Sunday, March 18, 2012

The 100 Best G.I. Joe Figures

This is the hundredth article I have written for this blog. And to celebrate, I've chosen to create a list of the hundred best G.I. Joe figures!

Naturally I want to make blog entry number one hundred something special. All though it feels strange to leave out the food part, I have been wanting to make a list of my favorite toys for quite a while. This is the right occasion. Now, I had initially planned on it being the top ten toys I own. But as soon as I started sorting my favorite toys, I realized it would be all Joes anyway. And I would never be satisfied with just ten. Or twenty. Or fifty.

So here's the hundred best figures in the G.I. Joe - A Real American Hero toy line (that I own). Also, this marks not only blog entry one hundred, but also the start of G.I. Joe Month here in Toys and Bacon. I'll make sure to get some food related stuff in as well, but every article for the next month will have a relation to Joes.
Now on to the list...

I have a variety of reasons for picking these figures, but I can assure you the decision was not easy. I had at least 150 figures I wanted to include in the list, so sacrifices had to be made.
I'm referencing a lot to the comics, sometimes to the card art and filecards. If you feel like reading more about these toys, I suggest you use, as it's the most complete database on G.I. Joes.

100 Alley Viper (1989)
It's very orange, but Alley Viper comes with a great sculpt and some cool accessories. I kinda wish he was released in gray colors. One of my favorites as a kid, mostly due to the shield and visor.

99 Red Star (1991)
A really cool sculpt, with a massive amount of awesome accessories. Comes with one of the coolest rifles in the line, a knife, and a hat - which is always amusing.

98 Big Bear (1992)
Another apparently Russian character. I like the natural look of this guy, both his rifle, his backpack, and the outfit that makes him seem ready for a cold winter near the arctic circle. A favorite from my childhood days. Both Red Star and Big Bear are of a very special breed. They are the more realistic looking post-1991 figures, in a pool of neon green space suits and bright yellow weapons.

97 Freefall (1990)
A figure I ignored as a kid, but I really like it today. One of the many paratroopers in the line, a great face sculpt and realistic accessories. Freefall also had amazing card art.

96 Night Viper (1989)
You know it's going to be interesting when Night Viper is at number 96. A favorite among most Joe collectors for his dark, tactical outfit, and the night vision scope. I liked this as a kid, but found his weapon a bit strange.

95 Crimson Guard Immortal (1991)
Another 90s figure, a great remake of the original CG. Is still recognizable as a Crimson Guard, yet updated enough to be an entirely new toy.

94 Law (& Order) (1987)
Except to see almost all of the 1987 Joes in this list, it was by far my favorite series of figures. Law comes with several great accessories, among them a German shepherd named Order. Law's headsculpt has Hasbro designer Kirk Bozigian's likeness.

93 Crankcase (1986)
The G.I.Joe line separated itself greatly from many other lines with its vehicle drivers. With other lines it was not uncommon to see either no drivers, or cheap repaints without accessories piloting the cars and planes. Not only had the vehicle drivers in the G.I.Joe line a unique sculpt and additional accessories, they also had their very own bio and filecard. Many of them appeared regularly in the comics and cartoon. It feels like they gave the vehicle drivers just as much attention as the single carded figures. Crankcase has an amazing sculpt, a unique rifle and has regular appearances in the Joe media.

92 Scarlett (1982)
It's hard to get women's faces right in an action figure. I don't know why, but it must be hard. Most of the women in the G.I. Joe line has rather weird faces. Scarlett could very well be considered a main character, specially in the comics. It's sad that we never got a better toy in this costume. It would have made sense to give her an update in 1985, when Snake Eyes got his second version. Still, I don't really mind 1982 Scarlett. It's certainly better than the the various Princess Leia figures from the first Star Wars toy lines.

91 Grunt (1983)
Grunt is the basic soldier, and in my eyes the epitome of the first years of Joes. He comes with a helmet, backpack and a rifle. His outfit is green, the sculpt is simple, and his face is uncharacteristic. If you compare this toy with the 1991 version of Grunt, it's almost hard to understand how it's the same toy line.

90 Techno Viper (1994)
Techno Viper was a great one, originally released in 1987, this is the repaint from 94. It was featured in the Star Brigade sub series, and came with one of the two Power Fighters. I've written more about the Power Fighters here. This version of Techno Viper is a remarkably shiny repaint of a good sculpt, and very much fitting for Star Brigade.

89 Dice (1991)
One of the two evil ninjas from 91's Ninja Warriors sub line. A great sculpt, and monumental card art. Suffers from having a play feature that was outdated already back in the days of Masters of the Universe.

88 Slice (1991)
Yes, I like Slice that 1% better than Dice. Sleek outfit, sword and dagger, he fitted more with my view of a ninja. Both Slice and Dice had some cool comic appearances.

87 Cobra Commander (1983)
This isn't a particularly interesting action figure on its own right, but it just fits perfectly with the character. The fascist styled suit, face obscured by a shiny face plate, combining the traditional military suit style with high technology helmet and gun. Expect to see a Cobra Commander closely resembling this toy in the upcoming movie, and realize there's a reason us fans are more excited this time around.

86 Interrogator (1991)
A severely underrated figure. One of the best sculpts in the entire line came packed with a functional, hand driven helicopter. Just notice the details, the brass knuckles, the metal bracelets on his arms and feet. The mean looking helmet. Sadly this guy was (to my knowledge) never featured in the media. I had this guy with Sub-Zero's huge machine gun mowing down Joes in the day and torturing suspected Joe spies on the evening.

85 Major Bludd (1983)
An amazing character from the early comics, had far more depth than many of the main villains. A very unique toy too, with the robotic arm. I suspect this is one of the figures you'll never find in any other top lists, but here it is. Trust me, he belongs.

