Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!———Are Facebook’s “Closed Groups” Dividing G.I. Joe’s Fandom?

This Civil War era poster hoped to instill patriotic fervor in an attempt to keep the Union together during a time when sides were pulling apart. Increasingly disparate GIjOE fans may be facing a similar test of their own due to increased splintering of a once mighty, unified fan group. (Photo: bentley.umich)

This 1860s Civil War-era poster hoped to recruit troops and instill patriotic support for the North. In 2014, free of the corporate influence and guidance of Hasbro, disparate groups of GIjOE fans also find themselves “rallying around” their favorite scales (1:6 or 1:18) or favorite eras (Vintage Military, AT, RAH, etc.) through the increased use of “closed groups” on Facebook. (Photo: bentley.umich)

Time was, TV viewers would stay up late until the "viewing day" was over and a test pattern would appear onscreen until the next morning. (Photo: celiabullwinkel)

Time was, TV viewers who stayed up to 1AM (typically after a Late, Late Movie) would witness a station announcing it had reached the end of another “broadcasting day,” listen to the national anthem and then stare at a test pattern before finally switching off their set. Click to enlarge. (Photo: celiabullwinkel)

Some Herald “Unlimited Choices” While Others Decry Increased Splintering of GIjOE’s Fan Base

Remember when watching TV was as easy as 1, 2, 3? We do. 50 years ago there were only the 3 major TV networks, and a handful of independent stations vying for our attention. Such concentration of viewership resulted in a shared national identity that provided citizens with familiar reference points of culture and debate. Now, with the addition of thousands of new satellite and cable TV channels, the minds of many have begun “going their own way,” dividing the medium’s previously unified audience. Intriguingly, GIjOE fandom can now be said to be following a similar path. Only in this case, it’s the internet that (counterintuitively) risks splintering fan factions, threatening to pull collectors in so many directions that previous collecting group dynamics may soon become a thing of the past. Admittedly, with all the wonderful things the ‘net has done to bring Joeheads together, it’s hard to imagine that the very same medium could now be working against them. But recent developments reveal—the damage may already be done.

In a strategy primarily geared at selling and increasing its ad revenue, Facebook' "mining of data" has earned its creators less than glowing reviews among its members. Is the use of "closed groups" playing right into their hands? (Photo: thehappyblogger)

One BILLION Joeheads=$$$! In a strategy primarily geared at selling and increasing its ad revenue, Facebook’s “mining of data” has earned its creators less than glowing reviews among its members. Is the use of “closed groups” part of their Master Plan? (Photo: thehappyblogger)

For Example: When discussing GIjOEs, what topics do you consider to be off-limits? Are certain words or phrases unacceptable for use in a GIjOE fan forum? Where do your personal “tolerance thresholds” for opposing opinions begin—and end? Tough questions all, we grant you; some requiring serious introspection. But for fans of GIjOE, the answers used to be very simple—NOTHING. We used to be too busy being fascinated by each other’s Joe-knowledge to be offended by an occasional off-color remark. Regardless of personal scale and era preferences, fans (in the past) loved ALL GIjOEs (yes, some more than others) and were always happy to support one another’s differing tastes and/or viewpoints. What’s happened to change all that? Surprisingly, some say—Facebook.

GIjOE uber-fan, Ace Allgood (shown at right) had just arrived from Minnesota. He hoped to reconnect with old Joe-buddies and sell some of his new custom GIjOE pins.

Good PeopleGood Times. As always, whether or not a GIjOE fan is accepting of others depends primarily on who he or she is on the INSIDE. Tolerance of differing opinions and collecting preferences may come easily to some, but not so, to others. Here, outgoing and popular GIjOE collector and advocate, Ace Allgood (right) greets a friend during a previous Joelanta show. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This screenshot of the GIjOE Discussion group's rules clearly spell out their disdain for "Hazblow" or terms of a similar nature. Unfortunately for Otnes, this information was unknown to him at the time of his post.

This screenshot of Facebook’s GIjOE Discussion group reveals a specific list of “things to think about before you post” (i.e. rules and regs).

So what’s the problem? We’re still all GIjOE fans and we’re still just talking about toys, right? Well, maybe not. The introduction of Facebook’s numerous “closed group” GIjOE fan forums has led to an unexpected “splintering” of the hobby. While most fans enjoy the closed groups simply as yet another place on the ‘net to share their fandom (and let their “geek flags fly”), others see them as a way to suppress dissenting opinion. Of course, the level of closed-group moderation (i.e. censorship) has always varied from group to group and moderator to moderator. But in today’s increasingly segmented, politically corrected and word-sensitive society, it’s not unusual for an unsuspecting Joehead to stumble into a group of fans who are more than willing to lead him (or her) into an abyss of dispute—over a simple WORD.

Formerly impervious to trivial disagreements, some fans (nowadays) appear to have developed a decreased tolerance for opinions that don’t immediately coincide with their own. Nowhere online is this evolving phenomenon more apparent than in the closed groups on Facebook. If you don’t know how such groups operate, pay heed: First, you request (or are invited) to join. Then, if you’re accepted, you learn whether the group is moderated or not and its particular “rules” for posting. To remain a member, you must abide politely by its restrictions or risk getting unceremoniously cut (i.e. “black-listed”) from the group’s roster by its all-powerful moderator. If this all sounds a tad Orwellian or close-minded, it can indeed feel so at times. But as one might expect, experiences vary from group to group and depend entirely on the mindsets of the individuals clustered within. Your level of enjoyment (or disappointment) will vary accordingly.

