Let’s face it, GI Joe has been in the spy business for quite a while. We could say it started as far back as the Adventures of GI Joe Secret Mission to Spy Island. This was such a popular set that it had many variations even a Mike Powers Atomic Man version. The storyline was simple; infiltrate into a highly protected area wearing all black in a rubber dingy and blow something up. It included, sweater, pants, boots, plastic knit hat, submachine gun, radio equipment, camera, a coil of wire, dynamite, detonator, flare gun, search light, binoculars, oar and of course the inflatable PVC dingy.
There were also spy sets closer to the iconic Mike Hazard Double Agent by Marx with all of the great spy equipment and masks – more like what we were watching on the TV show Mission Impossible. Once GI Joe was now fully committed into adventuring with the Adventure Team, one of those sets released was GI Joe Secret Agent. This equipment set had a classic trench coat, spy case with communicator, bulletproof vest, pistol, pistol holster and the best part, a mask. It is funny that in those days they went to the odd effort of labeling things with large words “BULLET PROOF VEST” or “DETONATOR.” They were not exactly hard to figure out.
This is one of the few vintage sets I never obtained so I assume the mask is hard styrene plastic based on the images rather than a soft PVC mask as in included issued to Mike Hazard. However, it is still a mask, which made it very cool.
One of the dream projects I had was to create concept models and designs for relaunches of classic Adventure Team sets. These were not intended to be close reproductions such as the GI Joe Adventure Team Timeless Collection Undercover Agent (which added a figure and an entire brown uniform). Those are fun but strictly targeted to collectors.
At this particular time, Hasbro had not yet re-acquired the rights to Adventure Team, however, that did not stop me from creating a concept model of Adventures of GI Joe Secret Agent. I wanted the fun of the original, with updated look and play. This would have several modes, similar to the GI Joe Double Duty figures, which had already been released at this time. These would also have soft goods changes and PVC masks. This version had three complete modes.
Secret Agent GI Joe mode wore a gray jumpsuit and carried the obligatory shoulder holster with pistol. This was how I imagined Joe going into the Adventure Team Headquarters to pick up a new mission… should he decide to accept it.
The second mode required he get close to his target. It would be time to don a rubber mask, a hat and a black trench coat. I also wanted to include a fun weapon in the vein of the child-size series of spy toys released by Mattel under the name Agent Zero M. Some of the line included radios that turned into pistols or machine guns. Not unlike a lighter, cigarette case and pen which could become a golden gun.
Unfortunately, I no longer have the model and only have fuzzy images, but the shoulder mounted video recorder was also a projectile launcher. If anyone is looking very carefully, the model is using the Playing Mantis Captain Action Dr. Evil mask. Also as a total point of authenticity he is wearing a vintage Secret Mission to Spy Island molded knit cap.
The final mode had him get close enough to communist dictator general to assume his identity and walk away with the evil plans to foil his dastardly doings. To achieve this look, Joe would turn his black trench coat inside out so it became a gray military coat. Joe would then tuck in his pants into the riding boots, which all dictators required to wear. The mask used for this model is the Captain Action Kabai Singh with an added patch eye. The hat came from the Hasbro GI Joe Street Fighter II M Bison, which used the old Hall of Fame body tooling. The case with the plans came from the B25 Bomber Pilot.
Unfortunately, the concept was not chosen to move forward so it went back into the shadows under cover.
Later, I dusted it off, updated pieces and re-proposed parts of it as the flagship item for a potential new spy offshoot of Adventure Team – the GI Joe Adventure Team Secret Service Spy Case. As this has been described in an article published in the GI Joe Collector Club magazine and shown in a couple of conventions, it is shown here just as a single photo instead of going into detail again. It proposed using a modern version of an attaché case to be the equivalent of a vintage GI Joe Locker. The set included highly detailed weaponry and accessories and very accurately scales. The soft goods and masks also enabled Joe to have three modes.
Still believing in the spy concept, I tried one more time. In the very last gasps of Classic Collection GI Joe and it slumping sales, the thinking was, “What if we pushed Joe more civil servant with more police, fire and rescue but nothing truly military?” This gave me the opportunity to skirt that fine line but proposing GI Joe Intelligence Agent.
This was a VERY modern update to Secret Agent where Joe had been assigned to Iraq or Afghanistan to infiltrate and deal with an issue. Once again, it had multiple modes.
Mode 1 was a basic agent look where he was ready with all of his gear. His soft goods was a simple khaki shirt and pants. This concept was taken farther along the approval process so we cost reduced the amount of gear but still kept it all very detailed and accurate. This Joe would go into harm’s way fully equipped.
Mode 2 had Joe infiltrate an area as a Western photojournalist. He wore a photographer’s vest over his khaki basics, had a boonie hat and sticky TPR plastic goatee that would stick to his face. He wore sunglasses to help with the glare and to hide his identity. He carried camera equipment and a pistol with silencer in case he was apprehended.
This time I do have good images of a new camcorder that expanded into a bazooka to shoot a rocket propelled grenade projectile.
The final mode would allow Joe to take a deep undercover assignment. His khaki vest reversed to a camouflage flack vest. There was a second sticky beard that was very full and an appropriate head wrap. Of course, he would not be a true desert rebel without being issued an AK47.
Sadly, this secret agent mission was also cancelled.
While I have never actually succeeded in getting a 1/6th scale spy figure on the market, there was one more I worked on.
The normal process of doing a job for a client was to receive a phone call usually on the lines of, “Hey Greg, what is your schedule like? I have another rush project…” These requests also come in email form. One day, the fax machine turned on and started spitting out pages. Normally, I had pre-warning when someone was going to fax something. As I went to the machine, bemused to see what was coming out, I saw many pages from a script with parts underlined. At the end was a hand scrawled note from DreamWorks contact, “Greg, I will call you later tonight to discuss. Can you make a figure for a new movie we are working on with Jackie Chan named Tuxedo? The script pages attached show the description of what it needs to look like.”
What was your favorite 1/6th scale spy or spy mission?