Today I’m joined by my friend Nekoman, purveyor of the Viper Pit. If you’re not following his work, you should be. He takes some of the best GI Joe photos (and toy photos in general) around, and his reviews are perfect blasts of fun, nostalgia, and insight. He’s one of my favorite people in the online action figure community. You can also find him on Instagram and Twitter.
He suggested today’s collaborative review, which I’m very excited about. Today we’re taking a look at the 1992 GI Joe Headquarters, which has an exalted place in both of our hearts.
Nekoman also took every single photo featured in today’s review, which should earn him a hero’s wage. But this is the internet, so that really just means this review will be stolen by some aggregator site like ToyFarts.ru so they can make money off of Cialis ads.
But really, every single one of you owes Nekoman a Shasta Cola. And I owe him upwards of three Shasta Colas, which I will never financially recover from.
On with the review!
1992 GI Joe Headquarters Review
Nekoman: There’s something very telling about where GI Joe was in ‘92, along with Hasbro’s expectations for the brand that can be seen from the GI Joe Headquarters released that year. For an 80‘s toy line running in it’s tenth straight year, this was a pretty impressive release. A few other very large vehicles and playsets of similar size were released in the years around it, most notably Armor-Bot in the following year. Still, this stands out to me as the last, prominent GI Joe playset released in ARAH, and it’s a mostly good one too.
I was not yet born in 1992, and I only got to experience the Headquarters through my brother’s GI Joe collection. With that in mind, you can imagine I didn’t get to live much of GI Joe’s glory days as a kid. That’s important, because I think part of the reason why I took such an interest in a bunch of toys mostly owned by my brother, was because of this playset. It was massive, it stood out, and it was a lot of fun for a kid to play with. Many times I felt motivated to play with GI Joes just because of how much I liked using them with this Headquarters. Were it not for that, I’m really not sure how much I’d have liked GI Joe back then. What was your childhood experience with the Headquarters, DF?
Dustin: I got the 1992 GI Joe Headquarters on Christmas that year, if memory serves me. It instantly became the centerpiece of my GI Joe world. Finally, my team had somewhere to hang out. And something to defend against Cobra. Before the HQ, the Cobra BUGG was pretty much what all of my adventures centered around.
Image Courtesy of YoJoe.com
1992 was a good year for GI Joe, and the last year every figure came with its own unique accessories. It gave kids great (and sometimes iconic) versions of Duke, Hawk, Stalker, Shockwave, Mutt, Roadblock, Storm Shadow, Wet-Suit, Cobra Commander, and Destro. New characters like Slice, Dice, Big Bear, Barricade, and Overkill were welcome, too. Though it’s not my favorite GI Joe year (1991 is), I think 1992 was the most exciting year for me as a kid, and the HQ was a big part of why.
We can dig deeper into individual features and how they work later, but I want to know– what enchanted you about GI Joe headquarters as a kid, other than its size? Why was it the thing you picked out from your brother’s collection?
Nekoman: There were a few things about it. One thing was that I had acquired my own collection of Joes from ‘93 and ‘94, so naturally I went exploring his collection of vehicles and playsets. The headquarters was the only dedicated GI Joe playset he had, and it was a lot more interesting to me than, say, the Battle Wagon. I never really found oversized trucks or large aircraft to be very fun to play with, but stationary playsets lent themselves more to the figures. Especially since most of my personal Joe collection consisted of Armor Tech and Ninja Force figures; the former not really fitting well into traditional vehicles.
Another thing I liked was how elaborate it was compared to other toys that were out at retail at the time. I really, really liked playsets as a kid, but by the mid-to-late 90‘s, those were starting to become more scarce. Heck, most of the super-cool playsets I know of are mostly 80‘s items, when a decent sized playset was more of a requisite feature for a toy line. In our collection, the only thing even mildly comparable to the headquarters was the Batcave Command Center playset from Batman Returns, which was another toy of his. Meanwhile, there was nothing pertaining to my interest as large and detailed as the GI Joe Headquarters that you could buy. So it had a unique presence in the house, and I think that always attracted me to it.
