Millions. I repeat: millions of people were rocked by G. I. Joe. If you grew up in the 80's, you were already part of the G. I. Joe crew - whether you were a fan or not. The sheer popularity of the show, and the action figures, made the Joes such a loud, loud part of popular culture that you simply couldn't get by without hearing of them (at least).
I am a total G. I. Joe fan - yet, I believe I became a fan due more to the action figures as opposed to the cartoon series. The variety of figures, their accessories and their back-stories were such great selling points that I, as an over-active and over-imaginative kid, could not resist. And I am such a generic fan that I have my own favorites. I bet you do too, dear readers. But to me...
...Snake Eyes was the coolest to the core. Cliche ? Shut up.
Snake-Eyes's real name, place of birth, and most other information about him have remained classified throughout all of his origins. All we known for certain is that he holds the rank of U.S. Army Sergeant First Class and has undergone Drill Instructor training. He is also the team's resident hand-to-hand combat instructor. Very little about his past has ever been revealed.
He was originally billed by Hasbro Toys in 1982 as a 'Commando', but by 1984, (only in the pages of Marvel Comics) it became clear that he was also a full-fledged ninja master.
Snake-Eyes is quiet in movement and swift and deadly in multiple martial arts. He is equally qualified with the use standard weapons like firearms and explosives. Even more dangerous is the fact that he has never relied on just one set of weapons. Snake-Eyes usually wears black military-ninja bodysuits, along with balaclavas or visors to cover his face, which was disfigured in a combat-related accident. Since then, Snake-Eyes has had extensive plastic surgery to repair the damage, but he still has one or two scars left. The same accident damaged his vocal cords and left him unable to speak - leaving us with that strong but sensitive feel for the guy (really?).
When shown out of his uniform, Snake-Eyes is around six feet tall, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He has a pet wolf named Timber that has appeared several times in toys, comics, and animation. And, just to show that he's not all about the blood and killing, Snake-Eyes is romantically involved with fellow G.I. Joe member Master Sergeant Shana M. O'Hara, a.k.a. Scarlett.
If we look at his current Hasbro product line participation, he has had just about 28 different figure portrayals. That is a heck of a lot of versions and the chances are, if you had some G. I. Joe figures, you probably had at least one version of the Snake.
Snake-Eyes was one of the original figures created for the 3 3/4 inch G.I. Joe toy line in 1982. The 'Version 2' released in 1985 remains one of the most popular figures among collectors.
A common element in almost all those cool Snake-Eyes figures is that his face is covered, and he is both a ninja and a commando. He has been packaged three times with his wolf, Timber, and is most frequently paired with Storm Shadow (that dastardly white Cobra ninja) when released in multi-packs. Snake-Eyes has been a member of many sub-lines of the G.I. Joe line, such as Ninja Force and Shadow Ninjas. He has also been released in several Hasbro multi-packs such as the Heavy Assault Squad, Winter Operations, and the Desert Patrol Squad Toys 'R' Us exclusive.
From 200 onwards, Hasbro began experimenting with their action figure designs, and sadly to say, this left them (at times) lost with too many colors and gimmicks. Old school was the best school, as my Granpa always says. So, Snake Eyes began to stop looking like how he was depicted above.
The very, very exciting news is that Snake Eyes is featured in the G.I. Joe team 5 pack for the 25th Anniversary. He is featured as a Commando, design-focused directly on his very first design. And, believe me, I have been actively searching for them and, as of so far, have not heard any word on where to find these awesome anniversary figures.
For a totally detailed background of Snake Eyes, check out:
The G. I. Joe Character Guide: Snake Eyes
Enjoy, super-fans, and watch your back.