Top Hasbro Executive, Derryl DePriest, Responds to Criticisms From Fans & Collectors of 12-Inch G.I. Joes: “A Market is Definitely Being Ignored”

Hasbro Global Brand Manager, Derryl DePriest, in his trademark Hawaiian shirt and neon tennis shoes, during an exclusive interview with The Joe Report at this month's JoeCon 2015 in Springfield, IL. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Hasbro VP of Global Brand Management, Derryl DePriest, during an exclusive interview conducted recently with The Joe Report at this month’s JoeCon 2015 in Springfield, IL. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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“You know, the reports you put out (in The Joe Report), I have to say—I read them—and I have to bite my lip. Unfortunately, it’s not reflective of what the industry’s put out.”

Thomas Durbin of Champaign, IL, demonstrates his interpretation of the Adventure Team Commander at JoeCon 2015 with a marvelous handmade cosplay costume. Durbin remarked,

12-Inch Fandom Runs Deep with Thomas Durbin of Champaign, IL, who demonstrates what many fans enjoyed doing at JoeCon 2015—portraying their favorite 12″ GIjOE characters with handmade cosplay costumes. Durbin told us, “The hardest thing was enlarging the uniform buttons to be at the right scale.” Durbin certainly bears a striking resemblance to a kung-fu gripped Adventure Team Commander. FAN-tastic job, Thomas! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Hasbro Exec is Clearly Listening—But (Respectfully) Disagrees With the Views of Many 12-Inch Fans

I sat down with a very congenial and upbeat Derryl DePriest on the afternoon of April 11, 2015, with the primary purpose of catching up with one of the most famous GIjOE collectors in the world. For those who may not know, DePriest is the Vice-President of Global Brand Management at Hasbro and the author of one of the most famous books ever written on vintage 12-inch GIjOE collecting entitled, “The Collectible GIjOE—An Official Guide To His Action-Packed World.”

Derryl’s fame as an author and lofty position in the toy industry aside, I was more interested in learning about DePriest the man. In fact, my idea of interviewing him had only occurred to me one day before, when I’d seen him walking around at JoeCon 2015 in Springfield, IL. I’d met Derryl previously (at JoeCon 2009 in Kansas City), but only long enough to shake his hand and thank him for all his work on behalf of GIjOE. Now, six years later, I was curious to discover what else had been happening in his life.

As a result, when we faced each other in the dealer room/exhibit hall at JoeCon 2015, I told him I had no prepared questions and no particular subject in mind (to discuss) other than himself. Derryl quickly suggested an alternative to a typical Q&A interview, stating, “Let’s just have a conversation” instead. We agreed, turned on the tape recorder and jumped right in. Interestingly and unbeknownst to either of us, our conversation would quickly veer into a very sensitive subject area: Hasbro’s current treatment (and/or lack thereof) regarding (that’s right, you guessed it)—the 12″ GIjOE line. Here then, is our conversation:

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The Collectible GIjOE (Photo: Courage Books)

The Collectible GIjOE by Derryl DePriest (Photo: Courage Books)

INCLUDES 11 NEW & EXCLUSIVE
PICS TAKEN AT JOECON 2015

TJR: So… Could you tell us about the book you’ve written and your interest in GIjOEs?

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“I published The Collectible GIjOE in 1998. That was a dream come true; to be able to write a GIjOE book. I’ve collected 12-inch GIjOEs pretty much my whole life. It’d been my favorite toy when I was a kid and I had to put them away when I was in college; but I’ve never stopped buying them or ‘curating’ a collection. When I as kid, I had about 75 to 100 GIjOEs.”

TJR: Wow. When I was a kid, I had like 6.

“Well, I don’t want to misrepresent it; I didn’t come from a wealthy family by any means. Instead, I came from a family where we had a regular stand at a flea market, and my parents routinely bought and sold things on the weekends. I also have two younger brothers who love GIjOE. So we took our meager allowance every weekend and were running around the flea market buying toys.”

This full-sized truck sported bold, colorful GIjOE graphics at JoeCon 2015. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This full-sized extended-cab truck sported a multi-colored custom paint-job with bold GIjOE-inspired logos and graphics. It was also on display at JoeCon 2015. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

It must be St. Patrick's Day! DePriest poses for a photo for his Facebook page. (Photo: Derryl DePriest)

A Lot to Smile About— DePriest posed for this recent “profile pic” over on his Facebook page. (Photo: Derryl DePriest)

TJR: How old are you now and where are you from originally? Where did you grow up?

“I’m 50. So I was born in 1965. I’m from San Diego and grew up in a family that had a very entrepreneurial spirit for buying things and then selling them at a profit. That’s pretty much what my family did.”

TJR: San Diego? So are you from a Navy family?

“No. Dad worked for McDonnell Douglas as a liaison engineer with some of the armed forces manufacturers down there. Anyway, I do have fond memories… Every time a new GIjOE or a set came out that we had to have for Christmas, my brothers and I would look through the Sears catalogs. We had three different colors of pens and each of us would circle what we wanted. I remember when the Mobile Support Vehicle came out and the Headquarters came out. All three of us had drawn BIG circles around them. Under the Christmas tree that year, we got THREE of each toy, because we couldn’t share, we were all jealous of each other.”

