Unknown Steel Brigade

While looking through the inventory of GI Joe pics I’ve collected over the years, I happened upon this image that I captured from an eBay auction many years ago. If you were collecting Joes during the new sculpt era, you may remember that new releases were fairly regularly previewed via online auctions coming out of China. Some of the figures even sported paintjobs that were quite different from what eventually made it to stores. This is still happening to a certain extent, as there were some differently decorated figures from even this year’s batch of figures.

This apparent Steel Brigade figure never saw the light of day, and it’s an interesting variation on the classic figure. Sporting a Firefly mold for the chest and arms, which is a surprisingly effective substitute for Recondo or Duke with its crossed bandoliers, the Steel Brigade would have been a cool throwback for the modern line. The top half’s paint job makes me wonder if there wasn’t also an intent to cross over into Tiger Force. Could you imagine Steel Brigade and Tiger Force mashed up? Heads would have exploded. Unfortunately, the closest we came to a classically styled SB figure in the 2000s were the helmets included in the Anti-Venom multi-pack.

Unknown Steel Brigade


  • Not the greatest paint job, but I like it.

  • Of all the alternate figures offered during that time, this is the one that was never cheap. Even then, it was the most expensive of them all: often breaking triple digits. I believe it is the only fully painted unique mold from Asia that didn’t see release elsewhere. (The rest were repaints of figures we actually got.) However, a LOT of collectors did buy up extras of these figures off Ebay, so there are more of them than some people realize. It’s probably of the same rarity as the desert patrol set variants or the dark blue anti venom sets.

    There were lots of rumors around it: it was failed mail away, a discarded convention figure and just a test to get the helmets for the Anti Venom suit among others. How awesome would it have been to get three or four of these guys is the awful Greenshirts set? There’s speculation as to why this mold was never actually released. But, none of the theories have ever been confirmed.

  • I warmed up to the Steel Brigade, and I like this alternate version. Not crazy about the Cobra Officer legs, though; especially since the Duke legs were so prolific at the time. A near-LBC of this would be 2003 Wreckage top with Anti-Venom Duke’s legs & helmeted head.

  • A very nice looking figure. Better legs with more gear would make him near-perfect.

  • The paintjob on him looks incomplete. Makes him look like some of the ’97 c.o.r.p.s figures

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