I’ve been looking longingly at mint on card G.I. Joes for awhile now, praying that someday I’ll be able to afford many of the exceedingly expensive Joe figures. Unless there’s some unlikely collapse of the G.I. Joe collector’s market, then I’m not going to get my own AFA certified Snake Eyes any time soon.
A few yeas ago I began to run across some Joes that are super cheap at conventions. The only difference that I could see between the two was the brand “Funskool” on the package with no mention of Hasbro. Not really being into G.I. Joe collecting back then, I was unfamiliar with what this was and why they were so cheap. What’s surprising to me is that there isn’t a lot of information on Funskool that is easily accessible. Hell, there isn’t even a Wikipedia entry about it. How is that even possible? Sure there’s a bit here and there across the vast interweb, but from my findings it was hard to answer all of my questions, especially since a lot of it is dated. With as much internet digging as I could manage, I’ve attempted to provide you the extent of my findings.
Funskool G.I. Joes aren’t some knock off product, the company had the full go ahead from Hasbro to produce Joe figures in India. One big clue that you’re looking at a non-U.S. produced toy is that the Joes are labeled “G.I. Joe: International Hero”, which makes sense considering they were sold in India. From what I can find, Funskool started producing Joes in the early nineties and went until at least 2002. The figures aren’t worth as much simply because they are more plentiful, cheaply produced, and the cards aren’t made with as heavy card stock, meaning that they’ll warp and bend very easily so mint on card collectors aren’t as interested in them as they might otherwise be.
I had purchased a couple of Funskool figures to see what I’d get.
The cards were about as bad of shape as I expected them to be. It’s really a shame that Funskool didn’t make these on heavier card stock. I would certainly be satisfied with them as a substitute for a Hasbro Storm Shadow. This is not the case, as the card is so bent up that releasing him from his packaging was a thing of mercy. Crazy Legs’s (damn the plural name!) card wasn’t as badly warped, but his bubble was coming off in one part. Like the old saying goes, you get what what you pay for, so I’m not disappointed in my purchases. If anything, this would be the easiest way to build up an army of loose Storm Shadows if you so choose to do so.
What’s interesting is that Funskool didn’t stick to just making straight on copies of Hasbro figures like Crazy Legs and Storm Shadow. No sir, aside from making bizarre color choices of a few of the figures like an almost neon colored Beachhead among others, they also dabbled in some more odd picks in the G.I. Joe line. Take for example, Superhero:
As you can see, he’s a cobbled together figure from the parts of a couple of Joes. Add one cape and a fancy repaint you have a world class Superman knock-off. Indian kids need a Superman too! (There’s one for sale here for 300!)
The craziest Joe I’ve seen from the Funskool line has got to be Windmill, who looks really uncomfortable and has a windmill on his back.
This is the kind of top notch technology that keeps us on the forefront of the battlefield. Sort of like the water wheel tanks that we so desperately need.
Another notable aspect of the Funskool G.I. Joe run was that they also produced some Joe figures in conjunction with the toothpaste brand Pepsodent. From what I can find, they didn’t make any toothpaste themed G.I. Joes, rather they simply put Joes on a Pepsodent branded card:
I’m not sure how the figure ties into the toothpaste, but a General Hawk is a General Hawk I guess. There are several Funskool figures that are only available on the Pepsodent cards, like a hooded Cobra commander and the Baroness who is called The Chameleon.
Another very interesting choice in the Joe line comes from the world of television. Fans of the short lived, nineteen eighties super motorcycle show Street Hawk might be interested to learn that FunSkool produced three versions of the Street Hawk figure with his motorcycle.
Each version of the figure was a retooled Joe and the motorcycle looked fairly close to the one on the show. Interestingly enough, the package even had the G.I. Joe label. This kind of brings Street Hawk into the world of G.I. Joe. Now, where’s my G.I. Joe vs. Transformers vs. Street Hawk comic, damn it!?
One of the best parts about the Funskool Joe line is that they produced a bunch of vehicles that are pretty cheap for those looking to build up a fleet or want loose rigs without the wear and tear of years worth of playing with them.
Funskool’s greatest release in the vehicle line had to be the signature G.I. Joe aircraft, the Skystriker, which was released a few years ago. From what I have read it was a decent toy, but collectors should be careful when buying a Skystriker off of eBay. More than a few Joe fans have been burned by getting the FunSkool one instead of a complete Hasbro version in the mail.
Incidentally, there are a few vehicle molds which have been destroyed. A popular rumor is that those molds were accidently destroyed by Funskool when they cleaned them out with seawater.
Funskool also made vehicles based on the Hasbro molds that weren’t for G.I. Joe. Check out this Funkskool VAMP in two variations:
The G.I. Joe run in India was a nice side adventure for the Joe team. Aside from the bad cards and odd color choices at times, the Indian market got some really cool toys that might appeal to a certain segment of the toy collecting segment here in the United States. It just goes to show that the Joes fight Cobra on the other side of the world almost as well as they do here, even with the hampering effect of a much smaller budget.
Some More Funskool G.I. Joe Info: Yo Joe.com’s FunSkool Info
Also, if there is anyone out there who knows more about this or if I’ve got any of the facts wrong, please contact me so I can get the record straight.