In 1982, G.I. Joe paved the way for many of the cartoon/action figure franchises of the decade. Hasbro was making a mint off the sales of the figures as the military force tackled evil organization Cobra. The line was notable for how it ran from simple action figures to massive play sets that brought the adventures of the cartoons and comics to life. To this day, Joe figures are still appreciated not just by older fans but younger ones as well. Scores of great figures exist to show the Joes in a good light.
Sadly, not every figure was so deserving of accolades. Because of the demand, Hasbro would put out a lot of figures that, quite frankly, were just terrible. That’s especially true in the ‘90s when the desperate attempts to revive the sagging brand led to poorly done lines and some atrocious figures.
Some had a good concept but failed in execution while others were just bad all the way through. Here are 20 of the weirdest G.I. Joe figues ever made to show not every character deserved their own showcase.
20 Crystal Ball
Granted, Cobra had their share of weirdos on staff but Crystal Ball still stands out. His bio card says that he’s the “Seventh son of a seventh son” and makes him out to be a big deal as a mystic. His appearance hardly screams out supernatural as he looks like some weirdo uncle in an outfit flaunting his chest when he’s not in that great shape. Also, his accessory was a weird light shield meant to hypnotize people in a bad optical effect. Cobra was really desperate to hire this guy.
Destro’s cousin was pushed as a new enemy who ruled his own country (named, naturally, Darklonia.) Sadly, it appears Destro got the fashion sense in the family. Instead of the awesome metal mask and suit, Darklon got a lame helmet and a terrible green color scheme. Nothing about him looked intimidating at all and one can imagine Destro ignoring the guy at family reunions. He’s the Cousin Oliver of the Destro clan.
In the brief ‘90s revival of the cartoon, a big episode was one long anti-drug storyline. In it, the Headman was introduced as a cartel leader so incredibly evil that G.I. Joe and Cobra actually worked together to bring him down. What kid doesn’t want a notorious drug dealer in their collection? As bad as his dark trench coat look is, there was actually a variant with him in a tan jumpsuit. Some figures are too warped for Joes.
You can tell what they were going for with the “Ninja Force” line: “Fans love Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow so let’s give them a whole pack of guys like them!” Too bad many were pretty bad. None were as terrible as Banzai who appears to be a complete rip-off of Vega from Street Fighter. The mask is bad enough with the pink color and the outfit hardly screams out the stealth of a ninja. Hopefully Snake Eyes gave this guy the boot quickly.
16 Toll Booth
His background is that he’s an engineering prodigy who comes up with solutions to impossible ideas. That’s not too bad for a Joe but giving him the code name of a road obstacle is. Crazier is that he looks like a standard roadside construction worker giving a bit of an upgrade. His main weapon is a sledgehammer and he actually comes with plastic cones. What is he going to do, block off the site of a firefight? This guy should stick to the engineering lab, not combat.
15 Ice Cream Soldier
It’s oddly fitting this was one of the last figures of the original Joe era. The name is just horrible since who thinks “Ice Cream Soldier” is somehow cool or intimidating at all? It also makes no sense as his main weapon is a flamethrower. That’s without the atrocious red and yellow color scheme, bulky armor and huge helmet. He was later remade into the Cobra Shock Viper which was a serious step up from this heroic attempt.
One look tells you this guy was made in 1993. Part of the “Battle Corps” line that was among the last of the classic Joe figures, his entire look was crazy. The red and yellow outfit is just laughable in how bad it clashes with itself. There’s also the terrible haircut and the shades combined with a cocky grin. Also, his rifle cannon actually fired out tiny missiles which was a huge health hazard. Even the name is baffling as who’s going to be intimidated by “Gristle?” This guy was all that was wrong with figures in that decade.
13 Captain Grid-Iron
According to his data card, even the other Joes find this guy annoying due to bad John Wayne impressions and a cocky attitude. That makes it even harder to sell besides his dumb name. It comes from how he was a quarterback at West Point so, of course, he wears what looks like a football helmet into battle. Aside from a ludicrously large rifle, he could also fire football-shaped grenades. This is a character that deserves to be sacked.
12 Big Boa
The idea of Cobra having a “trainer” is logical. You need someone to whip these guys into shape. Too bad they hired what looks like a cross reject from Mad Max and American Gladiators. The spikes on the helmet and straps on the chest are ridiculous as is the goofy mix of white and blue. He does have gloves with the Cobra symbol on his hands and what looks like a huge Q-Tip as a weapon. One can imagine the recruits were too busy holding in their laughter to pay attention to his lessons.
