1993 M. Bison

1993 M. Bison

I was reflecting on my early childhood with GI Joe a bit ago, trying to actually recall why I like these toys so much. Being born in 1994 means I didn’t crawl this earth until GI Joe was already gone, though, I got many of my own GI Joes from what was available at Toy Liquidators and Big Lots in the years to follow. It was then that I started to recall some favorites from my brother’s collection: The Street Fighter II GI Joes. In an overall sense I think these were some weaker offerings, but I also have to imagine they played a pivotal role in keeping GI Joe relevant, and maybe the toy industry as a whole. We take them for granted now, but video-game based action figures were not so common when these came out.

GI Joe TV reruns were getting harder to find into the late nineties, which is when a lot of these memories are from. I think I caught some Sunbow episodes a handful of times on USA Network, along with Ronin Warriors and Street Fighter. I realized then, that playing my copy of Street Fighter II on my SNES and watching the show prompted me to probably stay more interested in GI Joe. That is to say, that for me as a kid, GI Joe was this weird catch-all brand that was almost like an action figure adaptation of a morning cartoon block. I had the real GI Joes (the ones I could recognize), Street Fighter, some Ronin Warriors (Ninja Force), and even Sentai/Beetle Borgs (the V2 Eel, who was usually good-guy superhero to me). The point being, that Street Fighter stayed relevant in the 90‘s long after Joe was gone. Yet, because GI Joe was also Street Fighter, it acted as another avenue to keep me twice as interested in GI Joe.

A head-swap created with M. Bison’s head, a Shadow Guard’s body and 1993 Cobra Commanders legs.

The main issue the Street Fighter GI Joes run into is that most of them have gigantic heads. Often times, the proportions favor the sculpting seen with 1986 figure more so than anything from the 90‘s. M. Bison’s a middle of the road example of this; his head is nicely sharp and not as big as Ken’s, but it’s still pretty big. One time I got curious to make a lazy approximation of the Joecon Black Major figure by swapping M. Bison’s head into a Shadow Guard body. The result looked really cartoonish, possibly because of the more slender ‘85 body sculpt.

The rest of the figure is constructed from the torso and arms of Hardball, and the legs and waist of ‘92 Destro. The Hardball torso is a little slim, but for something made almost entirely of reused parts, I think the little recipe works. Something that really gets me about this figure, is just how attractive the overall design is: The Hardball half keeps him looking military enough to fit with GI Joe, but the Destro half adds a good bit of flair without infringing on Destro’s look too much. Further, the bright red plastic looks really good, especially with the choice details they picked out to paint blue, black, silver and yellow. When you compare him to something like the HEAT Viper from the same year, it’s actually surprising how much paint is featured on M. Bison.

For both the single-carded M. Bison and the blue one packed with the Crimson Cruiser, there exists variants that have the shoulder pad from Road Pig, colored in silver. To my understanding, these are inconsistently glued in the typical vintage Hasbro fashion, where some examples are not glued at all, and others are glued anywhere from lightly to heavily. I don’t have any like this, but I’ve tried putting Road Pig’s pad on him before. It’s a poor fit, and while it does improve the overall bulk of the figure, the asymmetrical design and fit against his head probably takes more away than it gives.

For another bit of interesting trivia, the blue version with the Crimson Cruiser, is photographed on the back of the box with a General Flagg head. Almost all of the Street Fighter Joes can be found with a reused head pictured on the back of the vehicle boxes, which makes me curious if these were rushed a bit.

For accessories, you get the M-6865 tree, shared with ‘94 Metal Head, the ‘93 HEAT Viper, and the ‘93 T.A.R.G.A.T. (and it’s Funskool version, too). So, you get the Annihilator SMG, the Iron Grenadier pistol, the Rock Viper PSG1, missiles and a stand. In addition to this, you get a green launcher (also from the aforementioned HEAT Viper), and a grappling hook with a string you can place in it. Curiously, the grappling hook was unique to the Street Fighter figures and only included with them. I don’t find his accessories to be all that good or essential, though he’s the only figure that has this particular set in black. There’s examples of most of these guns in this color with the exception of the Iron Grenadier pistol, which gives him something a tad unique to enjoy.

