Tag Archives: Hasbro

Mattel and Hasbro Considering a Merger—Again

matty-kid-1A recipe for disaster corporate success: Take 1 part struggling Mattel Toys, combine it with 1 part more of longtime rival, Hasbro Toys, then sprinkle with a dash of shrinking consumer interest and a smattering of unpalatable market effects (such as crumbling Toys ‘R Us (TRU) infrastructure), and what do you have? We don’t know, but the world’s two biggest toy companies appear to be contemplating a merger that (they hope) would cook up profitable “hot” products (to display on those vanishing TRU store shelves?), raise “Has/Mat” stock prices, and boost their newly combined mega-company’s bottom line. But WILL it?

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Will all of this corporate merger/restructuring simply result in a bland melange of bombast trumpeting, “Hey, look at us, we’re doing something BIG about our troubled toy industry.” Or is this all going to boil over into an even bigger, blander pot of  “kids-just-don’t-care-about-toys-anymore” reality stew? It will be interesting to toy fans and collectors to find out. Here’s the latest article we’ve found on this possible merger and its hoped-for final effects. Read it, watch the Mattel CEO video, and decide for yourself whether this merger is a good idea

Bottom Line: This move seems like too MUCH, and too LATE, to us. If the two companies combine, wouldn’t there be less urgency, less rivalry, less competitive spirit and less innovation? Monopoly the game, may be fun to play, but monopolies in real life rarely work out well for consumers. Company execs and stockholders may benefit in the short term, but toy fans in general will probably be quickly bored by all the new “tech toys” Mattel’s CEO seems to be so enamored of. (And all this hoopla looks like it’ll be one more nail in GIjOE’s “low tech” coffin box.)

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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

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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:

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“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

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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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Stan Weston, The Inventor of G.I. Joe, Dead at 84

It Was His Idea— Stan Weston (at 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 expired in 2020, Weston hoped to reclaim control over his creation in a court of law. It is unclear whether or not the lawsuit will continue. (Photo: Stan Weston)

As reported May 8, 2017 in the Hollywood Reporter:

“Stanley Weston, inventor of the G.I. Joe action figure and a pioneer of the licensing business, died May 1 in Los Angeles, his daughter, Cindy Winebaum, announced. He was 84.

Weston was born in Brooklyn in 1933 and served in the Army shortly after the Korean War ended. When he returned home to New York, he found a job with the advertising agency McCann Erickson and enrolled in night courses for an MBA at New York University, where he had studied as an undergraduate.

Weston soon discovered a talent for the up-and-coming licensing and merchandising industry, and he struck out on his own to found Weston Merchandising.

When Mattel’s Barbie dolls were introduced in 1960, Weston realized boys were an untapped market for the doll industry after noting that many of them played with Ken dolls. He conceived of the idea of a military action figure and in 1963 sold what would become G.I. Joe to Hasbro. The runaway hit would go on to be one of the most enduring toy lines in history, spawning hit TV shows and films as well.

Weston later renamed his company Leisure Concepts, which would represent clients such as Charlie’s Angels-era Farrah Fawcett, Nintendo and the World Wrestling Federation, as well as TV shows including Alf and Welcome Back, Kotter. His other notable achievements include helping create the 1980s animated phenomenon ThunderCats.

In 1989, he was among the inaugural class for the Licensing Industry Hall of Fame, which includes notables Walt Disney, George Lucas and Jim Henson.

Weston is survived by his brother, his three children and five grandchildren.”

Bottom Line: Stan Weston came up with the original idea for the GIjOE toy. He quickly sold the rights to Hasbro. Don Levine (see Levine’s obituary article HERE) took the idea and made an American toy icon that will probably live forever in some form or another. At this moment, we’re not sure whether Weston’s lawsuit to recoup trademark rights to GIjOE (see that article HERE) will continue in the courts, but whenever those plans are made public, we’ll pass the information on to you ASAP. Our sincerest condolences to Stan’s family. Rest in Peace, Mr. Weston and THANKS!

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G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Announces It Will Sell 50th Anniversary Action Man Figures in the U.S.

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Hit the Slopes! Loaded down with skiing gear and weaponry, this 50th Action Man Ski Patrol soldier looks ready to face any foe. This is just one of six AM commemorative figures available NOW for pre-order at the GIjOE Collector’s Club. (Photo: GIJCC)

In an emailed press release received today from the GIjOE Collector’s Club, members were notified that the UK’s much anticipated 50th Anniversary Action Man (12″) figures will indeed be offered for sale on this side of the Atlantic. However, the club advises fans to begin queuing up sooner rather than later and place their pre-orders NOW at the club’s online store found HERE.

