Top 10 GI Joe action figures


Over at io9 they decided to rank all the 3 3/4″ GI Joe action figures from the 80s. All of them. That’s 163 figures…that’s a lot and I commend them for going through them all and making a list. I’m guessing that was a tedious-yet-wonderful afternoon spent to compile that list and write an article.

They didn’t provide much context to the list outside of the fact that they ranked only the “good guy” GI Joe characters and none of the enemy Cobra figures. Fine. Frankly, I think that makes the list more difficult because Cobra figures were always better anyway…the bad guys have to be better so the good guys are underdogs, right?

But even if we just look at the good guys, the io9 list is pretty much all wrong.

Action figures are about play value, not character value

Their list has Snake Eyes in the #1 slot and that’s just crap. Crap because Snake Eyes is a very boring figure. It was boring when I was 7-years-old, and it’s boring when I’m nearing 40. The figure just isn’t very interesting…and I think that’s why their list is flawed. They rated the figures based on their character traits (from comics, cartoons, etc) and not their toy traits.

Toys are about play. So when you’re making a list of top toys, you have to grade them based on how well they play…their overall toy value. Was Snake Eyes a cool character? Yes. Does he have an interesting backstory? For sure. Does his action figure come with a lot to play with? Not really.

When I was kid, I separated an action figure’s quantity over quality. One of my favorite GI Joe cartoon characters was Gung Ho, but his action figure was somewhat lacking. On the other side of that coin, Airtight wasn’t a particular major character in the show but his action figure was pretty cool and came with some cool accessories.

You have to separate the two aspects. It’s difficult, I know, but you have to do that when you’re making a ranked list. Now if io9’s list was Top GI Joe characters, then maybe it would have more merit.

The Top 10 GI Joe Action Figures

So to make up for their poor listing, I’ve decided to rank the GI Joe actions based on their toy quality…but I’m not ranking all 163. I’m only to hit up the Top 10. My criteria pretty much boils down to accessories and role, because lets face it, you wanted the GI Joe figure that had the biggest, baddest, coolest guns and equipment. (All images from

  1. Hit N Run
  2. Blowtorch
  3. Fastdraw
  4. Airtight
  5. Scoop
  6. Low-Light
  7. Wetsuit
  8. Roadblock
  9. Lifeline
  10. Snake Eyes (v2)

Some of these I had as a kid, some I didn’t but wish I had…case in point with #1, Hit N Run.

Hit N Run

Just look at the all the stuff Hit N Run comes with: guns, bags, knife, grappling hook…not to mention his camo is top notch. If I had had this figure when I was kid, he would have been my hero.

Blowtorch ranked low on the io9 list because he was ugly. Whatever…he has a blowtorch, a mask and cool backpack. Who cares if he was bright red and yellow. Fire, man…get it?

Fastdraw was a figure I was unaware of until making this list, but again, he comes with guns, missiles, a mask and even hoses. I always thought hoses were the coolest accessory. No good reason…I guess maybe because they seemed rare.

Airtight was a figure I did have…I had 2, in fact. And his coolest applies directly to the aforementioned hose rule. Neat gun that could be equal parts laser and flame thrower.


Scoop is another member of the hose club but he comes with some sort of cool sci-fi gun. Actually, it’s a camera and microphone, but in the backyard it would have been a laser gun or sonic butt kicker. A perfect example of how the characters/equipment are used in a comic/cartoon don’t matter. Imagination matters most in the backyard.

Low-light. Big honkin’ sniper rifle. Nuff said.

Wetsuit is a somewhat boring figure in many ways but he does have some nifty accessories, a cool suit. And you have an underwater guy on your team.

Road Block was one of my favorite cartoon characters and just so happens to have a great figure too with some nice equipment. I, however, had trouble always rhyming when I was playing with friends.

Lifeline is the resident wuss of GI Joe but he’s the medic and you can’t not have a doctor on your team to patch up your guys.

Yes, Snake Eyes makes my list despite him being an overrated character and still a somewhat boring figure. But the second release of Snake Eyes from 1985 was better than the first because it included Timber, his pet wolf. A sword, an uzi and a wolf…gotta say, that’s pretty killer.

So there you go, a better Top 10 than the other one. The characters that make up my list probably aren’t that popular in terms of the cartoon or even the comic…some of them probably don’t even exist in either…but that doesn’t matter because I’m grading action figures, not characters. I’m ranking the Fun Factor and not their popularity. Is Snake Eyes a more popular character? Yes…are is Duke and Scarlet but they weren’t very interesting figures.


About Author

Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

1 Comment

  1. Zartan has to be number 1 on your list. Master of disguise. Skin color changes from beige to dark purple in sunlight. Number 2 has to be the Battle Android Trooper. How about Alley Viper? Even “the uncool Dreadnoks” Road Pig and Gnawgahyde came with awesome accessories.

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