84 Iceberg (1986)
Oh I loved this guy. He was very sparsely equipped, with a single rifle. But on the plus side he had cool card art, a deliciously mint colored vest, and one of the filecards I remember. He didn't like to be warm, he had to be somewhere cold. It didn't hurt that I loved the arctic figures in general.

83 Blizzard (1988)
Another arctic trooper that came with tons of accessories. The exact opposite of Iceberg in that matter. Two guns, skis, spiked shoes, removable helmet, and some kind of weird sled he could ride. Also notice the compass on his left hand and the carbine hook on his waist. That's attention to details! Great card art, but sadly, Blizzard was never given any feature in the comics.

82 Windchill (1989)
This guy is a vehicle driver. You know.. I almost get emotional writing this. It's a completely irrelevant character, and he came packed with a rather cool vehicle. Kids would have bought this even if Windchill was a repaint of Iceberg or something.
But he wasn't. He had an entirely unique sculpt, he came with a pair of skis, and one of the coolest guns in the line. There's a reason G.I. Joe are heads above any other toy line, and the effort Hasbro put into their vehicle drivers is a big part of that greatness.

81 Mutt & Junkyard (1985)
There's a lot of the mid 80s good guys that have failed to make the list. Barbecue, Airtight, Blowtorch, Sci-Fi. It could have been because I mainly prefer the more realistic figures. But that's not really the case, as you'll see further down the line. Like I said earlier, it was hard to cut figures I love, but there was only room for hundred. Mutt is the second dog handler on the list, came with a realistic sculpted Rottweiler, and tons of great accessories. Notice the protection glove he has for training Junkyard. Monumental appearances in the comic, and had vicious card art.

80 Road Pig (1988)
Here are five villains that many would say look silly. It's not that I disagree, but I don't think a silly looking toy is necessarily a bad thing. I'll argue that all these figures were very attractive to 10 year old boys, and I still find them interesting for a number of reasons. Road Pig was a special character in the comics, and I think the toy was a good representation. Cool accessories, imposing on the card art.

79 Tele-Viper (1985)
I saw a list with the 10 worst Joes or something, and Tele Viper was featured, along with several other figures I have included in my list. Tele Viper may not be the most exciting character or toy, but it's very valuable when playing out story lines. I like it, which means it's a good toy. I mean, at this point, who do you trust when it comes to G.I. Joe figures?

78 Serpentor (1986)
Larry Hama made this ridiculous character amazing and non-silly. That's good writing. Seriously, the old comics Marvel published, written by Hama, are amazing all the way through. And even when they introduce Serpentor, it doesn't feel lame. The Serpentor/Battle for Springfield story arch is monumental.
Also, cloth accessories are always fun. I'm a big fan of Serpentor, and I feel he could have been higher on the list. You see, while the sculpt on the armor is great, the face sculpt is absolutely awful.

77 Gnawgahyde (1989)
How cool is this dude?? Extremely thorough sculpt with some great details, like dogtags and leatherstraps on his arm. He came with tons of cool accessories that I have lost over time, that only added to his coolness. Bow - Check. Knife, poacher's rifle, machete, Crocodile Dundee-styled hat - Check, check, check. Wild Boar Pet - Check!

76 Voltar (1988)
He comes with a vulture, and has a costume in candy color! Toys are meant to be fun. Voltar definitely is fun.

75 Charbroil (1988)
The late 80s are often forgotten when there's talk about G.I. Joe - a Real American Hero. That's a bit too bad, because the sculpting got gradually better, and while the figures got increasingly more specialized and crazy - they are all still very relevant to the theme. Charbroil was the second guy with a flamethrower (first was Blowtorch), and had one of the best pieces of card art. Also, hologram sticker on his backpack. Who doesn't love hologram stickers?

74 Spearhead (1988)
I have no relevant reason for including this guy, just the feeling of opening him a summer day. Came with a bobcat named Max as his pet.

73 Lightfoot (1988)
I'm still not sure what this guy does, but I believe it has something to do with explosives. Was one of three 1988 Joes featured in that issue of the comic. You know the one where you follow various soldiers in the Joe training camp. Repeater, Budo and Lightfoot make it out as official new members of the team, only to almost be killed in their first mission. Amazing stuff. Also, hologram sticker!

72 Muskrat (1988)
The surfboard and machete are nice accessories, but the fact is that this guy is just cool looking. One of the best shotguns we ever got, and a relaxed grin on his face. You know this guy likes to drink beer, skim the swamps on his board, and shoot Cobras.

71 Snake Eyes v4 (1991)
This was Snake Eyes' costume from when the comic actually got renamed into "G.I. Joe featuring Snake Eyes". Apart from the obvious orange weapons, it's a great costume. Where v3 was full out ninja, v4 was going back to the "commando" theme. I like that. Obviously, it doesn't hurt that he still came with swords. He's still the second greatest ninja in existence (the greatest is a Fresno kid called Tommy).

70 Admiral Keel-Haul (1985)
Ok, let us head out to the open sea. If you saw my ocean display from the museum, you know I like the ocean theme in G.I. Joe. I have army built both Wet Suit and Eels, for those great underwater battles.
Keel-Haul came with the mighty USS Flagg, which should need no introduction, as it's one of the greatest toys in the world. Keel-Haul features an amazing sculpt and a very delicate paint, all though I will admit I have  given him a paint job on his shirt and medals.

