Tuesday, September 20, 2022

1988 Target Exclusive Hit and Run

I quit buying Joes in 1988.  At that point, I was way too old to still be playing with toys.  But, I was also not really ready to let go.  I had bought all of the 1987 releases.  And, those figures dominated my room and my time.  But, as the calendar turned to 1988, I had found a new hobby in baseball card collecting that was more acceptable for someone my age.  So, Joe began to fall away.  In 1988, I only bought a handful of figures: Hardball, Tiger Force Roadblock and Hit and Run.  I don't really recall when I got Hit and Run.  He might have been my first figure of 1988.  Or, he might have been the final figure I purchased in childhood.  The circumstances of his entry into my world are lost to time.  But, he maintained a high status in my collection during the time I still played with Joes.  At some point in 1988, though, my youngest brother brought home a new Hit and Run.  This one, though, was a special figure that included a parachute pack.  As I had lost my original Hit and Run's filecard, I clipped out the yellow version and, ultimately, stowed the figure and parachute away into my plastic red Lego box that held all my Joes as I transitioned from kid into adult collector.

I didn't think much about the second Hit and Run figure.  By that time, I was not playing with Joes.  though, I may have snagged his awesome rifle and used it with another figure.  I did not realize that the Hit and Run was a Target exclusive.  It was meant as a higher priced gift type item.  There was nothing really new about the figure.  But, you could get a figure who included a rope, working winch, grappling hook and a parachute in one combined package.  At the time, it was the the most deluxe figure package that Hasbro had ever offered.  In coming years, Hasbro would expand upon the deluxe figure idea and offer a wide array of full release figures at higher price points for premium accessories.

When taken as a pairing, Hit and Run and the parachute pack seem a natural fit.  The colors match up.  Hit and Run's body mold looks like it could be part of a paratrooper's uniform.  And, Hit and Run could still use all of his gear and the parachute at the same time since his duffel bag was not a traditional backpack.  The parachute added a new element to Hit and Run and made him an even better option as a member of a Tomahawk crew.  Hit and Run was also a pretty nice match for the 1984 Ripcord and the Night Force Crazylegs.  So, he fit the motif of the paratroopers in the line.  

As a figure, Hit and Run is just about perfect.  His sculpting is top notch where he's detailed but not over the top.  His green and black coloring satisfies the "military purists" while his ingenious satchel, rope and grappling hook are one of the best accessories Hasbro ever produced.  His rifle perfectly matches the figure, is well detailed and is neither too large nor too small.  In short, Hit and Run is what many people hold the Joe line as a whole out to be.  But, truthfully, Hit and Run is an outlier in the line.  He is the military in military fantasy.  The 1988 line was a perfect balance of the two in that there were many military figures but also a great number of outlandish, fantasy characters, too.  This balance shifts from year to year...especially on the Cobra side. 

As Hit and Run was among my last figures of childhood, his adventures were limited.  I've told the story, though, of how I lost him hanging in the ivy of my grandparents' yard, only to find several months later.  Beyond that, though, Hit and Run was heavily a figure I admired.  Shortly after I got him, I put my toys away.  They were locked in a closet.  And, I suspect this had something to do with my brother's acquisition of this Hit and Run.  He liked the figure, but didn't have access to it.  So, he bought his own.  And, in this case, it turned out to be an exclusive.  (He would also get the Night Force Sneak Peek and Falcon later in the year.)    I spent much of 1988 and 1989 wishing that I could still collect toys.  And, I'd pull my Hit and Run out every now and then to admire the work and imagine all the adventures I've had with him were he released in 1985.  Even now, as a collector, that wanting still lingers.  I've profiled Hit and Run three times, now.  Yet, in no instance do I feel that I've adequately captured how cool the figure is in the photos.  Nor, do I feel that my profile lives up to the figure and gives him his due.  It's odd how these old feelings remain with a toy, even three and half decades later.

