12-Inch G.I. Joes Evolve From “Child’s Playthings” Into Expensive, Higher-End “Adult Collectibles”

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This isn’t your Father’s GIjOE. The new 2013 “Roadblock” 1:6 scale action figure from Hot Toys features an ultra-realistic headsculpt of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, amazing scaled-down weaponry, body armor and accessories. Of course, such intricate detail elevates the figure to an “adults-only” collectible, making each part a fragile choking hazard. Children need not apply. Cost?: $219.99. (Photo: Hot Toys)

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This closeup of Roadblock’s body armor reveals a level of detail never before seen on ANY GIjOE. Even the zippers have been down-sized to 1:6 scale, making them quite a delicate chore to work with. We recommend a magnifying glass light and a good pair of needle-nose pliers. (Photo: Hot Toys) Click to enlarge.

When Does a Toy…
Stop Being a Toy?

Let’s begin by stating that this will not be a review of the latest “high-end” GIjOE action figures. You can already find that sort of product dissection ad nauseam throughout the internet. Rather, we wanted to discuss our favorite toy’s recent “product evolution,” and what it will mean for its collectors and fans.

As you know, GIjOE was first introduced in 1964 as a toy targeted primarily towards young boys. Over the next 50 years, the venerable action figure has undergone numerous reincarnations, and been reintroduced time and again to each new generation. But the toy’s latest evolution is one we’re sure his original creators would never have envisioned or considered likely; that of an “adult collectible.”

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This super-closeup of the Rock’s headsculpt reveals the detail is so extreme, you can even see his pores! The use of 3-D computer imaging to create photo-realistic ‘sculpts has clearly found its way into the toy industry mainstream. Absolutely unbelievable! (Photo: Hot Toys)

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Bruce Willis too, has been perfectly captured and reduced to 1:6 scale. The details are absolutely incredible. What an achievement. (Photo: Hot Toys) Click to enlarge.

You Won’t See Children Playing With These GIjOEs.

Of course, with the passage of time, everything must change. GIjOE’s original 1960s, ’70s and ’80s fans are all beginning to age. Today’s current generation of children is growing up faster than ever before and the window of opportunity for Hasbro and GIjOE to appeal to their play interests with “imagination-based” toys continues to shrink.

As a result of this ever-changing marketplace, Hasbro began offering to license its flagship brand to outside manufacturers such as Sideshow Collectibles and Hot Toys (HT). The results have been great news for adult collectors, but not for children. For them, only a smattering of 1:18 scale Joes and stiff-armed, 1:6 scale “statue-figures” remain.

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The new Bruce Willis “Joe Colton” GIjOE will be revealed at various toy and comic shows during 2013 and is estimated to retail for a whopping $229.99. (Photo: Hot Toys)

hasbrologonewHasbro to Stop Making GIJoes—Again?

GIjOE’s worldwide brand-name recognition is the stuff that corporate dreams are made of. But just a few months before the iconic brand celebrates its 50th Anniversary, Hasbro has announced ZERO plans for the release of any “50th Anniversary”commemorative GIjOE products (in ANY scale). If not for these new high-end HT GIjOEs, “America’s Movable Fighting Man” will effectively have disappeared from toy store shelves altogether. But we’ve seen this sort of product “drought” before. And yes, Hasbro has ceased creating and selling GIjOEs before. During the toy’s “golden era” of the 1960s and ’70s, stores of all types carried the line. Now, GIjOE products are scarcer than hen’s teeth. Whether Hasbro stops making them completely (again) or not, remains to be seen.

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The new Storm Shadow GIjOE will absolutely blow collectors away with its superb detail. Of course, all of the figure’s (real metal) weaponry is sharp and pointy, and his uniform’s buckles and zippers are tiny and fragile, making the toy a real challenge to dress. Clearly not a toy intended for children. (Photo: Hot Toys)

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The new 1:6 scale HT Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes figures have raised the bar about as high as it can go. Collectors should have little to complain about, except maybe their price tags. Ouch! (Photo: Hot Toys) Click to enlarge.

