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"YO JOE!"

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

G.I. JOE

G.I. Joe is a line of action figures owned and produced by the toy company Hasbro. The initial product offering represented four of the branches of the U.S. armed forces with the Action Soldier (U.S. Army), Action Sailor (U.S. Navy), Action Pilot (U.S. Air Force), Action Marine (U.S. Marine Corps) and later on, the Action Nurse. The name is derived from the usage of "G.I. Joe" for the generic U.S. soldier, itself derived from the more general term "G.I.". The development of G.I. Joe led to the coining of the term "action figure". G.I. Joe's appeal to children has made it an American icon among toys.

The G.I. Joe trademark has been used by Hasbro for several different toy lines, although only two have been successful. The original 12-inch (30 cm) line introduced on February 2nd, 1964, centered on realistic action figures. In the United Kingdom, this line was licensed to Palitoy and known as Action Man. In 1982 the line was relaunched in a 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) scale complete with vehicles, playsets, and a complex background story involving an ongoing struggle between the G.I. Joe Team and the evil Cobra Command which seeks to take over the Free World through terrorism. As the American line evolved into the Real American Hero series, Action Man also changed, by using the same molds and being renamed as Action Force. Although the members of the G.I. Joe team are not superheroes, they all had expertise in areas such as martial arts, weapons, and explosives.

G.I. Joe was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 2004 and into the Pop Culture Hall of Fame in 2017.

The conventional marketing wisdom of the early 1960s was that boys would not play with dolls and parents would not buy their sons dolls, which have been traditionally a girl's toy; thus the word "doll" was never used by Hasbro or anyone involved in the development or marketing of G.I. Joe. "Action figure" was the only acceptable term, and has since become the generic description for any poseable doll intended for boys. "America's movable fighting man" is a registered trademark of Hasbro, and was prominently displayed on every boxed figure package.

The original idea for the action figure that would become G.I. Joe was developed in 1963 by Stan Weston, a Manhattan licensing agent. Weston approached Donald Levine, who was creative director of Hasbro Toys and would become the driving force behind the concept. Weston credits Larry Reiner, then head of the games division at Ideal Toys, with the notion of an articulated figure, based on conversations he had with him regarding the concept. Sam Speers, then of Hasbro's product development team, is primarily credited with the specific almost 30 cm (12") tall articulated figure design as produced by Hasbro; his name appears on the patent #3,277,602 "Toy figure having movable joints", assigned on October 11th, 1966. The all-important packaging graphics were sub-contracted to Thresher and Petrucci Art Studio, a company based nearby that had previously produced freelance work for Hasbro. Weston subsequently licensed the entire concept to Hasbro for $100,000 (US).

The Hasbro prototypes (left) were originally named "Rocky" (marine/soldier) "Skip" (sailor) and "Ace" (pilot), before the more universal name G.I. Joe was adopted. One of the prototypes would later sell in a Heritage auction in 2003 for $200,001. An African-American figure was introduced in 1965, though it was simply the same face as the white figure, painted brown.

The initial product offering featured members of the four branches of the armed forces as follows; Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot and Action Marine, with accessory sets immediately available for each branch. It was correctly assumed that competitors would try to emulate or outright copy the concept, so the idea was to offer a broad range of accessory items from the very start.

The ongoing situation in Vietnam, and the growing anti-war sentiment of the late sixties signaled the end of the early years of G.I. Joe; by 1969, he was no longer a soldier/sailor/pilot/marine, but rather an Adventurer; he was marketed under the "Adventures of G.I. Joe, and the line consisted of Adventurer, black Adventurer, Aquanaut, and Talking Astronaut. Instead of military sets, the mostly recycled materials from earlier years were given names such as "Fight for Survival", "Danger of the Depths", "Mysterious Explosion", "Secret Mission to Spy Island" and "Mouth of Doom". Everything would change the following year, as G.I. Joe received lifelike hair and beards, courtesy of Hasbro's U.K. licensee Palitoy, leading to the creation of G.I. Joe Adventure Team toyline in the 1970s.

The figure was loosely based on the artist's mannequins still available today; the basic figure had multiple points of articulation, previously not found in any children's toy. The advertising claimed "21 points of articulation", however, if one actually counts each individual pivot contact point, there are 19; head-to-neck, neck-to-torso, shoulder-to-torso (2), biceps-to-shoulder (2), elbow (2), wrist (2), torso-to-pelvis, hipball-to-pelvis (2), thigh-to-pelvis (2), knee (2) and ankle (2). The figure was held together by means of elastic, wire hooks and metal rivets.

Pivot pins were made of a ribbed plastic, which was pressed into the adjacent limb section, allowing the limbs to rotate as well as hinge at pivot point. Even this specific method of attaching the appendages was patented as a "Connection For Use In Toy Figures" (patent # 3,475,042, October 28th, 1969). The hip balls were made of a softer vinyl that allowed movement while retaining the surface friction required to maintain a pose. This level of attention to detail was costly to manufacture, and had caused product development no end of grief to devise, as simple as the end result seemed. The fact that so many still exist intact after more than forty years is a testament to the production quality that Hasbro demanded of its manufacturing plants. Cheap imitations of Hasbro's product did not bother with such detail, resulting in figures that lacked anything like the poseability and longevity of G.I. Joe.

There were in fact a number of variations in construction and markings of the figure as produced in the first few years. The most obvious are variations in the trademarking on the right buttock. Another obvious variation was the early bodies with slotted shoulder joints and smaller feet than those of just a year or two later. Others include less obvious variations in hand detailing, coloration and size; some early figures had no trademarkings at all; some have brass rivets on all or some of the joints.

Four hair colors were offered in 1964: Blonde, Auburn (Red), Brown and Black. Eye colors were specifically matched to hair colors; Blonde and Brown hair came with brown eyes, Black and Auburn hair came with blue eyes. In 1965 an American-ethnic version of the basic soldier was offered; it was simply a caucasian feature figure molded in brown vinyl instead of the pink used otherwise. Some very early issue figures appear to have eyeliner, and these heads seem more prone to shrinkage than later variants. In 1966, a European "foreign" and Japanese head version was released, with the advent of the 6 "Action Soldiers of the World' releases. In 1967, talking variants were also released. Late Black, Red, Blonde and Brown talker heads were of a softer vinyl, essentially the same as those used for flocking in the Adventurer series introduced in 1970.

Aside from the obvious trademarking on the right buttock, other aspects of the figure were copyrighted features that allowed Hasbro to successfully pursue cases against producers of cheap imitations, since the human figure itself cannot be copyrighted or trademarked. The scar on the right cheek was one; another, unintentional at first, was the placement of the right thumbnail on the underside of the thumb. Early trademarking, with "G.I. Joe™", was used through some point in 1965; the markings changed once G.I. Joe was a registered trademark; "G.I. Joe®" now appears on the first line. Subsequently, the stamped trademarking was altered after the patent was granted (in late 1966), and assigned a number; 3,277,602. Figures with this marking would have entered the retail market during 1967. G.I. Joe figures manufactured in Canada, had two variants on the U.S. production of the first three types. The Canadian version pelvis has an extra ridge immediately above the buttocks. This mold was the version used by Palitoy (without the trademarkings) when Action Man was released in the UK market in 1966.

The original 1964 basic figures came in a lidded box - a concept copied for the 1965 Johnny Hero figure - with dynamic graphics that illustrated the specific branch of the military offered; the enclosed figure was not dressed as illustrated, but came with basic fatigues, boots, cap and dog tag as appropriate to the branch. The side panels of the box had photo illustrations of accessory sets available to fully kit out the enclosed figure, a well thought out marketing ploy (known in the industry as the 'razor and razor blade' concept, where the toy (the 'razor') is sold 'as-is' and consumers pay separately for the accessories (the 'blades')). The background coloration depended on the branch; wood grain was used for soldier/marine, bright yellow was used for pilot, and blue was used for sailor. A folded leaflet was included in the box that illustrated all four branches, and all accessories (similar to this 60s Action Man version), along with a user's manual. The basic figures were Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot, Action Marine and an African American-ethnic variant (offered about a year after the original release).

The "Action Soldiers of the World" releases of 1966 came in deluxe and small sets. The six offerings were: German Soldier, British Commando, Russian Infantryman, Australian Jungle Fighter, Japanese Imperial Soldier, and French Resistance Fighter. The deluxe sets were a window box format that contained the dressed figure, and all the attendant accessories. Down the left side of the package was a dynamic graphic of the included figure in action, with the package contents listed below. The small sets were split between a narrow boxed-dressed figure with only helmet, appropriate jacket and trousers, and boots; and a separate carded set that included all the accessories/equipment to complete the set.

G.I. Joe had a wealth of uniforms, weapons and equipment. Some came in deluxe sets with a figure, others were sold in carded uniform/accessory sets (40th anniversary sets for example), as with the soldiers of the world sets. Each branch of the U.S. military was represented with uniform/equipment sets; the navy sets included a frogman, with real rubber 3-piece wetsuit (jacket, trousers and hood); a deep sea diver, with rubberized suit, bell helmet, weights and other detailed accessories, a landing signal officer and others. The air force sets included a scramble pilot, pilot with working parachute, dress uniform and an astronaut with Mercury space capsule. The marines set included communications, paratrooper, beachhead assault, medic, and dress uniform. The army sets included military police, medic, radio operator, and ski/mountain troops. All authentic G.I. Joe clothing, and many of the early cloth accessory items, carried an official G.I. Joe tag. Early items were produced in Japan, then all production was switched to Hong Kong, and this change is reflected in the tags. Weapons and other items were also typically stamped "Hasbro", often with country of origin.

As with Action Man, during the 60s, G.I. Joe had a wooden footlocker to store his accessories in. The overall dimensions were identical to the Action Man item, but the details varied. The metal hinges and clasps were of different manufacture; the hinges did not have a built in stop to prevent the lid from falling back. The insert tray was of a yellow simulated grain plastic, instead of the white version of Action Man. There are green cords attached to each end of the footlocker for carrying purposes. The lid had a G.I. Joe logo decal, and spaces to write one's name, rank and serial no. The lid had a decal insert that itemised all the Combat Soldier accessories it contained, matching the actual tray layout. In 1969, each figure had its own footlocker; Adventure locker, Astronaut locker, and Aquanaut locker with a new lid cover decal that illustrated two available outfit sets for each line. The insert trays for Aquanaut and Astronaut were different from the mold previously used, allowing for an outfit on the right. The Adventurer tray matched the earlier version. All three had different lid insert decals.

Hasbro did not produce many vehicles for the early series G.I. Joe. The "Five Star" Jeep was one of the few offered, beginning in 1965. It was of sturdy construction, available with a trailer, in which the searchlight was mounted; an M40 105 mm recoilless rifle was mounted in the position occupied by the searchlight. The Sears exclusive version of the jeep did not have the green rims, but was otherwise identical. There was also a sand colored variant sold as Desert Patrol. Hasbro also produced a Crash Crew Fire Truck. Hasbro granted a licence to Irwin in 1967 to manufacture seven vehicles; a small jet fighter, jet helicopter, motorcycle and side car (in a couple of color combinations), DUKW amphibious truck, armored car, personnel carrier with mine sweeper, and a German staff car. These were of the blow-mold variety, and suffered from lack of detail, disproportionate scaling, and longevity as a result of the cheaper production method.