Many fans are dumbfounded by Hasbro's lackadaisical treatment of the GIjOE brand and franchise. According to one fan's review of a new GijOE video game: "G.I.Joe deserves more than this, here we have yet another “straight-to-the-bargin-bin” Movie Tie In game. With a broken camera, repetitive game play and poor graphics you’ll swear the game is a plot by Cobra Commander to cause pain to those dumb enough to buy it full price." (Photo: angryjoeshow)

Many fans are angry and dumbfounded by Hasbro’s lackadaisical treatment of their beloved GIjOE brand and franchise. According to one fan’s scathing review of a new GijOE: The Rise of Cobra video game: “G.I.Joe deserves more than this, here we have yet another ‘straight-to-the-bargin-bin’ Movie Tie-In game. With a broken camera, repetitive game play and poor graphics, you’ll swear the game is a plot by Cobra Commander to cause pain to those dumb enough to buy it full price.” Feel free to disagree, but be careful WHERE you post your thoughts over on Facebook’s “closed groups.” (Photo: angryjoeshow)

Mark Otnes (l, back), editor and main writer of The Joe Report, holds up his GIjOE space capsule and astronaut on Christmas morning, 1967. Otnes found himself the focus of an online dispute recently that seemed to highlight a schism between fans. (Photo: TJR)

Mark Otnes (l, back), editor and main writer of The Joe Report, holds up his GIjOE space capsule and astronaut on Christmas morning, 1967. Otnes found himself the focus of an online dispute recently that seemed to highlight a schism between fans. (Photo: TJR)

Intriguing Schism Between GIjOE Fans Revealed By Response to Article on The Joe Report

Read the Fine PrintThose who don’t read and/or follow a closed group’s “rules and regs” before placing posts may suddenly find themselves the target of angry and derisive rejoinders from the group’s membership. Even innocent blunders, like the use of an “offensive” term (which vary from group to group) can come to back to bite their authors—hard. For example, your own friendly neighborhood blogazine, The Joe Report (TJR), and its main article writer, Mark Otnes, recently found themselves at the center of an online social media storm in which members of Facebook’s leading 3.75″ GIjOE group, GIjOE Discussion, unleashed a torrent of posts critical of Otnes’ reportage of a recent article, and his use of the term, “Hasblow,” when posting to the group. For example:

malecomment“When people use the word ‘Hasblow,’ I just assume that they are mentally retarded. Thus far, I have not been proven wrong.” —Jay B., GIjOE Discussion

The Confusion Re: “Elizabeth,” the “Hasbro Toy Shop” and “Hasblow”

The October 6th article that drew so much attention from the group initially was in fact, one of our shortest. It concerned an equally short email we’d received from a Hasbro customer service rep confirming the complete disappearance of all GIjOE products from the Hasbro Toy Shop (HTS) website. One of the main points of contention the GIjOE Discussion (GD) group members had with Otnes’ article was his insistence that the HTS was part of Hasbro. For some reason, they believed the store to be an independent business and not connected with the toy company in any way. According to this adamant GD group member:

malecomment“HTS is not a division of Hasbro, it is a private company that just licenses the Hasbro name to sell their mass market products online.”
Kevin G., GIjOE Discussion

WRONG. To settle this issue, we contacted HTC rep, “Elizabeth” again, both to confirm her own physical reality (machine or human?) and to clarify HTC’s official status. She stated:

womancomment“I am a Consumer Service agent at Hasbro, not an automated system. We read and respond to each email received from our consumers. As for Hasbro Toy Shop, the site is part of Hasbro. We feature some of our more popular toys for sale on the site. The reason we do not sell all products is we simply do not have the warehouse capacity to house the 1000’s of products Hasbro makes. As for the GI Joe exclusive toys, that line cannot be sold by us, the product were made only for Toys R Us. I hope this helps.”
Elizabeth, Customer Service Agent, Hasbro

So…Elizabeth is a real person, works at Hasbro, and confirms that the Hasbro Toy Shop is part of Hasbro. Points proven. We stand by our article and its simple premise: GIjOE is NOT being sold by Hasbro’s own online outlet store: the Hasbro Toy Shop. Otnes was not discussing “exclusive” GIjOE brand toy sales at Toy’s ‘R Us—or anywhere else. (Editor’s Note: It was also strongly suggested—by a GD member—that we double-confirm the store’s status by also contacting Hasbro’s PR firm. We did so. But after a week, they have yet to reply to our inquiries.)

malecomment“Get with the program, ya ancient dinosaurs!!!”
needagungho, GIjOE Discussion

The title of the first issue of "The Fall of GIjOE" comic book will strongly resonate with fans of all ages, mirroring as it does, GIjOE's current "fall" from grace over at Hasbro. (Photo: IDW)

The title of the first issue of this new GIjOE comic book (“The Fall of GIjOE”), strikes fans as all too appropriate, mirroring as it does, GIjOE’s current fall from grace at Hasbro. Read more HERE. (Photo: IDW)

Claiming the High Ground—and Then Abandoning It

Debate about Otnes’ article (and the appropriateness of “Hasblow”) aside, comments like the one above (from another GD member) indicate a somewhat hypocritical, “have-it-both-ways” mindset. In other words, when a closed group objects to the use of an “offensive” term (from one of its own members) and then responds with a slew of their own (such as this group’s description of 12-inch fans as “dinosaurs, mentally retarded, brats,” etc.) then its easy to question their purported sincerity and desire to spare the feelings of others. We’re all Joeheads, but it’s important for members of closed groups to adhere to their own rules, or risk igniting yet another, intra-fan “flame war.”