It would also behoove buyers to pay special attention to the specific ordering instructions (and ominous warnings) which are posted alongside each product’s description, stating:

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“PLEASE DO NOT ADD ANY IN-STOCK PRODUCT TO THIS ORDER, ONLY PRE-ORDERED ITEMS. IF IN-STOCK PIECES ARE ADDED, YOUR ORDER WILL BE CANCELLED!! The Action Soldier & Action Footballer will ship together in mid December. The Marine Paratrooper, British Infantryman, Frogman & Army Ski Patrol will ship later around the first part of January. If you place an order for all six figures on the same order, your order WILL NOT SHIP UNTIL JANUARY.” —GIjOE Collector’s Club

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You’ll Get!— While no final packaging photos are yet available, the club’s webstore does offer “carded” pics of all the items that come with each figure. (Photo: GIJCC) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: For many collectors, these figures will look very similar to other GIjOE and AM re-releases we’ve seen in the past, but the unique 50th Anniversary occasion coupled with the increasingly rare opportunities to buy NEW “product” should make for quite a run on these exclusive 12″ figures. Packaging pics aren’t available (yet), but each figure is accompanied by photos of its respective uniform pieces, weapons, gear and equipment. Go, Action Man!

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Everything Must Go (Again!)———G.I. Joe’s “#1 Fan,” James DeSimone Will Definitely “Sell it All” at One Final Estate Sale to be Held at His CA Home

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The more you look, the more you’ll want to buy— There are literally piles upon PILES of vintage toys, action figures, vintage cereal boxes and much more, crowding the Burbank, CA home of renowned pop-culture collector, James DeSimone. Dedicated fans will have a rare opportunity to paw their way through this “Mecca of Merchandise” during his May 1st estate sale. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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A Lifetime of Collecting— DeSimone’s passion for toys began when he was a child (above). Now, it’s time to let it all go. (Photo: James DeSimone)

If at first you don’t succeed in getting rid of your life-long GIjOE and vintage toy collection via local toy shows, online sales or auctions, then try, try again; this time with an estate sale held—at your own home! Yes, once again, the man whom Hasbro deemed “GIjOE’s #1 Fan,” James DeSimone, is preparing to put (what remains) of his massive vintage toy collection up for sale—at an estate sale—on May 1st, 2016.

Buyers and collectors will have to travel to James’ home in Burbank, CA, but this time they’ll be rewarded for their efforts by being allowed to dig through decades of collectible treasures, piled high up to the sky (or at least to James’ garage ceiling), and inspect each and every item up close and personal before deciding on a purchase. But remember, estate sales are “first come, first served,” so you better get there early (with cash in hand) if you want the best chance at snagging those long, lost toys of your childhood. According to the sale’s information page HERE, this is what to expect:

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“GIJOE and Vintage Toy Estate Sale!! Featuring the sale of the collection of James DeSimone, consisting of GIJOE plus thousands of other TOYS from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, including: 1000s of 1960s GIJOE accessories. 1000s of 1980s GIJOE accessories. 1000s of 1960s Ken/Barbie accessories. 1/6 scale vehicles, 1000s of VINTAGE toys by Gilbert, Marx, Tonka, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Topper, Kenner, Ideal, Hasbro, Mattel, Mego, Aurora, Batman, James Bond, Captain Action, Space toys, GIRLS toys, tools, Playsets, all kinds of TV/movie character toys and figures, toy cap guns, models, food and advertising toys, games and the list of different stuff goes on and on! NOTE THE DIFFERENT LOCATION FOR THIS EVENT: 1524 Broadway Burbank, CA 91504 Hours are 8AM to 5PM. Come take pictures with a replica 1966 Batmobile! This is a special one time event held at this location, don’t miss it!! The show will return to the Ramada Inn for the December show.” If you have any questions, please email: jamesdesimone@hotmail.com

exclusivebannerWhat we’re observing is that a collection as large and diverse as DeSimone’s is proving to be quite the challenge for him (or anyone) to disperse. In the beginning, James utilized his CA GIjOE shows, then held an auction (see HERE) and now, will try selling the remainder of his 1950s, ’60s and ’70s vintage toys at his upcoming estate sale. Regarding this unique event and its impact on his life, James graciously provided the following insights—exclusively to readers of The Joe Report:

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“GIJOE’s #1 Fan,” James DeSimone (Photo: James DeSimone)

“Hi Mark (et.al), Forgive me. I just don’t have the ability to do much anymore, including long responses. But I owe you at least that for all your support. It may take a few hours to write this all to you. The doctors are telling me to handle my affairs, and my body agrees. I want to live long enough to see my daughter (shown below) graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 7 weeks.

