How the mighty have fallen...
There was a time in the 80's-- well, actually almost then entire 80's-- when GI Joe was the king of the toy world, not to mention that he was the very first official boy's "action figure" when he made his original 12" appearance back in 1964.
But, in recent years, even despite two [so-so] summer movies, Joe just can't seem to get a real foothold in the market anymore.
Personally, I attribute this to many factors. On Hasbro's part, they keep changing up the focus of the line. From Sigma Six to 25th Anniversary to movie figure and Pursuit of Cobra, the focus and designs are in constant flux.
Now, I know that they want to keep the line fresh and that when it's under-performing that they decide it's time to go back to the drawing board, but Joe just isn't going to be a huge splash with kids. There's no cartoon-- unlike Star Wars and Transformers-- so, outside of a comic shop and one summer movie every few years, kids just don't have an avenue to exposed to Joe like I did as a kid.
But, I think that Joe could build momentum. Look at how kids are drawn to Call of Duty, one of the most popular games of all time. There is room for Joe to exist in the toy market, if it's done right.
Outside of appealing to the old time collectors like myself with their 25th Ann style figures, I think that the best attempt Hasbro has made in re-introducing GI Joe to the market was their Pursuit of Cobra line. Those figures were the perfect mix of giving characters their original look while rebooting them for the new millennium. I think that if they had continued to grow things in that direction that it could have ended up being a very successful toy line again.
This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the original GI Joe, and while Joe seems almost dead and buried at retail at this point (all retailers other than Toys R Us have all but abandoned the line) Hasbro is releasing some product for the line in a small attempt to celebrate this landmark.
The offerings are a mixed bag. While I was hoping for Hasbro to really come charging out of the gate and give us something seriously new and surprising with Joe (like a return to the 25th line, or even a 6" scale line), they chose instead to do some multi-packs consisting of a lot of previously released figures. But, the other side of that is that are the new figures we are getting are some seriously good ones.
If you're a Joe fan, then you may have seen pictures online of some of the never released prototypes of updated sculpts for figures like Lady Jaye, Destro, Flint and Leatherneck-- and even new figures like HEAT Viper. Well, it looks like Hasbro went to production on those and we'll finally be getting them in these new multi-packs.
We'll also be getting a bunch of "new "vehicles done in the 25th style-- meaning that they are produced from the original 80's molds.
So, with all that being said, let's take a look at what we'll be seeing on Toys R Us shelves later this year.
No release date or pricing info available yet.