As a kid, I wanted to be all kinds of things. For a while, I watched L.A. Law and I really wanted to be a lawyer, but aside from that, and a short stint wishing I was a ninja turtle (it was not meant to be), I just wanted to be in the army. More than anything, I wanted to be a stealth double agent, a clever and sneaky spy. A big part of that was due to my love of GI Joe. What boy didn't love GI Joe back then. The thought of being on these exciting missions to save the world from the forces of evil... that was huge for any young dude.

I'm not sure where it came from, but at some point, I got my hands on a form to fill out to get a personalized action figure. You'd answer a series of questions, and based on the responses, they'd send you an action figure that matched your profile (I'd assume they used the same action figure for everyone, regardless of the answers, but it was still cool).

When I got my guy in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised... not only did I have an action figure I never saw before (which was apparently me), but it came with a folder of top secret information on missions I needed to carry out, as well as some dog tags with my name on them.

I never did without as a child... always had anything I could have wanted, but this was more than a toy, this made me feel like I was a part of something important. Like I was a part of GI Joe.

That was such brilliant marketing. Not only did it make me so happy back then, but I still remember the experience so clearly over 20 years later. I still have the action figure too. I took a picture, have a look!...


  1. Anonymous1:44 PM

    Hey Pat...

    I too was a massive GI Joe junkie. Although I didn't get the custom figure (damn) I did have a couple planes (the blackbird stealth one and the grey one with the wings swept forward), boats and other assorted vehicles. My fondest memories were the re-enactments of A-Team episodes using my GI Joes. Everything came to an end when I discovered the joys of lysol spray and a lighter - always looking to up the realism ante. Lysol had a 100% effective kill rate when applied to my vehicles and figures. A few years after i had ended my relationship with GI Joe my dad found a soccerball sized hunk of scorched and melted plastic behind the shed and asked me to explain. I told him it was classified and that the documents would be released to the public within 10-15 years. I guess he found this funny and decided to drop it. Phewf.


  2. Hahah, nice one. I never did get into torching toys with Lysol. Sounds like fun though, even at this age. Funny you mention the A-team, I had those action figures too. They were the same size as the GI Joe ones. I wonder what happened to those. A yardsale no doubt.

    Looking at my remaining Joe figures, I see signs of something that was a regular thing for me back in the day. I had a habit of accidentally breaking the elastic that held the dudes' torsos to their lower half. I can't count how many times I had to search the house for a good elastic, take the injured character apart, and skillfully replace the rubber band and put him back together again.

    Good times.


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