G. I. Joe

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G. I. JOE was developed in 1964 by Hasbro in response to the success of the Barbie Doll. The original G. I. Joe was fully "poseable," twelve inches tall, modeled after World War II soldiers, and came with a variety of accessories covering all branches of the military. Steeped in the victory of World War II and the impending Cold War, the year 1964 was an ideal time to introduce G. I. Joe. Using the phrase "action figure" instead of doll, G. I. Joe was immediately popular with young boys. As the struggle in Vietnam intensified, sales faltered with military toys, so in 1968, G. I. Joe became an adventurer. Instead of military accessories, Hasbro developed adventure accessories set in a variety of environments. In 1970, Joe came with "lifelike" hair and beards, and a new "AT" (Adventure Team) logo further distanced Joe from his military background. Sales quickened, and in 1974 designers added the famous "Kung Fu" grip allowing Joe to firmly hold accessories. Eventually Hasbro stopped the twelve-inch line and developed "Super G. I. Joe," an eight-inch figure that was more cost-effective and popular. Joe changed again in 1982 into an immensely popular three-and-three-quarter-inch figure. In the 1990s, Hasbro added another five-inch doll, developed an animated series, and even reintroduced the twelve-inch doll on a limited basis.


Chapman, Roger. "From Vietnam to the New World Order: The G. I. Joe Action Figure as Cold War Artifact." In The Impact of the Cold War On Popular Culture. Carrollton: State University of West Georgia, 1999.

DePriest, Derryl. The Collectible G. I. Joe. Philadelphia: Courage Books, 1999.

Lisa A.Ennis

See alsoToys and Games .