69 Decimator (1990)
Another vehicle driver, Decimator came with the imposing Hammerhead. Interestingly enough, we saw two sub-sea wheeled vehicles for Cobra within two years (BUGG in 88, Hammerhead in 90). But I don't feel that's one too many, as they're both ridiculously awesome. Both their drivers are included in this list. Decimator is here because I really like the sculpt. And I find it interesting how much his character changes with his helmet on.

68 Wet Suit (1986)
I've talked about the 1986 Joes before. It's the year many of the 1982-83 specialties got updated. We got a new diver for the Joes in Wet Suit. Torpedo isn't a bad figure, by any means, but Wet Suit has that modern touch with his sculpt. He's also very different from Torpedo in resembling a more casual diver. I like that. Sure, he could have had a harpoon or something, but it doesn't really feel like he needs more accessories.

67 Eels (1985)
These guys just look amazing. I suspect Eels would be placed a lot higher in many peoples' lists, rightfully so. It's an amazing sculpt, the card art is great, and the Eels were featured in many of the most memorable issues of the comic. There's nothing to not love here. It just happens that my favorite Cobra diver is...

66 Hydro Viper (1988)
I failed to include Hydro Viper's coolest accessory in the picture: his manta ray pet. I like the fact that his filecard tells that they are mutated soldiers, enhanced for sub-sea combat. But his face looks very normal under that creepy mask. Hydro Viper is one of the earliest figures I can remember getting, I believe it was my third G.I. Joe figure.
One big negative thing about Hydro Viper is that he's not able to hold all his stuff. He has a dagger and a harpoon, yet only one functioning hand. This is one dude that seriously needs a place to sheath his dagger, or mount his harpoon.
As with all the other divers (Torpedo, Eels, Wet Suit, Undertow), Hydro Viper has an amazing card art. Go to yojoe and check out pictures of carded examples.

65 Lift Ticket (1986)
I've written about this guy before. All though he has a silly smirk on his face, I really like his sculpt, and the color combinations. He also comes with a removable microphone - notoriously easy to lose, but it just wouldn't be the same if it was sculpted on to his helmet.

64 Thunder (1984)
It needs to be said that all these five figures are vehicle drivers, and it just shows, once again, how much attention Hasbro paid to their vehicle drivers. The reason could be that G.I. Joe was early on in the development stage planned to be a vehicle based toy line, sort of like Air-Riders was (uh.. how about less obscure toy references please?). Either way, this is Thunder. He came with the mobile cannon, Slugger, and has a couple of neat accessories in the monocular and a stylish helmet. Thunder is my buddy Dan's favorite figure, and I can see why he thinks so. You can see more of the Slugger here.

63 Heavy Metal (1985)
This guy has one of the best looking sculpts in the line. He came with a really cool gun, and a very easily lost microphone. He also came with the Mauler, a massive tank. Notice the mud on his face.

62 Ace (1983)
Came with the Skystriker. Has a translucent visor. Suffers a bit from a very simple sculpt, but I don't mind. I love this figure. My first Ace came, weirdly enough, with the huge jet Phantom X-19 from 1988.

61 Ghost Rider (1988)
Like I said, when I first got the Phantom X-19, it came with 1983 Ace. This was common in Europe. I never gave it a second thought, because I loved Ace. Today, I find Ghost Rider to be an incredible toy, with great sculpt and a truly awesome accessory in the red scarf. Ghost Rider was featured in my very first Figure Friday article.

60 Zanzibar (1987)
I absolutely love the 1987 series. It has some of the most ridiculous characters when you look at design alone, and these five are easy targets for those that like to mock this toy line. But they just don't get it. Remind them, when ever you see a "Oh, Raptor is just such a lame toy":
NO! It's not lame! It's awesome! It's fun! And more importantly, in the comic, all these were written in such a great way that they all seem plausible.
Seriously, Zanzibar here has that pirate look going on, and it is what it is. I don't mind, it's not like Larry Hama, Hasbro, Marvel or anyone tried to pretend this was actual reality.
G.I. Joe is a mix of everything awesome: Military, sci-fi, arctic battle, desert war, skirmishes at sea, jungle warfare, space combat. There are heroes and villains, ninjas and robots, marines and marauders. Zanzibar is the latter.
Zanzibar came with a hammer and a spear, and has great, no amazing sculpt. Rooted hair? Sure, why not.

59 Raptor (1987)
Raptor may be easy to mock, but the haters fail to forget this was a toy line for kids. And all kids loved this toy. He even came with a bird pet.

58 Croc Master (1987)
One of the best sculpts in the line, this is a toy that one needs to hold to appreciate.
Yes, I'm talking about the crocodile.
Croc Master is cool too. The whip is a really cool accessory. Card art was impressive too.

57 Cobra Commander (1987)
This was my Cobra leader. I was too young to get the first versions (helmet and hood), so the armored was my main villain. Of course, in the comics, Cobra Commander only wore this outfit for a few panels, before getting shot by the inventor and former Crimson Guard, Fred VII. I like this sculpt, and I find my self drawn to the delicious blue color of the suit underneath the armor.

56 Dr. Mindbender (1986)
Mindbender was heavily featured in the comic  issues I grew up reading. When re-reading the earlier issues (#1-40), I saw that Dr. Mindbender in fact wasn't the most evil and insane doctor in Cobra's payroll. Sadly, we never got a Dr. Venom action figure. Still, Mindbender is a cool toy, with that cloth cape with the huge Cobra logo. Yes, there are many jokes to be made about his pants, suspenders and bare chest. But kids don't make those connections.

55 Thrasher (1986)
The Dreadnoks are a hit or miss for many Joe fans. I like them for what they meant to me as a kid, but they're not an important part of my current idea of the Joe universe. They are fun, and provide with some much needed entertainment in the comic. Weirdly enough, they are also catalysts for a few major plot twists.
Thrasher came with the Thunder Machine, and has a weapon I can't really identify. Is it a lacrosse stick with a spiked ball wedged in the hole? Either way, objectively speaking he has a impressively detailed sculpt, and is a fun toy.

