Spirit (1991 UK exclusive)

How is it that in 1991 the UK and Europe got a cool repaint like this and we in the US got a neon skinned Road Pig? Spirit is still one of my favorite vintage Joe molds, and this repaint is endlessly intriguing to me. I’ve never seen an explanation as to the origins of this figure. Other countries did repaint Joe figures; the UK also had some exclusive Tiger Force sub-group repaints around the same time. The UK Tiger Force figures threw in some different colors from their US counterparts, but were still based on an existing theme. This Spirit (and a repainted Mutt from the same year) are anomalies. Why did older figures get a repaint so late in the line? What is the point of the paint job, if any? Maybe there isn’t any reason. It’s mysterious and fascinating.

The original Spirit wore such a distinctive outfit that he hardly looked military. He could have been equally at home as part of the Adventure Team. He’s also one of those figures that folks tend to point to when making a tired Village People reference about the 80’s Joes. By changing the colors, it gains a more military feel while maintaining the Native American background of the character.

The plastic seems a bit more brittle than most US figures. Combine this with the size of Spirit’s rifle fitting his hand and you’ve got an easily broken thumb.

The only drawback to the figure is the lack of painted eyebrows. Creepy. Maybe Spirit was captured and subjected to an experimental Cobra electrolysis gun.


  • I spotted this version of Spirit along with Mutt at a toy store in Spain but was prevented from acquiring the figures. Spirit’s colors and his lack of eyebrows make him look superior to the U.S. version, imho. It gives him more character. I always thought that these two were foreign variants of the Marauders series. Too bad about the plastic quality. My belief was that European Joes were of a high a caliber as their domestic brethren.

  • They’re not quite as brittle as the India figures, but they still seem more fragile than US figures. I also have the UK Mutt, and the first time I tried to put him on a battle stand, I heard a sound in his foot. I didn’t take any chances after that. 🙂

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  • The why behind the figured is pretty easy.

    The UK’s main figure line was generally 2 years behind the US. So look at 1989 in the US and we get the Marauders reprints. Slaughter, Barbeque and Footloose had all had a UK release in the earlier stages of the line – the other 3 hadn’t, although Mutt had been a part of the previous Action Force line.

    As to why they reprinted them….. Who knows?

    Likewise note that several of the Euro Tiger Force are the US Night Force reprints in a different colour scheme….. And the remaining two – blizzard and hit n run – had had a very limited UK release for just one year.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    I had never seen this figure before this article, but I think this is one of the better repaints in the entire line. I think everything about this figure works so well and the only complaint I would have is that this one doesn’t include Freedom. If this had been available to me in stores when I was a kid, I definitely would’ve got one!

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    Nevermind. I just looked at yojoe.com and this figure did include Freedom!

  • There’s nothing wrong, and everything fun, about using G.I. Joes to create your own Village People tribute band.

    Obviously Spirit is the Native American. Shipwreck is the Sailor. Tollbooth is the Construction Worker. Law is the Cop (unless you can get one of those sweet Funskool Sgt. Slaughter repaints–Supercop!) Grunt is the Soldier (though really, you’re spoiled for choices on that one). Wild Bill is the Cowboy. And Dr. Mindbender is the Leather Daddy.

    “We want you as a new recruit!”

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