In real life world, 10 years sometimes can go by in a flash…although a lot has changed for me personally since 2000, it still seems like it just flew by. I’ve gained a wife, 2 children, moved back to my hometown, gone through two different jobs, lost 125 pounds, and completely changed my career path and overall life philosophy. Yet, it still kinda feels like yesterday.
In G.I. Joe world, however, the past 10 years might as well have been 5 separate lifetimes. It’s been a roller coaster ride for certain since the 2000’s began, and this decade has been absolutely loaded with G.I. Joe related events. So what are the ten most important events of the past 10 years? Here they are, in my opinion (below the jump):
- 10. – YoJoe.com comes into it’s own. Yes, technically YoJoe came into existence in the late 90’s, but I believe it really flourished during the early 2000’s as the archive swelled, the vehicles section came online and its popularity just continued to grow and grow. While many folks might not count this as a key moment in G.I. Joe history, I don’t see how it can be anything but. When several enterprising Joe fans pooled their resources and formed the ultimate G.I. Joe reference site and archive, it fueled the imagination and desire of fans everywhere, and single-handedly sparked the online Joe fandom into a fever that I personally had not been a part of in my entire Joe collecting history. The importance of YoJoe.com in the grand scheme of things, especially from the perspective of an online fan and Joe Collector simply cannot be ignored. Without a doubt, this deserves a spot in the top 10. It has changed ownership throughout the years, but it remains and invaluable resource and a great beacon of G.I. Joe history that has drawn many fans into the online community.
- 9. – G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Collection debuts at US Retail. While not quite as ground-breaking as the mass retail mega-release of G.I. Joe vs. Cobra, Hasbro elected to reuse a scattering of vintage tooling, double-pack them and unleash them upon the world as the “Real American Hero Collection”. While the line did have it’s share of detracters, mostly focused on the plethora of greens and browns in the line as well as the over-abundance of paint wipes, by and large the fans were thrilled that a new toyline was at major retail outlets. I fondly remember being on my honeymoon and hitting up coffee shops in the Pokonos so I could check the boards and see the blurry pictures that first showcased these new figures. As a nice side effect, being one of the very first folks nationally to find these figures kick-started the GeneralsJoes review extraveganza, which continues on to this day. Reviews can be found right here.
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- 8. – Hasbro shocks the world with Sigma 6. As the “new sculpt” era was obviously drawing to a close, Hasbro once again reinvented the G.I. Joe brand, but this was a whole new world…the scale was bumped up to 8″, the style was completely changed, and it, of course, turned the entire G.I. Joe world on its ear. Many fans stoically refused to accept a new scale, style, and universe, but by a few folks, Sigma 6 was embraced, and embraced fiercely. Now, a few years beyond its life, the toyline is (if not loved) at least fully respected for its place in history and the fact that besides the scale and style issues, it was a GREAT toyline. Finally accompanied by a mainstream animated series (for the first time since the 90’s) Sigma 6 made a play to once again bring the Joe brand into the mainstream, but ultimately a substandard cartoon and somewhat expensive toyline seemed to doom the line to failure. Regardless of the size faults, it was a great toyline, and an interesting way to try and catapult G.I. Joe back into the limelight. Check out all of my coverage of Sigma 6 at the reviews page, or with the Sigma 6 Celebration!
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- 7. – G.I. Joe Collectors Club begins selling 3 3/4″ Exclusives. Once Hasbro finally put some energy behind a 3 3/4″ G.I. Joe line in 2002, the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club followed suit, and for the first time offered a large scale 3 3/4″ exclusive set for attending their convention in the forum of the original Crimson Strike Team. It was a runaway hit, and the club has never looked back, last year celebrating that event with a 25th Anniversary homage to that same set from a number of years ago. Since then, the focus on the 3 3/4″ area of collecting as increased 100 fold and motivated hundreds (if not thousands) of G.I. Joe fans from all ages to congregate at the Conventions on an annual basis. It has helped forged lifelong friendships and attachments based purely on an action figure toyline. Reviews, of course, can be found here.
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- 6. – G.I. Joe: Resolute amazes Joe fans everywhere. Since the inception of G.I. Joe back in the 80’s, many of the long time fans (even back then) dreamed of a universe where G.I. Joe was a gritty, real world military team not afraid to use deadly force. However, every animated rendition of G.I. Joe we saw gave us the same somewhat childish, “super hero” aspects that removed a lot of the military appeal and really watered down what many folks considered the core coolness of the G.I. Joe brand. G.I. Joe: Resolute changed all that. With some awesome, revolutionary, modern day uniform and character designs, extreme action sequences, and several dozen Cobra deaths, Resolute gave many fans exactly what they’ve been looking for. Bad ass action, gritty military realism, and a Snake Eyes who actually uses his sword. Sure, there were some flaws, but Resolute struck a chord with Joe fans and just fans in general, more so than even the Rise of Cobra film did.
