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G.I. Joe – Alpinist & Barbecue

Sometimes I just can’t believe my luck with collecting vintage toys. As every collector will probably know from first hand experience there are usually a couple of items in your collection you paid just a tad too much (or way too much) for, but the flip side to that coin is that there’s bound to be several highly desirable items in your collection that you got real cheap, so in the end it probably evens out. That’s part of the fun of collecting hard to find stuff, I think. I’ve certainly had more than my fair share of good luck in finding rare items and some of them for peanuts. Case in point: I recently scored two first wave vintage G.I. Joe action figures in Dutch packaging: Alpine and Barbecue! And they only cost me 10 euros a pop!

G.I. Joe – Alpinist & Barbecue (1987) – MB International B.V.

“Surprise, surprise!”

A while ago I bought a vintage Zartan in Dutch packaging and when the package arrived at my doorstep I found that the seller had included two empty backer cards of the Dutch versions of Alpine and Barbecue! I try to collect early vintage G.I. Joe’s in Dutch packaging and those are pretty hard to find. Of those the action figures are the hardest to find inside their packaging. Imagine my surprise when I saw these two backer cards which were in great condition and even more, the bubbles where still largely attached to the cards without any noticeable damage or tearing to the backer cards!! So I started looking for a very nice and complete Alpine and Barbecue to put inside! I took me a while, but last week I found a local seller here in the Netherlands who had a C9 Alpine and Barbecue for sale 100% complete with accessories who sold them to me for 20 euros.

Alpinist, resealed!

The loose figures arrived yesterday and what better way to spend my Friday night then to geek out and put these two great looking action figures back in their original packaging! I cleaned the action figures and their accessories and dusted off the backer cards and bubbles. I then carefully placed them inside their respective bubbles and resealed the bubbles with some hobby glue that I carefully swiped along the edges of the bubbles. I placed some weights on the bubbles over night and this afternoon I cleaned up the dust and excess glue from the packaging with Goo Gone (a great little tool for removing dirt and sticker residue etc). I am quite pleased with the results, because they look great as display items! Let’s have a detailed look at both of them.


Alpinist is the Dutch name for Alpine. Alpine was originally released in the US as a wave 4 action figure in 1985 and was released in the Netherlands around April of 1987 by Hasbro as a wave 1 figure (G.I. Joe wasn’t properly introduced in most of Europe until 1987) and was distributed here by MB International B.V. Alpine saw a simultaneous release in most other West European countries that year as well, most of them also distributed by local MB subsidiaries. Hasbro had taken over toy giant MB in September 1984.

Alpinist – an international hero

I like to believe that Hasbro leveraged MB’s experience with the fragmented European market in the 1980’s. MB probably knew what was best for their local markets and part of this was to make sure the packaging of their product was localized as much as possible. This resulted in specific translated packaging for all the European countries where MB was active, similiar to MB’s original product like board games and puzzles. Even small countries like the Netherlands and Belgium got their own specific packaging. As a vintage collector and Dutchman myself I highly appreciate these all-Dutch releases.

“An International Hero”

Another thing that MB probably realised was that the moniker “A Real American Hero” would not sit well with all European countries. Now, I know that the Dutch would’ve been pretty ambivalent about this. The French on the other hand would probably have been a bit more chauvinistic about a toy line of Real American Heroes being released in France. So Hasbro and MB quite cunningly rebranded the line as an international fighting force for Europe (hey, whatever sells more, right?)

Alpinist’s file card

The cool thing about this is that most of the European G.I. Joe action figures had altered bio’s. Names and birth places were often changed to European and international alternatives. I always like to compare the Dutch releases in my collection to the American releases. Alpinist’s bio is largely the same as that of the American release. His name is Albert M. Pine in both the American and European releases. But his place of birth is different. The US release of Alpine shows us he was born in Minidoka, Idaho. As Alpine’s file card states “from the middle of the flat dusty Snake River Plain where Alpine was born he could see the mountains on the horizon in almost every direction”.

The Snake River Plain, where Alpine was born

According to the Dutch file card Alpinist was born in Grenoble, France. Also, although no specific mention is made about his parents in the US file card, the Dutch file card says that his parent were originally from Algerian descent, which would explain his dark complexion. This is not an entirely arbitrary choice either, by the way. Algeria used to be a French colony and there’s a large Algerian community still living in France.

Grenoble, where Alpinist was born

Also, while the US file card states that Alpine graduated from Ranger School in Fort Benning, the Dutch file card shows that Alpinist got his education in Toulouse, France.