malecomment“If I see someone seriously use ‘hasblow’ or ‘hasblo’ or ‘hazblow’ or any other variation, I immediately discount anything they have to say.” —Troy O., GIjOE Discussion

And finally, here’s two more Joeheads who wanted to provide some slightly more in-depth, well-considered commentary on this whole “3.75-inch versus 12-inch” collecting schism thingy:

malecomment“I’d feel worse for them (12″ collectors) if the bulk of that part of the community didn’t take a figurative crap on any 12” product that’s been released in the last 15 years. … The 12″ camp continued to desert the GIJCC because they DARED to place the 4″ figure fans on equal footing and now doesn’t understand why the Club swings so heavily that way …

Make no mistake, I know some GREAT fans of the 12″ Joes—but 12″ fans who contribute to growing (or even maintaining) interest in their hobby are few and far between, and these Patches of Pride guys—who can’t even accept that GI Joe has been a predominantly 4″-scaled toy line for, oh, 32 years now—aren’t going to accomplish much with this sort of guerilla journalism.”
Mike I.D., GIjOE Discussion

malecommentHasbro was VERY clear on its plans for GI Joe nearly 8 months ago, which didn’t include 12″ for a very important reason: 12″ is DEAD, or at least the 12″ figures collectors want. … And every attempt since in bringing back 12″ has been met with retail failure (all THREE TIMES in 10 years!). 

… Ultimately, this blog (The Joe Report) … shows a real lack of knowledge on the current toy market or even the brand itself. Anyone following GI Joe over the past 5 years (much less 10) could have likely seen the trends that bring us to where we are now.
Steevy M., Hisstank.com

Finally, we were also taken to task by one high-ranking Joehead who insists we mispronounced the cheerful yell of support for our favorite action figure, stating:

malecomment“I hate when people say, Go Joe! It’s Yo Joe!
Dumb ass!” —sbartek1974, Hisstank.com General

The first. The original "Sandbox" newsgroup was part of the early "Wild West Days" of the Internet for all GIjOE fans. It was a text-only, unmoderated environment that led to thousands of unedited posts, many leading to lengthy online arguments, aka "Flame Wars." (Art: Daryl Williams)

The first. The original “Sandbox” newsgroup was part of the early “Wild West Days” of the Internet for all GIjOE fans. It was a text-only, unmoderated environment that led to thousands of unedited posts, many leading to lengthy, heated, online arguments, aka “Flame Wars.” (Art: Daryl Williams)

Bottom Line: Thanks to the gated-community mindset and feelings of supposed safety fostered by Facebook’s new closed groups, the old “Wild West Days” of free-ranging arguments and flame wars between fans are largely a thing of the past; and the older, unmoderated, text-only forums, such as the venerable wide-open Sandbox, have now become veritable ghost towns (see story HERE).

Nevertheless, as the quotes above show, verbal attacks on fellow fans still occur, even within these new closed groups, and chastised members may find themselves feeling as if they’ve unwittingly traded some of their 1st Amendment freedoms for a false sense of online peace and quiet; essentially “preaching to a choir” of like-minded souls, where nary a dissenting word —is allowed to be heard.

P.S. All this kerfuffle over “Hasblow,” has us genuinely curious. What’s YOUR opinion about the disputed term? Please vote below, so Joeheads of all stripes will finally know. Thanks!

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40 thoughts on “Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!———Are Facebook’s “Closed Groups” Dividing G.I. Joe’s Fandom?

  1. Rudy Panucci says:

    Mark, a piece of advice: Don’t read the comments. 🙂

    It’s no secret that a goodly number (but not all by any means) of 3 3/4″ GI Joe collectors are mentally unbalanced. It has nothing to do with them liking the GI Joe that they grew up with. It’s simply a demonstrable fact, evident from twenty years worth of posts on the internet.

    It’s probably good that Facebook will allow these folks to migrate into carefully-controlled echo chambers so that they won’t pollute the rest of the groups with their odd worldview. We should encourage their fifedoms so that they will leave the rest of us alone.

    Anyone who thinks that the 3 3/4″ Joe has been dominate for 32 years is not worth wasting the time it would take to attempt to reason with them. The little Joes lasted 12 years, being cancelled in 1994. The 12″ revival was a sales force for Hasbro from the HOF days until the early 2000s. When the 3 3/4″ guys were occassionally revived, it was out of laziness. None of the revivals have been particularly successful. That’s why they kept getting pushed out of the way for projects like Sigma Six.

    Right now the folks who grew up on the little Joes are the primo age for the nostalgia that the Official club trades in. This is their day in the sun and they should enjoy it while they can. In about five years the demographics will shift again, and kids who grew up on the Classic Collection will be the main focus of the club.

    One other point…the reason that Hasbro Toy Store stopped selling GI Joe is that the only product available now is the 50th anniversary line, and it’s a SHARED exclusive between TRU and Big Bad Toy Store. BBTS has the exclusive online non-TRU rights to sell that line on the web. Hasbro is not allowed to sell it in their online store.

