Hey, remember that little backlog of photos I mentioned? I decided to finally do a review with some of those photos. Now, please remain calm and don’t rush to congratulate me all at once.
Today we’re looking at one of the most unpopular figures in the entire vintage GI Joe toy line, who also represents one of the most popular fictional characters in the entire world. That’s right! We’re looking at 1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li.
That’s a bit of a mouthful, but it is her official title. Well, actually ‘The Strongest Woman in the World’ is her official title, but ‘1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li’ is her official Hasbro title.
And boy oh boy, does this toy have ‘1993 Hasbro’ written all over it in shocking blue and yellow.
Let us proceed.
1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li: The Early Years
I’ve mentioned it before, especially in my video collaboration with HoodedCobraCommander788, but Street Fighter 2 was huge for me as a kid. It was huge for basically everyone I knew. When it hit the scene in 1992, we were all the exact right age to rush out to the arcade, loiter at the Pizza Hut, and beg our parents for the home console version of the trendy 16-bit fighting game.
We read everything we could about the game in various gaming magazines, pored over the instruction manual, and tried to learn all of the special moves. We loved the video game itself, but the lore and the characters were also compelling. We all had favorite characters, and we knew who those characters were and what made them tick.
Chun-Li was not my favorite SF2 character as a kid, but she was up there. I was partial to Ken, because he was a blonde American dork like I was. Of course, I didn’t have Ken’s muscular build, martial arts training, trust fund, or Alice in Chains CD collection, but he still resonated with me. He was my “go-to” in the game for many years.
Chun-Li was close behind him, though. She was really fun to play in the game, had a cool design, and probably had the most compelling backstory of any of the original Street Fighter 2 characters. I was quite fond of her.
Aside from Street Fighter 2, I was also very into GI Joe in 1993. When a kid at school told me there were “Street Fighter GI Joes,” I thought it was a lie. I hadn’t seen any of the TV commercials yet and had not seen any of the toys on shelves, so it seemed too good to be true.
I learned it was true, though, when I saw a Ken Masters figure on the shelves at the Payless Drug Store by my mom’s house and bought him with my allowance. Later that year, I’d receive a Sonic Boom Tank as a present for completing a Chicken Pox Playdate, which rendered me useless and miserable for about 9 days. I think my mom felt pretty bad about that one.
Despite my affinity for both GI Joe and SF2, those were the only GI Joe Street Fighter toys I had as a kid. I just didn’t see them on shelves too often. Some of my friends had other items from the line, though.
My across-the-street neighbor, who I used to play GI Joe with all the time, knew a weird-but-cool kid named Ryan who would come over once in a while. One time he brought over the Beast Blaster, which included ‘Championship Edition’ repaints of Blanka and Chun-Li. I was immediately taken with both figures and the vehicle. Ryan, being who he was, would not let us touch the toys he brought over. As I said, he was strange.
He was also literally one of those kids who lied about having an uncle who worked at Nintendo. But I digress.
So, even though I continued to enjoy both GI Joe and Street Fighter throughout childhood, that was about it for how I interacted with the toy line until I became an adult. I now own all of the SF2 GI Joe figures and many of the 1994 movie figures and I consider them a fun and essential part of the toy line.
As a kid, it made sense to me to have Street Fighter and GI Joe interact. To me, GI Joe already inhabited a fantastical world full of robots, space ships, laser guns, and mystical martial arts. A few more street fighting weirdos just made things more interesting.
But, surprisingly, not everyone felt that way at the time. And most GI Joe fans do not feel that way now. But, as a kid who was in the perfect target demographic for these figures in 1993, I wanted to talk about one of the stranger entries in the line today.
So, here’s a review of the 1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li figure.
1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li Review
Street Fighter 2’s Chun-Li was released in the GI Joe line in 1993, along with 11 other single-carded figures, 3 vehicles, and 1 playset. SF2 was a pretty big sub-line, and Hasbro had to be delighted to attach its somewhat-waning GI Joe brand to one of the biggest names in pop culture. SF2 was a huge push for 1993, where it joined together with every aspect of GI Joe– even the 12″ Hall of Fame line.
The Street Fighter 2 figures were divided into two camps– figures with “martial arts action” and figures who featured regular GI Joe construction and came with spring-loaded missile launchers.
