GI Joe Adventure Team
12 Inch Scale
Just a scant four years ago in August 2007, Hasbro teamed up with Walmart to produce a run of exclusive reproduction GI Joe Adventure Team toys. The Adventure Team was a concept conceived in the 70’s to reimagine GI Joe as rescuers, explorers, adventurers and peace operatives against crime syndicates, instead of focusing on his past as a military man. The Adventure Team was for all intents and purposes still a part of the military, just now he was in a new sub sect that focused on adventure and wasn’t so easily identifiable with the years of turmoil in the Vietnam war.
Along with a new series of missions came some improvements to the figure itself. First and foremost, “life-like hair and beard”, which gave Joe a new look thanks to the wonders of flocking. A few years later, Joe would also get “Kung-Fu Grip” which would even further improve the figure. Hasbro and Walmart’s repro versions of the Adventure Team would honor the Kung-Fu grip versions, but in many ways was a catch-all reproduction of the Adventure Team as opposed to a specific replica of an era.
I did not grow up in the Adventure Team era of Joe. I just missed the 12 inch revolution and instead, GI Joe was a 3 3/4 inch powerhouse. I did however as a kid own one 12 inch Joe. It was the Target Hall of Fame Duke. As it turns out this was the first 12 inch Joe released in years, but at the time I don’t recall knowing that. Instead I simply wanted to try one out, after hearing about them from my Dad.
I owned Duke and one off-version character who was not a Joe, but was 12 inches. He had rubber arms, less articulation and a big eagle on his chest. Anyone know who that guy was? Anyway, Duke was particularly unimpressive to me. In fact it took me a few weeks to find out that his knees and elbows bent, because of the way they were engrained in the skin. It was pretty much my only foray into the 1/6 scale as a youngster.
My journey to the Adventure Team many years later, is a pretty complicated one. A few years back I was into the Sigma 6 GI Joe figures pretty heavily, right as the line died out. It featured an 8 inch version of the Adventure Team (though largely different in concept) and when Sigma 6 died, I wanted more accessories/figures for my 8 inch collection. This led me to Mego and Action Jackson, who was of course, a poor man’s version of GI Joe. Eventually I became frustrated that Action Jackson lacked many of the cool things that the GI Joe Adventure Team had, and so I was led right back to the Adventure Team. Full circle in a way, only this time it was the 12 inch incarnation.
The Walmart repro Sea Adventurer was my first Adventure Team figure. Can a reproduction 1970’s toy appeal to the sensibilities of a child who was baptized in Real American Hero lore? Let’s find out.
Classic 12 inch GI Joes came in what has become known as the “coffin” box. It was named as such because the long cardboard box is just the right size to fit Joe inside. In that way, it resembles a coffin.
Incredibly, despite being a Walmart exclusive, this box isn’t packed full of stickers or logos pronouncing it as such. Instead it keeps the classic Don Stivers artwork intact. The box is just absolutely beautiful. This is a replica of the “Kung-Fu Grip” style packaging, which is a little more zoomed in than the original boxes.
The sides of the box feature artwork from some of the other sets that were available at the time. These were not re-released (shame too) but it makes the box look really nice. There’s a disclaimer at the bottom mentioning that these are only shown for historical depiction.
Inside the Sea Adventurer is placed in a plastic shell to help hold him into place. He also has a few twist ties locking him into the shell. The shell itself is removable. The box is simply taped shut with two tape closures. Inside is a small form to join the GI Joe Collectors’ Club, a rare bit of synergy. The GI Joe Collector’s Club produces a variety of replica vintage Joe items, so it’s great that Hasbro included this. There could be fans that weren’t aware of the Club’s existence, picking up one of these items for nostalgia and would then be able to perhaps rekindle their interest.
The box itself is very nice, made of a firm cardboard stock. It’s the perfect place to store your Joes and it’s one of the few packages that is both collector friendly, but also useful. The retro Hasbro logos on the bottom are just icing on the cake.
Even though the Adventure Team were new Joes in the 1970’s, they were built off of the base of the regular GI Joes of the 1960’s. These replicas follow suit and are built off of the 2003 reproduction molds that were made for the regular GI Joes. However, in essence, these are the same designs that GI Joe has had for decades.
If you’re a vintage Joe collector, the first thing you’ll notice is the flocking on these Walmart Joes is considerably different than the vintage Adventure Team. For starters, the original Adventure Team figures had longer flocking, making the guys seem a little shaggier than this short flock. The Sea Adventurer in particular stands out as well, because the vintage figure had a much more natural red hair, whereas these repros have a very bright orange hair. Even Dr. Benton Quest would be jealous of how orange this hair is.
Joe also has his trademark scar on his cheek. This was one of the early ways that Hasbro sought out to make sure that their GI Joe figure stood out in the toy aisles. They proclaimed “Only GI Joe is GI Joe”, to basically brainwash kids into not accepting anything less than the genuine article. Of course it also leads to a bizarre question of why every soldier has this same scar. Clearly GI Joe has an initiation process?
The flocking is definitely different than the vintage figure, but it gives these Walmart incarnations a specific look of their own. They very much feel like the Adventure Team, but also are different enough that you can have them be new additions to the crew. I feel like Hasbro found a good middle ground here.