Yes, everything is going. Fortunately, I dont need the money. I need peace of mind, knowing that my family doesn’t have to deal with all this. It’s interesting you should mention Hasbro’s #1 fan. I was just wondering about that. It has the prototype 12″ Duke body and a custom head Hasbro made and gave me, a hand-cast prototype 3 3/4″ Duke, a #1 production 3 3/4″ Soldier; both of which Hasbro gave me. In addition, a Hasbro employee watch, ring and a gold dogtag, all of which Hasbro gave me. I think I would like to sell it all as a set (as it was presented to me) to one person who will appreciate it and won’t use it for target practice! (lol)”

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Proud Papa— DeSimone in a recent photo with his son, daughter and wife. (Photo: James DeSimone)

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“As for how I feel… I once wrote a story about Artie Rickun, a friend and toy dealer from Milwaukee, at one time had 10,000+ packaged GIjOE items! He told me that once I had kids, nothing else would matter to me. Having died once already, I consider myself fortunate to have had a little time to plan. So no, it is of no great loss to see it all go. Very little matters to me anymore. Hopefully, I will get some joy out of seeing someone buy something from me, like that all too familiar feeling of finding a GIjOE at a garage sale!”

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James with “The King”— DeSimone (left) poses for a quick pic with fellow toy dealer, Artie Rickun, at a toy show in the early 1980s. Rickun had just purchased a warehouse full of over 15,000 vintage boxed and packaged GI Joes and accessories. Holy inventory, Batman! (Photo: James DeSimone)

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“All of my toys used to be upstairs on the second level. For the past couple of months, volunteers have been helping me bring it all downstairs so that it will be accessible to foot traffic. Right now, its all a mess. I thought I would have a couple months to sort it all out, but my energy level is non-existent now and I haven’t been able to do very much. Thankfully, I’ll have volunteers helping the week before the sale to set it all up in my home.”

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Horses, Horses, Horses— Johnny West and MARX fans take note… There will be a LOT of vintage “Best of the West” for sale at DeSimone’s estate sale. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Oh, Ken. You’re such a DOLL— There will also be boxes full of vintage Ken dolls, carrying cases and related ephemera. Study these photos carefully! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Beam me up! What set did this interesting Star Trek bridge come from? It appears to come with railings and perhaps chairs, as well. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Dusty but DELICIOUS— That vintage “Bop-a-Bear” target set is certainly dusty, but we bet if you took a vacuum cleaner with a brush hose attachment, it would clean up like new in seconds. We also see GIjOE, Major Matt Mason and more in this pic! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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You want more? James has MORE! Vintage toy-aholics will be drooling at this estate sale. How much of this wonderful stuff do YOU remember? (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Lookie there! There’s a Sky Rail set! Boy, those are getting hard to find. Enlarge this pic and start hunting for YOUR childhood favorites! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Take your covered wagon to the Beauty Parlor— Whoa… check out those cool, retro Barbie beauty parlor hair dryers and chairs. Or, are they space helmets? Or…? You’ll only find out if you’re there in person! Too cool for school, dude! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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All will be revealed, May 1st! Remember that vaunted (haunted?) secret shelf James built in his garage to house his overflowing toy collection? What did he store up there? At one time it held parts of his massive GIjOE diorama. Now, it looks like there’s some vintage missile launcher sets from REMCO. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of this sale! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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On and on it goes— Click each pic to enlarge and DROOL. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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How keen is YOUR toy eye?— We spy a 60s “Tiger Joe” tank, an in-the-box Rockem’ Sockem’ Robots game, some vintage Transogram games and much more. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Put ’em up, Pahdnuh!— A tub full of vintage cap pistols and their VERY rare holsters is sure to get cowboy/cowgirl hearts a-beatin.’ Yeeee-HAAAAA!!!!!! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Toy Heaven is (apparently) a dusty garage— Vintage Barbies, ’60s space toys and much more will be sold at James DeSimone’s house on May 1st, 2016. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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“GIjOE has provided me with a great life; a life that most people could only dream of. But, GIjOEs are only toy possessions, none of which matters anymore, simply because I cant take them with me. I have raised 2 of the greatest kids a man could ever hope for. I share a love with a woman which is the stuff epic novels are written of. And I have made my peace with God. —James DeSimone

Bottom Line: This certainly sounds (and looks) like “no-miss” event, especially if you’re within driving distance of southern California. Our sincerest thanks (again) to James DeSimone and his wonderful family for all of their contributions to the vintage toy and GIjOE collecting hobbies. Take care and We wish you all the BEST!