In 1967, Hasbro sold but did not market two sets with vehicles under the Action Joe header. One was a police and motorcycle set, the other was a race car driver. Both were discontinued after poor market reception. The race car is similar in design to the more elaborate motorized version sold by Palitoy in the UK around the same time.

GI NURSE ACTION GIRL

In 1967 Hasbro released the GI Nurse Action Girl. Originally the figure was to include several accessory sets but at the last minute the company decided to release only the figure which left the nurse with only her medical accessories. Toy stores didn't know where to shelve GI Nurse. Should she be placed with the GI Joes in boys toys or with the dolls like Barbie in the girls section? GI Nurse Action Girl flopped. Boys didn't want a "doll" with their GI Joes and girls wern't interested when they saw her next to Barbie and all her accessory sets. Today of course, GI Nurse Action Girl is highly sought after by collectors especially if you find her with a white medical bag. The white bag only showed up in a few boxes as opposed to the more common green medical bag. Before GI Nurse Action Girl a Combat Nurse Kit was released in 1964. The toy featured a child size cardboard medic kit with medal handle and latch, microscope, syringe, glasses, printed paper microfilm, "Smith Bros." cough drops, thermometer, eye glasses, stethoscope and hospital guide. There was also a "boys version" doctors kit.

By the late 1960s, in the wake of the Vietnam War, Hasbro sought to downplay the war theme that had initially defined "G.I. Joe". The line became known as "The Adventures of G.I. Joe". In 1970, Hasbro settled on the name "Adventure Team".

To coincide with the new direction, "Life-Like" flocked hair and beard, an innovation developed in England by Palitoy for their licensed version of Joe, Action Man, is introduced in 1970. A retooled African American Adventurer was also introduced, which came in two versions as did the others in the series, bearded or shaven. Unlike previous black G.I. Joes this figure wasn't simply just a repainted white Joe, making Action Soldier and Adventurer the first ever real black G.I. Joes.

Also in 1974 Hasbro introduced "Kung-Fu Grip" to the G.I. Joe line. This was another innovation that had been developed in the UK for Action Man. The hands were molded in a softer plastic that allowed the fingers to grip objects in a more lifelike fashion.

In 1976, G.I. Joe was given eagle eye vision; a movable eye mechanism to allow the toy to appear to be looking around when a lever in the back of the head was moved. This would be the last major innovation for the original line of 12-inch (30 cm) figures.

For its first ten years, G.I. Joe was a generic soldier/adventurer with only the slightest hints of a team concept existing. In 1975, after a failed bid to purchase the toy rights to the Six Million Dollar Man, Hasbro issued a bionic warrior figure: Mike Power, Atomic Man.

One million units were sold. Also added to the Adventure Team was a superhero, Bullet Man. This character had recurring enemies, The Intruders – Strongmen from Another World. Comics included with figures at the time featured "Eagle Eye" Joe, Atomic Man, and Bullet Man operating together; the Adventure Team was finally an actual team. At this time, Hasbro released a line of inexpensive, rotationally molded mannequins in the G.I. Joe style called The Defenders. The original 12-inch (30 cm) G.I. Joe line ended in America in 1976.

Action Man

From 1966 through 1984, Palitoy Ltd. produced a British version of the 12-inch (30 cm) G.I. Joe line, under the Action Man name for the UK market. Initially, these were exactly the same designs as the American figures, and at first the same military theme which included figures from World War II. The line later expanded to include all men of action, like football players and other sports figures. In the early 1980s, Palitoy responded to falling sales of Action Man by launching "Action Force", a new range of smaller military-themed figures in the style of the then-popular Star Wars line from Kenner. Later, when the U.S. Real American Hero line was released in the UK, they were released under the 'Action Force' title, since the term "G.I." is not in common use in Britain. The figures had the same appearance and code names as the American G.I. Joes, but their identities and histories were international rather than purely American or British. The range was later renamed G.I. Joe to bring it into line with international markets; however, the Action Man line retained its original name when it was revived in the early 1990s.

The G.I. Joe line was also licensed to Germany under the Action Team name. In Spain, Geyperman was the Hasbro licensee, although the products were more based on Palitoy's line, down to the logo design. In France the name was Action Joe, in Japan, Takara and Tsukuda licensed the figures under the names "G.I. Joe" and "Combat Man". In Italy, Polistil licensed the figures under the Action Team name. In Australia, the line was released as "G.I. Joe" by Kenbrite; Palitoy also licensed their "ActionMan" line to TolToys. In Brazil, it was licensed to Brinquedos Estrela; the 12-inch (30 cm) line was called "Falcon" and the 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) figures were called "Comandos em Ação" ("Action Commandos"). In Argentina, the G.I. Joe figures were licensed by Veri-li enterprises under the name "Joe Super Temerario", and "Los Temerarios". The G.I. Joe toy line was produced in India under the Funskool brand. In Mexico, G.I. Joe was licensed to Lili-Ledy and were named "Hombres de Acción" (Men of Action).

A REAL AMERICAN HERO

"A Real American Hero" was brought about as a revival of the original 12 in (30 cm) G.I. Joe brand of the 1960s and 1970s. After the 12" figure had been absent from toy shelves for six years, G.I. Joe was re-introduced in a 3 3/4 in (9.52 cm) action figure format following the success of the Star Wars and Micronauts toylines. Those of us who had the original G.I. Joe knew this wasn't really G.I. Joe, but the kids sure liked them.

The genesis of the toy line came about from a chance meeting in a men's room at a charity event attended by executives from Hasbro and Marvel Comics. They talked about each other’s respective businesses, and it came up that Hasbro wanted to reactivate the trademark on G.I. Joe, but they were trying to come up with a new approach.

At the time Larry Hama was developing an idea for a new comic book called Fury Force, which he was hoping would be an ongoing series for Marvel Comics. The original premise had the son of S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury assembling a team of elite commandos to battle neo-Nazi terrorists HYDRA. Jim Shooter, then editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, approached Hama about Hasbro's G.I. Joe idea and the Fury concept was adapted for the project. Shooter suggested to Hasbro that "G.I. Joe" should be the team name and that they should fight terrorists, while Archie Goodwin invented Cobra and the Cobra Commander; everything else was created by Hama. Hasbro was initially uncertain about making villain toys, believing this would not sell. Marvel would also suggest the inclusion of female Joes in the toyline, and to include them with the vehicles (as Hasbro again worried they would not sell on their own).

Each G.I. Joe figure included a character biography, called a "file card". Hama was largely responsible for writing these file cards, especially for the first ten years. When developing many of the characters, he drew much from his own experiences in the US military. The overall premise for the toyline revolves around an elite counter-terrorist team code-named G.I. Joe, whose main purpose is to defend human freedom from Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.

Every year, Hasbro and Marvel would meet up to discuss the upcoming toys and marketing. Larry Hama was given free rein by Marvel's editors. Both the toys and the comics would become a great success, the comics being Marvel Comic's most subscribed title at one point. But Marvel Productions, who handled the cartoon, overspent on production and had "a critical success but a financial disaster" with the show. In 1985, both Toy & Lamp and Hobby World magazines ranked G.I. Joe as the top-selling American toy.

In 1994, Hasbro transferred control of the G.I. Joe toyline and brand name to the newly acquired Kenner division, who promptly cancelled the A Real American Hero toyline and replaced it with G.I. Joe Extreme. After brief revivals in 1997 and 1998, the toyline was revived as the "Real American Hero Collection" in 2000 to the mass market. In both cases, previous molds were reused and some characters had to be renamed due to copyright issues. Another relaunch was made in 2002 under the theme "G.I. Joe vs. Cobra" and new designs and characters were introduced.

Hasbro officially announced a new line of "25th Anniversary" 4" G.I. Joe figures on January 18th, 2007. The line is primarily based on the characters and designs from the early part of the Real American Hero line.

The action figures were 3 3/4 in (9.52 cm) tall, at roughly 1:18 scale. Throughout the original toyline production from 1982 through 1994, figure construction remained relatively the same. The most notable changes were the second series' addition of "swivel-arm" articulation in 1983 which allowed the forearm to rotate above the elbow (initial figures could only bend at the elbow), and the fourth series' ball joints replacing the former swivel necks, both dramatically increasing a figures poseability. The 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) line was canceled at the end of 1994.

Hasbro also released various vehicles and playsets to be used with the figures. Many of the vehicles and playsets were based on, or influenced by, real or experimental military technologies that were deployed or being developed during the 1980s. Some examples of this amongst the vehicles released were the G.I. Joe Skystriker XP-14F fighter plane based on the F-14 Tomcat; the Cobra Rattler, which has similarities to the A-10 Thunderbolt II; the Dragonfly attack helicopter which was nearly identical to the Bell AH-1 Cobra; the Cobra Night Raven S³P inspired by the Blackbird SR-71; and the M.O.B.A.T. tank which was modeled after the M551 Sheridan. The Mobile Missile System (M.M.S.) playset was also strikingly similar to the MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air (SAM) missile system. However, certain toys were completely original and in-story incorporated technologies that were unavailable at the time such as the H.A.L. laser artillery, and J.U.M.P. jet pack.

But the Holy Grail of G.I. Joe toys was the USS Flagg aircraft carrier from Hasbro. Named after General Lawrence J. Flagg, the comic-book character who created the G.I. Joe team and was later slain by Cobra, and inspired by the actual USS Nimitz Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Flagg measured just over seven feet long and three and a half feet wide. During its initial release, it was the largest playset aimed for boys in existence and sold for $109.99. With a box itself that measured 42 inches wide, it remains the largest G.I. Joe toy ever created. While the aircraft carrier had plenty of features like electronic public address system, allowing broadcasting of the player's voice, a two-piece utility vehicle, radar, missile launchers, an "Admiral's Launch," an elevator deck, and an arrestor cable making playtime worthwhile, its main purpose was to house and hold the other G.I. Joe vehicles, planes, and helicopters. The USS Flagg came with one of the greatest action figures ever produced by Hasbro's G.I. Joe vintage line, Admiral Keel-Haul. With a wholly original body mold, Keel-Haul is one of the most uniquely designed figures. Originally exclusive to the USS Flagg, Keel-Haul was later sold individually in 1986 but was discontinued domestically in 1987. He was made available via mail-order as part of a "Special Missions Drivers" set in 1989, and left-over figures would later pop-up in arcades and carnivals across the United States as a prize option in 1993.

SUPER JOE

In 1977, Hasbro released the Super Joe Adventure Team, and took the battle between good and evil to the stars. The figures were scaled down to 8 1/2 inches, similar in size to Mego's Superheroes line of action figures. The line was a hybrid of superhero and space action figures with new features incorporated such as battery powered back-pack lights and motorized accessories. The hero Super Joe characters, Super Joe Commander (Caucasian/African American) and Super Joe (Caucasian/African American) had a "One-Two Punch" that could be activated by pressing panels on the figure's back. The majority of these figures used Kung-Fu grip style plastic in the joints and hands. But with age, the material degrades, leaving even unopened figures missing limbs and hands.

