G.I. Joe has taken a turn for the worse in recent months and perhaps years. There may be a bit on controversy on a military based toy, but it didn’t take long for Hasbro to figure out there were lots of collectors perhaps millions in the world. So naturally what does the greedy corporate world do, take a $1.00 and turn it into $50.00 by doing less than what you were doing before. Seems brilliant to me, at least for the short term. If we roll back to 1964 where some guy or a group of guys who in some way shape or form were affected by WWII, came up with a brilliant idea to make a military based “doll” or as we like to call them action figures. Remember this was a time in the U.S. where perhaps tougher, definitely less sensitive, and much more numb to violence people lived.
This was a time where kids who played with a G.I. Joe who had guns and knives, probably had a jack knife and probably went hunting with their dad and more then likely shot and killed some sort of small animal or deer, and guys they probably ate that for dinner that night as well. WWII single handedly united our country probably more than any other time in the U.S. History. Men volunteered to go to war to fight an evil greater than anything we had ever seen, companies hired women to fill the voids of the men, and things were happily rationed in the U.S. to support the boys over seas. Anyhow fast forward to the Vietnam era. There were definitely more war protesters and make peace not war was a more general message in the U.S. and G.I. Joe must have been on board or at least gotten enough grief that they switched to a more non military line in the 70’s. The adventure team line was great and it took Joes and maybe put them in more of a post war uniform, but nevertheless a uniform and a rebirth and as that famous 70’s song goes, “stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive, Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive”. In 1976 G.I. Joe released their last line and at the time potentially closed the door forever. As we all know the dawn of the new age, the rebirth, the start of the Golden Age was about to explode in 1982.
The U.S. had not been involved in any major wars in quite some time, but there were still threats from other countries like Russia and Iran. Nuclear War was now a reality as many countries had missiles armed and ready to launch. I remember in third grade particularly the teachers talked to the kids about Muammar Gaddafi in particular, but they talked about a nuclear war. Then along came G.I. Joe, American Heroes to fight the evil terrorists, and suddenly it wasn’t as scary. Yeah as a third grader I knew G.I. Joe was a cartoon and a toy, but I also knew that there were real people out there, just like G.I. Joes. They were dressed like them, they had awesome vehicles to defend the kids against the terrorists, the vehicles that were toys were realistic and based on real military vehicles, and I felt safe knowing that. The first few years were a great success and with success came popularity, more figures and more vehicles. Suddenly shelves were filled with our favorite figures such as Spirit, Recondo, and Footloose. Everyone carried them, department stores, drug stores, even the hardware stores in my area. G.I. Joe took off and didn’t look back over the next decade as they produced awesome characters and vehicles. But all things come to and end and the Joe line took a screeching halt. Most of the kids like me, who grew up with wave 1 in 1982 had hit the height of our toy years and those who fell in love and had such a passion for Joe’s found something else to be passionate about. High school meant sports, parties, and friends.
G.I. Joe struggled to stay strong as the next generation was blossoming into a technological world of gadgets and the video game world was growing into a power house as second edition systems were introduced with better graphics and more games and Joe’s moved into the background. After a 2 year hiatus, G.I. Joe put out some figures that seemed like more of a collectors line and I think they figured out there still were people interested in Joes, and those kids who had grown up with G.I. Joe now were starting to have kids of their own. At the turn of the millennium G.I Joe had sprung back and were able to create new characters, redo or update old characters in the new body sculpt, and revitalize G.I. Joe. The lines grew and stayed strong right up until the 25th style Joes. G.I. Joe had been on the back burner a bit and the new style Joe opened up a whole new world. As many of our favorite characters were brought back to life suddenly Joe once again exploded.
Collectors and kids alike could enjoy the new toy line. Figures and vehicles enhanced from their original version paved the way for cartoons, movies, and customizing. Those people who couldn’t wait for Hasbro to make their favorite Joe began to buy Joes in duplicates, as well as other lines such as Star Wars and Marvel, the customizing of figures became a household thing for those who were very skilled at it to those who were not very skilled, but there ideas and hearts were in it to create some very special Joe customs. I thought Hasbro did a killer job upgrading the classic figures and vehicles but they reached a point where someone thought it would be a great idea to make lots of money off a few people rather than grow the franchise and make a lot of money off a lot of people. Point being they saw $$$$ and now if they try to go back to retail there will be a lot of people POed after pumping tons of money into figures then have Hasbro turn around and go back to selling awesome figures at retail for reasonable prices. So as we arrive at this point in the G.I . Joe franchise we ask our self the question is G.I. Joe DEAD? My answer is a big fat resounding NO! To help explain why I say no I go back to my college days many moons ago. I was hitting my heyday of dumb ideas, epic fails, and near death experiences. I pledged a fraternity in 1995 and by the late 90’s the SUNY schools were under the microscope and in danger of being closed. So frats and sororities went under the microscope as well and long story short we lost our letters with the school. The school though wasn’t what made our organization what it was, kind of like when the Grinch stole Christmas. The people, the members, that’s what mattered, we have kept our fraternity alive because of the members and because the great people we had met over the years deserved to stay in touch and have new members to enjoy what we had enjoyed over the years.
So this is how I see G.I. Joe. Even if Hasbro never produces another thing, cartoon, movie, figure, the Joe community is ALIVE, and thriving. I see tones of Joes being bought, traded, and sold. I see tons of custom figures. I see forums such as Serpentor’s Lair, and I see tons of Facebook groups popping up to post pictures of figures, mail hauls, customs, dioramas, talking about Joes, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hasbro can stop making new G.I. Joe stuff but we as a Joe community are what is keeping it alive. We are the life of it. We are the ones who are making the Joe world thrive and live. So I say this Joe is not dead but very much alive. Hasbro has no control over what we do with the franchise. It is their loss if they let G.I. Joe slip away forever, but we as a G.I. Joe community will never let the Joe franchise sink to the bottom to never return. We will show our children the hours of fun and the friends we made building battle scenes in the backyard and talking about how big the Flagg really was and fantasizing about having so many awesome toys, but most importantly the friends we shared with and friends and stories we probably still share when we run into that old friend who you traded an Awe Striker to for an original Vamp. That is what truly matters and what will make G.I. Joe live for decades to come.
Do you think G.I.Joe is dead or alive? Let us know AFTER THE JUMP!