The year 1985 (MCMLXXXV) is the fourth year of the A Real American Hero brand.
Most fans consider 1985 and 1986 to have been G.I. Joe's best years... and not simply because Star Wars toys were being phased out. These were the years of Sunbow's daily cartoon series, and so each new character was highly developed and featured in several episodes. Some of the most popular characters, such as Flint, Lady Jaye, Bazooka, and the Crimson Twins, were released this year, along with a number of new Cobra troop designs. There was great diversity in the look of characters and vehicles, though the "Joe=green, Cobra=blue" pattern was still visible. The figures featured a new construction design: a ball joint neck, which allowed the character to look up and down as well as side to side. Unlike 1983's swivel-arm battle grip, this design was not publicized, and older figures were not retro-fitted with the design. In fact, later repaints of 1982-84 figures continued to have the simpler swivel-only neck joint. By the end of 1985, Toy and Hobby World had rated G.I. Joe the best-selling toy in America.
As the older toys were retired, it was apparent that some of the new toys were specifically designed to replace them. For example, while Joe's Headquarters was no longer available in stores, a new, larger set was sold: the U.S.S. Flagg. Vehicles such as the Mauler, A.W.E. Striker and Silver Mirage, strongly resembled 1982's M.O.B.A.T., V.A.M.P. and R.A.M. In view of their similar functions, it is evident that Bazooka was a replacement for Zap, Footloose for Grunt, Lady Jaye for Scarlett, and (possibly) Shipwreck for Torpedo. The irreplaceable Snake-Eyes was released in a new design, a first for carded figures. Many figures packaged in 1985 came with inserts for the "Triple Win Game," also advertised on television. It offered primarily non-toy merchandise.
According to The Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe, Larry Hama noticed the way characters were being replaced, and questioned Hasbro about it:
|“||Isn't this guy just a do-over of Grunt? If Grunt is being phased out or to be more precise, the Grunt figure is being phased out, then why can't the character remain the same and acquire a new wardrobe just like Snake Eyes? This could give a more concrete reality to this universe. In the comic book continuity it is possible to send the characters that are being phased out as dolls off somewhere - off panel - to be retrained and have them come back in a subsequent issue with a new costume and New Code Name. Their File Name and pertinent data would remain the same and their file cards would be updated to reflect the new training and skills... Snake Eyes is already being re-outfitted. The Desert Trooper, the Fireman and the Hostile Environment Trooper could all be retrained and re-outfitted Joes from the first run... There is precedence for this. The Luke Skywalker figure in the Star Wars universe was released in different configurations to match the costume variations between the various sequels.||”|
—Larry Hama, regarding Footloose
The regular cartoon series, by the same company that had produced the animated commercials and two previous mini-series, debuted in fall 1985 and incorporated nearly every character and vehicle back to 1982. There was continuity from one episode to the next (e.g., "Worlds Without End" contains references to "Revenge of Cobra"'s Weather Dominator), but the show ignored any history established by the comic. The original miniseries were aired along with the first season episodes (but with their own opening sequences), and another 55 episodes were produced for the season. The cartoon distinguished itself from the comicbook by toning down its violence, upping the humor, and making some characters more likable than their filecards might suggest. The most notable difference in the first season is the exclusion of Hawk as G.I. Joe's leader, since the figure was not then sold in stores. Duke was designated the Joe leader for the cartoon, with a surprisingly low-ranking Flint (E-6) second in command. They answered to Colonel Sharp. Featured characters were selected from all four years of G.I. Joe, and overall the appearances were well balanced, with the exception of Cobra vehicle drivers and those from Joe's 1985 assortment. The comics continued with their own, unrelated storyline, which gave Cobra Commander a son, paved the way for Storm Shadow's eventual defection to the Joes, and began a build-up to a major Joe-Cobra confrontation the following year.
By 1985, G.I. Joe was one of Marvel's best-selling comics, and had the highest subscription numbers of any book they published, outpacing the #2 book, Amazing Spider-Man, by more than 15,000 copies a month, and had more subscribers than X-Men and Star Wars combined.
The main art for the year had the new Joes standing with arms raised in front of a mountain with "G.I. Joe" embossed on its face. Seven Skystrikers fly in the distance. The Joes shown, from left to right, are Quick Kick, Barbecue, Airtight, Snake-Eyes, Bazooka, Shipwreck, Alpine, Flint, Dusty, Lady Jaye, and Footloose.
G.I. Joe Team
G.I. Joe Team
G.I. Joe Team
- Top Secret Dispatch
- Offered G. I. Joe equipment no longer available in stores: JUMP, MMS, MANTA, Polar Battle Bear, Whirlwind, Wolverine, Parachute Pack, HISS.
- Restricted to Loyal Team Members
- Included with 1985 vehicles. Offered FLAK, HAL, MMS, Whirlwind, Wolverine, Collectors Display Case, Pocket Patrol Pack.
- Secret Transformers Autobot Rescue Squad. Generally a Transformers mail-in offer for Autobots and Decepticons, but with a separate page for G.I. Joe. Offered FLAK, HAL, JUMP, MANTA, Polar Battle Bear, Wolverine, HISS.
Issues 31 - 42 of the Marvel Comics series came out this year.
Animated commercials for issues 35, 37 and 40 of Marvel's G.I. Joe comic were produced, with much of the footage recycled for toy commercials.
55 half-hour episodes of the regular series debuted this year.