Unlike the original G.I. Joe collection, the Super Joe collection was developed from the start with a play-pattern of Good vs Evil. Super Joe Commander and the Adventure Team (Man of Action, and Adventurer) with their alien comrades "The Night Fighters", Luminos and The Shield, fight against the evil Gor, King of the Terrons, Terron, The Beast from Beyond, and his orange-eyed ally Darkon, the half-man half-monster.

Super Joe was discontinued by the end of 1978. The same basic body molds were used later by a subsidiary of Hasbro to produce a line of action figures based on the TV series Space Academy.

As a follow-up to the Real American Hero toyline, Sgt. Savage and his Screaming Eagles figures (above) debuted in late 1994. It was canceled after only two waves of figures were released, due to a combination of scarce marketing and low sales.

In 1995, G.I. Joe Extreme figures were introduced by Kenner Toys (who had merged with Hasbro in late 1994, taking over their boys toys production). Along with the release of toys, G.I. Joe Extreme featured a comic book, published by Dark Horse Comics, and a Gunther-Wahl-produced cartoon series which ran for two seasons.

A select assortment of figures from the "Real American Hero" line were released as Toys "R" Us exclusives to celebrate the 15th anniversary. A second assortment of the Stars & Stripes Forever series followed in 1998. In 2000, Hasbro re-released a selection of 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) G.I. Joe figures and vehicles. This line lasted until 2002. The figures were sold in packs of two and consisted of repainted versions of figures from the Real American Hero line. Some of these repainted figures were assigned new identities: for example, the Baroness figure was repainted and sold as a new character called Chameleon, described on the packaging as "the illegitimate half sister of Baroness".

Beginning in 2002, newly designed collections of 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) G.I. Joe figures and vehicles were released. Each collection centered on a storyline or theme, such as "Spy Troops" (right) and "Valor vs. Venom". Direct-to-DVD features were animated for both the G.I. Joe: Spy Troops and G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom collections, as well as a new trading card game based on the G.I. Joe vs. Cobra storyline. Both the 12-inch (30 cm) and 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) lines were put on hiatus prior to the release of the Sigma 6 line in 2005.

A new line of 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) toys was reintroduced after a very brief hiatus via Hasbro's direct-to-consumer website HasbroToyShop.com and various online retailers. As a result of the line's success, some figures also became available at certain retailers, such as Toys "R" Us.

SIGMA 6

2005 saw the introduction of a new line called G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 (above), consisting initially of an 8" scale selection of action figures distinguished by their extensive articulation and accessories. Sigma 6 combined entirely new characters with already familiar characters from the 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) "Real American Hero" line. Its release was accompanied by a television series produced by the Japanese animation studio GONZO, and a comic book mini-series published by Devil's Due. Hasbro also expanded the Sigma 6 line to include a 2 1/2" scale selection of vehicles, play sets, and figurines with limited articulation.

2007 saw the re-branding of the 8" line. The Sigma Six branding was dropped in the spring of 2007. Subsequent 8" figures were branded simply as "G.I. Joe" action figures and divided into differently packaged sub-groups such as Combat Squad, Commandos, and Adventure Team. The entire 8" product line was canceled by the end of 2007, although Hasbro considers the 8" figures a success and may revisit the scale in the future.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Real American Hero line in 2007, Hasbro released a collection of newly sculpted 4-inch (10 cm) figures (as opposed to the 3.75-inch (9.5 cm) scale of the Real American Hero line) based on classic and new designs of many of the line's best known and most popular characters. The 25th-anniversary figures replaced the classic O-ring construction with a swivel chest feature and increased points of articulation beyond the standard shoulder, elbow and knees to swivel wrists, ankles and double-hinged knees. The 25th-anniversary figures also include "Specialist Trakker", otherwise known as Matt Trakker the leader of M.A.S.K.

Originally planned to consist of only two sets of five figures each (one G.I. Joe and one Cobra), the "25th Anniversary" collection was well received by retailers and collectors and was expanded by Hasbro into a full-fledged toyline that ran through 2009. The most recent releases in this line do not include the "25th Anniversary" branding, but in all other respects constitute a continuation of the "25th Anniversary" collection. Other waves released in 2009 include the Resolute figures, which were introduced in wave 13, and had an animated feature premiere in April 2009.

The "25th Anniversary" line was later canceled, in favor of releasing figures for the upcoming live-action movie. Some of the planned figures from canceled waves, totaling 14 figures, were instead released as two 7-figure exclusive packs. Entitled "Defense of Cobra Island" and Attack on Cobra Island, each set contained figures from one opposing side. The canceled future waves included Night Force Falcon, the Python Patrol Trooper and Tele-Viper, and an Iron Klaw/Resolute Crimson Guard Trooper Comic Pack.

In July 2009, a series of figures based on the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra movie was released in the United States and Australia. The line was a mixture of the Rise of Cobra movie designs, some G.I. Joe vs Cobra designs, some 25th Anniversary figure molds and new molds. In 2010, a new series of figures was released, based on four battlegrounds: Desert, City, Jungle and Arctic. The packaging was an update to the 25th Anniversary design. In 2011, a new series of figures was released, including characters from both G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and the G.I. Joe: Renegades cartoon series. This series was continued through 2012.

Also in 2009, Sideshow Collectibles began releasing its own line of G.I. Joe figures (right) under license from Hasbro. These highly detailed figures offer new looks at key characters. In addition, Sideshow also created "Figure Environments", which are small diorama pieces intended to enhance the display of their figures.

A series of figures based on the movie G.I. Joe: Retaliation was confirmed by Hasbro in February 2012. Despite the movie's release being moved from June 2012 to March 2013, the initial assortments of figures, vehicles, and role-play items were shipped to retailers, and appeared on store shelves in May 2012. A Variety article was published stating that the already released figures had been pulled from the shelves and recalled by Hasbro, although the companies official statement indicated that existing product would be sold through. New product shipments were halted by Hasbro, but existing Retaliation figures were available in Target, Wal-Mart, and Toys R Us as late as December 2012. The toyline was re-released in the United States in February 2013. In 2014, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of G.I. Joe, a new line of figures was released, using characters from the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon series. This series ended in 2016.

The second quarter of 2020 sees the release of the G.I. Joe Classified Series. It is a new line of highly articulated 6-inch scale action figures that includes prominent characters like Snake-Eyes, Scarlett, Roadblock, and Duke. This line features premium deco, detailing, articulation, and classic design updated to bring the classic characters into the modern era, plus accessories inspired by each character's rich history. The figures are released in waves, and the boxart for each package is done by multiple artists to show off the characters.

RETURN OF THE 12" G.I. JOE...

HALL OF FAME COLLECTION

During the fourteen years that G.I. Joe had not existed as a 12" action figure, James DeSimone had been touring toy shows all over the United States buying and selling G.I. Joe action figures. In the mid-1980s, DeSimone created the G.I. Joe Collectors Club, which was a throw-back to the original G.I. Joe Collectors Clubs that had existed during the vintage era of the 12" figures (1964–1978). The DeSimone version of the club existed as a newsletter to which thousands of nostalgic collectors subscribed.

As a result of DeSimone's efforts to organize the G.I. Joe collectors, Hasbro licensed DeSimone's G.I. Joe Collectors Club. Hasbro also licensed DeSimone to promote official G.I. Joe Conventions during the early 1990s. After Hasbro began collaborating with DeSimone, Hasbro executives realized that there was an untapped market of nostalgic collectors who had grown up on the original G.I. Joe and who wanted more. During the 1980s, the prices of vintage toys and especially G.I. Joe had increased astronomically because the demand for vintage toys like G.I. Joe and Captain Action far outstripped the supply. Thus began Hasbro's plan to revive the 12" G.I. Joe action figure with the Hall of Fame line.

Hasbro honored James DeSimone's contributions by acknowledging his assistance on the back cover of every Hall of Fame G.I. Joe's box. The back covers of each box also included a file card for each figure (just as the 3.75" line did) and a photo of the new figure along with the photo of a similar figure from DeSimone's collection of the vintage era of G.I. Joe (1964–1978).

During the era that DeSimone was running the unlicensed G.I. Joe Collectors Club, he issued two collecting and identifiction guides which had hundreds of photos. In 1994, DeSimone created the Hasbro-authorized "The New Official Identification Guide To G.I. Joe 1964-1978", which was the first full color photo guide to the action figures, vehicles, gear, outfits, and play-sets that were produced during the original era of the 12" G.I. Joe.

The Hasbro G.I. Joe Hall of Fame era of 12" action figures began in 1991, when Hasbro released the Target Exclusive Duke in response to the high demand from nostalgic collectors of the vintage era G.I. Joe action figures. Duke was the first 12" (30 cm) action figure produced in the Hasbro G.I. Joe line since 1978. During the G.I. Joe Hall of Fame era, Hasbro introduced several new products to the world of action figure collectibles. The first innovation was the limited edition, individually numbered collectible figures. The individual numbering created a buying frenzy among collectors who erroneously believed that finding figures with the lowest numbers would make them more valuable. Hasbro also used variant sets (also known as chase sets) to increase demand and interest in the figures and to further accentuate that these figures would have a high collectible value, introduced a gold seal over the end flaps of the boxes. Additionally, talking voice chips were used in some figures; and limited edition action figure sets were released for the Street Fighter II video game and movie characters, and also for the Mortal Kombat characters. The Target Exclusive Duke had a headsculpt that was never used again for any other G.I. Joe figure. The Target Duke was dressed for Desert Storm combat, and he included a backpack, commemorative stand, a light-up weapon with sound effects, grenades, and a Beretta handgun and holster.

During the Hall of Fame era, Hasbro usually issued its G.I. Joe sets three times per year; with the largest amount of figures, vehicles, clothing, and gear sets being issued around October, in time for the holiday season. Then during spring and summer, smaller waves (usually mini-sets) of figures, clothing, and gear would be released. The Hall of Fame era ended in 1994 when G.I. Joe released its 30th Anniversary Commemorative sets which featured a new body style based on the Action Man sets that were being sold in Europe.

FIRST WAVE

In 1992, Hasbro released the first wave of the new 12" G.I. Joe Hall of Fame action figures. These four figures were Stalker, Cobra Commander, Snake Eyes, and a new version of Duke. The new version of Duke (2nd Edition) had a different headsculpt from the Target Exclusive Duke (1st Edition). The Snake Eyes figure introduced a new variation on the trademark G.I. Joe scar by putting the scar over the figure's left eye instead of on his right cheek as had traditionally been the case during the vintage era (1964–1978) of G.I. Joe.

The first wave of the Hall of Fame deluxe figures also had a different body from the Target Exclusive Duke. The Target Duke had a body similar to a Mattel Ken doll, except the arms and legs were thicker and made of rubber covering a bendable plastic frame. The new bodies were changed to look more muscular and defined than the Target Duke. The Target Duke also had open hands which did not grip the enclosed weapons and gear very well. The first wave of Hall of Fame figures corrected this defect by giving the figures gripping hands that were similar to the 1970s Kung-Fu Grip that the G.I. Joe and Action Man figures shared. These sets were priced at $19.99 at the time.

