In 1964, Hasbro launched the first-ever line of G.I. Joe toys. Seeking to be a touch more realistic than some of its contemporaries, the manufacturing company based the action figures on four branches of the United States' armed forces; Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Hasbro attached the word "Action" as a precursor to soldier, sailor, pilot, and marine; in addition, G.I. Joe coined the phrase "action figure." Boasting various moving parts and diverse playsets, G.I. Joes have entertained children for decades. Describing Hasbro's property as industry-changing would not be hyperbolic.
The original 12-inch G.I. Joe transformed the toy manufacturing business, but 1982's 3 3/4” line produced arguably the franchise's most highly sought-after collector's items. While realism remained an essential component, Hasbro introduced anti-enemy specialists to the equation. Suddenly, G.I. Joes had personality, characterization, and bad guys. The action figures came equipped with tanks, unique features, and Cobra Commander. Each playset incorporated detailed biographies and crisp artwork, ensuring the days of a nameless Action Man discharging a generic peashooter were history.
People reacted so positively to Hasbro's new line of toys, G.I. Joe spawned multiple animated series and a couple of (terrible) movies. In 2004, G.I. Joe was inducted into The Strong's National Toy Hall Of Fame, an honor well-earned by Hasbro. Is there an old G.I. Joe somewhere in your closet? Is it still in mint condition? Are you sitting on a goldmine?
Here are 25 G.I. Joe action figures that are worth a fortune now!
25 1982 Bazooka Soldier ($349)
Released in 1982 as part of G.I. Joe's revamped brand, Bazooka Soldier's code name is Zap, but his parents know him as Rafael J. Melendez. Compared to the likes of Snake-Eyes and Duke, Zap is not the license's most celebrated personality; however, winning a battle requires more than super ninjas.
Due to the soldier's background in combat engineering, Zap specializes in taking down tanks and armor units. He is the type of hero who tends to work best when the enemy is distracted by flashier soldiers, but every successful unit needs a Rafael. Pre-owned versions are available for a reasonable price, but a brand new model costs a pretty penny.
24 1986 Scarlett ($395)
Back in the day, G.I. Joes were solely marketed to boys. In due time, manufacturers realized that ignoring 50% of the population is not a sound business strategy, but the early '80s was too soon for such an epiphany. As the first real female hero in the franchise, Scarlett stood out due to possessing a unique mold and just being one-of-a-kind.
Agent Scarlett proved to be quite popular, even appearing in 1985's original G.I. Joe animated series. 1982's original costs more than $1,000, but the 1986 re-release is priced at a slightly easier to swallow $395. Cost is relative.
23 1982 Short-Fuze Black Trooper ($400)
Short-Fuze's real name is Eric W. Freistadt and he was born in Chicago, Illinois. Along with being an infantry engineer, Short-Fuze is the Commando's go-to artillery expert, one capable of handling mortars and grenade launchers. Outside of the battle zone, Eric loves challenging his brain with abstract mathematics. Why does this matter? It does not, but Hasbro added this detail anyway.
Rather than coming across as a generic soldier with a cool weapon, Short-Fuze is a short-tempered human born to a military family. Would anyone remember Eric if this biography was not created? Short-Fuze failed to earn an appearance in the live-action films, but he can still make bank.
22 1984 Storm Shadow ($499)
Whether fighting with or against the G.I. Joes, Storm Shadow is always one cool customer! Certain combinations are simply too awesome to ruin, and a special forces ninja is among them. Not convinced? Okay – how about this? Storm Shadow has appeared in every single G.I. Joe animated series and 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. The cartoons may have been designed to sell toys, but only action figures with market potential warranted a moment in the spotlight. Storm Shadow has never left.
21 Sideshow Cobra Commander ($499+)
Cobra Commander epitomizes everything great and awful about Saturday Morning cartoons. As the evil organization's supreme leader and perpetual thorn in the side of all Joes, Cobra Commander seeks to rule the world by manipulating governments and instigating economic upheavals. In summary, the dude is not a nice guy.