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“I’m Willing to Sell Damn Near Everything!” Lifelong G.I. Joe Fan Getting Out of the Hobby

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GIjOE fan, Rick Pell, has decided to go where few dare—the “Zero-Collecting Zone!” (Photo: Rick Pell)

We’ve often wondered, both aloud and in print, exactly where, when and how the collecting lives of thousands of diehard GIjOE fans will ultimately come to an end. Make no mistake, in another 30 years or so, the number of faithful “Joeheads” like yourself, individuals who lovingly remember their childhood connections to GIjOE and thus nostalgically yearn for, actively seek out, collect, and then BUY 1:6 (or 1:18) scale GIjOE action figures—will have dwindled dramatically.

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Who ya’ gunna call? If you’re looking for 12″ GIjOEs, the answer is (sadly) no longer Hasbro.

Hasbro’s already gotten out of the 12″ GIjOE business, openly admitting they’re “ignoring” collectors of 12-inch Joes altogether (see HERE) and have little plans to sew seeds towards any future 1:6 scale fandom. Having thus turned their collective corporate backs on thousands (millions?) of “12-inchers,” any future Hasbro GIjOE product is likely to be limited and lackluster, further accelerating the departure of once loyal fans like Rick Pell, who recently declared on Facebook:

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“I’m willing to sell damn near everything G.I. Joe that I have! I want to keep only my childhood stuff and some favorites. LMK if you are looking for anything in particular, and I will try to help you out! I have vintage PH, AT, AM, and tons of 40th and other Hasbro licensed repros! I also have lots of 90s 2000s Hasbro Joes and Dragon, 21st C. Vehicles too! Too much to make a list! PM me with what you are looking for! —Thanks, Rick Pell

Judging by the large number of exclamation points inserted by Rick into his message, we have to believe he’s truly serious and determined in his current efforts to completely divest himself of (nearly) all things GIjOE. How did such a day ever come for Rick? For years now, he’s almost been a one-man-band for Hasbro’s vintage 12-inch action figures. During 2014, Rick went so far as to create an entire Facebook page HERE dedicated to the celebration of the figure’s 50th Anniversary.

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If not for the efforts of the GIjOE Collector’s Club and its 2014 JoeCon, the 50th anniversary of the world’s most popular toy might have passed largely uncelebrated. Here, GIjOE co-creator and ’60s Hasbro icon, Sam Speers, poses with a 50th Anniversary banner in Dallas, TX. (Photo: GIJCC)

Ironically, it wasn’t disappointment with Hasbro’s inaction that prompted Pell’s massive sell-off. Rather, it was the fact that he had simply collected TOO much. He had run out of display and storage space for his GIjOE passion, and selling them was the only solution left. According to Rick:

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“I just have too much stuff! I have a 2 bedroom apartment, rent a 50 by 14 foot garage, and my living room has become my bedroom. I have been overtaken by toys and it is time to refocus! Maybe I’m just getting older and tired of venturing into my Joe Room or garage and finding nice things stashed away that I may NEVER use. Collecting has been fun, but if I haven’t seen something or needed it for 5 years, maybe someone else can enjoy it. I’ve also been out of work for a while and times are tough. AND…I have a grandson on the way. One must rethink one’s destiny—occasionally.”

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Unofficial GIjOE “Rabblerouser,” Rick Pell, stands outside Hasbro’s Worldwide Headquarters building in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. (Photo: Rick Pell)

Pell’s reasons for selling his collection may predominantly be due to a lack of space or temporary economic downturn, but we also wondered how the famed Pawtucket “rabblerouser” was affected by Hasbro’s actions—or inactions—during GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary. He quickly replied:

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“I was, and still am, discouraged that Hasbro let us all down for the 50th. I have spoken to Hasbro people, off the record, and it was just not going to happen. I spent a lot of personal time and effort hoping to help make it happen. If there was a perpetuation of Joes as we knew them, then yes, I’d still be buying!” 

Is it Possible to “Out Grow” G.I. Joes?

Apparently so. In fact, most collectors, if they’re at all honest with themselves, will remember a time when he (or she) seemed to feel Joes were toys for “little kids,” and that it was time to leave them behind or sell them off at a garage sale. Typically, such “madness” occurs during our transition from childhood to teenager, and it’s only years later that we recognize the insanity of our actions and begin a mad scramble back to “recapture our youth” at flea markets and on eBay.

