American Defense Action Figures of the 1980s

These American Defense figures are the first G.I. Joe “bootleg” figures I recall seeing on store shelves. I had 3 3/4″ figures from other lines that I tried to mix into my G.I. Joe play, but it just never felt right. Like mixing in a Stormtrooper from Star Wars…it just didn’t fit.

So these were the first bootlegs of decent quality that actually matched the vibe of G.I. Joe and could mix in almost seamlessly. For the most part, they were constructed the same way as our beloved Joes, but with cheaper materials. And while they may not have made for a good figure line on their own, they were certainly great at filling the role of figures who could take the bullet or jump on the grenade instead of your favorite Joe characters. And let’s be honest, we all needed figures like that. You can’t just have Gung-Ho or Quick Kick taking an early exit from playtime, No, you need some fodder in the lineup so the real stars can continue with the mission.

A lot of times I used them as “new recruits” who were trying to make the team. That would usually end horribly for a few of them though. The small playsets that are shown in the ad were actually pretty fun. They were cheaper than Joe sets and still provided good fun.

I want to mention that my favorite figure from the line is pictured in this ad. At the bottom, second from the left, that soldier in the karate gear always made the cut and I would pair him up with Quick Kick as a stealth special unit. That figure has always been an honorary Joe figure in my mind.

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