Cardbacks are an important part of the G.I. Joe mythos. Some of the reasons the G.I. Joe 3 3/4" line has been so successful are the unique package art and the individual character filecards. Oddly enough, until the creation of this cardback archive there really hasn't been a complete collector's reference for the different cardback variations. Hard to believe, isn't it, especially considering the fact there are over 1,000 unique cardbacks for the G.I. Joe 3 3/4" line!
The purpose of the cardback guide is to provide a reference for collectors to use not only to prove the existence of certain rare cardbacks but also to help collectors identify what year an individual cardback came out based on looking at the card. For instance, if a collector sees a picture of just the front of a Crimson Guard cardback and notices that it has a Body Transfer Promotion then said collector will know that the back of the cardback is a 36-Back and the filecard is gray, not peach, because the Body Transfer Promotion cards were from 1986. In addition to cardbacks the Redbacks, or filecards with a red backing from a mail-order promotion or store exclusive, will also be covered in the same manner.
YoJoe.Com is always looking for submissions of cardback images. Our goal is to have EVERY single cardback variation pictured in the archives, all 1,000+ variations. If you have a cardback version or variation that is not currently in the archives, or if you have a cardback that is in better condition that one that is already pictured in the archives please send your submissions to email@example.com. Also, please don't forget to include how you would like to be credited for your submission(s). If you submit a picture of a cardback that is in better condition than the one already in the archives both collectors will still be credited for their submissions.
Cardbacks - 1982
In 1982 three different cardback versions were available: 9-back cards, 9-back cards with a Cobra Commander promotion on the front of the cards, and 11-back cards. Arguably, the 9-back cards and the 9-back cards with the Cobra Commander promotion offer are the most rare of the three versions since they were earlier than the 11-back cards.
Cardbacks - 1983
In 1983 cardbacks were first released as 20-Back Explosion Back style cards and later as regular 20-Backs with all figure images visible on the back of the cards. A total of twelve Explosion Back cards were available in 1983. Explosion Backs were also released in 1987 so click here to view the Explosion Backs listing. Both Series One and Series Two figures were available in 1983, although Series One figures now had a new swivel-arm battle grip feature.
Cardbacks - 1984
In 1984 figures were released on 32-Back cards. Series One, Series Two, and Series Three figures were available in 1984 on 32-Backs.
Cardbacks - 1985
In 1985 figures were released on both regular 34-Back cards and 34-Back cards with the Triple Win Game Promotion. Series Two, Series Three, and Series Four figures were available in 1985 on both versions of 34-Backs.
Cardbacks - 1986
In 1986 figures were released on three different cardbacks: 36-Backs, 36-Backs w/ Sgt. Slaughter Promotion, and 36-Backs w/ Body Transfer Promotion. Both Series Four and Series Five figures were available this year.
One other item of note is the filecard and logo change that occured between 1985 (Series Four) and 1986 (Series Five). The figures that debuted in Series Four had 2-D G.I. Joe logos on the front of the cards as well as peach filecards. In 1986 those figures were still available but now had 3-D G.I. Joe logos and gray filecards. Again, this applies to all Series Four figures and one Series Three figure--Storm Shadow.
Cardbacks - 1987
In 1987 figures were released on four different cardbacks: 34-Backs, 34-Backs w/ Explosion Backs, 34-Backs w/ Fridge Promotion, and 34-Backs w/ Battle Ribbon Promotion. Battle Force 2000 figures were also available this year. Both Series Five and Series Six figures were available this year.
There is an interesting variation in the Fridge Promotion Cards. The assortment numbers for these cards can be found on the bottom left of the front of the cards. The assortments that end with 6103 and 6105 have the Fridge sticker on the cards. However, the assortment that ends with 6107 has the Fridge promotion printed directly on the card. It is unknown if all figures were available on both the sticker and the printed cards.
There were a total of seven 34-Back Explosion Backs available in 1987. The Explosion Backs available were Cobra Commander (Battle Armor), Crazylegs, Crystal Ball, Falcon, Law & Order, Psyche-Out, and the Accessory Pack #5. For a complete listing of all Explosion Backs click here.
Cardbacks - 1988
In 1988 figures were released on two main styles of cardbacks: 34-Backs, and 34-Backs with Super Trooper promotion stickers.
Sub-Groups and miscellaneous figures available in 1988 include Tiger Force, Battle Force 2000 2-Packs, Night Force 2-Packs, the Hit & Run Target Exclusive with parachute, and the Ultimate Enemies 2-Pack.
Both Series Six (1987) and Series Seven (1988) figures were available this year.
Cardbacks - 1989
In 1989 figures were released on three main styles of cardbacks: 34-Backs, 34-Backs with Face Camouflage promotion stickers, and 34-Backs with Micro Figure promotion stickers.
Sub-Groups and miscellaneous figures available in 1989 include Night Force 2-Packs, Python Patrol, and Slaughter's Marauders.
Both Series Seven (1988) and Series Eight (1989) figures were available this year.
