Brazil’s “Falcon” G.I. Joes Remain the Most Difficult to Collect———Even for Brazilians!

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The cover of the first Falcon catalog (1977) reveals the Brazilian-made version of GIjOE debuted with an excellent mix of military and adventure themes. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

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These two Falcon figures look right at home in this Adventure Team Headquarters. The Brazilian version of GIjOE shared many similarities with its American cousins, but also went off in its own creative and distinctive directions. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

Onde estão os Joes Falcon?

Where are they, indeed? That’s a question that nags at the minds of thousands of Brazilian “Falcon” GIjOE collectors. Even when first introduced, the popular toys were difficult to find. Today, Falcon figures and vehicles have become downright scarce. What happened to them all?

Produced by Brazil’s Estrela Toys between 1977 and 1983, Falcon Joes were targeted primarily to middle-class children located in major cities of South America’s largest nation. But for those living outside of Brazil’s major markets, buying opportunities were rare.

Despite the uneven distribution, word spread and the new toys became hugely popular and thoroughly played with by thousands of happy South American children. Today, those same ’70s and ’80s children have grown to adulthood and are once again clamoring for a “fix” of their favorite 12-inch Brazilian hero. But there’s a problem. There are hardly any Falcon Joes left to be found—anywhere! Some (occasionally) appear for sale on ebay, but collectors are clearly facing a supply and demand shortage. And it’s only getting worse.

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This Google street-view of Estrela Toy’s once-bustling production facility reveals only a long-shuttered and abandoned factory today. Fortunately, the company has reorganized and is now headquartered in Sao Paulo. But its future (and that of Falcon GIjOEs) remains unclear. (Photo: Google Maps)

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“Condor” was a 1:6 scale android, making it an extremely cool Falcon figure. Somehow, this example has survived the last 40+ years in its original window box. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi) Click to enlarge.

Buried in a Landfill—Or Burned Up and Gone With the Wind?

We’ve touched on this depressing aspect of GIjOE collecting in previous articles; but unfortunately, literally thousands of vintage figures are going to be forever MIA. Relegated to the ignominious fate of a landfill or waste incinerator, the “body count” of today’s surviving Falcons is undoubtedly much lower than it should be. For collectors of the line, it’s a sad and undeniable reality.

Simply put, Falcon Joes are scarce, and the last 40+ years have not been kind to their collectors. Today, even with the aid of the Internet, locating good examples of the unusual line is an uphill struggle, even for native Brazilians. The majority of MIA Falcons reside deep within Brazil’s depressing “trash mountains” with no hope of a future rescue.

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Great figures, superb outfits (check out that tan one on the left), and a slightly altered AT logo prove these Falcon figures are still 100% GIjOE! (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

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Renowned Falcon expert, Ricardo Beluchi (right), poses alongside a colorfully dressed cosplayer during last year’s second Falcon convention in Brazil. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

O Herói de Verdade!

Falcon’s motto is translated as “The Hero of Truth!” And if you’re a Falcon fan, there’s one expert you can always count on to get to the truth: Ricardo Beluchi. Beluchi’s superb Portuguese-language Falcon website (found HERE) is chocked full to overflowing with all things Falcon. Here are some passages translated into English via Google Translate:

“Falcon was first launched in 1978. Originally, there were two models available: one with a dark beard (Action Camouflaged) and one who was beardless (Counter-Attack). But with instant success, additional models were quickly introduced. The themes were of many adventures, and since Falcon had to fight with an opponent, he struggled primarily against nature, including sharks, giant spiders, octopi and ferocious gorillas.

Falcon was also a secret agent, defying death with sets such as ‘Fantastic Leap Forward’ or ‘High Voltage.’ Initially, parents were concerned that their little boys were playing with dolls, but then they saw that Falcon had nothing ‘girly’ about him. With knives, guns and a scar on his bearded face, Falcon is today, the most MACHO of toys.”

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Fans in Brazil hope to generate enthusiasm for a revival of Falcon and gathered recently for the SECOND annual Falcon/GIjOE convention. Exhibits included 12″ and 3.75″ GIjOEs, 1:1 cosplayers in elaborate homemade costumes, dioramas, and of course, the ever elusive Falcon! (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

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This table at the second convention in Brazil reveals an Adventure Team headquarters (see GIjOE box), three Falcon figures and one of those cool, “Condor” android dudes.Sweet! (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi) Click to enlarge.

Is There a Future for Falcon?

At this point, it’s impossible to determine what, if any, plans Estrela may have for Falcon, but the company HAS indicated that it is at least curious about fan interest in the line. In a recent poll conducted by Estrela (you can still cast a vote for Falcon HERE), there appears to be overwhelming consumer support for the line’s return. Reminded of Geyperman’s successful reintroduction (see HERE), we wondered if anything else was being done to generate excitement for a possible Falcon “resurrection.” Beluchi replied:

“A few years ago there was a group of Brazilian collectors who joined together to form a Falcon fan club called the ‘BraJoes.’ But after a few years, the club disbanded. In 2012, members of that group teamed up once again and held a convention. This year, a second convention was held. Several items were displayed at that event, including Falcons, GIJOEs, customs figures and dioramas, etc.. There was also a competition for cosplayers and we had many visitors!”

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Figures on the back row (frogman, deep-sea diver, etc.) look familiar to fans in the U.S., U.K., Spain and other countries, but the front row of “exotic” figures are unique to Brazil’s Falcon line. We see inspiration from Bulletman, Logan’s Run, Flash Gordon, and other schlocky ’70 sci-fi. (Photo: Washington Espínola)

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It’s good to see fans in Brazil are beginning to work on dioramas as well. Here’s a nice closeup of a garage dio, complete with tools, mini pin-ups, and other related equipment. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi) Click to enlarge.

So the news is encouraging. But what about Falcon’s increasing rarity, rising cost, and decreasing availability? We asked Ricardo if he could comment some on the line’s history and how it created this dilemma. He replied:

“Here in Brazil, Falcon figures were originally found only in major toy stores. Because of the poor overall financial situation of our country, it was an expensive toy to purchase, and so few children ever received more than one or two. Usually, we earned them only on specific dates such as our birthdays or Christmas.

You also need to understand that Brazilians only began collecting Falcon figures a few years ago. During the 70s-’80s, nobody thought of collecting these toys. People actually played with them, and many were THROWN AWAY when they broke. So, nowadays, it’s very difficult to find them in good condition, complete, or for a good price.

I have a few Falcons in my own collection, but since they are so rare, I try to refocus my collection onto GIjOEs and the Adventure Team line-up that I love so much! I hope this helps. If your readers have any more questions about Falcon, please let them know I am available!”

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Cosplayers are like costumed “cheerleaders” for GIjOE and Falcon, and this group appeared at the second Falcon convention recently to root for their favorites. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

Bottom Line: Already rare in Brazil, it’s a safe bet that Falcon figures, uniforms and equipment will continue to hold a place of high value and fond esteem among Brazilian collectors. Whether or not fans in other countries will see many of them in person is doubtful. Collectors hold on to them tightly, and turnover is infrequent. As long as Estrela remains on the fence about 12-inch figures, fans will just have to keep their eyes and ears open. Our sincerest thanks go out to Ricardo Beluchi for his help with this article. If you’d like to ask Ricardo any more questions about Falcon, you can contact him directly through his Facebook page found HERE. Go, JOE! Vai, Falcon!
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