The costume is an important part of a 1/6 scale figure and despite being very affordable versions of these characters, the soft goods clothes do not feel cheap. The Sea Adventurer has almost bell bottomed blue jeans that are made of a nice jean material, as well as a shirt that’s of equally quality fabric. There are some differences, including missing pockets, but there are some nice additions as well.
The sleeves have button snaps to help allow you to remove the shirt with ease. The pants and shirt likewise has snaps to open them. It’s a nice reproduction and Hasbro didn’t cheap out and use velcro.
Removing clothes may seem very “doll-like” to people from my generation, but Hasbro very much employed the “razors and blades” philosophy throughout the 60’s-70’s. Just as the 3 3/4 Joes were meant to sell you vehicles, so too were the 12 inch Joes designed to sell you outfits and vehicles. Just as you buy one razor, you then buy multiple blades.
So with a quick change of the outfit, your Sea Adventurer could be off to another realm for new adventures.
Despite very few changes from the original GI Joe figure, this Joe proves just how well Hasbro thought out their original articulation model. GI Joe does not have Barbie’s paltry articulation. Instead Joe has more articulation than many figures on the shelves today.
The Adventure Team figures have a ton of articulation and all of it is very useful. You can bend, twist and contort Joe into many different positions. The original GI Joes were referred to as America’s Movable Fighting Man… And you can see why.
Samuel Speers and Hubert O’Conner’s patented body is largely unchanged in this 2007 reproduction. That’s a damn good articulation design when it’s just as poseable and versatile today as it was in 1964!
He’s very easy to pose and ready to get down into battle. Of course, the articulation isn’t as tight and sturdy as some future models. That’s because he uses an inner “string” much like classic Megos.
I wasn’t aware of this until I had him in hand. This makes Joe very light, but he doesn’t seem floppy or anything to me. Of course this also means that Joe could fall apart with age. For the most part though, that seems to be the exception, not the rule. Even if he does come apart, he can be restrung. This makes Joe in many ways, an immortal toy.
One of the important additions to the 1974 lineup of Adventure Team toys was the Kung-Fu Grip. This had been invented by Palitoy (the UK GI Joe distributor) and was implemented over into the American line for the Adventure Team. There’s nothing particularly “Kung-Fu” about it. It’s a softer rubber hand that allows Joe to grip things. The Kung-Fu name seems to just be clever marketing, and of course it worked.
Original Joe Hands
GI Joe originally had an open hand made of hard plastic.
And a hand known as a “nose picker” because it’s seemingly in a position to pick his nose… Or to pinch someone. It’s really the only flaw in Speers’ and O’Conner’s original design.
Thankfully we got the Kung-Fu grip, which allows Joe to throw punches and to grab stuff. Walmart also was smart in choosing this version of the Adventure Team hands to reproduce. It’s easily the better of the two types of hands and also more popular.
Given that these guys were originally produced under the razor and blades mentality, did they come with anything? Yes, actually they did come with one basic accessory. Originally Adventure Team Joes came with a shoulder holster and a pistol. However when they made the transition to Kung-Fu Grip, they came with a rifle. The Walmart repros come with the shoulder holster and pistol… As I said above, these are sort of a amalgamation as opposed to a specific reproduction.
The pistol has a good sculpt, cast in a light gray, almost silver plastic. It has a bit of black paint on the handle, to add a touch of realism. It’s certainly not the best looking toy gun, but it’s not the worst either. It could be neon pink!
The clothes are all removable, as is the holster and boots. The holster is made of a soft rubber and has a rubber snap that allows you to remove it with little effort. As mentioned above, the clothes are a pretty nice quality. The AT logo on the shirt is a sticker, but seems to almost be stamped on. It could be peeled off I’m sure, but shows no signs of peeling off on it’s own.
Given that most Joes now come with a hard rubber boot, it’s interesting to note that these come with a cheap hard plastic boot. This is true to the originals, though. It’s just quite a bit different than what I’m accustomed to with newer 12 inch Joes. He also comes with a plastic AT dog tag on a metal bead chain. I didn’t take them off.
This is where my mind is blown. At $10, these were an incredible value upon their release. They were a huge hit by all accounts and sold quite well. The only issue, as per the norm, was that Walmart had wonky distribution of these Adventure Team repros. This means that some Walmarts never got them and others got them right about the time that Walmart was clearancing out their Christmas toys. I recall briefly seeing them in 2007 and not quite sure what they were, didn’t buy them.
I remember also going back to buy one to try out for $10 and they were wiped out. You can find these on the secondary market now, but they tend to go for much more than the original $10. I’ve seen them as low as $15 and as high as $30. I would love to see Hasbro re-re-release these bad boys and even at $15 or so, they’d be a great deal.
Packaging – 10
Sculpting – 9
Paint – 8
Articulation – 9
Accessories – Holster, Gun
Value – 10
Overall – 9.5 out of 10
The original Adventure Team toys were a ton of fun for their time. In fact, they’re largely timeless. Kids today could still have fun with the simple concept of using your imagination to take Joe on wild adventures. I really love the concept. These are toys that are meant to be taken in the backyard and thrown around. They are meant to be PLAYED with and they can stand up to the abuse… You can’t put a price on that.
These reproductions aren’t as good as the originals, but they capture the spirit and offered a really affordable entry level into the GI Joe Adventure Team. If Hasbro was smart, they’d look into ways of offering these up again… Perhaps not just playing on nostalgia, but with an updated set of sensibilities to offer diversity in the toy aisles.