One such example of this societal and consumer phenomenon is occurring right NOW as we speak in Iowa. Longtime GIjOE collector and father, Rob Menagh, wrote in to tell us about his teenage son, John Menagh (also a Joehead), who’s announced that his own collecting tastes have “evolved” and he’s now ready to begin his own version of “the big sell-off.” According to Rob:

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Is This the End? Former GIjOE collector, John Menagh (left) and his father, Rob Menagh (right) search for gear at the 2009 JoeCon in Kansas City, MO. 7 years later, John has decided to leave his GIjOEs behind in search of more “adult” toys. With John leaving the hobby, does this spell the end of the special “Father-n-Son” moments these two men once enjoyed? (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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“I have some nasty news…. John has decided to out-grow us. He is looking at newer, more “Adult” toys. So now he’s looking at finding good and loving homes for all of his Joes. I will try to get cracking and learn to use the wife’s camera and get some pictures out there to everyone who might be  interested. He has a large number of WWII Airborne, WWII Marines, some Vietnam-era
figures and a few modern. There are also vehicles, ala 21st century Hummers and Jeeps. I also have some nice Photobucket pics taken when we were playing with our Joes around the house…and out in the backyard…together. <sigh> —Rob Menagh

Bottom Line: John Menagh’s rejection of GIjOE is likely only temporary as he pursues his other, more “adult” interests. Hopefully, he’ll someday realize the error of his ways (HA), return to the hobby and share all-new moments and memories with Joe—and his Dad. Of course, it’s impossible to predict how anyone’s collecting days will actually play out and ultimately end. Hopefully, your hobby decisions won’t be forced upon you because you’ve become ill, laid-off, or otherwise negatively impacted. And regardless of Rick or John’s choices, we’d like to wish them both all the best with wherever their interests (and grandsons) take them in the future. We hope too, that YOUR collecting journey is a long, happy, and fulfilling one. Go, Rick! Go, John! Go, JOE!

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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

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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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SHOCKER! Secret “Hasbro Morgue” Contained Treasure Trove of Vintage ’60s & ’70s G.I. Joes

Floor to ceiling shelves filled this warehouse in Pawtucket, RI, with the entire history of GIjOE. Sadly, anything placed on the lower levels was likely destroyed during a major flood. What happened to the remaining vintage, NMIB sets remains to be fully determined. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Floor to ceiling shelving once filled this secret Hasbro warehouse (located somewhere in Pawtucket, RI) with multiple examples of the entire history of GIjOE product production. Sadly, any of the items placed on lower shelves were likely destroyed during a past major flooding incident. What happened to the remaining NRFB sets on the upper shelves is unknown. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Fan Suspicions CONFIRMED—Legendary Toy Storage Site DID Exist!

Here’s another of those “Just when you thought you’d heard it all” stories about GIjOE’s historic and colorful past. It’s an Indiana Jones-esque tale built on previously unconfirmed secondhand accounts of a fabled storage site or “treasure trove” wherein it was rumored that untold numbers of original, vintage GIjOE figures, equipment sets and vehicles were stored. The fanciful tale has been bouncing around the internet and GIjOE fandom for decades now, only to FINALLY be confirmed this week by famed Marvel inker and artist, Wayne Faucher.

Fans and regular readers of The Joe Report will recall our in-depth profile of Mr. Faucher (see that story HERE) as well as numerous articles trumpeting his outstanding accomplishments as a master customizer of 1:6 scale (see HERE). But now, with the release of this outstanding series of “Hasbro Morgue” photos, Wayne has entered yet another realm of GIjOE fandom, that of unofficial GIjOE historian. In an account over on The Trenches fan forum, Faucher first announced his exciting news, confirming the reality of Hasbro’s legendary toy “morgue,” saying:

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Artist and action figure customizer Wayne Faucher (Photo: Wayne Faucher)

Artist and 1:6 customizer Wayne Faucher (today) in his studio. (Photo: Wayne Faucher)

“Around 1990, I was given a tour of the Hasbro Morgue by an administrative employee who was about to retire. He knew of my interest in GI Joe so invited me to take a look. At the time, I was only interested in pre-AT Joe and was disappointed at the lack of the military line’s presence in the warehouse. I was told most of the older stuff had ‘walked away’ years before. I took some pictures, but really didn’t know the AT line that well. As a result, I didn’t know what was important from what was common. On top of that the focus was lousy. Of course, those were the days when you didn’t know that until your film was developed weeks later. If it makes you feel any better, think of this: Just before I left, I was asked ‘If I could have any one piece in there, what would it be?’ I replied, ‘There’s just so much, I could never choose.’ So I didn’t. How’s that for frustrating?”