Unofficial GIjOE

Unofficial GIjOE “Rabblerouser,” Rick Pell, stands outside Hasbro’s Worldwide Headquarters building in Pawtucket, Rhode Island where DePriest works. In 2014, Pell formed the “50 Years of GIjOE” fan group on Facebook as a place for fans to vent their frustrations re: Hasbro’s current indifference towards 12-inch GIjOE collectors. (Photo: Rick Pell)

TJR: Do you live in Pawtucket, RI, now?

“Yup. After my book came out in ’98, I was contacted by Hasbro. They were closing their Cincinnati office and hiring a new team in Pawtucket. Many of the great folks who’d worked in Cincinnati didn’t want to leave Cincinnati, so what came open was the Director of Marketing for GIjOE. I’d interviewed in Kenner before and I’d really set my sights on joining Hasbro. For years, I’d decided that was really my ‘dream job.’

In 2001, I interviewed with the folks back in Pawtucket, including Alan Hassenfeld, the President of Hasbro (son of company founder, Merrill Hassenfeld). A few days later they offered me the job and I told my wife we were moving to Pawtucket. I had joined Hasbro as the director—heading up GIjOE!”

That's right. All that fantastic 40th Anniversary swag you now hold so near and dear in your collection, you owe to the hard work of Derryl DePriest. (Logo: Hasbro)

All those great 40th Anniversary products you now hold near and dear in your collection were spearheaded by Derryl DePriest. (Logo: Hasbro)

TJR: What were your first GIjOE projects at Hasbro?

“I was in charge of GIjOE from 2001 to 2004. So I brought back the 40th Anniversary Joes and really helped amplify our 12″ GIjOE line. The resurgence in 12” GIjOE had really started before that, with the ‘Classic Collection,’ as done by the Cincinnati team. In fits and starts, that Hasbro team had reissued the classics; after John Michlig had helped bring back the true vintage GIjOE with his book and the ‘Masterpiece Collection.’ But I had felt that we really hadn’t done justice to the original vintage roots of GIjOE, so I conceived the 40th Anniversary Collection (a series of vintage reproduction figure sets with window boxed accessories); and with OUR team, executed that and brought it out. The great lament I would have is that we didn’t get to some of the more exotic and rare and desirable sets. But it is what it is. I’m glad we were able to get out the 24 that we did. Thankfully, the (GIjOE Collector’s) club finished up the Green Beret and Air Force Dress sets for us. We just couldn’t get them to retail.

Many collectors of 12-inch GIjOE would reasonably argue that the 40th Anniversary line has been DePriest's greatest work to date for GIjOE. Unfortunately, this line was discontinued...in 1994!

Collectors of 12-inch GIjOEs could reasonably argue that the 40th Anniversary line was Derryl DePriest’s greatest contribution to GIjOE fandom. Unfortunately, that line of magnificent figure/uniform sets would be discontinued in 2004. And sadly, fans may never see their likes again. (Photo: ebay)

TJR: I LOVED the 40th Anniversary line! I really hated to see it end. What did you do next?

“Well, ultimately, 12-inch GIjOE wound down and then it was OUT. So I made a decision to go over to the Star Wars team in 2004.”

The Future of 12-Inch GIjOEs— With Hasbro unlikely to create new products for fans of 1:6 scale Joes, the club has picked up the ball and announced new figures coming in 2015-16, including 2 more of their superb

The Future of 12-Inch GIjOEs— With Hasbro no longer creating 12-inch GIjOEs, fans listened with rapt attention during a panel discussion at JoeCon 2015 as the club announced it will produce 4 new 1:6 scale figures for 2015-16, including 2 more of their superb “Lost Talkers” series. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Hasbro and the GIjCC might as well be burning fistfuls of $100 bills. By not selling 1:6 GIjOE products anymore, t

Which is it? Fans believe this graphic represents all the money Hasbro is losing by not selling new 12-inch GIjOE products to them; while Hasbro most certainly views the same image as representing all the money they’d LOSE manufacturing such items for a “niche” market segment. (Photo: Getty)

TJR: What do you say to all the 12-inch GIjOE fans and collectors out there who are still hurting from Hasbro’s lack of any 50th celebrationand yet, their wallets remain WIDE open, ready and eager to buy more Hasbro 12″ GIjOEs? It seems like a sizable market is being overlooked—or even ignored.

“A market is definitely being ignored. 

Hasbro is a big company with shareholders. We can’t make everything that we want to. We have to put our design resources where they’re going to be most productive. Unfortunately, the economy of scale of GIjOE—especially 12-inch GIjOE—doesn’t make it (creating new 12″ GIjOEs) a viable proposition for us.

In 1994, when there was a 30th Anniversary of GIjOE underway, that was a much different time in GIjOE collecting, where there was a much bigger base of active collectors. Ten years later, when we did the 40th Anniversary line, we launched that with the anticipation that we would re-engage a lot of fans, and initially, we thought we were. 

But the reality is, even at the time when we had the 40th Anniversary line out there, the 12-inch Joes were finding a much bigger audience to kids than they were for fans. It was still a very much kid-driven line, but we were doing ‘fan-product.’ 

But…the sales tapered off. And what they showed Hasbro senior management is that the 12-inch business really was a very niche business in the world of boy’s toys. So… We had to shut it down. Sales didn’t sustain it. And I’d say 10 years later, the situation really hasn’t changed. 12-inch collecting has a small but passionate fan group (base), but it’s not significant enough for Hasbro to devote design resources to putting fan-targeted product back out there.”

