Category Archives: Miscellaneous Toy News

After 80 Years, UK Community Designates Palitoy’s “Old Toy Factory” (The Birthplace of Action Man) As a Revered “Green Plaque” Commemorative Site

Palitoy workers celebrate

Three Cheers for Palitoy! Former employees of the beloved UK toy company raise a rousing “Hip, hip, hooray!” at the site of their former business, whilst receiving the Leicestershire County Council’s honorific of “green plaque” commemorative status. (Photo: Leicestershire County Council) Click to enlarge.

Our good buddy, Bob Brechin, wrote in to us again today to share another tidbit of good news from that “old country across the pond.” Bob was clearly (and rightly so) bursting with pride, as he told us all about the recent Leicestershire County Council’s (LCC) decision to commemorate the site of the original Palitoy toy factory building, known to millions of fans around the world, as the “birthplace” and former home of —you guessed it—Action Man! According to the LCC website:


“A former factory in Leicestershire which created popular children’s toys such as Action Man, Tiny Tears dolls and Star Wars figures was honoured with a green plaque. On Thursday, 2 November, the plaque was installed at the Coalville Business Park, in Jackson Street, Coalville, where the toy factory once stood. The company manufactured some of the most popular toys in Britain from 1937 to 1985 – before it ceased trading. Palitoy not only helped to stoke children’s imaginations with its classic toys and figures it also helped to put Coalville on the map.”


“Two Bobs” for Action Man! These two talented gentlemen have every reason in the world to be proud of Palitoy’s newly acquired “green plaque” status, and of their own individual accomplishments as well! From left we have Bob Brechin, former chief toy designer, and on the right, Bob Simpson, the company’s former managing director. (Photo: LCC) Click to enlarge.

It’s obvious to fans living here in the U.S. (and elsewhere around the globe), that local UK community support (and thanks) for the men and women who helped bring Action Man and other great toys “to life” remains very strong. And while those lucky few in attendance at Palitoy’s recent green plaque ceremony may now largely be members of the “silver-haired set,” it’s good to know that their children and grandchildren will be able to look up at that plaque and remember all the wonderful toys created there (by their loved ones) for many generations to come.


Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council (Photo: LCC)

womancomment“It is fantastic to see that 80 years on, there is still HUGE support from the people of Leicestershire.” —

It should be no surprise then too, that Bob Brechin, ever the promotor of all things Palitoy and Action Man, was the man originally behind all of the efforts required for gaining the beloved Palitoy company its esteemed honor of “green plaque” status. According to Brechin:


“It is 80 years since Palitoy toys were first made in Coalville and I thought the famous toy company should be celebrated with a green plaque at this special time.” —Bob Brechin

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and congratulations go out to Bob Brechin for his heads-up intel on this story, and to the wonderfully generous Leicestershire County Council for their excellent photos, and to all of the other past employees of Palitoy. You’ve all done so much—to bring so much joy—to so many people. Go, Action Man! And… Hip, hip, HOORAY for Palitoy!

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Ripple Effects of Chapter 11 Filing By Toys ‘R Us Begin to Spread to Manufacturers— Declining Profits Now Reported By Hasbro and Mattel


Where are all of our customers? As the number of independent toy retailers and their “brick-n-mortar” stores continues to decline, toy manufacturer claims that their own lost profits could be made up with rising internet or “online” sales has now proven to be questionable—even unlikely. Should toy manufacturers such as Hasbro consider opening their own retail store outlets to compensate?

To most toy fans and collectors, this latest news will not come as much of a surprise. In fact, current developments regarding the world’s ongoing toy retailing saga may seem all too predictable, but here we go nonetheless: It turns out, having fewer retail stores for customers to visit and browse for products (like toys) can actually be bad for business. <Wow. Who’d a thunk it?> In fact, following closely on the heels of the recent story of Toys R Us’ (TRU) filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, we now also learn that Hasbro and Mattel (both) are beginning to feel their own negative economic ripple effects—and that they believe their troubles can be laid squarely at the doorstep of TRU’s earlier woes. According to the AP:


“Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars, reported disappointing third-quarter results late Thursday and said it was hurt by Toys R Us’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last month. Earlier this week, Hasbro, the maker of My Little Pony and Monopoly, also blamed weak results on the Toys R Us bankruptcy filing.

