1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li Review

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

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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:

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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)

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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.

Additional Resources:

Closing Thoughts on 1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li

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!

16 thoughts on “1993 GI Joe Street Fighter 2 Chun-Li Review

  1. Corpscommandercody

    I jumped when the email published. Good to see another review! I sorta forgot the 94 SF2 figures existed except for Vega and his ridiculous arm, so seeing the other Chun Li was amazing. Great stuff here!

    Incidentally, I have a few reviews I’m thinking of tackling… should I send the ideas to you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Cody! I love movie Vega because he’s so hilarious. It’s a perfect Vega figure in every way except they gave him a mutant Shogun Warriors extendo-arm, which ruins the entire thing in the most delightful way. It’s such a joy.

      You are welcome to publish something here literally anytime you want. The door is always open for you.

      Like

  2. So that scimitar could also arguably be a Chinese dao– basically a big-ass single-bladed saber. Which would be fitting for Chun Li to use if she were to go beyond fists and feet.

    Also! Apparently IDW put out a ‘Street Fighter vs. GI Joe’ comic back in 2016. I’ve only read the first issue, but it’s pretty silly. You’d prolly dig it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by and schooling me on swords! You’re probably right about what it is. I just always thought it was a scimitar since Snake Eyes v2 kind of used a scimitar and this particular sword came with his Ninja Force version, as well. I always kind of thought it was made with him in mind and everyone else got the runoff. But I was probably wrong the entire time. I need to go back to Sword School.

      A friend gifted me the whole run of that comic many years ago. I thought it was pretty fun! And it is, as you said, silly as hell. Which is exactly why it’s fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hah! Didn’t mean to be “that guy” about swords. I’ve just watched too many kung fu movies, I guess. In all likelihood some designer at Hasbro was just like ‘yep, that sword looks ninja-y’ and didn’t think about it much beyond that.

        Though now I’m vaguely thinking about the accessory sculpts for some of these guys. Like, didn’t some version of Storm Shadow come with those claws?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You weren’t “that guy” at all. If there’s one thing I enjoy learning about, it’s swords. Someone who did not care about swords wouldn’t be dedicating his time to a website about plastic dolls who come with plastic swords, after all!

        And yep! The claw originally came with Storm Shadow v2 and was used a bunch in 93. Then, in 94, it got retooled for the worse (it used a handle instead of clipping onto the arm) for Shadow Ninjas. Then the original version got used many times in the 00s Repaint Era. Ninja Force and Street Fighter reused a lot of accessories in 1993, but they did produce a few new molds as well, such as the not-scimitar and the dagger.

        Storm Shadow v2’s bow got reused a bunch, too, but I don’t think his sword or backpack ever saw any reuse.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I immediately ignored all figures with the legs like that (like Ninja Force Snake Eyes). Back then, I was STRONGLY in the camp that said “I don’t need my toys to play for me”, since all my Joes had been doing ninja moves for years, without help.

    Naturally, like with many toys from that era, my view has softened over time. Mostly though, my view changed when I actually got Ninja Force Scarlett in-hand. The legs are limited, but beyond that, she looks fantastic! She even has the best Scarlett head sculpt in the whole vintage line (which isn’t much of a contest, but it is what it is).

    Chun-Li, of course, was ignored for the reasons above, but I’ve softened on that view as well! This review alone shows the striking colors and that awesome head sculpt. I bet I would have been disappointed with it as a kid, but would have used it anyway, because I had no female figures.

    As for Street Fighter Joes as a whole: I mostly bypassed them for Mortal Kombat Joes. My focus was on getting those ninjas! Still, my friend had some Street Fighter guys, and M. Bison was a very welcome extra badguy leader, along with Blanka being an all-around useful monster to pair with my Toxo-Zombie. I didn’t get my hands on most of the Street Fighter guys until the last few years, and I really feel like I missed out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      I tolerated action figures as a kid, but I seldom loved them. Most Ninja Force figures were fine with me (and were some of my favorites) but I completely ignored their spring-powered martial arts moves. We’re similar in that way– I didn’t need my toys to do ninja moves for me. I could do it on my own. My view on the whole reduced articulation thing has softened, too, but it’s still a bummer when a toy like this isn’t as good as it could have been.

      I had more MK figures than SF figures as a kid. I had three of the ninjas and Liu Kang. Sonya followed shortly thereafter. I think I just saw them more often than the Street Fighter figures, because I liked both games and the lore around them about equally.

      I almost always used the SF and MK figures as original characters when they interacted with my GI Joe collection. My friend had the Blue M. Bison, and he was a great non-Cobra foe for GI Joe to fight. It seems like we were on the same page!