54 Torch (1985)
Torch is the most anonymous of the Dreadnoks for me. Yet, I like him for a number of reasons. First of all, he's the only fire starter in Cobra, where the G.I. Joe team had two. Well, Cobra also has two, if you count 1991's Incinerator, who lobbed giant fireballs with a catapult.
Torch also has a cool disco-style headband.

53 Monkeywrench (1986)
A late addition to the original three Dreadnoks, for me at least. Where Zandar, Zarana and to a certain extent Zartan could be considered Dreadnoks, I always felt they were on their own missions, they were slightly too smart to be considered part of that gang. Monkeywrench fit right in for me.
Has huge grenades strapped to his bare chest, because why not?

52 Ripper (1985)
This guy is just awesome. He has that weird contraption that I believed to be a jackhammer when I was younger. Of course, that Ripper actually comes with a tool that rips open vehicles makes more sense.
Interesting to notice is that Ripper, along with Buzzer, has the 1984 construction, with swivel joint in the neck instead of ball joint. But they both were released as part of the 1985 series.

51 Buzzer (1985)
My favorite Dreadnok, for obvious reasons. Soft rubber hair, chainsaw, gas can that could be removed from the backpack frame, tattoo. Buzzer is a memorable character. He was also a presence in the comics, getting beat up by Rip Cord, getting threatened by Rip Cord's girlfriend, and in general being a dick on numerous occasions. One of the two figures I have on Norwegian card, which I find extremely cool.

50 Maverick (1987)
If you thought I was controversial with the 1987 villains, this will probably look even more weird to you. But I really meant what I said about the 1987 series. The Battleforce 2000 sub group is constantly mocked by fans. The characters were even ridiculed in the comic, and ultimately killed off. But the experimental nature of their missions, gear and vehicles, the sci-fi element of war just resonated with me.
The colors of their outfits were unique and memorable. If anything, it's the lack of accessories they came with I consider a negative side.
Maverick was the pilot of the group, great sculpt, and it's hard to see, but he has this circuitry going on on the white parts of his costume. Very cool.

49 Blaster (1987)
Originally, the BF2000 were six guys, and as you can see, I only have four. Dodger was the only one to survive in the comics, and Knockdown was the one with the bazooka handgun. If I owned those two, I suspect at least Knockdown would make the list. Probably Dodger too.
Blaster has a lot of the same greatness going on as the rest of the lot. Cool sculpt, specially his face I like. Great colors. A nifty little rocket launcher for his equipment.  Memorable, if downright tragic comic appearance.

48 Blocker (1987)
I always loved his camo. I believe a variant of Blocker came with a clear visor for his hat.

47 Avalance (1987)
My favorite of the BF2000, clearly this guy is ready for anything. Laser rifle, weird alien microphone, nunchucks holstered on his thigh, iron boots, a gazillion pouches, and what looks to be a suit made for arctic environments. Not everything about G.I. Joe makes sense. I don't mind.

46 Gears v2 (1994)
This guy sort of fits the quasi futuristic theme of Battle Force 2000.
It's really wrong to call him V2, as the first version of this sculpt was named Barricade. But I never had Barricade, my mistake.
Gears came packed with the Joe version of the Power Walker, and is like Techno Viper v2 a repaint of a previous figure. But what a repaint. It's extremely simple, like many of the 1994 Joes, but it's very effective. Also, his helmet reminds me of banelings from Starcraft 2.

45 Mainframe (1986)
This is where I stop with having themed groups, after around 25-30 figures that were more or less bunched together with similar figures.
Mainframe is a weird figure. The face sculpt make him look very old and tired, yet the card art has him very dynamic and intense. The comic appearance has him as - I'm not joking - a total bad ass. I like Mainframe, he doesn't come with any weapons, but if you read the comic, you know he doesn't really need them to get the job done. I got this toy from my cousin, who was really into computers and video games back in the late 80s. I always felt that this toy fit his character, and this connection, along with Mainframe's appearance in the comics, make this one of my favorite toys. Modestly placed in this list for his face sculpt though, but I feel this makes up for him being at number 45.

44 Doc (1983)
This is in my opinion the best sculpt of the 82-83 Joes. He also came with some really cool accessories, like the helmet with pills strapped on to the sides. The stretcher is a really cool accessory to use in play. I don't know what the third thing is, but I always thought it was a crutch. Yojoe has it listed as a flare gun.

43 Lifeline (1986)
I didn't intend for it to be like this, but it's still a very interesting comparison. Again, the 1986 Joes were replacements for the 1982-83 ones, and this should demonstrate it in a fairly accurate way. Wet Suit replaced Torpedo. Sci-Fi replaced Flash. Mainframe replaced Breaker. Hawk replaced.. well.. Hawk. And Lifeline replaced Doc. A striking design, some cool accessories, a suitcase with medical equipment, a handgun, a radio and oxygen mask that failed to make the picture.

42 Gung-Ho (1987)
Is it controversial to like the 1987 Joes? I feel like it is. I've never heard anyone talk good about Gung-Ho. But what's not to like? It's a marine in parade uniform. He looks awesome. I guess I can understand that kids felt he was a bit boring, and I will admit I remember thinking the same way. Now I love him, and I love the fact that they made a toy like this. What's even more interesting, is that the face sculpt is very similar to his 1983 version. Like, you can actually see it's Gung-Ho.