Besides that, it was just a really fun item. Because it folded up so nicely, it was easy to get in and out of storage. It was big enough too, that a lot of the time me and my brother would use it together, but could still choose to play separately if we wanted. I recall being fairly obsessed with it’s searchlight, and I brought it out to play with that every single time there was a blackout. The very small prison was another major focal point, and was usually where Cobra Commander, Destro, and sometimes Chun-Li would live during my play times.
Dustin: I think you hit the nail directly on the head as far as a lot of the 92 HQ’s appeal goes– it was really easy to break it down, fold it up, put it away, and then break it out again. It would easily fit in a closet or under a bed. It interacted perfectly with most figures in the line, regardless of their sub line or gimmick, and it had a ton of features.
I had a couple other playsets during childhood. Most notably the 1989 Toy Biz Batcave. It was wrecked and missing pieces within a month and became a shell of its former self under my care. I still played with it all the time anyway, of course. With the GI Joe Headquarters, though, everything was fine. I maybe lost a couple of missiles or whatever, but it was always great. Especially compared to other 90s playsets, which often did not live up to their 80s counterparts, as you said.
The HQ also inspired my imagination. Especially the jail cell and searchlight, as you also noted. I constantly had new ideas for what to do with the GI Joe HQ and it never got boring. In fact, I don’t think I ever got through all of the play scenarios I had in my head before I lost it. It had seemingly endless possibilities within its plastic walls.
But let’s get down to brass tacks here. Nekoman, can you outline the various sections of the HQ and what they include?
Nekoman: Depending on how you count them, the GI Joe Headquarters has 5 to 6 main areas, which includes:
- The front perimeter
- Multi-utility vehicle and weapons service bay
- Control area
- Cell block area
- Tower/Lookout deck
And each of these areas are packed with gimmicks:
- 3 modular small turrets
- “Eliminator” cannon, which can be inserted in two places, or stand on it’s own
- Mega-flow nozzle and hose (Because economy-flow didn’t cut it!)
- Exploding armor panel on the prison cell
- Functioning tow-hook
- Working elevator
- Weapon/Missile Storage
- Opening door
- Exploding tower action
- Electronic searchlight and 8 sounds
- American flag that flies proudly over the headquarters
And probably some other element I’m forgetting or haven’t realized to mention. It’s a fairly modular playset, allowing you to freely move a few things like the smaller turrets to various parts of the set, or even toss them on an included tripod, so you can use them freely apart from the main HQ.
I’ve gotta be fair though, some of these gimmicks work better than others, and a few of them I wasn’t even aware of until I was an adult. The exploding parts come across as a detriment to me, and generally seem to harm the overall playset. The orange strut blows off the main tower, and turns over the green platform at the top. It seems like a pretty lame way to break a few figures, and without the strut, the top lookout is virtually unusable.
The prison wall is a little more forgivable. I dislike the big orange panel that looks out of place while intact, but that part of the playset looks fine without it too. It disappeared somewhere as a kid, but I always thought the empty area behind the cell just looked like a window. The scale of that is not too unreasonable when you examine the tiny baby-bed inside the cell, which no figure could lay on.
As a kid, I always thought the control area/computer room had a lot less going on than the cell block, though as an adult, I tend to find it somewhat more useful. The big orange computer is a little hard to take seriously, but that’s part of why it compliments so many of the figures from that era so well. There’s a spot where you can place one of the turrets, and that’s it. It’s a nice and open area with just enough going on to keep it interesting.
The vehicle utility bay comes across to me as one of the weaker parts of the playset, since there’s not much going on here besides the fuel pump and one odd computer someone can stand at. I guess you could count the crane as a part of it, but it’s not very impressive either. The fuel pump is pretty neat, though a little odd in it’s own right. I found it in a bag of parts a while back and thought for sure that it was put together backwards, but apparently the flanged part does go closer to the hose. There’s this brown part where you can mount the Eliminator cannon in a different position. I like some of the details, but the purpose of this part isn’t very clear.
The front perimeter area is simple, but also one of my favorite parts. The playset looks much fuller from the outside, and the deployable perimeter/storage tray (The box calls it that. I can’t really think of what you’d store there though…) has some really nice details of it’s own. This part also has a mounting port for the big Eliminator cannon, which is pretty neat. The spaciousness of this area is another thing I like, compared to the part around the tower which is pretty cramped.
