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The History of G.I. Joe - The First Twenty-Five Years
G.I. JOE was the first boy's "Action Figure" in the world. G.I. Joe first hit the scene as an 11-1/2 inch "doll" for boys. What made G.I. Joe unique was its 21 moving parts for interactive play. G.I. Joe is named after the movie "The Story of G.I. JOE" which gained great popularity in the early sixties.
Due to the popularity of G.I. Joe, the Hasbro Company that invented the action figure decided to expand the brand’s line in 1967. Hasbro introduced the Canadian Mountie set of G.I. Joes.
Five years after the original G.I. Joe Hasbro was producing all categories of the United States Armed Forces action figures as well as many foreign armed forced. It wasn’t until 1969 that “G.I. Joe” went from being the name of one specific action figure, to the name of an entire line of action figures for boys.
By the 1970s the G.I. Joe brand was doing quite well and Hasbro kept thinking of innovative ways to keep their successful brand alive. It was at this time that they started producing the G.I. Joe Adventure Team, which was comprised of a group of soldiers all committed to the same goal as G.I. Joe.
As the seventies continued to evolve, so did G.I. Joe. He was given flocked hair, and even some G.I. Joes came with a kung-fu grip. It was in the seventies that the first superhuman team member was introduced, his name was Bulletman. Other new team members introduced in the seventies included Eagle Eye and The Defenders.
G.I. Joe found a force that he could not defeat in 1978 when the price of petroleum grew so high that G.I. Joe production was suspended. It wasn’t until 1982 that the line was re-introduced in a smaller size. The smaller size action figures were created as a direct result of keeping production costs lower to accommodate the price of petroleum.
It was also in 1982 that G.I. Joe was licensed with Marvel Comics. This partnership was very lucrative for Hasbro and Marvel with $200 million in combined revenue by 1984. At the time there were uniforms, weapons, vehicles and comic books rounding out the G.I. Joe brand.
Also in the early eighties G.I. Joe found himself fighting a slew of adversaries including the Drednoks. By this time the brand had grown so large that real human characters were being incorporated into the G.I. Joe adventure team. The first was professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter followed by Chicago Bears legend William “The Refrigerator” Perry.
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