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GI Joe Classic Collection US Navy Blue Angels
African-American Pilot

With the renewed interest in 12" action figures of all kinds, Hasbro decided to go beyond the 12" versions of their "Hall of Fame" G.I. Joe line and reintroduce a series of figure closer in spirit to the original G.I. Joe lineup. Hasbro's G I Joe Classic Collection figures were first released in 1996, under the Kenner brand.

The following four figures were the initial Classic Collection offering: U.S. Army Infantry (desert camo), British SAS, Australian ODF and U.S. Airborne Ranger. Over the next few years a wide range of figures was released, with overall attention to equipment and clothing detail. Minor changes were made to the actual figure during the "Classic Collection" run, until the broader G.I. Joe releases that used the same body, at which point variants with "fuzz heads", "kung fu" grip and greater articulation were introduced. This line re-introduced the attention to detail and range of equipment/uniforms that had made the original figure popular in the 60's. Although sold as a toy, a prime target market was the then growing G.I. Joe collector's market. This line sparked a resurgence in 12" military action figures; a number of other companies began selling a wide range of military sets and vehicles, in most cases with more attention to detail than the Hasbro lineup, but not necessarily of a higher quality. In any event, this created a lot of competition for Hasbro's new G.I. Joe. Some figures were extremely close in detail and construction, such as this figure sold by 21st Century Toys; it carried its own trademarking, even though it seems a blatant copy of Hasbro's product. Later, companies such as Dragon Models Limited produced figures with a far greater range of articulation & detail, at a premium price, but nonetheless very appealing to collectors.

Various ethnicities in addition to African American were implied through different skin tones and head sculpt variations. These figures offered a higher level of articulation than the Hall Of Fame (HOF) figures offered earlier in the 90's, or the G.I. Joe store exclusives from 1996 (Airborne MP, Battle of the Bulge, Dress Marine, Navy Seal w/raft, Navy Admiral, and others) that were based on the HOF body, with an adaptation of the original 60's head sculpt. and the weapons were more appropriately scaled to the figures. The bodies were also closer in spirit to the original G I Joe of the sixties, articulated in a similar fashion, albeit of a much heavier plastic, with stiff joints which negatively impacted the posability of the figures. The faces featured the trademark scar on the right cheek, and initially only one head mold was used, with the exception of the African American figure. All these early heads had a "flat-top" crewcut look. Later issues after the end of the deluxe windowbox format offered a variety of head molds, although the heads themselves were no longer as proportionate to the body, generally on the small side, including the flat-top version. The hands were also an improvement over the bulky HOF hand design, but still not to the level of the 70's kung-fu grip, and were still somewhat over-sized, with no separation of the fingers (although deft use of an xacto knife easily remedied this aspect). Later issue hands were smaller and more proportionate, some had fingers that pivoted on a pin running through the knuckles. The clothing and footwear was arguably of a more realistic nature than the earlier figures.

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GI Joe Classic Collection US Navy Blue Angels

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