Vincent Santelmo’s “Official Identification and Price Guide” from 1999 is still a must-own for collectors and fans of GIjOE. It’s full of great information, closeup color photos and much more. (Photo: Krause Publications)
*OR: Everything you ever wanted to know about GIjOE books, but were afraid to ask…
Fans and collectors are busy creating them. Even more are buying them. They’re collected and arranged prominently on well-lit shelves in dens and offices throughout the world. But we’re NOT talking about GIjOEs here. We’re talking about BOOKS that have been written about GIjOE. Surprisingly, the amount of literature that’s been written and published about “America’s Movable Fighting Man” is quite extensive—and impressive.
Long before today’s modern RAH version, these vintage 1950s Korean War-era G.I. Joe comic books flew off of newsstands everywhere. Fortunately, these ultra-rare editions are now being professionally scanned and retouched for online digital viewing, preserving them for generations to come. (Photo: Ziff Davis Publications)
We’re talking about everything from pocket-sized pricing guides, to traditional and “photo story” comic books, official histories and “biographies,” fan-fictions and even serious academic studies and publications. A simple Google search quickly revealed dozens of titles, many of which have probably flown under your collecting “radar.” And while most of them are directly concerned with our favorite 12″ action figure, some are only coincidentally related, utilizing its popular name merely as a marketing ploy. Let’s take a look at some of the titles currently available…
GIjOE: The Story Behind the Legend (Photo: Chronicle Books)
GIjOE: The Story Behind the Legend
Don Levine and John Michlig, 1999
This delightful, hard-cover book details the earliest days of GIjOE’s creation by the people at Hasbro who did the actual work and includes numerous photos of the line’s earliest prototypes, not commonly available elsewhere. If you own only one book about the history and creation of GIjOE, this should be the one. It’s well written, superbly designed and a heck of a lot of fun to read! Display it proudly alongside your collection.
FUN FACTS: Originally packaged and sold with a reproduction “Masterpiece Edition” figure, this Don Levine classic was published with SIX different covers. In the spirit of “collecting them all,” many fans immediately went out and purchased all six of the (expensive) book and figure sets—just to get those different covers. <ahem>
The New Official Identification Guide to GIjOE (Photo: James DeSimone)
The New Official Identification Guide to GIjOE
Self-published by James DeSimone, 1993
While not perfect, this handy, magazine-style collector’s guide is full of helpful, full-color photographs showing all of the pieces contained in individual figure, vehicle and equipment sets. Since its publication, similar guides have come along and challenged, but never completely replaced, this unique book’s revered and important place in our hobby. My personal copy is well-worn and dog-eared from years of heavy use. New copies are getting scarce, so be sure to get one today over at Cotswold.
FUN FACTS: The last 4 pages of DeSimone’s book include photographs of rarely seen GIjOE products including an inflatable submarine and scuba diver, Picturama Rub-Ons, all of the kid-sized play gear and MUCH more.
GIjOE in World War II (Photo: Compass Point Books)
GIjOE in World War II
Sharon Cromwell, 2009
It’s not about a toy. It’s about the Real McCoy. This book is a wonderful account of America’s fighting man during WW2. Targeted towards youngsters, the publisher describes this hardcover thusly… “As the United Stated entered World War II, a large percentage of the U.S. soldiers, dubbed G.I. Joes, were drafted. Equipped only with the necessary items of survival, the G.I.s endured harsh conditions while fighting DEADLY enemies. From the beaches of Normandy to the jungles of southeast Asia, the G.I.s helped turn the tide of war.”
FUN FACTS: In addition to numerous, high-quality wartime photographs, there’s a section towards the end where “several pages are dedicated to GIjOE in U.S. Culture.” Sound like anyone we know? Regardless of your age, this GIjOE-related book sounds like a winner and is for sale HERE.
