50 years is a long time. Or…it’s merely a “blink of an eye,” depending on your perspective. For fans of the original 12-inch GIjOE, the time seems to have absolutely flown by. Children of the 1960s and ’70s are all grown up now, their hair is a little grayer and their waistbands a little larger, but most can still remember playing with “America’s Movable Fighting Man” in their living rooms, bathtubs and backyards as if it were only yesterday. That’s because for many—it was!
A second crop of GIjOE fans came along in the 1980s and ’90s, reared on a smaller, but no less enjoyable, 3.75-inch version of the “Real American Hero.” Together, these two disparate groups of collectors form a worldwide fan base for what jointly, has been dubbed the “World’s Most Popular Toy.” Joe’s immense popularity has also prompted the subsequent creation of hundreds of GIjOE clubs, conventions and shows, both local and national in size and scope.
In 2014, FIFTY YEARS after GIjOE’s introduction at the 1964 Toy Fair and BILLIONS of dollars in sales, the beloved Hasbro action figure will be honored once again. This time, the GIjOE Collector’s Club has announced plans for a 4-day “Golden Anniversary” celebration, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas, TX. According to the club:
“G.I. Joe’s 50th Birthday will be celebrated April 10-13th, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas. You can make your hotel reservations now by going to the official convention website HERE. The convention room rate is $142 and they will require a one night’s deposit with your reservation.
This will be a grand celebration of the world’s first action figure. More details will be available in the coming weeks. We will start posting the convention set details and hope to have registration up by Thanksgiving (we are currently in the middle of a total re-write of the registration system to serve you better).”
Shrinking JoeCon Attendance to Continue in 2014?
Early fan reaction to the club’s announcement has been decidedly and predictably mixed. It’s no secret that the club has chosen to steer and cater its conventions to collectors of the 3.75″ figures. Attendees at the 2013 JoeCon in Indianapolis were startled by the sight of a convention floor practically barren of 12″ figures, 1:6 dealers AND 1:6 fans (see complete recap HERE). In fact, the Indy show’s ratio of small to large-scale material was about 90% to 10% respectively. Fans of the original 12″ version of GIjOE were left largely to their own devices, clustering together like a lost mountaineering expedition. One fan expressed his own version of the current quandary this way:
“I’m split. I do so want to go to Joelanta this year. I’m even working on a custom. At the same time, I’d like to get to JoeCon 2014 for the 50th anniversary, even if it’s a flop, with limited or no Hasbro presence and limited 12-inch fare. Just so I could say that I was there for the 50th Anniversary!” —ARGarrison
Cotswold Collectibles rep, Greg Brown, provided insight on how 1:6 scale dealers are looking at the club’s JoeCon events when he spelled out his company’s views of the past two JoeCons and the upcoming 2014 JoeCon this way:
“Cotswold Collectibles has passed on the last TWO JoeCons due to the higher costs of attending and operating at the shows, as well as their dwindling 1:6 scale presence. However, because I office out of North Texas, we can do the 2014 show on a greatly reduced budget (ie – no airfare, hotel stay, etc). Despite the ‘scale shift’ at the show, I still have the hope that 2014 will be the 50th anniversary comeback.”—Greg Brown
As to the 2014 show’s venue, I lived in downtown Dallas for 2 years, a mere stone’s throw from the Hyatt Regency Hotel (HRH), so I can confirm that it is indeed a superb choice for any convention (I attended a Star Trek Con there once). Fans of TV’s Dallas, will recognize the HRH as the iconic, mirrored building first flown by in the show’s opening credits—just PERFECT for parachute drops!
Bottom Line: How—and if—the GIjOE Collector’s Club will reconcile the growing disparity (some say outright ostracization) of the 1:6 scale fan base remains to be seen. And with no further event intel to go on at this time, it’s difficult to predict what sort of “Golden Anniversary” the 2014 JoeCon will turn out to be. But if last year’s event in Indianapolis is any indication, 1:6 scale Joeheads should NOT be getting their hopes up. (Additionally, the club may still be stinging from last year’s low-rated show. If that’s true, it helps explain why it’s chosen to keep the 2014 event in its own backyard—the club is headquartered in nearby Ft. Worth.)