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National Toy Hall of Fame Online Collections

G.I. Joe Action Soldier

action figure

ca. 1965

In 1964, the Hasbro toy company introduced its military "action figure," G.I. Joe, an 11 1/2-inch, male figure with 21 moving parts and uniforms representing each of the four branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. In the first year, sales of the toy topped $16.9 million. In the second year of manufacture, sales nearly doubled to $36 million. Like the Barbie doll, introduced by Hasbro's rival Mattel in 1959, G.I. Joe required accessories. Hasbro made hundreds available: everything from realistic miniature weapons to space capsules and combat jeeps. "America's Moveable Fighting Man" remained popular through the 1960s, but by decade's end, Joe fell victim to protests against the Vietnam War and parental concerns about children playing with toys of violence. Joe's sales stumbled, and Hasbro in turn took Joe out of the military and thrust him into worlds of adventures. In the 1970s, Joe appeared as a hunter, astronaut, martial artist, and many other adventurous vocations. The success of the 1977 "Star Wars" movie and the accompanying 3-3/4-inch action figures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and the other characters from the movie hurt G.I. Joe sales, even though Hasbro reduced Joe in size to be more like the Star Wars figures. Hasbro revived Joe in the early 1990s to his original size--just at a time when the first boys raised on Joe entered the collectible market as adults looking to recapture nostalgic moments of their youth.

ManufacturerHasbro, Inc.
Materialplastic | fabric | vinyl | rubber | printed paper
Object ID110.10618
Credit LineGift of John Ousley

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