GIjOE and Other Backyard Heroes (Photo: Schiffer Publishing)
GIjOE and Other Backyard Heroes
John Marshall, 1997
Mr. Marshall is clearly a product of the 1970s and the Adventure Team. This wonderful soft-cover book features a plethora of color photos, descriptions and insight. Marshall’s guide goes beyond GIjOE to cover Mego, Big Jim, Universal Monsters, Johnny West and even Star Wars figures before finally calling it quits. The photos alone make this book a definite “keeper.”
FUN FACT: One of the few books to include quality closeup photographs of rare ’70s figures such as The Lone Ranger, Archie, Battlestar Galactica, Space 1999, Electroman, Mighty Max, ROM, Buck Hunter and more!
GIjOE in France (Photo: Praeger Security International)
GIjOE in France: From Normandy to Berchtesgaden
J. E. Kaufmann, 2008
Another history book that prominently features the GIjOE name in its title and yet has little if anything to do with GIjOE the toy. This one is all about the REAL American Heroes who liberated France and Europe from Nazi domination. According to the publisher… “This book chronicles the experience of the World War II paratroopers from their earliest days in training to final days of the war spent at Berchtesgaden. Relying heavily on memoirs, letters, and personal interviews with soldiers, this work highlights the rigors of training, the spectacle of combat, and the relief of survival and victory. Along the way, the book details the struggle faced by American G.I.s as they made their way through France. Ultimately, this is a very personal story about struggle and triumph, told by those who endured the hardship of combat.” Sounds like a good read. Available from Amazon HERE.
One of the oldest of its kind, the 1990 “GIjOE Value Guide” by Carol Moody is still available for sale online and features many useful photos and bits of information. Question #1…What’s up with that Man of Action’s hair? WHOA. Worst flocking job EVER? Purchase from Amazon HERE. (Photo: Hobby House)
Anne of Green Gables vs. GIjOE (Photo: ECW Press)
Anne of Green Gables vs. GIjOE
Allan Gould, 2003
It sounds like a boxing or wrestling match between two unlikely opponents. But in reality, it’s just the title of another book utilizing the name GIjOE; this time as the LARGEST word on its front cover. We haven’t read it, but by the publisher’s description, it’s clearly intended as a humorous book of lifestyle and political comparisons…“Was it better that our ancestors chose to migrate to Canada, or should they have gone to the U.S.? Snow and ice and high taxes? Or unaffordable health care, guns in kindergarten, and great weather? The Canadian Dream is to pay a serviceman in cash to avoid the GST, to go to Hawaii (if you live in B.C.), and to be able to move to the U.S. to make real dollars.”
FUN FACT: We discovered that you can buy a copy of Gould’s book for as little as 1 CENT(!) on THIS PAGE on Amazon. At that price, how will Mr. Gould will ever afford to move to the U.S?
The Collectible GIjOE (Photo: Courage Books)
The Collectible GIjOE
Derryl DePriest, 1999
I have to admit something right up front about this magnificent book. And that is—I’ve never read it. I’ve owned a copy for YEARS, but I simply can’t get past the stunningly beautiful “photographic artistry” of Curtis Fukada. (Sorry, Derryl). To me, it’s Fukada’s photography that MAKES this book so important (and so great). In stark contrast to DeSimone’s dim, utilitarian photos, each of Fukada’s sumptuous pictures are carefully planned, professionally staged and well-lit. The vintage GIjOEs depicted are stunning and nearly all are in mint condition. I’m sure DePriest’s text is great too. Someday, I hope to read it. (Damn you, Fukada! HA) Buy your copy HERE.
FUN FACT: If you can bring yourself to cut pages out of this oversized (9.5″ x 13″) coffee table book, many collectors have found that Fukada’s full-page color photos make OUTSTANDING framed mini-posters for a Joe Room. We suggest you buy an EXTRA copy just for that purpose!