New 12-inch GIjOE product, like the AA

12-Inch GIjOE Sans Hasbro— The creation of new 12-inch GIjOE products (such as this AA “Fantastic Freefall” repro figure for sale at JoeCon 2015) is left to the auspices of non-Hasbro companies including the GIjOE Collector’s Club, Sideshow, Hot Toys, and Cotswold Collectibles. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

At this point in our conversation, the sober realization that Hasbro would no longer be making 12″ GIjOEs, once widely considered to be the “World’s #1 Toy,” left both of us feeling clearly saddened. We paused for a brief moment, lost in thought, watching convention goers pass by our table, before Derryl tried to put a positive spin on this depressing 12-inch forecast, by saying:

The future of 12-inch figures at Hasbro include this

The future of “12-inch” at Hasbro includes more products such as this “Titan Series” figure of Thor, featuring a whopping 5-points of articulation. But don’t worry, ol’ Thor won’t need to bend his elbows, waist or knees to sell briskly from stores (or Goodwill bins). (Photo: Amazon) Click to enlarge.

“What we HAVE shown…is that there actually is a very big market for 12-inch figures. They’re not the kind of figures that fans want to see, but there’s been a 12-inch business ‘renaissance’ of sorts with our Titan series of figures from Marvel and Star Wars. These are the figures with 5 points of articulation at very consumable price points. They’ve become a VERY big part of our business globally.”

TJR: Okay, let me stop you right there. You know those (5-point figures) are widely panned and derided by everyone out there, right?

“No. That is not true.

TJR: That’s NOT true?!

“They’re widely derided by fans who want ARTICULATED figures.”

Show us what'cha GOT! Another cosplayer shows off her stuff at JoeCon 2015. For her and other fans of 3 3/4

Show us what’cha GOT! Another cosplayer shows off her stuff at JoeCon 2015. Fortunately for her and other fans of 3 3/4″ GIjOEs, there’s a great deal of new Hasbro product coming in 2015. Lucky girl! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

sandboxlogoTJR: Right. I’m talking about all the posts I’ve read on places like the Trenches. I’m talking about the Sandbox. I’m talking about ALL of the 12-inch fan groups over on Facebook, where collectors go to discuss what’s currently being offered.

“Those are…I want to say this in the politest way possible…The days of a 12-inch, adult collector fan base being a significant part of our audience are unfortunately behind us. We had the opportunity 10 years ago to make product for that market—and we did! We made wave after wave of 40th Anniversary products. The market was NOT there, compared to any other business at Hasbro. I made a very valiant effort to launch and float that line as a viable business, and ultimately it did not pan out.

smtrench2What I’m trying to say here is, because there are fans who have the money and means and want to buy product, it doesn’t mean it’s a business that Hasbro should be doing. Quite honestly, Hasbro has finite resources, and we have to deploy them where they’re going to give us the greatest return on that investment for the company.”

Another WILD RIDE was parked in the main exhibit hall of JoeCon 2015, this one sporting twin machine guns and armor plating. WOW! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This 1:1 scale COBRA assault vehicle was parked in the main exhibit hall during JoeCon 2015. It featured a full rollcage, twin belt-fed machine guns and armor plating. WOW! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

There's room at the top— If you've got the money, that is. The

12″ GIjOE Excellence— The “Retaliation” GIjOE figures created by Hot Toys were undeniably excellent in every conceivable way. Their only drawback? They’re $200+ EACH. (Photo: Hot Toys) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Have you given any thought to maybe creating an off-shoot company or license someone else to release regular offerings to 12-inch GIjOE fans, i.e. those fans that Hasbro no longer considers to be financially viable?

“The GIjOE Club exists to do those kind of things. They’ve managed the collecting business for 15 years now, or longer. They’ve managed conventions and they’ve seen it all. The GIjOE club knows the size of that audience. Unfortunately, what the club has seen over that time is a steady erosion of active collectors in the 12-inch hobby. 

Sideshow and Hot Toys have also made a number of 12-inch figures (see HERE) from us, under license, for the past few years. They were absolutely unbelievable. So in a way, we did exactly as you said. We DID license out 12-inch GIjOE. Unfortunately, even Sideshow’s tapered off. No one (else) has knocked down our door to license 12-inch…the business just isn’t big enough.”

Willing to Wait— GIjOE fans of all scales are steadfast and VERY patient when it comes to their collecting passions. Here, fans line up and wait to enter the dealer/exhibit hall at JoeCon 2015. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Willing to Wait— GIjOE fans (of all scales) are steadfast and patient when it comes to satisfying their collecting needs. Here, fans wait to enter the dealer hall at JoeCon 2015. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Sharp eyes could find some stunning vintage Joe gear at the show. If we have to tell you how RARE these two sets are, you should just move on. The construction set even still has its ORIGINAL 1960's price tag!

“Blades” of a Bygone Era— The production of carded uniform/equipment sets that were “sold separately” is, according to DePriest: “an antiquated model” unlikely to return. Does that make these two even MORE valuable? (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

TJR: We hear all the time from GIjOE fans who wonder why Hasbro can’t simply return to a smaller, more targeted version of their original “razors and blades” concept. They’re not asking for another big 40th Anniversary-style product push, only some occasional new 1:6 scale uniforms or equipment that hasn’t been produced before. Has that approach ever been (re)considered?

