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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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
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
others 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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"
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 (19641978). The DeSimone version of the club
existed as a newsletter to which thousands of nostalgic collectors subscribed.
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 (19641978).
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"
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
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.
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
(19641978) 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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Barnes & Noble book sellers offered
the African American version of Action Soldier; as with the
Astronaut, the packaging did not have a volume number.
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.
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.
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 &
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.
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.
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
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).
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
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.
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
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.
(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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
Hasbros 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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.
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.