Mattel, whose revenue in North America fell 22 percent in the three months ending Sept. 30, said that about half of that decline was due to the Toys R Us bankruptcy. Globally, most of its brands saw sales declines. Barbie sales fell 7 percent and Hot Wheels fell 6 percent. Sales of its American Girl brand, whose 18-inch dolls typically cost more than $100, fell 30 percent.” —AP


Will Matty need a handout? Looks like this company mascot is extending his hand for…what? Will his business soon seek court protection, ala Toys R Us?

Whoa. 30 percent?  That’s quite a financial nosedive. And if ever a particular toy brand needed a store’s support (i.e. an actual, physical PLACE to go to) so as to be able to SEE and HANDLE their extensive and upscale line), it’s pricey American Girl. Anyway…

Bottom Line: If TRU’s Chapter 11 reorganization and debt payoff difficulties continue, it seems likely that additional store closings and employee layoffs industry-wide could also continue. That would result in even fewer “brick-n-mortar” toy stores, less actual shelf space for toys, and then ultimately, fewer toys overall for fans and collectors to buy and enjoy. Ouch! That’s where WE feel “the pinch.” We’re not too worried about the financial stability of either Hasbro or Mattel (they’re doing just fine, thank you), but this situation is fluid and developing. Stay tuned for further intel. Read the AP story HERE.

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No More Toy Stores? Toys ‘R Us Going Bankrupt


Going, Going… GONE? Someday very soon, a simple trip to a neighborhood toy store may become a nostalgic memory from America’s past. In yet another startling measure of the growing number of consumers switching over to online purchasing, retailing giant, Toys ‘R Us, recently announced that it is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Though safe for now, all of the company’s colorful stores may soon be shuttered—and completely empty. (Photo: gettyimages)

Bottom Line: Toys ‘R Us (TRU), has officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (see complete details HERE). Sadly, we saw this event coming along YEARS ago. As more and more consumers have chosen to “shop” for bargains online and purchase their toys on the internet, web-retailing powerhouses such as Amazon and Walmart (and many, many others) have continued to drain away TRU’s financial stability and perilously erode its market share.

Indeed, TRU’s once-dominant, nation-wide chain of “brick-n-mortar” toy stores is now facing a dire and uncertain future. Faithful readers of The Joe Report will recall we first reported on TRU’s mounting fiscal woes waaaay back in 2014 (see that story HERE), and since that time, the company’s situation has only continued to weaken. It’s too soon to “call the game” on this sad story, and we’ll continue to monitor developments, but if current market trends are any indication, we don’t expect news to improve for America’s once mightiest—but now FAILING—toy chain.


How Much Larger Can Action Figures Get? New Darth Vader and Stormtrooper “Battle Buddies” Part of JAKKS BIG FIGS New “Colossal” (2:3) Scale

WHOA! How BIG can action figures get? This display at a Meijer store of the new 48" tall "Colossal" figure by Jakks is sure to stop traffic. (At least until the parents get a gander at the price tags. Ouch!) (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Almost Life-sized— This Star Wars toy display spied at a Meijer store in Urbana, Illinois, highlights two of the new 48″ tall “Colossal” figures by Jakks Toys. Their impressive height (seen in comparison to the shopping cart) is sure to surprise, maybe even STARTLE, some passing shoppers. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

We were in our local Meijer store in Urbana, Illinois, recently, when we happened upon a mid-aisle display of two of the largest and tallest action figures we’ve ever seen. Measuring in at a stunning 48″ (4 ft.) in height (what is that, 2/3rd scale?) the new Darth Vader and Stormtrooper figures were undeniably impressive and our jaws dropped appropriately (and obediently) as we approached.

Whoa, you're BIG! That's right kid, these new Jakks "Colossal Scale" figures will

Whoa, you’re BIG! That’s right kid, the new Jakks “Colossal Scale” Darth Vader figure will make you feel like a shrimp by comparison. It’ll also help to lighten your parent’s wallet—at $99 each. (Photo: Jakks)

After researching these guys further, we’ve learned they’re the forerunners of a new Jakks Big Figs “Colossal Scale” line that promises to bring really BIG figures into collector’s lives (as if our Joe Rooms weren’t packed enough already). And while they’re stiff and barely poseable, each figure does come with nicely detailed costumes, gear and/or weaponry, plus motion-sensitive electronics and sounds. Their almost life-sized dimensions too, provide exciting possibilities for further customization and enhancement by talented hobbyists. One such creative Dad has already cut up one of the stormtrooper figures so that its collective component parts could be fit onto his son’s body as a highly realistic costume. Out-STANDING work! (see video demonstration below).