- 5. – Hasbro reinvigorates G.I. Joe with the 25th Anniversary Line. Once again, G.I. Joe seemed dead and on the slab. Sigma 6 was phased out, the 3 3/4″ Direct to Consumer line had failed to captivate the fandom, and there seemed like no real news on the horizon…then along came with 25th Anniversary. For the first time in several years, Hasbro really seemed to take the collector perspective at heart, totally revamped the sculpting and articulation, and released a purely homage-based toyline designed to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. The popularity caught on almost immediately and spawned a new generation of G.I. Joe fans, and still managed to captivate and impress long time fans who had a fierce devotion to the familiar o-ring style. As the line continued, sculpting, articulation, and weapons allotment improved exponentially, and produced a number of fantastic toys, which helped reignite the brand as a whole.
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- 4. – Devils’ Due Publications reignites the Marvel Comics Universe. Along with a brand new G.I. Joe toyline, Devils’ Due threw some cash Hasbro’s way and bought the license to produce new G.I. Joe comic books, based on the Marvel Universe. Like everything else, it created a fairly devisive schism in the collecting community, but by and large, the brand brought mainstream awareness back to the G.I. Joe comic brand, and created a new universe that drew many, many G.I. Joe fans back into the fold. Tapping the resources of Larry Hama, and bonafide fan-to-celebrity Brandon Jerwa, Devils’ Due crafted some great stories that breathed new life into the brand that it hadn’t had since 1994.
- 3. – The Return of the O-Ring. It was 2002, and the fandom was fired up about a new G.I. Joe line for the first time since 1994…that is until they actually saw the figures. It was a crushing blow to most Joe fans that figures known mostly for their articulation and action had such restricted movement that they almost seemed like of a shell of their former selves. The fans led a barrage of emails, snail mails, and communications to Hasbro, demanding the return of the o-ring, and with Wave 2 of G.I. Joe vs. Cobra, Hasbro re-incorporated the o-ring into G.I. Joe once again. The end result was still fairly mixed, with many long time fans turning their noses up at the dreaded “new sculpt” line, but the fact is, Hasbro listened to the fans, heard the yells, and made actual structural changes to their toys based on that.
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- 2. – G.I. Joe vs. Cobra debuts in 2002. As a mass release, mainstream brand, G.I. Joe had been dormant since 1994, and there didn’t seem to be any real inclination to get it back to its past glory. Sure, Toys “R” Us had their own Commemorative edition 3-packs and vehicles, and the Real American Hero collection utilized existing tooling and rode the repaint train into a new limited release collectible line, but it had limited appeal and no real mainstream attention. In 2002, Hasbro once again invested new tooling dollars into a mainstream G.I. Joe and Cobra line with newly tooled vehicles, new figures, and a whole new universe. Granted, the lack of mobility and shlocky pre-posed figures caused much fandom outrage, but this was still a milestone that helped catapult G.I. Joe into the 21st Century. For any reviews of these older toys, check out the Reviews Archive
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- 1. – G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Like it or not, the mainstream motion picture film is, without a doubt, the most important event in the G.I. Joe universe since it’s hayday of the 80’s. I’m not talking about “best”, I’m not talking about “my favorite”, I’m talking purely in the sense of importance to the future of the brand and for mainstream visibility. I never heard or saw more mainstream press on the G.I. Joe brand until the Rise of Cobra came into the public consciousness. Like everything, it divided the fandom in impressive ways and created a fantastic source of discussion, debate, and more interest than I’ve seen in a very long time.
Like it or not, enjoyed it or not, I don’t think anyone can argue that 2009 and the Rise of Cobra was one of the most influential years and events in recent G.I. Joe history. It shaped the brand and the path to success (for better or worse) for more than anything in the past ten years, no doubt about it.
It will be extremely interesting to see what the next 10 years brings. It’s absolutely incredible that ten years ago, G.I. Joe was mostly an after thought, and many of the online fandom had doubts that a full time Joe line would ever appear at retail again. But here we are, ten years later, with thousands of toys released, several animated features, a video game, a multi-million dollar motion picture, and plenty of devoted fans spending way too much time discussing the ins and outs of this toyline which has enjoyed far more success than I think anyone ever dreamed in 1982.
Here’s hoping the next ten years are just as eventful. Happy New Year, all.