The G.I. Joe Adventure Team is the series of G.I. Joe toys to come out in 1970 to 1976. Like the first series, the line is known mostly for the toys as there were few other media rights released. This series was responsible for the team concept of G.I. Joe and most especially the "Kung Fu Grip".
The Adventure Team was introduced in 1970 as an answer to the anti-war sentiment toward Hasbro's military G.I. Joe. In 1968 sales had dropped drastically and the 1969 year introduced the "Adventures of GI Joe" series. The "Adventures of..." series stopped the downward slide and Hasbro saw a way to bring the G.I. Joe line back to the forefront. To further the break from his military past, flocked hair and beards were introduced in 1970 and the Adventure Team was born. Gone were the military dogtags, to be replaced by a round plastic tag with the Adventure Team logo. The new logo bore a strong resemblance to a peace symbol, a fact not lost on Hasbro.
By 1971 the Adventure Team was a smash hit and 1972 became the biggest sales year in the history of the line. Featuring box art of the five primary members of the team, the back of the box was a quick way to introduce kids to the new team. Failing to make the cut at the time was the astronaut, who along with all of the space sets would disappear before the second series of Adventure Team toys.
Evolving from the military theme that had inspired the original '60s G.I. Joe action figure and the initial "Adventures of..." releases of 1969, these figures and sets were usually dressed for adventures in the jungles, deserts, mountains, and oceans. The adversaries were ecological disasters, rather than human beings. A shift in sensibilities among parents in the US, notably caused by the Vietnam War, caused this shift from action toys to more politically sensitive ones.
The "lifelike hair" flocking techniques developed by Habsro's UK licensee, Palitoy, allowed for a significant shift in identity for the toyline. Nearly every set dealt with exploring exotic locations or accomplishing dangerous environmentally sensitive missions. The Adventure Team era of G.I. Joe also featured such landmarks of action figure history as the Kung Fu Grip; the flocked hair and bearded figures; the figures with movable Eagle-Eyes; and the transparent "bionic" limbs (Mike Power, Atomic Man).
The initial Adventure Team figures consisted of Talking Adventure Team Commander, Land Adventurer, Sea Adventurer, Air Adventurer, Adventurer (African-American), Man of Action, Talking Astronaut, Talking Man of Action, and Talking Adventure Team Commander (African-American). The second series of figures were re-releases of the first nine figures which now included the "Kung Fu Grip". Later figures included Mike Power, Atomic Man, and Bulletman, which were released in order to compete with the popular Six Million Dollar Man figures and Mego's line of superhero figures released at the time.
The Adventure Team
- Adventure Team Commander
- Air Adventurer
- Land Adventurer
- Man of Action
- Mike Power
- Sea Adventurer
The Talking Adventure Team Commander featured eight new voice commands, activated by a pull-string through the chest. The voice commands were:
- "I've got a tough assignment for you."
- "This is going to be rough. Can you handle it?"
- "We must get there before dark. Follow me"
- "The Adventure Team has the situation controlled"
- "Set up Team Headquarters here"
- "Contact Adventure Team Headquarters right away"
- "The Adventure Team is needed in Africa"
- "Mission accomplished. Good work men!"
Over the course of the adventurer production run, there were four main body variations best identified as: Hard Hand; Kung Fu grip; Muscle Body; and Muscle Body Eagle Eye. All are "Fuzz-heads". There were Talker variations of each type. Early bodies had the trademark on the right buttock (as with the Canadian version), and were assigned patent #3,277,602. The later bodies were marked "© 1975 Hasbro Pat Pend Pawt. R.I." or "© 1975 Hasbro Ind Inc Pawtucket. R.I. 02861 Pat Pend Made In Hong Kong." This body style was redesigned by Alfred A. Crabtree, Brian S. Prodger and Hubert P. O'Connor, who applied for the patent in January of 1976; it was assigned patent #3,988,855, "Posable figure having one piece connector for torso, trunk and legs" on Nov 2, 1976.
Kung Fu grip hands were made of a rubber prone to deterioration (being even thinner than the early Action Man variety), and often the hands are discolored, and the fingers will have broken off. These hands were a variation on the design by (Bill) William A.G. Pugh, of Hasbro's U.K. licensee, Palitoy, which was assigned a U.S. patent # 3,955,312 "Gripping Hand For Dolls" on May 11, 1976.
Muscle Bodies relied on a rubber for all body joints, instead of elastic, and it is rare at this point to find original bodies that have not fallen apart due to rubber deterioration, fortunately, these bodies can be restrung with elastic to replace the rubber joints. Early body Adventurers seem somewhat less prone to the stress cracking common with earlier painted head bodies. The muscle body type was still in production into the early nineties in Brazil, under Hasbro licensee Estrella. The last change was the addition of which followed later in 1976. Invented by George W. Ptaszek and James A. King, Hasbro applied for and received patent #4,005,545, "Eye shifting mechanism for doll construction" dated Feb 1st 1977. The design utilized a mechanism operated by a simple slide at the back of the head moves the gaze of the eyeballs back and forth - an improvement on the fixed stare of the original albeit at the price of a slightly larger head, and the loss of the original facial features of the previous 10 years. The head was only available in brown and blonde hair and only blue eyes, with bearded versions of each.
Adventure Team bodies were trademarked in the same manner and location as pre-70s G.I. Joe figures. It was not until the introduction of the muscle body, that the trademarking was moved to the lower back, as with Hasbro's U.K. licensee, Palitoy.
