Dreaming About G.I. Joe———Cultural Phenomenon Reveals Depth of Brand Affection By Fans and Collectors of “The World’s Most Popular Toy”

"GIjOE Dreams" can range from the fanciful to the farcical (Attack of the Giant Joes, anyone?). But one of the most common hopeful visions appears to be the simple "Wishful Thinker," where fans and collectors imagine the blissful (and unlikely) scenario of finding their favorite action figures back on store shelves and for sale again. (Keep dreaming, buddy.) (Photo composite: Mark Otnes)

“GIjOE Dreams” can range from the fanciful to the farcical (Attack of the Giant Joes, anyone?). But the most common vision appears to be a straight-forward and hopeful “Wishful Thinker” scenario, whereupon fans and collectors imagine the blissful (but unlikely) fantasy of discovering their favorite action figures back on store shelves (and for sale) once again. (Keep dreaming, buddy!) (Photo composite: Mark Otnes)

GIjOE fan and collector, Albert Batista, of New York. (Photo: Albert Batista)

GIjOE fan, Albert Batista, of New York. (Photo: Albert Batista)

“As a kid, I used to play on the fire escape of my apartment in New York City, with my GIjOEs. One day, a kid from a downstairs apartment climbed up the fire escape to my floor, and wanted to trade a switch-blade for a Joe. I did the trade, but that night, I dreamed that my Joes were climbing down the fire escape with ropes, and wearing the black caps and black spy outfits, in order to get into that kid’s apartment and liberate their teammate.” —Albert Batista

What better way to send a young Joe fan off to dreamland than in his own RAH GIjOE "bed tent?" Go, JOE! (Photo: Monk)

What better way to send a little “Joehead” off to dreamland than in a 1980’s GIjOE “bed tent?” Go, JOE! (Photo: Monk)

GIjOE: A Subject to Sleep On—and DREAM About!

For ardent fans and collectors of GIjOE, it’s not unheard of to actually dream about “America’s Movable Fighting Man” while sleeping. Of course, the idea of dreaming about a child’s TOY may seem ridiculous to non-Joeheads, but to his legions of fans, it’s not surprising at all. The love and affection they hold for the iconic action figure reaches deep into their personal psyches, recalls countless childhood (and adult) memories, and occupies a multitude of waking hours of nearly every day. So…

The memories of playing with his GIjOE and his "Troubleshooter" ATV back in the 1970s remain as strong today to (now adult) GIjOE fan and collector, Scott McCullar of Illinois. (Photo: Scott McCullar)

As a child of the 1970s, budding GIjOE fan and collector Scott McCullar (shown above) played with GIjOE and his fabled “Troubleshooter” ATV, creating long-lasting memories that he holds dear to this day. (Photo: Scott McCullar)

Why wouldn’t we dream about our 1:6 and/or 1:18 scale hero?

Let’s examine the reality of this intriguing phenomenon: Over the last 50 years, millions of children have grown up with GIjOE. Playing with the versatile and adaptable toy encourages creativity, artistic expression, the study and discovery of world and military history, and participation in indoor and outdoor recreation; resulting in literally YEARS of interactive amusement. Indeed, those fortunate enough to have owned GIjOEs have (by now) had DECADES of imaginative “practice” acting out their hero’s myriad adventures, carefully plotted and then played out—in their minds. As adults, those same individuals now find it quite easy to include Hasbro’s adventurer in their nightly dreams. That’s easy to understand. After all… GIjOE is the stuff dreams are made of!

GijOE fan and collector, Omar Syed, holds up his 1:6 scale "mini-me" action figure. (Photo: Omar Syed)

GijOE fan, Omar Syed, holds up his 1:6 scale “mini-me” action figure. (Photo: Omar Syed)

“I often dream about being in Toys ‘R Us, the way it used to be when I was young, and finding GIjOE or Action Man back on the shelves. (Sometimes BOTH!) In the dreams, I’m just walking up and down the aisles, looking at things and seeing all the exciting ‘new items’ that have been released.” —Omar Syed

Normally, I don’t remember my dreams.