Real American Heroes: The History of the GIjOE Franchise (Photo: Webster’s Digital Services)
Real American Heroes: The History of the GIjOE Franchise
SB Jeffrey, 2011
Here’s an interesting new addition for your GIjOE library. Author SB Jeffrey’s 2011 account of the GIjOE franchise is actually a compilation of a series of public domain articles from sources like Wikipedia and elsewhere. Think of it more as a sort of “Cliff Notes” guide to the GIjOE universe and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. According to the publisher… “The content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. This book is about the history of the G.I. Joe franchise, from television to action figures. The book also discusses animated series, comics, toy lines, and movies.“
FUN FACT: Of course, as longtime GIjOE fans and collectors, we’ve probably already read (or written) whatever is in this collection of articles. But I have to admit…that cover ROCKS! Available HERE.
The Ultimate Guide to GIjOE (Photo: Krause Publications)
The Ultimate Guide to GIjOE, 2nd Edition
Mark Bellomo, 2009
With a title like that, this 304-page behemoth MUST be good. To find out, I perused some of the 29 (and counting) reviews written on Amazon. As it’s geared towards collectors of the “Little Joes,” I probably won’t ever own this particular book, but according to S. Sander’s review found HERE… “I didn’t even know about the 1st version, but I followed the development of the second edition with eagerness (even pre-ordered at Amazon). This edition features full-color pages with crisp photos and behind-the-scenes information compiled and written by a true collector. The images are close and sharp – the next best thing to having an item in your hands.“
FUN FACT: The guide also includes “inside” info and tidbits from Larry Hama, who was the writer of the G.I. Joe Marvel comic books, creator of many 3 3/4″ characters and writer of the figure’s filecards.
GIjOE & Lillie
(Photo: New Leaf Press)
GIjOE & Lillie
Joseph S. Bonsall, 2003
This is a wartime novel written by a member of The Oak Ridge Boys musical group, Joseph Bonsall. Mr. Bonsall is a six-time Grammy award winner and Gospel Hall of Fame member who, when he’s not performing, writes books and lives on a 400-acre farm in Tennessee. Available HERE, the book also includes a foreword by Barbara Bush, and according to its publisher… “The 1944 D-Day landings preserved freedom all over the world and affected countless individual lives including G.I. Joe and his wife, Lillie. This story of patriotism, bravery abroad and at home, and most of all, deep commitment, sets in a gold frame the very essence of America.”
FUN FACT: There’s also a song called “G.I. Joe and Lillie,” as recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys, and it appears on their album entitled, “Colors.”
GIjOE: The Complete Story of America’s Favorite Man of Action (Photo: Chronicle Books)
GIjOE: The Complete Story of America’s Favorite Man of Action
John Michlig, 1998, with a foreword by Don Levine
This massive tome is an over-the-top, EXCELLENT follow-up to the first book co-authored by Levine and Michlig. In this oversized, coffee table book, every possible stop is pulled out. Photographs and illustrations are all full-bleed, full color, full-frame GORGEOUS. If you want to know something about the early days of GIjOE’s development, this is the book to own. It is simply superb in every way. You WILL own this book. Originally a $30 book, you can get a copy for only $6 over at Amazon HERE. Enjoy!
FUN FACT: You may have a heart attack when you see the 1970s GIjOE store display on p. 173. (’nuff said!)
Action Man Files (Photo: Watson-Guptill)
Action Man Files
John Michlig, 2001
First of all, will someone PLEASE explain to us why this book, a simple, 48-page paperback ranges in price from .48 cents to $256 dollars over on Amazon? Are you freakin’ kidding? We like Michlig’s work as much as anybody else, but $256 for a paperback? You can buy it for just .99 cents HERE. Weird! We love the cover art, but this is still just a book for kids. According to its publisher, the book is… “An official tie-in to Hasbro’s popular line of action figures and the Fox Kids animated series, this treasury contains Action Man characters, equipment, abilities and adventures for fans of all ages. 100 illustrations plus 3 posters.”
