now there’s a book I want to write in my copious spare time…
I’m doing that adult-thing where I finally clean out my closet from grade school, but unlike previous generations, I can just sell it all on eBay and maybe make some profit on collectible toys. I did most of the Star Wars and Micronauts toys, now I’m going thru my GI Joe stuff and while researching prices, learning about the history of what was actually going on in the world when I was 10 years old.
GI Joe was a popular action figure in the cold war era then Vietnam happened. At home, my dad spent most of my early years in MACV, Saigon, and hanging out with the Degar (Montagnard) people. In the rest of the world, the draft, violent protests against the war, daily TV news coverage of the war, and Hasbro is stuck trying to figure out how to keep making money on GI Joe. Before cancelling it entirely in 76 or 77 (and not bringing it back until the early 80s) Hasbro appears to have copied Fisher Price’s “Adventure People” and launched “Adventure Team.” Two of the eight GI Joes are black (I suspect another was supposed to be Latino) and there are pages of new catalog accessories and outfits that were very much not about being a solider. GI Joe isn’t just a soldier, he’s off hunting big game, rescuing people, and doing all sorts of not blowing up civilians and dropping napalm on the VC.
Check this catalog from 1975. I have many of these toys going on eBay this week but I had no idea why they existed and no connection to their pop culture context. The website has some layout/design problems, each of those “pages” is actually a topic and a link to a section of the catalog with a number of pages for that topic. GI Joe wasn’t just a soldier, he was a “Radiation Detector,” “Smoke Jumper,” and “Emergency Rescue”(r). Apparently grammar was hard in the 70s.