Next up is Barbecue, who is named identically in the Dutch release. If we compare the US and Dutch file cards we can see that they are largely the same, but again the place of birth of Barbecue has been altered as has his surname. The US file card says Barbecue’s real name is Gabriel A. Kelly, born and bred in Boston, Massachusetts.

G.I. Joe – Barbecue (1987) MB International B.V.

Now, if we look at the file card on Barbecue’s Dutch packaging we see that he was born and bred in Naples, Italy. Kelly is not exactly an Italian sounding name, so his name was changed to Gabriel A. Garibaldi, which sounds pretty cool (Babylon 5 FTW!!). The rest of the file card is a pretty accurate translation of the US file card.

BBQ, Italian style

“Four Down, Sixteen to Go”

With these two additions I now have a total of four wave 1 vintage G.I. Joe action figures in Dutch packaging. Hasbro released a total of 20 action figures in the Netherlands in early 1987 (wave 1), which can all be seen on the back of Alpinist’s card here, including their sometimes colourful Dutch translated names.

G.I. Joe – Netherlands wave 1 (1987)

I don’t think I will ever be able to complete this first Dutch wave inside its original packaging, because these are even harder to find than the MB Transformers that I also like to collect, but a guy can hope. For now, I am going to sit back and feel rather content with myself for scoring these two items and being able to restore them to their original retail state as much as possible. Good times! Have a great weekend!



Thanks to alaskan dude and cotitoo for the use of the photos of the Snake River Plain and Grenoble. Used in accordance with CC-BY 2.0 and CC-BY-NC 2.0 license respectively.

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in G.I. Joe and have Comments (5)

G.I. Joe – Zandstorm & Flits

Woohoo! Every now and then I score something for my collection, which makes me do a dance of joy and makes me fly figure eights through the room like a butterfly high on crack. Hmm….. not exactly the analogy I was going for, but you get the point. Besides collecting early European vintage G1 (Generation 1) Transformers in MB packaging, another one of my obsessions is collecting vintage G.I. Joe toys in Dutch packaging.

Vintage G.I. Joe in Dutch packaging (1987) – from my personal collection

“Hasbro branding, MB distribution”

G.I. Joe was properly introduced in Europe in 1987. At that time, MB was still doing all of Hasbro’s distribution in mainland Europe. Although the G.I. Joe toys did come with Hasbro branding on the packaging, it was still MB that was responsible for the distribution process. The cool thing about MB in Europe is that they went to great lengths to localize the packaging of the toys they sold. Even relatively small countries like the Netherlands and Belgium got their own specific packaging and promotional material. This was pretty cool. Born and bred in the Netherlands myself I couldn’t help but be amazed by and attracted to the all-Dutch packaging of the G.I. Joe line that was available here. The first three waves of releases (1987-1989) came in all Dutch packaging, after which MB switched to dual language cards for the Benelux somewhere during 1989 (Dutch and French).

G.I. Joe – Flits – copyright notice (1987)

“Double Your Pleasure”

The reason I’m so stoked is that I finally managed to track down not one but two MOSC (mint on sealed card) vintage G.I. Joe’s from the first wave in Dutch packaging. Having looked for these very intensively for the past two years or so, I became convinced it was almost impossible to find any still MOSC, but once again my obsessive and compulsive nature paid off! I really love all the European wave 1 G.I. Joe’s, because I remember having spent countless hours and days staring at the 1987 G.I. Joe catalog when I was a kid.

Zandstorm and Flits (1987) – MB International B.V.

It cost me a pretty penny to purchase them, but it’s such a rush to finally own two of these in their original packaging as I remember seeing them in my local toy store in back in the 1980’s. So totally worth the money. Nostalgia, FTW! The two Joe’s I’m talking about here are pictured above and go by the names of Zandstorm (Dusty) and Flits (Quick-Kick). Let’s have a closer look!


Zandstorm was released in Holland in 1987 and is basically the same as the 1985 US release of Dusty. Looking at the filecard at the back of the packaging we can see that Zandstorm’s real name is the same as that of the US release of Dusty (Ronald W. Tadur), but contrary to the US release, Zandstorm was not born in Las Vegas, Nevada, but in Alice Springs, Australia. This is in line with Hasbro/MB’s European treatment of G.I. Joe, where it was presented as an international fighting force. Zandstorm means sandstorm in Dutch, which is funny, because in 1991 Hasbro re-released Dusty together with a grey coyote called…. Sandstorm! Coincidence?

Zandstorm (1987) – MB International B.V.