41 Bullhorn (1990)
Bullhorn's face sculpt remind me a bit of Booth in the TV show Bones. He too is a sniper. Bullhorn came packed with awesome accessories, among them a modular rifle that fit inside his bacpack, and a gas mask. I always preferred this sniper rifle though. Face camo, natural colors. This was a definite favorite back in the day.

40 Shipwreck (1984)
He has that sailor thing going on. Big time. He even came with a parrot. I like the design of his outfit, and the sculpt is decent for being in the 1984 series, except for the face maybe. Has a great tattoo on his right arm.

39 Lady Jaye (1985)
Ideally, Lady Jaye should have been higher up in the list, because I actually love this figure. A major character in the comic. In fact a truly cool character in the comic. The design of the toy isn't bad either. Many complain about the face sculpt, but I like it. I also like how the waist and hands are more delicate than the male characters. She came with rather weird accessories though. A camera and a spear gun. I kinda wished she came with a proper rifle.

38 Footloose (1986)
Another update of the 1982-83 standard infantry Grunt. When I played the jungle war story lines, I always included Footloose, naturally. Often featured in the comics, yet surprisingly anonymous. Well, maybe not that surprising. He was the standard infantry guy after all.

37 Destro (1983)
Destro is slightly taller than all the other G.I. Joe figures. I don't mind the first version of Destro, but he's mostly in my list because of the connections I make to his truly epic comic appearances. Came with a handgun that is kinda cool, and has a really shiny face mask. Other than the wrist rockets and medallion, there's not a lot going on with the sculpt, but that doesn't matter. It's still a good looking and memorable toy.

36 Cobra Trooper (1983)
The cannon fodder of Cobra Commander. What benefits do these guys get for being in Cobra, one has to wonder. I like the simplicity of the design, it feels very natural and realistic, and it makes for great army builders.

35 Roadblock v2 (1986)
I actually prefer his comic appearance, but in toy form the v2 completely crushes the first costume. This is just a gorgeous looking toy with simple and effective colors and a natural sculpt. Roadblock is a monumental character. I cannot wait to see The Rock playing Roadblock.

34 Leatherneck (1986)
The marine replacing 1983's Gung-Ho. I liked the realistic design of Leatherneck, and his cool rifle. I also preferred these guys for their natural army looks when I had my jungle combat story lines. Leatherneck was in those situations of course joined by...

33 Recondo v2 (1988)
This is the only Tiger Force repaint in my list, as it's the only time I prefer the TF variant over the original. I love the gray colors of his vest, and the tiger stripes makes a bit more sense here than with Tripwire or Blizzard. Notice the broken thumb. It's expected, but it's still sad. A favorite toy from my childhood. I can of course just buy a new one, but there's something about not replacing my old toys.
Some of the absolute best issues of the comic featured Recondo. Not necessarily in a leading role, but he always had a notable presence. Like for instance the second issue of Special Missions where he, Clutch, Dial Tone and Roadblock deal with a retired Nazi scientist in the South American jungles.

32 Dial Tone (1986)
The communications in every mission, often featured in the comic. The toy came packed with amazing card art, and the toy itself has an amazing sculpt. Just look at all the gadgets he carries around! I always included Dial Tone in play. Interestingly enough, as this is a replacement for 83's Breaker, as the comm officer, Dial Tone looks suspiciously similar to Breaker from the 2009 movie.

31 Outback (1987)
Came packed with equipment: rifle, backpack, web belt, flash light. Doesn't need any of it to survive, or to be a total bad ass  (Translation: I have lost the accessories) . The story line starting with issue #61 of the comic is where we truly start getting to know Outback. What a story line! Outback and his team are sold out on a very covert mission, and he has to leave his friends behind to get back home. It's far too gritty to be something kids should read, which is probably why I loved it back as a kid, and still love it. This is the issue I show people when I try to convince them that the G.I. Joe comic can hold its own next to any other comic.
And what a character Outback is. He survives everything, and suffers adversity even when he returns safely home to the Joe base. Stalker, Quick Kick and Snow Job are eventually rescued by the ninjas, in an issue of epic proportions.

30 Crazy Legs (1987)
Sure, he does have a silly grin on his face, but for some reason, I always liked this figure. Rifle with folding stock was a very neat touch, and you could never have enough paratroopers. Extremely detailed sculpt on Crazy Legs is a big reason he's as high as 30.

29 Sneak Peek (1987)
I always mixed up Sneak Peek and Crazy Legs. They had similar color combinations, and somewhat similar uniforms. Of course, where Crazy Legs was modestly equipped, Sneak Peek came loaded with accessories, including a giant scope and the deliciously fragile microphone.

28 Crimson Guard (1985)
The regal, and kinda fascistic looking uniform, the cool rifle, the role they played in the comics. Crimson guard is an obvious inclusion to a top 100 list, and I wouldn't be surprised if many Joe collectors have this in their top 10.

27 Flint (1985)
Another great, major character from the comics. Flint was the cocky soldier who always had a joke up his sleeve. His filecard tells a slightly different story though. As does the toy sculpt. His face sculpt just doesn't match the vision of the character from the comics, which is why he's at #27, and not in the top 10. It's not a bad face sculpt, he's just not as mean and tough as I picture him. Still, a great toy, cool, realistic design. Came with a shotgun.

26 Quick Kick (1985)
Surprisingly versatile in the media. You would think Quick Kick was a one-trick pony, but he can shoot a gun if he needs to... or infiltrate Cobra Island. I really like the action figure though. The ability to sheathe the sword in the backpack is a big deal, and everything is infinitely cooler with nunchucks.
Similar to Flint, the toy does have a rather childish face sculpt, that does prevent a higher placement in this list.