SECOND WAVE

About six months later, Hasbro issued two new figures, Grunt and Heavy Duty. These were basic figures that were only equipped with a plastic M-16, helmet, T-shirt, pants, boots and dogtags. These basic figures lead the way for the second wave of deluxe figures which featured Ace, Storm Shadow, Destro, and Gung-Ho.

Ace was a particular stand-out from that wave because he was a pilot, which was one of the most popular themes from the vintage era. Gung-Ho was issued with a limited edition gold sword (the chase set) and the rest of the run was with a silver sword. Gung-Ho was issued in a Marine Corps dress uniform, which evoked memories of the popular Marine Corps set from the vintage era. Destro was the figure which owed the most to the vintage era Bulletman character. Bulletman had not only been a 1940s comic book character, but the chrome-plated figure had also been part of the last wave of the vintage G.I. Joe Adventure Team. Just like the vintage Bulletman, Destro's chrome-plated mask was removable. Storm Shadow was the ninja-trained arch-enemy of Snake-Eyes. As with the first wave, all of these figures were based on characters that were part of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoons and comic books.

THE LAST WAVE

A few months after the second wave of figures was released, G.I. Joe issued Combat Camo Duke and Combat Camo Roadblock, which were both figures whose body color changed to exhibit camouflage paint patterns when they were dipped in cold or warm water. These were basic figures like Grunt and Heavy Duty, and only cost around $7.99 at the time. A few months later Rock N Roll and Major Bludd were issued as deluxe sets. Rock N Roll was the first 12" G.I. Joe since the 1970s to have a flocked hair and beard. Rock N Roll was also issued in with a tan shirt and also a limited edition green shirt which was the variant chase set.

About six months later, Electronic Battle Command Duke, Karate-Choppin' Snake-Eyes, Rapid-Fire, and Flint were issued. Electronic Battle Command Duke used the same headsculpt as the Duke from the first wave, but he had a Vietnam era camouflage uniform and a talking voice chip that allowed the battery-operated figure to speak over a thousand phrases. Electronic Battle Command Duke was originally priced at $39.99, which was unheard of at the time for toy action figure.

VEHICLES AND GEAR SETS

At some point after the first wave of Hall of Fame G.I. Joe sets were issued, Hasbro began releasing clothing and gear sets for the 12" G.I. Joe line. Some of these sets were issued as part of the Kenner line when Hasbro briefly transferred the G.I. Joe franchise to their Kenner sub-division. Also during this period, G.I. Joe issued the Rhino Jeep and the Strike-Cycle which had a transport trailer that attached to the back of the Rhino Jeep. The Strike Cycle was released at the same time as the Flint action figure, and the illustration on the cover of the box showed Flint riding the motorcycle.

30th ANNIVERSARY SETS

in 1994, limited edition sets are released with recreations of the original G.I. Joe, using the HOF body and the head sculpt subsequently used for the HOF limited edition sets. The supplied accessories are all oversize, as with all HOF sets. A reproduction of the original figure box was included. These sets were marketed as collectibles, implying that they would have the high market value typically associated with the much sought after original G.I. Joe. The reality is somewhat different, since the value of the originals was largely based on nostalgia for the then 30 to 40-year-olds for the high production quality of the vintage line. The high play value content associated with the original was lacking from the new out of scale, limited articulation figure; it was in many ways a step backwards in terms of quality and attention to detail. The intention of this product was simply to cash in on the expanding collectibles market.

CLASSIC COLLECTION

With the renewed interest in 12-inch action figures of all kinds, Hasbro decided to go beyond the 12-inch versions of their "Hall of Fame" G.I. Joe line and reintroduce a series of figure closer in spirit to the original G.I. Joe lineup. Hasbro's G.I. Joe Classic Collection figures were first released in 1996, under the Kenner brand.

The following four figures were the initial Classic Collection offering: U.S. Army Infantry (desert camo), British SAS, Australian ODF and U.S. Airborne Ranger. Over the next few years a wide range of figures was released, with overall attention to equipment and clothing detail. Minor changes were made to the actual figure during the "Classic Collection" run, until the broader G.I. Joe releases that used the same body, at which point variants with "fuzz heads", "kung fu" grip and greater articulation were introduced. This line re-introduced the attention to detail and range of equipment/uniforms that had made the original figure popular in the 1960s. Although sold as a toy, a prime target market was the then growing G.I. Joe collector's market. This line sparked a resurgence in 12-inch military action figures; a number of other companies began selling a wide range of military sets and vehicles, in most cases with more attention to detail than the Hasbro lineup, but not necessarily of a higher quality. In any event, this created a lot of competition for Hasbro's new G.I. Joe. Some figures were extremely close in detail and construction, such as those sold by 21st Century Toys; it carried its own trademarking, even though it was a blatant copy of Hasbro's product. Later, companies such as Dragon Models Limited produced figures with a far greater range of articulation & detail, at a premium price, but nonetheless very appealing to collectors.

Various ethnicities in addition to Native American and African American were implied through different skin tones and head sculpt variations. These figures offered a higher level of articulation than the Hall Of Fame (HOF) figures offered earlier in the 1990s, or the G.I. Joe store exclusives from 1996 (Airborne MP, Battle of the Bulge, Dress Marine, Navy SEAL w/raft, Navy Admiral, and others) that were based on the HOF body, with an adaptation of the original 1960s head sculpt and the weapons were more appropriately scaled to the figures. The bodies were also closer in spirit to the original G I Joe of the 1960s, articulated in a similar fashion, albeit of a much heavier plastic, with stiff joints which negatively impacted the poseability of the figures. The faces featured the trademark scar on the right cheek, and initially only one head mold was used, with the exception of the African American figure. All these early heads had a "flat-top" crewcut look. Later issues after the end of the deluxe windowbox format offered a variety of head molds, although the heads themselves were no longer as proportionate to the body, generally on the small side, including the flat-top version. The hands were also an improvement over the bulky Hall of Fame Series hand design, but still not to the level of the 1970s kung-fu grip, and were still somewhat oversized, with no separation of the fingers (although deft use of an xacto knife easily remedied this aspect). Later issue hands were smaller and more proportionate and some had fingers that pivoted on a pin running through the knuckles. The clothing and footwear was arguably of a more realistic nature than the earlier figures.

All the outfits have a shirt tag similar to the vintage era, with "made in China" as opposed to the "made in Hong Kong". All figures came with two dog tags on a single chain; one with the G.I. Joe logo, the other indicating the represented branch/outfit the figure belonged to. This tag design was introduced with the G.I. Joe Hall of Fame series or figures.

The window-box packaging used for the first couple of years was intended to reflect the 1960s G.I. Joe packaging style, including the wood grain background and the excellent graphic representations of the enclosed soldier. Carded accessory sets were also offered, also reflecting the 1960s woodgrain packaging graphics. Special edition figures were also released through the Hasbro-authorized G.I. Joe Collectors Club, and through a number of retail stores, FAO Schwartz being the most exclusive (and expensive) offerings, such as the F15E Fighter Pilot, which retailed for $135 USD at the time of release.

The Classic Collection received its own footlocker; modelled after the 1975 G.I. Joe version, it was all plastic, with plastic clasp and hinges, but had cord carry handles, unlike the 1975 version. The overall dimensions were virtually identical to its older sibling, with "reinforced" corners, but with a hinge that ran the entire length. The tray insert was quite different, being of black plastic with a lift handle in the center.

The Classic Collection ran to 2004 and saw the introduction of G.I. Janes (above right), the first 12-inch (30 cm) female dolls in the G.I. Joe line-up since 1967; this doll was a helicopter pilot.

In 2000, a Navajo Code Talker was introduced, one of only two 12-inch (30 cm) G.I. Joe talking figures (until this time) since the 1970s.

In 2001, G.I. Joe honored the events of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by releasing a line of Pearl Harbor figures.

Hasbro G.I. Joe added Action figures of the Tuskegee Airmen Fighter Pilot and Bomber Pilot (above left), in recognition of the Black Veterans to their Classic Collection "WWII Forces" Limited Edition series in 1997. Tuskegee Airmen was the popular name of a group of African American pilots who flew with distinction for the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. The 12 inch figurines bearing trademark cheek scars were introduced in book cover window boxes with pilot's equipment and a history of the Tuskegee Airmen's presence in World War 2. The Bomber Soldier equipment included a Crusher Cap, Aviator Glasses, HS-18 Headphones, Shirt with Wings, Tie, Pants, A-2 Flight Jacket, 3/4 High G.I. Shoes, Personnel Belt, Pouch, 45.CAL Pistol, Holster, 4 Insulated Bottles, and A-1 Food Container. Fighter Pilot Joe comes with an A-11 flight helmet, a pair of B-7 goggles, A-14 oxygen mask, an officer's shirt with pilot's wings, trousers (Type A-9), a B-10 flight jacket, 3/4 G.I. boots, and Mae West life-vest, personnel belt, first aid pouch, and a pistol & holster, both pilots wear the classic Joe dog tags.

Other figures were also sold under this banner, still in the window box format, but under a variety of categories; included were "D-Day Salute", Shuttle Astronaut, Mercury Astronaut, PT-Boat Commander, B-17 Bomber Crewman, MOH Francis S. Currey and U.S. Army & Navy Footballers. The same body mold was used, with heads particular to the character portrayed.

The line also included historical figures such as Colin L. Powell, Omar N. Bradley, George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, George Washington, Bon Hope and a very rare Tom Hanks fron Saving Private Ryan.

When Steven Spielberg was in post production on Saving Private Ryan in 1998, Hasbro sent 11 prototype 12" G.I. Joe Action figures to the studio for Spielberg to look at. Though Spielberg loved the Tom Hanks WWII replica, he asked Hasbro to not make anymore and destroy any remaining figures due to the seriousness tone of the film. One was given to Tom Hanks, another to Spielberg's son Max, and some were given to office staff. The others were delivered into the Spielberg archives. The Tom Hanks doll was later massed produced and sold as a regular G.I. Joe doll (with a beard), but a couple hundred more of the original Saving Private Ryan G.I. Joe's were made with the original Hasbro boxes and handed out to guests as a special gift during a private screening of the film. All others were apparently destroyed and the Tom Hanks GI Joe was never available retail.

Prior to the release of the Classic Collection, Hasbro offered a small series of limited store release editions in the vein of the early 60's boxed figures with wood grain background. The basic figures were Dress Marine (Toys R Us), Battle of the Bulge (Target), Home for the Holidays Soldier, and Military Police (Kaybee Toys), with three ethnic variations of the MP, and two variations of Marine, and Soldiers. There were some even more limited market World War II commemorative releases; Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot, Action Marine Target (versions shown, all blond hair), Navy Admiral and others. FAO Schwartz offered the premium Navy Seal with working raft. The uniforms were for the most part thin fabric; the KayBee toys MP however, was specified in a heavy fabric closer to the 60s vintage outfit.

The figure was no different from the basic limited articulation Hall of Fame body, but came with a re-sculpted head similar in design to the vintage G.I. Joe; the neck post was also able to swivel rather than just rotate left/right. The trademark covered the entire buttocks and there was often a serial number on the lower back. Some packages came with a more articulated body.

