“Gold Head” Steel Brigade
As mail-ins go, the later issue Steel Brigade figure is pretty interesting. The original is by no means a slouch, and by the 90s had been quite a novel approach to offering kids a special figure. Though no parts were chosen by the young fans, the bio and specialties were generated from choices marked on the order form. I can’t think of many other toy lines that have created this sort of exclusive personalized toy. It’s true that the marketing team were diabolical in their methods of keeping Joe’s buying audience interested.
By the time the 90s rolled in, GI Joe wasn’t quite the unstoppable force it had been. With an army of mutant turtles and their multicolored arsenal of characters and weapons arrayed against then on the pegs, the Joe team called in a splash of color to save the day. It didn’t work out, of course, but the line was surely more visible for it. Even venerable mail-ins like the Steel Brigade answered the call to fight with brighter brights. The fancy little patch also had its colors switched about to reflect the new 90s sensibilities.