The Adventurer run had a wide range of outfits, and varying production qualities. Typically, early issues of clothing are of a heavier fabric, and have more detail. These are mostly the basic outfits typically supplied with a packaged figure.
As with earlier G.I. Joe figures, the Adventure Team included a footlocker towards the end of the run. In 1975, an all plastic version was offered, with similar dimensions to the previous wooden versions. Plastic hinges, carry straps and clasp were utilized. The tray insert was the same yellow molded plastic as the 1960s version.
A wide range of vehicles were produced for the Adventurer line; one of the most elaborate (and expensive) being the Mobile Support Vehicle. This vehicle in particular had the potential to provide a wide range of imaginative play value; it came with a range of accessories, and included a battery operated radar scanner and a searchlight. The cab could hold two AT members on a mission. The line included several small sets at a price point that more kids might afford with their own allowance; ones that converted into backpacks, such as "Escape car." There were also a number of helicopter variations, a variety of one-man six-wheeler "power hogs," a "Avenger Pursuit" multi-function vehicle, and a "Big Trapper" vehicle offered around the introduction of the "Intruder" figures. The military jeep was brought back, but was of the blow-mold construction typically associated with imitation products.
One of the most interesting vehicles from this period was a functional submarine. The sub was tethered to the surface with a clear plastic tube which connected to a "controller". The controller, which was shaped to look like an electronic device was actually a hand powered air pump. By either releasing air from the controller outlet valve or pumping air in via the hand pump the buoyancy of the sub could be controlled. The front of the sub was equipped with grasping claws. Overall, the sub proved quite a toy for use in swimming pools.
Comic strip adverts
To advertise the Adventure Team toys several adverts in the form of one-page comic strips were produced. These included:
- GI Joe meets the Amazing Atomic Man!
- Eagle-Eye GI Joe meets the Intruder: Strongman from another world
- Bulletman, the Human Bullet blasts into the GI Joe Super Adventure Team
Adventure Team revival
An updated version of the Adventure Team appeared in the Classic Collection period, as well.
In the 2000s, Hasbro has taken a slightly different approach to making and marketing Adventure Team-themed figures. They have gone to specialty outlets to distribute the figures.
Throughout the 2000s, the G.I. Joe Collector club has reproduced several of the original figures and their collectible boxes. In addition, the Club has offered Club-designed Adventure Team-themed figures, accessory sets, and large-box Convention Collector sets.
The following sets and figures all used the Hasbro GI Joe 40th Anniversary Figure, with flocking and gripping hands added:
- In 2004, Meijer's Department store commissioned Hasbro to create two different, inexpensive Adventure Team-themed sets. These were the Land Adventurer and the Air Adventurer.
- In 2006 Hot Topic offered the Land Adventurer in his retail box (often called a "coffin box" by G.I. Joe collectors due to its rectangular shape.)
- In 2007, Urban Outfitters offered two different Adventure Team-themed figures - the Land Adventurer (same as the Hot Topic figure and box) and the Air Adventurer (although the figure in the "coffin box" was actually the Sea Adventurer - just like with the larger Meijer's set from 2004.)
- In the fall of 2007, Wal*Mart offered a series of five Adventure Team figures: The Adventurer (African American), The Land, Air, and Sea Adventurers, and the Man of Action in vintage-style packages.
3¾" scale tribute
In 2010, the Official G.I. Joe Collectors' Club celebrated 40 years of the Adventure Team by offering four exclusive figures, bringing the Adventure Team to the 3¾" scale for the first time ever. The figures were done in the Generation 3 style, and sold in "AT Mission Crate" packaging.
This set brought the vintage line together with the next generation of G.I. Joe by including Dr. Venom, a character that originated in the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic series. His filecard even refers to "'snake-themed' organization" that Venom may join in the future. Despite this, none of the adventurers are identified as Joseph Colton (each is given the code name "G.I. Joe") or even have his designated birthplace.
- Adventure Team Commander & Dr. Venom w/ Man-Eating Plant
- Air Adventurer w/ Adventure Team Helicopter
- Land Adventurer w/ 6-wheeled Adventure Team A.T.V.
- Sea Adventurer w/ Sea Wolf Mini-Sub
The packaging gave more insight to the fictional history of the Adventure Team:
|“|| The origins of the Adventure Team date back to 1970 when the US Joint Chiefs of Staff began funding a secret project to train elite members of the US military in air, land and sea reconnaissance. This new team of mega-soldiers was given the codename "The Adventure Team." The team members were deployed into sensitive situations where traditional armed forces could not be used. Their special "AT" insignia identified them as an elite group allowed to operate freely around the world.
Each member was also given special hi-tech equipment (including vehicles) and they were trained to work alone in high pressure situations. By the mid 70s, construction of the Adventure Team Headquarters was complete. In was a state-of-the-art training facility and advanced base of operations secluded in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Over the years, the focus of the Adventure Team was expanded to include environmental and medical research, peace keeping activities, the recovery of lost or stolen artifacts and occassional forays into cryptozoology.
The individual members' identities are shrouded in secrecy. When a member retires, a new specialist is recruited to assume his position on the team. This ensures that when there is a tough assignment, the Adventure Team will always be there to get the job done!
—From the cardbacks.
- DePriest, D. (1999) "Collectible GI Joe: An Official Guide to His Action-Packed World"
- Michlig, J. (1998) "G.I. Joe; The Complete Story of America's Favorite Man of Action"
- Marshall, J. (1997) "GI Joe and Other Backyard Heroes"
- DeSimone, J (1994) "The New Official Identification Guide To GI Joe 1964-1978"