30 G.I. Joes modeled after real people
The G.I. Joe franchise—which essentially invented the concept of an “action figure” and touts the slogan, “A Real American Hero”—includes countless militaristic characters. From martial artists and explosive experts to more general soldiers of fortune (and a few women), each character comes complete with a file card outlining his or her distinct personality traits and colorful codenames.
While most G.I. Joe characters are fictional, toy company Hasbro has also sought to honor actual Americans with a number of action figures based on real people. Such G.I. Joes include military veterans from conflicts dating back hundreds of years, professional wrestlers and other athletes, and even one lucky contest winner.
Whatever the origin, these G.I. Joe figures serve to immortalize stories of actual people within the construct of one of the most iconic toy brands. Stacker has compiled a list of just some of these G.I. Joes—read on to find out if you own or recognize any of them.
Named after the professional wrestler of the same name, Sgt. Slaughter (real name Robert Remus) holds the distinction of being the first celebrity member of G.I. Joe. His 1985 action figure of the same name sports the wrestler's signature sunglasses and Vietnam-era military garb in spite of not actually having served in the war himself.
Nevertheless, the action figure looks the part well enough to have been a long-lasting and recognizable character in the line—and for the actual Sgt. Slaughter to have been a the G.I. Joe spokesman in commercials from 1987 to 1990.
Sporting his #72 Jersey, William “The Fridge" Perry was available as a mail-order in 1987 and again the subsequent years. Staying true to his football roots, the figure came with a black football attached to a chain, presumably for use as a weapon. The real Perry, who played defensive lineman in the NFL for 10 seasons, earned his nickname for his large build and defensive capability.
Larry Hama (Tunnel Rat)
While Larry Hama may not be a big celebrity, Hasbro's toy makers viewed him worthy of inclusion in the 1987 G.I. Joe line. Hama is an actor, artist, and comic book writer, who at the time of his figure's debut was a writer for Marvel Comics' “G.I. Joe" series. Named “Tunnel Rat," this character—an expert in explosives—used Hama's likeness.
Owen King (Sneak Peek)
Sneak Peek was an assault-rifle-toting communications expert action figure released in 1987. But what fans may not have realized was that Sneak Peek's file card listed the character's name as “Owen S. King" for famed novelist Stephen King's son. The author had a stake in the G.I. Joe line, and was responsible for inventing the character of “Crystal Ball." Owen, born in 1977, was a huge G.I. Joe fan.
Mike Leonard (Scoop)
This 1989 G.I. Joe was created in honor of now-retired NBC journalist Mike Leonard. Nicknamed “Scoop," the character was an information specialist with the real name “Leonard Michaels." The action figure was one of the most equipped in the series, with a backpack (complete with satelite receiver), video camera and 35-millimeter camera, silenced pistol, binoculars, and helmet with microphone.
The first president of the United States rose to fame as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. As a historical figure in political and military history, it only made sense for G.I. Joe to honor the man as part of the franchise's “Classic Collection" released in 1997.
The most recent United States president to jump directly from the military to politics, Dwight D. Eisenhower served in World War II and eventually was elected as the nation's head of state. The Eisenhower G.I. Joe figure was released in 1997 under the Classic Collection.
George S. Patton
George S. Patton was a highly decorated general during World War II who fought in the Mediterranean theater of the wide-scale conflict. His foot-tall tribute, along with George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and others, was part of the G.I. Joe Classic Collection released in 1997.
The real Robert Crippen is a retired naval officer, test pilot, aviator, aerospace engineer and—his claim to fame—NASA astronaut. He participated in multiple space missions, so it only makes sense that his G.I. Joe likeness is donning a full space suit.
Legendary comedian and performer Bob Hope never served in battle, but Congress still named him an honorary veteran for his humanitarian services to the U.S. Armed Forces. Hasbro gave Hope the distinct honor of his own Classic Collection G.I. Joe figure in recognition of his numerous USO trips overseas to entertain the troops. The Bob Hope G.I. Joe was released in 1998.2018 All rights reserved.