“Christmas with G.I. Joe” Meant Happy Faces and Happy Memories For Children of the 1960s-’90s

The big smile and happy expression on Scott Korenowski's face tells you all you need to know about his reaction to receiving a brand-new GIjOE footlocker full of gear on a 1960s Christmas morning. (Photo: Scott Korenowski)

The big smile and happy expression on Scott Korenowski’s face reveal how he felt receiving a brand-new GIjOE footlocker full of gear on Christmas morning, 1965. (Photo: Scott Korenowski)

A young Charles Bury holds up his new GIjOE Talking Astronaut proudly in this photo taken in 1969. (Photo: Charles Bury)

A young Charlie Bury proudly holds up his new GIjOE Talking Astronaut in this photo taken (we assume) just after Christmas, 1969. Right, Charlie? (Photo: Charles Bury)

A Time of Innocence—A Time of Play

For many of us, growing up in 1960s, ’70s or ’80s America meant getting up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons, eating sugary breakfast cereals, playing outdoors—all day!—without a care in the world, climbing trees and playing in tree-houses, reading comic books while fantasizing of becoming football stars and superheroes, and watching astronauts land on the moon while building models of our favorite airplanes, spaceships and monsters (remember all those cool Aurora kits?). It was a time when childhood was still filled with innocence. It was time when children still PLAYED. It was the perfect time in American history—for GIjOE!

It’s a GIjOE Christmas “MIRACLE!”

I can remember being just 6 years old and sitting at the dining table, painstakingly going through our family’s Sears and Montgomery Wards mail order catalogs, studying all the photos of the toys and trying desperately to figure out which ones I should ask Santa for that year. Oh yes, at 6, I firmly believed in Santa Claus, and I remember thinking how MAGICAL the whole Christmas experience was; I could write a list of toys I wanted and Mom would mail it off to Santa at the North Pole. Then somehow, on Christmas morning—there were presents left for us under the tree. Wow!

We love a photo that tells a story. We assume the little boy on the right, trying to remove the 5-star Jeep recoiless rifle from its cardboard packing is the recipient of all this great GIjOE and Big Jim swag. But notice that the Dad (center) can't help but get his hands busy setting up that Adventure Team HQ. And the little brother (left) is already opening the Deep Sea Diver equipment set. It's a GIjOE Christmas, circa 1972! (Photo: Will Ceau)

We believe the little boy (on the right) who’s trying to remove the 5-star Jeep’s recoiless rifle from its cardboard packing, is the recipient of all this great GIjOE and Big Jim swag. But notice that the Dad (center) can’t keep his hands off the Adventure Team HQ, and little brother (left) is already opening up the Deep Sea Diver equipment set. It’s a “GIjOE Christmas,” circa 1972! (Photo: Will Ceau)

Do you remember hearing GIjOE "talk" for the first time? This boy named Brad surely does, as he pulls the string of his Talking Sailor GIjOE on Christmas morning, 1970. (Photo: leadfoot)

Do you remember hearing GIjOE “talk” for the first time? This boy named Brad surely does. Here, he pulls the string of his new Talking Sailor, Christmas, 1970. (Photo: leadfoot)

Remembering “First Moments” With GIjOE

With Christmas 2013 now less than a week away, we thought it would be enjoyable to take a look back at those magical, “first moments” with GIjOE. If you think about it, your earliest memories of GIjOE were probably when you first received him as a gift, typically on a birthday or Christmas morning from the past. As a result, most of these vintage Christmas photos also capture the child’s wonderment and excited first interactions with the toy, leading to what would become (for many of us) a life-long, and deeply personal connection—to GIjOE.

Bottom Line: We were thrilled with the response we received after calling for reader photo submissions, and were able to locate a few more on our own as well. Wherever possible, we’ve credited the photographer of each image, but if you see yourself in any of these old pictures, please write in to The Joe Report HERE with your memories or descriptions of your first “Christmas with GIjOE.” Thanks, and… Enjoy!

