It’s the 35th anniversary of G.I. Joe, the world’s first action figure for boys, and Hasbro is marking the occasion with a Classic Collection of 22 new figures and an out-licensing program focused on apparel.
The all-American soldier has hit many milestones since his debut as an 11 1/2-inch figure in 1964. For years, he suffered from a shrinking stature, hitting eight inches in 1977, having his domestic marketing discontinued altogether in 1978 because the energy crisis pushed up the price of petroleum-based plastic, then being
reintroduced in a 3 3/4-inch size in 1982. After shrinking, Joe hit new heights with 45 licensees secured in a year and a rapid expansion of his line to include friends, foes and an extensive fleet of vehicles. Finally in 1992, Joe grew back to his original height and moved his primary demo crosshairs from kids to adult collectors, after a market test with Target stores showed a high demand among collectors for nostalgic figures.
Although the change in focus meant new licensees in adult-targeted categories such as high-end, die-cast vehicles and pocket watches, John Gildea, Hasbro’s VP of licensing, says he’s also seeing a resurgence in kids apparel and related categories. ‘We’re now seeing some nice success out in the marketplace with products such as apparel and footwear and accessories aimed at kids,’ he says. ‘Those are really the target areas for us.’ He adds that Hasbro also has ‘plans afoot’ for a ‘better presence’ in the publishing category, but nothing has been decided yet.
Existing kid licensees for G.I. Joe include BBC International of Boca Raton, Florida for footwear, Isaac Morris of New York for boys apparel and swimwear, IMT accessories of New York for briefs, sunglasses and belts, and Worldwide Dreams of New York for bags and backpacks.