(Un)Happy Anniversary———Hasbro No Longer Sells G.I. JOE Brand Products On HasbroToyShop.com

GIjOE's recent disappearance from store shelves, Saturday morning cartoons and even Hasbro's own retail website has left his fans dazed and confused on the beloved toy's 50th anniversary. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

GIjOE’s recent disappearance from store shelves, Saturday morning cartoons and even Hasbro’s own retail website has left his fans dazed and confused on the beloved toy’s 50th anniversary. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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.

(Hasbro Toy Shop logo)

(Hasbro Toy Shop’s website logo)

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.

In the blink of an eye:

In this poignant photo taken before his passing, “The Father of GijOE,” Don Levine, examines the original ’60s prototype for the GIjOE frogman and reflects on memories of its creation. (Photo: cbc)

hasbrologonewWhat’s Does the Future Hold for GijOE?

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!

A screen shot from an early ’70s TV commercial that would launch the ambitious “50 Adventures of GIjOE” concept. Imagine if Hasbro REALLY tried something like this today. WOW!

A forlorn vintage GIjOE looks towards an uncertain future while wearing one of the

A forlorn vintage GIjOE looks towards his uncertain future while wearing a spiffy new “unofficial” 50th anniversary t-shirt given away not by Hasbro, but by Patches of Pride. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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!

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32 thoughts on “(Un)Happy Anniversary———Hasbro No Longer Sells G.I. JOE Brand Products On HasbroToyShop.com

  1. Joe Essid says:

    Sad but inevitable, if you can’t get the brand to resonate with the kids. That said, I did not see the GI Joe films because I cannot stand the RAH storyline and I heard how rotten they were, as movies. Hasbro seems set on devouring so many of my childhood delights, as when they bought up Avalon Hill and shut that all down in order to produce some AH-themed games without any complexity or realism.

  2. Jack Cherry says:

    Hasbro may have left GI Joe, but GI Joe will carry on long after this! He will continue to “live” long after this time, with all of us keeping him going strong.

  3. Vizcom says:

    A very sad story indeed. But hey, at least we have OUR GI Joe’s and the 50th Anniversary t-shirt, thanks to PoP!

  4. Frank Nash says:

    It’s a shame that now that Hasbro has climbed to the top of the ladder of Toy Empires, having bought out or outlasted such greats as Mattel, Tonka, Irwin and Kenner, that they show more loyalty to newly acquired toy lines than in the one that got them to the top. Remember WHY Empires eventually fall.

  5. WHAT THE F**K IS WRONG WITH YOU ASSHOLES AT HASBRO??? HOW DARE YOU MISTREAT US, THE LOYAL FANS AND COSTOMERS, WHO’VE SPENT OUR HARD-EARNED MONEY TO BUY YOUR PRODUCT? THIS IS HOW WE ARE REPAID? YOU NO-GOOD, DECEPTIVE, SHIFTY MOTHER******S!!!

    • Steve Polzak says:

      Enrique, I am with you. But I don’t think blowing up like that is going to help. Believe me, if I did “let go,” what you wrote would be nothing. You should hear what’s going around in my mind!

    • Face facts Enrique. Us Star Wars fans have been hit just as bad over the last 20yrs. Join the unhappy many that have money. I remember when there were so many Star Wars and GIjOEs on the store shelves that everyone could have an army. Now, if you get lucky and get a platoon, you are a winner.

  6. Hasbro is just following the US government’s trend of destroying the military. I’m surprised it took this long.

  7. Drew says:

    Technically, GIjOE ran from 1964 to 1976, then resumed in 1982 till 1998 with a 2 year pause till 2000 – 2013. To be fair, Super Joe spanned 77-78 and Palitoy ran Action Man from 1966 to 1984. I think the focus of this article might be a bit overreactive. There have been gaps and much like 1977 we are living in a country that is tired of war, much like people were tired of Vietnam. All that said, with such a strong brand name and recognition, Hasbro may be regrouping, thanks to that monster known as Star Wars which is about to vomit a galaxy of new action figures and toys and stiff competition for anything that isn’t equal to it in popularity. Given the last 2 Joe movies and the failure of the Cartoon series, I can see the retraction of the brand for a while to re-org. Just my 2 cents.

  8. On the upside, this gives us even more reason to give significant value and continue collecting all the vintage GIjOEs still out there waiting to be discovered in attics and basements! 🙂

  9. Steve Polzak says:

    I don’t care much for the small GIjOE figures. But I really thought something great was going to come out in 1/6 scale after 50 years. This is sad. I would really like to tell Hasbro “something,” but as things are now, what good would it do? I will be nice (I don’t know why) and just say they’re asses. Man, am I biting my tongue!

  10. There are several items released at TRU / BBTS exclusively that celebrate the 50th anniversary. I bought 3 vehicle packs which included 2 figures each along with 2 3 Packs and 4 2 Packs. There was still a SDCC Exclusive this year. And the Joe aisle takes up 25% of the space at my local TRU,

    • Steve Polzak says:

      Then you are lucky Casey. As for TRU, they are nuts. They never have all of anything. I remember so many times when there were things that my son wanted and we were lucky to find half of them. The rest would be on the east coast and they would not be getting what was out on the west coast. I haven’t seen any 1/6 scale GIjOE’s in years here in Illinois. I haven’t seen the small ones either in over a year or more. Don’t even ask me about Capt.Action. Our TRU has only ever gotten about a dozen and that’s not at once.