What’s Next for GIjOE?

In the past, even when battered, beaten and abused, GIjOE could always be repaired, reflocked and returned to duty by his faithful fans. Spare parts and uniforms are still widely available, regularly sold and traded online, at toy shows and at collector’s club meetings. Affordable alternatives are still being made by competitor’s worldwide (see HERE) and collectors with deeper pockets will surely pounce upon these new offerings from Hot Toys.

But the collecting world is evolving. And as long as Hasbro refuses to reinstate its original (brilliant) “razor and blades” marketing strategy and surrenders future production of the world’s greatest action figure to producers of high-end, “adult collectibles,” fans and collectors will just have to deal with the situation as best they can.

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It is physically impossible to create better headsculpts than this. Hot Toys continues to show it is the undisputed leader in ultra-realistic 1:6 action figures. Perhaps someday, Hasbro will grow tired of being “second best” and ramp up its competitive corporate power to produce its own line of top-notch, “adult-collectible” GIjOEs. Only time will tell. Until that day (if ever)…Bring it on, Hot Toys! (Photo: Hot Toys)

Bottom Line: For 50 years, GIjOE has remained a toy that promised hours of wholesome fun and escapist entertainment, all wrapped up in a convenient, and affordable 1:6 or 1:18 scale size. However, his latest evolution as an expensive “adult collectible” is reason to give many pause. Despite being in the very capable hands of Hot Toys, such high-priced figures are not for everyone. Let’s hope Hasbro’s “drought” does not go on forever, and that GIjOE’s upcoming 50th Anniversary provides some welcome and surprising relief for “thirsty” Joeheads. Go, JOE!

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3 thoughts on “12-Inch G.I. Joes Evolve From “Child’s Playthings” Into Expensive, Higher-End “Adult Collectibles”

  1. Tanker says:

    Collecting Joes has been one of those hobbies that no matter the price you are going to buy or trade things for what you want. Most of the figures I have that I like I got from working in the industry. Writing for Sideshow and Cotswold not to mention some websites in the 90’s who sent me stuff was not bad and I was lucky to not have to pay big prices. But now with writing on the side I have to buy what I want. The good thing is I can wait until Joelanta and buy the parted out uniforms and equipment sets and build what I want using good stuff.

    I bought my son a Cobra Sniper that was a Sideshow piece. He took what he wanted and then just gave me the rest of the soldier which I used to do a modern Adventure Team guy titled Expedition Team Security.

    Prices are what you make them. I try not to let them get in the way and when they do I wait. The other thing is if you have a system of friends that collect and they know you and your likes they will hold stuff or send you stuff. Usually it works both ways around. Which in my case is a good thing.

    In the case of this article, prices are way up there and all I can do is salivate at what is out. 128-160$ for certain pieces is way more than I can afford but once in a while you can get a break. Even if I had the money I would still be picky about what I would buy.

  2. Ken Davis says:

    Technically, it always has been. Toy collecting has long been seen as a “rich man’s hobby” because toys are truly considered a luxury item. Individually, G.I. Joe toys may not cost a whole lot, but add up multiple items and the cost/value skyrockets.
    Those of us that bought figures in the $30-$50 range( back “in the day”), and have more than 100 of them are holding on to a collection they have paid in excess of $5000 for. At minimum, as many of us reading this thread doubtlessly will own more than 100 figures, and will have paid more that that stated range.
    A modest collection accumulated for more than $10,000 is likely very common.
    Because we buy these figures and items piecemeal, we seldom see a tally total up for what we spend. Its just $30 here, $60 there….and “occasionally” $100 or so for something special.
    Well, a $10K collection is something I would consider being the status of a “affluent” collector, and again, many of us likely eclipse that value by a great deal.

  3. Joe says:

    Think of it this way, too: prices for vintage GI Joe on eBay are very low now. So while I don’t collect these new and very expensive figs, there’s hardly been a better time for buying good vintage stuff.

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