This lucky kid had great reason to be smiling. In addition to receiving an Adventure Team HQ, a 6-wheel ATV, and a GIjOE Deep Sea Diver equipment set, he's also received a brand-new Schwinn Stingray bicycle. All Christmas morning, circa 1970. WOW! (Photo: Jelene Morris)

This lucky kid had great reason to be smiling. In addition to receiving an Adventure Team HQ, a 6-wheel ATV, and a GIjOE Deep Sea Diver equipment set, he’s also received a brand-new Schwinn Stingray bicycle. All Christmas morning, circa 1970. WOW! (Photo: Jelene Morris)

A young Tim Weedn playing happily with his new GIjOE Sea Sled and black spy raft, circa Christmas morning, 1966. (Photo: Tim Weedn)

A young Tim Weedn playing happily with his new GIjOE Sea Sled and black spy raft, circa Christmas afternoon, 1966 (quote follows). (Photo: Tim Weedn)

“It was the biggest package under the tree that year and the last to be opened. Fairly impressive, considering I have three older and one younger sibling. I remember ripping into it with great anticipation, then staring at the box art for the longest time. I was completely blown away. Everyone thought the ‘Official GIjOE Sea Sled’ the coolest toy ever. I wholeheartedly agree!” —Tim Weedn

This superb slide was found in an estate sale and was labeled only with "Christmas, 1973." The looks on their faces are priceless. Go, JOE! (Photo: High Steel Heels)

Do you remember shooting shells from your 5-Star Jeep’s cannon? This superb slide was found in an estate sale and was labeled only with “Christmas, 1972,” so as of now, the name of the family remains unknown. But the looks on those boys faces tell a great story, don’t they? Go, JOE! (Photo: High Steel Heels)

Mark Otnes, editor of The Joe Report, holds up his brand-new GIjOE space capsule and astronaut on Christmas morning, circa 1967. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Mark Otnes, editor of The Joe Report, holds up his brand-new GIjOE space capsule and astronaut on Christmas morning, circa 1967. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“The Christmas I received my GIjOE Space Capsule, I remember being enthralled by how its canopy slid open, its intricately detailed instrument panel, the embossed GIjOE logo on its tip, etc. I must’ve played with that toy and my Sea Sled in the bathtub for hours and hours and HOURS, practicing splashdowns and rescues. What great memories!” —Mark Otnes

As we already know, the GIjOE 5-Star Jeep was a popular Christmas gift for many years. Little boys Mike and brother Darron take a break playing with theirs to hold up baby Kent, Christmas day, 1967. (Photo: Alphadog)

The GIjOE 5-Star Jeep was a popular Christmas gift for many years. In this picture, Mike and his brother Darron take a break playing with theirs to pose with baby Kent on Christmas Day, 1967. (Photo: Alphadog)

Bob, aka "Retrohound," poses with his minty-new "Secret of the Mummy's Tomb," Christmas, 1972. (Photo: retrohound)

Bob, aka “Retrohound,” poses with his minty-new “Secret of the Mummy’s Tomb,” circa Christmas, 1972. (Photo: retrohound)

“In 1972 I was 6 years old and I got a GIjOE ATV (all terrain vehicle)! And what is that in my left hand? A sarcophagus? Yes, it’s the GIjOE sarcophagus! I know the picture says May 1973, but it took that long for my folks to get photos developed.” —Bob, aka “Retrohound”

Two years later, Bob is still getting cool GIjOE sets for Christmas. What a lucky kid! (Photo: Retrohound)

Two years later, Bob was still getting cool GIjOE sets for Christmas. The longer you look, the more GIjOEs you see. What a lucky kid! (Photo: Retrohound)

“In 1974, I got a GIjOE, a couple GIjOE outfits, and the ‘Abominable Snowman’ set! That would be worth some money if I still had it in good condition. My Mom sold ALL my GIjOE stuff in a garage sale when I was out of town once. She bought into all that crap about guns and stuff not being good for kids and was always conflicted about letting me have anything ‘violent.’ Plus, I was about 13, and she figured I was too old for toys. The bummer is, she didn’t’ even give me the money!” —Bob, aka “Retrohound”

