Hot Takes on G.I. Joe’s 25th Anniversary

This was originally going to be a GREAT MOMENT IN G.I. JOE HISTORY, but I felt this required a little more nuance. Anyways, while looking up something G.I. Joe related, I found this article on the 25th Anniversary, the real one, in 1989. Reading it was great, because it provided a little info, and a lot of laughs.

Here’s a link to the original:

Here’s the informative section, relevant to ARAH

When G.I. Joe was reintroduced in 1982, it was much shorter, measuring only 3 3/4 inches, and the uniforms were molded on the bodies of the figures, making the toys more like the traditional little soldiers with which boys have played Army for decades. The manufacturers, however, provided a little prompting: an action story line for G.I. Joe`s elite anti-terrorist team that battles to rid the world of Cobra, their arch-enemy.

A new era of aggressive marketing had dawned, and Hasbro was in the forefront. The number of allies and enemies and accessories, including vehicles and weapons (including AK-47 assault rifles, mortars, land mines, grenade launchers and even a stealth bomber) increased as the G.I. Joe line grew by leaps and bounds. By the end of 1982, 45 licensees were secured for related products, including clothing, shoes, videos, comic books.

And new characters keep rolling out of the Hong Kong factories. Every year 17 new members of the G.I. Joe team are offered and 17 from the previous year are carried over for a total of 34 plus 44 vehicles. Since 1964, 230 individual ”action figures” featuring a ”swivel arm battle grip” have been part of the G.I. Joe line.

Below are some of the hottest takes I’ve ever seen;

GI No Fun

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the G.I. Joe line has become a flash point for pacifists. Since 1985, people involved in the Stop War Toys Campaign of the New England War Resisters League have held a protest demonstrations at Hasbro Inc.`s Pawtucket, R.I., headquarters and at the New York toy fair.

”G.I. Joe is a real popular toy, and it`s very well marketed,” says Karen Nyer, a parent, former preschool teacher and spokesperson for the Stop War Toys Campaign. ”It`s backed up by its cartoons and its commercials, and the cartoons are extremely violent. The National Coalition on Television Violence has rated them among the most highly violent of all the war-toy cartoons on the market, averaging 84 acts of violence per hour. And they never show the consequences of the violence, so the kids get the impression that when you shoot somebody, nothing happens-a dangerous thing to teach kids.

”When G.I. Joe first came out, he was a bendy-twisty, all-right kind of a guy who could wear (Barbie`s boyfriend) Ken`s clothes-they were the same size. He had more flexibility in his play value. Now he`s only a soldier, and every character comes with a biography that tells you everything you would want to know: where he went to school-if he went to school-if he likes to stomp rats in his Army boots. Very strange trivia. It glorifies soldiering and makes killing seem like a lot of fun.”


”His enemies often have something like a prosthesis, a bizarre weapon for a hand or a leg. It gives kids a bad impression, that they`re only partly human. Most of them have foreign-sounding names-Russian or Middle Eastern. There are very few women, and one of them they describe as someone who always wants to be one of the boys but sure doesn`t look like one. There`s sexism, racism and stereotyping of handicapped people and foreigners. It`s a bad influence.”


I understand the 1980s were a time of panic and crusades against things, without allowing things like facts to get in the way. However this is amazingly slanted, and I say this as someone who ACTUALLY agrees with some of the points they’re attempting to make.



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3 Responses to Hot Takes on G.I. Joe’s 25th Anniversary

  1. A-Man says:

    Love the comments about the cartoon, because it flies right in the stupid faces of every comic book purist. Yes, it was considered a violent cartoon for its time. And the irony that the lack of consequences of violence is a critique shared by activists and “military realism” Joe fans alike (as well as Hama himself). Yet, of course if it did show death…it never would’ve aired which is what the Stop War Toys Campaign wanted….the show off the air.

    Hama glorified soldiering with his file cards. LOLZ. Wow…if only they read the comics.
    Likes to stop rats with his boots? Villains with foreign sounding names? (Destro, that evil Italian? You can see why Hasbro mostly avoided non-white baddies back then) I’ll give them the disabled criticism, though, just how many Joe villains have massive eye trauma now? Racism is a bit iffy, some Joes seem like stereotypes, but yet how many toy lines had Asian characters, Native American characters, more than one female, more than one black-American character?

  2. Mike T. says:

    Whenever you see the ill formed Facebook hot take that Joe’s aren’t “politically correct” now and that’s why Hasbro won’t make them, I remember things like this from the ’80’s. People will always complain. Joe’s not being made now because it’s been a loser for Hasbro in recent years. If the Snake Eyes movie changes that (spoiler: it won’t!) then Hasbro will pump out Joe toys in the face of complainers: just like they did 30 years ago.

  3. mwnekoman says:

    “Averaging 84 acts of violence per hour”, Violence per hour? That’s an… interesting measurement.

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