The next figure is the Dutch version of Quick Kick, called Flits. Again, this is the same as the 1985 US release, but there’s a slight change to the filecard. In the US Quick Kick’s real name is listed as MacArthur S. Ito and he was born in Los Angeles, California. Flits has different details. His real name is Lee Ho Ho (no kidding!) and his place of birth is listed as Canton, China.

Flits (1987) – MB International B.V.

“Yo Joe!”

These two are my first wave 1 Dutch G.I. Joe’s which are MOSC. This find has given me some new hope for finding more wave 1 Joe’s in Dutch packaging. It’s still going to be a major challenge finding more, but all the more rewarding when I do! Yes… I do worry about my own sanity at times. ;-) So much cool 80’s vintage toys stuff that I’ve been adding to my collection recently, so stay tuned for future updates!


posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in G.I. Joe and have Comments (7)

Action Force – Zartan

In the US G.I. Joe came before Transformers. In Europe it was the other way around. Transformers were introduced here in 1985 and G.I. Joe didn’t get an official introduction until 1987. But that doesn’t mean that G.I. Joe action figures and vehicles weren’t available here! An English company called Palitoy had already been selling 3.3/4 inch action figures in Europe since the early 1980’s under the name of Action Force.

Action Force action figures – Palitoy


At some point Palitoy started licensing Hasbro’s G.I. Joe line and releasing it in Europe under their Action Force moniker. Here’s an example of that: Zartan and his Swamp Skier! I found this item online about a week ago and whipped out my credit card as fast as I could to make it mine. Just check it out:

Action Force Zartan – Palitoy (1985/86)

“G.I. Joe invades Europe”

I’m not 100% sure of the year above item was released, because there is no date information on the packaging, but judging by the release of the original in the US (1984) I’d guess Palitoy released the Action Force version of Zartan in Europe in 1985 or maybe 1986.

By 1987 Hasbro had acquired Palitoy and decided Europe was ready for a proper G.I. Joe invasion and introduced the line here as an international fighting force.

European launch of G.I. Joe – from pack-in catalog (1987)


The reason why I was so interested in this Action Force version of Zartan is because I scored the 1987 Dutch version of Zartan not too long ago. Here are both versions shown together. The new and the old! Check out the original article on Zartan that I wrote here!

Zartan – European Action Force and G.I. Joe versions



posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Action Force,G.I. Joe and have Comment (1)

G.I. Joe – Zartan (Dutch packaging)

Of the first wave of G.I. Joe action figures that were released in the Netherlands in 1987 (and the rest of mainland Europe) Zartan has got to be one of the coolest. Technically, Zartan wasn’t released as a standalone action figure, but as part of a vehicle set (the Chameleon Swamp Skier), just like the US version. I recently scored a very nice Zartan and Chameleon 100% complete in Dutch packaging (I try to collect the extremely rare G.I. Joe releases that came in Dutch-only packaging). Have a look at the gorgeous, signature 1980’s packaging:

G.I. Joe – Zartan with Chameleon Swamp Skier – (Dutch version 1987)

“Bad Ass”

Zartan is a mysterious character in the G.I. Joe universe. Officially he belongs to Cobra (the bad guys), but he is really a part of a subgroup of mercenaries called the Dreadnoks (“Waaghalzen” in Dutch) of which he is the leader. Zartan is a master of make up and disguise. He can also change his skin colour at will to blend into his environment, much like a chameleon. According to the file card on the back of the packaging he is fluent in over 20 languages and dialects and is master of several martial arts. His real name and place of birth are unknown. How much more bad…. ass…. can you get?!? :-)

Scene from G.I. Joe cartoon by Sunbow (1985)

“Heat Sensitive”

The toy version of Zartan was friggin’ cool! Zartan’s skin was heat sensitive. If you expose the action figure to direct sunlight, he will turn blue! I know, it’s just a gimmick, but to me it was one of the coolest things evah back in 1987. The same goes for his Swamp Skier (called “Kameleon” in Dutch), which also saw most of its parts change colour when exposed to sunlight. Zartan also has heat-sensitive chest- and thigh-armor that changes colour.

Zartan – being a bad ass

To top it off, he also has a mask that he can carry around in a special compartment of his backpack! You could actually put this mask on Zartan’s face! Like this:

“No mate, no Zartan here. Move along.”


I bought this Zartan a couple of weeks ago and I was very pleasantly surprised with the state the action figure was in, the Swamp Skier and the packaging. Everything was there. All the inserts, paperwork and in such great shape as well. I mean, even the spare heat sensitive stickers for Zartan’s chest and thigh-armor were included!