Chris Latta's hammy performance in 1985's animated series forever immortalized Cobra Commander as a silly but oddly charming villain who sacrifices nuance in favor of stealing every scene. In 2009, Sideshow Collectibles launched a new line of G.I. Joes, including an awesome Cobra Commander.
20 1985 Dusty ($500)
Along with the occasional celebrity endorsement, Hasbro commonly took inspiration from real-life people to facilitate the sculpting process behind an action figure. In the case of 1985's desert trooper, the company turned inwards to its own Ron Rudat – an artist who worked on the early Joes – while designing Dusty. The action figure's origin is made even more obvious when one takes into the account Dusty's real name is Ronald Tadur.
1986's version can be purchased for less than the price of a new Xbox One X, but the same cannot be said about Dusty's original model. A pre-owned Ronald costs around the same amount as a brand new copy of Destiny 2.
19 1985 Flint ($699)
Attaching the word "vintage" automatically elevates an item's perceived value. At release, a G.I. Joe costs around $20, but time makes the heart grow fonder. Nowadays, an all-new Flint costs a staggering $699, which may have more to do with people not particularly flocking to purchase the infantry soldier when the figure originally hit shelves. In 1987, Hasbro discontinued Flint, presumably due to disappointing sales.
If Flint had been more successful, the toy might cost far less in 2019. eBay only lists one brand new packaged 1985 Flint, therefore the seller can aim for the sky and wait for a collector to bite.
18 1983 Duke ($749)
Duke has a solid case for being the license's most revered character, although Cobra Commander and Snake-Eyes would probably object to any such claim. Introduced as a special mail-away figure, Duke is fluent in multiple languages and serves as the Joes' field commander. Believing a supervisor should stand alongside his soldiers on the battlefield, Duke is highly respected by those who fight with or against him.
Duke is the hero. For all intents and purposes, the commander serves as G.I. Joe's de facto protagonist, particularly following 2005's Sigma 6 anime. The mail away model is quite rare.
17 Sideshow Destro ($843)
Lasting from 2009 to 2014, Sideshow Collectibles produced a modern line of G.I. Joe figures under Hasbro's guidance. As implied by the manufacturer's name, Sideshow provides quality over quantity. Despite originating just a decade ago, purchasing any of these figures will likely demand a fee in the hundreds.
Over the years, Sideshow has crafted detailed Sixth Scale figures based on popular movies, games, and celebrities. Want an Alice Cooper action figure? Well, here it is. Sideshow prices a limited edition 12" Destro at an intimidating $843, but the figure is absolutely stunning! The villain never looked better.
16 Sideshow Snake Eyes ($897)
Snake Eyes is awesome. Providing insight into a person's upbringing can enamor a character to its audience, but there is something to be said about withholding information. If applied correctly, mystery trounces amity. As a case in point, take G.I. Joe's Snake Eyes. While a lot is known about the commando's military training and background, Hasbro held back from revealing the specialist's name, place of birth, or face.
Snake Eyes's black bodysuit allowed the figure to stand out among the mostly identical soldiers produced as part of 1982's line-up. A man of few words but numerous ninja moves, Snake Eyes encapsulates everything great about G.I. Joe. Sideshow's collectible is not cheap.
15 Roadblock: Dwayne Johnson Edition ($975)
Critics absolutely disliked 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and fans were hardly significantly kinder to the incredibly loud but shockingly boring live-action adaptation of the animated series from the 1980s. Despite the negative reception, the G.I. Joe's name compelled enough people to watch this generic action film to warrant the production of a sequel.
Slightly better than its predecessor but still nothing special, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a stupid movie that benefits greatly from Dwayne Johnson's presence as Roadblock. Johnson is mostly just playing himself, but that is more than enough to overshadow a sleepwalking Bruce Willis and a disinterested Channing Tatum. $975 is a tad steep.
14 Cobra Throne ($995)
Sideshow's interest extends beyond mere action figures, as the manufacturer typically creates environmental dioramas to complement its G.I. Joes and aging rock stars. Originally priced at $199.99, Sideshow's Cobra Throne is a beautiful model designed specifically for the company's 2009 Cobra Commander. Only 750 units exist of this gorgeous throne, and adding one to the collection requires a heftier investment than $200.
