Heads Up, G.I. Joe Fans ‘n Collectors———Unusual “One-of-a-Kind” Prototypes From Don Levine’s Personal Collection Now Being Auctioned Off

A GIjOE "Dream Date" Barbie combo set? With a Naval Cadet figure? Heck yeah, we'd buy that! Opening bid for this  unusual "one-of-a-kind?" $3,500! (Photo: NDSA)

A GIjOE “Dream Date” Barbie combo set—with a Naval Cadet figure? Heck yeah, we’d buy that! Be sure to click this photo to enlarge (and read their untold, unsold story on the back). (Photo: NDSA)


Nate D. Sanders, Auctioneer (Photo: NDSA)

Nate D. Sanders, Auctioneer (Photo: NDSA)

FLASH! GIjOE History For Sale—Only 1 Day Remaining

We were surprised to learn today that Don Levine’s wife and widow, Nan Levine, is currently auctioning off more of Don’s rare GIjOE prototypes and other “one-of-a-kinds” at the Nate D. Sanders Auctions (NDSA) facility in Los Angeles, CA (and on their website online). Fortunately, Nate wrote in to The Joe Report today juuust in time for his exciting news to make it into today’s issue. Here’s what Nate had to say about the auction:


“Rare” and “One of a Kind” are not words we throw around lightly here at Nate D. Sanders Auctions. We try very hard to reserve those hallowed words for pieces that truly fit that description. We can confidently call the G.I. Joe prototypes we are putting up for auction on October 30th ‘rare’ and ‘one of a kind,’ because that really is what they are. Nate D. Sanders Auctions is excited to announce that we will be auctioning off several museum-quality G.I. Joe prototypes owned and designed by G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine. This is a dream come true for any toy collector, as Mr. Levine is widely considered to be one of the most prolific toy designers of all time. All of the items come directly from his estate. Mr. Levine had a storied career as a toy designer for Hasbro and its UK distributor Palitoy from 1959 until his recent passing this past May.”

As to the GIjOE-Barbie combo set shown above, Sanders provided the following intel:

malecomment“This is the original prototype designed and created by G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine, in its original packaging taken by Levine to the pitch meeting for the idea, at the offices of Hasbro executives. Ultimately, though, the ”dream date” never occurred, as Hasbro was unable to get licensing rights from the Mattel toy company for the production of the Barbie doll.

The back of the box reads: ‘This is the ultimate to collectors’ fantasy come true! / Everyone who ever grew up playing Barbie or GI Joe during the mid-1960’s imagined what it would be like if these two American icons ever went out on a date. Well, here’s the answer to their dreams. Dream date is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Barbie and GI Joe collectors to add a very special piece of toy history to their collections.’

The bottom reads: ‘The Story / It’s June week at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Midshipman, GI Joe, has asked the most beautiful girl in America to the Cotillion Ball. Barbie is dressed in a mid-1960’s prom dress. GI Joe is dressed in his full-dress service academy uniform. Before the dance is over, will he and Barbie take a stroll in the moonlight along Flirtation Walk?’

G.I. Joe wears the aforementioned navy blue white and gold Naval Academy uniform, complete with a long sword housed in a bright blue sheath affixed to the doll’s belt. Barbie wears the mid-1960s pink prom dress, complete with pearl necklace and earrings. She wears pink elbow length gloves, and the dress has a white ‘fur’ collar. Measures 10.25” x 15”. Slight wear to the box, as it was opened at the Hasbro pitch meeting. Very good condition. From the estate of G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine and with a COA from his widow.”

