Snake-Eyes (1985)


Let me tell you about a love affair that’s been going on since 1985. It involves a 3.75 inch plastic ninja commando. It began when I first saw the Revenge of Cobra mini-series. I already had an ’82 Snake-Eyes and it was one of my favorite GI Joe figures. But when I saw his new design in that mini-series, along with all the new characters that were revealed throughout the five episodes, I was totally hooked, and I had to have it.

However, I didn’t find my 1985 Snake-Eyes at a store. I don’t have a colorful story about racing to the GI Joe aisle and hurriedly hunting through the pegs to find the elusive commando. No, I obtained mine via a rather generous trade with a grade school friend. I traded a Star Wars Turret and Probot set for him. That’s right, one figure for a playset. As a kid, my friends and I did a lot of trading, and it was rare that my friends would trade Star Wars for Joes. My friend just didn’t want to give up snake-Eyes easily, and I wanted the figure badly. It was the most epic trade of my childhood.

So ’85 Snakes joined my Joe forces and held an honored place throughout the rest of my childhood collecting. When I became of an age when toys just weren’t so cool anymore, I sold off my Joe collection to a friend’s younger brother. I probably spent the money on a Guns ‘n Roses tape now that I think of it. Actually, it’s a bit of a lie to say I sold all of my Joes. I kept two. One was ’87 Battle Armor Cobra Commander, and the other was ’85 Snake-Eyes. Cobra Commander I kept just because he looked cool, but something about the Snake-Eyes figure meant more to me than all of the other Joes did, even the ones that had been with me longer. Eventually, I even got rid of the Cobra Commander, but kept Snake-Eyes.

What is it about this figure that strikes a chord with me? I think it represents the elements that began with the 1984 series and came to a head in 1985 to make the Real American Hero era the blockbuster toyline of its time. In a single figure, it represented the evolution of the 80’s GI Joe. A toy line that began as a group of similar looking green soliders became a group of colorful and varied characters, and a simple black outfitted commando became a ninja commando. With a sword.  And a wolf. Need I say more?



  • you can stop the blog now. 🙂

  • Awe, what touching story of affection between a boy and his action figure!

  • I tear to my eye. Beautiful.

  • Dude, his crotch is the worst ever. Mine broke way too easily.

    Seriously, that was an excellent tribute. ’85 Snakes is the most beloved version of the character for all the reasons noted above. I’d say you came out the winner in that particular childhood trade.

  • Hama made an interesting point… with no voice or face, everyone could pretend they were him. could be a big part of the reason he’s so popular…

  • I first found 85 figures in Feb of that year at a KB toys. As I looked over the figs on the pegs, the manager came up and remarked how that “Commando” figure had sold out in minutes when they first stocked the shelves. The longest 2+ months of my life to that point were from that day until I happened across an unopened case of ’85 Joes on the floor of a TRU. (Imagine having that today!) Inside was the first Snake Eyes figure I bought. Between that day and 1988, I broke the figure, bought another at retail, broke that one, bought one of a friend too cool for Joes, lost that one in the mysterious vortex that was my grandparent’s backyard and finally bought another off another school friend for a whopping $5 in 1987.

    All worth it.

  • I don’t have a lot of memories of how. I optained most of my figures but my 85love Snake Eyes I still remember clearly. I foind him at retail at an Alexanders store. I remember begging my father to buy him and I still have him today. And he’s still complete.

  • Finding that figure at a decent price is a beast. I haven’t found one yet, but I am seriously tired of how the secondary market overprices certain figures. I’d like to call myself more of a collector if that aspect was left out–whatever happened to ‘fair trade’, I ask you????

  • One of the most iconic figures in 30 years of G.I.JOE and Cobra…

  • As someone who looks forward and loathes nostalgia, I have to say that Hasbro has yet to completely capture the magic of this figure in any modern version. Even the “ultimate” PoC Snake Eyes lacks a certain something that this figure boasts.

    I got mine at Woolworth’s. Had it for years.

    And looking at the close-up of his head… does he have a mouth?!? If so, I now have even less respect for histrionic fanboys than I used to.

  • Nice to hear about the trade. Unfortunately, my negotiations for an ’85 Snake Eyes never took off. I was born in ’83, so grabbing one at retail wasn’t really possible. When I was about 8 or 9, my neighbor friend had one (I think he got it from an older cousin). I tried on numerous occasions to trade him multiple figures for his ’85 Snake Eyes, to no avail. When I told my dad about it, he said, “Why would you trade 10 figures for 1 figure?” To which I replied, “Because it’s the best figure ever.” (Which I still believe is true.)

    Fast forward to 2010 and I finally got the figure (with Timber!) from a guy on the YoJoe forum. I traded him my Ninja Viper for a bunch of figures on my want list. So it only took me nearly 19 years to trade for this figure.

  • I bought a lot of Joes as a kid from the local Toys R Us and Fedco, but Snake Eyes always seemed to elude me. I finally got him from a grade school friend in a trade(don’t remember what for) or maybe it was a straight up “Here ya go, I’m not into Joes anymore.” Regardless what it was, Snake Eyes quickly became my go to Joe when I’d run field operations in my backyard, front yard tree or playroom. In the trade, Snake Eyes only came with Timber. The trade/exchange never included his backpack, sword or Uzi. So I just improvised, starting him out with an extra Leatherneck’s M-60 rifle and then using any number of small arms Snake Eyes could pick up on the battlefield. He truly was my Jack, or Joe of All Trades! Yo Joe!

  • I got mine at a Fedco in March of ’85 while on a family visit. I also found Lady Jaye and Dusty on that day, little knowing that these would become three of the priciest gems in the line’s history.

  • Pingback: Joe A Day » Night Vulture (1991 Air Commandos)

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    Even though I like the 1991 version best, this one is definitely the iconic version of Snake Eyes. Every thing about this figure (and Timber!) looks cool to me except the sword. Why a scimitar? Snake Eyes (and really all ninjas) should have katanas. That’s the one thing that keeps this from being a perfect package.

  • I was completely obsessed with Snake Eyes as a kid. I was never able to find him new at the store. I didn’t get to own ’85 Snake Eyes until ’86 or ’87 when I found a kid playing with him at the local swimming pool. I struck up a conversation with the kid and make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. After begging $15 off of my mom, I completed the transaction and became the proud owner of ’85 Snake Eyes, his backpack, and Timber. I found his sword years later at a local junk store and an Iron Grenadier uzi which I mistakenly thought was the correct gun.

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