40th ANNIVERSARY REPRODUCTIONS

Starting in 2003, Hasbro began releasing large boxed sets that contained both a boxed figure, and a large or small window boxed related outfit set. Some sets came with a few carded accessories instead of a window box set. One soldier footlocker set was released; the large outer box has a diagonal stripe with "Timeless Collection" as did all 40th Anniversary sets. The 40th packaging was almost identical to the original items, with the addition of "Anniversary Edition" to all boxes, and "40th" imprinted on all plastic items to clearly distinguish them from original items and these sets typically retailed for around $30 U.S. There were 23 general release sets all together: numbered 1-21, and 30. Others numbered between 22 and 29 have been released through collector clubs at premium prices (23 - Combat Soldier, and 25 - Pilot Dress Parade) since the general releases were cancelled.

The figures were generally available in all Blonde, Black, Brown and Auburn hair variants, with the appropriate eye colors. A few sets came with American-ethnic variants. The body itself is simply the Timeless Collection, with a revised copyright, skin tone and head mold.

All 40th Anniversary sets came in a large green outer box. The figure box is on the left, with the actual figure visible from the back. The overall attention to detailed replication of the original items and their specific layout in the packaging is of an excellent level, unlike the Timeless Collection items that often were slightly off in terms of scale and detailing. All sets came with the appropriate user manual (both figure and outfit/accessory), but none came with the equipment manual (fold-out leaflet) that depicted all available accessories for all four branches.

In November 2006 a reproduction Land Adventurer G.I. Joe figure was released as an exclusive to Hot Topic stores. The figure was a reproduction of the Land Adventurer with the Kung-Fu Grip and came in the "Coffin" style box. A reproduction Talking Adventure Team Commander was also released in a limited run of 1,970 issues.

MASTERPIECE EDITION

The brainchild of John Michlig, the Masterpiece Edition package presented a book/figure set for each of the original 1960s Hasbro G.I. Joe line; Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Marine and Action Pilot. The book contained in each had a jacket that pictured the specific figure accompanying the book. Chronicle books published the set, and Don Levine, the driving force behind the original Hasbro product, provided much material for the book. The book outlines the development and history of the original articulated action figure in the form of an oral history, providing information and anecdotes previously unpublished. John Michlig further expanded on this topic in G.I. Joe: The Complete Story of America's Favorite Man of Action, also published by Chronicle books in 1998.

A substantial pre-sale to Target Stores made possible four different reproductions of the G.I. Joe figure.

The G.I. Joe Masterpiece Edition is credited by many for the revival of "classic G.I. Joe" by Hasbro via their Timeless Collection and 40th Anniversary collector's line, as well as an expansion of licensing opportunities related to qualities specific to the older figures.

The specific G.I. Joe Masterpiece Edition concept was later applied by Chronicle Books to other properties, including Batman, Superman, Star Wars and Star Trek.

Packaging the book and figure in a manner consistent with the original Hasbro offerings was essential to Michlig's concept. The original graphic and customized logo for each figure is prominently displayed on each boxes cover and end plate. An issue with the first volume, the Action Soldier, was a fungus (Eurotium chevalieri) that caused mold to develop on the clothing; apparently the clothing was not sprayed with an anti-fungal at one production factory in China. The package design, wherein the front and back cover protrude around the casing containing the book and figure, mimicking an actual book has proved to be problematic; vertical shelf storage will allow the weight of the center casing to pull away from the binding. The focus was on the book, so the package did not include a reproduction of the original figure box, just the items that were included: clothed figure, boots, cap, insignia decals and manual.

The figure is a reproduction of the doll Hasbro had patented during the 60s. The reproduction figures themselves had quality control issues, it was not uncommon for these figures to have stress cracks, and the vinyl used for the hands was of a harder nature than the original, causing fingers to snap off on occasion. Since this was never intended to be sold as a toy for young children (as were the original 1960s figures), it is quite likely that many damaged figures were never removed from the packaging. The figure was a little shorter overall than the original 1960s figure, and all the limbs, torso & pelvis were just very slightly different from the original dolls. This reproduction figure became the basis for the Hasbro G.I. Joe: Timeless Collection series, which had a less pink and shiny skin tone, and a revised knee pivot that prevented the calf from forward over-extension. The trademarking is in the same location as the vintage figure.

Example of one of the four volumes originally released at roughly the same time, although not all retail locations had all editions. The cover photo, although dressed to match the branch of military, pictured only the black haired figure, even though the actual figures matched hair coloration typical of original releases; Black or Brown Army, Brown or Red Marine, Blonde Pilot, and Brown or Red Sailor. The figures were dressed in the appropriate replicas of the original outfits - all shirts were tagged "G.I. Joe by Hasbro, China". None of the outfits had pockets.

As with other G.I. Joe products, FAO Schwarz offered a "limited edition" run of 15,000 units on a Masterpiece Edition G.I. Joe Astronaut Book & Figure set, created to coincide with the G.I. Joe Collector's Convention that was being held on Florida's Space Coast in 1996. The enclosed figure was not limited to the blond typically associated with the original Hasbro pilot/astronaut.

Barnes & Noble book sellers offered the African American version of Action Soldier; as with the Astronaut, the packaging did not have a volume number.

TIMELESS COLLECTION

In the tail end of the 1990s Hasbro built on the renewed interest in authentic reproductions of G.I. Joe established by the Masterpiece Edition reproduction book/figure set; they bought the rights to the ME figure and released a range of store exclusive reproduction figure sets, with the character of the sixties G.I. Joe boxed sets. Later issues were themed after the Adventure Team sets, with flock hair and "kung fu" gripping hands, excluding the African-American figure. By the end of the run, the product line was somewhat confused, since the Adventure Team premise was also being offered with the new 90s body, in sets such as Secret of the Mummy's Tomb, Danger of the Depths and Search for the Yeti.

The first two sets of releases (Timeless Collection I and II) consisted of four offerings from FAO Schwarz, Toys "R" Us, KayBee Toys, and Target. The contents of the store exclusive sets was determined in part by the market the particular store served, so price-wise the spread was Target, Toys, KayBee then FAO on the high end. These releases brought together figure and a complete set of related accessories that were for the most part never offered in a single package in their original 1960s versions, but would have been offered as figure/carded accessories. Some sets were available with African-American figures. The fact that the main audience for these figure sets was adult males in their 30s - 40s (with perhaps extra purchases for their own children) certainly has bearing on the pricing and packaging of these offerings.

The Timeless Collection I packaging included graphics that were designed to evoke the style and feel of the original 60's releases. Timeless Collection I and II featured a lidded window box for the more expensive offerings, similar to the early Classic Collection. Timeless Collection I featured green boxes with a green marbled strip across the top and bottom of the boxes. This style of packaging design was first used with the Classic Collection FAO Schwarz F15E pilot, several years earlier. Target Stores offered a US infantry soldier and footlocker; the packaging says "footlocker series", but only one version was ever released. Toys "R" Us offered Mission: Splashdown, which was one of the two physically largest store release packages. FAO Schwarz had an elaborate wooden box set for their exclusive Green Beret. KayBee Toys offered Heavy Weapons, which came with die-cast metal accessories. Walmart's offerings, "General Ulysses S. Grant" and limited edition "General Robert E. Lee" was labeled "Civil War Series". It is also a bit of an anomaly, since no such figure ever existed in the original 60's lineup.

The Timeless Collection II maintained the same format, but switched to a brown coloration. Toys "R" Us offered the "Rescue of the Lost Squadron" which was the other of the two physically largest store release packages.

FAO Schwarz continued the elaborate wooden box format for their exclusive Marine Jungle Fighter. KayBee Toys offered the Deep Sea Diver, again with all metal accessories & equipment.

Target released a lower priced Action Sailor, in either Caucasian or African American. Neither the Toys nor Target packages had the signature marbled lidded cover.

The Timeless Collection III included Target's "Scramble Pilot" and Kaybee's "Talking Action Pilot", with the Talker pilot in the lidded box format, which included a graphic representation of the original figure box on the cover. Unfortunately, the parachute included with the talker pilot was just for show, it was not functional as was the original 60's version. J.C. Penney offered the "Forward Observer Set".

Subsequent releases were simply labeled "Timeless Collection - Reminiscent of the Golden Age of G.I. Joe" in a window box format utilizing a nice heavy card construction, with graphics and details from the original 60's releases.

All sets were store exclusives, and J.C. Penney was added to the roster. These sets included "Talking Action Sailor", "Green Beret machine Gun Outpost", and "Australian Jungle Fighter" which had the "Foreign Head" as with the original 60's release, and "Airborne Military Police". In many sets, all the accessories were die-cast metal instead of plastic, if somewhat impractical if one wished to pose the figures holding them. Not to be outdone, the FAO Schwarz offerings contained two figures in each set (and for a more reasonable price of $89.99, than their usual $125+ range): the "West Point & Annapolis Cadets" and the "Air Force Academy Cadet & American Cadet Alliance Marine". Then the late sixties "Adventures of G.I. Joe" series that preceded the advent of the Adventure Team was featured with sets such as "Perilous Rescue", "Secret Mission to Spy Island", amongst others. The latter issues were "adventure team" based sets such as "Black Spider Rendezvous", "Undercover Agent", "Skydive to Danger", and "Eight Ropes of Danger", and featured a fuzz-head, kung fu grip version of the Timeless Collection figure. Some of the last releases such as Skydive contained a fuzz head, kung fu grip 40th Anniversary body (darker skin tone, head closer to original painted-head) instead of the Timeless Collection version, and the packaging was of the lighter weight card, closer in design to that used for the Classic Collection based Adventure Team figures, such as Search For The Yeti.

The figure was based on the Masterpiece Edition doll, with a change of skin tone and facial coloring, which in turn was a reproduction of the doll Hasbro had patented during the 1960s. The skin tone was more tan, and lacked the unfortunate pinkish shine of the Masterpiece release. The features were painted with colors not used previously, such as green eyes in some cases. All original hair colors were used; Auburn (red), Black, Brown, and Blonde. The knee pivot was updated, to prevent the calf from over-extending in a forward position, and the plastic used was less susceptible to stress cracks that plagued the Masterpiece releases. The hands are also less brittle, so the fingers do not snap when weapons are pressed between for posing. As with the Masterpiece release, the various limb sections are of slightly different size and markings, to clearly distinguish them from original 60's bodies, for copyright reasons. A talker Pilot and Sailor were part of the lineup, with pull string activation of a battery operated voice box, unlike the original spring/record tape mechanism. Target sold the lower priced sailor, while Kaybee sold the pilot. The trademarking on the buttock includes "authentic reproduction made in China" imprinted on the left cheek.

The idea of reviving the store exclusive special editions of the 60's was not a bad marketing ploy, but the reality was that the exclusivity of the special releases made for frustration on the part of many collectors, since not all chains exist across the country, and within a chain, not all locations would stock the releases; this made it an ideal opportunity for individuals to sell exclusives through online auctions at vastly inflated prices (when the retail price was already on the steep side, all things considered).

Hasbro continued to produce a variety of exclusive offerings that utilize this figure; most were not available to the general public, and some sets were priced in the hundreds of dollars. A couple of the more basic offerings were a talking Land Adventurer, and basic Land adventurer (2006 Hot Topic store exclusive, $14.99 U.S.), both with reproduction boxes/literature. A talking AT commander was released (same as Talking Pilot and Talking Sailor), with the flocked hair and beard. The mechanism is pull cord activated, but battery operated unlike the original 1960s-1970s version.