“The retail model in today’s landscape doesn’t work that way at all. Retail is a real-estate play. We have to be productive and turn in the space that we aggressively maintain with our retailers. The common comment we get is the ‘razors and blades’ model. That is a 30-40 year old model that is not tenable today. It doesn’t work. It’s not the way other competitive products are sold. In practically any line out there, the FIGURES are the things that sell and are highly consumed. Accessory sets languish and are quickly eliminated from any line, not just GIjOE. The ‘razors-n-blades’ model is an antiquated model that doesn’t represent the way consumers purchase today.

Thanks to the hospitality and welcoming beauty of

Thanks to the hospitality and beauty of “Springfield Welcoming Committee” members, Scarlett Conn (l) and Sara Detrick (r), fans attending JoeCon 2015 were warmly greeted—with FREE cupcakes! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Does THIS Jog Your Memory? This is one of the 2011 GIjOEs DePriest quizzed me on. Of course, I remember them now, AND that in actuality, I DID purchase at 3 or 4 of them. (Photo: ebay)

Does This Picture Jog Your Memory? This is one of the 2011 GIjOEs DePriest was quizzing me about at JoeCon. At the time, I couldn’t place what he was referring to, but I remember them now, And in actuality, I DID purchase 3 or 4 from this line. (Photo: ebay)

(At this point, Derryl decided to turn the tables and began asking ME a few pointed questions):

“When was the last time we had a 12-inch GIjOE line at retail? Do you remember that? Did you pick up the figures we did in 2011 when we came out with a series of 5 or 6 different 12-inch military figures at retail?” 

(Caught off-guard, I couldn’t recall which figures he was referring to specifically, so I just shook my head.)

“You probably don’t remember that. That just gives you an example. People will make figures and people don’t show up to buy them. That’s why we’re not (making them anymore). In 2011…we brought back some new configurations of 12-inch figures. We publicized them throughout the Joe community, but the 12-inch figures were the weakest sellers we had in the entire line. Nobody showed up to get ’em. We had almost no pickup or response from the fans.”

Hasbro's Last Stand For 12-Inch GIjOEs came back in 2011 with figures such as this Army Paratrooper. Many items were rehashed from previous sets and sales were lackluster at best. (Photo: ebay)

Hasbro’s “Last Stand” For 12-Inch GIjOEs was taken back in 2011 with the introduction of 5 or 6 low-priced figures featuring (yet) another paratrooper. Most of this Joe’s gear was rehashed from previous sets, and overall, quality seemed noticeably down. Sales were (predictably) lackluster. (Photo: Amazon)

(Still unsure what 12-inch Joes he was referring to, I replied):

The 2011 line of 12-inch GIjOEs were featured on this issue of the GIjOE Collector's Club newsletter. The pattern in this Marine's camo ACU uniform was one of the few highlights for fans. Did YOU buy this one? (Photo: GIJCC)

The 2011 line of 12-inch GIjOEs were featured in this issue of the GIjOE Collector’s Club newsletter. The ACU camo pattern in this Marine’suniform was one of the few highlights for fans. (Photo: GIJCC)

TJR: Well, is it perhaps that 12-inch collectors are a little more discerning and demanding now, and that they felt the 2011 figures weren’t worthy somehow?

“I don’t know, you tell me! You didn’t buy ’em! I’m not here to do a post-mortem on that line, but what that line suggested was that kids were not—at the time—into 12-inch figures and the fan base wasn’t enough to sustain that business.

My long answer to a short question is… As passionate as the 12-inch fans are—and I’m one of them, because my story’s built on 12-inch, I came to Hasbro to take over the GIjOE line, I have launched many lines internally—it’s (unfortunately) a small but passionate business; not big enough to sustain. 

Our focus now is Joe-Cobra. That’s not to say Joe-Cobra couldn’t be 12-inch, but the days of a kind of generic GIjOE and razor/blades phenomenon or Timeless Collection stuff are in the past.”

joecon2015girls2

JoeCon 2015’s “Cobra Girls” were decidedly taller than their 3.75″ counterparts. Will 12-inch fans ever see such figures become part of GIjOE’s 1:6 future? Only Derryl knows! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

TJR: Wow. Well, we’ve covered quite a lot today, haven’t we? Let’s finish by talking about you again. Do you still have a GIjOE collection? Do you have a “Joe room” at your home? Do you have display cases or is everything stored away in tubs?

“Yes, to all of that.

I’ve got every GIjOE figure ever made!

Some are on display and some are not because of space limitations. You can see in my book exactly what my collection comprises. That’s the story and essence of my collection. Since that time, I’ve acquired a lot of packaged GIjOEs. That’s what I’m interested in now; adding really nice, packaged examples to my collection.

My goal someday is to have every single packaged figure, vehicle and accessory set.” 

TJR: Is there a possible second book in the offing then?

“No. Unfortunately, while I’m at Hasbro, I can’t write any more books.”

TJR: Okay then, do you ever leave comments on GIjOE fan forums or other online fan sites?

“No. We don’t participate in social media, either. And I don’t care. It’s never been about celebrity for me. It’s about trying to bring out the things that fans are most passionate about.”

