise it on the cardbacks for the next two years. It must have caught the toy industry by surprise since it wasn’t until Remco and Lanard released their “me too” lines that I noticed other companies adopting it for stuff such as American Defense and The Corps!

    The new recruits were awesome! Such a colorful contrast to the previous year’s figures. Was I the only one who thought the Doc prototype looked like he had red skin? I remember him being my favorite addition that year. Gung-Ho was the most visually striking, Airborne was many a fan’s very first Joe, and Snow Job easily packed the most gear for your buck. Destro and Bludd were nowhere to be found for months along with Torpedo and Tripwire. I do recall being disappointed that Snow Job and Tripwire’s headgear wasn’t removable, though.

    The line’s sophomore year offered plenty of storage options. I think the APC was the 2nd or 3rd vehicle I ever owned and the one which saw the most use along with the VAMP, HAL, and Dragonfly. I loved the display case and wish Hasbro had continued to offer it from time to time like they did with the Pocket Patrol Pack. You could carry it or display it on your wall. How cool was that? Man, such sweet memories… 🙂

  • I remember as a kid getting some GI Joe figures for the first time and then playing with some of my brothers’ Star Wars figures and it was no contest. Some figures may have looked cool, but that swivel arm grip was simply amazing for the time. All the accessories made them seem cooler than He-Man as well.

    And yes, LOL at Snow Job’s little snowpatch. Looks like a time around March after all the snow melted save for a patch here or there and those huge gray piles of dirty snow in corners of parking lots.

  • The A.P.C. was our first “BIG” vehicle…
    But 2 years after we had the U.S.S. Flagg (the biggest plastic toy in history)!

  • Whenever my grandmother bought me some Joe toys, she was always disapointed that there was no sand and or rocks in the packet.

    The best star wars carry case for figures was a green rifle

  • Today’s post made me go in the basement and find my stash of Joe paperwork. Anybody want to trade an ’82 catalog for some ’84 & ’85 catalogs? I like my APC but for me it seems the seats are too small too fit the Joes adequately. The Collector’s case is a classic, but fragile. Don’t want to display it, because I don’t want to put holes in it where the screws would normally go.I must be a G.I.Joe maniac-I have everything in the whole catalog except for the FLAK. Whirlwind, MMS, the Gliders and a couple of PAC/RATS.
    As an aside, my son had me order him a Chuck E. Cheese doll from’ 88. He’s 7 years old. Even though we have a Wi PS3 numerous laptops,Nintendo 3DS, etc, he told me that toys are more fun. I told him that’s because in a video game your stuck in a certain play pattern, while with toys you’re only limited by your imagination. I think, intuitively he knows that. I’ve never pushed my toy interest on him, yet he’s seen Dad to his customizing, and bring Joes to the beach for photo dioramas I make. Bottom line, if you haven’t noticed people in the USA are becoming less intelligent, the biggest symptom I see is a total lack of critical thinking skills .In order for toys to survive, kids have to be shown how to have fun with toys, not just hand ’em an Ipad and think your job as a parent is done.

  • @Troublemagnet
    I dont want to start an international incident and if i offend anyone, i appologise in advance.

    Over here we have the same problems. At the scale model show the other day [of which i’m a club member], i had to explain to kids that the stuff in the ‘Nam section WAS NOT “wussy” The kids play medel of duty and call of honour [or whatever the hell those things are] and think that warfare is a joke

    On a simmilar note, a few days ago, my 4 year old neice came over and she was looking for something to play with so, I grabbed the spytroops stuff [very easy to replace] and she had a ball with it. “Doowk” was her favorite. She loaded up the Truehero’s [i think] cargo plane and commenced a straffing run on the cats. When i noticed she was having so much fun, i put on my cobra shirt and played with her. Problem is, now she thinks i’m a cobra agent.

  • That’s a great page. You’ve got lots of little figures, and three ways to carry them all; on your belt, in the case, and in the APC vehicle, which is also a case! How’s that saying go? Brilliant?

  • APC was the first 1983 items I had and it was the first time I saw this catalog and all the new offerings. As cool as the APC was, it seemed like the weakest new item (besides the cases, which I never wanted or owned…I’d stick with cardboard boxes).

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