GI Joe: Real Canadian Hero
June 21, 2012 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Did GI Joe fight for other countries?

As a kid, I had a lot of GI Joe toys, the 3.75 inch ones from the "Real American Hero" line. Despite the fact that GI Joe was the Real American Hero, all of my Joes wore Canadian flags (except for the one guy who was a Marine; he still had an American flag since the Marines are an American thing).

I assume that the marketing team at Hasbro decided that Canadian kids would like GI Joe more if all of the units were marked with the Canadian flag instead of the American flag. I wonder if this was true in other countries, too. Did GI Joe toys sold in the UK fly the Union Jack? Did Australian ones have the Australian flag on their tanks?

I've done a bit of Googling but can't seem to find any information about this. I've found photo evidence that I'm not just imaging my Canadian GI Joes, but can't seem to find similar documentation from other countries. Was this a uniquely Canadian phenomenon?
posted by asnider to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In the UK GI Joe was made under license and sold as Action Man
posted by parmanparman at 1:51 PM on June 21, 2012

In Britain, he was Action Man, and he had all sorts of British army uniforms, including the ceremonial/dress ones.
posted by holgate at 1:52 PM on June 21, 2012

Best answer: Fascinating question...given your age via profile and the type of G.I. Joe you're mentioning, I think this would be the best info:

From 1982 through 1994, Hasbro Canada released G.I.Joe toys in Canada a short delay after they were released in the United States. In addition to the packaging being translated into both French and English, Canadian G.I.Joe toys had other differences.

Firstly, all labels depicting U.S. flags were replaced with Canadian flags. This makes it very easy to spot vehicles and playsets that were sold in Canada, as opposed to the United States.

Also, some Canadian filecards were changed to make the characters more Canadian. For example, while the U.S. filecard for Grunt placed his birthplace as the state of Ohio, Grunt's Canadian filecard placed him as being born in the province of Quebec. Several Canadian filecards were changed in this manner.

There are also a few reported cases of different accessories being packaged with Canadian carded figures.

There were only two exclusive Canadian toys - both were released very early on in the 1980s. The Sears Exclusive Cobra MSV was a boxed set of a black VAMP jeep and black MMS (Mobile Missile System). The Consumer Distributing exclusive Cobra Tank was a black MOBAT and came with Cobra Commander.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:05 PM on June 21, 2012

Well here is a description of what you are talking about and other differences for the toys sold in Canada.

Click the individual country links to find out more information for the other countries toys.
posted by zephyr_words at 2:07 PM on June 21, 2012

And as you can see if you follow the link, yes, there are Real American Heroes released all over... like I said, fascinating.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:07 PM on June 21, 2012

In Norway, GI Joe wasn't and still isn't available in toy stores. Military toys were considered controversial, and most toy stores stopped selling them at some point in the 70s.
posted by iviken at 2:13 PM on June 21, 2012

Best answer: The Yojoe Web site linked above would be the most authoritative source I could think of. In my memory from perusing that site, I would say the strongest localizations occurred in Canada, the UK, Brazil and India. In Brazil and the UK, there were different characters made by recoloring molds, which lead to figures like Cobra de Aco which was a recolor of parts from the first Snake Eyes and the first Flash.

In India, the characters had similar names and perhaps the entire mold of an American Joe, but they sometimes had different card art which made the characters look a bit like they came from a painted Indian movie poster.
posted by Slothrop at 3:14 PM on June 21, 2012

As others have said G I Joe in the US was Action Man in England, and he did have British uniforms.

However, there was also Action Force in England that was the same(?) as G I Joe: A Real American Hero in the US, and these were later called just G I Joe in England. I don't think he earlier version of these toys have US flags but existed in their own fictional universe, but the later ones had all the flags and jingo. I can't mind that I ever saw one with an English flag.
posted by Jehan at 3:15 PM on June 21, 2012

Well, there was that episode where they _drove to the antarctic_ to fight Cobra...
posted by rr at 5:49 PM on June 21, 2012

My brother had GI Joes in the early 80s in New Zealand. They were definitely called GI Joe, not Action Man, and I remember the TV ad for them, which referred to them as GI Joe, too. I don't remember whether flags were involved one way or the other.
posted by lollusc at 12:21 AM on June 22, 2012

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