The State of GI Joe - My Thoughts

I have been a fan of GI Joe since I was a kid. I really don't know exactly when I started playing with GI Joe, but it was probably around when I was six years old. That's all the way back to 1968, folks. Yeah, I'm that old. Not that pushing 50 is old, but I've been a Joe fan for quite a while.

Just a little personal history as I move toward the point of this post. Probably by 1975 or '76, I was well past any real interest in GI Joe. I had gotten quite a few items in the Adventure team rebirth, but I never had a Kung-Fu grip Joe or even a Super Joe. I was pretty much done with GI Joe by then. But I still liked toys, and my parents never said, "You're too old for those."

Along comes 1977 and this odd little film called Star Wars shows up. It's not going to be much of a big deal, no need for action figures, right? Wrong! My brother bought me the famous "Early Bird Certificate" for those first 4 figures and I was pretty much hooked.

Fast forward to 1982 and I'm well into collecting Star Wars figures of any kind. Other toy lines are popping up in the 3 3/4" scale - Buck Rogers, Black Hole, Battlestar Galactica, etc. Sorry, no Dukes of Hazzard or Love Boat figures for me! I was also buying comic books. I was 19 years old, I had a decent job, no real bills to pay, and no girlfriend at the time - so I had disposable income. 

This new comic shows up - GI Joe. I read it and think "That's pretty cool!". And action figures were on the way! A few months later, I bought a couple of these new figures and I was immediately hooked. I was a faithful collector of the little Joes until 1994.

The big GI Joe's became popular again for a while, transitioning from that ground-breaking, awful Target exclusive Duke into the modern era bodies. The little Joes reappeared in a horrendous format as Toys R Us exclusives. Watching, but not buying them. I passed on most of those early TRU exclusives until the rebirth started with the notorious t-crotch figures. A few here and there, collecting the Joe vs Cobra line and on into Valor vs Venom. Those figures were cool, but such a weird collection of oddly sculpted figures. That line faded out, to lead the way into the 25th anniversary line.

I resisted for a while. I bought Flint and Snake Eyes and thought that they were cool, but I wasn't going back there. At the time, they weren't quite impressive enough to me. Until I bought that first GI Joe Collectors 4-pack at clearance. Again, not too impressive, but they were enough to encourage me to buy a few more. And a few more. And more, and more, and more.

I was hooked again and have been ever since. This new modern era has been an amazing time to collect GI Joe figures. From 25th Anniversary to Rise of Cobra. From Pursuit of Cobra to the 30th Anniversary. From Resolute to Renegades. Figure quality has become insane. While there have been some oddballs out there, Hasbro, in general, has done some amazing work with their flagship line. At least, I think that it should be their flagship line. The history of GI Joe has been one of ups and downs. The 1960's and 1980's were periods of boys toy aisle dominance. Hasbro owned the boys toys markets during those periods.

But what about now? A second film, GI Joe:Retaliation, is one the horizon. Well, it was, but the horizon has been pushed back to March of 2013. And the GI Joe fan base is in an uproar! 

Cries of "deth of teh line!!!1!" have echoed across the inter-webs. Panic struck the hearts of the now grown middle-aged fan base. Me, too. What was going to happen to my beloved GI Joe?

I don't understand all the nonsense behind the need to re-shoot parts of the movie and do a 3-D conversion. I don't live in that world, so I just have to roll with it. Hasbro also had to make a decision to push back release of the toys to coincide with the release of the film. Makes sense, but what about the brand image? That's what I'm concerned about. And if I, or anyone else, thought that Hasbro was unaware of what potential damage to the brand this might cause, well, that's pretty naive. I'm sure they get it.

GI Joe is more than a 12" Action Soldier or Marine, GI Joe is more than a collection of characters fighting for freedom, GI Joe is beyond A Real American Hero, Extreme, Sgt Savage, Sigma 6, Rise of Cobra, Retaliation, or whatever. 

To me, GI Joe is, at it's core, a tribute to the soldier. The men and women who have chosen to offer their lives up in potential sacrifice in the defense of their country. And that should never be forgotten. Ever.

Yes, they are a bit fantastic with their ninja warriors and android troopers, but they represent so much more.

Okay, I get it - they are also toys and maybe I shouldn't philosophically delve so deeply into them, but so what? I like them! GI Joe has had an impact on my life for around 43 years. 

For those collectors/fans who get so pissed off at this hopefully temporary set back for their TOY collecting, chill the f*ck out. I get it, GI Joe is important to you. Maybe GI Joe inspired you to serve in the military - you are the better person for it.

Just relax a little. there is enough sh!t in our lives to not add more stress in regards to a movie and a bunch of plastic soldiers. In this down time of a limited GI Joe presence, just relax. Dig out your old collection. Sort it, clean it up. Make dioramas with the figures that you have now. Have fun! Play!

Yes, this 49 year old kid is encouraging you to go play with your toys.

GI Joe, as a brand, will celebrate it's 50th birthday in 2014. With the push back of the film to 2013, this could actually be beneficial to the line. A decent retail presence leading into the 50th Anniversary of GI Joe?

Hold onto your hats, kids - I believe that greatness is on the way!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah man their saving the best for last! Like the movie accurate figures comming 2014 and it might be in it's 50th birthday!!!! CANT WAIT! :)