According to this great retro-photo's caption: "It's Christmas, 1964, in Diamond Bar, CA. My nephew Jimmy got a GIjOE." Where is that Joe today, Jimmy? (Photo: tterrace)

According to this great retro-photo’s caption: “It’s Christmas, 1964, in Diamond Bar, CA. My nephew Jimmy got a GIjOE.” Look at all the blue color in this pic. WILD. Where is that first Joe today, Jimmy? (Photo: tterrace)

In this superb candid shot taken on Christmas morning, 1986, we're not sure who's happier, or who's getting the gift—the Father or the Son? Either way, Go, JOE! (Photo: Ted Fitzgerald)

In this superb candid shot taken on Christmas morning, 1986, we’re not sure who’s happier, or who’s getting the gift—the Father or the Son? Either way, it’s safe to say…they’re BOTH blessed. Go, JOE! (Photo: Ted Fitzgerald)

We suspect that if a study was done, the GIjOE 5-Star Jeep may have been one of the most photographed toys EVER. In this great shot, "Mike" looks up from his idyllic work assembling his Jeep for the first time, Christmas morning, 1965. (Photo: Alphadogs)

We suspect that if a study was done, the GIjOE 5-Star Jeep may have been one of the most photographed toys EVER. In this great shot, “Mike” looks up from his idyllic work assembling his Jeep for the first time, Christmas morning, 1965. What a special toy. What great play value! (Photo: Alphadogs)

This wonderful black-n-white snap was merely labeled "Christmas, 1973." Not a lot to go on, but notice how neatly everything is laid out for the photo? Did this little guy do that, or did his Mom? Looks almost like they were taking it for insurance purposes. HA (Photo: Mark West)

This wonderful black-n-white snap was merely labeled “Christmas, 1973.” Not a lot to go on, but notice how neatly everything is laid out for the photo? Did this little guy do that, or did his Mom? Looks almost like they were taking it for insurance purposes. HA (Photo: Mark West)

Pride of GIjOE ownership crosses all borders. In a charming photo titled, "Me with Action Man and Sister, 1970," a young Brit and his sister pose with some of his gifts next to their table-top Christmas tree. But...what did Sis get? (Photo: jiulong)

In this charming photo titled, “Me with Action Man and Sister, 1970,” a young Brit and his sister pose with various gifts next to their table-top Christmas tree. But…what did Sis get? Aw, who cares? Go, Action Man! (Photo: jiulong)

Parents know they've hit the bulls-eye when they see their son beaming with a smile like this. Merry Christmas, 1988! (Photo: Brian Wilkins)

Parents know they’ve hit the bulls-eye when they see their son beaming with a smile like this. Merry Christmas, 1988! (Photo: Brian Wilkins)

Giving the gift of a new 12" GIjOE (when available!) continues to work it magic with children, as proven in this wonderful photo of "Clay" taken on Christmas morning, 2005. (Photo: ShanVan)

Giving the gift of a new 12″ GIjOE (when available) continues to work it magic with children, as proven in this wonderful photo of “Clay” taken on Christmas morning, 2005. (Photo: ShanVan)

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5 thoughts on ““Christmas with G.I. Joe” Meant Happy Faces and Happy Memories For Children of the 1960s-’90s

  1. Exusafsp says:

    I got my first Joe in ’64, an Action Pilot. I still have him.

  2. Tim Weedn says:

    Wonderful article, Mark. Brought back some great memories. Thanks!

  3. Joe Essid says:

    Love these pics. I wish I had photos of me getting the Hidden Missile Discovery, Mummy’s Tomb, and Flying Space Adventure sets back then! And the Major Matt Masons! Only a few of my originals remain now, but they really do re-connect me with my deceased parents and, yes, a simpler time (usually is, for kids, when they look back). Lovely idea to do this at Christmas. Make it an annual feature!

  4. kneonknight says:

    50 year veteran myself…Action marine and Soldier, with a good assortment of gear including the Frogman Scuba suit. If only I had known then how much they would be hunted and treasured now…I still would have worn them out in the back yard! Hah!

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