Speak out! Determined to “spread the good word” about GIjOE on its 50th Anniversary, faithful fans such as Tearle Ashby (above) are taking advantage of opportunities to display, demonstrate, and discuss the original and BEST version of “America’s Movable Fighting Man” to groups at libraries, schools, and even museums. Here, Tearle recounts the history of GIjOE at a recent appearance at the New York State Military Museum in Sarasota Springs, NY. (Photo: Col. Richard Goldenberg, Joint Force Headquarters)
Clearly, GIjOE still has plenty of fans at Boy’s Life magazine. This page is just part of the great coverage he recently received in the February 2014 issue. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Carin Reddig)
Disgruntled GIjOE Fans “Refuse to Forget”
Riddle Me This, Batman: What are collectors of 1:6 scale GIjOEs to do—in 2014? With few new 12-inch releases planned, even the simple act of going out to a toy store to pick up a “50th Anniversary Commemorative GIjOE” has been taken away from them. What are fans to do when Hasbro—GIjOE’s own creator(!)—barely acknowledges the iconic 12-inch line’s existence anymore, much less celebrates (in any appreciable way) its half-century of sales and enduring popularity?
Fortunately, despite Hasbro’s laissez-faire attitude towards its former flagship brand (many would argue that Lego has now assumed that mantle), “Joeheads” around the world have begun demonstrating that they are not yet ready to lay down and surrender. In fact, many are viewing 2014 not as the END of the epic GIjOE saga, but as the end of its beginning; preferring to look forward instead—to the NEXT 50 years of collecting!
GIjOE collector and advocate, Tearle Ashby, poses proudly with members of his superb 1970s Adventure Team at a special “50th Anniversary” exhibit held this month in the New York State Military Museum in Sarasota Springs, NY. (Photo: Col. Richard Goldenberg, Joint Force Headquarters)
No room for Joe? While it may seem a bit melodramatic, there’s no denying that toy store shelves will seem barren and dull without 12-inch GIjOEs in 2014. (Photo: Ross Franklin)
The “Bare-Shelved Realities” of 2014
As with the first so-called “end of GIjOE” in 1978, the current disappearance of 12-inch product from store shelves and its subsequent evaporation from Hasbro’s line-up en toto, leaves little doubt that “America’s Movable Fighting Man” is (once again) entering a period of corporately-forced “product retirement.” Anxious fans and collectors are already wondering, how long will Joe be away this time? Of course, no one outside of Hasbro’s boardrooms can answer that for sure, but it probably will be quite a while before we see 12-inch GIjOEs on store shelves again.
Nevertheless, a handful of resolute Joeheads have begun showing that they simply “refuse to forget” GIjOE, especially during its all-important 50th anniversary. In fact, in ever-increasing numbers, die-hard fans have begun creating their own unique ways and means of celebration, pushing past the apathetic executives of “the big H” to post their ideas on public forums such as Facebook, The Trenches, and The Sandbox. Supporting businesses too, have begun to chip in their own celebratory products and ideas. For example…
Opinions about the GIjOE club’s box design for its 2014 12-inch exclusive range from disappointed to mixed. Probably for budgetary reasons, the club chose to go with an all-black box with red logo, completely devoid of any supporting photos or illustration. As the theme is supposed to be based on a Green Beret figure, it’s a shame they didn’t commission a special 50th Anniversary painting from renowned Classic Collection artist, Larry Selman. In addition, the use of “Codename” surprises many, as it was most recently made famous by Joe’s 12-inch competitor, Captain Action. Stranger and stranger! (Photo: CIGCC)
Every 50th anniversary deserves a t-shirt, and this is what the club came up with. We suppose it’s okay, but the logo depicted is from the 1980s. Is that a minor point or a major mistake? The answer likely depends on your scale preference and/or penchant for accuracy. To be honest, we’re not too thrilled. (Photo: GIJCC)
The GIJCC Has Become “The Tip of the Spear”
In the absence of any official leadership from Hasbro, “spearheading” GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary during 2014 has fallen to the independently-run GIjOE Collector’s Club (GIJCC). Their upcoming JoeCon 2014 in Dallas,TX, with its 12-inch “Codename: GIjOE” exclusive 2-figure set (see HERE) is the closest thing fans will see resembling anything “official” being produced for Joe’s 50th Anniversary.
Depending on your perspective, this “passing of the torch” to the club can seem like a good thing or a bad thing. They (the club) have made no bones about their desire to merge the worlds of RAH and Cobra with that of the Vintage and Adventure Team fans, skewing conventions more and more towards collectors of “the little Joes” over the years. Indeed, with each passing JoeCon, collectors of 12-inch figures have felt more and more sidelined. At last year’s event in Indianapolis (see complete review HERE), it was almost embarrassingly one-sided.
