Unreleased 1997 G.I. Joe Figures


Way back in 1996, Hasbro announced a plan to release two ‘A Real American Hero’ 4-packs at retail for 1997. Those figures were debuted in a Hasbro display case at the 1996 G.I.Joe Convention. Unfortunately, they never saw store shelves. The 4-packs were canceled and replaced with an overall larger launch, but of a different assortment exclusively at Toys R Us.

Some grainy photos of these figures exist around the internet, but they’re such low resolution it’s hard to get a good look at them.

Fast forward to October 2018. While attending Coil Con in Dayton, Ohio, I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with the legendary Kim Simmons. For those who aren’t familiar with him or his work, he’s the man responsible for the iconic and beloved Star Wars packaging photography of the ‘70s and ‘80s.


Kim Simmons at work at his Cincinnati, OH studio in late ‘70s

©Kim Simmons


He was at the Con selling prints of his Star Wars work like I’d see him do at other toy cons in Ohio a few times in recent years. This time however, Kim mentioned he also had some G.I. Joe prints for sale. I was really surprised as I’d never known him to have shot any G.I. Joe photography. Kim said he was hired to shoot a few figures from a canceled line sometime in the late ‘90s and led me over to where he had a couple of these prints for sale.

As soon as I saw them, I knew exactly what they were, and I couldn’t get the money out of my pocket fast enough.


Over the last few months they’ve been stowed away securely in a flat file unit while I moved into a new house and have slowly gotten settled into it. The topic of these figures recently came up in social media discussions a few times, so I’ve finally taken them out of storage and made hi-res scans so I could share them here in the Journal.


Seeing these on-screen at high resolutions I noticed that these were hand painted prototypes and were actually painted over the original ‘80s figures. You can clearly see the original colors peeking through on both the figures and the accessories in spots where the new paint had chipped away. It’s especially noticeable on Cobra Commander’s left elbow.

Check out the detail shots for yourself:


I’m sharing these for those who are curious about these figures and their existence. I want to give a huge shout out to Kim Simmons for shooting these originally. He’s the OG toy photographer and he’s one of the nicest people you could ever meet at a Con. If you love his amazing Star Wars photography, you can order prints from his website to help support him in his craft. Please do!

Also, for more about Mr. Simmons, check out this great interview over at allthestarwars.com!