The first version of Zartan’s file card in the US (in 1985) was released saying that Zartan suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. After receiving complaints from a mental health organization Hasbro quickly dropped that part of Zartan’s bio and released updated packaging. As a result, this is sometimes used a selling point in auctions of boxed Zartans that still carry the “schizo card”. As far as I am aware Zartan’s Dutch bio never had any reference to mental illness, which is not so surprising, because Zartan was released in Europe two years later (in 1987).

Larry Hama, the guy who wrote most of the G.I. Joe file card bio’s, originally intended Zartan to be called Captain Chameleon, due to his colour changing abilities. In the end, Hasbro went with Zartan, which is an obvious anagram of Tarzan.


Check out these sweet Zartan pics from my collection below. Enjoy!

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MOSC Vintage Dutch G.I. Joe’s!

Ooh boy! I was screaming like a 12 year old school girl when I got the following items in the mail last week! I’ve been seriously collecting boxed and carded vintage G.I. Joe items since mid 2009 or so I guess and as I have often mentioned before on this site I specifically try to collect the first three waves of G.I. Joes that were released in the Netherlands in all-Dutch packaging in 1987 and 1988. Although it’s pretty hard to find boxed items in Dutch packaging, finding vintage G.I. Joe action figures that are still sealed (MOSC, mint-on-sealed-card) in all-Dutch packaging is virtually impossible as most veteran vintage international G.I. Joe collectors will agree with me.


Only a couple of months ago I finally scored my first sealed Dutch vintage G.I. Joe action figure, Chung-Ho, from the third wave. Just last week I couldn’t believe my luck when I came across no less than the four MOSC vintage G.I. Joe action figures in Dutch packaging from wave 2 that you can see above! These particular items were found as part of the inventory of a Dutch toy store that went bust a couple of years ago, so they’re in sublime shape with near perfect backer cards and bubbles!! Let’s have a more detailed look!

“Zarana & Zandar”

First off, we have Zartan’s sister and brother Zarana and Zandar! Just like their brother Zandar, these two action figures had a very cool gimmick. They were made of UV reactive plastic that turned blue when exposed to sun light! Sort of like a crude chameleon effect.


“Baco and Waterrat”

The next two are Baco and Waterrat. Baco is part of the Dreadnoks sub group and US readers will probably recognize him as Monkeywrench. The Dreadnoks were called “Waaghalzen” (plural) in the Dutch line, so that’s why you see “Waaghals” (singular) printed on the card. Waaghals, by the way, translates literally into “daredevil”, because there’s no real fitting translation for the word “dreadnok” in Dutch, I guess.

Waterrat is known in the US as Wet-Suit. Waterrat means just what you would expect in Dutch. It means water rat. I guess that sounds more acceptable as an action figure name in Dutch than it does in English.

“Klaas van der Meulen”

One of the many aspects that makes me appreciate the effort that Hasbro put into the promotion of their G.I. Joe line in Europe, is the fact that a lot of the action figure file cards featured Dutch names and Dutch birthplaces. For example, did you know that Waterrat was born in Pieterburen, Friesland, the Netherlands? And that his real name is Klaas van der Meulen? No? Well, now you know:

Waterrat's Dutch file card


I understand how some patriotic US G.I. Joe fans find it is a blasphemy that G.I. Joe was changed from a real American Hero to an international fighting force in Europe, but quite frankly, (as a European myself) I have to commend Hasbro for going that extra mile. I know that the toy line appealed to me that much more back then, due to these translations and attention to detail.

"De Internationale Helden"
"The International Heroes"


The seller I got these four vintage Dutch G.I. Joe’s from was a really nice guy. He sold them to me way below their market value. He could easily have asked double the amount that I ended up paying, so I was really lucky there. I guess feverishly checking classified ads each and every day (like I do) tends to pay off once in a while. LOL!


“Dutch G.I. Joe’s – wave 1 (1987)”

I wonder if I’m going to score one of those elusive first wave Dutch G.I. Joe’s any time soon. At first I was very pessimistic about the prospect of ever finding these, but my recent hauls have given me some hope! For reference, below are all the action figures that were part of the first wave.

Dutch G.I. Joe action figures - wave 1 (1987)


If you have any of these above in Dutch packaging and want to sell. Get in touch with me!! :-) If you want to see what else got released as part of the first wave, check out the scans of the first wave Dutch G.I. Joe pack-in catalog that I made here.




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