THE ORIGINAL G.I. JOE

G.I. Joe originated from a comic strip in the 1940s called "Private Breger". In 1937, after receiving a $30 check from The Saturday Evening Post, Dave Breger arrived in New York and began freelancing to Collier's, Parade, This Week, Esquire, Click and The New Yorker. Early in 1941, he was drafted into the United States Army and sent to Camp Livingston in Louisiana, where he repaired trucks. Breger comtinued to draw at night in the bakery or while sitting in a truck with netting overhead to keep the bugs away. The Saturday Evening Post, under the heading Private Breger, began publishing those cartoons as a series starting August 30th, 1941.

The Army became aware of his talent and transferred Breger to the Special Services Division in New York. While station in New York he met and married Brooklyn-born art agent Dorathy Lewis on January 9th, 1942. In the early spring of 1942, he was assigned to the New York staff of Yank, the Army Weekly.

Yank wanted Breger to do cartoons like those in The Saturday Evening Post, but the editors asked him to devise a new title. He came up with the title G.I. Joe from the military term "Government Issue", and the character's full name was Joe Trooper. His G.I. Joe cartoon series began in the first issue of Yank (June 17th, 1942). That summer, Breger arrived in the UK in 1942 as one of the first two Yank correspondents, covering the American military in England as a photo-journalist, while also producing his weekly G.I. Joe cartoon.

King Features Syndicate took an interest and signed Breger on to do a Private Breger (aka Private Breger Abroad) daily panel for domestic distribution. It was launched October 19th, 1942 and continued until October 13th, 1945.

Breger also produced G.I. Jerry, satirical cartoons about Hitler and others in the Nazi regime. There also was a postcard series titled Private Breger. The character remained a private throughout World War II, while Breger himself was promoted through the ranks to corporal, sergeant and eventually lieutenant. His August 25th, 1945 cartoon was signed Lt. Dave Breger, indicating his final military rank. From 1943 to 1946, Private Breger was reprinted in David McKay's Ace Comics (1943-46) and Magic Comics (1945).

Returning to civilian life after World War II, Breger also had his character become a civilian. Private Breger was discharged, and on October 22nd, 1945, the title was altered from Private Breger to Mister Breger. The Mister Breger Sunday strip was added on February 3rd, 1946. Vacationers could write friends with the set of Mister Breger postcards, Mister Breger on Vacation. Recurring themes in the strips and panels included jail, weddings and Breger employed as a bank teller. In one cartoon, Breger predicted that since television showed so many old movies, the day would come when movie theaters would turn to vintage television for product. This prediction came true with the advent of such TV-based films as Mission: Impossible and Star Trek.

Mister Breger also received comic book reprints in The Katzenjammer Kids (1947), Popeye (1967), Beetle Bailey (1969) and Flint Comix and Entertainment (2009-10).

In 1946, Breger became a founding member of the National Cartoonists Society. Dave and Dorathy Breger settled in West Nyack, New York, where they had three children, Dee, Lois and Harry. They were, according to Breger, "all three artistic".

In the 1960s, Breger taught a cartooning course at New York University, developing his lesson plans into a book, How to Draw and Sell Cartoons (1966).

When Breger died in 1970, he was cremated at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. Mister Breger continued to run as a daily panel until March 21st, 1970. The final Sunday was published the following day, two months after his death.

Publisher Ziff-Davis's G.I. Joe (above) was set during the Korean War. Ziff-Davis was in the habit of numbering their first issues "10". When the series became popular, they reset the numbering system, so there are two issues for each number from 10 to 14, and no issues numbered 1 through 5. Volume 1 started in 1950 and lasted five issues, numbered 10 through 14. Volume 2 continuing from the previous volume was published from 1951, and lasted 46 issues numbered 6 through 51. Throughout most of Ziff Davis' history, it was a publisher of hobbyist magazines, often ones devoted to expensive, advertiser-rich technical hobbies such as cars, photography, and electronics. Ziff-Davis published comic books during the early 1950s, operating by their own name and also the name Approved Comics. Eschewing superheroes, they published horror, crime, sports, romance, and Western comics, though most titles didn't last more than a few issues. Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was the art director of the comics line; other notable creators who worked for Ziff-Davis Comics included John Buscema, Sid Greene, Bob Haney, Sam Kweskin, Rudy Lapick, Richard Lazarus, Mort Leav, Paul S. Newman, George Roussos, Mike Sekowsky, Ernie Schroeder, and Ogden Whitney. In 1953, the company mostly abandoned comics, selling its most popular titles, the romance comics Cinderella Love and Romantic Love, the Western Kid Cowboy, and the jungle adventure Wild Boy of the Congo, to St. John Publications. Ziff-Davis continued to publish one title, G.I. Joe, until 1957, a total of 51 issues. Since 1980, Ziff Davis has primarily published computer-related magazines and related websites, establishing Ziff Davis as an Internet information company.

As a licensed property by Hasbro, G.I. Joe comics have been released from 1967 to present. G.I. Joe re-appeared in the 1980s as a promotional comic book, produced by Marvel Comics. The success of the main title led Marvel Comics to produce a secondary title, G.I. Joe: Special Missions which lasted 28 issues. The main series released its final issue #155 in December 1994, coinciding with the end of the Real American Hero toy line.

In July 2001, Devil's Due Publishing acquired the rights to G.I. Joe and released a four-issue limited series entitled G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Reinstated). The new series picked up seven years after the end of the Marvel Comics series, and also used elements from the animated TV series. Strong sales led to Reinstated being upgraded to ongoing, and DDP also published other G.I. Joe titles outside the existing continuity. DDP's license with Hasbro expired in 2008 and was not renewed.

In 2009, IDW Publishing began to publish the series again. IDW's G.I. Joe series is a complete reboot of the property, ignoring the continuity from the Marvel and Devil's Due incarnations of the comic. However, the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series originally published by Marvel Comics in the 1980s and 1990s was revived as an ongoing series in May 2010 with a special #155 1/2 issue, and followed by #156 in July. The series directly picks up from the end of the Marvel Comics series and ignores the Devil's Due continuity completely.

In the 1960s, Hanna-Barbera released a record titled "The Story of the Green Beret" as a G.I. Joe tie-in. Later, four Book and Record 45 rpm sets were released by Peter Pan Records, which tied into accessory packages. Three of these were combined into an LP. The art of the original Peter Pan book and record sets was created by Carl Pfeufer. The same recordings were also repackaged as material for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

G.I. JOE AT THE MOVIES

Many movies have been made based upon G.I. Joe and the toy lines that developed from the action figure. The G.I. Joe: Real American Hero cartoon series was followed up by G.I. Joe: The Movie. The film had been released direct-to-video in 1987 because of the perceived box office failure of another animated movie, The Transformers: The Movie. Inspired by viewers' reaction to Optimus Prime's death, G.I. Joe: The Movie was re-dubbed, cutting out the death of one of the main characters, Duke. Instead, he falls into a coma and recovers (unseen) at the movie's end. Also, the main villain, Cobra Commander, met his own demise when he was turned into a living snake by mutant spores created by a new enemy, Cobra-La.

Filmmaker Gregory P. Grant made a film using old GI Joe figurines simply called Ode to GI Joe which played at film festivals and earned him a Student Academy Award.

A direct to video animated series was created for the Sgt. Savage line, packaged with an exclusive Sgt. Savage figure in 1994. Next in the G.I. Joe-based line of movies was the 2003 release of Spy Troops: The Movie, Hasbro's first computer animated feature which coincided with the release of its "Spy Troops" header line. It is followed by Valor vs. Venom (2004), in response to sales from "Spy Troops". This was Hasbro's second commissioned feature using computer graphics to coincide with the line of the same name. By 2005, Hasbro had entered into an exclusive agreement with Paramount Pictures to have them distribute any future features based on the "Real American Heroes" line, but by the time a third movie was to be created, this time called, Attack of the BATS, Hasbro's sales on the "Real American Heroes" line had once again slumped, and the project was scrapped.

In 2009 Stephen Sommers directed a big budget Hollywood live-action movie based on G.I. Joe. The first film in what is intended to be a franchise, is G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, stars Channing Tatum as Duke, Ray Park as Snake-Eyes, Christopher Eccleston as Destro, Jonathan Pryce in the role of the President of the United States, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander. Tatum describes the film as being a cross between X-Men, Transformers and Mission Impossible.

The movie showcased the main members of G.I. Joe and Cobra. While some characters held true to the cartoon adaptations, others differed markedly in significant respects. As well, the storyline gave a different foundation for the battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra.

The movie is based in present time (however at the beginning of the movie it states "In the not too distant future") and shows glimpses of each character's history. In the movie, Cobra sets out to cause destruction using high tech weapons and sell them to ruthless terrorists. The G.I. Joe members join together to stop Cobra from becoming a global terrorist organization.

To promote the film, G.I. Joe: The Invasion of Cobra Island was produced as a viral campaign. The short animated two-parter used stop motion and puppet animation utilizing Hasbro's toy line, and was produced by R.M. Productions Ltd.

The sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation starring Dwayne Johnson (because he is in everything now) as Roadblock was scheduled to be released in June 2012 but was delayed until March 2013. In the film, the Joes are framed as traitors by Zartan, who is still impersonating the President of the United States, and Cobra Commander now has all the world leaders under Cobra's control, with their advanced warheads aimed at innocent populaces around the world. Outnumbered and out gunned, the Joes form a plan with the original G.I. Joe General Joseph Colton, portrayed by Bruce Willis, to overthrow the Cobra Commander and his allies Zartan, Storm Shadow and Firefly.

A new film, Snake Eyes starring Henry Golding. Snake Eyes is scheduled for release on October 22nd, 2021, by Paramount Pictures. Its release date was delayed multiple times from an original March 2020 date due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were several video game adaptations of G.I. Joe. The first was G.I. Joe: Cobra Strike by Parker Brothers for the Atari 2600 and Intellivision (1983), followed by other games for the Apple II, the Commodore 64 and the Nintendo Entertainment System. A coin-operated video game based on G.I. Joe was produced by Konami in 1992. The G.I. Joe arcade game is a third-person shooting game set in a pseudo-3D perspective in which the player automatically runs towards the background while fighting against incoming enemies or objects. The game can be played by up to two or four players, depending on the configuration. A game for Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PSP and Nintendo DS was released to coincide with the first live-action G.I. Joe film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Another video game, G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout, was released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in 2020.

THE STORY OF G.I. JOE

The Story of G.I. Joe, also credited in prints as Ernie Pyle's Story of G.I. Joe, is a 1945 American war film directed by William Wellman, starring Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Mitchum's only nomination for Best Supporting Actor. This was the film that established Mitchum as one of the world's biggest movie stars. In 2009, it was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant and will be preserved for all time.