    • Thanks for the intel, Rudy! And that final point is one that has been hammered home to me many times. HA! 🙂

    • L.T. Stone says:

      Mr. Panucci, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    • BC says:

      I always thought a lot of 12 inch collectors were full of themselves and dismissive. And your comments make me feel like I was right. “Enjoy your day in the sun, little Joes, because soon no one will care and the power will shift back to the proper Joe!” Yeah, whatever, Kung Fu Grip, that sounds pretty lame. Both lines had fans who grew up on them – anybody who craps on RAH is crapping on something I loved and still love. Dismissing people who don’t feel the same was as you as “mentally unbalanced” is sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      The 3/4 GI Joe figures have been THE dominant line for the past 32 years. Sorry to disappoint. Now I am a collector of both. I do love my 12-inch painted head GI Joe figures as well as my Adventure Team. Hell, I am even a fan of Super Joe! But even I can keep it real. For the past 32 years what has kept the “GI Joe” name alive has been the 3/4 line. There have been countless cartoons, MAJOR HOLLYWOOD MOVIES, and comic books to back this up. All of this spawned from the 3/4-inch line.

      Also, while the first run of 3/4 figures lasted 12 years, you are forgetting the other figures that came after and are STILL being made today. (All based from the 3/4 inch line) The 12-inch revival, if you ask me, was out of laziness and look how well it is supported today by 12-inch collectors.

      The main problem is with the collectors, why the negativity? Why is it so important that the 12-inch figures came first? Why is it so important that the 3/4-inch figures are the only ones that are still being produced? We collect a children’s toy guys. If you love your 12-inch figures, that’s great, god bless. If you are a 3/4-inch figure fan, fine. Why does there have to be a “My line of toys is better because…”

      It is ALL GI Joe. If you are not a fan of one particular line or year of toys then why bash those who are? When I got into the 12 inch figures I was surprised to see that there were 12-inch collectors who do not like the Adventure Team. What? And again, that’s fine, but don’t bash those who do like them. I consider myself lucky as to have been born in the age of the 12-inch GI Joe and the 3/4 inch figures, so I love them all. But I do really hate it when I see a collector with a superiority complex bash another toy line just because it isn’t his cup of tea. This is coming from someone who I can assure you is not mentally unbalanced.

  2. Fred Meyer says:

    Personally, I hate the whole notion that there has to be a 12″/3.75″ divide in our fandom. This may sound odd but to me the G.I. Joe brand is a lot like Baskin Robbins. They may be 31 flavors but at the end of the day it’s all ice cream.

    The same is the case with the G.I. Joe brand, which has evolved over the past 50 years into several different incarnations. From the original Action Soldiers to the Adventure Team to Super Joe to A Real American Hero to Sgt. Savage to Sigma 6. Different scales or themes but still G.I. Joe in one form or another.

    In many ways, Facebook has been the real agent of fragmentation in the hobby. It used to be that it took effort to create a G.I. Joe website, set up forums, etc. As such, there weren’t all that many– kind of like the television networks example used above.

    Now, anyone can create a Facebook group in about 5 minutes and, as a result, there are countless G.I. Joe groups all over the social network with each one forming it’s own microcosm of like-mindedness where any form of debate or disagreement is met with scorn and over-moderation.

    Folks say that Social Networks bring us closer together but in the case of fandoms I think it’s doing quite the opposite. Apparently the notion of “agree to disagree” has been lost.

  3. Vizcom says:

    What a shame. Sounds like some GI Joe collectors out there are a punch of pompous unfriendly idiots. ‘Any friend of Joe is a friend of mine’ should be the attitude…
    Just for the record, I’m on your side Mark 😉

    Luke (Durban, South Africa)

  4. Troy O says:

    Sorry Mark Otnes, but the fandom was fractured way before Facebook groups started coming along.

    Look at all the forums and blogs, like Patches of Pride, that were out there long before Facebook. Each site had it’s own dedicated fans. Some were strict to that one site, some ventured to others, and there were others that completely dissed on any other site.

    When I got back into the Joe game there was the Club’s own forums (which sadly, no one used), Hisstank, YoJoe, JoeCustoms, Joebattleines, Generals Joes, Terror Drome and then soon after came OG13, Serpentor’s Lair, Fighting 1:18th and others.

    Splintering happens. People hang out with those that think and feel the same as they do, hang out with those they have fun with.

    Now, I agree that it is not good for the fandom. But then the fandom can’t agree on anything anyways so…

    The splintering, which has been going on for a long time, takes an already small (and shrinking) fanbase and makes it smaller.

    The Club really dropped the ball and they should have been a central point for everything else to revolve around, but they failed in that miserably.

    As for the rules in Discussion, they were put in place to try to keep out some of the unruly behavior that does exist in other Groups. There are current and past Hasbro designers, executives and employees in the Group that share their knowledge with us and would not do so if those rules weren’t in place.

    I have always said that I would like the fandom to act like adults. There is a lot of whining and bitching that would expect to see from teenagers and younger whenever there is a new Hasbro announcement, and it gets old. We’re adults. We might play with toys, but there is no reason to not do so, and interact, as adults.

    Hazblow and it’s many variations is an indication of that whiny attitude. It’s like a kid throwing a tantrum. I can just picture Hasbro employees reading it and laughing their asses off. Do we really expect to be taken seriously using that word?

  5. Joey says:

    Well, for me, GI Joe is GI Joe, regardless of size. And yes I’m one of the ‘DINOSAURS’ born in 1963. I personally like the 12 inch figures of the 60’s and 70’s the best and always will. The main reason is they are not as individualized as the 3 3/4 and newer 12’s. In other words, when I was a kid, you could get a couple of basic figures and then get as many different outfits as you wanted to change them up, one day they could be army soldiers and the next they would be on an adventure of a lifetime it was up to your imagination as to the limits you wanted to set. Whereas the newer Joes are set to be what they are; Duke is Duke, Cobra Commander is Cobra Commander etc. etc.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against the 3 3/4 they are just not my cup of tea. Now my son is a great example of dual love for both. He grew up in a time when both were options. He liked the 12’s for the same reason I did, if you didn’t like what this guy is wearing then change i. But he liked the 3 3/4’s because he could put 15 figures and accessories in a small sack and carry them on a road trip or friends house to play. So he saw the best of both worlds.

