Hasbro’s G.I. Joe toy line gave birth to the term “action figure” in 1964. It’s gone through various sizes from the 12-inch (1/6), 8-inch (1/9, known as Sigma 6) and the definitive 3 3/4-inch (1/18) scale (popularly known as “A Real American Hero” or ARAH). G.I. Joe has seen retail victory and defeat. Now, it returns in the 6-inch (1/12) scale, currently the hottest scale for action figures.
Hasbro’s done this before, with the release of the Star Wars Black Series, a deluxe line of 6-inch incarnations of what had traditionally been 3 3/4 -inch figures. These are not just upsized molds but more detailed designs of the characters.
Rumors have been circulating that Hasbro has been preparing a 6-inch G.I. Joe line for a while now, something fans have noted along with the paucity of new G.I. Joe merchandise and toys for a while now.
The G.I. Joe: Classified Series wave 1 is made up of three classic characters and is scheduled for wide retail release in June, 2020. A fourth classic character is due for a limited release in July.
The general releases are Duke, Roadblock and Scarlett. They come in a very stylized design that has never been seen before, something like a more severe and futuristic version of the 2010 “G.I. Joe: Renegades” animated series. While the announcement of the new G.I. Joe line has toy collectors excited, die-hard fans are divided about the new designs as they had been hoping for 6-inch designs that were more faithful to the ARAH iterations; the new Roadblock, for example, is equipped with what appears to be a high-tech railgun rather than his traditional M-50 machine gun. Scarlett has a sci-fi-looking crossbow and Duke has a rifle straight out of “Aliens.” The new G.I. Joe: Classified Series seems aimed at newer collectors who have not collected G.I. Joe before and goes in a vastly different design philosophy for Hasbro as the Black Series actually brought an even more realistic design aesthetic to the various Star Wars 3 ¾-inch figures.
The final figure in the first wave is sure to win over all kinds of collectors as he is the most popular of all the Joes: Snakes Eyes. So far, Snake Eyes will only be available in July as an online exclusive from Hasbro’s subscription-only Hasbro Pulse service. It looks like the exclusive has regular Snake Eyes in the line’s retail packaging with additional ninja training gear such as a spear, axes, a sword, sais and a weapons rack to hold them.
The Snake Eyes figure itself is far closer to the ARAH aesthetic and is extremely articulated, just right for a ninja commando. He has a whole panoply of weapons including an Uzi submachinegun, a pistol, knives and a katana. The figure appears cast in black plastic (with both matte and glossy finishes) with silver paint apps.
This is clearly the prize of the line and the existence of the G.I. Joe: Classified Series packaging for Snake Eyes indicates that the figure will eventually be available for general retail without the extra ninja training weapons but with the guns and knives.
The G.I. Joe property has seen popularity as a comic book (originally with Marvel, Devil’s Due and now with IDW) and as an animated series (most notably the iconic 1983 “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” cartoon series from Sunbow and Marvel). It’s been brought to the big screen with “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” in 2009 and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” in 2013. The third movie in the series, the prequel “Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins,” starring Henry Goulding as the titular ninja commando, has wrapped filming and will be out in October.