FUN FACT: Like we said, you can spend $256 for this book over on Amazon—OR get 256 copies of it for the same price at the other site. When you figure out why this is, please let us know.
Toy Wars (Photo: Diane Publishing Co.)
Toy Wars: The Epic Struggle Between GIjOE, Barbie and the Companies That Make Them
G. Wayne Miller, 2001
Here’s an engrossing account of the ongoing corporate battles between Hasbro and Mattel. According to the publisher… “Wayne Miller, an award-winning journalist and novelist, was granted unprecedented access to Hasbro. For five years, he sat in on design sessions, marketing meetings, and focus groups, and interviewed employees in every part of the company. He witnessed a major corporate restructuring; a hostile takeover bid by archrival Mattel; the collapse of a $45 million virtual reality game; and the company makeover of G.I. Joe, Hasbro’s flagship product and one of the most popular toys of all time.”
FUN FACT: Our favorite reviewer quote about this book is as follows: “Unlike the happy-go-lucky image of the toy industry shown in the movie “Big” starring Tom Hanks, the real toy industry is for adults-only and bears more resemblance to a killing field than a playground.” Ouch. Clearly an intriguing book fans of GIjOE would enjoy. We found a few copies for sale HERE,
The Official 30th Anniversary Salute to GIjOE (Photo: Krause Publications)
The Official 30th Anniversary Salute to GIjOE
Vincent Santelmo, 1994
It’s been a few years, but when it came out, I remember that fan response to this book was initially mixed, even tepid. It appears that it still is. This review on Amazon is fairly typical of a majority of collector’s impressions… “Basically an abridged copy of his “Complete Encyclopedia to GI Joe,” Vince fills this book with Hall of Fame figures and his own biased opinions. If you want good research, buy the book by John Michlig. If you want Adventure Team, buy John Marshall’s book. If you need something to hold up a wobbly table, wait until this shows up at the discount book store.”
FUN FACT: Thanks to Amazon, you can spend as little as $3.26 on this book to find out for yourself whether it’s “official,” or simply a support for your wobbly table.
Now You Know: The Unauthorized Guide to G.I. Joe TV and Comics (Photo: Norwegian Press)
Now You Know: The Unauthorized Guide to GIjOE TV & Comics
Lars Pearson, 2002
Here’s a WHOPPER of a book for fans of the 1980s’ GIjOE cartoons and comic books. Weighing in at 1.6 pounds and a staggering 336 pages, this book has EVERYTHING you’d ever want to know about those subjects. (Available for purchase HERE.) According to the publisher’s description… “The largest book on G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero ever written, this comprehensive and witty book is the ultimate guide to the G.I. Joe TV and comic book series, featuring story summaries, reviews, top ten lists and a heap of humorous categories on more than 100 G.I. Joe TV episodes. Also included: full coverage of all G.I. Joe comic series, a complete toy price guide and fact-filled appendices.”
FUN FACT: According to reviewer Jason Terrell, “If there were college courses dedicated solely to the subject of GI Joe and COBRA, this would be the one stop textbook on the subject and Lars Pearson would have the Doctorate in Joeology.”
Collectible Male Action Figures (Photo: Collector Books)
Collectible Male Action Figures
Paris and Susan Manos, 1989
Here’s a “Blast from the Past.” One of the first-ever guides featuring GIjOEs, this book will really take you back. Of course, by now, its information will strike you as severely dated and almost nostalgic. But how can you resist ANYTHING with a proud U.S. Navy Signalman GIjOE on the front cover? Look at him. Go NAVY! And since you can pick up a used copy for as little as .1 cent HERE
, what’s the risk? GO JOE!
FUN FACT: According to Amazon, this book ranks “#3,336,447 in Books.” So…if you order one, maybe we can boost its rank up to #3,336,446!