I can appreciate the elevator a lot too. It’s very awkward, with a dangerously small platform and guard-rail, but that’s something an adult would tend to think about. When I was a kid, this part was super fun and Joes would ride up and down it while having gunfights. I don’t really know why elevators are so cool when you’re a kid, but they are.
The Lookout deck at the top of the playset is pretty nice. You can rearrange what guns go up here, and use either of the two small green turrets, or the missile launchers in a few places. It’s another part of the playset that features some much needed open space, but I feel there’s a bit of a missed opportunity for a helipad here. The playset could’ve done a bit more if you could land a Battle Copter or the Desert Apache up here, but, such is not the case.
That sums up it’s features, though there’s a few gimmicks I probably overlooked a bit. What’s your assessment of it?
Dustin: That’s a VERY comprehensive rundown that brings back so many good memories of this playset. I don’t currently own it, but it’s tied to so many happy childhood moments that even reading about the details of each part brings a smile to my face.
As a kid, I was most baffled by that brown “vehicle bay.” I don’t think I ever used the fuel pump or used it with a vehicle. I did, however, make good use of that computer console. I loved computer consoles, and that was a “special” one that could either hack into Cobra operations or controlled certain secret functions of the base.
Speaking of computer consoles, the command center got a lot of play from me. The orange never bothered me at the time, and I doubt it would now. This is where the Joe team would have meetings, plan missions, or defend the base.
I really liked the modular missile launchers, and I liked that most of the missiles were interchangeable between them. I also liked that there was plenty of easy missile storage, which prevented them from getting lost so easily. I never used too many spring loaded launchers as a kid, but I used the heck out of those. The one that “explodes” when a panel is hit was a particular favorite. I also enjoyed finding different configurations for them.
As you mentioned, I loved the spotlight, too. I actually had my mom yell at me many times because the sound box that came along with it was so damn loud. I think she regretted buying me this toy several times.
I liked the tower, too. Even the exploding support. I had tons of fun using the elevator to get different Joes up to it, and them taking firing positions on the different levels of the tower.
My favorite part was the jail cell, though. You’re right that the bed is tiny, but it has a bed AND a sink. I didn’t always use it as a jail cell, either. I sometimes used it as rotating quarters for the Joes serving at HQ. I always liked to imagine and play out different scenarios that took place in between missions, and that was as close to living quarters as I ever got for my Joe team. In fact, the HQ as a whole provided a ton of between missions fun. Plotting, planning, healing, drama, you name it.
I like the pull out front area, too. It has such cool details. A fun little note– I didn’t realize that the rotary missile launcher (which is very cool) could plug in to the front entrance for a very long time after owning the toy. I thought it just belonged in the vehicle bay, which made it odd to me. Maybe I didn’t read the instructions well enough.
Also, this playset came with a metric assload of green missiles. Someone had to say it.
Anything you want to add before we issue our final verdicts? Do any strong memories stand out in your mind?
Nekoman: As far as memories go, I think the thing that leaves the strongest impression on me is how long I’ve looked for all of it’s parts. When I started collecting 25th Anniversary and lingering Valor vs Venom figures back in ‘07, the first thing I did was get this playset out and start fiddling with it again. Back then, it was missing practically everything that wasn’t attached by pins. The parts were all at my house, but they were scattered across storage containers worse than the Dragon Balls after you’re done making a wish.
To this day, 14 years later, I’ve still not found everything. Still, every attempt to organize the storage room where all of my brother’s childhood stuff is, is usually marked by finding some piece of the playset. Putting that much effort into organizing and finding all of it’s parts I think has made it seem more special to me, in comparison to just buying something. Hopefully someday soon I’ll find the last pieces, wherever they are.
I also really enjoyed using it in photos when I started making diorama-shots around ‘09. My teenage brain from back then thought it would look fantastic, but some of these old photos look pretty embarrassing now. It’s a sort of embarrassment I embrace though, because I can still remember how much fun I had doing it. I can’t go back to the mentalities I had back then, but I can always remember those thoughts and feelings, especially as I change with age.
Nekoman’s Verdict: The ‘92 HQ is an excellent playset, and it’s in someways the last of it’s kind. Objectively, I don’t think it’s the best playset ever made. Parts of it are oddly cramped, while others are hurt by the focus on exploding parts. Regardless, there’s a childlike element that allows for these flaws to be overlooked in favor of the solid and entertaining gimmicks. It does everything it’s supposed to, and as a display piece, it provides a solid contemporary environment for 90‘s figures. For that reason, I recommend it.