    As far as the Facebook groups are concerned, I’m in several of them, because I have 60s, 70s and newer Joes and try to stay on topic for each group. Does the Joe world need to be divided? Well, it depends on how you look at it. Separate groups for each phase of Joe, sure why not. I mean, that way, if a PH guy wants to only see what’s going on in that world without having to go through 57 posts about fuzzheads and RAH then he can, and vise-versa for lovers of another phase. Then, if you want to just be in groups that welcome all Joes, well, they are out there too.

    But as a Joe community, I think we all need to stick together, because hey ‘IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE 12’S THERE WOULDN’T BE ANY 3 3/4’S. AND IF WERE NOT FOR THE 3 3/4’S OF THE 80’S THERE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ANY RELEASES OF THE 12’S. So there. MY thoughts on Hasbro? Yeah, they let the Joe community down this year. If they wanted to discontinue Joe, they should have waited until next year and done something for the 50th anniversary for all lines. Just my 2 cents.

  6. jasonsei says:

    I truly hate the attitude some members on forums, not just closed FB groups, have. Many times, it’s negativity towards newer members who might ask a “dumb” question. I think if you are going to have a forum and be a moderator for one, then you should be open minded. If you have a family-friendly forum and someone is dropping “F” bombs, that’s one thing, but to jump on someone because of an opinion, well that’s pretty much ridiculous.

    As for as the “Hazblow” comment, does it really matter? I hear people everyday at stores or at work calling businesses they don’t like silly names. Does someone calling Hasbro, Hazblow really think that the CEO is going to notice? Probably not, it’s just venting. The CEO of FORD doesn’t get upset and “laugh their asses off” everytime they see Found On Road Dead on a sticker or shirt. Mark O. just venting should not cause the retaliation that he has received from it, he’s just frustrated with Hasbro ignoring something that is important to him.

    Cheers,

    Geek Ed
    http://www.watchtowergeeks.com/

  7. belljustin says:

    It’s interesting that you speak of tolerance of others viewpoints and yet also manage to point fingers specifically at 3.75″ collectors as being the source of some perceived “problem”.

    I attended the 2003 G.I. Joe Convention in San Francisco when the majority of attendees were still 12″ collectors and the scorn, derision and angry scowls I received as a “kid” playing in the “grown up” pool was disturbing to say the least. Don’t even get me started on being a Sigma 6 fan and being downright ridiculed by 12″ collectors over the absurdity of supporting a toy line that I actually loved.

    Trust me, I fully agree that there is division among the various fan bases of this timeless and wonderful toy brand, but please don’t think for a second that the impetus is somehow on a single group to improve their behavior. This segregationist attitude has been around long before Facebook, and isn’t focused purely on the “little guys”.

    Like Fred, and like many others I am a huge supporter, collector, and fan of all scales and styles, and wish these ridiculous invisible barriers could be knocked down from all directions. But in order to do that, we need to see our own issues and see that it’s not just Facebook’s fault. I’ve been supporting G.I. Joe for over 30 years in all forms and formats, and will continue to do so, and I’ve seen a split fandom since as early as I can remember. That hasn’t changed, just the format that folks choose to discuss the brand has.

  8. Matthew Pak says:

    I run a super-secret G.I. Joe Extreme Facebook fan page. It’s so super-secret that even I don’t belong to it.

  9. L.T. Stone says:

    *hates closed discussion groups*
    *moderates comments on his blog*

    The hypocrisy is thick with this one.

  10. Gyre-Viper says:

    As one of the admins and founders of GI JOE Discussion, I’d like to speak for said facebook group seeing as to how I helped create it. First and foremost, there are over 40 admins of the group. Not one almighty admin who makes all decisions for the group. There is a core group of admins within the larger admin base who put every decision up for a vote. And this core of admins was chosen because of their differing views. So that there would be no individual bias. So when a decision is made, it means that several people with differing opinions and methods, etc came to the same conclusion.

    The Discussion group has members that are former Hasbro employees from the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s as well as Larry Hama, Buzz Dixon, and Michael Bell. So out of respect for the people who have helped keep the brand alive or who have worked on the brand (INCLUDING people who have worked on modern 12″ product in the past), we prefer the blanket term “Hasblow” be stricken from our group. It isn’t in defense of Hasbro as a corporate entity. But it IS an acknowledgment that REAL PEOPLE work there or have worked there.. Artists, creators… people trying to feed themselves and their families. And some of these people are members of our group. But the term “Hasblow” predates this conversation and has been used against the former employees in our group at one time or another in their career.

    If you want a company like Hasbro to listen to fans (which it sounds like you do), they’re more inclined to listen and respond to actual conversation and organized inquiry, etc rather than people calling them names. That’s not to say Hasbro cannot or should not be criticized. Especially now when it seems there is no one working on the brand or at least no one anyone has ever heard of. It isn’t an “in defense of Hasbro” rule. BUT:

    The GI JOE Discussion group was created to be different from all the forums and other facebook groups. A place where you can interact with former Hasbro employees and people who have effected the brand and see some GI JOE history that isn’t available anywhere else. And we are very proud of the group. It isn’t perfect, it isn’t easy. But it is what we set out to create, something different. A new option. The group is only a year old. The brand is 50 years old. And in that year we’ve been able to create something you can’t experience anywhere else. If that means that we put some rules in place, if that means we ask a little more of people, and if that means we simply prefer an elevated conversation, an actual GI JOE Discussion, so be it. Those are OUR patches of pride.

