When those first new figures of that year's assortment showed up, the card back showed the promise of the weeks and months to come. I remember only getting a few of the figures at a time. It seemed rare back then to get the full set of the figures when they first started showing up during the year.
You could only get maybe 4 or 5 figures and just marvel at the figures that were going to eventually be at the store. There was a bit of magic and wonder, even to this goofy collector going from 19 and single in 1982 to 31, married with a young son and a daughter on the way in 1994.
It was just a great time to be a GI Joe fan. The crew at Hasbro had the marketing of the brand during the 1980's down to near textbook perfection.
And remember the thrill of just fanning through the multiple peg-hooks just loaded with GI Joe figures? Damn, that was fun! I still get a little of that thrill when I thumb through the modern figures - when they were sold in stores, that is...
Let's see if I can properly list the years for each card back.
Did I get them all right? Let me know in the comments!