TJR: Well, your heart’s definitely in the right place! Thank you so much for all your time.

“My pleasure. Thanks, Mark!”

It's Never Been About Celebrity—

“It’s Never Been About Celebrity”— DePriest, looks out at the JoeCon 2015 crowd, reflecting upon the fact that he’s helped make so much of what they enjoy collecting—a REALITY. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Derryl for his generosity and contributions to this article. It’s always fascinating to hear directly “from the top” whenever discussing the past, present or future of Hasbro’s most marvelous creation. If you’d like to see and hear more from Derryl DePriest on this topic, we highly recommend you watch the following VIDEO. Enjoy! Go, Derryl! And GO, JOE! 

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25 thoughts on “Top Hasbro Executive, Derryl DePriest, Responds to Criticisms From Fans & Collectors of 12-Inch G.I. Joes: “A Market is Definitely Being Ignored”

  1. Tim Weedn says:

    Great article, Mark. DePriest nails it. Thanks to both you fellas for doing what you do!

  2. Daniel Smart says:

    What a fantastic interview Mark 🙂 Well done, and he comes across as a real genuine fellow. As much as it’s hard for us to accept that 12-inch Joes are a thing of the past, now at least, it makes a bit more sense now.

    Action Man turns 50 next year and I sadly can’t see any input from Hasbro on this, so we too will probably be left with private releases (if any).

    For me, it’s always been about nostalgia. A window into the past. I potter and preen my collection often at the weekends, as it gives me some time away from the stress of real life. Even as a kid, it took me to a little pleasurable place that was paradise and Action Man will always do this for me.

    In my opinion, as sad as it all is, Hasbro has well and truly done their job already 🙂

  3. James says:

    One thing I wish you’d suggested to Derryl was for Hasbro to look into taking a direct-to-consumer approach to releasing G.I. Joe. Mattel has had great success with this approach through their Mattycollector.com and Barbiecollector.com websites. Through these sites, they have been able to release toy lines that cater to a niche audience, but would likely not succeed in a full retail release. These are high quality toys done with the adult collector in mind. True, these are more expensive than your typical toys, but you are getting what you pay for.

    Hasbro could use this route, likely using their Hasbro Toy Shop infrastructure, to produce new, high-end 12” G.I. Joe sets, as well as reproductions of classic sets. They could also use this to make new O-ring style 3 ¾” figures, since I know that many 3 ¾” collectors lament the passing of that style figure. Hasbro already produced short-run Transformer and Star Wars toys of a similar nature for Hasbro Toy Shop to sell as exclusives at events like the San Diego Comic Con, so it isn’t like this is a completely foreign concept to them.

    This suggestion isn’t meant to take away from the items released by the G.I. Joe Collectors Club. They do many nice things, but are often limited by having to use whatever molds Hasbro still has. With a greater ability to create new molds, Hasbro would not be as hamstrung by this limitation.

    Sadly, this notion is likely never going to happen. It sounds like Hasbro is stuck in a “retail-only” mindset, while Mattel happily makes plenty of money by viewing their direct sales lines as a worthy companion to their retail lines.

  4. Gerry Coffman says:

    Every Joe I bought at retail since 2000 was discounted. The fact they didn’t sell at the price point they started told me they were doomed.

  5. ninersphan says:

    He does nail it, but that 2011 line is chicken and eggs type thing. They offered figures that have essentially been done before, reusing existing elements to keep production costs down without really offering anything new. I can’t help but think if they offered something a little different, rather than rehashing the same figures/set accessories, then maybe there would have been a better response.

    I, for one, have never been into the military Joes and really dig the AT stuff and wish they would release more AT type items. I still can’t believe with the way the AT Walmart Joes sold, that Habro didn’t take notice. I’d love to know from his (and the company’s) standpoint, just how successful that line was, cause they FLEW off the shelves around me.

  6. I remember the 2011 figures and I did not buy them because they sucked. I might have picked up a few of them eventually (out of desperation), but I only saw them at retail twice and then they disappeared from the shelves almost immediately.

    I still believe an articulated GIjOE with a few accessories available separately at a moderate price point would sell. I agree something as overly ambitious as the 40th line would be a flop. Four new $50 figures every month would flop. But four decent $25 figures a year might sell.

    It’s not like they need new molds and patterns for this stuff. Hell, slap a “Call of Duty” logo underneath the “GIjOE.” That might help sell a few! If an organization as small as the club can turn out a few figures a year, why can’t Hasbro?

  7. Matthew Pak says:

    Great interview. I respect Derryl and I agree with most of what was said. I think the “post-mortem” on the 40th line was that it was too much product in too short a time, the Wal-Mart exclusive coffin boxes were put out on clearance in many stores on day one, more a reflection on Wal-Mart’s marketing strategy (or lack thereof) and the 2011 line was mostly reissues of existing product, even though I picked them up at retail most consumers weren’t going to be on fire to get them.

    I enjoy the fact that the Club keeps the 12-inch Joes alive, I’m sorry that a cheaper toy version isn’t at retail with the fun factor for kids as Europe’s Action Man and South America’s Max Steel. I guess if another toy company creates a hot-selling 12-inch line, then Hasbro will follow through as well. I collect G.I. Joe in all his incarnations, so as long as there’s a presence at retail I’ll be happy.

