Growing Up Geek - G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero

G.I. Joe has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to the cartoon and action figure toy line by my uncle, who was working on the cartoon series as a storyboard artist when it first launched in the 80s. I absolutely loved that show, and my uncle is the one that gave me my first G.I. Joe action figure and vehicle. It was the Combat Jet Skystriker XP-14F, and he gave it to me for Christmas one year. It was seriously the coolest toy that I ever had, and from that moment on I was hooked on G.I. Joe toys. I've been collecting them ever since. You can see my reaction to opening up that present in the picture above.

Of course when I was kid I didn't appreciate the toys as much. I lost and destroyed so many of them. As I look back at the times I spent with my Joes, I'm so disappointed in myself for what I did to them. I killed so many of my Joes. I've since repented of my sins, and I'm back on track and treating my G.I. Joes with the love, kindness, and respect they deserve. But there was a time when I was like Sid from Toy Story.

My obsession with torturing G.I. Joes started with my dad. We used to set them up all over our apartment. We would run around the house shooting rubber bands at them, which would knock them down or fling them across the room. I would even dress up as a G.I. Joe when I did this. You can see a couple pictures of me decked out in my childhood military gear. I know shooting rubber bands isn't that bad, but it paved the way for what I would do to them in the future. 

Later on down the road my cousin and I went out and bought BB guns. We would then take a staple gun and staple our G.I. Joes to a wooden fence in the back of our grandpa's house. We then proceeded to blow them away. We would also strap firecrackers and M-80s to them and blow them up. Then remember those little tank fireworks? We would stand the Joes in front of those and let them shoot fire at the action figures burning them to a crisp. I'm seriously feeling really awful as I confess this stuff to you. It was incredibly fun at the time, but I look back at it now, and I wish to hell that I wouldn't have destroyed so many of them, and that I still had those original toys of mine!

It wasn't until I was around 11 or 12 that I really started to appreciate the value of these action figures. That's when I started really collecting them. It was around the same time that Hasbro relaunched their 12" reissue action figure collectors series. This was the awesome toy line that replicated the original 1960s version of G.I. Joe which in a way paid tribute to the the military and other classic G.I. Joe 80s characters created for the animated series.

Over the years I owned hundreds of Joes, and I still do have a few of the originals that survived my days as a kid. I just wish I had more of them. At one point I even had the huge U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier. It took up my whole bedroom. I have no idea what the hell happened to that thing though! One day it just kind of disappeared, and I was sad. I loved that thing.  I just wanted to be a real G.I. Joe.

My love for this toy line has never faded. I think they're just as cool now as when I was a kid. I'm not a fan of the live-action movies that have been made though. They basically ruined most of the things I enjoyed about the toys and animated series. The only thing they kind of got right were Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, but even they don't save the films from sucking ass. The animated G.I. Joe: The Movie was so amazing though! I cherished that flick as a kid. I love the nostalgic feel I get when I watch it now. Hell! That goes for any of the animated series that I grew up with.

In more recent years I've been able to share these cartoons with my own kids, and I have a ton of boxes in storage that are full of all kinds of G.I. Joe greatness!