25 Snow Job (1983)
For a 1983 figure, Snow Job came with an impressive amount of accessories. Extremely susceptible to sun damage, but a truly great toy. The iconic rifle most of the Joes used in the cartoon. Snow Job's rifle. Was present in many issues of the comic, which as you probably realize by now is a big deal to me.

24 Storm Shadow v2 (1988)
I never had the first version of Storm Shadow as a kid. That's a story too long to write here, but I never had any problems with the v2 being my main Storm Shadow. It's a great toy. Came with awesome accessories, among them a claw and what looks to be a compound bow. I also always found myself drawn towards the gray stripes on his costume. I guess it's supposed to be camouflage, all though I'm not sure where he would hide in that outfit. Maybe the snow?

23 Budo (1988)
Yes, both Budo and Storm Shadow came with red swords. But the Samurai scores some points over the ninja for having the means to sheathe all his weapons. He also has one of the best sculpts of the 1988 figures, and a really amazing hat.
The comic appearance I mentioned when I talked about Lightfoot is where we first see Budo. It's issue 82, and I always wondered why they sent Budo out to fight enemies with rifles.
Here's a Figure Friday on Budo.

22 Hit n' Run (1988)
Most will agree that the 1988 series had a fairly high amount of cool figures, but not necessarily 1985-1986 quality. But all those will agree that Hit n' Run is an awesome figure. He is covered in camouflage, and has a short, automatic rifle, along with one of the coolest accessories in the entire line, a bag with grappling hook.
This is play feature without destroying the figure - like the Ninja Commandos. This is a functional accessory without making it gimmicky - like spring loaded missiles. This is Hasbro doing it right.

21 Laser Viper (1989)
I will admit, I prefer the realistic looking military style, like with Hit n' Run. But I'm also a sucker for the sci-fi and space elements of G.I. Joe. But that's not why Laser Viper is so high in my list!
The reason lies in how cool he looks without his helmet! I never used him as a laser trooper, I never even used his accessories. He was driving the speed boat, Piranha, looking awesome.

20 Quarrel (1984)
This is a repaint of 1983 Scarlett for the UK Action Force line. It's (obviously) one of my favorite figures, one that I've almost made it a point of collecting. In addition to it being a female action figure, which I have always liked, there's just something about the colors on this toy that works. Even though the sculpt is extremely simple, there's still enough details to keep me interested, like the various weapons Quarrel has hidden on her costume. That naturally goes for the Scarlett figure as well, but I prefer this toy over the Scarlett toy.
I've written more about Quarrel here.

19 Hawk (1986)
This is Hawk for me, and Hawk is the leader of G.I. Joe. It should come as no surprise that he's in the top 20. If anything, many of you should by now wonder why he's not higher.
In the comics he had blond hair, as did v1 from 1982, but it never bothered me that much. Such details, the stylish leather jacket, the commanding, yet action ready look. Came with a hand gun, all though I'm not sure this is the right one. Helmet, backpack. It's worth checking out his card art, which is very cool.

18 Rip Cord (1984)
Rip Cord is the third paratrooper to make the list, and all though both Freefall and Crazy Legs have a more detailed sculpt, Rip Cord has them beat in so many ways. He comes with almost identical accessories to Freefall, yet he looks so much more realistic. The camo on his suit is deliciously natural.
Of course, Rip Cord is here mainly for one reason alone: His comic appearance in the issues 45-50.

17 Beach Head (1986)
A fan favorite for a number of reasons. I never gave him a second thought in the comic, so he's actually here on the sole reason for being a cool action figure. The details, the ski mask, the backpack that looks like it's filled with useful gadgets. Beach Head is ready for action, and that is why I always included him in play back in the day.

16 Snow Serpent (1985)
The sculpt on this one is marvelous. From the fur on his gloves and collar to the blue straps on his chest. The color scheme of gray, white and blue. As with many 1985 figures, he came packed with plenty accessories, most notably the AK-47 rifle, and grenade launcher. But the snow shoes obviously has to be mentioned.
I believe it's impossible to dislike this toy, and it wouldn't surprise me that this is a consensus top 20 G.I. Joe figure.

15 Destro v2 (1988)
The second version of Destro to make the list. I believe the picture speak for itself, but if I may: what always fascinated me about this one, apart from the obvious, was the complete lack of symmetry. One floppy leg warmer, cape on one side, weird shoulder blades on the other. I love it! The color combination of the Iron Grenadiers are also just delicious. Would you believe this is a vehicle driver? It is. And so is..

14 Secto Viper (1988)
Another striking color combination on a monumental sculpt, and the removable domed helmet is just gravy. Secto Viper came with the already mentioned Cobra BUGG, underwater tank. It will be featured during the G.I.Joe month. Interesting fact: In the comic, the Joes rain down the hurt on the BUGGs. Ghost Rider in the Phantom X-19 has alone something like 4 BUGGs filled with Secto Vipers on his conscience.

13 Tunnel Rat (1987)
Most people into G.I. Joe know that Tunnel Rat essentially is Larry Hama - the writer and creator of G.I. Joe. Tunnel Rat's face sculpt is supposed to have Hama's likeness, and I'm sure he had a saying to what type of character the figure should be too. Because this is one cool character. I'm not entirely sure what he does, but I believe it's jungle sabotage of some sort. He comes with a big rifle and a bag labeled "TNT", so you know he means business. One of my favorite card arts, it shows Tunnel Rat in a meditative moment, contemplating whether to blow up or shoot down his enemies.