Action Joe: The Story of the French GIjOE (Photo: Histoire and Collections)
Action Joe: The Story of the French GIjOE
Erwin le Verbier, 2004
Okay, show of hands please…Who of you out there even knew there was a “French GIjOE” named “Action Joe?” Mm-hm. Thought so. Well then, this book ought to be quite the eye-opener for a lot of Joe fans who thought they knew it all. Jump HERE
to order a copy, Monsieur.
FUN FACT: Apparently, the book’s original French text wasn’t translated very well. According to one review… “Although the photos and the contents are absolutely incredible, it is really unfortunate that a publisher would allow such a poorly translated book to hit the market. If you are fluent in French, I strongly recommend purchasing this book in its original format. But English-speaking buyers beware!!“
Action Man: The Real Story (Photo: Cairo Cafe Publications)
Action Man: The Real Story
Kevin King, 2000
While we’re on the subject of foreign GIjOEs, how about this fine hardcover book? I’ve owned a copy of this gem for many years and constantly refer to it whenever my fellow collectors have any questions regarding the “British GIjOE.” In many ways, Action Man went on to surpass GIjOE in many of his uniforms and other details. This book covers (in perfect English) AM’s various figures, uniforms and vehicles. You’ll be stunned (and jealous) to see all the great stuff our “friends across the pond” were able to pick up at Harrod’s. This is another must-own book for your growing “Joe library.” Order your copy HERE.
FUN FACT: This UK book also covers the amazing line of Cherilea vehicles and the very obscure, but very cool knock-off brand: Tommy Gunn!
12-Inch Action Figures (Photo: Historie Collections)
12-Inch Action Figures
Jean Marie Mongin, 2004
This is an excellent book for fans who enjoy creating and photographing hyper-realistic 1:6 scale figures and dioramas. It’s chocked full of clear, full-color closeups, tips and other helpful information. If making figures look like “museum pieces” is your thing, this is a book you’ll enjoy having around. Available HERE. According to the publisher… “This is the first of a new sub-series of full color graphic books depicting everything from uniforms to aircraft types, in minute detail with many variants. Illustrated throughout in full color, this will be an essential book for the modeller and hobbyist.”
FUN FACT: There are two other books in this growing series; one on German Fallschirmjager paratroopers, and another on US Airborne.
The Complete Encyclopedia to GIjOE (Photo: Krause Publications)
The Complete Encyclopedia to GIjOE, 2nd Edition
Vincent Santelmo, 1997
This book is MASSIVE and weighs in at a whopping 480 pages—but we LOVE IT! It’s chocked full of photos, backstories, comic ad reprints and other interesting tidbits of GIjOE history and information. The printing quality is just average, some of the facts and content are questionable and all of the pricing information is now outdated and irrelevant, but who cares? Other books may be better, but this one deserves a place on your “Joe library” shelf. Oh, by the way…Santelemo’s estimated value of a White Tiger set in 1997? ($245). Order HERE.
FUN FACT: All 10 of the vintage “Andy and George” comic book ads are reprinted in the back; a feature unique to this particular book and helpful as a “visual guide” when searching for the originals.
The Complete Encyclopedia to GIjOE, 3rd Ed. (Krause Publications)
The Complete Encyclopedia to GIjOE, 3rd Edition
Vincent Santelmo, 2001
Santelmo’s third time at bat “struck out” with many die-hard GIjOE fans. For unknown reasons, the author decided to recreate some of the prototypes shown in this edition, leading to irritation and confusion among collectors as to what was real and what had been “faked.” The misrepresentation of material (intentional or not) made the 3rd edition of Santelmo’s “Encyclopedias” one version many fans were in no hurry to pick up. Available HERE
FUN FACT: With 592 pages, this tome weighs in at a staggering 3 POUNDS and remains the longest and heaviest GIjOE book ever published.
Warman’s GIjOE Field Guide
(Photo: KP Books)
Warman’s GIjOE Field Guide
Karen O’Brien, 2006
This handy-dandy little “pocket guide” is a fan favorite amongst GIjOE collectors, and the reasons why are obvious. It’s REALLY small (4.25″ x 5.25″ x 1″). It’s full of great color photos (over 700!). And it covers many of the vintage, RAH, and HOF figures. Of course, it doesn’t cover everything, but for a small pocket guide, it’s pretty sweet. Available HERE.