  11. Nick V says:

    For the record, I was misquoted, as I personally would not use the “R” word. This is what I said, and I stand by it:
    “Anyone that uses the term ‘Hasblow’ in a non-ironic way instantly loses all credibility with the sane portion of the fandom. Just FYI.”

  12. GIJOBILL says:

    Most know I have always been partial to The Trenches. Scott and Charlotte have always tried to make it comfortable to discuss Joes. No politics or religion. Once Facebook came along, we got to know folks by their real names and their religion and politics. I rather not share or know someone else’s few on these subjects. There other places for that. We all have different views about these things. Same when it comes to Vintage 12″ or 3and3/4″ Joes. We are a small group of collectors worldwide and anything that divides us is not good for our hobby. Hasbro gave up on us. Again. We can share stuff and info on line and that’s pretty cool, whether a group or FB.

  13. Jim Beutel says:

    I grew up with Adventure Team, and was getting out of GIJoe during ARAH. The 12″ Classic Collection brought me back in, and most of the highlights of my collection are 12″ figures. It could be said that my love for the brand is for all aspects, not just 12″, not just 4″. It’s a brand rich with history throughout it’s evolution.

    I believe that it’s absolutely wrong that the only 12″ product that’s came out this year was the Club 12″ convention set, and an ornament from Hallmark. It is the 50th Anniversary of the brand, which started as a 12″ line. There should have been a 12″ retail product, even if it were only one figure. It’d have been something.

    Having said that, referring to Hasbro as “Hasblow”, or any other derogatory version thereof, accomplishes nothing. All using it does, is marks you as someone to be ignored by anyone who is, or was, affiliated with Hasbro that is a member of ANY Facebook group, closed or not. Put it this way – if you worked there, and put your heart and soul into a toy line, how receptive would YOU be to any comment left that used “Hasblow” in it? We seem to forget that the designers there, from Don Levine, to John Warden, or Ron Rudat, are people too. Referring to Hasbro as “Hasblow” , or any variation, is a shot at them as well, even if it’s not intended that way.

    You keep referring to the Facebook group GI Joe Discussion, as if it’s all that is wrong with GI Joe fans. Is it so wrong to want to create a different type of community, where the rich history of GI Joe can be explored and talked about? Where one can see the designs for unproduced products, or learn about how a toy goes from design to the shelf? Personally, if some of you here have some stuff like that about the 12″ lines, please show it in Discussion! I know there’s a few of is who would love to see it, and discuss the 12″ line as well! If we have a few rules to promote discussion, and try to weed out the “look what I got” threads that are on every other Joe Facebook page, well, maybe that’s what makes Discussion different, and worth checking out.

    Also, as a closed group that has to “accept” a member, it makes it easier for us to weed out the spambots so it isn’t barraged with ads for cheap Oakley sunglasses and Nike Shoes. If you like those ads, there’s are plenty of groups out there that have them.

    12″, 4″, Sigma 6, it’s all GI Joe, and it’s all a part of the rich history of Joe.

  14. Mark Otnes, the group I moderate is secret simply because in the beginning I wanted a place where my grandson and I could meet up with a few friends. When others were added over time, things were posted not that I had a problem with but were not for his eyes or caused me to have to explain to him. They were just not PG. I put together a few rules just to keep it PG. I have taken some heat, some left, been blocked by others.

    I am sorry you were treated badly as you have stated. You are always welcome in The GI Joe Army, and your posts. We talk about all sizes, and kinds of customs. Just as long as it is PG. I have even reposted your articles, because I consider you one of the voices for all Joe’s. Thanks for all you do for the hobby. Also thank you for letting Michael and I be apart of last years dirty dozen, you gave him a memory for life. Keep up the good work, I look forward to the next Joe Report.

  15. Kevin Bolger says:

    Don’t worry, Mark. There’s a lot of folks out there who take things way tooooo seriously. Besides, most of us who play with dolls, err action figures must be mentally unbalanced LOL

  16. historicbuzz says:

    Arguments in favor of closed groups:
    Rich Brown

    Arguments against closed groups:
    invalid

  17. Diana Davis says:

    Please tell me this is an attempt at humor a la “The Onion”.

    Look, I’m a member of said Discussion group, a long-time Joe-Nerd and a geeky fringe collector. I’ve been in this for a bit, a member of a few groups and forums, and seen more than enough childish snits. From hearing long lectures about who/which character is dating and why I’m stupid because I like a cartoon to being called a “bitch” because my fanfic follows said cartoon, right to things I’d rather not share…I’ve seen it. And I thought it was over. Long, long ago. Done.

    But, let me tell you THIS. The rules in many closed forums have protected me, as a female Joe fan, and a nerd in general, from some disgusting and sexually harassing hateful comments. Comments I have had to endure since I was a little girl enjoying the hobby. That’s right…little girl. I have heard every nasty insult a man could lob at a woman in his hobby under the sun. Some were unintentional. Some were VERY intentional. I don’t really leave message boards or chat rooms so easily, and am not one to back down. But it can get tiresome. Lately, the hobby has improved drastically. Probably thanks to the hardworking people moderating Internet discussion groups. The administrators and moderators who follow the rules they set up are quick to shut that garbage DOWN.

    Because this isn’t a little boy’s clubhouse anymore- it never really was to begin with. We’ve always been here. We just feel a little safer standing in the middle of the room. Closed forums offer the opportunity to stop ridiculous childish bickering and grumpypants complaining such as what I just spend part of my evening reading.

