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Timeline of G.I. Joe History and Releases

Note: Release dates here should not be considered authoritative; they are based partly on my observations at the time, partly on other people's resources.

Skip to: 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995-2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

1923

  • Henry and Helal Hassenfeld found the Hassenfeld Brothers textile company, later known as Hasbro, whose products include school supplies and eventually toys

1938

  • Bergen Toy & Novelty Co. (BeToN) is the first American company to produce plastic toy soldiers and accessories, initially based on World War One; prior to this, toy soldiers were made of tin, lead, wood, or composite material

1963

  • Sept. 14, Gene Roddenberry's TV series The Lieutenant debuts. Toy designer Stanley Weston of Weston Merchandising Corp. seeks to produce a Barbie-scale articulated toy soldier as a tie-in. The 11 3/4-inch (30 cm) G.I. Joe is Hasbro's resulting toy, and Weston is paid $100,000 for his contribution to the concept

1964

  • Original G.I. Joe toy line released to stores, marketed as a "moveable fighting man" or "action figure" instead of a doll. The name is inspired at least in part by the 1945 Burgess Meredith film The Story of G.I. Joe, and the face is based on WWII Medal of Honor winner Mitchell Paige, a US Marine who received an official Joe figure in his likeness in 1998

1965

  • British company Palitoy licensed to sell G.I. Joe-based products in the UK under the name Action Man

1966

  • Hasbro publishes The Adventures of Andy and George in the G.I. Joe Club in DC Comics to promote new products

1970

  • G.I. Joe Adventure Team moves the line's concept away from military themes
  • Japanese toy company Takara licensed to sell certain Hasbro products in Japan, including G.I. Joe (under the name Combat Joe).

1974

  • "Kung-Fu grip" feature introduced to G.I. Joe figures
  • Takara introduces the Microman toy line as a science-fiction spin-off of their Combat Joe/Henshin Cyborg line, creating the first 3 3/4-inch (10 cm) pocket-size action figures. The figures are later marketed in the US as Micronauts by Mego Corporation, whose Action Jackson line was a competitor to G.I. Joe from 1971-1974. (Some transforming toys in the Microman line are later sold in the US as Transformers.)

1976

  • OPEC oil embargo threatens the toy industry, since petroleum is the major raw material for plastic

1977

  • 8 1/2-inch Super Joe figure series released

1978

  • End of the original "12-inch" G.I. Joe toy line
  • General Mills-owned toy company Kenner is licensed to sell Star Wars toy merchandise (an offer turned down by Mego). Their pocket-sized action figures form the core of the Star Wars line, which quickly dominates the industry and establishes this scale as the new standard for action figures.

1980-1981

  • Inspired by the victory of the US hockey team over the USSR in the Winter Olympics, Hasbro Boys' Toys Vice President Bob Prupis presents a plan to reintroduce G.I. Joe in the 3 3/4-inch format, originally conceived as a group of military characters with a book tie-in and advertised with animated TV ads and its own commercial jingle.
  • During preliminary development, the book is replaced with a comic book series, adapted from early concepts for a Fury Force series by comic writer and Vietnam veteran Larry Hama. Hama develops initial character sketches, and comic master Archie Goodwin suggests the name Cobra as G.I. Joe's major adversary.

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

  • Winter: 'Talking' Battle Commanders carded figure assortment (BC General Hawk, BC Stalker, BC Cobra Commander, BC Overkill)
  • January: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #120: Return to the Silent Castle
  • January: first convention hosted by the Official G.I .Joe Collector's Club of America
  • February: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #121: Slice and Dice and Everything Nice
  • March: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #122: Transformer
  • Spring: Wave 1 carded figure assortment (launcher Duke, yellow Wet-Suit, recalled Roadblock, green Big Bear, disc launcher Destro, blue Flak-Viper)
  • Spring: Ninja Force/Air Commandos carded figure assortments (NF Storm Shadow, NF Dojo, NF Nunchuk, NF T'Jbang, red NF Slice, NF Dice, Air Commandos Spirit, Air Devil)
  • Spring: main equipment releases (Barracuda, Rat, Battle Copter with Ace, Cobra Battle Copter with Heli-Viper, Patriot, Parasite, Storm Eagle, Liquidator, Earthquake, Headquarters)
  • Spring: The Secret of the Dark Lagoon! mail offer (Sea Ray, Killer W.H.A.L.E., Battle Barge, Cobra Jet Pack, original Sky Hawk, Quick Kick [soft variant], Jinx)
  • April: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #123: Shots in the Dark
  • May: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #124: Triptych
  • June: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #125: Diptych
  • Summer: Wave 2 carded figure assortment (brown jacket General Flagg, green vest Gung-Ho, blue Barricade, black pants Wild Bill, grey pads Firefly, blue Eel)
  • Summer: Drug Elimination Force/Eco-Warriors carded figure assortments (DEF Bullet-Proof, DEF Mutt, DEF Cutter, DEF Shockwave, Headman, Headhunter, EW Deep Six, EW Barbecue, Toxo-Zombie)
  • Summer: special teams equipment releases (Eco-Striker, Fort America, Desert Apache, Toxo-Lab)
  • Summer: Mission Rescue: Code Blue mail offer (W.O.L.F., S.H.A.R.C., Tomax, Xamot, original Bazooka, Ferret ATV [light blue], Recon Sled, Serpentor, Air Chariot, P.A.C./R.A.T.s, A.G.P., original Frostbite, H.I.S.S. Driver, light gloves Copperhead, Stinger Driver, Thunder, Crankcase, Rifle Range, Mortar Defense Unit, Machine Gun Defense Unit, Missile Defense Unit, Ammo Dump, Forward Observer, original Lamprey, gold head Steel Brigade)
  • July: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #126: Firefly
  • August: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #127: Playing with the Big Boys
  • September: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #128: Winds of Change
  • Fall: Battle Figure Collector's Case
  • Fall: Terror on the Tundra mail offer (Serpentor, Air Chariot, F.A.N.G., Strato-Viper, Motor Viper, Polar Battle Bear, P.A.C./R.A.T.s, W.O.L.F., Adder, Killer W.H.A.L.E., Slugger, H.I.S.S., brown jacket Hawk, Ninja Viper, Iceberg, gold head Steel Brigade)
  • October: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #129: Standoff
  • November: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #130: Point and Counterpoint
  • December: cover date for Marvel G.I. Joe #131: Last Stand
  • Hall of Fame series of 12-inch G.I. Joe figures debuts

1993

1994

1995

  • Sgt. Savage receives Sunbow-produced 30-minute animated special
  • Hall of Fame 12-inch line continues with figures made to resemble real-life soldiers from previous wars
  • Sept. 23: G.I. Joe Extreme cartoon series debuts, accompanied by its own line of toys, with 5-inch scale figures
  • December: debut of Dark Horse G.I. Joe Extreme comic miniseries (runs four issues through April)

1996

  • G.I. Joe Extreme line canceled for poor performance, having released 17 figures, 5 vehicles and 1 playset

1997

1998

1999

  • No new G.I. Joe releases, presumably to avoid competing with Hasbro-Kenner's merchandising for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009