You may have noticed that I’ve recently added some new tabs along the top of the site which bring you to pages containing checklists of various toy lines. I did this to make it easier for people (myself included) to find things on the site and to perhaps provide useful information to blossoming toy collectors. I started with a couple basic lists, toy lines that haven’t been around that long or that only lasted a couple of years. Seemed like an easy enough thing to do. But then I attempted a G.I. Joe checklist. Oi Vey. Not a simple task by any means. Most of the work has even already been done for me on other reference sites like yojoe.com. But despite that, trying to assemble all that information into simple checklists is not a fun undertaking. And I was planning on starting with only the modern era, I can only imagine the nightmare it would be sorting and classifying 30 years worth of Joe figures.
I follow Yo Joe’s classifications pretty religiously on this site. Whenever you see a version number beside a Joe figures name, I got that number from yojoe.com. You’d think that numbering toys would be simple enough to figure out, the first figure is version 1, the next is version 2 and so on. The problem lies in that sometimes characters like Cobra Commander and Snake Eyes are released dozens of times in the span of a few months. It makes determining the release order a little more difficult. Sometimes a figure will be released on a single card and then the exact same figure will be released in a multi-pack or with a vehicle, does that count as a new version? This Gung-Ho is a good example of that. I got him in a multi-pack but he was later released individually carded as you see here. Sometimes for legal reasons a character will have his name changed from Airborne to Sgt. Airborne. If there has previously been 3 Airborne figures does this mean that Sgt. Airborne is Sgt. Airborne version 1 or Airborne version 4? These are just a few of the issues that pop up when classifying figures. Yojoe.com has the luxury of allowing users to search for figures in a variety of ways, alphabetical, by year, etc. My site is not primarily a reference site so I’m trying to keep it simple. I had started out listing characters by year but that quickly got muddled up so now I’m thinking I’m just gonna go straight alphabetical. Check back later to see how it’s going.
Anyway, when I compiled my list of all the 2007 figures, the first year of my beloved modern figures, I realized that I haven’t reviewed a single one of them. All of the modern Joes I’ve reviewed thus far have been 2008 releases or later. So today I figured I would tackle one of the very first modern era Joes. I did touch on the beginnings of the modern era of G.I. Joe in a recent Snake Eyes review but allow me to elaborate. In 2006 I was fully entrenched in G.I. Joe. I rediscovered the brand in 2002 when it was revived by Hasbro and I was loving it. Collecting Joes as an adult was a whole new experience from collecting them as a kid. I could blow as much money as I wanted, find everything on the internet, set up elaborate diorama displays, and build my armies to sizes that would’ve blown my 10 year old mind. The 2002-2006 figures weren’t perfect but they were fun and nostalgic.
I remember the first time I saw the ad in Toyfare magazine advertising the 25th anniversary Joes scheduled to be released in 2007. 25 of the most popular characters were being released in a new super-detailed style in celebration of the brand’s silver anniversary. The Snake Eyes figure in the ad looked amazing and my curiosity was piqued. Soon images of the other 24 figures began to trickle out and they looked awesome as well. I was 100% on board. The first figures to be released in this new style (taller, more detailed and without the deteriorating rubber O-ring to hold them together) came out in two 5 packs. A Cobra themed pack featuring the Commander, Destro, Baroness, Storm Shadow, and a Trooper. And a Joe themed pack featuring Duke, Scarlet, Snake Eyes, Roadblock and Gung-Ho. I have to take a second to comment on the packaging. The 5 pack came in a reflective angular box featuring the Joe logo and some vintage style artwork of Duke on the front. The set included a 3 dimensional representation of the Joe logo that played the Joe theme song when you pushed the star. This could be done though an opening of the sealed box. The front flap opened like a book revealing more vintage art and the figures displayed in front of a battlefield background. An excellent presentation.
As excited as I was about this new style of figure, it was clear from the get-go that there were some kinks that needed to be worked out. The female figures were pretty brutal from head to toe and Duke’s arms were so bad they have become the stuff of legend in the Joe community. Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Destro were all pretty flawless in my eyes (though a chrome head would’ve been nice) and the others fell somewhere in the middle. Gung-Ho is a middle man in need of an upgrade.
I like this head. It’s got a lot of character and is far from generic. It’s been re-used to create new versions of Leatherneck and Cutter as well. And yet I don’t find it really suits any of these characters. Gung-Ho was featured prominently in the cartoon and he had some memorable PSAs. His look is very iconic and even though I like this head it fails to encapsulate Gung-Ho. The facial structure isn’t right and the signature ‘stache is all wrong. I am willing to accept this head as the new Gung-Ho but I wish they had retired it afterwards. It’s too distinct to be re-used for multiple characters.
Gung-Ho is bigger in stature and musculature than the other figures in the pack which is awesome. Most vintage Joes all had the same build so it’s nice to see Hasbro designing multiple body types to add some diversity to the line. The body is pretty cool but not as cool as I thought it was gonna be based on the promotional images, but such is advertising. I’ve never had a Big Mac that looked anything like the ones in the ads either. The body is a pretty good update to that of the original ’83 figure. A figure I never had by the way, Doug did. I didn’t get my first Gung-Ho until the Joe revamp in 2002. The main issue I have with this figure is the articulation. Specifically his ankles. Articulated ankles are cool but not if they can’t support the weight of the figure. My Gung Ho is always falling over so he’s stuck at the back of the shelf so he has something to lean on.
The paint job is good and the accessories are decent. He has a grenade launcher and a backpack just like the original but he also has a pistol, removable vest and a display stand. The crappy stand is as much to blame for his contsant falling over as his ankles. It’s only got one foot peg and it’s got a Joe logo on it which makes the surface uneven. This is by no means the best specimen to showcase the evolution of Joe figures that took place in 2007 but it’s not the worst. Gung-Ho could really use an update in the superior 30th anniversary style. This is a character that deserves a great figure, not just an alright figure. 5 out of 10.