GI Joe Reservist Redux

Why does this figure fascinate me? Perhaps it’s because he comes from a time when GI Joe wasn’t at the heights of popularity of the 80s, yet was a bold move in terms of being offered as a mail-in for a new line. The Hasbro direct program of the Real American Hero era was a juggernaut in terms of extra revenue, and was a reflection of the sheer numbers of kids who were into GI Joe. I can’t imagine that the relaunched series came anywhere near the old levels of sales, popularity or saturation of the cultural consciousness.

I’ve always been a fan of underdogs, and maybe that’s the real reason this guy interests me. For me, he definitely falls into the category of loveable loser. While the original Steel Brigade figure wasn’t exactly a masterpiece of the perfect melding of disparate parts, it at least came together on some level. I’m reminded of a scene from the movie Ed Wood, in which the infamous low budget director is working as a runner at a movie backlot. He’s stopped by a co-worker who shows him the latest reels of stock footage that he’s about to file away. As the random shots of stampeding buffalo, an octopus and various military scenes of explosions and cannons firing play on, Ed quips excitedly, “If I had half the chance, I could make an entire movie using this stock footage.” Funny enough, he did, and the result were sublimely, wonderfully bad. I can imagine someone at Hasbro in 2002 huddled over a bin of random parts thinking along those same lines.

Why does the Reservist even exist? What was its true purpose? In the end, the Reservist to me is like a GI Joe custom as created by Andy Kaufman. Is it intentionally bad, or is the joke really on us? Who knows?


  • I want this figure SOOOOOOO badly!!!!!!!!!

    He’s on my short list, but he rarely ever comes up on ebay!

  • He’s kooky and a “lesser known” figure, That is a draw to me for some reason…

  • I remember seeing this guy as part of the subscription deal for Lee’s toy review [or one of those other now defunct toy magazines] if you subscribed or bought 25 issues you got five of this guy free.
    I remeber it was the same issue that had the rock lords feature article

    I think there were these two brothers who used to enjoy stock footage films. I recal their names were Dagit and Norbert

  • @Skymate
    Nice Angry Beavers reference, I love that show! Anyway, yeah, that was one of the special subscription deals Lee’s offered back when it was still in circulation (I can’t seem to find them on Barnes and Noble’s magazine rack lately). That was one of the deals that offered Joe items–the others included one where you got the Shark 9000 driver version of Cutter and the Beast Blaster driver version of Chun-Li; one where you got a Steel Brigade figure with patch (but no gun); and the one that I myself got, the 1993 International Action Force 4-pack. There were also deals that gave you Hot Wheels items, Star Wars figures, old Marvel figures, and the Super Powers Flash figure.

  • He would fit in nicely with the modern, non o-ring Corps! figures.

    The weird thing is that Hasbro never released a Sunbow green shirt during the vintage era. I suppose the Steel Brigade figures are the closest they ever got to a generic trooper.

  • Funny story. When i was 7 my brother [4 at the time] wanted to send away for a steel brigadier and a create a cobra. We had no American money [because we are Australian] so we drew some small pictures of George Washington [we took that saying literally] and included them in the packet. That envolope is probably still sitting in the post offices dead letter box.

    When i saw this guy in that magazine i mentioned earlier. I wasnt very interested in him. I really wanted those two Robotech [which is better than Macross, Southern cross and Mospeeda combined] figures. A pity so many toy/collector magazines have gone the way of the dodo. I used to love twisted toyfare theatre

  • I still miss Toyfare magazine.

    This reservist is far inferior to the amazing Steel Brigade but it does have some weird mystique for me too.

  • …and why the G.I.JOE team’d need reservists!?
    O.K., they’re just toys!

  • Rob doesn’t mention the whackiest part of this figure, each one had a random code name, unlike Steel Brigade where you chose the figure’s name. That was enough to almost make me wish I’d sent off for him.

  • I still have my file card from when I signed up for the club.

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