Cardbacks - 1990
In 1990 figures were released on three main styles of cardbacks: 34-Backs, 34-Backs with Combat Pay (Green) promotion stickers, and 34-Backs with Command Ring promotion stickers. Combat Pay promotion stickers were also available in 1991. The 1991 Combat Pay version was pink and also mentioned the magnet promotion, as opposed to the 1990 Combat Pay version which was green.
Sub-Groups and miscellaneous figures available in 1990 include Rapid-Fire (carded w/ video), Sky Patrol, and Sonic Fighters.
Both Series Eight (1989) and Series Nine (1990) figures were available this year.
Cardbacks - 1991
In 1991 figures were released on four main styles of cardbacks: 22-Backs (Style A), 22-Backs (Style A) with pink Combat Pay/Magnet promotion stickers, 22-Backs (Style B), and 22-Backs (Style B) with Universal Studios promotion stickers. Combat Pay promotion stickers were also available in 1990. The 1990 Combat Pay version was green, as opposed to this year's version which was pink and also included the magnets promotion.
Both the Style A and the Style B cardbacks are 22-Backs, but there is a variation between the two styles. Style A cards feature Dusty & Sandstorm in the top left picture on the back, whereas the Style B cards feature Grunt in the top left picture. For the Style B cards Hasbro removed the last six images of the Style A format, moved all the others down, and added six new images in the top row. Other than the top row the images are identical in sequence on both styles of cards.
Sub-Groups and miscellaneous figures available in 1991 include Eco-Warriors, Eco-Warriors with Universal Studios promotion stickers, and Super Sonic Fighters.
Both Series Nine (1990) and Series Ten (1991) figures were available this year.
Cardbacks - 1992
In 1992 figures were released on one main style of cardbacks: 12-Backs. Although the backs of these cards also show three pictures of the different Special Forces available in 1992 they are still commonly referred to as 12-Backs since the Special Forces pictures are not individually named.
One promotion ran in 1992, and it was perhaps the rarest of the action figure promotions. The promotion for this year was for the Impel Hall Of Fame Trading Cards, also known as "Gold-Border" cards. There were a total of 20 cards in the set. These cards have been confirmed to have been released with the 12-Backs, the Ninja Force, and even the re-released Super Sonic Fighters from 1991 (Series Ten). The Hall Of Fame cards were probably included with all the figures that were released in 1992 but these are the only ones that can be confirmed so far. If anyone has cardbacks of other sub-groups with this promotion please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
Sub-Groups and miscellaneous figures available in 1992 include Air Commandos, D.E.F., Eco-Warriors, Ninja Force, and Talking Battle Commanders.
Both Series Ten (1991) and Series Eleven (1992) figures were available this year.
Cardbacks - 1993
In 1993 the main group of figures released were from the Battle Corps line. The Battle Corps figures were numbered from 1 to 36. There were four different cardback styles in 1993 just from the Battle Corps line alone: 9-backs picturing figures 1-9; 18-backs picturing figures 1-18; 18-backs picturing figures 10-27; and finally 18-backs picturing figures 19-36.
Sub-Groups and miscellaneous figures available in 1993 include Mega Marines, Ninja Force, Star Brigade, Star Brigade Armor Tech, and Street Fighter II. The Mega Marines had a promotion for the Search & Destroy Trading Cards but the promotion stickers were on the bubbles and not the cards.
Series Twelve (1993) figures were available this year.
Cardbacks - 1994
In 1994 the bulk of figures released were from the Battle Corps and Star Brigade lines. The Battle Corps figures were numbered from 1 to 13 and each figure was released on two different card styles: horizontal G.I. Joe logo (first issue) and vertical G.I. Joe logo. Many collectors believe only six figures were produced with both logo styles, though pictures of all thirteen figures with each style can be found in the Lee's Guide To Collecting G.I. Joe pull-out guide from Lee's Toy Review issues 103 and 104. Thirteen Star Brigade figures were also available in 1994, numbering from 21-27 and 49-54.
Sub-Groups and miscellaneous figures available in 1994 include Shadow Ninjas.
Series Thirteen (1994) figures were available this year.
Cardbacks - Explosion Backs
Explosion Back cards are cardbacks that have "Coming Soon" explosions on the back of the cards in place of images for certain figures. Presumably this is because the art for some of the newer figures was not available at the time of the cardbacks' printing. Explosion Backs were available in both 1983 and 1987.
In 1983 a total of twelve Explosion Backs were available. Explosion Backs were available for the original eleven figures from 1982 with the addition of Cobra Commander. Click here to see an example of a 1982 Snake Eyes 11-Back showing the original eleven figures.
In 1987 a total of seven Explosion Backs were available. Explosion Backs were available for Cobra Commander (Battle Armor), Crazylegs, Crystal Ball, Falcon, Law & Order, Psyche-Out, and the Accessory Pack #5.
Cardbacks - Redbacks
Redbacks are filecards that are red on the back of the cards, making them distinctly different than the standard filecards. They were available on bubbles from Montgomery Ward's, J.C. Penney's and Sears then bagged through Hasbro Direct. If you have additional information or would like to contribute please contact Yo Joe.