Dustin’s Verdict: Though some fans may bemoan the 1992 GI Joe Headquarters for not being as realistic or cohesive as the 83 HQ, I think it’s brilliant in its own right. It doesn’t have the same level of interaction with the vehicles from the era and it has some bright orange, but it’s FUN. It’s also everything a GI Joe HQ needs to be, and it’s absolutely packed full of features. It stores easily, too. It’s great for photos, display, or just fooling around with. In my book, it’s Highly Recommended.
Thanks for joining us! And a huge thanks to Nekoman for suggesting this review, taking a ton of amazing photos, and making the whole process a blast.
So, what do you think of the 1992 GI Joe Headquarters? How does it rank in the pantheon of GI Joe playsets? For me, it’s probably the best one.
Let us know what you think in the comments!
23 thoughts on “1992 GI Joe Headquarters Review”
I really loved reading this. Nekoman is very knowledgeable and clearly has some great memories of this thing- yourself included!
I have to wonder what General Flagg is reading to Scoop… it reminds me of Sailor Moon when Mercury prints out her “homework” that was just the lyrics of “Highway to the Danger Zone”.
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Thanks for stopping by, Cody! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
I had a good lol at Mercury and Danger Zone. But, back on topic, I am 100% sure General Flagg only listens to Bon Jovi.
I absolutely love this thing and echo the sentiment that getting a dedicated playset was a revolutionary moment in my G.I.Joe play pattern. Before having it, when I was done playing with toys they would just get put away (in the case of Joes, they’d be packed up in the awesome black case that featured lots of 92 cardart). It was mostly one off adventures with no consequence because every new play time was a fresh start. But once I had the HQ, something magic happened. A switch was flipped in my brain and I left figures as they were in the HQ when I was done, and then picked right back up where I was. Maybe it was just less pressure to clean my room (after all, the figures “belonged” there) but whatever the case, the HQ meant that suddenly I had added continuity to my G.I.Joe world.
Things that happened now mattered and carried over. When I got new figures they would arrive and be introduced, welcomed to the team, things like that. Those computer consoles, the fuel pump; the crane all inspired so many new ways to play. I never would have thought to play out menial tasks like fueling and repairs but now it was an exciting and vital activity after every battle.
I didn’t know what to make of the brown section in the back either at first, eventually I settled on it being some sort of generator that kept the base running, a constant target of sabotage from whoever could sneak in under the triangular gaps between the catwalk/hinge sections. My Patriot tank broke in a couple places pretty early, and I didn’t care for it as much as some other stuff I had so it was practically another base fixture in my mind, parked behind the prison and firing it’s cannon over the walls as artillery support. Psyche-Out and TBC Hawk pretty much lived in that command room, which I tended to use more specifically as a communications/radio room. “computer” stuff happened at the more obvious console in the central section. I also tended to remove that orange barrel from the top of the jail because it was way more useful to me as a prop inside the base, or cargo to be hauled around in the back of the Mudbuster than up there.
Being open sided never really bothered me, because I usually kept the HQ in a space between the foot of my bed and the edge of a small desk I had in my room. It fit fully deployed in that gap perfectly, leaving just enough room for a mid sized vehicle to squeeze around one side. I often pretended the HQ was nestled in a deep canyon, blocking a vital choke-point. I really liked the firing port slits near the main door. It was really fun packing Joes against that wall firing out of there. A lot of my stories revolved around the Joes being under siege mounting a desperate defense like that. Probably the only thing that really bugged me about the whole thing were those uselessly shallow steps on either side of that main area.
One note about the very top of the tower, I figured out if you removed the orange support and took the top green platform off of the black hinged supports, you can loosely lay the green platform on the main brown U section and the edge will just barely support it, giving you a wider flat surface. I had helicopters do an emergency landing to drop someone off a few times like that. I didn’t hate the collapsing function or spring loaded targets though, since they were pretty much the only thing I used spring loaded launchers for.
Thank you both for this one! Lots of great memories. There were many figures and vehicles that dropped from my attention when I started getting the 97-2000~ stuff and discovered via the internet that all my beloved 90s toys were “hideous” and “bad”, but the HQ remained a solid fixture.