In the ‘90s, Hasbro decided there had to be more bad guys than just Cobra Commander. Cesspool was introduced to mainly take on the Eco-Force Joes, a twisted environmental criminal trying to remake the world in his image. His appearance is just ridiculous with his white hair, crazy red scar across his face, one arm bionic and a terrible color scheme to his outfit. He even had a cape for a bit just to make it crazier. At his worst, Cobra Commander would be laughing his head off at this guy’s fashion sense.
In what twisted nightmare was this crafted? This was part of the “Star Brigade” line released in 1993 and sadly captured too much of the ‘90s attitude of “bigger is better.” He’s supposed to have a score of weapons yet is barely articulate and the half-ruined/half-metal headpiece is terrible. No wonder the entire line was discontinued after one year as this guy should have been sent to the scrap heap.
9 Dial Tone
Most younger people really don’t even know what a dial tone is (it’s the little ringing when one picks up a standard landline phone). This communications expert could have been a decent Joe but his appearance didn’t help. The weird mix of colors in his suit and that stupid mustache were bad enough to doom him. There’s also the bizarre “communications gear” that looks like a backpack meant to emulate a phone. An attempt to give him more of a “commando” look failed as this guy had a bad connection with fans.
Cobra really had a thing for hiring animal-themed bad guys. It was as if all someone had to do was show up with a reptile-like name and they were in. Crocmaster is supposed to be a savvy swamp/jungle expert but looks like a bad reject from a ‘90s pro wrestling company. The bizarre mask clashes with the green color scheme to make him look even more stupid. He even came with his own pet crocodile on a leash. Cobra seriously needed to improve their hiring standards.
7 Clean Sweep
The Joes followed the whole “environmental push” that as going on in the early 1990s... just not in a good way. The “Eco-Force” had Flint leading a squad dedicated to fighting environmental threats and decked out in some of the worst outfits imaginable. Clean Sweep was their radiation expert whose outfit looks like what Homer wears in the opening credits of The Simpsons. Even nuttier was how it could change color in water. This figure belongs in a landfill.
Okay, try to follow this. In the more recent Joe comics, Hannibal was one of the backup clones of Serpentor that Dr. Mindbender created. He eventually got free and took to fighting Cobra himself, taking on the name of the ancient conqueror. He appears to be in his twenties and thinks it’s awesome to go around in jeans, a skull t-shirt, and a long coat. It’s like a kid doing a bad Punisher cosplay with a huge sword in hand. It shows the modern Joe figures can be as nuts as the older ones.
An issue of the G.I. Joe comic has Cobra Commander finding himself alongside Raptor. One look and Commander is yelling “I am tired of being surrounded by clowns in crazy outfits!” That sums it up as it looks like a very bad Hawkman cosplay with the feathered wings and nutty head mask to be laughable as a Cobra agent. The hawk on the arm just tops it off to make one wonder about Cobra’s hiring standards. Believe it or not, this guy used to be an accountant!
The cartoon tried to come up with an explanation that this guy was a deep cover Cobra agent who infiltrated the Joes only to switch sides for real. But a journalist? Was there no better cover? The character looked goofy already but sure enough, his accessory is a video camera which, because it was the late-’80s, is one of those huge cameras that would be a hassle to hold. A microphone topped it off and while a journalist recording the team sounds good, it doesn’t lend itself to a Joe.
The animated movie revealed that the true master of Cobra was the bizarre Golobulus in the hidden kingdom of Cobra-La. This led to a three-pack of the main characters. Golobulus was a huge snake-like building with a scarred visage. Nemesis Enforcer had bat-like wings and a look like a bad Marvel character. The Royal Guard figure was in red armor and looked more like an insect. Fans have put together custom figures of the group but the original trio reflects their strange origins.
2 The Street Fighter Line
The reason the Street Fighter movie became a wild adventure is because it was being used to try and revive the sagging G.I. Joe toy line. Thus, the Fighters were basically turned into Joes in combat. Oddly, the very first SF toys were part of the regular Joe line and were made to look like their video game counterparts. Sadly, these were not good models at all. They looked horrible with bad bodies and poses and seemed to have been made really cheap. Much better SF figures would come after these.
1 William Perry
In 1985, “the Fridge” became a nationwide sensation thanks to his beefy build and defensive play that helped the Chicago Bears win the Super Bowl. Still, turning him into a G.I. Joe was pretty crazy. He was mail-in exclusive, coming out in what looked like a regular warm-up suit and carrying a metal football on a chain. They got the gap-toothed grin right but the Fridge as a Joe was more laughable than his later NFL career.