This would make a great costume! That's right kid, as we now know, if you cut this toy up, children of a certain size can fit INSIDE the parts, making an astonishing stormtrooper costume. (Photo: Jakks)

This would make a great costume As we now know, if you cut this toy up, children of a certain size can fit INSIDE its parts, making for an astonishing stormtrooper costume (until he/she outgrows it). (Photo: Jakks)

Bottom Line: There are now Star Wars figures available in every size imaginable; from the smallest 1:18 scale figures to full 1:1 scale and everywhere in-between. Of course, these new (very) large Jakks toys are pricey ($99 suggested retail) and you’ll want to do some serious shopping online and elsewhere to ensure you find the best deal. The figures we found at our local Meijer were listed at $99, but after Christmas (if there’s any left) they’ll surely be marked down. Happy Hunting!

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Brit Footballer w/ German Ancestry Discovers Likeness Used by D.i.D. For 1:6 New Action Figure


Hey, that’s ME, Mein Herr! As this side-by-side closeup reveals, the likeness of handsome UK soccer player, Bastian Schweinsteiger, was CLEARLY used by Dragon in Dream (DiD) for the headsculpt of their new “World War II Army Supply Duty – Bastian” action figure. Not too smart to put his name in the title, DiD. You might as well prepare for the inevitable lawsuit that is sure to follow. (Photo: Getty images)

Bottom Line: Sometimes being famous and having a handsome German “Nordic” face can result in unexpected consequences—such as having your likeness usurped for a 1:6 scale nazi action figure! Read all about this clear case of facial piracy on the BBC News website HERE. Gott im Himmel!

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Target to Further Diminish Allure of Toys With its New “Gender Neutral” Aisle Decor Strategy?

Are toys losing their allure? When children walk the aisles of Target, Toys 'R Us and Walmart, are they even interested in what they see? Will the gender-neutralification of aisle colors and displays further reduce the allure of toys for upcoming generations? What is THIS little boy thinking about all this? (Photo:

When children walk down the aisles of Target, Toys ‘R Us or Walmart, what do they see? Will Target’s “gender-neutralization” of toy aisles negatively impact overall sales—or boost them? (Photo:

Stores Becoming Reluctant to Differentiate Between Boys and Girls; Fearing Online Backlash

targetlogoGoodbye “Barbie Pink” aisles. Adios, “GIjOE Green” aisles. As far as execs at Target are concerned, there’s no longer a need to differentiate between humanity’s two sexes with such pejorative color decor schemes. In a timely follow-up to our recent story on the dwindling appeal of Barbie (see that story HERE) and Mattel’s once-famous “pink aisles,” Target recently announced that they’re going to remove all gender-indicative backing papers from their toy aisles and replace them with “gender-neutral” (wait for it…) wood paneling. <yawn> Here’s how the top minds at the store explained their thought processes behind the decision:


“…Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender. In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not.”

Whoa. Before we proceed any further, let’s pause for a moment to ask a reality question: exactly how MANY “guests” are we really talking about here, Target? One? Two? Or were hundreds (or thousands) of color-possessed consumers losing sleep over this subject? Target continued:

“…we know that shopping preferences and needs change and, as guests have pointed out, in some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.”

How insulting! Toys 'R Us dared to go all pink in this aisle of toys, a move that apparently offends...someone. (Photo: Brent Cross)

Is THIS Insulting? In this undated photo, Toys ‘R Us clearly dared to go “all pink” in its decor strategy for this particular aisle of toys; a move that will certainly offend…someone. (Photo: Brent Cross)


The “Tweet” that started a color-revolution at Target showed a sign that indicated both “Building Sets” and “Girl’s Building Sets.” Does this bother you? (Photo: Abi Bechtel)

So…let’s get this straight:

The grouping together of toys that are likely to be of greater interest to one market segment than another via color-unifying backing panels is now considered to be “unnecessary?” If so, are product display strategies, window decorating traditions and store product “flow” analyses also now considered to be passé? Or is it just the use of COLORS that some see as offensive and outdated? If not, where will this all end?

