SHOCKER!———Original Creator of “G.I. Joe” Action Figure, Stan Weston, Files Suit Against Hasbro in Bid to Recapture Copyrights to that Brand

It Was His Idea— Stan Weston (82) holds up a copy of Hasbro's original 1964 GIjOE Action Soldier, a product line produced from Weston's original concept which he created and sold to the company in 1963. When the copyrights to GIjOE expire in 2020, Weston (now 82), hopes to reclaim control over his creation in a court of law. (Photo:

It Was His Idea, Your Honor— Renowned toy creator, Stan Weston holds up an original 1964 GIjOE Action Soldier, just one piece of a hugely successful product line based on an original concept which Weston pitched and sold to Hasbro back in 1963. When copyrights to GIjOE expire in 2020, Weston (now 82), hopes to reclaim control over his creation—in court of law. (Photo: Nancy Dillon/NYDN)

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“I would welcome getting back the rights to G.I. Joe for the future; and then, plotting logical things to do with it. That’s all I’m looking to do.” —Stan Weston, 2015

The Right Thing to Do—Or a Blatant Money Grab?

Readers of The Joe Report will undoubtedly recall our 2013 story on Stan Weston (read that HERE) and how his regrettable 1963 decision to accept a one-time payment of $100,000 in exchange for his “G.I. Joe” product concept ending up costing him untold MILLIONS of dollars in future royalty payments and profits. Despite Weston’s financial losses, the “bottom line” of our story concluded with a consoling quote from Stan’s own brother, Jay Weston, who philosophically opined:

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“Stan once told me a story, about how he was introduced at a convention as ‘The Father of G.I. Joe,’ and a young boy came up to him and said, ‘Thank you. Joe made me a better student and a better boy.’ That’s probably worth more in the realm of heaven than any royalty.” —Jay Weston, 2013

Stan the

Stan Weston is the creator of many legendary toys, including GIjOE and Captain Action. In this undated photo, he poses in his office surrounded by his superb creations. (Photo: C.J. Zumwalt/NYDN)

While we agree that the effects GIjOE had on that young boy are indeed worth more than any financial reward, it appears that ol’ Stan has had some second thoughts about all of his (lost) GIjOE-related royalties. According to an article published last Wednesday in the Hollywood Reporter (see HERE), Weston’s attorney has just filed a “notice of termination” to Hasbro that, in effect, is:

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“…seeking to exploit a mid-1970s change in copyright law that allows authors or their heirs to grab back rights after 35 years from assignees. These termination rights have come up often in the music industry; here, it would terminate copyrights associated with a toy and derivative works.”

Fan reaction to Weston’s surprising legal challenge to Hasbro has been mixed. We consulted with our usual panel of 1:6 experts and their responses have been both encouraging and disparaging:

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Al Hartman, Captain Action fan & collector (Photo: Al Hartman)

Al Hartman, collector of 1:6 scale (Photo: Al Hartman)

“You want to know what I think? Hasbro made so much money off the G.I. Joe line… They should throw Stan a bonus just out of kindness. Just like a company gives a retiree a gold watch at retirement. The heck with whether there’s a contract that can be enforced, without need to enrich lawyers on both sides with a lawsuit. Make a big deal about it. Give him a lifetime achievement award, hold a press conference, give him the check and a specially made G.I. Joe Statue. Just to be kind, and for the good P.R.”
Al Hartman

Others were less amenable to Weston’s lawsuit. For example:

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“I think it stinks that he (Weston) wants to drag this through the mud. Whatever he came up with working for Hasbro belongs to Hasbro.” —Brian (last name withheld)

As always, we sought out the opinion of our favorite toy industry analyst, Rudy Panucci, who provided some helpful insight and commonsensical commentary on this matter, predicting:

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Toy Expert and Pop-Culture Blogger, Rudy Panucci (Photo: Rudy Panucci)

Renowned toy industry expert and pop-culture blogger, Rudy Panucci (Photo: Rudy Panucci)

“He will get a huge settlement. He doesn’t actually want GI Joe back. He wants back royalties that he feels Hasbro stiffed him on. From a pure legal standpoint, he has no chance of recapturing the copyrights, since all of the profitable elements were devised by Hasbro. He has a long shot at claiming the original idea under the novel premise that it was his idea to create a posable, male action figure, and that Hasbro did all the development as work-made-for-hire under his direction. But I would imagine that it would take years in court, with each side winning a few victories before it could get to the point of Hasbro possibly turning over the property. Way more likely would be Hasbro settling and paying him off–probably an eight figure sum and guaranteed royalties in the future. They’ll want this matter over and settled before it affects the publicity for the next movie. Perfect timing on Weston’s part. The only witness to dispute what he says was Don Levine, and he just died. Reportedly neither side has a contract.” —Rudy Panucci

Bottom Line: However Stan’s legal ploy pans out, it seems to us here at The Joe Report that if his lawyer can prove there is legal precedence, the likelihood of Hasbro offering Weston a financial settlement is quite high. However, the actions of Hasbro’s leadership regarding G.I. Joe have long (and regularly) baffled the brand’s loyal fans and industry experts alike. Hasbro may decide to fight Stan tooth and nail. This lawsuit bears close attention by all of GIjOE fandom. So…Stay tuned!

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3 thoughts on “SHOCKER!———Original Creator of “G.I. Joe” Action Figure, Stan Weston, Files Suit Against Hasbro in Bid to Recapture Copyrights to that Brand

  1. Acoustic59 says:

    Hey, Hasbro basically gave up on the 12″ GI Joe that started it all. Let someone else who has some vision take it over and keep it alive. Hasbro couldn’t care less about Joe collectors and future customers. I’m with Stan on this one.

  2. Ben North says:

    Greed knows no limits. Weston had an idea for a poseable military action figure with add-on accessories. Hasbro (Don Levine) thought it had potential and used their resources, and made considerable investments to develop, and refine that idea into GI Joe.

    Hasbro offered Mr. Weston a couple of options to compensate him for his idea. One of these options would have made him millions, but he would have had to share the same risk and uncertainty that Hasbro would with GI Joe.

    The other option compensated him with a no-risk, lump sum payment, which may seem small now, but at the time it was considerable.

    Mr. Weston chose the latter, maybe because he wasn’t confident enough in his idea or Hasbro’s development of it, or maybe he would rather have the lump sum to be able to finance his own future projects, or maybe he was just greedy.

    I have always assumed that Stan Weston took the lump sum to go do his own thing (Captain Action and other licensing projects) and I respected and admired his success. Now, he is tainting that image.

    Mr. Weston made his deal knowing that if GI Joe was a huge success he was passing up the bigger payoff. Why has he has waited all this time to decide to try to renegotiate a deal made 50 years ago with people who are no longer around?

    It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. It could open the door for a lot of others that want to “renegotiate” their business decisions. This industry has a long line of inventors, concept artists etc. that took a payment over a long-term commission for their services.

  3. Steve Polzak says:

    I am with Acoustic59 and others, give back the 1/6 G.I.Joe line back to Stan Weston. Hasbro doesn’t care about it or fans of it. We cannot be any worse for us, but I don’t think it will happen. Really would like to have 1/6 G.I.Joe back.

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