Ever been to a “Day-Old Bread Store?”
They’re small, “no-frills” bread stores that sell off unsold loaves of “day-old” bread, damaged pastries and any other “defective” baked-goods considered unsellable at full retail (box of broken bear claws, anyone?). Bakeries typically operate one or more of these shops in poorer neighborhoods of nearby cities and towns, offering such “day-old” baked goods at steeply discounted prices. (I’ve tried them out. It’s actually a great deal. Taste-wise, you can’t tell the difference!)
In a similar manner, during the 1960s and ’70s, long before there was a GIjOE Collector’s Club Store or an online “buy-direct” HasbroToyShop website, fans of “America’s Movable Fighting Man” could go into a small store in Pawtucket, RI, that sold authentic factory “seconds,” direct to the public. The store was a convenient and practical outlet for a growing toy company trying to recoup some of its pre-production and prototyping expenses (i.e.”up-front” costs typically incurred when designing and testing new toys). What it couldn’t sell out of its seconds store would sadly, simply end up in a landfill somewhere. In a recent interview with The Joe Report, longtime GIjOE dealer, George Gray, provided additional insight into this little-known chapter of GIjOE history…
“About 12 to 15 years ago, I bought a large lot of miscellaneous vintage stuff off ebay. Right away, I could tell there was something different about the items. They were all authentic Hasbro all right, but they didn’t look ‘correct’ in many ways.
I asked the seller for more information, and she turned out to be an old lady from Rhode Island. Apparently, back in the 1960s, she would go into what she called a Hasbro ‘seconds’ store in Pawtucket and pick up ‘seconds’ and discounted Hasbro toys.
Originally, I had a lot more uniforms, boots and things, but I’ve sold or traded most of it away over the years. I wish I had kept it all together, because it would have been interesting for fans if I had photographed and recorded all of the so-called defects and differences between the ‘rejects’ and final production pieces.”
Intrigued by his find, George decided to seek the counsel and second opinion of a renowned GIjOE expert, Dan McKee from Southern California. McKee studied Gray’s prototype LSO suit quite extensively, comparing its materials and construction with his own vintage pieces. Ultimately, McKee concurred with the ebay seller’s assertion that it was indeed a vintage GIjOE jumpsuit and that it had undeniably been manufactured by Hasbro. When asked whether he felt it was a real “prototype” test uniform, McKee emphatically declared:
“Absolutely, it’s real!”
But That’s Not All…
The “clincher” in this story really occurred with the revelation of one more piece of corroborating information. According to the old woman in Rhode Island, all of the Hasbro “seconds” in the store were marked in a specific way so as to indicate that they were NEVER to be sold at retail. The “mark,” she said, was a “scarlet slash” made though the GIjOE logo with a permanent (red) laundry pen. Wha…?
Fascinated by her revelation, Gray quickly tugged at the collar tag of the old jumpsuit and discovered to his delight, that sure enough, it DID bear such a red mark! Combined with all the other indicators, there seems to be little doubt that this piece is an authentic Hasbro product, most likely produced as a color-test prototype. Once rejected, it was apparently marked and tossed into the company’s outgoing “seconds” bin to be sold from their store as such. Thankfully, Gray’s research and identification have rescued it from obscurity and provided fans with yet another intriguing glimpse into GIjOE’s history.
Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to all of the generous contributors to this article, including: George Gray, Dan McKee, Charles Bury, Nick Bowyer and that “little old lady from Pawtucket,” Go, JOE!