For example, in the near future, is it possible that products placed on higher shelves will somehow offend shoppers who deem such placement as showing preference to “taller guests?” Of course we’re being facetious here (or at least trying to be), but Target goes on to explain how it intends to “help” beleaguered customers with the matter of offensive aisle colors, by revealing:

“We heard you, and we agree. Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance… In the Toys aisles, we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves. You’ll see these changes start to happen over the next few months.”

Abi Bechtel, the Tweeter who targeted Target for their encamps and aisle colors. (Photo: Abi Bechtel)

Abi Bechtel, the Twitter Mom who targeted Target for its “Girl’s Building Sets” aisle endcaps. (Photo: Abi Bechtel)

A Twitter Tweeter Targets…TARGET 

This all began when one woman, Abi Bechtel, posted a “tweet” about Target on Twitter. As we all know, millions of individuals take to the blogosphere or “Twitter-verse” daily to speak in favor of (or against) whatever they find to be laudatory (or offensive). It’s everyone’s right and free speech in its most basic form. Bechtel’s tweet (with the aisle sign photo) read as follows:


“Don’t do this, @Target”

Whenever ANY comment or tweet goes “viral” online, the results can often become a public-relations nightmare for the specific person, business or institution being discussed. With the power of the internet behind a comment, a high-tech “blacklisting” of the person/business/institution can also occur, with the offended parties refusing to patronize said establishments until their feelings have been placated and/or their demands met. For Bechtel, her tweet was largely met with support, but a backlash also occurred, and she found herself the target of angry and derisive personal comments.

Do kids REALLY care about colors used in store displays? Or are toys—just TOYS? (Photo:

Subliminal or Superfluous? Do today’s kids care—or even THINK—about the colors used in toy aisle displays? Or is that something only parents are concerned about? (Photo:

Whenever retail stores find themselves in the crosshairs of negative social media, they often find it easier to deploy the standard compensating strategy of a corporate apology followed by a store-wide policy change that accommodates the accuser. When Target ultimately removed the offending signage and aisle colors, a clearly relieved Bechtel told the StarTribune (see HERE):

“That’s fantastic. I think it’s great they are paying attention and re-evaluating how they are doing this kind of marketing. I didn’t expect it to become the center of this entire discussion about gender and the way toys are marketed. But Caitlyn Jenner’s pictures had just come out. And the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage came out soon after. So there was a whole lot of discussion about gender and gender roles anyway. The tweet just landed at the right time.”

Bottom Line: The power of a simple tweet in this age of the internet is not to be underestimated. Bechtel’s timing was indeed fortuitous, and the resulting effect of her statement has resonated throughout many retail chains. Target VP, Kathleen Waugh, confirms Abi’s victory, stating:


“There are no gender-specific toy sections in our stores. Toys are merchandised by product category, so customers can easily see the breadth of assortment.”

What (if any) effects Target’s toy aisle changes will have on actual toy sales (good or bad) remains to be seen. But for Bechtel, that was never the point. It was always about how toys were being marketed to children. Do you approve or disapprove with Target’s response to Bechtel’s tweet? Regardless, please let Target and the world’s toymakers know YOUR thoughts by leaving a comment to this article below. Thanks! PS…Perhaps the best-known “rant” against color-coding toy aisles came from little adorable “Riley” in her famous video over on YouTube. Take a look:

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Auction STUNNER! Don Levine’s CIA-Commissioned 1:6 Prototype Osama Bin Laden Action Figure Sells For $11,879.00 to Anonymous Collector

The figure's COA from the Nate and

The winning bidder of Don Levine’s controversial prototype Osama Bin Laden action figure also received a COA from the NDSA (and Levine’s estate) confirming its unusual history. (Photo: NDSA)

As the

The official bid window at the NDSA auction website revealed the final selling price of Levine’s Osama Bin Laden prototype was a staggering $11,879. WOW!