Obviously, a throne without a king is nothing more than a fancy chair. There is no point purchasing Sideshow's diorama without picking up Cobra Commander, therefore collectors should be prepared to break the $1000 mark.
13 1984 Firefly ($999)
G.I. Joe might have originally strived for realism, but any such ambitions were gone by the '80s. That's not to say Hasbro decommissioned soldiers, marines, and sailors; however, the company clearly saw ninjas as the future. Snake Eyes' success led to the creation of numerous similar characters, with some even serving as the commando's rivals.
Employed as a saboteur by Cobra, Firefly's missions usually involved the infiltration and destruction of a secure enemy outpost. Introduced in 1984 and updated multiple times over the decades, Firefly is among the license's best-known antagonists. He is also priced as such.
12 MOBAT Tank ($1,100+)
Hasbro's detailed equipment, weapons, and vehicles helped push G.I. Joe to the next level. Once the movable action figures began to score big with customers, copycats quickly flooded the market in the hopes of owning a piece of that Action Man pie. Try as they might, few had the resources or dedication to even approach Hasbro's immaculate toys. 1982's Motorized Battle Tank serves as a perfect example to illustrate G.I. Joe's supremacy over all the wannabes.
If you want quality, you have to pay for quality. As the tank was discontinued in 1985, models are extremely rare. It is the definition of a collector's item.
11 1983 Cobra Commander ($1,299)
Cobra Commander was included as part of 1982's life of toys, although the antagonist was a mail-in figure. The following year, Hasbro brandished Cobra Commander with the iconic Cobra sigil and unleashed the villain on the masses. Priced at $1,299, 1983's Cobra Commander is the model that served as the foundation for every other subsequent version.
Due to being readily available to purchase and introducing numerous characteristics that would become synonymous with the character, this model tends to be seen as the definitive Cobra Commander. Who said crime does not pay? Clearly, they do not own a vintage Cobra Commander.
10 Sideshow Baroness ($1,400+)
2013's Classic Baroness is the final Sideshow G.I. Joe mentioned on this list, with the company pricing its modern toy at just north of $1,400. Limited to merely 750 units, the Baroness was never cheap; however, the collectible's price has more than tripled in the last five years.
Sideshow's toys and Dwayne Johnson's figure are the only entries released during the 21st century. Once Baroness is out of the way, we will not be leaving the 20th century for the remainder of this article. Once upon a time, the older G.I. Joes could be readily purchased from your average store, but time transformed them into collector's items. Sideshow's Baroness was born special.
9 1982 Snake Eyes ($1,999)
There is no surpassing the original. When it comes to price, 1982's Snake Eyes is obviously not the most ludicrously expensive G.I. Joe on the market; nevertheless, owning such a significant toy requires quite an investment. Is it too much? Perhaps, but we are talking about a super rare Snake Eyes in mind condition. The toy is vintage! VINTAGE!
Funnily enough, Hasbro created Snake Eyes to save money. Due to the figure's black attire and non-descript face, the commando demanded less paint and resources to put together. Basically, G.I. Joe's iconic ninja started out as a budget toy. Snake Eyes is the ultimate overachiever.
8 1983 Destro ($2,299)
Collectibles are a gamble in the best of circumstances. As an item's rarity increases and market competition steadily subsides, sellers are free to charge crazy prices. What criteria determine a product's value? Action figures instantly depreciate once the packaging is opened; in fact, pre-owned versions can easily be found for 5% of the price of a new model. Even if the item is practically identical, the simple act of resealing a package is enough to greatly devalue a toy.
Are you searching for an unopened 1983 Destro? There is some good and bad news. The toy is available to purchase, but beggars cannot be choosers.
7 Mickey Mouse Cobra Commander ($2,499)
In spite of what the name may imply, Disney has nothing to do with Cobra's supreme leader. "Mickey Mouse" refers to the undetailed logo painted on the first batch of Cobra Commanders produced in 1982. Compared to the version released just a year later, the original seemed poorly equipped to handle the trials and tribulations associated with running an organization seeking to rule the world.
