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 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 bouyed 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 worked of famed comic artist Nick Cardy (can someone verify this for me?). 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 similiar to these sketches.
It's not known if Cardy was retained for the Super Joe packaging, although the stark white boxes do bear a similiar 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 recyle a tremendous amount items from the Adventure Team era.
US Carded Figures
Super Joe Back
Shield (Canadian Issue)
Hasbro used a stark white background to merchandise these characters in North America, resulting in some rather striking displays.
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 (similiar to the Densy 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 line was called "Siglo XXX" (century XXX?) and was marketed alongside 12" 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. .
Vehicles, Playsets and Store Exclusives
Above is the Avenger Pursuit Craft, which as you can tell by all the leg room Super Joe has in there that this is a Recycled GI Joe Adventure Team vehicle.
The white shark hunt for Super Joe is very rare, it's also another example of the frugal ryclcing of Hasbro
The Super Joe Command Center is a repurposed version of the carrying case, this time with some cardboard computer panels (which I'll admit are pretty cool) to simulate a playset
The Rocket Command Center was the big get for the line and it's actually quite a nice piece.
This large child size cruiser was produced as well as a working child sized Super Joe Pistol/Communicator.
An eye popping display of carded Super Joe figures circa 1978.
Collegeville released a trio of Super Joe Costumes but none of Joe himself.
Super Joe Commercial
Darkon Commercial, I remember when this aired and really wanting him.