Even in Death, “The Father of G.I. Joe,” Don Levine, Continues to Make Action Figure History

When the auctioneer’s hammer finally came down on Don Levine’s prototype Osama Bin Laden action figure, its sale netted Levine’s estate the tidy sum of $11,879.00. As most collectors of 1:6 scale GIjOEs already know, the CIA-commissioned origins behind Levine’s most controversial creation have been well-documented here on The Joe Report, but this recent chapter in its unique history will undoubtedly make Don’s OBL figure even more intriguing to fans. After the auction ended, we asked NDSA copywriter/rep, Ian Gould, for a comment and he replied:
Ian Gould, NDSA copywriter and company rep (Photo: Ian Gould)

Ian Gould, copywriter, Nate D. Sanders Auctions (Photo: Ian Gould)

“I can’t reveal the identity of the final buyer, unfortunately. Generally, the bidding of the prototypes went fairly quietly. We received a few bids right at the end, 7 in total. The Osama Bin Laden figure was publicized in a number of media outlets, so when it sold for over $11,000, we thought that was pretty impressive. Russell Brand even did a bit about it on his show.”
British comedian, Russell Brand, relishes discussing the OBL action figure in a video recently released on YouTube. (Photo: Russell Brand)

British comedian, Russell Brand, clearly relished discussing the OBL action figure and its auction in a video recently released on YouTube. (Photo: Russell Brand)

Bottom Line: While Bin Laden’s real-life actions created misery for untold millions, it’s comforting to know that the sale of this OBL prototype has yielded the family and estate of (a truly wonderful man) Don Levine, a modicum of financial benefit. Finally, there’s been a (mostly) funny video (see below) made about this whole affair by British comedian, Russell Brand. Whatever your opinion of Brand and his views, his hyperactive dissection of Gould’s copywriting and description of the OBL figure is pretty darn funny. Thankfully, Ian can clearly take Brand’s ribbing, as he described the comedian’s video about his writing this way:

“It was pretty cool, indeed. You never know what’s going to happen at this job!”
 (Editor’s Note: Our thanks go out again to Ian Gould at Nate D. Sanders Auctions for his generous contributions to this article. You ROCK, Ian!)

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G.I. Joe’s Cousins, the “Little Green Army Men,” Inducted Into National Toy Hall of Fame in NY

Ah, Little Green Army Men. <sigh> Don’t get us started… Oh, well. You already have. Millions of us grew up playing with these versatile little toys. Typically, they were sold in big bagged sets, with simple cardboard product cards stapled at the top. But this wasn’t a toy we bought for its package design. Looking through the clear bag, you could see all that you needed to know. Some even came with a tank or two (those were the best), or maybe even a little Jeep. I remember spending entire mornings with friends, setting up all the figures (loved those mine-detector guys) in strategic battlelines and then using various homemade projectiles such as rubber bands or “catapults” made out of rulers and bean-bags to try to knock them back down again.

Too grown up to play with toys? Why not become one? Yes, the popularity of the Little Green Army Men has even reached fans of Cosplay, or "costumed play." Yes, that's a REAL person you're looking at, dressed up as a sharp-shooter. Unbelievable! (Photo: like cool)

Too grown up to play with toys? Why not become one? Yes, the popularity of the Little Green Army Men (LGAM) has even reached fans of Cosplay, or “costumed play.” Yes, that’s a REAL person you’re looking at, dressed up as a LGAM sharp-shooter. Unbelievable! (Photo: like cool)

Simple. Cheap. And FUN! As this vintage bag of LGAM reveals, the card at the top was just something to hang the bag of swag by. We could clearly see what we were buying, and didn't really require further inticement. That card went right in the trash. (Photo: ebay)

Simple. Cheap. And FUN! As this vintage bag of LGAM “U.S. Soldiers” reveals, the card at the top was just something used to help hang this “bag of swag” on a peg. Kids could clearly see what they (er…their Mom) were buying, and didn’t really require any further enticement. (Photo: ebay)

We’d take turns lobbing our “objets d’ordnance” at them until a winner was finally decided, or our Mothers called us in for a bologna sandwich, bag of Fritos and Twinkies lunch, which we proceeded to wash down with refreshing cherry Kool-Aid made with REAL sugar. And yet somehow—we survived to tell the tale!

Properly fortified, we’d return to our living room devastation and consider building “forts” out of pillow cushions, or adding the sic-fi effect of a “giant soldier” or two, using such figures as 12-inch GIjOEs or Major Matt Mason’s friend, Captain Lazer (yes, we grew up in the 1960s). Anyway…

Bottom Line: Our bags full of “little green army men” gave us HOURS and HOURS of enjoyable, creative play and memorable entertainment for less than the price of hamburger. It’s no wonder then (to us) that they were just inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY. Those tough little toys came through for us time and time again. They deserve this honor and have EARNED it many times over. Thanks, guys! Congratulations!

