The life and times of G.I. Joe
Get to know G.I. JoeBy Phil Geib and Keith Claxton | Tribune Graphics
From the early action figures to the motion picture "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," G.I. Joe has been an institution for young boys and adult collectors for 45 years. Some key moments in history:
|BY THE NUMBERS|
|Auction price paid for original G.I. Joe prototype in 2008||G.I. Joe sales in 1964 (in millions)||Cost of a G.I. Joe action soldier in 1964||Estimated value of action soldier, complete, today||Length of 1985 U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier, the largest G.I. Joe toy ever||Issues of Marvel comic series that ran from 1982-1994||Estimated production cost for the 2009 movie "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra"|
|ORIGINS||A MOVABLE FIGHTING MAN||JOE BECOMES AN ADVENTURER|
1941-45: A comic strip named "Private Breger" is created, which later becomes as "G.I. Joe."
1945: "The Story of G.I. Joe," starring Robert Mitchum and Burgess Meredith, is released. The movie is a tribute to an American World War II infantryman told through the eyes of a war correspondent.
1950-53: Publisher Ziff-Davis releases the comic book "G.I. Joe," set during the Korean War.
1963: Hasbro approves an idea for an 11½-inch realistic action figure with a military theme that would be marketed to boys. Posable prototypes are developed with individual names such as "Rocky" and "Ace." Inspired by the 1945 film, the name is changed to "G.I. Joe."
1964: The 11½-inch line is launched. Four original figures are made to represent each branch of the armed forces. Each figure has 21 movable parts. Accessories are released as well.
1965: An African-American G.I. Joe figure is introduced.
1966: Soldiers from other countries and a Mercury astronaut with capsule are introduced.
1967: Talking figures are introduced. The first female G.I. Joe action nurse is produced, which turned out to not be popular.
1970: Shying away from a military theme due to the Vietnam War, Hasbro relaunches the line as The Adventures of G.I. Joe, and later as just The Adventure Team. All figures have lifelike hair (some of them bearded).
1974: Softer, pliable hands (Kung-Fu Grip) is introduced.
1975: Mike Power, Atomic Man is introduced. He is a bionic-powered superhero, with accessories.
1976: BulletMan is introduced, a chrome-helmeted figure that can fly on a tether string. A new, lightweight, muscular body style replaces the old one. A lever on the head that can shift the eyeballs left and right (Eagle Eye) is introduced. The Intruders release ends the original 12-inch line. Due to the petro- leum crisis, Hasbro released an in-expensive line called The Defenders.
1977: Super Joe Adventure Team is released. The 8½-inch dolls are hybrid superhero-and-space-action figures that battle aliens. Some need batteries. The line is discontinued in 1978.
|JOE GOES SMALL||AN ORIGINAL REBORN||JOE GOING STRONG|
1982: A Real American Hero 3¾-inch scale line is launched. The enemy Cobra is introduced. Many new vehicles, playsets and animated cartoons expand the appeal of the line. Marvel launches the "G.I. Joe" comic.
1983-89: Increased popularity leads to more figures and merchandising, including games and an animated television series. G.I. Joe becomes a top-selling American toy.
1992: Release of Hall of Fame 12-inch figures.
1993: The Street Fighter II line created, based on the popular martial arts video game.
1994: For the 30th anniversary, commemorative 12- and 3¾-inch figures are released based on the 1964 originals. The Real American Hero line is re-released. Kenner merges with Hasbro and takes over production.
1995: Mortal Kombat figures, based on the arcade game, are released. Sgt. Savage and his Screaming Eagles and G.I Joe Extreme figures are released. Classic Collection 12-inch figures debut.
1996: Masterpiece Edition is released; re-release of '60s originals with books.
1998: Timeless Collection figures debut. These figures were new, but had the look and feel of the vintage figures.
2000-02: Re-release of a selection of 3 3/4-inch figures and vehicles.
2001: Release of a line of 12-inch Pearl Harbor figures honoring the events of the 1941 attack.
2002-05: New 3 3/4-inch G.I. Joe vs. Cobra figures and vehicles are released, along with DVD animated features and a trading card game.
2004: Release of 40th-anniversary line that reproduces the figures from 1964. 3 3/4-inch Valor vs. Venom line released.
2005: Release of Sigma 6, 8-inch figures with advanced articulation. This set combines new characters with the Real American Hero line. An animated television series is also produced.
2006: Reproductions of the Adventure Team figures.
2007-present: The 8-inch line is rebranded and later dropped. A Real American Hero 25th-anniversary figures released. Current brands include the Resolute line based on an animated feature.
2009: Theatrical film "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" is scheduled for release in August.
SOURCES: "The Complete Encyclopedia to G.I. Joe" by Vincent Santelmo, "The Collectible G.I. Joe" by Derryl DePriest, Hasbro, Tribune reporting
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