A few weeks ago, there was a convention in GA for GI JOE collectors and one of the exclusive items there was a figure of my all time favorite wrestler, Rowdy Roddy Piper. This got me thinking about something.
Now, real life people have appeared as JOE characters before. First there was William "The Refrigerator" Perry, hot off the heels of the 1985 Superbowl champion Chicago Bears. Available as a special premium by mail with tickets obtained in specially marked figures, this 3 3/4 inch figure was set for action, complete with his own weapon, a spiked football on a chain.
Not really seeing a connection to a mobile strike force in a player best known for doing the Superbowl Shuffle, the Joes next celebrity was tailor made for the military theme. Professional wrestler, Sgt. Slaughter. Once again, Hasbro had the figure availabloe with the mail in premiums, but unlike Perry, Sgt. Slaughter was actually used in the comic book and cartoons of the day earning his second figure and a vehicle (The ultra cool Triple T tank), not to mention his own squad in Slaughter's Marauders. Slaughter served as a valuable asset to Hasbro as a spokesman and character. But there was one celebrity that got away from them.
In GI Joe Yearbook, they were listing the new characters for the year. The very last page had a drawing of a man in sweatpants and boxing gloves. For all intents and purposes, GI JOE'S newest trainer was going to be...
But hold on, why wasn't there ever a Rocky figure? They made his arch enemy in Big Boa (I can smell a evil twin storyline coming on) and he was released, where was Rocky? The next year we would find out.
The disclaimer read "Rocky Balboa is not and has never been a member of the GI JOE team". What? They had just shown him, they made his COBRA equivellant, what happened?
It seems that Hasbro and Sly Stallone were ironing out the rights to the agreement and Hasbro was so sure it was a done deal, they gave all the information to Marvel Comics in time for the Yearbook. Marvel Published it, got hopes up and then..
Then it turns out that the deal between Hasbro and Stallone fell through because of the Rambo animated series. Remco came to Stallone with a better deal for his likeness for use on their toys, so the Hasbro deal never went through.