History of This Website
I was not quite eight when G.I. Joe toys hit the shelves in 1982. My big interest at the time was Star Wars, along with the occasional small LEGO set or Hot Wheels car. Whereas my cousin of the same age was playing with Joes from the very beginning, my parents discouraged the interest in my case. They were fine with Star Wars as fantasy, but they weren't comfortable with "war toys." In 1983 I picked up two figures, Grunt and Airborne, to compensate for my being unable to find Rebel Commandos for Endor, but that was it. By the end of 1985, Star Wars was fading out, and the after-school cartoons were toy-related: G.I. Joe, The Transformers, ThunderCats. I was older by then, most Transformers were too expensive for our family's lower-middle-class income, and the culture was changing: Our family's prime time viewing now included The A-Team, whose harmless violence was comparable to that featured in G.I. Joe animation. (I wasn't familiar with the comics.) My mom became quite a fan of the Joe series through its appealing characters such as Lady Jaye and Gung-Ho.
So some time in March 1986, we're at the store and the G.I. Joe aisle was filled with new toys. Unlike more military-minded fans, I was drawn to the futuristic vehicles and the bright colors of Sci-Fi and Lifeline. I asked my mom if it would be okay to buy Sci-Fi, and she let me make my first true G.I. Joe purchase. From that time until my senior year of high school, the majority of my money went to G.I. Joe figures and small vehicles, with larger vehicles and playsets received each birthday and Christmas. I stopped collecting in fall 1992 for two reasons. First, I wasn't happy with the direction of the toy line–loss of detail, too many gimmicks, too little originality. Second, I was becoming an adult and wanted to put toys and cartoons behind me. During my college years, I didn't even know the vintage line had been canceled.
In fall 1996 I was introduced to the Internet, and before long I stumbled upon several G.I. Joe websites, including one by Corey Stinson that eventually merged with a couple others to form Yojoe.com. Learning about exclusives I hadn't seen in the stores, the storyline from the comics, and the early days of the toy line revitalized my interest. Once I graduated in 1997, I set about trying to complete my collection, even as I awaited the commemorative figures scheduled to return to stores at the end of the year. By the end of 1999, I had completed my set of figures from 1982 to 1992, all acquired through comic book stores and Internet discussion boards.
Joes.Propadeutic.Com: The Complete Guide to G.I. Joe
What really fascinated me most about Joes during my teens and twenties was the information on the filecards. In summer 2000, I compiled this information for my own purposes, along with a complete list of figure and vehicle releases. The next year, I read a book on the opportunities of the Internet and was inspired to start a web page. Recall that it was a different Internet back then. Most sites were small text-based assemblages of articles, lists, and a few pictures, and were run as a hobby by individuals. More importantly, there was no Wikipedia, no fan Wikis or other central source of information for any topic; you really had to hunt around. I chose The Complete Guide to G.I. Joe as a secular topic, alongside a page of religious commentary I called Realms of Faith. These were originally Geocities sites, but I was soon able to get them their own domain name: www.propadeutic.com, replacing the "www" with "joes" or "faith" for the two sides of the site.
I stayed up late into the night for the original upload, on September 10, 2001. The next morning was sobering, completely transformed my perceptions of terrorism, and gave me a more serious appreciation for the meaning of the G.I. Joe story. When the Joe vs. Cobra line and its new construction debuted in 2002, I was dismayed by the T-crotch designs and resisted including the new toys on my site; I didn't collect the "newsculpts" during their original run. I was happy to showcase the vintage line and the 1997-2001 renewal, and at the time mine was the only site I knew of that included the filecard information in text form. (Yojoe.com had only images of the filecards until much later.) When recolors of the vintage molds became common in 2003, I decided to incorporate the 2002+ releases onto the site, and I kept up with information on the releases, even though I still wasn't buying the new-style figures or convention exclusives.
This Joe site devoted one page to each year of the line, with figures, equipment, cartoon episodes, and mail offers listed in that order. In late 2003 I added cartoon appearances for the Sunbow series. There were also a few opinion write-ups, as well as the obligatory Links page that every old website had to have. G.I. Joe toys went on hiatus in 2006, at a time when my work responsibilities were growing and I was about to finish up my Master's degree. So I stopped updating this website at that point, but still kept it online
Half the Battle
The 25th Anniversary line took me by surprise, as I initially expected it to include just a small number of releases, and it just kept going. Still, I loved and bought everything. By the beginning of 2008, I realized I was becoming a completist, except for the huge gap between 1993 and 2006. I now had a second job (for extraneous reasons), and the extra money allowed me to start picking up the figures I'd missed along the way. I completed my collection in June of 2009, just in time for the last toy release before the live-action movie. Having seen how the live-action Transformers film had completely overrun that toy line, I anticipated the same would happen with The Rise of Cobra, so I decided early on to let that be the endpoint for my collecting and website coverage.
In the meantime, I revisited my old website and started adding the new releases. Given the huge number of figures released per year during the 2000s, I saw a need to reformat the entire site. The reformatting work took all of 2009 and went online on March 22, 2010. The result had four or five click-to-expand character profiles per page, with vehicles, cartoon information, and stats pages moved to their own sections. I also added accessory information and comic-book appearances for each figure from second-hand sources, though the information was only partial, and as I later discovered, somewhat inaccurate. Unique to this version of the website was a brief review of the quality of Joe releases over time. The resulting site was different enough that I bought a new domain for it; the closest to my screen name was halfbattle.com. (Propadeutic.com has lapsed, but most of its pages can still be located via the Wayback Machine.) Around 2012, I began working on a G.I. Joe Encyclopedia for the site, but other interests drew me away from G.I. Joe for a while, and the Wiki era made such a feature superfluous anyway.
Half the Battle: G.I. Joe Characters & Story
The Internet of the mid-2010s was worlds away from the environment of my original website. Dissatisfied with the outdated look of my pages, I redesigned the look and feel of the site beginning in March 2015. Images were now more prominent, I added a navigation bar and better stats pages, nixed the second-hand comics material, and most importantly, created an exhaustive accessory identification guide with photos from my collection. I also began a more in-depth episode guide that included exact screen time and line- and word-counts for all the figure-based characters for Sunbow, DiC, and Reel FX animation. The episode guide was halted midway through, as much of my time was directed toward my YouTube channel and the My Little Pony side of my website. I returned to making site updates during 2018 and reached a point of completion in April 2019. As of April 18, the site finally has a completed episode guide, an abundance of in-site navigation links, and new accessory photos, and the site has been double-checked for accuracy.
Since creating my first Internet pages, I have enjoyed G.I. Joe as much through my website work as through my collection. And the phenomenon of fan conventions has allowed me to meet several of the voices I grew up hearing on the cartoon: Peter Cullen, Michael Bell, Arthur Burghardt, Morgan Lofting, Frank Welker, Neil Ross, and Sgt. Slaughter. I even got to have pizza once with Ian James Corlett and his daughter in Chicago. The 80s may have been the heyday for G.I. Joe, but now is a great time to be a fan.
Future plans: I would like to redo many of my figure photos at some point. I also began reading the Marvel comics and making my own tally of comic appearances when IDW began printing their Complete Collection hardbacks. But future volumes were canceled after Issue #76, so comics-related updates are on hold until I have the rest of the material.