The story is a tribute to the American infantryman ("G.I. Joe") during World War II, told through the eyes of Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle, with dialogue and narration lifted from Pyle's columns. The film concentrates on one company, ("C Company, 18th Infantry"), that Pyle accompanies into combat in Tunisia and Italy. The friendships that grow out of his coverage led Pyle to relate the misery and sacrifice inherent in their plight and their heroic endurance of it. Although the company has the designation of an actual unit, that unit did not participate in the combat in Italy that makes up the preponderance of the film, and actually stands in for the units of the 34th and 36th Infantry Divisions that Pyle did cover in Italy.

Casting of the role of Ernie Pyle began in June 1944, after speculation about the role brought forth a large number of names as possibilities to producer Lester Cowan. Pyle was seen by Americans as part saint, part seer, and part common man, and himself pleaded with a fellow correspondent, headed to Hollywood to contribute to the storyline: "For God's sake, don't let them make me look like a fool." The choice narrowed down quickly to three character actors resembling Pyle or his perceived persona: James Gleason, Walter Brennan, and Burgess Meredith, who was then little-known as an actor and serving as a captain in the Army.

Meredith (seen at right with Pyle on the set) was chosen and Cowan was advised that if Capt. Meredith appeared in the film, all profits would have to be donated to the Army Emergency Relief Fund, and the Army refused to release him from active duty. The Army was overruled by presidential advisor Harry Hopkins, and Meredith's honorable discharge from the Army was approved personally by General George C. Marshall. Meredith himself spent time with Pyle while the correspondent recuperated in New Mexico from the emotional after effects of surviving an accidental bombing by the Army Air Forces at the start of Operation Cobra in Normandy. Pyle approved of the casting of Meredith, and said that he believed the actor to be the best choice after the death of British Actor Leslie Howard in a plane crash.

The movie studio initially wanted to place a leading-man type for the main role, but Wellman wanted a physically smaller man to better portray middle-aged Pyle. As a compromise, Mitchum was chosen to play Lieutenant (later Captain) Walker.

Nine actual war correspondents are listed as "For the War Correspondents" in technical advisor credits: Don Whitehead (Associated Press), George Lait (International News Service), Chris Cunningham (United Press), Hal Boyle (A.P.), Jack Foisie (Stars and Stripes), Bob Landry (Life Magazine), Lucien Hubbard (Readers Digest), Clete Roberts (Blue Network), and Robert Reuben (Reuters). Three appear as themselves in the scene in which Ernie learns he has won the Pulitzer prize.

Wellman's wife, actress Dorothy Coonan Wellman, appeared in an uncredited speaking role as Lt. Elizabeth "Red" Murphy, the combat zone bride of character "Wingless" Murphy.

The Army agreed to Wellman's request for 150 soldiers, then training in California for further deployment to the Pacific and all veterans of the Italian campaign, to use as extras during the six weeks of filming in late 1944. Their training continued when they were not filming to present the best image possible for the Army, although the War Department allowed them to grow beards for their roles. Wellman insisted that actual soldiers speak much of the "G.I." dialogue for authenticity. He also insisted that the Hollywood actors ("as few as possible") cast in the film be required to live and train with the assigned soldiers or they would not be hired.

Although filmed with the cooperation of Pyle, the film premiered two months to the day after he was killed in action on Ie Shima during the invasion of Okinawa. In his February 14TH, 1945, posting titled "In the Movies", Pyle commented: "They are still calling it The Story of G.I. Joe. I never did like the title, but nobody could think of a better one, and I was too lazy to try."

Ernest Pyle (August 3rd, 1900 to April 18th, 1945) was a Pulitzer Prize winning American journalist and war correspondent who is best known for his stories about ordinary American soldiers during World War II. Pyle is also notable for the columns he wrote as a roving human-interest reporter from 1935 through 1941 for the Scripps-Howard newspaper syndicate that earned him wide acclaim for his simple accounts of ordinary people across North America. When the United States entered World War II, he lent the same distinctive, folksy style of his human-interest stories to his wartime reports from the European theater (1942-44) and Pacific theater (1945). Pyle won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his newspaper accounts of "dogface" infantry soldiers from a first-person perspective. At the time of his death in 1945, Pyle was among the best-known American war correspondents. His syndicated column was published in 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers nationwide.

Pyle met his future wife, Geraldine Elizabeth "Jerry" Siebolds at a Halloween party in Washington, D.C., in 1923. They married in July 1925. In the early years of their marriage the couple traveled the country together. In Pyle's newspaper columns describing their trips, he often referred to her as "That Girl who rides with me." Ernie and Jerry Pyle had a tempestuous relationship. He often complained of being ill, was a "heavy abuser of alcohol at times," and suffered from bouts of depression, later made worse from the stress of his work as a war correspondent during World War II. His wife suffered from alcoholism and periods of mental illness (depression or bipolar disorder). She also made several suicide attempts. Although the couple divorced in 1942, they remarried by proxy in March 1943, while Pyle was covering the war in North Africa. They had no children.

On July 4th, 1945, Geraldine received the Medal of Merit, awarded to her husband posthumously by President Truman. The ceremony, held at the Palace Theater in Washington, D.C., included the premier of the movie, "The Story of G.I. Joe." Newspapers at the time reported that Jerry Pyle "took the news [of her husband's death] bravely", but her health declined rapidly in the months following his death in April, 1945, and Jerry Pyle died from complications of influenza on November 23rd, 1945.

G.I. JOE ON TELEVISION

Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions released G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero to promote the 3.75 inch (9.5 cm) toyline. The premise was "good vs. evil" as explained in the show's opening theme song, provided by Jackson Beck (previously known for his work as Popeye's nemesis Bluto).

"G.I. Joe is the code name for America's daring, highly trained special mission force. Its purpose: to defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world".

The show featured physical fighting and high-tech weapons as a way to compensate for toned-down violence and lack of bullets in what was intended to be a children's program. The show also featured public service announcements placed at the end of each show. These PSAs ended with the phrase: "Now I know!" or "And knowing is half the battle". The series ran for a total of 95 episodes, from 1985 to 1986.

The animated series was canceled after the release of G.I. Joe: The Movie, but made a significant return with the animation company DiC taking over where Sunbow/Marvel left off, and ran from 1989 to 1991. DiC released a 5-part mini-series entitled "Operation: Dragonfire", in which the Joes faced off once again against Cobra as they tried to take control of an energy source known only as 'dragonfire'. This mini-series was successful enough for DiC to produce 2 more seasons.

In 1995, Sunbow returned to produce "G.I. Joe Extreme" an animated series based upon the namesake toy line. This series, along with the toy line, was canceled in 1997 after 2 seasons.

In the 2000s, a new interest in the "Real American Hero" toy line brought about new lines, including Spy Troops (2003), Valor vs. Venom (2004), and Sigma 6 (2005-2007). In 2009, G.I. Joe: Resolute was launched. This new series was more realistic and contained graphic violence and dark themes, with Cobra portrayed as a serious threat, a sharp contrast to the relatively lighter-toned animated series that proceeded it. Resolute was originally released as mini webisodes, with the full series later broadcast on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

In 2010, The Hub launched G.I. Joe: Renegades, in which the Joes became fugitives seeking to clear their names (isn't that the plot of the A-Team?) while Cobra worked towards world domination under the guise of a pharmaceutical company. The series' last episode aired in 2011.

In 1983 the culture jamming group Barbie Liberation Organization switched the voice boxes on talking G.I. Joes and Barbie dolls and then returned them to the shelves of stores. This action resulted in girls opening their new Teen Talk Barbie to hear it say phrases such as "vengeance is mine" and boys hearing their G.I. Joe say "The beach is the place for summer.

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HASBRO

Hasbro is a syllabic abbreviation of its original name, Hassenfeld Brothers, an American multinational conglomerate with toy, board game, and media assets, headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Hasbro owns the trademarks and products of Kenner, Parker Brothers, and Milton Bradley, among others. Among its products are Transformers, G.I. Joe, Power Rangers, Rom, Micronauts, M.A.S.K., Monopoly, Furby, Nerf, Twister, and My Little Pony.

Three Polish-Jewish brothers, Herman, Hillel, and Henry Hassenfeld founded Hassenfeld Brothers in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1923, a company selling textile remnants. Over the next two decades, the company expanded to produce pencil cases and school supplies. In 1926, Hassenfeld Brothers was incorporated; Hillel left for another textile business while Henry took charge of the corporation. They began making their own pencils when their pencil supplier began making pencil cases as well.

Hassenfeld Brothers produced modeling clay and then doctor and nurse kits as their first toys, and they became primarily a toy company by 1942. Hillel died in 1943 and Henry Hassenfeld became CEO, while his son Merrill became president. The company entered the plastic fields during World War II to support its toy line. Hassenfeld Brothers' first toy hit was Mr. Potato Head, which the company purchased from George Lerner in 1952. The original Mr. Potato Head was merely a handful of plastic pieces that were meant to be stuck inside a real potato, but government regulations ended that. In 1954, the company became a Disney major licensee.

In 1960, Henry died and Merrill took over the parent company, and his older brother Harold ran the pencil-making business of Empire Pencil. Hassenfeld Brothers expanded to Canada with Hassenfeld Brothers (Canada) Ltd. in 1961. The company was approached in 1963 to license a toy based on The Lieutenant, which they turned down because they did not want to be tied to a possibly short-lived television series. Instead, Hassenfeld Brothers produced the G.I. Joe toy in 1964 which they termed an "action figure" in order to market it to boys who wouldn't want to play with dolls. In 1964 and 1965, G.I. Joe accounted for two-thirds of Hassenfeld's sales.

G.I. Joe, one of the most popular toys of all time, was often credited to two creators: Stanley Weston, an Army veteran and licensing agent who pitched the concept to Donald Levine, Hasbro’s chief of research and development who shepherded it to production by Christmas 1964. The original price was $4 a figure.

The company had previously sold toys under the Hasbro trade name, and it shortened its name to Hasbro Industries in 1968 and sold a minor stake in the corporation to the public. The unpopular Vietnam War was at its height in 1969, so Hasbro redesigned GI Joe to be less militaristic and more adventure oriented. Its promotional efforts included the catchphrase "Boy Oh Boy! It's A Hasbro Toy!" in television commercials and print ads. Also in 1969, Hasbro bought Burt Claster Enterprises which produced "Romper Room" and had just begun a Romper Room toy line. In 1970, Hasbro began a plan of diversification and opened the Romper Room Nursery School franchise chain to cash in on President Richard M. Nixon's Family Assistance Plan which subsidized day care for working mothers. By 1975, the company had ended the nursery chain. Hasbro also entered the cookware field with the Galloping Gourmet line based on a television cooking show.

Two new 1970s toys were public relations disasters. One of the toys was named Javelin Darts which were similar to the ancient Roman plumbata (what could possibly go wrong?). On December 19th, 1988, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned lawn darts from sale in the United States due to their hazards as a flying projectile with a sharp metal point causing multiple deaths.

The other toy was named The Hypo-Squirt, a hypodermic needle-shaped water gun tagged by the press as a "junior junkie" kit. Both were recalled. Romper Room and its toy line had continued success, although Action for Children's Television citizens group considered the program to be an advertising channel for toys.

