G.I. Joe Prototype
The original G.I. Joe prototype is an action figure that was hand carved and hand painted by its creator, Don Levine, in 1963.
It is the most expensive action figure ever sold.
The concept of a movable action figure can be traced back to toy creator and licensing agent, Stan Weston, who got the idea in part from a television show called “The Lieutenant”. Weston took his idea to Don Levine of the Hassenfeld Brothers Company (which would later become Hasbro).
The concept of the action figure was derived from the success that was Mattel Inc’s Barbie doll in 1959. Though, tin and plastic toy soldiers had been popular for boys for many years, it became apparent to Hasbro that there was a gap in the market for a male equivalent to Barbie.
Originally, the toy was conceived as a military man, with different names and characters for each branch of the armed forces. For example, Skip for the Navy, Rocky for the Army and Marines and Ace for the Air Force pilot. However, Fred Bruns, manager of Hassenfeld’s advertising agency, advised Levine to come up with one solid name to associate with the product. Levine was watching an old war film one night entitled “The Story of G.I. Joe” which inspired him to come up with the name of the action figure.
The most expensive action figure ever sold is Don Levine’s original G.I. Joe prototype. It was sold by Heritage Auction Galleries in 2003 for $200,000. The buyer was the president and CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors, Stephen A. Geppi.