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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!