Gung Ho (1983)

Gung Ho was one of the first GI Joe figures I obtained, not from buying in a store, but from a trade with a school friend. I had made many such trades over the first few years of my childhood Joe collecting, and I’m pretty sure I had to trade more than one Star Wars figure for him. In our little group, Star Wars was the weaker trade currency.

Looking back, I think this figure is the source of the fascination that I sometimes have with Joe figures’ trousers. More specifically, Gung Ho struck me because he was the first figure I saw that didn’t wear a matching shirt and pants, and the pants were camo at that.

There’s a kind of magic about the earlier Joes and the application of their camo patterns, especially on the waist and legs. It seems to be designed not just to appear to be a pattern, but to work with the scale of the figure. The pattern is asymmetrical yet balanced, and brilliantly simplified. Bon pantalons, Etienne.



  • His lower legs were reused for the original Duke figure, and soon his waist and arms would be used for future uses of the ’83 Duke head and chest combo. I would say that up till the introduction of the 25th Anniversary series, the only surviving pieces of the ’83 Gung-Ho (arms, waist, lower legs), Doc (back), and Major Bludd (upper legs) were all used on future Duke reissues (Anti-Venom Task Force, Comic Pack #24, Heavy Assault Squad, 1997 Duke).

  • Love the writeup. Totally ground-breaking figure.

    Bon mots pour bon pantalons!

  • I have greatly enjoyed this little look into the origin story of what would become the Nice Pants Week of legend!

    Ce sont là quelques belles pantalons, en effet!

  • I remember going nuts when I found him at a Wards store in ’83! Gung Ho was the guy who truly broke from the more generic character style seen in the previous year. He was the team’s first strongman, the Joes’ equivalent of Mr. T. You have the chest tattoo, his mustache, bald head, the cap, the camo, his gear, a neat Cajun background and the fact that he’s a Marine! It all adds up to pure awesome. Even though Roadblock kind of stole his thunder later on, Gung Ho was there first.

    • Yep, the Joes’ “tough guy” before Slaughter. Even with the figure’s weaknesses, I have a tough time using any other version of Gung Ho. Although, had the pants not been camo (plain baby blue?), I probably wouldn’t have used him much at all. I do wish they’d reversed the camo (blue on OD green pants).

  • A Gay Icon!
    Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!


  • Grenade launcher left me confused on how to use the character. It was neat, but that seems more like a support weapon for more generic character, but Gung-Ho seemed more like a in-your-face firefight guy who’d carry at least an assault rifle. But the launcher was still so associated with him, that I couldn’t replace it.

    Leatherneck’s M203 gun was the best of both worlds.

  • Something about that sky blue on his unifrom makes him one of my favorite figures ever.

  • One of my favorites as a kid and now as an adult.

  • Joes strong men! Roadblock, rock n roll and gung ho.

  • Nothing wrong with a classic tough guy.

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