The GIjOE Collector’s Club is the only known businesses creating and selling officially licensed “50th” merchandise such as tees and caps. Attendees of this year’s JoeCon can get them at the convention, and leftover copies are typically sold from the club’s website. (Photo: GIJCC)
Remember too—that the club’s convention figures are NOT created by Hasbro. They are completely designed and created by the club (under license from Hasbro) and always in VERY limited quantities. Bearing all this in mind, as the Codename: GIjOE 12-inch sets are the only “official” figures being produced for Joe’s 50th, they’re bound to sell out quickly. If you can afford to pick one up, we recommend that you (and Mr. Mastercard) act sooner, rather than later.
In lieu of Hasbro’s lack of 50th products and obvious corporate indifference, numerous “unofficial” items have begun to circulate among fans in celebration of GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary. For example, copies of this superbly made commemorative t-shirt are currently being given away FREE to lucky winners of Patches of Pride’s “Operation: Joe Karma 2014″ prize giveaway. WOW! (Photo: Mark Otnes)
“Unofficial” Celebrations Led by Fans Hoping to “Spread Joe Karma”
Independent 1:6 scale-related businesses and GIjOE fans are, of course, free to celebrate GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary in any way that they choose, as long as they do it in ways that don’t enable them to profit from the sale of items that may infringe upon the intellectual property or trademarks of Hasbro. One such “unofficial” effort comes to us from Patches of Pride owner, Mark Otnes, who has created nifty little “unofficial” 50th t-shirts and is giving them away as part of a unique promotion dubbed, “Operation: Joe Karma 2014.” When pressed for details, Otnes replied:
“GIjOE has given so many people so much pleasure for so long, that we were as shocked as anyone when Hasbro decided to let its 50th anniversary pass by practically unnoticed. So we thought giving away ‘freebies’ every day during 2014 could be the start of some sort of an ‘unofficial’ celebration. We hope fans enjoy the gifts and will spread their own ‘Joe Karma’ around as a result.”
Volunteering Your Time—For GIjOE!
It’s always a good idea to help spread some “Joe Karma” around, any way that you can. And one of the best ways fans are helping to celebrate GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary is by sharing their collection and passion for the hobby with others; hauling the best of their collections out to libraries, VFW halls and even museums; speaking about Joe collecting, and giving of their TIME—for Joe.
One example that stands out so far this year, occurred February 8th at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY. According to the official press release we received from Colonel Richard Goldenberg of the NY Army National Guard:
“…to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of GIjOE, Tearle Ashby, who provided the figures for our ‘Toys and Tanks’ display, including vintage GIjOE, reproduction figures from the Timeless and Classic collections, 21st Century Toys, BBi, Dragon and others, will speak about GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary in a program at the museum on Saturday, Feb. 8th. Here’s another open invitation for GIjOE collectors in the Northeast to make the trip to Saratoga Springs, view the exhibit and maybe look up Tearle and give him incentive to start a Capital Region GIjOE collector’s group!”
Educational, exciting and eye-popping! Imagine the THRILL of seeing displays such as this one for the first time. In honor of GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary, why not volunteer to show off YOUR collection at a nearby library, school, or museum? (Photo: Lori Van Buren / Times Union)
Depending on the facilities, sharing your collection can be as “low tech” as bringing a few figures to your child’s classroom, or as “top-level” as this museum display featuring dust-proof plexi display cases, poster-sized blow-ups of vintage catalogs, and television displays running DVDs of original commercials or GIjOE documentaries. You’re only limited by your imagination! (Photo: Lori Van Buren / Times Union)
The sincerity and determination “not to forget” GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary is written all over Tearle Ashby’s face. What an inspiring fan! (Photo: Col. Richard Goldenberg / Joint Force Headquarters)
Bottom Line: Hasbro and the GIjOE Collector’s Club are both businesses first and foremost, each making their respective decisions based upon what they believe will generate the most profit revenue. Fans may be disappointed by some of their decisions, but business—is business. The passions and emotions of devoted fans cannot move mountains, nor can they alter these immutable facts. BUT…there are many things you CAN do in 2014 to celebrate GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary. For example…
Create a custom figure of a relative or famous military hero. Customize a vehicle or build a diorama. Take photographs of your efforts and share them with your family, friends and fellow fans. Display your collection at libraries, toy shows, schools and museums. Act as a local “advocate for GIjOE” like super-fan, Tearle Ashby (shown at right) and give a talk about the 1:6 scale hobby. Hand out any “extras” (gear, figures, etc.) that you may have as free gifts to others in a generous show of “Joe Karma.”
Whatever you choose to do, if you’re waiting for Hasbro to hold your hand in 2014, you can stop waiting. According to all trusted and currently available sources, other than the activities being planned for this year’s JoeCon 2014, nothing further of an “official” nature is being prepared to celebrate GIjOE’s 50th. For simple business reasons, the “Big H” has decided to take a very laid back attitude toward GIjOE’s anniversary, and that’s just a fact fans will have to live with. But we can still REFUSE—to forget. Go, JOE!