G.I. Joe vs. Cobra
The series represented the first major relaunch of the G.I. Joe franchise since 1996's G.I. Joe Extreme. Story and theme-wise, it was a continuation of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series. G.I. Joe vs. Cobra was preceded by a limited run Toys R Us exclusive line that made use of previous molds for production of G.I. Joe action figures in 1997 and 1998, as well as the 2000-2001 "Real American Hero Collection" 2-packs, which were available at mass retail.
Despite having no major G.I. Joe toy releases, Devil's Due Publishing managed to acquire the license to produce new G.I. Joe comic books. The new comics' success and the media attention it spawned fueled renewed interest in G.I. Joe, and led to the production of a new line of toys featuring both old and new characters. New sculptures and body architecture were utilized for the line. Collectors/fans do not usually refer to new-sculpt figures as "Real American Hero" or "RAH" figures, in order to differentiate them from the older method of construction used during the 1980s and 90s.
The G.I. Joe vs. Cobra line ran for three years, before being phased out and replaced with the successor line G.I. Joe: Sigma 6. In that time, it was supported by the new comic series and two direct-to-video CGI animated movies. It was also supplemented by several Toys R Us and convention exclusives. Each year of the line’s release centered on a different theme on the G.I. Joe/Cobra conflict. During the new sculpt era, Hasbro launched G.I. Joe. com that has G. I vs. Cobra games.
G.I. Joe vs. Cobra
Released in 2002, G.I. Joe vs. Cobra was borne out of the success of Devil’s Due’s G.I. Joe comics. The series brought back classic characters, as well as introduced new ones. For the first time, there was a theme to the toy line, this one focusing on the rivalries between members of the G.I. Joe Team and Cobra. The action figures were sold in two-packs carrying a G.I. Joe and a Cobra character. The file cards that came with them explained how their rivalry with each other began. The first wave of figures utilize the Star Wars T crotch tooling, but the next wave brought back the classic O ring to new molds. The Cobra Commander figure from the first wave and black repaint, was retooled to accommodate the O ring.
G.I. Joe: Spy Troops
The toyline was re-titled as G.I. Joe vs. Cobra: Spy Troops for the second year. The plot involved G.I. Joe and Cobra in espionage against each other via various disguises. Each two-pack featured either Joe with a Cobra disguise or a Cobra with a Joe disguise, or one figure with a camouflage coat to blend into the background. On the back of the box was the mission relating to the two characters.
There was a direct-to-video computer-animated movie, G.I. Joe: Spy Troops released towards the end of the line. The line began to incorporate some of the characters from the comics, such as Kamakura and Crosshair.
G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom
Valor vs. Venom was the third and final series in the G.I. Joe vs. Cobra line. It was the only one with a storyline attached to it. The central plot involved Cobra creating animal/human hybrid soldiers dubbed Venom Troopers (or V-Troops) via a mutagenic chemical known as Venom. G.I. Joe counters with advanced technology.
Again, like Spy Troops, it was supported by a direct-to-video film, G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom. Some figures from this series were also available in single packs. The line was geared more towards children, by featuring the return of "Action Attack". This, along with repaints and remolds of previously released characters appearing every wave, did not make the line popular with collectors.
Built to Rule
Built to Rule was a building blocks toyline from Hasbro that was marketed as "Action Building Sets". These sets were released from 2003 to 2005. All sets came with one set of building blocks you could build into a full sized vehicle, and one specially designed 3 3/4 G.I. Joe figure. The forearms and the calves of the figures sport places where blocks could be attached. The 2003 Built To Rule followed the G.I. Joe: Spy Troops story line.
G.I. Joe Direct To Consumer/Toys "R" Us Exclusive line
With the cancellation of the Valor vs Venom series Hasbro released a new series simply titled "G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero". Unlike the most of the previous G.I. JOE vs Cobra/Valor vs Venom series, these figures were released alone on a single card. Each wave of figures had three Joe agents, one named Cobra agent and two Cobra troops. and these Toys can only purchased from online retailers,and not from any retailers such as Toys"R"Us as of 2007
Figures from this series were initially only available from Hasbro.Com or other online toy shops. Because of this and to differentiate this series from the original Real American Hero line from the 80s and 90s fans dubbed it "Direct To Consumer" or "DTC". Later this series was also made available as a Toys "R" Us exclusive. The figures in this series were made from the same construction as the previous G.I. JOE vs Cobra/Valor vs Venom series and as such are seen as the most recent GI Joe vs. Cobra Line and a continuation of the G.I. JOE vs Cobra line, as fans expecting a new GI Joe vs. Cobra Line of Figures with a sequel to Valor vs Venom. The line incorporated molds from the unreleased "G.I. JOE Robot Rebellion" Line that was set to be launched during 2005, however it was put on hiatus and replaced by Sigma 6. DTC Wave 4 was cancelled and later released as GI Joe Club Exclusive. it is unknown when DTC Wave 5 will be launched. in 2011-2012 the GI Joe Club released a 25th Anniversary style DTC Barrel Roll.
The G.I. Joe vs. Cobra line did not have a comic book series that directly supports it. The series as published by Devil’s Due was meant to be a continuation of the story published by Marvel Comics. The comics’ creative team did not have the same pressure from Hasbro in tying up the comics with the toy line. However, several characters and designs did manage to be incorporated into the comics.