The first ever action figure, GI Joe started out as a simple sketch of a military doll in 1963. The inventor Stanley Weston took his plan to the toy company Hasbro, where an executive told him: “You will make a fortune with these.”
Almost 60 years later, GI Joe has become one of the most recognisable toy franchises in the world – and now you, too, could make a small fortune with your vintage models. Here are some of the most valuable older items from the range, from GI Nurses to aircraft carriers.
Snake Eyes – $3,050
Snake Eyes is the first commander of the GI Joe team, and he specialises in hand-to-hand combat. Highly secretive about his past, he lives in the Sierra Nevada with his pet wolf, Timber. He first appeared in the GI Joe toyline in 1982, and all Joe figures from this year can be distinguished by their straight arms. (Later models have a movable arm and fist to grip accessories.)
One 1982 straight-armed Snake Eyes sold for an incredible $3,050 on eBay in May 2022. It received 41 bids despite having a perished O-Ring, the internal rubber band that holds the toy together.
GI Nurse – $5,946
When GI Nurse landed on shelves in 1967, she wasn’t particularly popular. Dubbed ‘America’s Movable Action Girl’, she came with an IV, medic bag, crutches, bandages, a stethoscope and splints. She failed to win the hearts of either boys or girls in the 60s, but collectors love her today.
One seller, based in Fort Worth, Texas, secured $5,945.90 for a vintage GI Nurse in April 2022. Again, the condition of this particular toy didn’t impede its sale. According to the seller, the uniform was ‘soiled’ and the box was ‘very damaged’, though it did come with a complete set of accessories.
Cobra Commander – $4,700
The Cobra Commander is the GI Joe toyline’s main antagonist. In his signature blue armour, he leads a terrorist organisation seeking global domination. One 1983 model of the figure won $4,700 in a May 2022 eBay auction.
“I bought this graded around 2002-2003 and it has sat in a dark cool closet at my office for the last 20 years,” the seller wrote. This particular toy featured an ‘unpunched’ tag, meaning it had never been pushed onto a store peg, so its card packaging was intact. Some collectors favour unpunched models as they tend to be in better condition.
Cobra Terror Drome – $3,986
The Terror Drome is the fortress and headquarters of Cobra. The toy would take around a week to assemble, and was the pride and joy of many a GI Joe enthusiast in the 80s.
In April 2022, one Cobra Terror Drome from New York City reached a best offer of $3,986. “This is very hard to find in this condition,” the seller noted. “They are almost always put together and rarely have a box and never have the shipper sleeve.”
Snow Cat Vehicle – $4,186
The Snow Cat Vehicle first featured in the 1985 toy line A Real American Hero. It was accompanied by Frostbite, a GI Joe soldier in a fur hat and snow goggles.
A sealed, pristine model of the Snow Cat fetched $4,186 on eBay in June 2022. The seller was located in Nolensville, Tennessee and the toy was listed simply as ‘vintage’, with no specific date of manufacture. The toy was re-released in the 1988 line Tiger Force, repainted in yellow and green stripes, and the 2003 line Spy Troops.
USS Flagg Aircraft Carrier – $2,987
The GI Joe naval fighters rely heavily on the USS Flagg, a US Navy aircraft carrier. It got its name from the fallen officer General Flagg, who in GI Joe mythology was killed while fighting Cobra.
A 1985 version of the toy sold on eBay for $2,988.56 in March 2022. This incomplete set was put back into its original packaging and was in “excellent condition”, according to the seller.
Cobra-La Team – $2,500
Featuring a trio of superhuman characters, the Cobra-La Team represent an ancient civilisation that used to rule Earth. Fans were thrilled when a special pack containing Golobulus, Nemesis Enforcer and a Royal Guard came out in 1987.
The vintage toy still lived up to the hype in April 2022, when it sold on eBay for $2,500. Like many sellers on this list, the lucky owner of this toy was based in the USA. “There is some slight scuffing on the bubble above the Royal Guards head,” they described. “No cracks, creases, veins and no lifting. Fantastic example.”
Combat Engineer Tripod – $2,491
Among the more unassuming items on this list is a simple accessory: a combat engineer tripod that came without an action figure. Released on seven occasions between 1964 and 1975, this toy included a helmet, golden gun and tripod.
One such example, in a used condition, sold for $2,491 in June 2022. The seller described their excitement at discovering the tripod: “If the winner of this piece wants it, I can send them the video of this actual piece, among others, being found in a time capsule state, buried in an attic up in Canada.”
Adventure Team Commander – $2,302
In 1964, Hasbro released an African American Adventure Team Commander. Talking variants of this toy emerged in 1967. It belonged to the range named G.I. Joe: America’s Movable Fighting Man, which also depicted ‘Action Soldiers of the World’.
A seller in Granite Falls, North Carolina scored $2,302 for this toy in May 2022. “[It] talks loudly and [you] can understand the command very well,” they noted.
Stalker – $2,225
Another figure from the Real American Hero line in 1982, Stalker was the first African American character among GI Joe toys. He is a small-arms expert who speaks five languages fluently, and is the GI Joe Team’s original ranger. One such toy fetched $2,225 on eBay in May 2022.
The seller from Florida claimed this item is “very, very rare” due to its unusual packaging: “[At] the beginning, the first figures did not have the “Snap On” written on the top of card, this is one of them, extremely rare! There are a handful of those figures left sealed in beautiful condition like this one! The “O” ring is tight, the blister is crystal clear and the card has vibrant colors.”