    • Dragonrider1227 says:

      Put on clearance? I have three Wal-Marts in my area and I never saw a single one of those at any of them, let alone discounted.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I remember the 2011 line. We picked up the firefighter for my son (both redheads with blue eye). It was nicely done with good gear. The others disappered too quickly in my area, except a couple of the military ones. The military ones had very cheap uniforms.

    I sure see a lot of the 5-point articulated 12″ figures on clearence too, and not just the GIjOE ones. but, they must be SO cheap to make that they aren’t losing too much.

  9. RonMan says:

    Derryl does seem like a good guy. And he’s got marketing and sales numbers behind him. I love GIjOE 12″ figures and 3 3/4″ figures. Sigma six was an OK concept, but the weird, non-compatible sizes were as bad as Super Joe.

    The 2011 figure line was weak. No super-articulated bodies and all rehash, as everyone has stated. Nothing to get excited about. The 40th line was just too much, too fast.

    Target had a weird model for Joes from the Timeless and 40th lines. They would mark those down almost immediately. Then, it just conditioned everyone to not pay full price. If they stayed on the shelf, I would have bought them full price over time.

    I think it is interesting too, that no one thinks the razor/blades concept works. The classic collection blades just weren’t very compelling. But not having to buy 2 40th sets to outfit 1 figure would have been OK. Many parts businesses like Monkey Depot and BlackOps toys wouldn’t be in business if that model didn’t work.

    Sideshow’s prices themselves out of the line. Starting at $99.99 and ending at $174.99 for figures with less gear just didn’t cut it. They could have pulled a Cobra Viper/Trooper variant whenever they wanted to and kept the line alive, like the Clone Trooper run they have going on.

    The club does a pretty good job in 12″ stuff. I loved the 12″ Adventure Team Con Sets. I have not been impressed with the last two offerings. They did bring us the Green Beret 40th set, Magnum Power and the original Kung Fu sets. All excellent. Then, they had a couple random backyard patrol releases that were incredibly short supply. I like the Glow-In-The-Dark figure coming up. I think the outfit could be better. The Lost Talker Pilot and Sailer are welcome additions. More please… Oh! And get is some 40th canteens and covers while you are working on things. 🙂

    I’m a little sad to hear it out loud, but yeah, stick a fork in the 12″ Joes. Certainly from Hasbro. The 5-point 12″ figures just aren’t going to get it done.

    I do kind of look forward to checking outbtha Gentle Giant 12″ RAH figures. But, I can’t say I am very excited about paying $119 for a $20-$30 toy.

  10. Thomas Wheeler says:

    I agree that Hasbro should try their own version of MattyCollector, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Unfortunately, I think that everything that Derryl says is accurate, but I think he’s overestimating the popularity of those 12″ Titan Hero figures. Granted, I’m biased, because I really can’t stand those dumb things, and I hate the amount of room they take up in the action figure aisle. Them and those silly Mashers figures.

  11. […] honest way Derryl DePriest approached questions about the fate of the 12″ toyline with the Patches of Pride impresses me most of all. He manages to maintain his professionalism, but gets incredibly honest […]

  12. Kevin Bolger says:

    Great job Mark. I think many folks do have to take in the reality that 12′ G.I. Joe and toy collecting in general is a niche. Hasbro is a business. GIJCC is a business. If it doesn’t make sense to those businesses, they won’t produce products that are not doing well. There are probably more people getting out of the hobby than into the hobby for several reasons such as: aging collectors, economy which seems to look better on paper but folks still don’t have disposable income, etc.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I have known DDD for a long time and like and respect him, but what has not been discussed in the article is the lack of marketing of the entire 12-inch and mostly the 40th line. The only ads that I saw were in Master Collector and Toy Shop at the time.

    Going back to my old professor in my biz classes in college, you can’t sell anything without marketing. There was none. The only people who knew about the 40th were us collectors who heard from others at the conventions, Trenches etc. The general public knew nothing unless they were in TRU or other stores and physically saw them.

    One of the most important factors in the success of the initial launch of GIjOE and the Adventure Team were the commercials we were bombarded with. That is WHY we wanted GIjOE. There were no TV shows or movies. A product is not going to sell itself. Even Barbie has had a constant presence on TV since its inception. You cant buy what you dont know about. Simple. My two cents.

  14. Good interview. Not to beat a dead horse, but I do think there is a model out there for 12-inch “retro” Joes. It’s definitely more akin to DTC and what Hasbro has been doing (and DePriest seems to admit as much) has been trying to create a backdoor to making 12-inch Joe as a kids property. They need to re-evaluate that strategy. The market for the 12-inch “retro” Joes would have to be very carefully maintained, but it COULD work.

    I imagine the real issue is that Hasbro doesn’t want to put in the work to make it happen. It would be a smaller scale profit generator and would require careful research and development. I think if anything, a third party, like the GIJCC doing it would be ideal. Unfortunately, we know the Club isn’t quite as on board as they could be and Sideshow and other companies are interested in catering to a completely different market than the “retro” collectors.

    The figures can’t be more than $30, that’s the threshold I suspect. So it’s a tough road to hoe, especially if licensing the property from Hasbro.

