After years of dormancy, 2020 is the year that Hasbro finally relaunched their G.I. Joe brand. Outside of various G.I. Joe comic book series from various comic book publishers, Hasbro has left hungry Joes fan starving over the last few years. G.I. Joe toys haven’t been on the retail shelves since 2016 (the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club continued to get exclusive direct-to-consumer figures up until 2018), there hasn’t been a new G.I. Joe cartoon since 2011 (G.I. Joe: Renegades), and the last G.I. Joe live-action movie was released back in 2013 (G.I. Joe: Retaliation).
This year, that’s all changing. Here’s the rundown of what’s coming and what’s already out there for fans of G.I. Joe:
The news had been out for awhile that Hasbro & Paramount Pictures were developing an origin story starring Snake Eyes. Then casting started to leak, then a release date… Supposedly the movie will arrive on October 23, 2020, but with the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, who knows if that will even happen. Oh well, the machine is in motion as Hasbro is going all out with a merchandising blitz to help rebuild the G.I. Joe.
Referred to as both G.I. Joe Origins: Snake Eyes and simply Snake Eyes in the press, this is the focal point of Hasbro’s relaunch and where they hope to expand the popularity of G.I. Joe and capture mainstream success again. Snake Eyes is not a sequel or spin-off to 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but instead will serve as a reboot of the live-action Joe universe, with the next step logically (and hopefully) being a movie featuring the full G.I. Joe team. Let the debate begin over which characters should appear in that film…
Already on the shelves… I guess… depending on where you live and which store you visit… is a brand-new six-inch line of Joe figures. $19.99 is the price point just like Hasbro’s Star Wars Black & Marvel Legends lines. Highly articulated with modern design updates (that are getting a mixed reaction), a six-inch line of Joes is what fans have been begging for for years. I haven’t been able to get my hands on any yet, but some look great and some not so great.
The initial wave is Destro, Duke, Roadblock, Snake Eyes and Scarlett. Upcoming waves (and some of these are exclusives to various retail stores/websites) will include two versions of Cobra Commander, a second version of Destro, Baroness w/ Cobra C.O.I.L motorcycle, Red Ninja, Gung-Ho, Storm Shadow, a ridiculous-looking second version of Roadblock, and Beach Head.
I’m disappointed in Duke (one of my favorite Joes), so I’ll wait to see if that one ever goes on clearance. Destro, Storm Shadow & Beach Head all look great. I can’t wait to get my hands on those. Snake Eyes, the Baroness (although I don’t care about the motorcycle) & both versions of Cobra Commander look nice. The rest I will skip.
I am a little confused on who this line is for. Like others, I’m not too fond of the “modern” look of some of these figures. As many have pointed out, they look a little “Fortnite-ish”. What’s with the metal shin guards and knee pads? Yes, the Joe community was asking for 6-inch figures, but we were also asking for them to be based on their original 1980’s versions. Hopefully we can still get that at some point.
I suppose some of the designs might appeal to a younger audience, but let’s get real. Kids don’t buy toys anymore. Middle-aged men trying to recapture their youth by surrounding themselves in nostalgia buy toys. A $20 action figure is a hard sell to a younger audience, even if you “update” their look. What’s also a hard sell is bringing back a beloved franchise in today’s most popular action figure size format and then eschewing the “classic” look of those characters. It’s one thing if we’d already had years of a 6″ Joe line and it was time to shake things up, but I really think Hasbro should’ve come out laser rifle blazing with figures from the original 3 3/4″ line essentially blown up to 6″ with today’s modern sculpting and articulation.
Well, in addition to the launch of the six-inch G.I. Joe Classified line, Hasbro will be releasing a “retro”-inspired G.I. Joe four-inch line exclusively at Walmart. These are not done in the classic 3 3/4″ O-ring style. These figures are the “modern” four-inch figures that Hasbro introduced with 2007’s G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary line and ran with on retail shelves until 2017. The figures are fine, but a lot of us really wanted O-ring style figures, but apparently Hasbro doesn’t have those original molds anymore and doesn’t want to spend the money to recreate them.
There have been a lot of complaints about this line already: figures don’t match the retro card art, figures are re-releases from previous years of the modern line, too many accessories (I think that’s a silly complaint!), “A Real American Hero” is missing, Walmart.com pre-ordering was a mess, etc. Personally, I think the line looks nice but I am disappointed they are not O-ring figures. I will still pick up a few here and there if they are based on characters I like. I would love to get the A.W.E. Striker and managed to pre-order the Cobra H.I.S.S. I did not have any of the major vehicles growing up, so I’d love to get my hands on any vehicles that come out with this line.
We have a few G.I. Joe video games to discuss!
G.I. Joe: War on Cobra was released as an app for mobile devices in January 2020. I played a little of it and it was okay. It’s one of those typical app games where you aren’t going to get very far without spending real money to buy fake money so that you can upgrade your weapons, characters & defenses, which I’m not willing to do. I think I played it for about a week before deleting it!
Coming in October 2020 is G.I. Joe- Operation: Blackout for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch & Xbox One. It will received a physical release and priced at $39.99. Character designs appear to be based on the Classified toy line. It looks like it might play similar to Transformers: Devastation (2015) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan (2016), although this Joe game doesn’t share the same developer or publisher.
Last, but definitely not least!
Hasbro’s official YouTube channel started live-streaming episodes of the classic ’80s Joe cartoon a few weeks ago. As of this blog posting, episodes were being live-streamed 24 hours a day in series order. Hasbro has also uploaded select episodes for individual viewing. It seems like every week or so they add a handful of new episodes to the stream, and just recently started adding season two episodes. Of course, I own the series on DVD, but it’s nice to fire up the live-stream whenever I’m bored and get warm ‘n’ fuzzy feels.
I wonder if they’ll ever upload the two seasons that DIC produced?
Gotta love technology. 20 years ago I was pining away to watch G.I. Joe cartoons again, back when all that was available were old VHS tapes (and they weren’t cheap!). Then we finally got a few DVD releases and now it’s all being streamed for free online 24/7!
Honestly, I care about the cartoon more than anything else. I’m happy it’s still out there to be consumed. In a perfect world, we would get a third season of the Sunbow Productions era (completely ignoring the DIC series) that follows the events of G.I. Joe: The Movie, and it would have a slightly more adult feel.