Hasbro introduced G.I. Joe at the February 1964 American International Toy Fair in New York. Initially, this 12-inch poseable figure was produced in only four versions, one for each branch of the military. A black G.I. Joe joined the line in 1965, followed by a talking G.I. Joe and female nurse in 1967. The G.I. Joe Adventure Team introduced this all-American hero to civilian pursuits, such as hunting and deep sea diving. The 1976 Arab oil embargo forced Hasbro to reduce G.I. Joe’s size from 12 to 8 inches. Production stopped in 1977.
Hasbro reintroduced G.I. Joe in 1982 in a 3-1/4-inch format. In 1994 Hasbro resumed production of the 12-inch figure, targeted primarily toward the adult collector market. Action Man, G.I. Joe’s British equivalent, was marketed in the United States during the 1996 holiday season.
Collectors concentrate on pre-1977 action figures. Collecting interest in accessories, especially those with period boxes, continues to grow.
References: John Marshall, “GI Joe and Other Backyard Heroes,” Schiffer Publishing, 1997; John Michlig, “GI Joe: The Complete Story of America’s Favorite Man of Action,” Chronicle Books, 1998; Vincent Santelmo, “The Complete Encyclopedia to GI Joe,” 2nd Edition, Krause Publications, 1997; Vincent Santelmo, “GI Joe, 1964–1994,” Krause Publications, 1999.
— by Harry L. Rinker
“Official Price Guide to Collectibles”