The official art for 1983.

The year 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) is the second year of the A Real American Hero brand.


The year 1983 introduced three major innovations to G.I. Joe, aside from the new characters themselves. The first was actual vehicles for Cobra. No longer did the "tanks and planes" mentioned in the previous year's catalog have to be imagined. The second was a break away from the interchangeable parts and drab green color scheme which characterized the vast bulk of the first year's releases and made the few non-green figures (Scarlett and Snake Eyes) look out of place. The third change, the one most heavily advertised, was swivel-arm battle grip. By allowing the arms to swivel, characters could grip their weapons more realistically. Along with slight internal retooling required by the new swivel-arms, the plastic was softened (to prevent thumb breakage common in the straight-arm figures) and the waistpiece was redesigned to allow greater leg movement. The new design actually left the figures looking larger and more muscular. The previous year's figures were all re-released with the new design, and nearly all subsequent figures would be swivel-arms (Deep Six being the only exception for many years).

By 1983, the commercial format was well standardized: open with animation, usually recycled from the comicbook ads, then cut to boys playing with the toys. Close with one of the boys saying, "Way to go, Joe!" This pattern continued throughout the year. September saw the creation of a two-hour (five-part) miniseries titled "A Real American Hero" by Sunbow, bringing the characters to life in a continuity outside that of the comicbook. With its sci-fi storyline and its excellent animation, music, voice acting, characterization, humor, and pacing, the cartoon showed itself far beyond normal Saturday cartoon fare. The show featured all the figures in production at that time, except for Grand Slam and Grunt, and gave glimpses of vehicles yet to come, such as the Rattler and the Water Moccasin in their prototype forms.

This year effectively doubled the number of figures and tripled the number of vehicles and accessories in the G.I. Joe toy line. The new carded assortment included six Joes and three Cobras, two of which (Cobra Commander and Major Bludd) had previously been available by mail. Five Joes and two Cobras came with vehicles, and Duke was a late 1983 mail-in offer. The official art for 1983 showed the H.A.L., V.A.M.P., and F.L.A.K. in the foreground, with the R.A.M., M.O.B.A.T., and M.M.S. also visible, as are most of the first year's Joes. A flag is raised near the center of the picture.


Carded figures

G.I. Joe Team


Non-Carded figures

G.I. Joe Team



G.I. Joe Team



Mailaway offers

  • Show the G.I. Joe Spirit
This year's mail-in exclusive figure was to be G.I. Joe's primary leader on the battlefield. The first mail-in vehicle was also offered. Fans could order Duke and the M.A.N.T.A. transport.

Comic books

Issues 7 - 18 of the Marvel Comics series came out this year.

See detailed information here.


Animated commercials for issues 11, 14, 16, 18 and 19 of Marvel's G.I. Joe comic were produced, with much of the footage recycled for toy commercials.

Sunbow's first animated miniseries, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was released in September:

# Title Writer Original airdate Production code
1 The Cobra Strikes Ron Friedman September 12, 1983 #4005
Using the M.A.S.S. device, Destro and Cobra Commander steal a powerful satellite, kidnap Duke and terrorize the world. Scarlett and the other Joes learn that the only way to stop Cobra is to build their own M.A.S.S. device. To do it they must search the globe for three precious elements and get them before Cobra does or all is lost. Duke battles for his life in Cobra's Arena of Sport. 
2 Slave of the Cobra Master Ron Friedman September 13, 1983 #4006
Duke finds an unexpected ally in the shadows of the Arena of Sport, while Snake Eyes, Scarlett, and Stalker join with Snow Job in a treacherous search for the radioactive crystals of death. Cobra terrifies the world with the impossible capture of an entire army and Duke's desperate bid for freedom seems sure to end in disaster. 
3 The Worms of Death Ron Friedman September 14, 1983 #4007
Cobra robots blast their way into the crystal mine freeing the dangerously radioactive Snake-Eyes while the G.I. Joe team dives to the ocean floor in search of the precious elements needed to stop Cobra's train of destruction and Duke and the Baroness unexpectedly join forces in a terrifying struggle against giant tube worms. 
4 Duel in the Devil's Cauldron Ron Friedman September 15, 1983 #4008
New York trembles under brink of destruction and Stalker agrees to surrender the G.I.Joe team while Scarlett, Wild Bill, and Gung-Ho fly into an erupting volcano and battle Cobra and Destro for the final element. Only with the final element do the Joes have a fighting chance. But it's a chance that may cost Scarlett her life. 
5 A Stake in the Serpent's Heart Ron Friedman September 16, 1983 #4009
Scarlett becomes a slave to Cobra and she and Salina lead a slave rebellion... while Dr. Vandermeer completes the M.A.S.S. device and the Joe team launches deadly combat with Cobra and Destro.