Once I’ve awakened from deep REM slumber, my dreams tend to immediately vanish into the morning ether. However, I’ve discovered that if a dream is particularly elaborate or intriguing, it sometimes stays with me just long enough to recall it later. Similar to Syed’s dream (see quote above), last night I dreamt I was at a local Target store, hunting and searching for the newest GIjOEs. In reality, I had shopped there earlier in the day for towels and such. That visit must’ve stirred up some old ’90’s memories and prompted this:

“In my particular “Joe Dream,” some company, not necessarily Hasbro, had returned GIjOE to Target’s toy aisles. There were all sorts of primarily fuzzhead figures, in rather bland brown boxes, but the variety of new equipment sets was literally mouth-watering. Sadly, before I could examine it all in detail, I woke up and POOF—my visions had all vanished. D’oh!” —Mark Otnes

Do I have to be asleep? Do my daydreams “count?”

Most assuredly they do! Whether you’re laying in bed staring at the ceiling, resting beneath a tree watching clouds float by, or chewing on a pencil and staring off into outer space, a daydream is often one of the best ways fans can find to contemplate the past, present and future fate(s) of GijOE. Here’s one story that illustrates just how enjoyable a Joe daydream can be:

GijOE fan, Mark Longmire of Tennessee (Photo: Mark Longmire)

GijOE fan, Mark Longmire of Tennessee (Photo: Mark Longmire)

“I don’t know if this classifies as a ‘dream,’ but when I was a kid in the ’60s, I would play with a lone GIjOE sometimes as if he had crash-landed on a world of giants, who were of course, us. No doubt my ‘dream’ was influenced by the Irwin Allen TV show, Land of the Giants.

My Joe would fashion a grappling hook and line from a safety-pin and string and then rappel up and down the furniture, always hiding from the giant cat and the giant woman inhabitant (my Mom). Eventually, he would find or fashion the part he needed to repair his Mercury space capsule and escape back to his home planet.” —Mark Longmire

If we're dreaming about GIjOEs, what are our Joes dreaming about? (Photo composite: Mark Otnes)

If we’re dreaming about GIjOEs, what are our Joes dreaming about? (Photo composite: Mark Otnes)

Bottom Line: Whether you’re fantasizing or daydreaming about finding a rare “lost” figure at a flea market or auction, setting up GIjOEs and playing with them in an imaginative and exciting “backyard battle,” or (as was the case with me last night) dreaming that the 12-inch line had somehow (miraculously) returned to store shelves, rest assured that you’re not alone. Dream On!

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5 thoughts on “Dreaming About G.I. Joe———Cultural Phenomenon Reveals Depth of Brand Affection By Fans and Collectors of “The World’s Most Popular Toy”

  1. Matthew Pak says:

    I’ve often had dreams about finding an out-of-the-way old department store somewhere near me that is chock full of vintage G.I. Joe and other toys. Usually the dilemma is that I don’t have enough money or can’t find someone to help me get an item off a tall shelf. Then I wake up and I’m bummed.

  2. GIJOEBILL says:

    I also rarely remember dreams, but I have several since collecting as an adult. It’s always sort of the same…I am somewhere where there are a bunch of vintage Joes and I struggle to figure out where to run and get cash to come back and buy them all.

  3. Joe Essid says:

    Recurring dream: being a kid and going down the escalator to the Sears Basement, where there was a fantastic Joe section. In the 60s and 70s, each product did not always make it to every store, and some items were scarce, so it was a real treasure-hunt to get to Sears ahead of the other kids.

    Used to have this dream once or twice per year. Not so much now, that I’m barely collecting and instead sorting the collection as I sell bits off and finish other bits. Funny how for Major Matt Mason, my other collectible, I don’t dream of running into Woolco or Sears to get them. Just GI Joe!

    • I’ve had similar dreams about Sears. Ours didn’t have a basement, but every Christmas, they turned the Garden Center into a “Toy Box.” In my dream, I’m standing there looking at Daisy BB guns, 007 playsets and those big boxed GIjOE Sears exclusives. GREAT dream! —Mark 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    My dreams are usually about walking into a flea market or second-hand store. Growing up, that’s usually were most of my 12-inch Joes came from. I still go to those places, even though it’s not as common as it once was to find GIjOEs there. In my dreams, I walk in and there’s a huge shelf with all the Joe and Action Man sets I always wanted, plus some that SHOULD have been made. I always think “mother lode!” But as I reach for the first item, I wake up. Great subject and a first to see someone write about it.

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