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Top 10 G.I. Joe Trivia

VO: Dan
This franchise has been around far longer than you thought, first pioneering the idea of action figures for boys in 1964. Since its beginnings, it has spawned a massive media franchise based around its toys, cartoons and films. A series based on war, and sporting countless characters, it has regularly had to change with the times to stay relevant and exciting. Join as we count down ten interesting pieces of G.I. Joe trivia.

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Top 10 G.I. Joe Trivia

He never gives up, he’s always there, fighting for freedom over land and air. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down ten interesting pieces of G.I. Joe trivia you should know.

#10- The First Action Figures

Kicking off our trivia list is the fact that the original toy series debut in 1964. Following the success of Barbie, creator Stan Weston envisioned a military themed Hasbro figure to serve as a counterpart for boys. To distance the toys from any association with “dolls” Hasbro coined the masculine terms “Action Figure” and “Moveable Man of Action”.

#9- Origin of the ‘Joe’ Name

Originally called “G.I. Joe: America’s Moveable Fighting Man”, the line was introduced at New York’s International Toy Fair. The brand name didn’t refer to a single toy, but was rather a simple nod to the Oscar-nominated 1945 film “The Story of G.I. Joe.” Eventually, later media incarnations ret-conned the name to have a greater meaning, such as in 2009’s film, which explains it as the acronym “Globally Integrated Joint Operated Entity.”

#8- Immediately Appealing

In the beginning, only four distinct figures were released, one to represent each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Standing at 11 ½ inches tall, the G.I. Joe action figures had 21 moving parts and featured full uniforms, boots, work caps, dog tags, facial scars, pistol and M16 machine gun. Having found the untapped boys market, the figures sold more than 2 million units in the first year alone.

#7- War, What Is It Good For?

Though success was instantaneous, Joe’s hit a nerve during the second half of the 1960’s, with the United States fighting an unpopular war in Vietnam. In reaction, Hasbro refocused the brand in 1970, making it a non-military “Adventure Team.” Now, G.I. Joe fought ecological disasters and wild animals, as opposed to other human beings.

#6- Major Toy Design Changes

In the franchise’s first decade it gained popularity with such gimmicks as the now-famous “Kung-Fu Grip”. When the line ended in 1976, it wouldn’t be until 1982 that another official G.I. Joe line emerged, reintroducing the toys as a 3 and ¾ inch figures that were rebranded as “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero”. This reboot was given an animated television series, an animated film, and a Marvel comic book series.

#5- A New Enemy

Re-issued, the G.I. Joe team was once again given a career change, now serving as a counter-terrorist team whose main objective was to protect innocents from the COBRA, an organization bent on world domination. As a result, each figure was released with “a file card,” giving it a biography of the character and his or her specialties.

#4- The Cobra Commander

After an animated mini-series, the cartoon finally aired regularly on Saturday mornings in 1985. Here, COBRA was portrayed to its young audience as bumbling and ineffective group, as opposed to dangerous killers. Most famous of all the villains was its leader the Cobra Commander, a mysterious figure who used ridiculous ploys for world domination. The character was voiced actor Chris Latta, who gave Cobra Commander nearly the same voice he used for Starscream in the equally popular Transformers series.

#3- Safety First

With a constant push for new characters, the animated series tended to feature a specific character in each episode from the G.I. Joe line as a way to advertise their latest figures. Capitalizing on the requirement to counter the show’s violence with a positive message, new character were often charged with delivering a public safety lesson at the end of the episode, popularizing the phrase “Knowing is half the battle.”

#2- Franchise Fatigue

After the cartoon franchise was cancelled in 1986, it received a poorly received direct-to-video animated film named “G.I. Joe: The Movie” the following year. With interest for the Joes diminishing, Hasbro ultimately cancelled the line in 1994. However, they regularly tested the waters with short-lived follow-ups, before targeting older fans by re-releasing older lines and anniversary collections.

#1- Franchise Reboots

Rounding out our trivia list are the several attempts made to reboot the franchise. These began with 1995s G.I. Joe Extreme, a show focused on new Joes and a new terrorist organization called SKAR. Several years later, the franchise finally received a live action feature film with 2009’s “GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, reimagining the original 1985 series, while globalizing the once American-based unit in the process.

Are you a G.I. Joe Fan? What’s your favorite piece of Joe trivia? For more informative trivia lists, be sure to subscribe to

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