1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li was one of the spring-loaded martial arts action figures, which is probably her biggest downfall. But we’ll get there in a moment.
Here’s the figure:
You’ll immediately notice the nice head sculpt. Though her head doesn’t match Capcom’s game sprite exactly, you instantly know who this is. The GI Joe Chun-Li figure features the character’s signature buns and hair accessories. The hair is black, as it should be, and her facial features are notably Chinese. It’s a great portrait and I think the GI Joe team at Hasbro did an extraordinary job on it.
Below the neck, the similarities to the video game character begin to diminish. Sure, it’s there in broad strokes– the outfit is mostly blue and white, and she has a powerful build befitting the Strongest Woman in the World. But where video game Chun-Li wore a fetching (and somewhat impractical) blue and white dress, action figure Chun-Li wears a blue, white, and yellow martial arts body suit, covered in various armor and weapons.
It’s a great sculpt. I love the throwing knives on her back, the grenade at her sternum, and the either antique pistol or collapsed crossbow holstered on her left leg. The yellow details are also outstanding, representing protective armor for her shoulders and arms, as well as straps and additional detailing for the “leotard” portion of her body suit.
I greatly enjoy the overall color combination here, even if it’s brighter than what Chun-Li wore in the game. The light blue, white, and bright yellow go very well together and make for a striking figure that stands out in any photo or display.
Though she’s not a dead ringer for her video game counterpart, Chun-Li is a winner in the aesthetics department.
As all SF2 figures did, Chun-Li came with a big “weapons tree” that housed her accessories. Hers are cast in bright yellow plastic, matching the accents on her costume. 1993 Ninja Force Scarlett came with the same accessories in a slightly different yellow color and, as I’m sort of color blind, it’s possible that I’m showcasing Scarlett’s accessories below instead of Chun-Li’s. Please forgive me.
1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li comes with a scimitar, a long sword, a broad sword, nunchaku, a dagger, and two claws all rendered in yellow plastic. It’s nice that she came with two claws, since Vega (the only SF2 character who needs a weapon) didn’t come with any. Being the kind person she is, I’m sure she’s willing to share. Though maybe not with Vega, since he has wronged her in some horrifying ways.
The accessories are pretty nice, even if Chun-Li isn’t known for using weapons. You can always give them to other figures, like Vega. I really like this particular scimitar for some reason, so I tend to pose or display the figure it. I sometimes use the dagger, as well. It’s a cool little weapon.
The accessories are also a plus in that you probably don’t need them if you just want to put Chun-Li on a shelf with your other figures. The character isn’t really one for using swords, so you might not need a complete version if you just want her in your collection.
Chun-Li was, of course, not made with all-original body parts. Of the SF2 GI Joe figures, only Sagat, E. Honda, and Dhalsim were 100% new sculpts. Everyone else used various parts from either older figures or Ninja Force figures from 1992 or 1993.
From the neck down, Chun-Li uses the same body as 1993 Ninja Force Scarlett. It’s wild how much the unique head sculpts and different colors set them apart. They’re mostly the same figure if you scrutinize them, but they look wildly different at a glance.
As my friend RTG from Attica Gazette once mentioned, it’s doubtful that Hasbro would have released Scarlett in 1993 if Chun-Li wasn’t also in the works. It’s difficult to say whether Scarlett was planned first or Chun-Li was planned first, but it’s a pretty safe bet that Hasbro counted on Chun-Li being the higher-selling figure. Even if you were an 8 year old boy who thought girls were icky (and buying a female action figure would turn you into a serial killer. Thanks, Todd) you still probably thought Chun-Li was a badass. You might have been indifferent to Scarlett, though.
Regardless, I’m glad both figures got made despite the parts-sharing.
Chun-Li was also repainted into a red color scheme and included with the aforementioned Beast Blaster. That’s also a nice looking figure, but it doesn’t have the iconic qualities of the blue single-carded release.
The vehicle driver version is a bit tougher to find and a bit pricier on the aftermarket. If you’re a huge fan of the color red and irrationally hate the color blue, I’m sorry I broke the news to you. Please stop hacking my minecraft server. I’m only the messenger.
So, three separate figures used this body mold in one calendar year, which is pretty wild even for Hasbro.
It’s even wilder that they used this mold three times in one year because, as a GI Joe action figure, this toy honestly kind of fucking sucks.