Like an archeologist peeling back the layers of time— In the mysterious

Like an archeologist peeling back the layers of time— Faucher delicately lifts a bit of torn cellophane on this NRFB medic set to give it a closer examination. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

When asked about the location of Hasbro super-secret “morgue,” Faucher replied:

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“Well, I know it was in Pawtucket. Exactly where, I can’t recall. Of course, 25 years later, it may not be there anymore. It was a large warehouse; only a small section was dedicated to GI Joe. Mr. Potatohead and Lincoln Logs were well represented too. The last time I related this story (sans pics), someone mentioned a flood badly damaging the Hasbro Morgue. I have no idea if that was before or after I was there.”

Almost beyond imagination— So many vintage GIjOE toys, so little time. What an amazing memory! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Almost beyond imagination— Take a close look at the items on these pegs. So many vintage GIjOE toys! What an amazing vault of memories! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

When asked about his once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit Hasbro’s Morgue, Wayne said:

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“Honestly, these were just some old pics I found in a box yesterday. I wasn’t even gonna bother to put ’em up! But now that I think about it, I guess not many people were ever set loose in there with a camera. Now that I’m more into the AT end of things, I’m impressed myself. I wonder how many Magnum Power sets are in those stacks!? I believe the guy who brought me through there moved to Florida and has long since passed away, unfortunately. A very nice fellow who, despite being TOTALLY baffled by a grown man’s interest in this stuff, was willing to spend half a Saturday walking the aisles with me.”

On and on it goes— Where it stops, nobody knows! The amount of product stored in Hasbro's Morgue was staggering at the time of Faucher's visit. Today it must be almost like the Smithsonian! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

On and on it went— and where it stopped, nobody knows! At the time Faucher paid his visit (1990) the amount of vintage GIjOE products being stored in “Hasbro’s Morgue” was literally staggering. Today…who knows what remains behind those high-security doors? (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Faucher also speculated about the supervision of the toy warehouse, saying:

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“Though it was called ‘the morgue’ by employees, it was indeed an archive, though woefully incomplete by the time I got there. I had fully expected a complete collection, but found what was a mish-mash of Joe items. It wasn’t run like an actual archive and didn’t appear to be kept track of. At the time, my wife was Malcolm Forbes’ personal archivist, so she knew what it SHOULD have looked like. We were both pretty surprised at how incomplete and disorganized it seemed to be. Which leads me to wonder if there was indeed a flood (as others have said), it may have been before my encounter with the place, which would account for what was missing. I just don’t know.”  

Anybody need this set? Faucher holds up a mint, NRFB

Anybody need one of these? Faucher holds up a mint, NRFB “Eight Ropes of Danger” window-boxed equipment set. It is (or was) absolutely mint and PERFECT. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Finally, one member of the Trenches forum named “BRJoe,” responded to the question of the current-day status of Hasbro’s Morgue with the following exciting (unconfirmed) update:

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“IT’S STILL THERE! My current vice president for the corporation I work for used to be a V.P. at Hasbro from about 2009-2012. When I told her I was a G.I.Joe collector, she said, ‘Well, you know near Hasbro’s headquarters in Pawtucket there are warehouses where they store three examples of every toy Hasbro has ever made!’ She had visited them a few times and said up until about 2010, a couple of the older warehouse areas weren’t even climate-controlled (no air conditioning) and that this was one thing she pushed to have corrected. Unfortunately, Hasbro has pretty tight security and these archive warehouses are not open to the public.”

Hammana-hammana-hammana! Who wouldn't LOVE to unbox and hold the contents of a NRFB GIjOE

Hammana-hammana-hammana Who wouldn’t love to examine the contents of an NRFB Sea Sled? And look! Someone actually wrote “morgue” on that Jeep box! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: What an exciting story! Wayne Faucher has become the “Indiana Jones” of GIjOE historians by confirming the existence of such an extraordinary toy “morgue.” Our sincerest thanks go out to Wayne for sharing all of this wonderful information and historic photographs with readers of The Joe Report—and the worldwide GIjOE collecting community. You’re the BEST, Wayne! PS: To view the entire collection of Faucher’s fabled photos, we recommend you visit the equally legendary, “Vintage3DJoes” website found HERE and prepare to be BLOWN AWAY!

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Barbie Suffering Same Fate as 12-inch G.I. Joes: Will Future Children No Longer Play w/ Toys?