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Thanks for stopping by, my friend!
I love hearing about all of your childhood experiences with these toys, and I love the ideas you came up with even more. I think you found the best possible use for the Patriot, as it’s not an objectively great vehicle. I used the orange barrel as a prop, too– usually as a toxic waste barrel.
If I still had this toy, I’d definitely try your trick with the tower. I bet you could get a Dragonfly or Razor Blade on it that way, at least.
I was also baffled when I first found Joe forums/sites and everyone hated the toys I grew up with. Which is a big reason why the website exists!
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Well I’m thankful for that at least! Yeah, it was definitely the Razor Blade and Sky Patrol Skyhawk I would do it with. The Dragonfly was just a bit off balance to stay reliably (I had the street fighter movie one, and then later the tan one [the locust? I knew they were both dragonflys, so I just called them that.]) so in that case it would just be jumping off the skids. Though! This did just unlock a memory that I used the Razor Blade “grabby bar hook backpack thing” with the Dragonfly winch more often.
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One of my great regrets is not getting the 2001 repaint. There were people “in the know” who were SURE that Hasbro was going to surprise us with a USS Flagg repaint for Christmas in 2001. So, I saved my money for that. When it didn’t happen, I was too disillusioned to buy the HQ and passed it by. By 2002, it seemed passe and I never picked it up.
Slipstream80 on IG takes a lot of photos with this HQ and showcases all the great play potential quite well. It’s had me wanting one for a while. But, like everything, the price has gotten out of whack and it’s unlikely I’ll pursue one until after the correction.
It looks great with the ’90’s figures. Though, to be fair, they work pretty well in the ’83 HQ, too. (Maybe they’re just awesome.) I’d have definitely loved it as a kid. And, had I both this and the ’83 HQ, I’d have found a way to hybrid them together for the ultimate Joe base.
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Thanks for reading the post and leaving a comment, Mike!
I also regret not getting the 01 repaint, but I didn’t have the extra cash at the time. And it was a toy I’d already experienced, so any money I had was going towards things that were more novel to me– mainly Beast Machines, Gundam models, and X-Men comics.
The price is pretty wacky now for both versions. I actually saw a Shadowloo Headquarters, boxed, at a toy store in Portland for $99 a couple years ago. I was traveling by plane so I didn’t buy it. But man, I regret passing it up. I am sure the toy store owner would have shipped it to my home without hesitation, so I extra screwed up. I did find a lot of nicely priced Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat figs at that store, though, so they came home with me instead.
I’d actually love to try putting this and the 83 HQ together, too. I’m sure it could be done and it would look great. They are both playsets I need to acquire (or reacquire) when prices go down a bit.
I haven’t had a Shasta cola in many years. I live in a bottle return state, and the places that sell Shasta don’t have return machines. How that works, I don’t know. But I’ve learn store specific brands that cannot be returned aren’t worth losing that extra 10 cents.
Oh, what was this about 1992 GI JOE HQ? It was okay. I mean, the 1983 HQ is mostly a garage, a cool one but. The 1992 is gimmick heavy, and some are sort of fun, others are so-so. I got the 1992 has an “adult’ so its impact on me was less than it would’ve been. My HQ was the Mobile Command Center (my brother did have the 1983 base, though).
Yeah, the orange exploding cell wall, made worse by the catalog shots of it being a damaged silver section that comes off instead. At least the cell isn’t the sweat box like the MCC’s one is. Original HQ wins the jail award with Terrordrome second.
Computer room. Needed some better labels to save it. Hard to say what playset wins computer room, the FLAGG and Terrordrome? The Defiant gantry? Why I turn this into competition?
There’s no sides to the base, but the 1982 one had no back or roof. Hardly matters.
The brown “vehicle bay” is just for storing the gatling gun thing. Seems like waste of plastic that could’ve been used elsewhere and they could’ve engineered two more tabs some place to stick the gun on instead.
Sadly the repaint, the Shadowloo HQ, loses all the brown parts and gatling gun. The tower without the brown platform is just nothing. Also the box shows characters Hasbro never made. Wah-wah. Black Major, find a way to make Cammy!
Never got the 2001 HQ release.
