Gi Joes started as clothed, 12 inch articulated figures. In the early 60s, wooden artist mannequins served as the inspiration for creating a brand new concept in boys toys... a large, fully-posable soldier. Boys were used to playing with toy soldiers in a much smaller scale but larger clothed soldiers were a new concept. Hasbro, afraid of Gi Joes being called "dolls," prohibited everyone in Hasbro's office from using the "D" word in reference to Gi Joes. They were to refer to Gi Joe as a "movable soldier." They even went so far as to tell their toy reps that if they were caught using the word "doll" to sell Gi Joe, they would have their orders canceled.
Gi Joe was the first true "Action Figure." All the great sixth-scale and smaller figures of today owe a debt to the ground that Gi Joe broke all those years ago.
Hasbro enjoyed enormous popularity with Gi Joe during the 1960s. However, when America became involved in the Vietnam conflict, sales began to wane as Americans no longer wanted to be reminded of the realities of war as they bought toys for their sons. Hasbro, eager to move away from Gi Joe's military theme, released the Adventure Team in 1970. Gi Joe no longer fought foreign soldiers. He fought the elements and anything else Mother Nature could throw at him as he searched for wild animals and even buried mummies. These new Joes also sported "life-like" hair and beards for the first time through an inventive flocking technique.
The Gi Joe pictured is a recent (several years) Gi Joe Collector's Club reissue of the Adventure Team Talking Commander. It is a near-perfect recreation of the 1970 figure... right down to the box. I had an original Talking Commander for a short time in the early 70s. I had received him for Christmas and remember enjoying playing with him that Christmas day. However, I have no memory of ever playing with him after that Christmas. I'm guessing that something was broken (maybe I messed up his pull-string talking feature) and he was returned to the store. Whatever happened to that Gi Joe will always be a mystery to me.
I'm not going to give an overview or review of this figure, at this point. Hasbro used the same body and head mold for almost all of the AT Gi Joes. I'll go into more detail about the figure, itself, in a future Gi Joe post. I have some vintage and quite a few reissue Joes that I'd like to talk about.
When you pull Joe's pull-string, he says one of many different phrases like, "I've got a tough assignment for you!"
I really love these figures. I love that they all used the same headsculpt and it was up to a child's imagination to create the different characters and adventures that these toys went through. Heck, they didn't even have names past monickers like "Land Adventurer," "Air Adventurer," and "Sea Adventurer." They were Gi Joes... and that was good enough for us.