12 Astro Viper (1988)
I'm not claiming that this is an official list of G.I. Joe figures. Even though I should easily be able to gather information to compile such a list, I'd much rather write my own. Because no consensus list would ever have Astro Viper at number 12, where he rightfully should be!
Look at that 70s space movie helmet! Look at those metal shins on his legs! I'm a sucker for most things space, specially in this toy line. This is such a fun toy, and I'm not embarrassed to admit it's one of the few Cobra troopers I have army built (meaning I own more than one. Many more).

11 Jinx (1987)
There's something fragile and cute about Jinx, yet dangerous and deadly. Just like it should be. She has painted red nails, and tiny shoes. Yet she carries two swords and a spear. A favorite from my childhood, not just for the dragon emblem highlighting that she has boobs, but because it's a damn good action figure! I like girls, I like ninjas, and I absolutely love to be able to store all the accessories on the figure!
Jinx will be featured in the upcoming movie, and I cannot wait!
Sadly, Hasbro has once again screwed over fans by making a modern Jinx toy a SDCC exclusive - and extremely hard to find. Or, you could turn it around and say they make it a lot more easy for us to not care about the new toys.

10 Fast Draw (1987)
What better way to kick off the top 10 than with a truly weird pick? Well, it's not weird for me. There are strong emotions connected to this toy, it was one of my first Joes, and just looking at it takes me back to the times when I was massively overwhelmed by how awesome these toys were. This one had it all, rotating rockets, tubes, tubes, tubes, removable visor and heavy armor.

9 Chuckles (1987)
What? What was that? Oh just the sound of me writing a top 100 list of G.I. Joe figures the way it was meant to be!!
Seriously, it's not long ago since I saw a "top list of stupid Joes" that featured many of my favorite Joes. It dawned on me that I knew something they didn't. I actually felt superior to other people based on what they knew or didn't know about toys.
First of all, Chuckles was a dominant presence in the comic issues where he was featured. Issue number 60, drawn by Todd McFarlane, where Chuckles and his buddies Falcon, Fast Draw, Law and Falcon end up saving the world, literally. All these characters are in the 1987 series, all obviously featured in this list.
In addition to having an awesome shirt, Chuckles also has my favorite accessory in the line: a working holster.

8 Falcon (1987)
I'm not sure what version to include here. The green one is the original, but the repaint isn't a bad one either. It's from the Sonic Fighters sub line, and came with a blue helicopter thingy that made shooting sounds. I always used the gray one when I played, because I liked the colors. Gray with black accents and green details. I just worked. The original is obviously also a great toy, and came with a cool shotgun, that has become even cooler when it's been painted.
Like I mentioned in the section about Chuckles, Faclon had a brutal entrance into the G.I. Joe team, initially being denied, but ultimately saving the day and a spot on the team. But later, he actually became a high ranking member, and leading the small group that first entered Cobra Island during the Cobra Civil War. This was how Falcon was to me: A high ranking Joe, able to lead teams in combat. A fantastic toy that deserves a special notice. Pay attention the following weeks, and you will see such a notice.

7 Iron Grenadier (1988)
It doesn't get a lot cooler than Iron Grenadier, Destro's personal army. It's the right blend of style and badassery. I've already mentioned the color combinations, as the IG has the same color palette as his boss, Destro. There's also the fact that the Iron Grenadier has one of the coolest guns in the line. No, not the red one, all though that's surprisingly cute. It's the big, black machine gun.

6 Viper (1986)
Replacing Cobra Trooper as Cobra's troopers, the Viper had many needed updates, in everything from uniform and weapons, to colors and sculpted details. Could have benefited from a third accessory, like a knife or a small gun, but the details of the sculpt more than makes up for what Viper lacks in accessories. There's one thing that really impresses me: the fact that the helmet looks to be big enough for an actual head, which is more than you can say about many of the helmets in the line. Not sure what the goggles are for though. All in all, it's a very memorable design, and I know Viper is one of the most popular figures in the line, justifiably so.

5 Payload v2 (1989)
I love me some space dudes, and the original Payload sculpt is in my eyes the best in the line. It has everything I want from a toy. Removable helmet - with clear visor. Backpack with handles. Bright, yet plausible colors. Space themed.
Payload v2 is basically the repaint of the 1987 one, that came packed with the massive Defiant Space Complex. I don't own the Defiant, but I do own the Crusader, which was basically just the space shuttle in the Defiant Complex sold separately. Payload v2 came with the Crusader , and is awesome! An unlikely entry to the top 5, but I'm not sure this will cause an outrage, as Payload is a true, hidden gem among the more likely contenders. Like for instance...

4 Storm Shadow (1984)
Obviously, Storm Shadow is the coolest character in the comics, by far. He's a presence from his first appearance until his last. It's the character that revolutionizes and modernizes the way we view Ninjas. Storm Shadow is also one of the greatest toys ever made. Where most of the 1984 figures were too modestly sculpted, with too few details, this was actually a benefit to Storm Shadow. As a ninja, he didn't need great details. Yet, ironically, he's one of the most detailed figures from 1984. He comes packed with weapons, yet he's traveling light. He has almost no colors, yet the colors he has are extremely effective. His face sculpt shows almost no emotions, yet you know this is a deeply troubled person.
I have several stories to share about Storm Shadow, the character and the action figure, but this is the top 100 list, and I'm saving anecdotes for later.
What may surprise you is that Storm Shadow didn't reach the top 3, let alone secure the top spot.
The fact is that he very well could have. I won't say it's a toss up, and that any of the top five could have made any of the top five spots. But it was extremely hard for me to choose among them.
I could point out that Storm Shadow has my second favorite card art, only beaten by the following figure.