    Closed forums mean that people who insist on perpetuating gross juvenile attacks are stopped, and thus allow very single member to feel comfortable. Closed forums with strong administrators mean no more do I have to worry so much about if my statement isn’t too “off the norm canon.” No ones going to threaten my female genitals, claim I need to be f***ed to see the right way, or claim I’m a lesbian/frigid/brainless/whatever. And I have heard ever single one. Since I was 8.

    Forums, like any society, have moral codes. One of the codes of the Discussion Group is we tend not the hatefully insult the people who helped create a wonderful childhood. Some of the are on the board. Hence..no “hasblow”, which is more of a “doody face” kid insult. Hasbro created Joe. They don’t really owe us anything more, Ever again. Ever. It’s a toy company, not your favorite uncle. We can carry on our love ourselves. It is perfectly reasonable to call an adult on a closed board with Hasbro employes as members to talk for using language to insult them. If someone on the street insults someone you know, would you not stand up for them?

    What I don’t get, really, is all the anger and infighting to being with. If you’re worried about the brand fading, why spew bile at anyone involved in perpetuating the hobby who isn’t insulting the creators/brand/hardworking artists? Why? What can possibly be served from tearing each other apart.

    As we all have sadly noticed, this is, for the most part, an adult hobby. Why don’t we start acting like adults?

  18. Joe Essid says:

    I collect only 12″ but I have to disagree with Rudy. Hasbro recruited an entirely new generation of kids with the 3 3/4″ RAH line and the figs worked with vehicles–lots of them–that we 12″ collectors could only dream about with our handful of 1/6 scale rides. It was good for the Joe brand, overall, given that kids were already playing in the 80s with Star Wars figs and vehicles in the same scale.

    As for groups, I don’t mind FOCUSED groups with a moderator, since I don’t have any interest in the RAH storyline or toys and want the worst trolls of any sort booted. I thought I would miss the old Sandbox, but I don’t now with the FB group.

    Here’s a lesson from the old-car hobby, where a heated discussion is going on currently at Hemming’s forums: DO NOT SLAM THE OTHER GUY’S RIDE. If he loves old VWs or Japanese Tuners or Fords and you collect only Chevelles, so be it. You are both Car Guys (or Women!). Most car hobbyists tend to agree that if we fight among ourselves in public, we’ll not being in new blood. Car clubs are often viewed as havens for snobs of one marque.

    That’s a lesson from the old-car hobby that I think applies well to collecting Joes or other toys. So while I don’t collect 3 3/4″ Joes, I’m not going to disdain them, ever again. Yet I think we can both have our own groups.

  19. Steve Polzak says:

    People, people, please. Yes, G.I.Joe stands for a lot, not just being an action figure. But what, we are going to go to war over size? Yes, I am a 1/6 scale or 12-inch tall G.I.Joe fan. I myself, don’t care to own the small ones. That’s what I like. You like the small ones? Great. People like what they like. You grew up with what you grew up with. That’s that. Just because someone likes small Joes are you going to hate them? Or the other way around? Almost sounds like a race war. Cut it the hell out. If you don’t like the other persons stuff, or he or she doesn’t like yours, who is telling anyone to change? GOD HELP US!

  20. kuukuuson says:

    I’m sorry, but I have found the most recent articles on The Joe Report to be missing the mark. This particular article is either off point at best or deceptive at its worst. I have reread the last three articles as a refresher to bring me to this response.

    This article starts off by insinuating Facebook groups with the setting on “closed” are elitist and thought controlling whereas previous incarnations of internet forums were not. As a administrator of a local closed Facebook GI Joe collecting group, I can tell you the functionality of a closed group is to eliminate spam. I can only wish so many hot girls want to join our group. Expanding on functionality, GI. Joe Discussion (the only Facebook group mentioned in the article), has some special guests that were mentioned in the comments above and the trade off is a little more sense of proper decorum. Mark Otnes, the author of the previous article that triggered this article, apparently did not read the rules and I don’t blame him; I never read the rules. However, I when I go to other people’s houses, I don’t act the way I would at, say, a dive bar. This author mentions restricting free speech but if I was invited to someone’s house alongside twenty of that person’s closest friends for dinner. twp questions come up. Is that person being regulatory of admittance and if not, does that give me the right to scoff at meal, the decorum and/or act in an overall rude manner? No. In other people’s house, you respect them, their food (whether you like it or not) and their house. They invited you over because they respect your character, your insight and typically encourage civil debate to spike conversation; but they invited you over because they knew you could keep a civil tone. Some houses visits are beer, jeans, football and others are fine dining and wine. All invites expect the attendee to know how to behave during each event.

    I also won’t recap on points made above on how forums have had rules and regulations that, as a byproduct, limit free speech because these rules have been around since at least 2001 when I became active in forum discussions.

