Making its debut in 1964 with Hasbro, the GI Joe franchise is a time-tested staple of pop culture. There are four main action figures meant to represent each branch of the military. Some years after its launch, Hasbro also created an Action Nurse to honor and represent military medics. GI Joe figurines are fun, classic collectibles that are great for any age. We know it can be hard to track down items from the actual GI Joe line (instead of one of the off-brand competitors) so we’ve collected ten of our favorite authentic GI Joe toys for you below!
Our Top 3 Picks
- GI Joe GIJ Joe V.A.M.P. MK-II
- Attack Vehicle & Action Figure
- 50th Anniversary Night Marksmen
- Ample Accessories
- Retaliation Joe Colton
- Over-sized Weapon
The Best GI Joe Toys Reviewed
Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best GI Joe Toys and Action Figures
There are many strong opinions on what makes something a collector’s item, including how old a toy is, its packaging, and popularity. However, knowing the immense adoration of this particular toy franchise across the world, we felt it was important to highlight the toys within the franchise that were already considered collectible, as well as the ones that have the potential to be considered a future collector’s item.
Characters like Storm Shadow are usually always in demand because of his central role in the various storylines, and anniversary sets are sure to become collector’s items, which is why you will see them included on our list. It’s always a good idea to take good care of your GI Joe figures and make sure your child does not break them due to extremely rough play.
When one thinks of GI Joe toys, the first thing that usually comes to mind are all the amazing weapons and accessories that come with the figures, because let’s face it; without all the cool gadgets and doodads, the figures probably wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining! We looked for the ones that came with more than just one or two weapons, and you’ll notice that several of the figures on our list come with jumbo-sized extra ammunition that enhances the character’s standard weaponry, creating an even more intense showdown!
From missiles to rifles, to rockets to swords, these toys have it all and more, giving your child endless hours of thrills.
The very definition of an action figure is that it must be able to move, and these toys are highly regarded for their ball joints that allow them to be manipulated in ways that most other figures aren’t capable of. With these toys, it’s not just their head and hands that can be moved; elbow joints, knees, wrists, and torsos can all be bent or twisted into the desired attack position.
The figures that come with a zip line are always a hit with the kids because the figure is able to grasp and hold onto the pulley as it zips across, creating a realistic and entertaining experience for your child.
Variety of Characters
Most fans of the franchise are familiar with almost every character ever created and can recite their rank as well as individual fighting tactics. But for those who aren’t as knowledgeable about the many different personalities within the storylines, we thought it was important to include a wide assortment of characters on our list that were not just the most popular or most famous.
While we did include several mainstay characters like Storm Shadow that many recognize from the movie adaptions and comic books, some new fans may not be familiar with Firefly, for example. By presenting a wide range of characters from different storylines, we hope to give your child more options and opportunities to learn about the immense and captivating world of GI Joe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why don’t all of the figurines come with a stand?
A: This is a common question among both parents and collectors alike; if some of the figures come with a stand, many think this means there’s been a mistake when their figure doesn’t come with a stand of some kind.
However, there is an explanation that has to do with the intentional design of the toy itself. Some of the box sets on our list come with stands because they include multiple figures with limited accessories, which makes these sets attractive displays when they are not in use. The figures that come with a vehicle, for example, do not usually include a stand because they are meant to be primarily more mobile than the box sets.
Q: What are some of the different series or versions that the GI Joe franchise has released?
A: Due to the toy line’s rapid rise in popularity, there have been several new releases and special collector’s editions released through the years. The various movie adaptations also instigated several reboots and improvements in the action figures themselves. Some of these series include the Real American Hero, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, GI Joe: Retaliation, and the 25th and 50th special anniversary editions. Your family will have so much fun exploring and comparing the different series and their matching toys!
Q: Are the small accessories included with the action figures safe for my 4-year-old to play with?
A: This is an understandable question that many parents have when they are thinking of purchasing a GI Joe action figure for their child. Because all of the toys on our list are recommended for ages 4 and above, it is expected that there will be reliable adult supervision at hand while the child is playing with the toy. Since the figures themselves are quite small, the weapons and accessories are also going to be very miniature in size, so it is important to supervise your child carefully when they are playing with these small parts.
Q: My child is new to GI Joe, which toy would be the best introduction to the series?
A: That’s the great thing about this particular franchise; there’s so much to choose from! There are different opinions on what makes a good first toy to the child new to GI Joe. Some parents say their child has more fun with the larger sets that include moving accessories or parts, and that have multiple figures for more variety. Others, however, prefer to introduce their child to the franchise more slowly by purchasing them a single figure, like the Storm Shadow one on our list. This gives the child the chance to become familiar with all the different characters and storylines at their own pace.
Q: Why are some of them more expensive than the others?
A: If you scroll through these options on Amazon, you will notice there are some significant price differences. At first glance, this may seem unnecessary because the figures are all relatively the same size.
However, there are some very significant differences in the toys on our list that greatly impact its final retail price. The special anniversary editions are considered to be a limited edition item, and for this reason, their price will be higher than a single action figure. Also, figures that come with moving accessories such as zip lines or vehicles tend to be priced higher as well, especially if they require batteries. The single action figure with just a couple of weapons will usually be priced the lowest unless it is a special edition.
Q: How do GI Joe toys teach kids about the importance of our military?
A: These toys are not just fun to play with or interesting to look at; they are also representations of courage, valor, and sacrifice. The very first Joe action figure ever created was intended to be a symbol of thanks and respect for war veterans returning home.
Given the toy’s somewhat emotional origins, it is easy to see how it quickly became an international symbol, reminding us to stand up for what’s right and defend those we love. When your child becomes familiar with the long history of the characters and how they fight to protect freedom from evil villains, the metaphorical connections to real life will become clearer over time.
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