Are we looking at a future without Barbie? A world where children no longer have the interest, desire or attention span required to keep the iconic toy line afloat? Plummeting sales at Mattel appear to bear an ill harbinger of things to come. (Photo: clayzmama)

A future without Barbie? In a world where children appear to be losing the interest and attention spans required to creatively play with dolls, how will Mattel keep its iconic toy line “alive?” (Photo: clayzmama)

The memories of playing with his GIjOE and his

The 1970s were a busy time for children fortunate enough to have grown up playing and creating adventures with GIjOEs and other imagination-dependant toys. Above, Scott McCullar (now an adult) plays with his GijOE’s “Troubleshooter” play set. (Photo: Scott McCullar)

The Future of Some Toy Lines Certainly Growing—UNcertain

If you’re an adult over say, 45, you may be a member of a dying breed. We’re not talking about your health or lifespan, we’re talking about the fact that you’re a human (man or woman) who can still remember when “childhood playtime” meant interacting with dolls, action figures and other toys. You may not realize it, but you could be a member of one of the last generations who’ll remember those youthful pursuits as the carefree activities they were and how they required one of life’s most precious gifts—imagination.

This conclusion is easily understood by simply observing the children of today’s societies and how their evolving behavior patterns have begun to affect the “bottom line” of an already struggling toy industry. Yes, it’s a different world (today) than the one you grew up in, and that reality is forcing toy giants (i.e. Hasbro and Mattel) to push for changes that will usher in a new era, one that may be largely devoid of the past’s traditional or “imagination-dependent” toys.

We're sorry, but today's largely PC-approved, non-gender specific,

We’re sorry kids, but today’s largely politically correct, non gender-specific, “discovery” type toys are, in our opinion, a poor substitute for the more creative toys of the past; specifically those from the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Today’s bland, generic toy fodder, such as this “MentalBlox” game will do little to instill the sort of life-long toy memories once so common among children and adults. Today’s children are moving on to hand-held electronic devices at earlier and earlier ages which quickly stunt their desire to play with traditional, imagination-dependent toys. (Photo: discovery toys)

Robert's sons Gus (l) and Ben (r) hold up their 1st-place winning custom figure of

An exception to the rule— It’s becoming a rare sight to see children who are actively interested in 12″ GIjOEs. In this case, longtime collector Robert Browning and his two sons Gus (l) and Ben (r) keep their love of toys alive by attending conventions (such as Joelanta) together as a family. Here, the boys hold up their 1st-place winning custom figure of “The Shadow” and their prize, a Sideshow “Cobra Ninja” action figure. Such activity encourages camaraderie and the creation of life-long toy-related memories. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Children are ChangingBuying Behavior is Changing—The Toy Industry is Changing

In the past, toy manufacturers used to be able to count on keeping a child’s interest and faithful patronage until about the age of 13 or so. Once the teenaged years kicked in, it was understood that kids began to switch over to more “grown up” interests such as sports, dating and music. While it was a shame to lose them as customers, toy companies knew there would always be more children coming along and more profits could be made from them. But now…that predictable mode of forever selling toys appears to be changing. Dramatically.

At earlier and earlier ages, children are visibly turning away from traditional toys. Once their first computer, video game system or <shudder> “smart” phone enters their lives, there’s really no looking back. In fact, the very idea of playing with traditional, non-electronic toys is becoming positively quaint to children of today (of both sexes). Even casual observations at toy shows and toy stores have confirmed they already perceive GIjOEs and Barbies as stiff, almost unrelatable artifacts of bygone age; something that their Mommy or Daddy “used to play with” very long ago, but is now—boring.

So what does all this mean? It means that now, in 2015, toy companies can no longer afford to do business as usual. New solutions to newly emerging problems must be found, before sales and stock values plummet any further. It means that once impervious toy lines of the past are now at risk of being ignored (read Derryl DePriest’s commentary on the fate of GIjOE HERE) or canceled altogether. As children continue to grow up faster and switch to non-toy pursuits at younger ages, they’re truncating a once lengthy consumer-provider relationship. Profits from toys therefore, are now harder to predict, forcing changes in marketing strategies that, while helping boost the bottom line, may actually increase the growing gap between children and traditional toys—even further.