While this figure is certified as being owned by Don Levine, an "Action Soldier" it is obviously not. Rather, it appears to some sort of Adventure Team "kit bash" created using a '70s fuzzhead Commander figure and an Air Force jumpsuit. (Photo: NDSA)

While this figure is certified as being owned by Don Levine, an “Action Soldier prototype” it clearly is NOT. Rather, it appears to be some sort of Adventure Team amalgam, created with a ’70s fuzzhead Commander and an Air Force jumpsuit. (Photo: NDSA)

Caveat Emptor! We’re not sure if it’s a matter of Nan Levine not knowing about what she’s endorsing, or whether Nate’s auction company is simply in error, but some of the items in this auction aren’t exactly what we’d describe as “prototypes.” The soldier and Action Man figures look a lot more like kit-bashed “representations,” created out of already existing uniforms and figures. Conversely, the GIjOE and Barbie combo set and that remote-controlled figure appear to be real “finds,” Joe history-wise. But we’d advise caution and careful consideration about the others before placing your bid(s). Here are some more of Nate’s intriguing descriptions:


“One of a kind ”Action Soldier’ G.I. Joe prototype from 1964, with original hair flocking. This is one of only a handful of original prototypes personally designed by G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine for Hasbro in 1964. Hard plastic prototype features bearded soldier wearing removable burnt orange flight suit, which zippers from the waist to neck and contains ”G.I. Joe / By Hasbro / Hong Kong” written on the label. A four pocket green military coat with three snaps covers the flight suit, and the soldier wears brown mock lace up combat boots. To the inside label of the military jacket reads: ”G.I. Joe / By Hasbro / Japan”. Embossed to the figure’s backside is the original copyright from 1964. Measures 11” tall. One snap missing on green jacket, and minor soiling to the flight suit. From the estate of G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine and with a COA from his widow.”

This one is VERY intriguing. And the stains on his sweater add even more mystery to its origins and purpose. (Photo: NDSA)

This figure is VERY intriguing. But also questionable. Bid with caution. (Photo: NDSA)

Crikey! The World’s FIRST Action Man?


“One of a kind ‘Action Man’ prototype from 1966, with original hair flocking. The manufacture of this figurine was personally overseen by G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine in 1966 for Palitoy, the British distributor for the Hasbro toy company at that time. Included is the original picture booklet from the Action Man series, which was the British version of the popular G.I. Joe series. The booklet contains pictures of the entire Action Man action figure series from 1966. The prototype wears removable black combat boots and is clothed in an olive-green sweater with matching cargo pants with a removable khaki colored belt. A small lever to the back of the neck allows the figure’s blue eyes to move from side to side. A copyright is written to the prototype’s back which reads: ‘Made in England by Palitoy / Under license from Hasbro / 1964.’ Measures 11” tall. Small stains to the chest of the sweater. From the estate of G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine with a COA from his widow.”

With its wood and styrofoam base, the accuracy of this set's status as a "prototype" seems highly likely. (Photo: NDSA)

With its unpolished wooden base, handcrafted styrofoam “debris” and wife-signed COA, the likelihood of this being Levine’s 9/11 firemen set prototype seems undeniable. (Photo: NDSA)

Of course, Levine’s “retirement days” were anything but, as he was constantly occupied with creating new prototypes for historic one-of-a-kind action figures. For example, post 9/11, he worked with both Target and Hasbro to create a short run of superb “Top Line” NYPD and FDNY sets. Here’s how Sanders describes Levine’s 3-figure 9/11 FDNY prototype (see photo above):


“One of a kind ‘Real American Heroes’ prototype scene, representing heroic firefighters at the site of the 9/11 tragedy. The scene depicts three first responders, manufactured in the style of G.I. Joe dolls. The firefighters stand on an artistic representation of the World Trade center rubble. The three struggle to maintain their balance on the rubble, which is made of gray painted styrofoam affixed to a wooden base.

Firefighters wear blue t-shirts underneath black firefighter overalls with neon green striping to the cuffs. The middle firefighter wears a removable black firefighting jacket with neon green striping across the chest and elbows, as well as striping across the cuffs and bottom of the jacket. The removable jacket velcros to the neck. All three firefighters wear removable black and neon green firefighting hats with clear plastic visors.

Base measures 12.5″ x 9.25″. Scene measures 13″ tall. Weighs 3 lbs. 8 oz. Middle firefighter has disconnection between the knee and the calf, which does not affect the integrity of the look of the scene. Very good. From the estate of G.I. Joe Creator Donald Levine and with a COA from his widow.”

