Shocker! “Father of G.I. Joe,” Don Levine, Ordered to Pay Investors $1.2 Million to Settle Lawsuit

We're not even sure what $1.2 million dollars looks like, but we know it's got a lot of these! (Photo: stockphoto)

We’re not even sure what $1.2 million dollars looks like, but it’s must have a lot of these!

“Almighty Heroes” Line Fizzles… Investors File Suit Against Levine… Settlement Reached.

In our previous article about Don Levine, aka “The Father of G.I. Joe,” (HERE), we reported that Levine’s most recent toy venture was the creation of a new line of action figures, DVDs and story books based on Biblical characters called the “Almighty Heroes.” Sadly, sales of the new line were very poor. As a result, a lawsuit was filed against Levine by investors, and after much legal wrangling, a settlement was finally reached. In a recent article published in Lawyers USA Weekly (LAW), it was announced that Levine must now pay the plaintiffs a whopping $1.2 MILLION dollars. According to the post-case summary

“The inventor of the iconic G.I. Joe action figure has agreed to pay $1.2 million to end a lawsuit filed by the backers of his follow-up venture, a line of toys based on Old Testament biblical heroes that never quite took off.”

In this early publicity still, Don Levine poses with some of the ill-fated, "Almighty Heroes" toy line. (Photo: CBN)

In this early publicity still, Don Levine poses with a variety of merchandise from his ill-fated, “Almighty Heroes” toy line. (Photo: CBN)

This closeup of "Sampson," probably the most popular figure of the line, reveals the severely limited articulation of the figures, essentially making them little statues with limited play value. (Photo: FV, LLC)

This closeup of “Sampson,” probably the most popular figure of the line, reveals the severely limited articulation of the figures, essentially making them little statues with limited play value. (Photo: FV, LLC)

Ouch. “Never quite took off.” What a disappointment that must be for all concerned. Indeed, even after 6 years online and in the stores, unsold AH merchandise can STILL be found for sale at blowout clearance prices, but with few interested buyers. Ironically, most GIjOE collectors will tell you they saw this coming. Many decried the AH line as poorly designed and “uninspiring,” foreseeing that its overly simplistic figures lacked adequate articulation, severely limiting their playability and desirability. The LAW article went on to point out another interesting GIjOE-related twist…

“When Donald Levine, who invented G.I. Joe for Hasbro Toys in 1963, went looking for funds to launch his Almighty Heroes line, he turned to noted collector Stephen Geppi Sr., owner of Diamond Comic Distributors Inc. Geppi was a logical choice, as his $200,000 purchase of Levine’s hand-made G.I. Joe prototype in 2003 set a Guinness World Record for toy soldiers.

The plaintiff in the case, Diamond Comic Distributors founder and President Stephen Geppi Sr. (Photo: Daily Record)

One of the plaintiffs, Diamond Comic Distributors founder and President Stephen Geppi Sr. (Photo: Daily Record)

Bottom Line: Clearly a sad story all around. But wasn’t it interesting how a huge fan of GIjOE like Mr. Geppi purchased the iconic, one and only (handmade) prototype of GIjOE; then, he became an investor in support of Levine’s new AH line; and finally, he became a plaintiff in a major lawsuit AGAINST Mr. Levine? How ironic! If you’re interested in learning more about the now defunct AH line of toys, here’s a link to the original CBN VIDEO. Enjoy!

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8 thoughts on “Shocker! “Father of G.I. Joe,” Don Levine, Ordered to Pay Investors $1.2 Million to Settle Lawsuit

  1. kneonknight says:

    Coming hard on the heels of the piece about Stan Weston, this seems like a karmic overload of sorts. It’s as if you planned it, Mark. HA!

    I had the dubious pleasure of looking over some of the offerings from this line of toys at a local warehouse clearance-type store, and they were about as bland as you can get. Honestly, I can’t imagine any child actually having anything resembling fun with these things, unless they had never owned another toy, watched television, read a book or been outside for their entire life. The Samson figure also bore an unsettling resemblance to Jocelyn Wildenstein, the poster child for plastic surgery gone wrong.

    $1,200,000…I could buy a helluva lot of vintage Joes with that.

  2. Michael says:

    He was a fool to make this crap!! And then again Hasblow also blew it by dropping the vintage Joe line all together …Personally, I collect the old guys!

    • Wayne Faucher says:

      I won’t comment on the spiritual aspects of this line. But the Bible does have some exciting stories and cool characters. If these had been approached in a 12″ figure with really nice detail, somebody may have bought them. I mean a Hot Toys David and Goliath set could be cool, I think. Or a Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse set.

      Unfortunately, these are about on the level of Happy Meal toys. I dare say, Don’s fame in the action figure field may have prevented someone from simply saying “no” to this mess. It’s too bad, but a guy who had his finger on the pulse of the toy buying public 5 decades ago can’t be expected to hit pay dirt all these years later. I think the idiots here are the people who invested and are now upset.

  3. kneonknight says:

    I’m not sure the “Happy Meal toys” comparison is entirely fair – McDonald’s at least tries to keep up with whatever is popular among kids when they introduce new toys. But if it’s a question of quality, regardless of subject matter, then I can’t help but agree.

  4. tyler says:

    Wow! I saw one at a Rite Aid. 50 cents was what they wanted for it. Also, I think with his Real Heroes line. he started to cheapen the quality of his figures. Oh Don…Why did you do this to us? Why? Oh, the humanity! Oh, how much I hate expensive crappy-meal toys! If he likes “ordinary people” he should make those type of figures, like a Baker, or Doctor, or Mechanic, or even a Stock Clerk! i would buy them if the quality was right.

  5. tyler says:

    Hasblow is still trying to get back in to the one-sixth game. They need to reach at LEAST bbi level on quality before they can do that.

  6. Keith Mayo says:

    That second commandment is a MOTHER!

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