  15. Charles says:

    I think that DePriest was right about the 12-inch market; that no one is interested and the other issue was that the market when the 2011 stuff hit was when it had died off. I mean, at the time, beyond 21st Century and Dragon figures (as well as some knock-off brands) in 12-inch (i.e. Soldiers of the World) were down the aisles all grouped near one end together and they didn’t occupy even half the amount of space as the RAH line did in the ’80s or even the Classics did in the ’90s. Some of that had been Hasbro’s fault though.

    My logic works this way: I would go once a year from the late ’90s until the mid ’00’s into the toy aisles for birthday gifts for cousins and there would still be Classic Collection stuff intermixed with Timeless collection and then some of the blister packs figures or gear. All of which seemed to be different continuities. There was classic collection figures and gear to some mission gear called GIjOE 2000 to some Timeless Collection recreating the original designs.

    Add in that when Sigma 6 hit with its weird sized sets in 2000s and in the middle of that run Hasbro released some more in the Timeless Collection (the Life versions, Various Generals, Astronauts), then let’s not talk about all the specialist teams like Rangers and SEALs variants; all of whom seemed like the same figure with a new head or different gear in the box, add in as well we had some 12-inch RAH figures released like this guy, http://tinyurl.com/gijoetorpedo which had painted-on uniforms and would have issues fitting in our other figures clothes.

    Then, if we add in that there were times that a plain-jane figure of just a few accessories (http://tinyurl.com/plainfirefighterjoe) was for one price point of around $20 and then for a few dollars more there was the super-accessorized Joe for $30-40 bucks (http://tinyurl.com/accessoriedfirejoe).

    Yet, you also couldn’t find some of the blister packs of expansion gear to turn that plain-jane fire-fighter into the smoke-jumper versions, or worst you end up spending $40 (after tax/title/license) for a figure and a blister pack. I watched parents decide on the cheaper figure or go with a different brand with more stuff in the box than what Hasbro was offering at the same price. So that is what DePriest meant that the “razor and blades” model of toy selling isn’t there anymore.

    I won’t even get into the lack of vehicles in the 12-inch size, since I have read from other sources that all the vehicles in the 12-inch scale modern era that Hasbro produced were loss-leaders. Whether that is the Rhino RPV in the MOF line to the two different M8 Armored cars and three different jeeps, all of whose prices levels were on par (or just over) with 21st Century or even Dragon, for less stuff in the box and less fun.

    There was so much in the 12-inch line and there was so little at the same time, if that makes any sense. Plenty of figures and kits, but they were all repeats and it was just figures and few static diorama things. Which to get it all meant you got the same figure 30 times over!

    Again, as an adult with kids of my own, I love the 12-inch line because there’s Adventure Team stuff, there’s the Cop and Fireman stuff and there’s the regular military stuff. My kids don’t care about all of it and we just love playing to “rescue the tiger” or “put out the fire at the base” or go “find the secret treasure.” It is just fun to play with them or just sit there and put the various clothes on them in funny ways.

  16. Psyche-Out says:

    Incredible interview, thank you. I really appreciate Derryl’s honesty in that it comes down to distribution. By that I mean, Walmart, TRU, and Target are reluctant to pick up ANY line. I miss the glory days and must accept the current state. DTC is something that Hasbro tried and probably won’t do again–even though it was post spy troops…Almost a means of giving us fans something…I blame video games for the drop in sales which will led to a drop in originality in the following generations. It was great having action figures and creating your own scenarios for battle. Ugh. Now the release for originality comes in a structured game package, hence limiting creativity.

  17. kneonknight says:

    Thanks for this, Mark. I do disagree with Mr. DePriest’s assessment of the “razor and blades” marketing strategy. Anyone who has gone into the Barbie aisle knows good and well that the clothing and accessory packs are selling very well. In fact, I think it was ignoring this strategy that ultimately doomed the 40th Anniversary line.

    As I have said before, we often had to buy two or three sets to complete one figure, and were left with a surplus of not necessarily needed or desired un-accessorized Joes. True, this was great for customizers who had the necessary odds and ends lying about to kitbash something, but as someone who was just interested in filling out my collection with some decent reproduction items, we were forced to pay the same price as the person simply trying to collect every 40th figure available.

    Besides, that marketing strategy worked pretty well for the Classic Collection. Remember all of those cool $5.00 Mission Gear Cards? Add to those the $15.00 carded “basic” figures and you were set. I remember having to drive to 5 different towns just to pick up the National Guard figure because they were simply impossible to keep in stock. Also, does anybody remember the 21st Century Toys Ultimate Soldier uniform cards? Absolutely fantastic, and as I recall, those retailed for about $12.00, well within the reach of both collectors and kids.

    Which brings me to another point: First and foremost, the original G.I. Joe was envisioned as a toy for children, not as something to be hoarded and later sold at outrageous profit. I personally have probably increased the value of everyone’s mint, unopened packages (from whatever series) because I will not leave them in the box.

    My Joes come out of their wrappings, get geared up, and displayed and played with by my 7 year old daughter and myself. Those are some of the best times we have. She has gotten very proficient with the mortar from the Action Man 40th line, and can usually put the second round right on target. My German guys fear her! All you collectors, do yourselves a favor-share your toys with the young’uns in your life. You’ll have a great time, forge memories, and keep interest in the hobby alive. That is all.

