He’s a real American hero, so said the songs I remember from the GI Joe commercials/cartoon as a kid. While I’ve never been one for dolls—male or female—GI Joe is to the military what Barbie is to working women. It’s such a staple of a toy that everyone has at least heard of him.
While I was watching Count Duckula, Super Ted, and Thundercats, others my age and older were hooked on Joe and whatever adventures came his way.
Since then, it’s been a live-action film series with stars like The Rock, Bruce Willis, and rumored Gambit, Channing Tatum, and every one of Joe’s eras have had excellent GI Joe toys.
So, without further ado: At ease, soldier
1. Joe Stalker Bringing the Vintage Style Back to LifeSource: Entertainment Earth
Joe and his fellow GIs have been around longer than even I knew. Inspired by the original GI Joe toys by Hasbro but four times the size, meet Joe Ranger, aka STALKER. (Not to be confused with the STALKER video game based in Chernobyl). Joe Ranger has been likened to a jungle cat with his movements. The bad guys never know when he might creep up on them and take them hostage. He's so good, you'd think he'd stolen Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. Except he hasn't. He just is that freakin' good.
Get this vintage-style GI Joe on entertainmentearth.com
2. Who’ll Win This Fight, Duke or Tombstone?Source: Amazon
I suppose it all hinges on which of the guys you prefer, seeing as how you'll be the one pitting them against one another. You are the puppet master of GI toys and that, my lovely geeklet, makes you King of the World. You could also just keep them together in your collection, looking on over the lessers while you do your work or play your Nintendo Switch or, like, sit in one spot doing nothing 'cause you don't want to touch any of the collection you've worked hard to make. The choice is literally yours.
Get this 50th anniversary GI Joe action figures set on amazon.com
3. Get in, GI Joe Toys, We’re Going Shopping!Source: Amazon
What a way to go to Target. Just hop in your Eaglehawk helicopter and go. Man, being a GI Joe must be amazing. You get to be a real American hero without leaving your shelf or even your box. Honestly, if I had one of these helicopters, I would go everywhere in it. Groceries needed from the store a few blocks away? Simple, hop in the helicopter and go. If the store doesn't have a helipad, well, that's on them, not on you. You can't help having a killer ride.
Get the GI Joe Eaglehawk copter toy on amazon.com
4. For the True Fans and the True Amer-i-cans (and Everyone Else)Source: Amazon
This collectors bundle of GI Joe toys and memorabilia is not for the faint of heart. NYCC created it for the most die-hard of fans, especially those with a vengeance. (Obligatory Bruce Willis action movie reference, check). This guy is an exclusive pop you don't want to miss. Forged out of the fires of Moria—wrong geeky reference, but hey, Lord of the Rings shirts!—this crystal clear badass comes in his own indestructible archive case. Convinced yet?
Get this exclusive Joe Destro collectors bundle on amazon.com
5. GI Joe Never Forgets Those Who ServedSource: Amazon
The servicemen and women who have served all of our countries deserve all of the praise in the world. These are people who have given up their lives or could have, just to ensure our safety. That is a true American hero. This rare commemorative GI Joe action figure was released in 1995. It commemorates the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII. It's scary that it's now been almost 75 years, but to avoid going down the trap of nostalgia that leads to crippling existentialism, let's take a moment to praise how lovely this figure is.
Get this commemorative GI Joe toy on amazon.com
6. Don’t Mess With Lady Jaye and Her ArsenalSource: Amazon
Excellent, an action figure that... could easily have been GI Jane (remember that movie? Demi Moore doesn't), but I won't pick at something as cool as gender-inclusive GI Joe toys from male-led GI Joe movies. Girls can fight for their country too, and Lady Jaye has an expansive arsenal to ensure she's ahead of the Cobra organization and Channing Tatum both. While I haven't seen either of the live action movies, I am always about more girls kicking ass in movies!
Get this badass Lady Jaye action figure on amazon.com
7. You Won’t Win Anything if You Roll This Snake EyesSource: Amazon
I mean, if you're a fan of GI Joe toys (or any toys) that come with an animal sidekick, that could be considered a victory. Trust me, I had the Baywatch Barbie that had an accompanying dolphin. I know these things. Snake Eyes is one of the most popular characters from the entire franchise, and if I said I couldn't think why, it would be a huge and gigantic lie. He is what Daryl is to the Walking Dead or what vampires are to Anne Rice.
Get this Snake Eyes GI Joe action figure on amazon.com
8. Ready for the Ultimate GI Joe Playset? It’s Right HereSource: Amazon
It's a shame I already chose the Eaglehawk helicopter as my ride because the vehicles included in this playset give me all kinds of wants and a heavy dose of FOMO. They really pulled out all the stops for their 50th anniversary GI Joe toys; this set alone comes with the Skystriker, the H.I.S.S. tank, and a set of four action figures. It's like Christmas coming early. Or late, depending on when it is you're reading this...
Get this epic G.I. Joe set on amazon.com
9. He’s So Ninja You’re in Danger of Missing HimSource: Amazon
Where did he go? Is he on the rooftops of Shanghai? Is he in the kitchen making a grilled cheese? You don't know because you can't know. Dark Ninja is the most highly trained of the evil ninjas in the GI Joe: Redemption movie. His whole vibe is like if Wolverine mated with Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker only evil, and you've gotta love him for it. Honestly, sometimes you just need to make the most of a good baddie, and even though he's wont to disappear at a moments notice, Dark Ninja is all that and more.
Get the dark ninja GI Joe action figure on amazon.com
10. Basically, Take Your Pick of the Best TroopsSource: Amazon
Uh oh, the bad boys are back in town in the form of the Cobra special ops and there is literally nothing we can do about it other than to embrace them. Why? Because this set of action figures is too cool to do anything else. We can't judge them just because they may or may not be battling against our heroes. Would you judge a book by its genocidally evil cover? I ask you that. Let yourself have some fun when it comes to GI Joe toys.
Get the night watch troops set on amazon.com
11. This is a Thing That Exists and We Are So ThankfulSource: Amazon
Bet you never thought there'd be an action figure of a former President, did you? Indeed, George Washington being an action figure is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Indeed, also, if you were to have this guy in your collection, you would totally be the envy of all of your GI Joe toy collector friends.
Get the epic George Washington G.I. Joe on amazon.com
12. You’d Better Save the Best for LastSource: Sideshow
The action figures Sideshow has in its collection are always phenomenal, and GI Joe fans will be pleased to know they have a couple of GI Joe figures. Rock 'n' Roll (his codename) is used to the loud noises of war, harking back to his free time as a bassist for a heavy rock band. He's unmoveable, unshakeable, and this Sixth Scale action figure is both of those things, as well as one heck of an awesome collectible to have at the forefront of your collection. If there was anything for you to use to spearhead it? This guy, my geeklets, is it.
Get the Rock 'n' Roll GI Joe action figure on sideshowtoy.com