"Aw, man… They NEVER Have Snake-Eyes!"
April 22, 2010

Snake-EyesThose were the exact words I heard from the mouth of a boy who couldn’t have been more than ten years old Monday evening. I stopped by Big Lots after reading that collectors were finding wave 11 25th Anniversary/Modern Era G.I. JOE figures at some of their locations. After picking up two Cobra Eels, Matt Trakker, and Airborne from their selection of JOEs, I walked around the toy aisles a bit to see if there was anything else interesting. When I circled back to the action figures, this kid was looking through the G.I. JOE pegs. That’s when he complained about not being able to find Snake-Eyes.

And if the only other stores he’s checked have been our local Targets and Wal-Marts, he has a valid point. While Destro, Baroness, and Storm Shadow (usually the unmasked version) are still available in ample supply, Snake-Eyes has completely disappeared from the Big Box retailers. In fact, so has just about everyone else, aside from the occasional Duke or Neo-Viper. I did see one Snake-Eyes figure at Kmart a week or two ago, but only one.

Despite all the complaints collectors had about the quantity of Snake-Eyes figures that were shipping last year, the fact remains that he is the most popular character the property has to offer. He’s also the one most kids are going to want. There are some people in this hobby who will swear that more adults buy action figures than kids, despite the fact that paid market researchers who study these trends for a living have repeatedly stated this is not the case. There are even some stubborn G.I. JOE collectors who insist that no children were ever buying The Rise Of Cobra toys. While it’s nothing more than anecdotal evidence, two boys dressed as Snake-Eyes knocked on my door at Halloween, and I’ve seen more kids shopping for The Rise Of Cobra toys in one day than I saw throughout the entire run of 25th Anniversary/Modern Era. Like it or not, G.I. JOE has new fans because of that movie and the toy line that grew from it. That’s not to say that more kids are into G.I. JOE than Transformers, Ben 10, Bakugan, or even wrestling toys. It does, however, mean that one of Hasbro’s primary goals was accomplished. The more young fans, the better for everyone involved. The manufacturer, the retailers, and even collectors benefit when children are asking mom and dad for these toys. Their numbers should continue to increase with the new animated series that’s in the works.

And then there was this kid in Big Lots the other night. He wasn’t there with his collector dad; he was a genuine G.I. JOE fan. While I’m sure Hasbro would love to keep shipping more cases to stores, the shortsightedness of buyers for the retailers allows potential customers to slip through the cracks. Even if you don’t want to keep up with the assortments Hasbro had to offer, ask for a full case of Snake-Eyes for each store. Maybe you could even request a split that’s half Snake-Eyes and half popular army builders. The manufacturer knows what collectors want, and the retailers know Hasbro is at their mercy. If a little boy or girl walks into your store to look for a favorite character, only to leave empty-handed, how likely is that child to purchase anything else from the line? Not very, I’m afraid. Big Lots is taking what they can get at a discount, but corporate buyers for Wal-Mart and Target should know better. With the current price reductions on the movie line, the retailers are asking these potential customers to wait until the Pursuit Of Cobra line is launched this fall and pay full price for Snake-Eyes. The question is, though, will they have caused them to lose interest in the meantime?

Jon "Caped Crusader" Edwards
Born in April of '77, Jon quite literally grew up with STAR WARS. His mother took him to see it barely two months later and started buying him the figures before he was even old enough for them. G.I. JOE and Super Powers came along in the '80s, and an action figure addict was created. The moment he decided he was "too old" to play with his toys, he started to collect carded figures, beginning with Super Powers. No longer in possession of the toys or comics of his childhood, he rediscovered collecting with The Phantom Menace, and has moved on from STAR WARS to JLU, DC Direct, G.I. JOE, Marvel Universe, and various characters from movies, television shows, and comics.
Read other articles by Jon "Caped Crusader" Edwards.





  • j1h15233 says:

    This reminded me of almost every trip I take to Target…aww man they never have new JLU! Haha, great post.

  • LBAM says:

    For what it’s worth…and this is just more anecdotal evidence…my local Toys’R’Us sold out of the exclusive RoC 5 packs in roughly a week or two, whereas the 25th Anniversary 5 packs of Crimson Guards and Greenshirts – collector bait full of troop builders – are still hanging around. I also routinely see these packs at places like Ross. I seem to recall many collectors complaining that the RoC 5 packs didn’t have the “right” versions of the characters so they wouldn’t be buying.

    • Anecdotal or not, it still demonstrates just how critical young fans are to the success of a toy line. Those “collector” packs from 25th Anniverary are still collecting dust here, too, while the more recent exclusives are long gone. Just look at Hasbro’s Indiana Jones line. There was demand among adult collectors, but without the interest of kids, it died a quick – but painful – death.

  • demoncat says:

    this is just proof that gijoe never fades it just lies lows like star wars and then when the time is right rises and gets new fans like the kid asking for snake eyes for the most popular characters tend to go flying off of the shelves due to demand by older collectors reliving memories and of course the scalpers who are buying snake eyes for a quick buck. but snake eyes is going to be so demanded that he is not going to stay on shelves and warm the pegs. espically ones with timber. the pop character flies fast . the way the collecting game works

    • And I already see G.I. JOE collectors complaining that Duke, Storm Shadow, and two versions of Snake-Eyes will appear in the first two waves of Pursuit Of Cobra. I don’t think some of these guys realize they don’t have to buy figures they don’t want, and they tend to completely ignore the idea that those characters are necessary to keep younger fans interested in the property.

  • Danny CantinaDan says:

    You’re right, G.I. Joe does have new fans because of the movie. If the purpose was to suck in a new generation, they succeeded. To a degree at least. I brought my little bro, Johnny, who was 11. I was meh with the movie and he thought it was the bomb. We went and bought action figures afterwards and we got Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.

    • I’ve read so many similar stories, and I’ve seen kids getting excited about the brand for the first time in years. While The Rise Of Cobra wasn’t exactly the G.I. JOE movie I’d been waiting my whole life to see, I enjoyed it for what it was. More importantly, however, I love the new life it managed to breathe into the property. That can only be a great thing for those of us with an addiction to plastic soldiers, ninjas, bikers, and anti-government terrorists in funny costumes. I just hope that life will still be there when retailers begin stocking the new line.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    Great Blog.
    Lack of finding JLU has killed off some of my desire to collect that line. I’ll still buy them if I see them, but I no longer make special trips and only go to Target if there is somewhere else I need to be which makes me drive near it.

    • I feel the same way about JLU. I love the line, and I want to collect it, but I have no desire to waste my free time driving from Target to Target. Man, don’t even get me started on Mattel and Target. 🙂

  • George says:

    And knowing is half the battle.

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