  18. David Howard says:

    I like Derryl, but I disagree with his assessment of what killed the 40th line. The retailer and distribution killed the 40th line, not the demand. Like others, I could hardly find them in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and usually when I did they were already on clearance as soon as they hit the shelves.

    I saw lots of collectors clamoring online for them, only to go to Walmart stores around the country to be disappointed. The mistake was Walmart not the customer. Target would have been a much better choice for the 40th exclusive with a more affluent buyer as well.

    I do agree that time for 12-inch product has come and gone now for mass retail. Many collectors have dropped out of the hobby and moved on to different ones. The diehards will always be there.

    I also disagree with his assessment of the 2011 Joes. As for the 2011 Joes, they were not geared towards the collector. They were targeted to kids who didn’t care. The figures were lackluster in offering and too modern for most collectors.

    When announced, everyone got excited about the new Joes, only to go to the stores to be disappointed again. I saw them, but didn’t bite, because they were the modern Joes like police, etc. with very little new features or equipment. All rehashed.

    The club is making a concerted effort to get back into the game, but with rehashed products comes disappointing sales. Offering up the same stuff that Cots has (cheaper) isn’t going to sell well. The green beret was one of the biggest hits they produced, yet they haven’t followed up with anything that great since.

    I think they’ll finally found that with the last two lost talkers, people want what they can’t find in vintage, or is too expensive in vintage. Pilots are a dime a dozen, but sailor and pilot talkers are not. Produce what people want and you’ll sell it. The green beret set is a perfect example.

  19. Ed says:

    One thing Hasbro might have missed on is nothing different than they went through before. For quite a few years now, America has been involved in some form of combat/war. Now for us adult collectors; the military stuff is fine, but kids these days don’t much care for it.

    My son would love to go to the store and pick up a GIjOE, but it would have to be going on an adventure, or even a cowboy, astronaut, or a pirate. Hasbro could have done some low budget, “save the earth” type of AT figures and they probably would’ve sold nicely.

    I know in 2011, my wife would not have let my son play with military stuff because her father and I are both Vets and she doesn’t like the government sending young men off to combat. If someone was to do a 12″ line of figures along the play concepts that Fisher Price’s Adventure People of the 70s had, I would bet they would sell well. I know I’d buy them for my son!

  20. dawfydd says:

    “I don’t know, you tell me! You didn’t buy ’em! I’m not here to do a post-mortem on that line, but what that line suggested was that kids were not—at the time—into 12-inch figures and the fan base wasn’t enough to sustain that business.”

    Well, the reason Hasbro throws out toy lines and doesn’t get any return is they don’t talk to or communicate with the collectors or get input before they release their “poor moving lines.”

    They throw out a sh** product and have a cry when the badly made product (or line) where every character looks similar, blaming the collectors and telling us they couldn’t sell them to anyone!

    Well no f***ing sh**! It’s the days of the f***ing internet, you can almost gauge the percentage of people who want to buy a certain figure by opening up a website and asking people to poll and giving them more than enough time to do so.

    It’s 2015. Hasbro has been able to make more money for years now, but they don’t consider these options because they can’t be bothered and just make excuses. Fans could express their wants directly to Hasbro via a third party website. Fans could pay for and manage it themselves (if it yielded results) and know exactly what number of fans would buy these items.

    Even if half the people who may buy them don’t give any input, they can release the number wanted by fans and see the demand as it reaches the market and decide to put more out or do a smaller wave via their website to fill the left over demands. It’s a damn shame. However, Hasbro is making enough money to ignore consumers.

  21. Allen Yuen says:

    Even if Hasbro isn’t interested, we still have the GIJCC for an annual figure. And don’t forget to spend your “saving for a Hasbro release” cash at Cotswold’s. They seem to be the only ones left to fulfill collector’s needs. So support them or they too will disappear and your only alternative will be evilbay. PS don’t forget to PoP your uniforms and gear !

  22. Derek says:

    I am coming to this article late but wanted to comment (not something I usually do). There is so much wrong with what Derryl and Hasbro are saying/thinking here where do you even start?

    First, there is what has already been mentioned by others; horrible retail execution, poor distribution, confused shelf placement, etc.

    The lack of communication: Where was even the offical page on their site listing what was in the line?

    The razor model doesn’t work anymore? What does that even mean? Look down ever other aisle in the toy store and what do you see? The razor and blade model. From Barbie to Hot Wheels to Lego and on and on.

    Derryl only acknowledges one sales model: retail. Seriously? In 2004? Where is online? What about direct-to-consumer through the club, etc?

    You know where the razor model works? Online where you can reach and do market research on your direct customer. But according to Darryl, Hasbro doesn’t do social media!? Another blunder.

    Finally, there is the global market which is where I fit in. I am in Canada. GI Joe was just as big in Canada as he was in the US (as I am sure he was in other countries like the UK with Action Man).

    Guess what kind of distribution we got here in Canada? Zero. None. Nothing. Nno figures at all.

    Having to travel to the US to pick up whatever scraps were left, or pay even higher prices on the secondary market REALLY sucks as a collector.

    The truth is Hasbro’s first mistake was in 1976 and they have been making it again and again ever since.

  23. Mike says:

    Just read this. Not convinced as a sideshow joe collector. If you made more of them, then I would have bought more of them. Many greats didn’t make it in. And some were sold out before I could get them. Same with 3 3/4″. Poor distribution.

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