Unsurprisingly, Cobra "Mickey Mouse" Commander is among the license's most sought-after collector's items. Pre-owned copies fetch a respectable $300, but discovering one in its original mailer box is akin to finding the holy grail. Somehow, here is a toy that is simultaneously outdated and priceless.
6 Talking Commander ($2,500)
The licensed character's popularity rarely plays a crucial role in determining an item's eventual price. The more beloved a character, the more units tend to be created. Unless dealing with a limited edition model, an ignored toy is likely to hold a greater significance to collectors than a Snake Eyes owned by everyone.
A talking commander with a beard and little else, there is basically nothing special about this G.I. Joe. When an action figure's selling point is its life-like hair and beard, then there is probably no reason to get excited. Yet, a used copy costs more than $2,000! Now, in all fairness, the seller mentions this item was owned by a Hasbro employee and comes with a certificate of authenticity.
5 Nurse Doll ($3,500)
So far, Sideshow's collectibles and Hasbro's line have hogged the vast majority of this article's entries. What about the figures that started it all? The '80s toys and subsequent cartoons are the definitive G.I. Joes, but Hasbro established the series nearly two decades prior to Snake Eyes or Cobra Commander's debuts.
In contrast to the larger-than-life personas employed to fight off the Cobra Organization, the original heroes were considerably less flashy. 1967's Nurse doll is not secretly a ninja or an expert in explosives. Scarlett's Black Widowesque designed permitted the officer to gain some footing in a boy-driven market, but GI Nurse had no such luck.
4 German Soldier ($3,500)
Yes, Hasbro went there. G.I. Joe's earliest toys tend to be one-offs. Creatively named as German Soldier, this action figure produced only a single iteration. 1966's edition has never been surpassed or replicated. There is literally only one German Soldier. The lack of a successor suggests Hasbro was not particularly impressed with the toy's commercial performance. The company saw no reason to double dip.
One person's trash is a prospective collector's treasure. A new German Soldier costs $3,500, a figure that presumably eclipses the sum total of all units sold by Hasbro. Will someone meet the seller's fee to add this vintage toy to their collection?
3 Green Beret ($3,695)
1966's Green Beret may seem like a woefully undercooked action figure to modern eyes, but Hasbro's earliest line of G.I. Joes changed the industry forever! Bolstered by a brilliant marketing campaign, Hasbro only needed to scribble a "Movable Fighting Man" on a box to guarantee the action figure sold like hot cakes.
Green Beret is straight-forward, but customers appreciated this simplicity. Prior to G.I. Joes, boys refused to purchase anything resembling a doll. By coining the term "action figure," Hasbro birthed a whole new market. Gender norms have thankfully relaxed since the '60s, but action figures are STILL not dolls.
2 Laser Rifle Trooper ($4,999)
One of the first figures issued to celebrate G.I. Joe's spectacular overhaul in the early '80s, Flash came equipped with a laser rifle and a pretty neat helmet. 1982's models used straight-arms, a design choice that did not compliment the show's diverse weapon set. Consequently, the action figures struggle to grasp hold of their accompanying equipment.
In 1983, Hasbro upgraded the models to include arms fitted to swivel at the bicep, which greatly improved functionality. Admittedly, when it comes to collector's items, ease-of-use is hardly a priority. There is nothing quite as valuable as a faulty action figure. Any such cases are truly unique and sell for a fortune. Please note, we are talking about production-line faults. Unfortunately, your armless Action Man is not priceless.
1 Para-Drop ($5,999)
Sideshow's Cobra Throne has a cool design going for it, but this 1975 para drop collection cannot even claim to offer that much. During the '70s, Hasbro produced countless peripherals to its main action figures. While the characters were devoid of personality, purchasing a "Danger of the Depths" or "Fire Fighter" set allowed customers to differentiate their Atomic Man's from all the clones flooding the market.
Even if these packages are about as exciting as a real raft, they are quality items from a respectable manufacturer. Nevertheless, no toy should cost upward of $5,000! At most, we are willing to spend $4,999 on a G.I. Joe.