Mercury Astronaut (1997)
GI Joe has a long history of astronaut tie-in toys, dating back to 1966. It only stands to reason, as the 1960s were the space decade. Just a few years after the introduction of the moveable fighting man, Hasbro produced a space capsule and astronaut set. Later iterations were more fanciful, and by the 1990s, the small scale GI Joe line even had a dedicated outer space task force.
The Classic Collection’s revival of real-world military based GI Joe figures branched out again into space with the Mercury Astronaut. The resulting figure incorporated elements of the old along with new, more accurate details. The spacesuit is very accurate to the actual Mercury suits, including elements that were left off of the vintage 60s figure. Since the Mercury pilots didn’t have built-in air supply within their suits, they carried a breathing apparatus that connected via a tube. Other simple additions like a chest mounted mirror added realism to the toy. Even the double zipper system more closely resembled what existed back in the real-world example.
This time around, the foil covered suit has been replaced with a more durable silver fabric. Although the effect isn’t quite as striking as the vintage counterpart, it seems to have held up to the tests of time thus far. The new material also allows for a closer fit and retention of articulation while the figure is in the suit. The overall feel of the uniform is ultimately richer than the military Classic Collection figures of the time.