2002 Headman

Although nothing seems more repetitive than 80‘s and 90‘s anti-drug messages, the DEF and Headhunters were some pretty cool toys to come from the era. They’re a bit corny, but also a real world topic that’s interesting to inject into a military toy line. In the 2000‘s however, anti-drug messages in children’s shows and product largely went away and even seemed to take somewhat more of a taboo status. So when Hasbro brought Headman back in the GI Joe vs. Cobra line, he was somewhat of a departure from his prior form to say the least.

The original Headman was a sweet figure. The black pin-stripped suit was a great look for a drug dealer, among other features I found that made the figure charming.There was little to do in the way of improving the original, and sadly the ‘02 Headman could be seen as quite the down grade. Now he wears a solid orange suit that looks quite a lot like The Mask, which I’d be a little insulted to know if that was really the inspiration for this figure.

There’s nothing much to say about the figure other than that. He’s Headman, but in orange. In all fairness I think certain details of the sculpt are a little easier to see in this color than in black, but that doesn’t really justify the poor color choice here. Oddly, his hair color has been changed to black as well, a design choice I still don’t quite understand.

HEADMAN started out robbing convenience stores, then learned the ropes of high-end thievery while serving time in prison. A hardened criminal, HEADMAN doesn’t think twice about removing anyone who gets in the way of his plans. He steals anything for the right price—government secrets, weapon system specifications, and priceless art treasures. His thefts have undermined the safety of countries and satisfied greedy private art collectors at the expense of museums around the world. He has managed to escape GENERAL TOMAHAWK time and again, but the relentless G.I. JOE commander has caused him to abandon some plans, losing money. He wants to remove the threatening general from his trail, once and for all.
“I am a master of crime who can steal anything, and never get caught.”

-Headman’s Filecard

The filecard’s from this era tend to be pretty worthless, and Headman’s is no exception. Interestingly, they’ve completely overhauled his character in this one. No longer is he a drug dealer and the leader of the Headhunters, but instead a robber and expert thief. The portrayal seems especially childish and simple, and even steps on the toes of a few other Cobras who already fill similar roles (Firefly and Zartan). Again, I suppose at this point drugs were a topic they simply preferred to avoid, but they could’ve found a more appropriate role for the Headman than one as blase as this.

Gijoe vs cobra hasbro headhunters def action figure vintage

They also really phoned in the accessories on this figure. Instead of his highly interesting G11 riffle, he now includes the grenade launcher and knife from the V1 Range Viper, as well as the pistol from ‘91 Dusty (the one they would eventually include with different figures more than twenty times.). What gets me about these accessories isn’t that they’re horribly generic, but that absolutely no thought was put into them for the character. A big, noisy grenade launcher for a guy who’s supposed to be a thief now?

Despite all of this, I like using this figure every now and then just because no one else really does that much. I’m also a big Headhunters fan, so he has appeal to me for that alone. But this isn’t a good figure and his value sixteen years later reflects that. Complete figures can be had for around $5, but if you look around, the sealed set with General Hawk (Tomahawk) can be had for almost as much.

Gijoe vs cobra hasbro headhunters def action figure vintage Gijoe vs cobra hasbro headhunters def action figure vintage

2002 Headman Links:

Yo Joe


Generals Joes

Half the Battle

2002 Headman
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2002 Headman
The original Headman was a sweet figure. So when Hasbro brought Headman back in the GI Joe vs. Cobra line, he was somewhat of a departure from his prior form to say the least.
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2 Responses to 2002 Headman

  1. Mike T. says:

    I’m a big fan of this repaint. It was different from the original and a completely out of left field choice for the line. It is ostentatious and outlandish and that’s perfect for Headman.

    Originally, this figure was supposed to be paired with an ’86 Hawk repaint. But, Hasbro couldn’t find the mold in their haste to get this out and appease collectors. I think that would have been a much better liked pack.

  2. A-Man says:

    I don’t mind this one. The orange is orange, but it’s not neon. It doesn’t have the tackiness of say some 90’s figures. I think the grenade launchers was chosen because it was the closest thing to a classic drum-magazine thompson submachine gun, and since Headman looks like a gangster, they ran with it. I do miss his original weapon.

    I think Hasbro’s Deryl DePriest had a thing for Headman. Why oh why not Headhunter? Even an orange Headhunter would’ve been more popular. Its odd that out of the 4 Headhunter figures, only Headman got a retail repaint in the 1997-2006 era. They also could’ve put the Headhunter, Gristle and Stormtrooper in the Urban Assault 6 pack, but they seemed to be of the mind that people wanted the same handful of “core characters” over and over.

    These figures were common as they got. I was buying clearanced 2-packs with puzzles for a few bucks at Family Dollar…for months. LOL. I mostly skipped the character only packs and got the Alley-Viper and Viper packs. You also had the K-Mart ones with the bonus figure, which were also clearanced.

    The positive thing about this figure, you can head swap and make some Cobra guys in suits. It’s no worse than pretending 2002’s SLICE was an army builder (which was a thing at the time, as he was just as easily acquired).

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