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The comparison with the 3 vintage HQ’s, 1983, the 1987 Mobile Command Centerand 1992 shows a shift in the line. 1983 has two vehicle bays and a helipad (unnecessary to me, because it’s just on the ground and a copter could just land without a metal pad). The MCC had a small helipad (too small for the only GI JOE copter in production at the time, but…) and the repair bay that worked for smaller vehicles. 1992’s bay isn’t really one and there’s just a fuel hose and a crane for some reason. It shows the shift from away vehicles being the focus of the toy line and vehicle-play set interaction being an important part of play sets. Vehicles were less “model kits” (as Hasbro’s Kirk Bozigian called them) and had to do things, to the point they were sometimes just shells with a launcher, sound box or whatever attached. Deluxe figures became a big part of the brand.
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The small-ish landing pads on the Mobile Command Center and the Tactical Battle Platform were intended for the Sky Hawk, I think.
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Thanks for stopping by, Josh!
I’m sure the Skyhawk works perfectly with both of those playsets, but I’ve never owned an MCC or a Skyhawk. I currently have a Dragonfly (the tan Locust repaint) on my TTBP and it fits pretty well on the helipad and is a nice way to display both of them.
How about Shasta Black Cherry?
You make a lot of good points about the 83 HQ’s design and features, and it is a very cool playset. I had no idea it existed when I was a kid, though. So the 92 HQ was way more than enough for me. The MCC is also a really cool toy, but one I’ve never had the chance to own.
And yeah I think the brown “bay” is the weakest part even though it has some really nice sculpted detail. They did not phone the sculpting in on this playset at all. It’s very well done.
And yeah, the 91-94 vehicles were a step down, and I knew that even as a kid. There are some exceptions like the Ghost Striker, though. And the Ice Snake and Mudbuster are both very fun for what they are. The Mudbuster and the small tank from the Raider were the main vehicles I used with this HQ, but it wasn’t a seamless experience for either of them.
Thanks for the comments, by the way!
Man, I loved reading all the different accounts of this playset in both the post and the comments. I was the right age for this playset, but for whatever reason, I never saw it at the time and didn’t even realize it existed until years later. The first time I ever saw it was disassembled and lying in a cardboard box. It belonged to some kids in the neighborhood who’d gotten too old for it. This was probably 1997 or 1998. They let us borrow it, so for a while, I had this thing in my house, but my memories of it are so limited that I must not have had it around for very long. The main thing I remember are those big orange spring-loaded launchers.
I’m pretty sure I undervalued this thing when I had it around. For one, even growing up in the 90s I thought the 90s GI Joe toys were pretty lame, and I could tell this playset belonged with them. I had a feeling there must be some older “better” GI Joe playset – and maybe that’s true, but it’s clear from this post that I could have had a lot more fun with it than I did.
What’s true for sure is I absolutely love playsets, and I’ve loved them more and more as I’ve gotten older, especially as photo backdrops where you can really zero in on the small details and play zones that make them special. Because let’s face it – toy playsets, even the biggest ones, always feel just a little bit too small or too limited to feel like a real environment. You need some help from your imagination to make them feel like a complete place, and that’s just the kind of thing these photos do through careful staging and lighting.
Great work on this post!
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Thanks for the comment, Drac!
I think it was probably hard for a lot of the kids at the time to see the transition from 1990 and 1991 figures to what happened in 1993. I didn’t like most of the “new” figures as much as the old ones at the time, either. But I still had a ton of fun with them. They’re good toys, they just didn’t have the same amount of care put into them when it came to accessories. And now I love them all, of course. That’s why this site exists!
I love playsets even more now as an adult, too, exactly for the reasons you mentioned. They’re a great starting place for toy photo backgrounds and environments. They’re also very fun to play with.
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Dear sir, *I* am the owner of ToyFarts.ru. I will have you know that we run a respectable bot and troll operation. 😤 How dare you defame our good name by your prurient reference to Cialis! 😤 You shall be hearing from our lawyer, Rudolph Guliani.
*ooooo has anyone claimed these toy pics?*
*Also, is anyone interested in some Cialis?*
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lol. Thanks for stopping by, Sam! You always give me a good laugh.
