The official art for 1989.

The year 1989 (MCMLXXXIX) is the eighth year of the A Real American Hero brand.


The year 1989 marked the 25th anniversary of G.I. Joe, and Hasbro held a celebration in New York City on February 9. By then, G.I. Joe toys and merchandise had generated more than $1.2 billion for Hasbro. Two out of three boys in the United States owned at least one G.I. Joe figure, and nearly 50% of those had 11 or more. Even in the absence of a cartoon, the Joe toys and comics continued to flourish. Forty-four figures were released - almost as many as the previous year - and nearly 30 vehicles. The futuristic look continued, and figures were being loaded down with more and more accessories. The Dreadnoks, Battle Force 2000, Iron Grenadiers, Tiger Force, and Night Force were continued this year, and collectors were once again delighted with a cool Cobra jet and a giant Joe land vehicle. There were apparently fewer last-minute changes this year, though the planned Tiger Ray vehicle was cancelled, and a few accessories changed color between the catalog design and the figures' release. Many figures released in 1989 included small Micro Figures, rubbery recreations of a previous popular Joe or Cobra (similar to the Transformers' Decoys). A poster was available through an insert titled "Micro Figures Collector's File," and the Micro Figures themselves were also available as a set by mail in subsequent years.

Nevertheless, there was still much repetition in the Joe line. Four of the 10 new carded Joes were updated versions of older characters. To the previous year's many repaints, Hasbro added Sgt. Slaughter's Marauders and the Python Patrol. Six of 1988's figures were repainted for the Toys "Я" Us exclusive Night Force. The new space vehicle, the Crusader, was a reworked Defiant, while the H.I.S.S. II and F.A.N.G. II were simply updated versions of earlier vehicles. And of course, the new Python Patrol, Tiger Force, and Night Force vehicles were repaints as well, and the Slaughter's Marauders vehicles were a mix of old and new parts. But it should be said that all the toys this year were well-designed, flashy, and high-quality. The 1989 versions of many of these toys are often regarded as favorites among collectors, especially the new Snake-Eyes and the H.I.S.S. II.

The comicbook series saw a fairly lackluster year, with the only significant development being the introduction of the original G.I. Joe, Joseph Colton, to celebrate the line's 25th anniversary. In view of the continuing popularity of G.I. Joe, Hasbro decided to test the waters with a new cartoon. They contracted DIC (creators of Inspector Gadget) to produce a five-part miniseries called "Operation: Dragonfire" as a sort of sequel to G.I. Joe: The Movie. Airing in September, it explained the return of Cobra Commander and the rise of the Python Patrol. The real focus of the show was the new character Scoop and his relationship with Slaughter's Marauders. The real-life Slaughter's voice was used for the show, but most of the other vocal talents were new. This cartoon maintained much of the feel of the old series, but it was somewhat lacking in overall quality.

The old series was currently in reruns on many local networks, hosted by a live-action Sgt. Slaughter and with an opening sequence pieced together from Sunbow's commercial animation. As for the commercials themselves, Sgt. Slaughter also introduced the toys, and the "Nobody Beats G.I. Joe" theme was continued, though pared down from previous years. The art for 1989, appearing on the catalog cover, on lunchboxes, and elsewhere, was simple this year: the G.I. Joe Crusader in orbit, with the scout craft launching and Payload doing a spacewalk. The same art was used on the Crusader's box.


Carded figures

G.I. Joe Team



Iron Grenadiers

Non-Carded figures

G.I. Joe Team


Iron Grenadiers


G.I. Joe Team


Mailaway offers

  • Operation Deep Six
Has nothing to do with the character Deep Six. Included with vehicles packaged in 1989. Admiral Keel-Haul has been captured by Cobra and is being held on an island in the Gulf of Alaska. Several Joes and vehicles have been dispatched to rescue him. Offers include the new six-figure mission drivers set and the battlefield accessories set. Thunder is shown in the brochure instead of Steeler.
Figures Available: 1982 Steeler, 1983 Ace, 1985 Keel-Haul, 1988 Super Trooper; 1985 Lamprey, 1986 Motor Viper, 1986 Strato-Viper.
Equipment Available: Machine Gun Defense Unit, Missile Defense Unit, Mortar Defense Unit, Sky Hawk, VAMP Mark II (labeled as "Desert Vamp"), Ammo Dump, Bomb Disposal, Forward Observer, Weapon Transport; Night Landing, Rifle Range
  • Special Dispatch
For some reason, Hasbro stopped sending Steeler figures with the vehicle drivers set offered through "Operation: Deep Six" and sent Rampage instead. Rampage was a renamed and slightly repainted Heavy Metal. The figure began arriving in 1990 and included a "special dispatch" letter from General Hawk explaining the change as resulting from Steeler's reassignment to the Persian Gulf.
  • Is This the End of Serpentor?
Description: Included with figures packaged in 1989. Cobra Commander and the Crimson Twins have teamed up against Serpentor. The twins were available as a set.
Figures Available: 1984 Cobra Commander, 1985 Tomax, 1985 Xamot, 1986 Serpentor (with Air Chariot)
Equipment Available: Ferret, Air Chariot (with Serpentor).
  • Thrills, Chills, Spills, and Excitement
Included with vehicles in late 1989 and possibly early 1990. Cobra is mining the oil tanker lanes and cutting of the Joes' fuel supply in Operation: Crude Move. Essentially covers figures and equipment offered in the year's other brochures, including the battlefield accessories set.
Figures Available: 1985 Bazooka; 1984 Cobra Commander, 1985 Tomax, 1985 Xamot, 1986 Serpentor (with Air Chariot).
Equipment Available: Machine Gun Defense Unit, Missile Defense Unit, Mortar Defense Unit, Ammo Dump, Bomb Disposal, Forward Observer, Weapon Transport; Stinger, Rifle Range, Air Chariot.


Issues 82 - 95 of the Marvel Comics series came out this year, as did issues 17 - 28 of Special Missions.

See detailed information here.


Many toy commercials included animation produced by Sunbow, even though DIC Entertainment acquired the rights for the new animated series.

Operation: Dragonfire, DIC's debut animating G.I. Joe, was released this year. A regular series would follow in the next year.

Title Writer Original airdate Production code
Operation: Dragonfire Doug Booth September, 1989
Cobra Commander returns, creates the Python Patrol, and threatens the world with a new energy weapon. Slaughter's Marauders confront Cobra, aided by the journalist Scoop. Later aired as a five-part miniseries. The opening themesong was modified, replacing the words "A Real American Hero" with "International Heroes." 
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