Is there anything sadder or less interesting to young girls nowadays than a pile of pulled-apart Barbie bodies? Probably not. (Photo: buzzfeed)

Playing with Barbies— Is there anything sadder than a pile of pulled-apart Barbies or GIjOEs? Unfortunately, young boys and girls (nowadays) could probably care less. (Photo: buzzfeed)

Logo-MattelIn a stunning admission, Mattel recently disclosed that Barbie’s sales figures have fallen for the last SEVEN CONSECUTIVE QUARTERS. It’s hard to imagine how much longer the toy giant will want to support such a steadily declining “loser,” but it’s harder still to imagine a world where Barbie no longer exists—at ALL. In a recent article in the The Wall Street Journal, business analyst Cassandra Jaramillo reported:

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“Mattel Inc.’s sales of the doll fell 19% in the second quarter, as the toy maker swung to a quarterly loss and posted a 7% drop in overall net sales. The stronger U.S. dollar drove a large chunk of the decline, but Barbie’s sales would still have fallen 11% when stripping out currency swings.”

Bad news Barbie fans, but hardly a surprise to the bean counters at Mattel. The article continues:

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“Sales of the doll have dropped by DOUBLE DIGITS for seven straight quarters—underscoring the deep challenges facing new Mattel Chief Executive Christopher Sinclair as he looks to right the world’s largest toy maker by sales. Barbie is Mattel’s largest brand and a big driver of profits, but its long slump has cost it shelf space at retailers that Mattel will have to work hard to earn back.”

How long has it been since you've seen BOTH sides of the aisle in a toy store devoted solely to Barbies? The famed

Valuable Shelf Space LOST— How long has it been since you’ve seen BOTH sides of a toy store aisle devoted solely to Barbie? Those famed “Pink Aisles” are unlikely to return, and in the future, may only reside in your memory. (Photo: artisancomplete)

Currently, the profit pendulum is clearly swinging backwards in a negative arc for Mattel. Its stock value went down by 3 points and the WSJ article ended with THIS sobering total:

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“The company posted a LOSS of $11.4 million in the most recent quarter, compared with a profit of $28.3 million a year earlier.”

Toy Companies—Media Companies—Will There Be a Difference in the Future?

hasbrologonewMattel’s not the only toy giant to see one of its oldest toy lines struggle to remain relevant and profitable in this modern age. Hasbro too, now considers its once industry-leading brand, 12″ GIjOEs, to be practically null and void. Without the “little Joes” (3.75″ sized), the world’s most famous toy brand would have vanished from stores by now.

But Hasbro has demonstrated amazing vision. Anticipating the evolving market realities and changing interests of children, they’ve diligently built-up their business from its basic toy origins into a full-blown media and entertainment powerhouse; producing blockbuster brand-offshoot motion pictures such as The Legos Movie, Transformers, etc., while simultaneously working alongside other film industry giants (see HERE) to coordinate massive merchandising efforts. Despite all the vitriol many fans continue to spew in its direction, Hasbro has clearly shown them (and Mattel) that there IS a future for toy production. And while that future may not include GIjOEs or Barbies, it will certainly include profits made from toy sales—LOTS of them.

Playing with toys in the near future may look something like this. With virtual reality, the need for (and use of) real objects that you actually touch and hold would be lost, but the interaction with similar “virtual” objects would remain the same. The question is…Would you WANT to play this way? (Photo: TIME)

Move Over Traditional Toys—Virtual Reality is Here NOW

On top of everything else we’ve discussed, we’d be remiss not to mention the impending arrival of virtual reality (VR) systems. Recent breakthroughs have solved the majority of nagging technological and biological hurdles (4K resolution refresh rates, dizziness, headaches, etc.), and promises of very near future “life-like” immersion will make playing with traditional toys seem as obsolete as newsprint is to the internet. The latest TIME magazine goes into this subject in great detail (see cover above) and VR’s impact on the future of entertainment and toys promises to be profound.

You think today’s video games are addictive? With the arrival of virtual reality systems, it’s hard to imagine a future wherein children would be satisfied playing with traditional, “imagination-dependent” toys. Question: Is a “virtual” GIjOE still a GIjOE? (Photo: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Bottom Line: We’ve discussed the topics of shifting consumer buying habits and evolving toy preferences many times over the years. The days of children playing with imagination-dependent toys may largely be behind us as a society; or at the very least, are becoming seriously endangered. The future of 12-inch Hasbro GIjOEs is already known. The future of Mattel’s 12-inch Barbies now falls into question. Fans have to wonder, what exactly will children of the future be playing with? And what effects will those toys (both traditional and virtual) have on their shrinking attention spans, imaginations and overall cognitive abilities? Will kids be jumping for joy like the dude in the TIME cover photo? Or will they be drooling over in a corner without an original thought inside their impressionable little heads? Let us know what YOU think. Please leave a comment today. Thanks!

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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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