It was really great reading your and Nekoman’s memories of this playset, and everyone else’s. You’re making me appreciate a playset that is kind of a mystery to me. It came out right in the middle of my years buying Joes at retail (I think I got every figure from the 92 lineup, and most of the vehicles) but I passed it by. I already had a secondhand 83 HQ that my dad brought home from a rummage sale in 1989 or so. I also had an incomplete but usable Flagg that I found a year later at a flea market in Kentucky. Between those two I had my “base” needs covered and didn’t want to spend my allowance on another one–especially since it seemed externally similar to the 83, a bunch of gray-silver walls and panels. I accumulated parts of it over the years at flea markets and I probably have most of it, but I never put it on display even when I had everything else set up in my room in middle school and high school. I did get the 01 version, but at the time I wasn’t playing with Joes, or photographing them, or really doing anything else with them. It’s just been sitting on a shelf at my mom’s house ever since. So this review makes me realize that the 92 HQ mold, in either version, is a mystery to me. I’ve never explored the mold. Now I’m really eager to get it out and take some pictures…as soon as I can get it out of storage and into use.
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Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, GL!
I see where you’re coming from with everything you said. If I already had an 83 HQ as a kid, I might not see the need for another one. And adding a Flagg to it– that surely covered most of your needs!
I don’t think I asked for the HQ for Christmas (or even knew about it before I got it), so it was a really cool surprise that year. I wouldn’t mind having either the original or an 01 version now. I hope you like yours when you get it out of storage. The mystery will just be one aspect of the fun. I’m sure you’ll really enjoy it for what it is! I’m looking forward to the photos.
Kudos on this review of a neglected playset!!
I did not have this HQ as a kid but a kid in the neighborhood did! I can only remember him playing with us one time, but boy what a time it was! I purchased my own a few years ago and memories came flooding back, but it was also nice to observe this childhood play thing as an adult too.
I own the ’83 HQ as well and I have to say that I think the foot pegs on this playset alone are enough to separate it from the pack. Then when you throw in the lights/sounds, the missiles and bright colors that give this playset some pop and I think it really stands out as being superior.
One of the cool things about the upper deck collapsing is that your figures on the top fall off and get injured, creating instant drama in your already outrageous firefight!
I would also point out that this playset has been re-issued a number of times (Street Fighter, A Real American Hero Collection, and in GIJOE vs. Cobra if I’m correct.) I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it again in the future either. The features age well for being a plastic play-thing and unless it gets Wi-Fi enabled I don’t really know of much else it could possibly do!
This playset is pure fun, and this is a great write up on a playset has been largely ignored by fans on the internet. Great job guys!!
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Thanks for stopping by, Tyler. I’m glad you enjoyed the review.
I’d be pretty surprised if Hasbro ever did anything with any of the ARAH molds ever again. Plus, playsets take up a lot of room on store shelves and probably don’t sell too well in a world where kids can play thousands of video games on a phone or tablet. I would be ecstatic if Hasbro ever did re-release this 92 HQ though, and would be happy to eat my words.
Seeing as how I’m slightly mentioned in this post, I figured I should chime in too! 😛
I remember getting the Headquarters for Christmas of ’92, along with a slew of Ninja Force, X-Men, and Star Trek:TNG figures. The previous year, I had asked for the The General playset-ma-vehicle thing. My mother had called every store in the region looking for it, to no avail. The Headquarters was something I knew about oddly enough, and had asked for. Hence, she convinced my dad to get it. Needless to say, it was pretty much a Christmas that wasn’t really ever topped until I (we, it’s also Nekoman’s) got a PS2 with Gungriffon Blaze, Final Fantasy X, and Gundam: Journey to Jaburo in 2003.
Anyway, the Headquarters was a permanent fixture of every single Joe playtime. It was easy to carry and set-up, had a ton to do, and in general allowed me to set-up a lot of figures on it. One thing I appreciated and prioritized as a child were vehicles and play-sets that allowed space for a lot of figures. It’s why I tended to rarely use aircraft in my playtime’s aside from having them be stationary wrecked or parked items. The Cobra Parasite, Monster Blaster APC, Batman Returns Batcave, Toybiz Batcave, Star Trek: TNG Bridge, Cobra Rage, and the Cobra Hammerhead, along with the Headquarters as mentioned above, always tended to be fixtures of my GI Joe stories as a kid.