And that’s because of its action feature.
Chun-Li, in Capcom’s video games, is known for kicking. She kicks fast and she kicks hard and she messes people up using the power of her legs and feet. It’s kind of her main deal. So, Hasbro probably thought “Let’s give her a kicking action feature! Kids will love it because it’s exactly like the games!” (This is another aspect of the toy that makes me think this figure was initially designed as Chun-Li and Scarlett came later)
But, boy howdy, the action feature itself is a bummer even if Hasbro’s heart was in the right place. It completely neuters the figure’s leg and waist articulation, and she ends up on the lower end of “Kenner Star Wars” movement below the belt. Her legs can move forward and bend at the knee, but that’s it.
The feature itself is also a little touchy and unpredictable. Play-worn copies of the toy have a hard time just standing up without a figure stand. It’s a bad scene.
Plus, in the games, Chun-Li does not kick straight ahead. She kicks like a martial artist. The feature does not replicate her move set at all. It just makes the toy unreliable and hard to play with.
A Chun-Li figure with some sort of spring-loaded arm gimmick and regular legs would have been much better for replicating her move set from the game.
Hasbro realized this fact in 1994 when they released the movie version of the character. And, with all apologies to the 93 version, the movie version is better in every single way.
The 1994 SF movie Chun-Li was a “holy grail” item for me for many years, just because I love the character and wanted a better version of her in GI Joe style and scale. That figure delivers on every front. She can kick however you want her to! She can stand up, sit down, and strike a pose. She even looks much more like the video game character (and much less like the movie character).
If I ever find that figure’s accessories on the secondary market, she’ll get a full review. But just know that she is better than her 93 counterpart in every single way, even if she is expensive and hard to find.
So, now that we’ve exhaustively discussed the figure, let’s discuss the character– how does Chun-Li fit in with GI Joe? Pretty well, actually! She’s an Interpol agent who’s trying to take down a dictator and his terrorist organization. I can’t think of a much better fit for GI Joe than that.
Integrating GI Joe and Street Fighter isn’t that much of a stretch, as whole. You can easily imagine a big underground fighting tournament full of colorful weirdos existing in the world of GI Joe. You might not be able to picture these people channeling their Chi or Hot Yoga Power or whatever to throw fireballs and electrocute their opponents, but I think it works pretty well overall.
And Chun-Li, as a hyper-competent Interpol agent with years of intense martial arts training, fits better than almost any other SF character. Plus, this figure looks really nice alongside many of the GI Joe Ninja Force figures, as well.
In the end, I love Chun-Li as a character and I like this figure. It looks great– the colors are wonderful and the sculpt is fantastic. The weapons are good, even if they aren’t strictly necessary. The action feature renders her much less functional than most other GI Joe toys, though, which is a problem. It’s not a dealbreaker for me, but I wish the toy wasn’t saddled with it. I do think there’s more good than bad when it comes to 1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li, but it’s up to you to decide whether you agree with me or not.
Overall: This is a cool looking action figure with a great sculpt and striking colors. The weapons are good, even if you don’t use them with Chun-Li specifically. And, if you don’t have her accessories, it’s no big deal because she doesn’t really need them. The action feature is a huge bummer, though, which kills the figure’s articulation and makes the toy less stable over time. Though a superior Chun-Li was released in 1994, it’s expensive and hard to find. Even though I enjoy this toy, it’s Mildly Recommended at best.
Closing Thoughts on 1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li
Thanks for joining me today. I had fun writing this one. The photos were taken quickly during a very hot weekend last summer– the inside of my house was at least 95 degrees, despite air conditioning. So they’re probably not my best work. But they are photos of a toy!
In my absence, I’ve noticed a few 1990s-themed GI Joe social media accounts pop up. Some are even doing reviews. Which is fair enough, since there’s an obvious interest there and I am by no means the arbiter of or gatekeeper for GI Joe in the 90s. Mike T., for example, was doing this way before I was.
But I hope you’ll still stick with me as I sporadically post these 90s GI Joe toy reviews (and other 90s toys). I might not be the freshest face in town anymore, but hopefully I’m still doing something you enjoy.
As always, thanks for reading.
What do you think of Chun-Li? What’s your least favorite GI Joe action feature? Let me know in the comments!