Counter Intelligence Scarlett – $3,000
With her bright red hair and impractical beige bodysuit, Counter Intelligence Officer code name Scarlett is instantly recognizable among the 100s of G.I. Joe action figures. Released in 1982, she’s also pretty tricky to find, especially with her so-called “straight arm pose” and signature crossbow.
Though it is possible to find loose straight-arm Counter Intelligence Scarlett’s out on the resale market in relatively good condition, the price jumps enormously when the box is included. Though a loose figure with the file card included will set you back $100, a Scarlett still in her original box will cost you upwards of $2,500!
Shipwreck Sailor – $1,650
Shipwreck Sailor is a character that was first introduced in the G.I. Joe cartoon in 1984. He’s unusual in the fact that his main tactical advantage is an intelligent pet parrot that helps him with scouting and surveillance, and his go-to weapon isn’t any kind of assault rifle, but is instead a modified flintlock pistol.
Despite the character being worlds away from most action figures in the G.I. Joe range, Shipwreck Sailor hasn’t developed enough of a cult following to fetch unprecedentedly high prices on the resale market. Without the box, you’re looking at a value of between $100 and $150, while a Shipwreck Sailor in like-new, boxed condition will set you back around $1,600.
Target Exclusive Hit & Run – $4,999.99
Code name: Hit and Run is one of the later G.I. Joe figurines to be released, as he hit shelves in 1988 as a Target store exclusive. The Target version of the character came with a knife, grappling hook, duffel bag and submachine gun, but the biggest draw of the toy was his parachute, which was marketed as fully functional.
If you’re looking to add a Hit and Run figure to your collection but want the Target-exclusive version specifically, then make sure the file card with the parachute operating instructions on the back is orange and not grey. This bright orange colour denotes the limited edition in-store promotion and is the key to purchasing the right version.
Night Force Night Ray Boat – $4,500
The Night Force Night Ray boat is another G.I. Joe collaboration with a popular store, this time Toys “R” Us rather than Target. Released in 1985, it was one of a series of eight Night Force vehicles, which hit shelves across 1988 and 1989. Of the series, the Night Ray boat is one of the harder ones to find.
The reason Night Force Night Ray boats are difficult to source is that they are actually just a repaint of an older base model, the 1984 Cobra Hydrofoil. Not only is the model just given a new coat of paint with no other alterations, but the new box art is even painted directly over the old art, even if it’s difficult for a casual fan to identify just by looking.
Beach Head 36 Back – $2,979
Beach Head has one of the funniest names of any character in the G.I. Joe cartoon or toy line, but he’s also pretty powerful. Throughout his time in the show, he works as the G.I. Joe Team’s sergeant major, putting him in charge of a lot of major strategic decisions.
His importance is reflected in his value, as a boxed Beach Head figure with no visible wear and tear can fetch just shy of $3,000 on the secondhand market. However, a loose Beach Head without the card, accessories or box will only net you around $50.
Flash – $1,790
It’s Flash! No, not that one. This 1982 figurine can’t move fast enough to break the sound barrier or travel in time, but he can operate a laser rife. Not only that, but according to the bio printed on his card, he’s also working on his Master’s degree in electro engineering by attending night classes in his spare time.
As for his value, as a generation one G.I. Joe figurine released in 1982, Flash can fetch prices of up to almost $2,000. However, for such a threshold to be reached, the box, card and figurine all have to be in good condition. For the figure alone, a price tag of just $50 is to be expected no matter the quality.
The Shark’s Surprise – $3,500
The Shark’s Surprise is one of the earliest examples of a popular and highly sought-after G.I. Joe toy. First released in 1969, it hit shelves several times and was still available to purchase in 1974. It came with a miniature shark, a 12-inch figurine, scuba gear and treasure, as well as a spear gun to defend yourself from the toothy monster.
Given that the Shark’s Surprise playset featuring the 12-inch figurine is difficult to source on the secondhand market, examples with the box still in decent condition and all the component parts included can sell for a whopping $3,500! That makes it one of the most valuable playsets out there for an iconic toy property full stop.
Talking G.I. Joe Adventure Team Commander – $1,902
Over the years, G.I. Joe expanded from jointed action figures alone to toys with all sorts of gimmicks and features. At the time, one of the most beloved and in-demand ranges was the Talking G.I. Joe line, which featured several characters including two different talking Adventure Team Commanders.
With the ability to say lines of dialogue like “You must get there before dark. Follow me.” when their dog tags are pulled and realistic flocked beard hair (ew), the Talking G.I. Joe line was popular at the time and is still coveted today. As such, if you want to add one to your collection you can expect to pay over $1000 if the box is included.
Combat Jet Sky Striker – $3,999
The Combat Jet Sky Striker was only available to purchase for three years between 1983 and 1986, but it remains in the hearts and minds of G.I. Joe enthusiasts to this day. The jet itself had moveable wings that could expand and contract and, until 1988, buying it was the only way to purchase the popular character Ace the pilot.
Given the size of this gigantic vehicle playset, the short amount of time it was on the market and how few remain in circulation in good condition, it’s no surprise that you can expect to spend almost $4000 to add one to your collection, especially with minimal wear and tear.
Baroness Action Figure – $3,850
The G.I. Joe Baroness is one of the most striking and instantly recognisable figurines from the whole franchise, and was first released in 1984 before being discontinued in 1986. Her character was given a redesign in the early 2000s and hit the shelves again, though this second iteration is less valuable than the original.
Originally, the Baroness was sold with a sleek black backpack and laser rifle, but few exist in circulation today with all the accessories still intact. As a result, if you find a Baroness still in the box with minimal wear and tear, then you can expect to pay upwards of $3,800.