M. Bison’s are fairly cheap still. Street Fighter Joes used to not be all that popular at all, but a strong appreciation for these figures has grown in recent years, probably fueled by softer attitudes on 90‘s Joes, and the enduring popularity of Street Fighter, too. So they’re way more expensive now than they used to be, but a complete M. Bison will only run around $20, which what most Joes from that year cost complete. If you don’t care for the accessories, you can get him for about half of that, which might be wise if you’re not looking for your 40th example of a black Rock Viper rifle.

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1993 M. Bison Links:

3D Joes

Half the Battle

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4 Responses to 1993 M. Bison

  1. Mike T. says:

    I damn near bought this guy in 1995 or 1996: just because he had a black weapon tree. But, I talked myself out of it for some, long lost reason.

    He’s the one guy everyone has always tried to integrate into Cobra. In the early 2000’s, you’d see him paired with CG’s since he was red. But, I always thought his insertion looked forced.

    Now, I think the head is too big for the body. I think it works better with the bulkier body they used in the SF Movie Line. But, the figure still looks more like a generic ’90’s super villain than a G.I. Joe character.

  2. R.T.G. says:

    Street Fighter is such an oddity to the line, but probably more important than any typical G.I. Joe enthusiast would give it credit, there wouldn’t have been a Ninja Force Scarlett, if Chun-li wasn’t getting made.

    I think Bison’s head doesn’t look as gargantuan, if you have the Road Pig shoulder armor, for him. At least that’s how I remember mine being, though I only had the Teal one from the vehicle.

    He’s one of the more workable figures into the Joe world, but less so as a COBRA, and more as some wannabe tin pot dictator. Or at least that’s how I look at it.

  3. A-Man says:

    “For another bit of interesting trivia, the blue version with the Crimson Cruiser, is photographed on the back of the box with a General Flagg head. Almost all of the Street Fighter Joes can be found with a reused head pictured on the back of the vehicle boxes, which makes me curious if these were rushed a bit.”

    Yeah, the Hasbro Toy Fair catalogs that year showed complete kitbash repaints for the Wave 1 Street Fighter (wave 2 isn’t show at all). Guile being quite amusing and interesting as he is Bullet Proof’s head (Why not Mercer’s?) on Sgt Slaughter body. So while the other mock-up stuck to the bodies they’d use with new heads, Guile did not. I guess they didn’t want that whistle, so…painted on a tank top on Roadpig’s torso.

    M. Bison was fairly fun. The shoulder pad versions used soft plastic pads so they can get over his large head. It’s a shame the later movie one with the Raul Julia head wasn’t made with a standard Joe body.

    It’s funny, you never see a Crimson Hard Ball or Destro with red pants. I mean, put the red shirt on Hardball and he’d be like MISSION BRAZIL HARDBALL. One would have to paint the skin on the wrists.

  4. HitandRun says:

    When I acquired an M.Bison back in 2017/2018 my first thought was to make him the CG commander and place him high up in the Cobra chain of command. Once in hand I figured he would be better as part of a third party outfit that would battle against both the Joes and Cobra. He fits in pretty well with Joes/Cobras and the mold and design are solid. I never made the connection between M.Bison and Hardball until it was brought up here.

    The Street Fighter crossover into GI Joe is something I remember pretty well. I was the target demographic at the time and still very much into my GI Joes and enjoyed playing Street Fighter II as well. At the time I did not mind Hasbro making Street Fighter figures because I had assumed that GI Joe was just going to go on forever but once SF and Mortal Kombat figures remained in production and Hasbro killed off GI Joe in 1994 I became a little bit bitter towards the video game figures. I do remember seeing the re-released VAMP, Snowcat, Thunder Machine, Badger and Dragonfly all in the 90s as part of the SF line and thought they were all very cool but never got anything as a kid.

    Back to present day and I still check out auctions on SF/MK figures and want to give M.Bison some men to command. There just isn’t much from the Moral Kombat or SF lines that fit well enough into the aesthetic of my Joe verse (I really only like Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Reptile from Mortal Kombat as they look enough like ninjas as well as being my favorite MK characters in the game). I do have paratrooper, rock trooper and artic assault Guile as they fit needs and mesh well with my regular GI Joes though.

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