3 Psyche-Out (1987)
I see a trend. The top four figures stand out in a special way. They have all monumental comic appearances, great toy representations, plenty of accessories, great sculpt with many details, and the toy came with fantastic card art. Psyche-Out is probably my favorite if I isolate the card art. He looks vicious.
Yes, you read correct. Psyche-Out has some great comic appearances. Most notably his first appearance, when he fails to realize that the Joes have a space shuttle hidden in the cellar (issue 64), and the fantastic story arch when he, Roadblock and Hawk are disrupting revolutions in Sierra Gordo (issue 69).
All though his filecard is a bit strange, with psychological warfare, it's not really that out there. It's a well known fact that rock music has been used to intimidate enemies, and Psyche-Out apparently takes this a step further. I like the premise, and I love everything about this action figure.

2 Snake Eyes v2 (1985)
There's really no reason for me to justify why Snake Eyes is near the very top of the hundred best G.I. Joe figures. It's a fantastic action figure of a great character. When I asked Larry Hama to draw any character, he drew the silent ninja. Probably out of habit, but just as likely because he's satisfied how Snake Eyes turned out as a character. If there was a main character in the comic, it would be this guy.
Why I prefer this over Storm Shadow... Well, where I like Storm Shadows character better, I think Snake Eyes is a superior toy. The sculpt may seem just as simple, yet it's not. The muscles are more prominent, the details are better. He comes with a more varied range of accessories. I guess they are very similar, so it's down to very tiny details, and my subjective opinion of them. Had it not been for the skin showing, and the red Cobra logo on Storm Shadow, they would have the exact same amount of colors. It's still all very subtle, and both Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow have similar qualities in that understated awesomeness.

1 B.A.T (1986)
This is the best action figure ever made.
It really has it all. Have you paid attention, you'll have notice that I like my Joes to be able to store their accessories. I like when they have a simple, yet recognizable color palette. I like that they have cool card art, and memorable comic appearance. I like toys with details you have to look for, not necessarily details that force themselves on you. I like the sci-fi element of G.I. Joe. I like play features that doesn't compromise the construction of the toy. I like hologram stickers.
B.A.T has all this, and as it's the best toy in my favorite toy line, I guess I can conclude that this is my favorite toy.


Jon said...

Some statistics:
1982-83: 8+1 (single carded/vehicle drivers)
1984: 3+2
1985: 12+2
1986: 14+4
1987: 18+1
1988: 13+4
1989: 4+2
1990: 2+1
1991: 6
1992-94: 1+2

Total count, 81 single carded, 19 vehicle drivers.

The years with most figures were 85-88, but I expected that.

1984 severely under-represented? Well, I don't have Zartan, Firefly and Spirit - which are three highly regarded figures.
Baroness, Scrap Iron, Cutter and Duke were considered.

Nathan Noah said...

Great work on this list, man! I feel the same about a lot of these figures. It's rare that I ever come across someone saying something good about Raptor, so that was very refreshing.

Anonymous said...

BATS will definitely be in my top ten, as well as the original viper. As with TECHNO viper he should have deserved a higher rank ( Im biased as regards
to the VIPERS hehehehe) too bad Strato VIPER wasn't included

Jon said...

Believe me, Anon. Strato Viper was considered. Weird helmet and no accessories placed him outside the top 100, but I love his uniform.
Techno Viper.. I couldn't find my original 1987 Techno Viper at the time I made the list. A pity, he would have been higher.

Anonymous said...

Man! Please, wheres Tomax and Xamot? :)

Jon said...

Tomax and Xamot.. Interesting concept, good looking figures, fantastic packaging, with the mirror on the sides. Boring comic appearance. Close to non-existent accessories.

I still have my original ones, I remember clearly when I got them, and I played with them a lot. So I guess I could have included them, but I feel the ones that made the list are all better.

Thanks for the input, Anon. There are probably many figures I've forgotten about, that could have made the list. Suggestions?

Dr Syn said...

Oddly enough the 86 B.A.T was my 1st G.I Joe figure.

So I love your number one choice. Supreme taste. said...

I'm also a fan of G.I. Joe, but the action figures you have here are so awesome! About Recondo, you'll be able to fix that small problem by adding an improvised thumb. Just simply carve out a thumb from a plastic that has the same color, then use some adhesives to connect it to his hand.

Anonymous said...

where's the yellow and black alley viper?

Anibal Jose Angel said...

If I had to have one it would be Falcon. Glad to see one of my favorites from my childhood making the top 10.

mastershaper said...

I'm sorry but the NIGHT RAVEN PILOT is the best figure!!! And I've broken it!!! Damn!

Unknown said...

The one thing that made Dial Tone so cool to me was that he looked just like the spy from a 80's movie called Cloak and Dagger. I swear the card background drew similarities to the character in the movie. To me as a kid it was undeniable Jack Flak was Dial Tone. Maybe I was drawing line where there werent any. either way it made Dial Tone my favorite character.

Unknown said...

Why the heck isn't Sgt Slaughter on this list? Limited edition toy that you had to order by mail. He was an actual person.

Unknown said...

Why the heck isn't Sgt Slaughter on this list? Limited edition toy that you had to order by mail. He was an actual person.
Or the Fridge for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Firefly was one of the first Joes I had and is my favourite to this day. He led my elite team of balaclava wearing bad asses on every mission they undertook. Shockwave was the last to make the unit. I think Blowtorch looked great when he was all geared up and 94 Cobra Commander was outstanding. Great blog btw.

tthomke said...

Hey I need help and I'm hoping you can help. I am looking for the GI Joe action figure from I would guess the early 90's. I believe it was a villain because it looked like a monster. It was green and it had a helmet on with water in the helmet. I can't find it anywhere. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?

Jon said...

Not really sure. Look in Their database is excellent.

Anonymous said...

no S.A.W viper? that character was a savage in the joe comix.