Stunning Final Bids Made Yesterday For Don Levine’s “One-of-a-Kind” G.I. Joe “Prototypes”

While not everything sold, many items in the recent Don Levine Family Estate auction brought top dollar from GIjOE collectors. (Photo: BDentertainment)

While not everything sold, many of the items offered in the recent Don Levine Family “prototypes” auction in CA brought in top dollar bids from avid GIjOE collectors. (Photo: BDentertainment)

When the hammer finally came down on yesterday’s GIjOE “prototypes” auction held at the swanky Nate D Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles, the final bid prices paid for (at least two of) the pieces came as a great surprise to many Joe fans, collectors and historians. Here are the results:

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)

GIjOE “Dream Date” Barbie prototype (Photo: NDSA)

GIjOE “Dream Date” Barbie Prototype Set, Final Bid Price: $4,375.00

Of all the items up for auction in this sale, we felt this particular one had the strongest chance of pulling down some serious cash. But it’s interesting to point out that on this item, despite its obvious rarity and unassailable provenance—there was only 1 bid! Unlike over on ebay, at an auction house, whatever bid you offer registers immediately as the highest bid. The new owner of this piece clearly decided that his (or her) “ceiling” bid for the Joe and Barbie set was $4, 375, and since no other bids came in, that amount became its final selling price. Is it worth it? Yup. Collectibles are worth whatever fans are ultimately willing to pay for them, and this item’s highly popular cross-branded theme and professional prototype packaging makes it a VERY desirable GIjOE/Barbie collectible.

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)

Don Levine’s “Action Soldier” prototype (Photo: NDSA)

“Action Soldier” Prototype Figure, Final Bid Price: $2,625.00

Whoa. This final sale price on this Joe will definitely have collectors buzzing, either with admiration—or contemptuous disbelief. Just looking at it, this prototype “Action Soldier” appears to be a simple combination of a fuzzhead figure, AT Commander’s jacket, USAF orange jumpsuit and boots. This is something any Joehead can duplicate in a matter of minutes. We’re not saying it isn’t exactly what it was represented to be, but for what the buyer receives, the final purchase price of $2,625 seems waaaay high (to us). The biggest surprise about this guy was how fiercely he was fought over. When the dust finally settled, there had been a total of TWELVE (12) bids placed for this one (fairly ordinary looking) 12-inch Joe. WOW!

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

Prototype Action Man (Photo: NDSA)

Prototype “Action Man” Figure
Final Bid Price: $625.00

Okay, we were honestly “on the fence” about this figure. Its Levine Family provenance and stained sweater struck us as LIKELY to be what it was claimed to be—a prototype for Action Man—but again, without the COA, it seemed fairly basic and uninteresting. Regardless, someone out there in Joe-Land offered up $625 and earned the right to become its new owner. Again, there was only ONE bidder, and although that bidder had no way of knowing he (or she) would be bidding alone, that person could have saved him or herself $125 by bidding only the reserve price of $500. Oh well, live and learn!

Bottom Line: These figures will all undoubtedly find good homes with some seriously deep-pocketed GIjOE and Action Man fans, but we can’t help but wonder whether or not, in these particular cases, if they overpaid (in some cases, dramatically) for what they received. Let’s hope they’ve done their research (and know more than us) and placed their bids with due diligence. A word of reassurance on this matter came to us today from NDSA copywriter, Ian Gould, who states:


Ian Gould, copywriter (Photo: Ian Gould)

Ian Gould, copywriter (Photo: Ian Gould)

“I’ve been dealing with the sale pretty much since its inception and have talked with Nan Levine a lot about each piece. She seemed to know a lot about each piece, and told me that they were all indeed original prototypes. She was familiar with everything that he had, and Donald had these identified as prototypes, or original designs.

So yes, it is difficult to know exactly where all of the items come from, but the markings on each indicates each item’s provenance (i.e. where they came from). I understand the hesitation in proclaiming them as true ‘prototypes’, hence the fairly low reserve set on each. The Action Man one is probably the biggest steal of any, as she told me it really was the original. It would obviously help to have Donald around to validate the claim, but no matter.”

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15 thoughts on “Stunning Final Bids Made Yesterday For Don Levine’s “One-of-a-Kind” G.I. Joe “Prototypes”

  1. Rudy Panucci says:

    If that “prototype” Action Man is exactly as described I’ll eat it and poop out a Mercedes. The year is all wrong for it to have flocked hair, eagle eyes or gripping hands.

  2. Matthew Pak says:

    Look for a LOT of “Action Soldier prototypes” to appear on eBay soon! Land Adventurer plus Air adventurer jump suit plus Commander jacket = goodbye bank account!

  3. John Michlig says:


    While working on the G.I. Joe books, I had access to “everything that I have,” according to Mr. Levine. We hauled boxes together out of his basement and I unpacked them in my hotel room.

    There is no way I would have missed items like these; and items like these would have been prominently photographed and featured in the books.

    I was fairly relentless. “Anything else?” I would ask incessantly. “You’ve got it all,” Mr. Levine would say with a smile.

    None of these items was among the material I saw, handled, and photographed.

    Was is he holding out on me? Did these items come into his possession subsequent to the publication of my books?

    One of our primary challenges in re-creating the old G.I. Joe body for the Masterpiece Edition was procuring as many original figures as possible. A couple of figures like these would have been very helpful.

  4. fishbulbs says:

    There’s one born every minute!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Could it be Mr Levine long ago told his wife ” These are the ones worth Big Bucks Honey ”
    On purpose for some mysterious reason ?


  6. Rudy Panucci says:

    The real question is, if the GI Joe/Barbie set was a real prototype made for a pitch, what was Levine smoking, thinking he’d get Mattel to license Barbie to Hasbro?

    I wonder how many of these items were gifts, given to the “Father of GI Joe” by collectors at conventions.

  7. Roy Jones says:

    If I was a criminal, those that know me and what I do, know that I could make a fortune. Luckily for everyone, I haven’t needed the money that bad yet…lol

  8. It is painful to say this, and it is not right to make unfounded accusations, but do you know the story about paintings sold after Rene Magritte died? You be the judge.

  9. James says:

    My first thought at seeing these “prototypes” was “Yeah. Right. Whatever you say.” However, I prefer to think of this not as a purposeful attempt to deceive people by Mr. Levine’s family, but more the result of genuine ignorance regarding these items on their part.

  10. This is painful for all serious GI Joe collectors. We somehow know that there is no attempt to mislead or create fraud here, but the descriptions of these rare prototypes is like throwing out the window all the years of hard work that collector experts like Michlig, DePriest, Marshall, Santelmo, Desimone and others have shared with us. Not to mention, Levine himself!

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