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Continued: No ordinary Joe: Fans go wild for G.I. Joe

  • Article by: AIMEE BLANCHETTE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 19, 2014 - 4:01 PM

Schreiber added: “To see [him] go by the wayside was a bummer.”

With no superpowers to hang his hat on, G.I. Joe slipped into obscurity as interest shifted to action figures from a galaxy far, far away.

At the beginning of the 1980s, G.I. Joe’s career was resuscitated when he was recruited to take on a new, powerful foe: a ruthless terrorist organization called Cobra.

By this time, G.I. Joe had shrunk to 3 ¾ inches, making him an unsuitable date for the 11 ½-inch Barbie. Still, “The Real American Hero” had an army of new soldiers to help him fight terrorism. Snake Eyes, Duke and Scarlett represented America’s melting pot and were united against Cobra.

Suddenly, G.I. Joe’s career was lightning in a bottle all over again, spawning cartoons, comic books, video games and movies — where his battles with Cobra were well-documented. He drove around in slick new armored vehicles and piloted a giant aircraft carrier. He slipped into an “eco-suit” to stop bad guys from dumping toxic sludge into the environment.

But by 1995, G.I. Joe grew weary of sharing the spotlight with Luke Skywalker, Donatello and a team of mighty morphing martial artists. The competition was fierce and G.I. Joe was fading.

Nearing the end?

During the next decade, G.I. Joe tried to make a comeback. He regained his original height, but only to mark a few of his anniversaries. In 2004, he was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, where he joined his friends Mr. Potato Head and, of course, Barbie.

Now, at 50, many of his fans are wondering if G.I. Joe’s career is nearing the end.

“I honestly think G.I. Joe is dead to kids — for now, anyways,” said Chris Short, 48, of Minnetonka.

Short, a serious collector of G.I. Joe memorabilia, has spent more than $35,000 in a single day at toy auctions: “For the most part, I don’t think children care or even know [who] G.I. Joe is.”

Hasbro, the company that makes G.I. Joe, insists the action figure “continues to inspire the imagination of kids and fans around the world.” Plans are in the works for “exciting new publishing ventures,” more movies and action figure sets to honor the hero, the company said.

But while movies may rekindle his memory, his final mission can’t be far away.

“G.I. Joe and I had all sorts of adventures,” Kitchen said. “I can remember how excited I was on Christmas in 1973 when I was first introduced to him. All those memories I have are going to slip away. And all those adventures he and I had? Who will remember those?”


Aimee Blanchette • 612-673-1715


  • G.I. JOE

    Born: 1964.

    Education: The real world.

    Military service: All four branches of the U.S. armed forces.

    Interests/hobbies: Joined Adventure Team in 1970, fighting terrorism and tigers.

    In the media: TV cartoon series; theatrical movies “G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra” and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”

    Honors: Member of the National Toy Hall of Fame.

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