      Like

  4. animatedtako

    Funnily enough, I still have her weapon tree totally intact. By the time I got her, I think I just had so many copies of that weapon set that I must not have bothered with them. Or, maybe I came to the same conclusion that she didn’t need any weapons to kick ass.

    I used her pretty much as you described, as a kind of linking point between the two worlds along with Guile. She constantly took part in monthly Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat vs. Ninja Force tournaments.

    I’d love to get my hands on the movie figure, she and Blanka are the movie figures I wanted that slipped my grasp. (I can live without the HQ Bison, and have no illusions about having Ryu) I know I held her in my hands at least once at a KB toys, but walked out with Dhalsim and Balrog instead since I didn’t have the 93 versions of them. That place was absolutely stacked full of Street Fighter movie figures at a discount, to the point where I was confident I could come back and get them next time. Lesson learned! I’m at least happy that I have some version of every World Warrior between the two lines.

    Now we just need to get Hasbro and Capcom cozy again before this O-ring revival fades out. I need a Cammy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by!

      I think I only had this weapons tree with Scarlett as a kid, and I don’t remember using it much for some reason. I just don’t have any strong childhood associations with it.

      I do remember seeing lots of SF movie toys at KB for sure, but they were almost all versions of Guile. And I think by that point I was usually looking for either X-Men or Exosquad when I went to KB, since the main GI Joe line was pretty much dead so I wasn’t as interested in the non-branded extensions of it. My loss! Some of the SF Movie stuff is absolutely amazing. I’d love to get more of it.

      Funny enough, if you look at movie Chun-Li’s legs, they were obviously intended to be reused for Cammy, too. I’m really sad she never got made– she was even pictured on one of the vehicle boxes. I think an o-ring, GI Joe style Cammy is maybe my biggest want from everything that never got released in the vintage ARAH era.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. pat

    I had this figure and let me tell you, if one of the tiny peg-nubs that holds the head in place wears down or breaks off, you end up with a Chun-Li whose head is actively sinking into her shoulders.

    Like

  6. Sam Smith

    You’re back, at least for this one post!! *lets out quiet hooray*

    The pic of Chung-Li with Dojo and T’Jbang moves my imagination. I had the NF figures as a kid and my neighbor had SF Chung-Li. But we never put them together! 🤦‍♂️ What a missed opportunity.

    Now I’m checking prices online to see if I can construct a blue and yellow ninja crew of my own.

    Like

  7. When I was a kid, I used Chun-Li in some pretty weird ways. Especially given that I knew the character, but I saw this toy as a different individual, maybe since she looked so much different. Much of the time, Chun-Li became a spy and a double agent, working for Cobra and whoever else. If her cover was blown, she’d pull the pin on that grenade and blow herself up, as a suicide bomber. I really don’t know what turned her into a fanatical villain in my mind, but that’s how she ended up!

    The kicking gimmick sucks, but despite that, I really don’t hate this mold. It’s a nice outfit and there’s so much detail it sort of makes up for it. Chun-Li’s head is fantastic like you mention, and I’d go as far as to say it might be the best female GI Joe head sculpt.

    I like that fourth picture with the iron-eagle background a lot. It reminds me of the first Kamen Rider series.

    Like

  8. I just couldn’t get into the Ninja Force and Street Fighter figures. The Street Fighter stuff hung around quite a while in my area and were among the last figures to sell out. I’d look at them each night I went to Toys R Us. But, I’d never pull the trigger. I didn’t really regret it for a long time, either.

    Now, I see more value in them. But, this Chun-Li/Scarlett mold is pretty bad. The blocky legs really do a number on the aesthetics. Hasbro got their money’s worth on the mold, though. And, you and RTG are probably right in that the only reason this figure happened is due to the mold reusage.

    On some level, it’s a shame we never got a Shadow Ninja’s version of the figure. It would have been weird. And, more weird figures is always good.

    Like

  9. A-Man

    Well, the mock-ups for Street Fighter 2 toys use a recolored Ninja Force Scarlett, head and all with those things glued on. So Scarlett was sculpted first, anyway, with who knows if SF2 figures were greenlit when she was designed…maybe when she was approved, maybe that planned reuse is what got her approved after years of no female characters. Hasbro was definitely thinking about mold costs (look at how many Battle Corps figures reused old legs) Also, according to GI JOE Declassified’s newsletters, 1995’s (cancelled) line would’ve repainted new molds in the same year, a new Baroness would’ve gotten two color schemes, so would “Flint”, “Footloose” and Mindbender.

    Which is funny considering they invested in some new Street Fighter movie molds, some that saw spotty distribution. (Ryu was never mass produced at all!)

    I think I said before I no interest in SF2 before they became GI JOE toys. That got to be play the arcade game a few times, but I stink at those games.

    Like

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