Merrill Hassenfeld took over as CEO in 1974, and his son Stephen D. Hassenfeld became president. The company became profitable once again but had mixed results due to cash flow problems from increasing the number of toys in the line to offset G.I. Joe's declining sales. Hasbro ended the G.I. Joe line in 1975 because of the rising prices of plastic and crude oil. In 1977, Hasbro's losses were $2.5 million, and the company held a large debt load. That same year, Hasbro acquired licensing rights to Peanuts cartoon characters. With the financial situation poor, Hasbro's bankers made the company temporarily stop dividend payments in early 1979. The toy division's losses increased Harold Hassenfeld's resentment regarding the company's treatment of the Empire Pencil subsidiary as Empire received lower levels of capital spending relative to profits than did the toy division.

With Merrill's death in 1979, Harold did not recognize Stephen's authority as the successor to the chairman and CEO position. As a solution, Hasbro spun off Empire Pencil in 1980, which was the nation's largest pencil maker, with Harold trading his Hasbro shares for those of Empire. Stephen then became both the CEO and chairman of the board. Between 1978 and 1981, Stephen reduced the Hasbro product line by one-third and its new products by one-half. Hasbro focused on simple, low cost, longer life-cycle toys like Mr. Potato Head. Hasbro thus stayed out of the electronic games field which went bust in the early 1980s.

In 1982, Hasbro revived its G.I. Joe line with the help of Marvel Comics, as an anti-terrorist commando based on current events. The company launched the successful Transformers toy line along with a children's animated TV series two years later. With the toys and TV series being popular, Stephen Hassenfeld posed with the toys for a People magazine cover photo.

In 1982, Hasbro produced the successful toy franchise My Little Pony. In 1983, they purchased GLENCO, a manufacturer of infant products and the world's largest bib producer, and Knickerbocker Toy Company, a struggling Warner Communications subsidiary. In 1984, Alan G. Hassenfeld took over as president from his brother Stephen, who continued as CEO and chairman. That same year, the company was the nation's sixth best-selling toymaker, and then acquired the Milton Bradley Company, which was the nation's fifth best-selling toymaker. This brought The Game of Life, Twister, Easy Money, and Playskool into the Hasbro fold and transformed Hasbro into Hasbro Bradley. Stephen Hassenfeld became the merged company's president and CEO, with Milton Bradley chief James Shea Jr. taking the chairman position. However, the executives clashed and Shea left after a few months, and Stephen and Alan returned to their previous positions.

In 1985, the company changed its name again to just Hasbro, Inc. The Jumpstarters toys were the subject of a lawsuit in 1985 when Hasbro sued a toy manufacturer for selling toys based on their Transformers design. Hasbro won the suit. By the mid-1980s, Hasbro moved past Mattel to become the world's largest toy company. Hasbro then moved to outsell Mattel's Barbie in the fashion doll market with the 1986 introduction of Jem, a record producer/rock musician dual identity fashion doll. Jem initially posted strong sales but plummeted and was withdrawn from the market in 1987. Hasbro followed up in 1988 with Maxie, a Barbie-sized blonde doll, so that Barbie clothing and accessories would fit. Maxie lasted until 1990.

Under Alan Hassenfeld's initiative in the late 1980s, Hasbro moved to increase international sales by taking toys overseas that had failed in the US market and selling them for as much as four times the original price. This increased international sales from $268 million in 1985 to $433 million in 1988.

In 1988, Hasbro purchased part of Coleco Industries' and in 1989, acquired bankrupt Coleco for $85 million. Stephen Hassenfeld died later that year with the company having gone from sales of $104 million in the year he took control to 1989 sales of over $1.4 billion.

Alan Hassenfeld succeeded Stephen as chairman and CEO, and continued to grow purchasing Tonka Corp. in 1991 for $486 million, along with its units Parker Brothers, the maker of Monopoly, and Kenner Products. Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers were merged into one division. Hasbro expand overseas with new units in Greece, Hungary, Mexico and Japan.

In the US, Hasbro's growth since 1980 were from acquisitions and the leveraging of the new assets. New product development was not as successful except for movie and TV tie-in product lines with Jurassic Park and Barney. Thus, US sales were stagnant in the early 1990s, falling from 1993 to 1995. To turn domestic performance around in 1994, Hasbro merged the Hasbro Toy, Playskool, Playskool Baby, Kenner, and Kid Dimension units into the Hasbro Toy Group. Meanwhile, Mattel purchased Fisher-Price and retook the top spot in the toy industry.

Hasbro Interactive was started in 1995 and released the Monopoly game on CD-ROM. Mattel also proposed a merger that year, but was turned down by the Hasbro board in 1996 due to antitrust issues and Justice Department investigation into exclusionary policies between toy manufacturers and toy retailers.

In 1998, Hasbro bought Avalon Hill for $6 million and Galoob for $220 million. In 1999 Wizards of the Coast was bought in a deal worth $325 million. In 2001 money-losing Hasbro Interactive was sold to Infogrames, a French software concern, for $100 million. Hasbro entered the building block toy market with its Built to Rule line in 2003, which did not hold together well or were too hard for the targeted age group. The line ended in 2005.

In 2008, Hasbro acquired game maker Cranium, Inc. for $77.5 million, and Brian Goldner was named CEO. Goldner became the first person not from the founding Hassenfeld family to hold the position. Goldner served as executive producer on the successful 2007 Transformers film adaptation, which was credited for broadening Hasbro into a character-based multimedia company. He continued this role on the 2009 films Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

In 2009, Hasbro Studios was formed for TV development, production and distribution. Hasbro collaborated with Discovery on The Hub, a cable network targeting young children and families, which launched on October 10th, 2010. The venture found unexpected success with the television revival of the My Little Pony franchise, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, which became the network's highest-rated program and attracted a significant cult following among teens and adults. The Hub Network was rebranded as Discovery Family on October 13th, 2014.

In 2011, Greenpeace accused Hasbro of purchasing paper for its packaging from ancient forests in Indonesia. Hasbro changed its paper purchasing policy, earning the company praise from Greenpeace executive director Phil Radford, who said: "The new Hasbro policy will also increase the recycled and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper in its toy packaging. Hasbro's new commitments are great news for Indonesian rainforests and the people and wildlife that depend on them."

Having been absent from the building block market since the failure of the Built to Rule line, Hasbro re-entered the market with the Kre-O line in late 2011, starting with some Transformers-based sets.

As a corporation Hasbro continued to grow. In 2014 they tried and failed to buy DreamWorks Animation. In September 2014, Disney announced that Hasbro would be the doll licensee for the Disney Princess line formally held by Mattel. In 2017, Hasbro made a takeover offer for rival Mattel. Mattel rejected the offer. In 2018, Hasbro came close to buying the Lionsgate film company. They were more successful with Saban Brands, purchasing the Power Rangers and other entertainment assets for US$522 million in cash and stock. The sale, which also included My Pet Monster, Popples, Julius Jr., Luna Petunia, Treehouse Detectives and additional properties.

2018 saw Hasbro sign a number of licensing agreements for hospitality deals based on Hasbro brands including a Monopoly themed hotel and NERF family entertainment centers.

THE BATTLE FOR THE DISNEY PRINCESSES

In 2012 Mattel's Barbie sales began to slip and they began paying more attention to Barbie and less on their Disney Princess line. In 2013 the Mattel Toy Company launched the fair and fantasy store-based Ever After High line. It was a line of princess dolls unrelated to the Disney Princess dolls they were also making at the time, and Disney wasn't happy with this move. Feeling negelected by Mattel, with these competing princess doll lines and an expiration of the brand license at the end of 2015, Disney gave Hasbro a chance to gain the license given their work on Star Wars, which led to a Descendants license. Disney Consumer Products also made an attempt to evolve the brand from "damsels" to "heroines." Their shared vision will have each Princess seem more like an individual character, with slightly different heights and waist sizes and features modelled on their animated versions, rather than identical Barbie-ish figurine with painted-on faces and different color dresses. In September 2014, Disney announced Hasbro would be the licensed doll maker for the Disney Princess line starting on January 1st, 2016.

IT'S NOT ALL FUN AND GAMES

Hasbro has also been criticized for focusing some of its products on specific demographic groups. Guess Who? had received complaints over gender and ethnic bias in its choice of 24 images. A petition was started calling on the company to create a "boy-friendly" version of the popular Easy-Bake Oven and to feature boys on their packaging and materials. Hasbro was criticized for "sexist" product design when its 2015 Star Wars Monopoly board game failed to feature Rey, the female protagonist in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, while including all of the supporting male characters. Hasbro explained that Rey was left out of the Monopoly game to avoid spoilers, because the game was released months before the movies. On January 5th, 2016, Hasbro announced that Rey would be included in future versions. Hasbro later stated that it struggled to distribute the updated Monopoly game that includes the Rey piece, because retailers (especially in the United States) showed "insufficient interest" after having already purchased stock of the first release.

This wasn't the only Rey related pop culture controversy, Rey's lack of representation in Force Awakens merchandise was the subject of an ever-growing hashtag campaign called #WheresRey. It first took hold a month before The Force Awakens opened, when the Star Wars fan site Legion of Leia noticed a box set of action figures on sale at Target that included just about everyone but Rey. Gwendoline Christie's super-Stormtrooper character, Captain Phasma, was also absent from the box set. This same kind exclusion also happened with Target's box set for Star Wars Rebels, an animated Lucasfilm show that stars two integral female characters; the box set omitted them in favor of a Stormtrooper and a clone trooper captain.

Hasbro has courted this kind of controversy before, with tie-in merchandise for the Avengers films as well as Guardians of the Galaxy. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Zoe Saldana's Gamora were also not part of the movies' respective action figure box sets for Target, causing fan outrage. Hasbro made a toy set to let kids mimic an Avengers: Age of Ultron scene in which Black Widow dropped out of an aircraft while riding a motorcycle, but for some reason replaced her with Captain America.

Outside of Hasbro box sets, Marvel has often come under fire for excluding female characters. In 2014, Gamora was left off boys' T-shirts, as though she's not an integral Guardian of the Galaxy. A thorough and thoroughly depressing Tumblr called "But Not Black Widow" collects instances of merchandise that features Avengers heroes yet excludes its sole heroine.

It's a problem that only got worse with the 2015 release of Age of Ultron, when the outrage not only resurfaced but also expanded to include Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlett Witch, who was similarly absent. Clark Gregg, who played Agent Coulson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and on the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., tweeted support for a "Where's Natasha?" campaign. Even Mark Ruffalo, the Hulk himself, protested the absence of Black Widow on behalf of his daughters.

In early August 2020, Hasbro produced a DreamWorks Animation 12-inch Troll doll aimed at children 4 years and older that "giggled 3 different ways when tickled." It sings a version of the song "Trolls Just Want to Have Fun" from the movie "Trolls World Tour." The doll can also say "How about a hug?" and "Um, cupcake!" Unfortunately the dolls sound activator was placed near it's "naught bits" and the internet got upset. Especially one person on the internet who imagined the Troll "giggles" were sexual in nature and posted such on Facebook (because that's what we do now). The poster put on her foil hat and cried conspiracy, questioning whether the intent was to groom children for depravity. Needless to say Hasbro said the placement of the activator was not intentional and the company removed the device from the marketplace. Score one point for the internet mob. Of course all this fuss may make that doll very collectable in the future so, thanks internet mob.

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