  11. Shogi says:

    “aisles of empty SKU slots on Toys ‘R Us shelves and blank webpages online”

    Have you tried these webpages? (The first link is where the current “exclusive” GI Joe line is living alive and well, waiting on it’s fans to actually buy the product BEFORE it hits clearance)

    http://www.toysrus.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=3529714&sr=1&origkw=GI%20Joe

    http://www.walmart.com/search/?ic=16_0&search_constraint=0&search_query=gi+joe&cat_id=4171_4172_133130

    http://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=GI%20Joe&category=0|All|matchallpartial|all+categories

    http://www.kmart.com/search=gi%20joe

    • Joseph Benedetto says:

      II would disagree with you. None of these links lead to a nude, highly-articulated 12″ action figure with a multitude of clothing packs, scale vehicles, fold-out buildings or anything else that made the original 1960s GIjOE such a hit with kids. Sure, there may be a 12″ solid plastic barely-movable toys there, but it’s not an original GIjOE-type toy from 50 years ago. For a lot of us, GIjOE was never in a cartoon series nor the movies: he was a blank-slate toy we dressed up as we wished and made into whatever we wanted, be it a US Marine or an international race car driver or an astronaut or a scuba-diving explorer. *That* is why we can remark on empty shelves and blank webpages. The do-anything toy we loved is just not there anymore.

      • Shogi says:

        Nor has it been for a few years then. I believe the last 12″ highly-articulated figures your specific regulations of what GIjOE (the brand) entails would have been the GIjOE 12″ figures from 2011 or so (Fire Fighter, Heavy Gunner, Army Paratrooper).

        So it appears to me, the outrage you have should have been expressed was 3 years ago when these figures were “shelf-warming,” and waiting for clearance. I understand this is the 50th anniversary for the original 12″ GIjOE, but the outrage displayed in this article is that there is no GIjOE anywhere:

        “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.”

        I have easily proved that statement untrue with just the first two links where you can still buy GI Joe toys online. The fact that this whole article is outraged that Hasbro Toy Shop won’t sell a toy exclusive to another store is just sad.

  12. Scott Cline says:

    Besides Patches of Pride, Hallmark gave us a nice 50th Anniversary ornament! Truthfully, I’ve had it with Hasbro. I will NEVER buy another Hasbro product. All most of us wanted was a tribute piece for 50 years of service and sales! Shame on you Hasbro. I think a full-page ad in the NY Times or Wall Street Journal might rattle the cages in Providence and remind the stockholders who is buying. Or in this case—not buying!

  13. Give the rights to Boss Fight Studio. Make the Joe line parts of the H.A.C.K.S. concept. Voila! Line reinvented. For those not in the know, the talented people at Boss Fight Studio are behind some of the most awesome modern GIjOEs already. They know their stuff.

  14. ruby says:

    SO sad. Leave GIjOE alone. We want fuzzhead GIjOEs!

  15. A lot of the so-called 50th Anniversary products were TRU exclusives, and their website only shows one item. That is not marketing a line to succeed.

  16. michael tomaino says:

    Hasbro, GIjOE will fight on with or without you. Most of your toys suck anyway. Without Joe, you’ll fade into the dark, right alongside Kenner. Thanks to video games and your boring board games, you’ll fall in 5 years. People will say Hasbro died along with GIjOE.

  17. Scott says:

    Actually, Drew, ARAH ran 1982 to 1994, before coming back in 1997 for 2 years and then in 2000 through 2006. 2007 then saw the launch of the new ‘modern era’ figures, the one with the sh***y chest hinges that give the figures moobs, double-jointed knees and other fancy-a** articulation we didn’t need when I was a kid!

    And in ’95 and ’96 there was the Sgt. Savage and the Screaming Eagles line that sucked a**.

    With another movie 2 years off, I expect there to be some kind of toys in the USA. We over here in Britain haven’t seen Joe toys at retail since Rise of Cobra’s line tanked, unless you got lucky and saw them in a store which imported on the grey market.

  18. Ed Catto says:

    Over here at Captain Action – we’re still digging it out! Viva la 1/6 scale!

  19. GIJOBILL says:

    I think this will go down as a huge blunder in the retail business. Such a huge milestone and they chose not acknowledge, market and capitalize on the product that put them on map. That is Un-American 🙂 Sad. Crap….at least make a tee-shirt. Mr.Hassenfeld would be embarrassed.

  20. Mike Palmer says:

    What it really comes down to is, if retailers, Walmart, Target, etc., won’t give shelf space to a line, it doesn’t have much of a chance to succeed. In the last go-round of Joe toys from Rise of Cobra, retailers gave about 4 peg hooks for figures and 2 slots for different types of vehicles. So, at this point, retailers were saying, “wow us.”

    The product that was delivered was NOT on par with previous releases. Reduced articulation, a raise in the price point from $7.96 to $9.96 and rehashed vehicles that had little identification with the movie they were supposedly from. It really came off as a half-hearted effort with the intent of milking more money from the line than it deserved.

    What came next was fans of the franchise snapped up the product offerings and there wasn’t replenishment for WEEKS. There was too much of a lag between waves, so much so, that my local Walmart had already reset their action figure aisle, dropping Joe before the last two waves hit. It was an epic failure on all fronts that doomed this line.

  21. Ryan Judkins says:

    Please bring back GIjOE. Please! I’m a 37 year-old man that misses them. Please bring them back. I guarantee that there is still a huge buyer’s market for both the 12-inch and 3-inch action figure. So please…let me have my childhood back in some way. I loved GIjOE!!!!!

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