    This article subsequently veers away from its premise and divulges into the age old slander of “scale-bashing.” What the author of this article doesn’t acknowledge is Mark Otnes set the tone of slander in his article when he bashes Elizabeth, Hasbro Toy Shop and Hasbro in general. Suffice to say, Elizabeth’s cordial response to his inquiry didn’t have the passion, he and most Joe collectors like us have; but I encourage anyone reading this, to read the article and take from it what you may. In my opinion, Mark Otnes gives a scathing critique of the response. I say this because the irony is his post on GI Joe Discussion titled, “Bleah. Not too inspiring, Has-blow,” (followed by a link to the article) was met with similar scathing.
    It was easy for the author of this article to pull the scale-bashing quotes, and the ones pulled were brash. However, the bulk of the conversation was a, stern but fair, critique of the article and I encourage anyone to read the responses left as to diminish any notion of biased in this response. If anyone ever wants to pepper their online conversations with scale-bashing, you can go to any forum and find it. All shapes, all sizes and all themes. I will say that this is few, far between, dealt with at worst, and seen as razzing at best (all siblings fight and some razzing is healthy). But again, a fair majority of the conversation elaborated on what the article left out and corrected the errors and ambiguities in the article. Judging by this response, Mark Otnes’s feelings were hurt:

    “Boy, I haven’t had my a** chewed out this bad in LONG time. My apologies for any offense, errors and inadvertent use of the forbidden term “Hasblow.” None was meant, believe me. And I won’t waste y’alls time with my blog posts anymore if they are so disliked. I’m a fan of all scales of Joes, not just 12″. The LAST thing I ever want to do is “stir up controversy,” etc.

    PS…Just a final question: I’m surprised by the objection to “Hasblow.” What is the history behind the dislike for that term? It seems kinda funny to me. Anyway, sorry again and best wishes to all! —Mark ”

    I am glad this article elaborates the relationship between HTS and Hasbro. I don’t have quotes and would like to hear from some other long time convention goes when I say, as an eleven year straight convention goer, I was on the understanding that HTS and Hasbro were not directly connected. I think this was my understanding since 2005 and the Direct to Consumer series. I agree with the article and that further inquiry is needed.

    This article gets off track to include scale-bashing from a standard forum (not Facebook) but is, for the most part, a retaliation piece to the criticism in the GI Joe Discussion closed Facebook group. I am not directly affiliated with the staff of Discussion but will inform the reader that I consider the staff good friends and it is one of my favorite places to chat. I asked the staff if anyone from The Joe Report contacted them to discuss their polices and/or the treatment of Mark Otnes and they said no. I would think anyone reporting on the topics at hand would go for the direct quote or commentary and as a fellow collector, would discuss the situation to alleviate any bruised egos. If TGD did contact them, I apologize.

    And, whew… I’ll finish by saying that I believe that differing opinions on subject matter are what make discussion and education on issues more fulfilling and more robust. If there is a forum that outright curtails opposing views, I’m fairly confident it won’t be around very long. That said, I believe any criticism delivered should be done so with tact. I don’t know Mark Otnes and I don’t think I know the author of this article but I’m sure, in person, they are upstanding people. The heart of all this is a 12″ based site that is not happy the 50th Anniversary of the brand doesn’t even give them a nod, (outside of the GIJCC). I absolutely agree that it is a shame and I do not collect 12″. At the bare minimum, I would like to know what specific product The Joe Report feels should be on HTS and what the blog’s opinions are of the GIJCC 12″ celebrations set (a set produced at its lowest quantities ever and yet did not sell out by the convention time, I bought one btw).

    Oh and food for thought, comments made on this blog must be approved by the administrators. I’ll assume it’s to avoid spam for the same reasons other forums apply some level of screening.

    James M. Kavanaugh Jr.

  21. GunShyCC says:

    I posted this there, and the responses ranged from “so what” to beyond the pale hate. I wouldn’t bother with any group like that after seeing it in action. I believe in free speech, tempered with tact, but still true. It’s a given in a free society, people at times are going to say things that will offend, and if done only to offend, may be viewed as worthless.

    So let’s consider this remark as an example.”Having said that, referring to Hasbro as “Hasblow”, or any other derogatory version thereof, accomplishes nothing. All using it does, is marks you as someone to be ignored by anyone who is, or was, affiliated with Hasbro that is a member of ANY Facebook group, closed or not.”

    That is mild compared to some others I have read, aimed at Mark Otnes and his article. Let’s put Mark in context for a moment, shall we? Mark runs a business aimed at supplying various hobby needs in the 1/6 genre. He is an active member of a Joe club, where people drive a good long way to get to. He has for this past year, been on a Joe Karma program, giving things away paid for out of his own pocket, including shipping, even to parts of the world outside the US.

    He is giving away at least 365 50th Anniversary Joe tee shirts, made to fit 12-inch Joes, which he made himself, never charging a single penny for any of them, and has been giving one away a day this year, and is going to finish that out these next few months. He has been giving away free boxed 12-inch figures, and free carded 12-inch carded figures, like the Mattel Ghostbuster figures, or the Forces of Valor Sgt. York.

    Right now, he is giving away FREE the Hallmark Joe Christmas exclusive item, which he hunted down and paid for, again out of his own pocket. Yet, according to some, because of his article, he should have his mental state viewed in doubt, have people wishing he would do something more positive for the hobby, and have anyone at Hasbro, affiliated with Hasbro, or anyone connected with them in some social media, ignore him, or not take him seriously, whatever.

    Hope this helps many of you understand, why I and other people like me, left the official Joe club, don’t often seek out or hang around the hardcore Joe faithful, want to be open in many of the forums connected with such, and came to conclude we may be better off just doing our own thing, yes even if all alone.

    If Hasbro or anyone in league with them sees no value in a Mark Otnes, by both his actions and his words, let alone people like me and others that dare speak our minds while we support them with our money, efforts, and time, so be it. We will take our money, efforts, and time and do with it as we see fit, and not look back once over our shoulders, as we wouldn’t want to pollute the faithful with our miserable way side falling.

    Mark didn’t ask me to do this, I just couldn’t stand sitting back and be silent while this is all going down, as I have seen all to often, too many times. Do your own thing Mark, you will be happier in the end. And we are happy to have someone like you around.

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