G.I. Joe is a series of highly collectible action figures produced by Hasbro.
G.I Joes were produced to attract boys to the doll market and are widely regarded as the first action figures.
They were first mass produced in 1964, as 12-inch models. These early versions are now highly prized by toy collectors and investors.
The toy was originally conceived as a variety of military men, with different names and characters for each branch of the armed forces.
Fred Bruns, manager of Hassenfeld’s advertising agency, advised Levine to name the entire line with a single name. A war film, The Story of G.I. Joe, provided Levine with the name.
The line became hugely popular and spawned a short lived G.I Nurse version in 1967.
In 1968 Palitoy licensed the toy from Hasbro for the UK market, renaming it Action Man.
In 1970, Hasbro distanced G.I. Joe from its previous military theme, rebranding the concept as Adventures of G.I. Joe.
The new concept failed to catch fire and G.I Joe was scrapped in 1978, only to be reintroduced in 1982 on the back of the Star Wars action figure phenomenon.
These new, smaller, figures again proved a success. A vast range of different characters were produced, each with their own stories and weapons.
Although no longer able to match its 1960s heyday, G.I. Joes were still being made up until 2007.
The G.I. Joe prototype was hand carved and hand painted by its creator, Don Levine, in 1963.
It was sold by Heritage Auction Galleries in 2003 for $200,000, making it the most expensive action figure ever sold. The buyer was the president and CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors, Stephen A. Geppi.
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