The Power of Packaging: Sand Striker


Today, it’s another entry focused on GI Joe toy packaging. Over the years, my interest in toys has evolved from an appreciation of the playthings themselves, to their marketing and packaging. The situation is a bit odd for me, considering that I generally open new toys when I buy them. I have a few choice items that I’ve bought with the intent to leave them in their cardboard and plastic prisons, either for sentimental reasons of for the enjoyment of the box art.

I will say this in favor of GI Joe Extreme: the line’s packaging design was incredibly consistent. The logo, backgrounds, and color schemes were striking, to say the least. I think they still stand out in a way that’s bombastic but not garish. If you place a lot of the carded figures and boxes together, it makes for a nicely cohesive display. Looking through the lens of the current day however, the series’ overall look isn’t appealing to most Joe fans. Okay, most folks actually haven’t liked it since 1996. But I’m one to try to find the silver lining when I can, and with Extreme, some of that lies in the packaging.

The Sand Striker is one of several vehicles in the line, and this one is unique in that it converts for another use–shades of Kenner’s MASK. Presentation is simple and direct on the box front, much like the Real American Hero series. The vehicle is front and center, framed by an explosion of sorts. If a weapon can fire, it’s doing so in the illustration. Here, the Ultra Slam gimmick is almost firing right off the box. Like Sgt. Savage before it, the art is done in a graphic, comic book style rather the painterly presentations common on GI Joe packages from the 60s through the early 90s. Again, not everyone’s cup of tea, but bold nonetheless.


  • Speaking of MASK, as a kid (and even now) I always enjoyed their packaging. The front always had beautiful artwork of the vehicle in question in a battle adventure scene, while the back of the box would focus on a photograph of the actual toy, figure, and mask. I always thought those MASK boxes were very well done.

  • I can’t deny, the art really works on selling this toy. Upon closer inspection (the photo), it looks a lot less like something I’d want. And I kept reading “Ultra-SLAM” as “Uncle SLAM” thanks to the red, white, & blue graphic.

  • No matter what Kenner/Hasbro did back in the mid 90’s nothing could sway kids away from power rangers.

  • I liked it all, even at that time. Only thing, I couldn’t afford much, and had much more interest in adding to my 3.75″ Joe!

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