(Editor’s Note: If you’ve forgotten how fun these toys can be, we recommend you watch the short video clip above. It’s a scene from Toy Story featuring the voice of R. Lee Ermey and is sure to put a smile on your face.)

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Hasbro Replies to Fan Queries Re: G.I. Joe’s Disappearance from

What would the original "Hasbro Boy" think of the company's 2014 decision to turn its back on the iconic 12-inch action figure that made the company such a great success? We doubt he would be pleased!

My, how things have changed! The face of the original 1960s “Hasbro Boy” logo appeared on nearly every vintage GIjOE product and promised children (and adults) toys that provided hours of creative and imaginative play. Sadly, like GIjOE, Hasbro Boy too, was “retired” and replaced by today’s bland, blue square logo that promises Joe fans—nothing.

Better Late Than Never.

In a brief follow-up to our previous article of October 4th regarding the disappearance of all scales, iterations and product extensions of GIjOE brand toys from Hasbro’s official online Hasbro Toy Shop (HTS) website, we felt it was only proper to pass on the company’s official response to a query we’d sent them (concerning this topic) last week. The company’s email comes to us this morning from a Hasbro rep named Elizabeth (strangely, no last name was given), who replied to our question with an answer that can only be described as uninspired and disappointing. She said:

“Thank you for your email in regards to GIjOE products for sale on our Hasbro Toy Shop website, I am happy to help you. Hasbro does not sell the GIjOE line on our website, the product line is exclusive to Toys R Us only. You may want to check their website and your local Toys R Us stores for the products. Thank you for your understanding. Have a great day!”

The immpassionless, sterile response of the Hal 9000 computer from the film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, reminds us much of Hasbro's current attitude toward GIjOE fans and collectors. (Art: mondspeer)

The passionless, sterile response of the Hal 9000 computer from the film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, reminds us much of Hasbro’s current attitude toward GIjOE fans. (Art: mondspeer)

Bottom Line: In today’s world of automated email reply systems, its unclear if “Elizabeth” is a real person or simply a computer-generated (form-letter) email reply system called upon to respond to what must surely be one of their most frequently asked questions (FAQs). Regardless, we’d like to thank Elizabeth (or Hasbro’s version of the Hal 9000) for finally sending us a reply email, for wishing us a nice day and for thanking us for our “understanding” regarding GIjOE’s fading away into Toys ‘R Us’ uncertain sunset. All of that and a quarter will get us a bubble-gum ball from the corner drugstore. We hope Joe fans around the world will continue to support, customize, collect and REMEMBER “America’s Moveable Fighting Man,” regardless—and IN SPITE OF—Hasbro’s current and obvious lack of passion for the line. Joe MUST live on in the hearts and minds of us all. Go, JOE!

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(Un)Happy Anniversary—Hasbro No Longer Sells GIjOE Brand Products On

GIjOE's recent disappearance from store shelves, Saturday morning cartoons and even Hasbro's own retail website has left his fans dazed and confused on the beloved toy's 50th anniversary. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

GIjOE’s recent disappearance from store shelves, Saturday morning cartoons and even Hasbro’s own retail website has left his fans dazed and confused on the beloved toy’s 50th anniversary. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Have We Outlived “America’s Movable Fighting Man?”

Who’d a thought GIjOE’s fans would be alive and kicking longer than GIjOE himself? After all, Joe’s essentially an “immortal” plastic toy who doesn’t have to worry about realities such as heart disease, cancer or old age. His biggest concerns are untimely “shelf dives,” “firecracker-in-the-pants” mishaps, or embarrassing tea parties over at Barbie’s Dream House. GIjOE exists primarily as an inspirational ideal. He’s a dedicated and loyal representative of morality and goodness in the never-ending defense of freedom and a life-long paragon and promoter of creative play for children.