The Headquarters isn’t perfect compared to some older sets. However, to a 5 year old in 1992 who didn’t have the internet (like most 5 year old’s back then), there wasn’t really anything to compare it to. It was fresh, and pretty much the best thing ever. The only things that rivaled it were the TNG Bridge and the Kenner Batcave.
My dad tended to get irritated by the searchlight when I would turn it on, hence I usually only ever used it when he was at work. Oddly, I was really sensitive to sounds as a small child (an example being the F.H.E logo sequence on VHS tapes tending to scare the crap out of me), and there was one sound effect in particular that I remember hating. So, it was a feature that I didn’t really mess with till later on.
Me and Nekoman are over 5 years apart in age, so I never really quit playing with/collecting action figures as we tended to engage with them together. The Headquarters still saw plenty of action into the early 2000’s until our focus shifted to Transformers and Gundam.
I had known about and wanted the SF2 Dragon Fortress, despite the somewhat redundancy of it for me. For one thing, I loved Street Fighter as a kid, even back in the early 90’s when I didn’t have any game consoles. I had been allowed to play a few oddball Street Fighter arcade cabinets when we would come across them, and I found that the GI Joe figures integrated well into the Ninja Force. Likewise, I had dreamed of having multiple play-sets, with a headquarters for the Cobra figures. Sadly, I never ran into one that I remember. 1994-1996 were years that I remember being somewhat tight in terms of toy buying.
1992 is pretty much the highlight of GI Joe in my childhood, and probably in my adult collecting time too. It was the year that I have the clearest memories of, and also had some of the most interesting figures and vehicles. ’93 meanwhile was a weird year as I remember having somewhat mixed feelings towards Star Brigade. I remember enjoying the figures, but being worried that the line would become nothing but space themed stuff. I also hated the larger cards.
’94 however, was the year where I just felt disappointed. The figures and vehicles were great, but I knew from the way that everything was harder to get and the smaller selection that it was over. Star Trek had also shifted it’s focus to Deep Space 9, which I just wasn’t as thrilled by. Toybiz X-men were doing X-Force themed figures, and not being allowed comic books at the time, they just felt like random characters. I was big into Power Ranger though, but those were somewhat hard to get a hold of until late ’94. Hence, ’92 was pretty much the best year for toys in my childhood.
I’ve gotten somewhat off topic from the Headquarters, but in a way, the ’92 Headquarters represents the toy highlight of my childhood, and encapsulates a lot of fun memories and playtime’s from a point when everything just seemed more fun in terms of pop-culture, and even in terms life in general. From days where I would play with it while watching syndicated re-runs of ARAH, Real Ghostbusters, and premieres of B:TAS and X-Men during the heyday of Fox-kids, to those nights were me and Neko would stay up posing figures on it.
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Hey, thanks for stopping by, Nagato! It’s great to hear about Nekoman’s experiences from another source, haha. This is a wonderful comment that gives me even more insight into what your life and your relationships with these toys were like.
It seems like you’re a bit younger than me (and Nekoman is a good bit younger than me). I think I was 8 when I got the HQ in 92. And, just like for you, 92 was maybe my “biggest” Joe year. I liked my earlier figures a lot (and to this day, I like the 91 and 90 lineups a bit more than 92) but 92 is the year I remember the most.
It’s cool that you liked the Playmates Star Trek stuff just as much as I did. I never had that Bridge playset, but still want it. I would have used it with everything, too. I have since acquired the BTAS version of that Kenner Batcave and it is indeed a beautiful thing– nearly as good as the 92 HQ. I will say, though, that I was just as into the DS9 figures as I was the TNG figures. I watched the new DS9 episode with my grandpa every single weekend at the time.
I remember thinking GI Joe and Street Fighter were a pretty good fit for each other, especially with how much I enjoyed Ninja Force. I have a couple Fighting Game Joe articles coming up here in the next couple weeks.
Thanks again for such a great comment!
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I’m glad to finally have gotten the chance to comment!
Going by that, I’m about 3 or 4 years younger than you.
Those sound like some really nice memories to have of DS9. I actually didn’t hate DS9, and got a good deal of the figures. I was just really, really emotionally attached to TNG as a kid. So much so that I did cry and get somewhat depressed after watching the final episode.
Looking forward to the fighting game articles!
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