Are these the first-ever Cyborg GIjOEs? Quite possibly. So COOL! (Photo: NDSA)

Are these the first-ever Cyborg GIjOEs? Quite possibly. Click to enlarge. (Photo: NDSA)

This closeup of the back of one of the remote-controlled prototypes is a real mind-blower. Absolutely BREATHTAKING! (Photo: NDSA)

Plug me in, Joe! This closeup of the back of one of the remote-controlled Joes is sooo interesting! (Photo: NDSA)

A Pair of Remote-Control Prototype GIjOEs? Affirmative!

Without a doubt, the most unusual and unique items in this auction are a pair of prototype GIjOE figures that utilize remote control. Yes, you heard us right. Remote control! Let’s jump right to Nate’s fascinating description of a truly historic pair of ground-breaking GIjOEs:


“One of a kind pair of G.I. Joe prototype dolls, including original remote control. First prototype is a representation of a member of the ‘NYPD Emergency Service Unit,’ who wears a full Emergency Service Unit uniform, including a removable black velcro bulletproof vest. The exceptionally detailed uniform includes a variety of removable miniature plastic weapons, including a combat rifle, shotgun and ‘Glock’ handgun affixed to the right thigh as well as two grenades affixed to the rear waist. The black uniform features a removable gas mask along with the removable vest, and the doll wears knee and elbow pads. The head is covered by a removable lycra hood. Soldier holds a flashlight in his left hand, and there is a removable walkie-talkie affixed to a case which attaches to the left side of the bulletproof vest. Wiring component that controls lights on his uniform is housed in a black pack with ”NYPD Police Emergency Services Unit” written in white lettering, affixed to the prototype’s back. Red shotgun shells are attached to the doll’s left leg as well as to the upper back. Second prototype is an army soldier, wearing a green and brown camouflage uniform. Soldier also wears a green beret and black gloves, and holds a handgun in his right hand. Battery components for the remote control (fully operational allowing movement of the soldier) are held in an olive-green backpack, as well as on two waist packs which rest on his rear end.”

The Hunchback of GIjOE Fame. The prototype remote-controlled Army Joe (utilizing an Action Man head) seems somewhat hunch-backed due to the hefty size and weight of his electronics-filled backpack. "Esméralda!" (Photo: NDSA)

The Hunchback of GIjOE Fame? This closeup of Levine’s prototype Army figure reveals that in addition to its remote-control electronics, it was kit-bashed together using a ’90s Action Man headsculpt set atop a 21stCT body and uniform, making it look somewhat “hunch-backed.” Esméralda! (Photo: NDSA)


“Either doll fits into black plastic footholds which are affixed to the brown wooden base. The black silver and red ‘Futaba’ brand remote-control has two metal knobs which control the camouflaged doll’s extremities. Set also includes an extra pair of black combat boots. The prototypes measure 12” tall. Included base measures 4.5” x 6”. Remote control measures 7” x 2” x 6”. Entire set weighs 4 lbs. 5 oz. Near fine. From the estate of G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine and with a COA from his widow.”

Bottom Line: There’s more, but of the items included in this auction, the pair of remote-controlled prototype figures and the GIjOE-Barbie combo set strike us as the most collectible. Action Man fans will probably disagree after studying that AM prototype, but that’s understandable. Our sincerest thanks go out to Nate Sanders and Ace Field Reporter, Ian Gould, for providing us with this exciting news. We close with one more quote from Nate, who informed us:


“We are also auctioning off several other Levine owned pieces, including a set of 11 dolls from the Dolly Darling series, and more G.I. Joe prototypes. Your inner child is very, very excited. To buy, consign or sell GI Joe memorabilia, please email me at Nate@NateDSanders.com. Thanks!”


3 thoughts on “Heads Up, G.I. Joe Fans ‘n Collectors———Unusual “One-of-a-Kind” Prototypes From Don Levine’s Personal Collection Now Being Auctioned Off

  1. Joe Essid says:

    We know why Mattel said no: After that date with Joe, Barbie would give Ken the boot.

  2. They may be from Levine’s collection, but it is sad how the land adventurer and the action man are being passed off as prototypes!

    • It’s true they DO look more like simple, kitbashed figures. But that Levine family COA may tip the scale and put them into the “collectible” category, nonetheless. It’ll be interesting to watch the auction results. 🙂

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