Captain Grid-Iron (1990)

Years ago, when I first got back into Joe collecting and saw this guy listed on the back of a 1991 cardback, I was both intrigued and confused. The idea of a football themed Joe seemed ridiculous, but the card art, even at the size of a postage stamp on the back of another figure’s package, sure did make him look cool. In my years away from Joe, it was obvious that the marketing and design teams were still coming up with interesting, if sometimes strange, ideas.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find the figure on shelves at the time, and there was no internet with which to locate a picture, so it was several years before I actually saw the figure. It didn’t exactly match up with what I had imagined it to be, yet it still held my interest.

The accessory count and its interaction with the figure is staggering for the time. There’s a helmet with visor, two elbow pads, backpack with attachable football grenade, rifle with four attachable missiles and two more football grenades that attach to the legs.

If you thought that the football imagery was taken to an extreme with the figure design, then you shouldn’t watch any of the DIC episodes starring the Captain. Seriously, you’ll want to put your fist through the screen after hearing his incessant cutesy football puns and metaphors. At least Big Lob mixed it up with the sports references.

In the end, it’s one of those “only in GI Joe” figure designs that’s crazy, yet still works. My only wish would have been for a repaint somewhere along the line, in either a subdued military scheme or an all-out Army Black Knights uniform.


  • Steven B. Williams

    I would like to see an updated version of Captain Grid-Iron, if Hasbro leaves out the football grenades and silly rifle/missile launcher. An Army Black Knights uniform deco is a great idea (far, far better than the near-neon colors of the original).

    I noticed that the Red Dog figure that comes with the 7-pack Slaughter’s Marauders includes an actual football. Could a new Captain Grid-Iron be on the horizon???

  • Nothing says awesome like football and Joes! I love that they tried to mix in sports with the Joes, lets face it most of these guys were probably jocks in school, Hardball, Cap. Gridiron, Red Dog and Big Lob all incorporated their love of sports into their service. All that’s missing is Goalie Joe and Gen. Hawk in duffer disguise. Hadn’t thought about a Black Knights deco but that would be sweet!

  • The 1990 series of figures combined with the DIC cartoon served as a reboot of sorts for the brand as it entered the new decade. The good Captain here was featured in first place on the 1990 cardback and basically took over as field leader in the cartoon. I never had any problem with him, but then I’m biased to the whole wave from a year that gave us some excellent figures such as Ambush, Salvo, Topside, Rampart, Pathfinder, and many others.

    • It’s hard to believe they could come up with someone more obnoxious than Sgt. Slaughter and more arrogant than Duke, but they did!

      1990 was reboot city, no old characters period. (some say the sonic fighters were 1990 release, which is bunk, they were early 1991 releases, as they show the 1991 figures on their cardbacks…) Only the Iron Grenadiers items remind us that it was a continuation of 8 years of “story”,

      Overlord was the new Cobra leader, but alas, was never used outside of t.v. commercials and a Nintendo game.

      BUt then 1991 was like re-reboot city as old favorites came back, Cobra Commander was clearly Cobra’s leader, and by 1992 Destro was back with Cobra like nothing ever happened.

  • I realy don’t think this figure is as bad as the hype. True the yellow is too bright for effective camo, and the accessories are a little too football-like…

    But if they did make “football shaped Grenades” you might be able to throw them farther…
    People also draw comparisons all the time between football strategy and the strategy of war. Similarly people compare War and Chess all the time…

    Bottom line give him a real helmet, change the color of his pads, and you have a good looking second in command for the G.I. JOE team of the 1990s.

  • Jonah Hardenbrook

    I always loved Capt. Grid Iron but I can understand the flak he often receives. The foot ball themed accessories were over the top, and the Missile launching rifle is both impossible to realistically hold, and would be idiotic to fire.

    All in all a decent mold, deserving of a repaint and more down to earth accessories.

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  • I’ve always thought Captain Grid-Iron was ridiculous, even when he was new, and I was thirteen years old.

    It’s not a completely unworkable concept–Football Jock as G.I. Joe commander. It’s just that the Football part is turned up to 9, and they needed to turn it back down to a 7. Look to Hardball to see this kind of thing done well. (I’m thinking Grid-Iron got teamed up with William “The Fridge” Perry quite a lot in sandboxes across America, don’t you think?)

    For me, the main reason Captain Grid-Iron is still worth remembering is his appearance as one of the five playable characters in the 1990 NES G.I. Joe video game. (Think about how many other Joes he had to beat to get that spot. Baffling, huh? He beat out Scarlett, Flint, Stalker, Gung Ho…wow, I’m going to stop now before I depress myself.)

    But that missile-launching rifle? That thing is a SUICIDE MACHINE. No one could survive pulling that launch trigger. It makes the football grenades look downright sensible and banal by comparison…

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