HASBRO SUPER JOE
In 1976, Hasbro decided to close Adventure team headquarters for good and cancel the 12″ line of “G.I. Joe” action figures, a staple since 1963 when the company created the format. The doll had become too expensive to produce and was facing stiff competition from the likes of Big Jim and the Mego Superheroes.
At Toyfair 1977, Hasbro reinvented G.I. Joe for the 21st century in the form of Super Joe. An eight-inch tall figure with a battery-operated light-up vest, joining him in his futuristic adventures were robotic companions The Shield and Luminous as they fought against the evil Gor and army of Terrons.
Hasbro put a terrific amount of TV advertising into the line and the line was somewhat buoyed by the popularity of Star Wars, the Christmas of 1977 saw children hungry for Science Fiction toys but no official Star Wars merchandise was available, leaving kids to gobble up Mego Micronauts and Super Joe.
The line continued into 1978 but with the release of Kenner’s Star Wars line, Super Joe was quickly dumped by most children. The Super Joe team would not return for 1979. In terms of G.I. Joe history it is largely the most ignored and glossed over chapter in any book, it barely gets a mention. This gallery is a little tribute to Joe’s lost “Star Wars” years.
Super Joe has a small buy loyal fan and collector base one of the biggest obstructions to collecting the line is that the figures themselves decay rapidly, even MOC figures tend to be a pile of bodyparts sealed to a card. While doing some of the photography, little bits of rubber began falling all over my floor. Also, SJ also ran for two years, so many people don’t even remember it’s name, it is one of the toy lines I like to call “Hey I had that guy”.
Hasbro created a series of concept paintings that appear to be the work of famed comic artist Nick Cardy. In these renderings, we can see early versions of Joe, The Shield, and Terron who has yet to find his final design. The series big baddie looks more like the Creature from the Black Lagoon and it appears as though his beam fires from his stomach.
The eventual line mostly ended up looking similar to these sketches.
It’s not known if Cardy was retained for the Super Joe packaging, although the stark white boxes do bear a similar style. The body was a new design by Hasbro, part Adventure team muscle body, part Big Jim with the human characters having a “one-two punch” feature. Despite the size difference, Hasbro still managed to recycle a tremendous amount items from the Adventure Team era of G.I. Joe.
Carded Super Joe Commander.
Carded super Joe Luminous
Carded Hasbro Super Joe The Shield on a Canadian card.
Carded Hasbro Super Joe Commander- There is a third variation giving this figure a darker skin tone but I do not have it.
Carded Super Joe Darkon
Palitoy UK Commander Power Figures
In the UK, where the 12″ Action Man dolls were still selling well, Palitoy decided to release the Super Joe figures under the brand name “Commander Power”. The Terron was brought into the Action Man Space Ranger line and not part of Commander Power.
The figures came boxed and contained a comic book backstory (similar to the Denys Fisher Cyborg line). Three figures were released, Commander, Gor, and The Shield. Finding them in today’s secondary market is next to impossible. Thanks to Will Frost for the amazing look into his collection:
In Mexico, the Hasbro Super Joe line was called “Siglo XXX” (century XXX?) and was marketed alongside 12″ G.I. Joe which was also still available by Ledy (everybody but the US had 12″ Joes it seems), the packaging featured the same art as the US but the dolls were sold in beautiful window boxes.
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