FUN FACT: If the photos seem familiar, check the fine print: “All images courtesy of Vincent Santelmo.”
Collectible Action Figures (Photo:
Collectible Action Figures
Susan Manos, 1995
Six years after her first guide,“Male Action Figures” (shown above), Susan “Hands of Fate” Manos released this updated version repeating her effort to cover a variety of brands in one book. According to one review… “This book provides information and pictures on a few lines that may be hard to find elsewhere (i.e., Big Jim and The Six Million Dollar Man), but there is no mention of Star Wars and very little about Mego. I did enjoy going through this book ONCE; but I haven’t found the need to open it again.”
FUN FACT: Manos’ 2nd attempt is only $2.64 HERE.
Collecting & Completing Your GI Joe Figures and Accessories (Photo: Cardillo Publishing)
Collecting and Completing Your GIjOE Figures and Accessories
James DeSimone, 2008
DeSimone returns to the GIjOE guide business with this 118-page book that is obviously geared towards collectors of the smaller, 3.75″ GIjOEs. It follows the same approach as his highly lauded guide for 12″ vintage figures, but reviews are mixed due to its less-than-stellar printing. Nonetheless, most collectors find it to very helpful when attempting to complete their collections.
FUN FACT: In a HILARIOUS typo, Amazon describes the book this way… “In this book, the first in an upcoming series, Luigi and his Fiat travel from Italy to America and are not sure they want to stay until they are steered on a fun ride through the historical city.” HA!
Tomarts Encyclopedia & Price Guide to Action Figure Collectibles, Vol. 1: A-Team Thru G.I.Joe (Photo: Tomarts Publishing)
Tomart’s Encyclopedia & Price Guide to Action Figure Collectibles, Vol. 1: A-Team thru GIjOE
T.N. Tumbusch, 1996
Never one to be left out of the toy guide biz, Tomarts Publishing regularly releases updated editions of these price guides, and tries to include practically every action figure ever made in each one. I’m not sure what edition they’re up to now, but here’s the cover of volume #1, by TN Tumbusch. Price guides like these are derided by many collectors, but according to this review… “If you are a collector of action figures or just want to know how much the G.I. Joe you played with when you were a kid is worth. This book is for you.”
FUN FACT: The older the guide, the less it costs. This particular one cost $37 new, but you can buy a used copy on Amazon for only $6.
Action Figures of the 1960s (Photo: Schiffer Publishing)
Action Figures of the 1960s
John Marshall, 1998
This book LOOKS like it would be fun to own—and it is! I own a copy of this wonderful, full-color book and can recommend it to you without any reservations. The wonderful closeup color photos come from a variety of sources, but together, they work perfectly to illustrate each category. Mr. Marshall and his photography “assistants” did a superb job compiling this enjoyable guide. Available HERE.
FUN FACT: Includes photos of GIjOE, the Zeroids, James Bond 007, Johnny Hero, Johnny West, Captain Action, Man from UNCLE, Lost in Space, Major Matt Mason, Moon McDare and many others!
GIjOE Graphic Novel (Art: Larry Hama)
GIjOE RAH Comic Books and Graphic Novels
Larry Hama, et. al, 1980s-today
In the last 3 decades an immense amount of new comic-related fiction has been created starring, featuring and evolving an ever-growing universe of GIjOE-based characters. The most popular of these works continue to be those of talented storytellers and artists like Larry Hama. It would be impossible to list all of this type of material, so we’ll leave the enjoyment of that sort of research up to YOU.
Well, there you have it! The list of GIjOE-related books continues to grow. Remember, books make terrific Christmas gifts and there’s no better time than the holiday season to start building your own “GIjOE Library.” You’ve got some reading to do!