In 1988 and 1989, Hasbro offered up a few retailer exclusives.  While the Night Force line at Toys R Us is the most famous due to the exclusive figure paint jobs, there were a few others that were designed to attract parents and gift givers to the Joe line.  This Hit and Run is one example where Hasbro took two existing products, put them in new packaging, and sold an exclusive figure for a premium.  Target also got an exclusive two pack of Voltar and Muskrat.  Again, the figures were the same as the standard release.  But, Target got exclusive packaging designed to sell a two enemies in a package.  In 1989, Hasbro boxed a Mudfighter and Hiss II into a single box and sold them at warehouse stores.  Hasbro never again offered bundled vehicles or figures.  So, we're left to question if those products were successful.  However, Sky Patrol did appear in 1990.  These figures all included parachute packs like Hit and Run and feature larger cardbacks.  They seem like the real legacy of this Target exclusive figure from 1988.

The Target Hit and Run parachute pack has a specific Country of Origin (COO) stamp on it.  The more common mail away Parachute Pack features a made in Hong Kong COO stamp.  The parachute pack included with the Target Hit and Run, though, features a Made in China COO stamp.  The green color of Hit and Run's parachute pack is also slightly different than that of the mail away.  It's nearly impossible to discern unless you have one of each next to each other.  So, the COO stamp is the main way to be sure of the correct Hit and Run parachute pack.  Most "Target" Hit and Run's that are sold feature the incorrect parachute pack.  So, be sure to confirm the correct COO on the pack when you are looking to acquire one.

Hit and Run saw a fair amount of release.  Hasbro released him as the standard carded figure and this Target exclusive.  His arms were also used on the Tiger Force Duke figure and later appeared on the Chinese Exclusive Duke.  From there, he appeared in the European line in exclusive Tiger Force colors.  Hit and Run was then sent to Brazil.  Estrela released the mold in a darker green as Alpinista.  Both the Tiger Force Hit and Run and Alpinista are notable in that they feature Hit and Run's flesh toned face.  Hasbro planned to repaint the Hit and Run mold in 1995 and release him as a vehicle driver with a tank.  That figure was planned to stay true to Hit and Run's roots and feature a black torso and green pants.  Had this figure been released, it would be highly sought after today.  Hit and Run collectors, though, have a ton to track down already.  Despite that, Hit and Run was one of the most requested Joe repaints of the early 2000's and a repaint of him in other environments or sub teams would have been well received.

Pricing on Target Hit and Run's is difficult.  Sure, a carded figure will easily run over $1,000.  But, loose, mint and complete with filecard samples are few and far between.  Loose Hit and Run figures themselves are odd in that they sell in $18 range: but dealers sell an appalling amount in the $40+ range.  It's a huge disparity.  Lots of dealers will try to match a complete Hit and Run with a mail away parachute pack and charge a premium for a "Target" figure sans filecard.  But, figures with the correct, yellow filecard and the parachute with the correct country of origin stamps will likely exceed $100 in today's Joe market.  It's an absurd price to pay when you can achieve the same thing with cheaper alternatives...even if they are not "collectible".

1988 Target Hit and Run, Night Force Crazylegs, Toys R Us Exclusive, 1986 Lift Ticket

1988 Hit and Run, Target Exclusive, Parachute Pack, Filecard

1988 Hit and Run, Target Exclusive, Parachute Pack, Filecard


  1. Didn’t Hasbro do the vehicle bundles at warehouse stores thing again in 2004?

    1. They did. Should have been more clear that they didn't do it again in the vintage era.

  2. My best friend's favorite growing up. Never really saw the appeal but haven't owned one yet.

  3. I turned 8 years old when HnR cane out. My best friend had the figure, not me. I had a couple '88 NF figures that matched HnR pretty well. We used HblnR constantly during playtime. As he belonged to my buddy, I didn't always have the chance to pick him for "my team." But that was okay...I got to witness HnR be an unstoppable commando nonetheless. 🤭 Also of note: I had a G.I. Joe coloring book, in which HnR was heavily featured. I had fun in the evenings using up green crayon after green crayon coloring HnR to be toy accurate. The memory of coloring in that book remains strong more than 30 years later. Such is nostalgia.