As a kid, I left GI Joe while the 1988 figures were still at retail, and came back for a brief period in high school, finding the Shadow Ninjas and ordering 1980s Joes through mailaway inserts with the 1990s figures. But I didn’t stay with it quite long enough to find the 30th anniversary boxsets, recasting the original, 1960s GI Joe figures in ARAH format, in 1994.
Since coming back to collecting GI Joe at the end of 2013, collecting the 30th anniversary series of “Action” figures has been a low priority. I only ever knew about them because of the Bellomo guide and from studying pages at yojoe.com, so there wasn’t any personal attachment for me.
The reasons to skip them should be easy to understand:
– My attachment to GI Joe was entirely based on the 1982+ ARAH series, and didn’t even know of the 12” figures as a kid, let alone feel any nostalgia towards seeing the 1960s figures in the 3.75″ format,
– That the anniversary figures were based on older soldiers, marines, pilots, etc. that would have looked out of place with my more modern figures,
– That the figures’ lack of names seemed a subtle indication that they were less valuable or crucial figures,
– That there were many other named, mainline, ARAH figures that I didn’t yet own and should focus on first,
– That the 30th anniversary figures aren’t expensive, even now, 25+ years later, and seemed like an itch I could readily scratch at a later date, if I so desired, and
– The 30th anniversary figures were making their way into my collection organically, over time, as the Action Pilot and Astronaut had come into my possession as throw-ins on other, larger deals.
Well, since my GI Joe ARAH collection is getting more complete, I bought the Action Marine during a stop at Toy Traders in Langley, on our way to vacation in the interior of British Columbia.
The Action Marine was a pleasant surprise for me, as the accessory compliment and design were strong, and the figure itself had an understated charm. I’m sure for some collectors who might have been overwhelmed by the neon 90s figures, the 30th anniversary figures were the military realism they had been craving.
This Action Marine was one of only three GI Joe figures I bought on that trip, along with a damn SAW Viper – my least favourite figure – and a grey and black, MOC Snow Storm. The trio traveled with me to Kootenay Lake, to where my wife’s family has property. The destination was the heart of their North American roots, where her great grandparents and their descendants had settled, once they arrived in Canada from the UK in the early 1900s.
The house where her grandparents once lived, where her father had spent his early years, was no longer standing, but the piles of rocks that made its foundation were still an important landmark on the property.
This year, I started thinking about what a great location that would be to take some shots of action figures. Unfortunately, I had only brought the three, two of which seemed out of place in that environment. But photographing the Action Marine at the remains of a house where a World War II Air Force Pilot had lived, on the land a World War I Naval Officer had settled, was fitting.
Next year, I’ll probably bring Beach Head, Lt. Falcon and Flint, but for this year, spending a half hour photographing the Action Marine on the remains of that old house felt like kismet.