Have We Outlived “America’s Movable Fighting Man?”
Who’d a thought GIjOE’s fans would be alive and kicking longer than GIjOE himself? After all, Joe’s essentially an “immortal” plastic toy who doesn’t have to worry about realities such as heart disease, cancer or old age. His biggest concerns are untimely “shelf dives,” “firecracker-in-the-pants” mishaps, or embarrassing tea parties over at Barbie’s Dream House. GIjOE exists primarily as an inspirational ideal. He’s a dedicated and loyal representative of morality and goodness in the never-ending defense of freedom and a life-long paragon and promoter of creative play for children.
So how then is it possible, that here on GijOE’s 50th Anniversary, to all indications, it appears as if our 12-inch (and/or 3.75-inch) hero is fading fast from the hearts and minds of his once-loyal corporate creators and his previously enthusiastic retail supporters? The latest shoe to drop in this regard (logistically and economically) is Hasbro’s recent (unannounced) “we-hope-you-won’t-notice” elimination of all scales, variations and extensions of GIjOEs from its own retail website: hasbrotoyshop.com.
That’s right. GIjOE is GONE. Go ahead. Try entering every possible variation of the search word “GijOE” in the Hasbro Toy Shop website’s search window. You can do so until your knuckles turn blue—and you’d STILL come up with “item not found.” We tried GIjOE, G.I. Joe, G I Joe…nothing worked. Indeed, if you’ve been shopping for GIjOEs (in any scale) anywhere lately, online or in stores, hoping to score something new and cool to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary, then you’ve undoubtedly already encountered aisles of empty SKU slots on Toys ‘R Us shelves and blank webpages online. Store displays have been taken down and removed from public view. Other than the $300+ Sideshow figures and the annual exclusives offered by the club, only a handful of 12″ and 3.75″ GIjOE brand figures remain. Shockingly, 50 years after his creation—GIjOE has disappeared from retail outlets—with ZERO indication he’ll be back anytime soon.
Frankly, we’re not encouraged. It’s as if Hasbro has simply dropped their most famous brand and walked away. Yes, we all saw the Legos movie and yes, we know the toys are very popular with kids. We’re glad of that. But surely there’s still room on store shelves for an alternative to primary-colored, interlocking building blocks. Or has the world changed so much that there’s no room left in the hearts and minds of young boys and girls for what was recently voted as the “World’s Most Popular Toy?” (See story HERE.) And please don’t tell us that today’s children are so engrossed with smart phones and video games that use of their creative frontal lobes is out of the question. That would simply break our hearts!
After 50 Years of Adventures and Memories—All I Get Is A T-Shirt?
Fans of the venerable GIjOE brand were due FAR better treatment than they received (from Hasbro) in 2014. As Joe’s 50th Anniversary nears its end, we’re still struggling to understand WHY they’ve been ignored by the company so blatantly, and without explanation or apology. We asked Hasbro for a statement, a sentence, a sound bite—ANYTHING—regarding the shocking disappearance of GIjOE in 2014 and have (as of today) received no answer. Curious what other Joeheads might be thinking, we perused the fan boards in search of opinions and first found collector and fan, Jason Bienvenu, who offered up a this observation on the GIjOE Discussion Facebook page:
“I’m pretty sure whoever is in charge of the action figure department (at Hasbro) does not like the 3.75″ scale and has done their best to phase it out and dumb it down into the Happy Meal-quality toys we have now…”
Ernie King offered a little more prophetic view about the 50-year life of GijOE, saying:
‘GIjOE will only really live on in the hearts of collectors…like all of us here.”
Finally, collector Michael Ryan was the most proactive and optimistic, when he said:
“GIjOE is taking a time out, Transformers did it in 1992, Ninja Turtles has done it before, He-Man is in time out more often than not. This is just your chance to hit up eBay and collect the older toys you missed, or get into something new!”
Bottom Line: GIjOE is no longer listed on Hasbro’s own website. That’s a cold, hard fact fans now have to accept. While the brand may only be taking a “time out,” as Mr. Ryan postulates, to others, this looks like yet another nail in our hero’s 1:6 scale coffin. Sadly, it’s hard to imagine Hasbro resurrecting the line any time soon. When and if another movie is released, we might expect some more half-hearted, barely poseable figures at Walmart. But for the forseeable future. GIjOE may have to, as Mr. King stated, “live on in the hearts of collectors.” And live on he will. Go, JOE!