Why are the Joes in Outer Space Anyways?
Historical Context of G.I. Joe Star Brigade Toyline
The Story of the G.I. Joe Star Brigade Toyline
1991 is a critical year for GI Joe history, and what happened in that year, altered GI Joe history and created the Star Brigade toyline of 1993/1994. The 1982 relaunched GI Joe: Real American Hero at its best sales year in 1986, and it was a slow decline after that. In 1991, the world of American toys changed with Hasbro buying several well known toy companies, including Kenner. At the time, Kenner was play two projects that worried the Hasbro: the relaunch of their Star Wars line and the new ALIENS toyline (more on that toyline in a future blogpost).
This Isn't the First Time Either...
The Complete Star Brigade 1993/1994 Toyline
The 3 3/4 Figures:
Much like of the GI Joe: Real American Hero toyline, the bulk of the figures were the Joes, and many of the Star Brigade figures were comprised of familiar Joe members, like Duke, Roadblock, and Rock-n-Roll. This was to save some cash with molding new figures. Some had old names attached to new figure molds as well, like Sci-Fi. About 10 Joes were released with Sci-fi being boxed with the Star-Fighter vehicle in the first 1993 wave. In the following and final year of Star Brigade, 1994, about 9 Joes were released, with the Gears figure being packaged with the Power-Fighter powered exoskeleton. Like most of the Star Brigade line, the Joe figures were mixed between the Armor-Tech and the “normal” spacesuit wearing soldiers. All were outfitted int garish colored weaponry and combat-rated spacesuits. Most Joe figures, like Ozone, Payload, Countdown and Roadblock received color variants in the 1993 and 1994 lines. Some collects have commented that the Star Brigade, like many of the last generation figures were of high quality and featured some unique touches not seen on any GI Joe figure before or since. If the Star Brigade line had not been cancelled in 1994, there would have more Joes to fight COBRA and the aliens.
The Space Forces of COBRA were similar to the Joe space soldiers; some were comprised of familiar COBRA characters, like Destro, Cobra Commander, and the next-gen B.A.T. In the 1993 line, only 4 out of the entire line were COBRA, and two of those were Armor-tech. It was worse in 1994, when only three COBRA figures were released. It seems that if the “GI Joes in outer space” line had continued in 1995 and beyond, that a few more COBRA figures would have been released, including an space pilot with the prototyped COBRA space "Interceptor" fighter. We also know that COBRA would have gotten another Power-Fighter exoskeleton, and it is believed some sort of "manimal terminator" figure. Unlike the Joe line, there were fewer repaints and recycled figures from the 1993 line to the 1994 line. However, as per usual with most everything COBRA, they received the lesser amount of figures. Out of the 28 human Star Brigade figures, six only were members of COBRA, and two of those wee fingers under the "Armor-Tech" label.
The Lunartix Empire
In the 1994 release of Star Brigade figures, a new faction in the war in Terran space was added: the Lunartix Empire. Not much is ever made of these aliens, nor who they serve. The official three Lunartix Empire aliens figures released were the equivalent of ronin, bounty hunters, and killers. They were in the Sol system to hunt and kill either human faction. Information varies on why on why these ugly mother fuckers were invading the Earth. The most "unique" alien figure was Lobotomaxx, and lizard-like multi-leg/arm green beastie that was more terrifying in the packaging art than the figure. Born on planet Zog in the Morus Section 5 (seriously?) equipped with all manner knives, laser blasters, with tail and venom teeths, Lobotomaxx was a bounty hunter and killer of aliens. In Mexican variant, Lobotomaxx was a sickly yellow repaint. Partnered with Lobotomaxx was Carcass, another alien psychopath. Born on planet Mirtonia in Quadrant 4, Carcass was an one-alien-army that killed and hunted, that much like Groo, reaped death and destruction. He is not trusted by the other Lunartix Imperial aliens. Then there was Predacon, who looks and is named too close to the Yautja from Predator...which is what Hasbro was hoping for. Predacon was born in the Badlands of planet Trilenium in a certain clan on this world. Later, Predacon would became an interstellar arm wrestling champion (no shit) and alien tracking. He makes money by selling interstellar criminals. Like many of the Lunartix aliens, he is armed to the fucking to teeth, no less than 6 weapons. These three aliens bounty hunters and murders were the only three figures of the Lunartix Empire line. These figures were released in Mexico with a repaint.
The Power Fighter Figures
Only two Star Brigade vehicles would make to market prior to the cancellation of the entire series; one was the Star-Fighter and the other was the Armor-Bot. The Star-Fighter came with an exclusive "Sci-Fi" pilot figure that was an upgraded figure from the old Sci-Fi, and given a new paintjob. The Star-Fighter vehicles looks more like something from the Kenner Star Wars line, however, the Star-Fighter was an repaint of an earlier GI Joe space fighter. In 1988, Hasbro would release the Joe Space Shuttle Defiant and for COBRA to counter that, they had the bold red paint scheme COBRA Stellar Stiletto. The Stellar Stiletto was discontinued in 1990, only to be repainted and placed back into space service three years later.
The other Star Brigade Joe vehicle was the "Armor-Bot", and this was unlike anything in the GI Joe line before. Appearing more like the ED-209's outer space cousin or a member of the long-lost Robotix 1986 toyline, Armor-Bot was the only combat humanform mecha in the GI Joe toyline. Armed to the teeth with cannons, lasers, and missiles, the Armor-Bot was also battery powered for robotic voice ability and light-up cannon. The Armor-Bot massive piloted mecha towered over the other elements of the Star Brigade toyline. In the advert for the Armor-Bot, we can see it wrecking havoc on the Lunar battlefield. Like many of the outlandish and larger war vehicle toys of the GI Joe line, few of us had them and it is remembered by many. Today, the Armor-Bot sells for about $50 to $100 on Ebay, and does not appear to be rare. I originally believed that the Armor-Bot was some sort of RC robot toy, however, it seems that a figure sat in the "head" portion of the mecha, and the "powered" function was limited to the voice and light-up laser cannon. The Armor-Bot was packaged with an Armor Tech "Hawk" figure that was exclusive to the Armor-Bot. It is unknown of Hasbro was planning on more Armor-Bot like toys if the Star Brigade line had continued.
What Happened to Star Brigade?
The Unproduced Star Brigade Figures and Vehicles
The Legacy of G.I. Joe: Star Brigade
Next Time on FWS...