So how then is it possible, that here on GijOE’s 50th Anniversary, to all indications, it appears as if our 12-inch (and/or 3.75-inch) hero is fading fast from the hearts and minds of his once-loyal corporate creators and his previously enthusiastic retail supporters? The latest shoe to drop in this regard (logistically and economically) is Hasbro’s recent (unannounced) “we-hope-you-won’t-notice” elimination of all scales, variations and extensions of GIjOEs from its own retail website:

(Hasbro Toy Shop logo)

(Hasbro Toy Shop’s website logo)

That’s right. GIjOE is GONE. Go ahead. Try entering every possible variation of the search word “GijOE” in the Hasbro Toy Shop website’s search window. You can do so until your knuckles turn blue—and you’d STILL come up with “item not found.” We tried GIjOE, G.I. Joe, G I Joe…nothing worked. Indeed, if you’ve been shopping for GIjOEs (in any scale) anywhere lately, online or in stores, hoping to score something new and cool to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary, then you’ve undoubtedly already encountered aisles of empty SKU slots on Toys ‘R Us shelves and blank webpages online. Store displays have been taken down and removed from public view. Other than the $300+ Sideshow figures and the annual exclusives offered by the club, only a handful of 12″ and 3.75″ GIjOE brand figures remain. Shockingly, 50 years after his creation—GIjOE has disappeared from retail outlets—with ZERO indication he’ll be back anytime soon.

In the blink of an eye:

In this poignant photo taken before his passing, “The Father of GijOE,” Don Levine, examines the original ’60s prototype for the GIjOE frogman and reflects on memories of its creation. (Photo: cbc)

hasbrologonewWhat’s Does the Future Hold for GijOE?

Frankly, we’re not encouraged. It’s as if Hasbro has simply dropped their most famous brand and walked away. Yes, we all saw the Legos movie and yes, we know the toys are very popular with kids. We’re glad of that. But surely there’s still room on store shelves for an alternative to primary-colored, interlocking building blocks. Or has the world changed so much that there’s no room left in the hearts and minds of young boys and girls for what was recently voted as the “World’s Most Popular Toy?” (See story HERE.) And please don’t tell us that today’s children are so engrossed with smart phones and video games that use of their creative frontal lobes is out of the question. That would simply break our hearts!

A screen shot from an early ’70s TV commercial that would launch the ambitious “50 Adventures of GIjOE” concept. Imagine if Hasbro REALLY tried something like this today. WOW!

A forlorn vintage GIjOE looks towards an uncertain future while wearing one of the

A forlorn vintage GIjOE looks towards his uncertain future while wearing a spiffy new “unofficial” 50th anniversary t-shirt given away not by Hasbro, but by Patches of Pride. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

After 50 Years of Adventures and Memories—All I Get Is A T-Shirt?

Fans of the venerable GIjOE brand were due FAR better treatment than they received (from Hasbro) in 2014. As Joe’s 50th Anniversary nears its end, we’re still struggling to understand WHY they’ve been ignored by the company so blatantly, and without explanation or apology. We asked Hasbro for a statement, a sentence, a sound bite—ANYTHING—regarding the shocking disappearance of GIjOE in 2014 and have (as of today) received no answer. Curious what other Joeheads might be thinking, we perused the fan boards in search of opinions and first found collector and fan, Jason Bienvenu, who offered up a this observation on the GIjOE Discussion Facebook page:

“I’m pretty sure whoever is in charge of the action figure department (at Hasbro) does not like the 3.75″ scale and has done their best to phase it out and dumb it down into the Happy Meal-quality toys we have now…”

Ernie King offered a little more prophetic view about the 50-year life of GijOE, saying:

‘GIjOE will only really live on in the hearts of collectors…like all of us here.”

Finally, collector Michael Ryan was the most proactive and optimistic, when he said:

“GIjOE is taking a time out, Transformers did it in 1992, Ninja Turtles has done it before, He-Man is in time out more often than not. This is just your chance to hit up eBay and collect the older toys you missed, or get into something new!”

Bottom Line: GIjOE is no longer listed on Hasbro’s own website. That’s a cold, hard fact fans now have to accept. While the brand may only be taking a “time out,” as Mr. Ryan postulates, to others, this looks like yet another nail in our hero’s 1:6 scale coffin. Sadly, it’s hard to imagine Hasbro resurrecting the line any time soon. When and if another movie is released, we might expect some more half-hearted, barely poseable figures at Walmart. But for the forseeable future. GIjOE may have to, as Mr. King stated, “live on in the hearts of collectors.” And live on he will. Go, JOE!

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