Spirit (1984)

In the days of the Sunbow cartoon, I couldn’t quite fathom why Spirit was set up as an antagonist for Storm Shadow, when Snake Eyes was also about. Maybe it was merely the philosophical bent that both characters were given in the animated series, that the writers determined the two were a good match. Then again, maybe it was due to the fact that a Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow matchup would necessitate swordplay, something from which the series shied away. Regardless, I was impressed as a kid with Spirit and Stormy’s first meeting, particularly Freedom’s role in their battle. The eagle’s catching of a shurikenmid-flight was the subject of amazed discussion on the bus ride to school the next day.

Spirit’s accessories for me show why GI Joe quickly overtook Star Wars toys as my go to playthings in the early 80s. His matching rifle and backpack, complete with an arsenal of extra darts, and his removable loincloth ratcheted up the detail and play value in the line. Add in an eagle companion that snaps onto the figure’s wrist and you had a toy that could excite most any nine year old.

I try to remember, as much as I can, when I purchased or received my childhood toys. I recall having a hard time finding Spirit initially, and I even remember my dad calling around to the toy stores for me, trying to locate him. We finally found him one day while at Children’s Palace, and I was so jazzed to get him, I think I opened the package as soon as we got back to the car. I never lost old Charlie’s accessories, but poor Freedom’s claws eventually broke, and his gold bracelets rubbed off over time. Not a big deal to me, considering he got loads of play over the years.

I don’t know if it was intentional, or just my brain seeing a connection, but I get both an Adventure Team and a Big Jim vibe when I look at Spirit nowadays, and I can imagine him in either of those 70s series. He’s one of the 1984 Joes that just exploded the concept into amazing new directions. His look isn’t really military in the least, but I think that was a strength of 80s GI Joe. Its designers and marketers weren’t content to leave Joe too solidly anchored to his past as a pure soldier.


  • Aside from the gold wear on the arms, that Spirit you have pictured here is in pristine shape! No color warp at all on the blue. If you want to take out the rust on his screws, grab some CLR.

    My first Spirit figure was the International Action Force version.

  • This is definitely one of my all time favorite Joe figures. I got into the cartoon way before I ever read the comic, so the rivalry between Spirit and Storm Shadow never seemed strange to me without Snake-Eyes’ involvement. I’ve always liked the physical appearance of Spirit and his unique outfit really helps him stand out amongst his fellow Dreadnoks. It’s also cool that he’s the first Dreadnok figure to include a pet, Freedom.

    I do wish Hasbro had released motorcycles that looked like actually motorcycles for the Dreadnoks. I can just picture Spirit riding with the other Dreadnoks, on their way to score some little chocolate donuts and grape soda as they make their rounds pillaging and causing general mayhem.

  • How on earth is Spirit a Dreadnok?

  • I’m guessing the Spirit and Stormshadow rivalry was used early in the cartoon as the writers had to promote new toys.

    I scored my Spirit a couple of years ago at a collectables fair. He was a bit colour damaged but his joints were still tight. He might have been missing his rifle, backpack and Freedom but for four bucks i cant complain.

  • This figure is very common, though seldom in pristine mint condition. The blue shirt tends to discolor, the gold rubs off the bracelets, and his dart gun is extremely brittle. Spirit a Dreadnok? Awesome! What’s great about toys is they can be whoever you want them to be. I’m often amazed how Mike T really uses his imagination and comes up with elaborate backstories and character profiles based on his inventive imagination!

  • I got Spirit for my birthday in 1984 while living in Miami for six months. It was at a TRUs store in a mall. I also got Recondo, Blowtorch, Rip Cord, Roadblock, Baroness, Scrap-Iron, and a carded Duke that same evening. (I already had the mail-in version.) Mutt & Junkyard and Storm Shadow were the hardest figures to find for me that year.

    Spirit quickly became one of my favorite characters. I liked how the Sunbow cartoon gave Freedom lots of exposure since he rarely showed up or was even named in the comic. Definitely one of the classic figures from the toy line’s golden era.

    I can understand how the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow conflict would have been more time consuming to portray in the Sunbow cartoon, especially with Snakes’ vocal condition not translating so well on the TV screen. But I never understood why Spirit took his place instead. It’s almost like they wanted the two characters who spouted the most ethnic cliches to square off against each other. It came across as being awfully stereotypical in the end.

  • @Clutch
    I’m suprised the censors allowed the little exchange Spirit and Shipwreck had in one episode [I think it was Twent question? I cant remember at the moment] But Shipwreck says “You’ll catch something off him” to Freedom, during their bonding excersie. It could have easily been misinterperted as a slur. But i dont think the writers realised it.

  • One of my all time favourite characters. I waited years to get the US version as the UK release just didn’t work for me, and I was not disappointed!

  • another UK’er who loved Spirit and waited years to get him!

    He was the only US84 carded figure that wasn’t released in the Action Force 1985 line, and didn’t feature when Action Force was resurrected in 1987 with the US85 line.

    When a repainted version (along with Lowlight and Spirit, so probably somehow linked to the Marauders figures that were never released here) was released in 1991 I leapt on it and loved it. I liked to think that Hasbro UK was actually listening and gave fans three of their most wanted characters…..

    No other version of Spirit is as good as the original molding in any of it’s three colours

  • The impression I got is Spirit seemed a natural rival because of his heightened awareness of his surroundings, being in tune with them, and being a native tracker. Ninjas are all about stealth and evasion, being undetected so a tracker, particularly a Native American one, would seem a natural foil. Also add in the quasi-mystical side to ninja’s abilities and Spirit have. It was also a cool, unlikely matchup (Native American tracker/warrior vs. Japanese ninja) you wouldn’t really see anywhere else. Snake Eyes did seem like his natural rival (even setting up a white vs. black/gray color dynamic) but when Snake Eyes wasn’t around, Spirit seemed like the only Joe who could pose a real threat to him, with maybe Quick Kick doing better than the average Joe in hand-to-hand combat and dodging shurikens.

    Spirit was cool. It seemed like he should’ve gotten another figure (besides the Marauders repaint) before he took up hang gliding. The figure has so much detail packed into it and so much color (and without really clashing or seeming garish either).

    Rob says Spirit was hard to find for him. Did anyone else have difficulty finding Spirit?

  • My Spirit was a garage sale copy without his gear. Good thing his weapon and pack were in an accessory pack I had. No Freedom or loin cloth, but was good enough until the Marauders one came out. Actually, the Marauders one had that weaked plastic, so my used one was still better in a sense.

  • Iconic G.I.JOE, but I hate his weapon…

  • Much as I like Spirit as an action figure and as a character in the comics, I’ll always resent him for taking Snake Eyes’ place as Storm Shadow’s designated rival in the cartoon.

  • The only Dreadnok figures I ever had were Super Sonic Road Pig and Ninja Force Zartan. To my knowledge, the only two Dreadnoks in the original line that didn’t even mention the Dreadnoks anywhere. When you want a full roster of Dreadnoks, but really don’t have that many to begin with, you need to be able to improvise.

  • @Philip Ayres – UK solidarity, where is Hasbro over here now?

    @Neapolitan Joe – for once I disagree with you. I thought Spirit’s arrow-firing rifle was a nice modernised homage to a traditional Native American weapon.

  • @ Yes Dekkard, but I think it is difficult to use against Cobra troopers armed with AK 47s. Maybe it’d be useful for “stealth” missions only…

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