Original G.I. Joe Figure Up for Auction
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  1. #1

    Cool Original G.I. Joe Figure Up for Auction

    Original G.I. Joe Figure Up for Auction

    Associated Press Writer

    July 18, 2003, 7:25 AM EDT

    SAN DIEGO -- His hand-painted expression reflects a history of battles. His camouflage helmet is cracked, but the stitching on his green fatigues is remarkably intact.

    He is the original G.I. Joe -- the 1963 prototype of the "action figure" that revolutionized the way American boys play. On Friday, he'll be sold at an auction that could make him the most expensive toy ever.

    For decades, the handmade 11 1/2-inch figure lay in a cardboard box in the Rhode Island home of his creator, Don Levine, a Korean War veteran and former Hasbro executive.

    Levine set out in 1963 to develop a toy that would do for boys what rival Mattel's Barbie had done for girls five years earlier. It was the "razor-razor blade strategy," he said. A little girl has a Barbie -- so she has to buy all the accessories.

    But Levine's soldier had to be moveable, able to crouch in a foxhole and carry gear in his arms. Inspiration struck as Levine walked past an art supply store and saw posable wooden artists' figures.

    Until then, boys had played with bicycles and balls, or perhaps stiff toy soldiers. Levine's concept was ahead of its time. Many claimed that boys wouldn't want to be playing with, ahem, a doll.

    Levine banished the d-word and coined a new, now ubiquitous term: "action figure."

    "He was such a unique toy concept," said Derryl DePriest of East Greenwich, R.I., a 38-year-old Hasbro marketing director who personally owns thousands of G.I. Joes. "It required completely rethinking how boys would play with toys and really taking a chance."

    Today, 375 million G.I. Joe sales later, the name (inspired by the 1945 movie "Story of G.I. Joe," starring Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum) is recognized in 85 percent of U.S. households, said Brian Savage, director of the Hasbro G.I. Joe Collectors' Club.

    Levine and a small design team that included other war veterans labored to make the first soldier and his detailed gear. For the face, Levine sought a masculine look that represented no particular soldier -- an anonymous government-issue Joe.

    On the brown-eyed prototype, the jaw is a bit narrower than the version used in the production model, the expression a bit more tired. John Petty, director of auctions for Heritage Comics, which is organizing Friday's event at the Comic-Con International convention in San Diego, said the face of the prototype "is a guy who's seen combat."

    The face on G.I. Joes that went into stores is more serene and inviting, Petty said. John Michlig, the author of "G.I. Joe: The Complete Story of America's Favorite Man of Action," sees the eventual choice of face as "brilliant, because it's a blank slate."

    "There's no expression there," Michlig said. "Whatever you wanted him to be feeling, you could put that there."

    Petty said the minimum price set by his Dallas-based firm for the "grandfather of all action figures" was $600,000, far surpassing the price for any other auctioned toy. Rare Barbies from 1959 can fetch upward of $10,000. A "Yellow Kid" bowling set once sold for $26,000, Petty said.

    The prototype and several other early Joes arrived at the convention this week in an armored car.

    Levine, 75, said it's simply time to sell the items and divide the proceeds among his children and grandchildren.

    Other items from Levine's collection are also up for bid, which has some observers fearful they'll be divided. Petty and others hope that one bidder will buy the whole lot and make the Smithsonian the permanent base camp for Joe.

    "He's probably the real American hero," said DePriest. "He's not a superhero, he's a real guy."

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    Associated Press Writer Cristina Rodriguez in Dallas contributed to this story.

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    Copyright 2003, The Associated Press




  2. #2
    $600,000 for a toy you gota be sh**inG me

  3. #3
    Ok, I will be ther first to admit....

    I had a complete set. somewhere around 1968-70 (?) I had the talking G.I. Joe with a 'real' fur beard. He had a graffling hook launcher that worked and the good old G.I. Joe Hideout. It was a collapsable building with a spot light on top.

    I saw my G.I. Joe in a collectors book for $300, but mine was wounded in action. The dog mangeled his hand.

    My daughter has Joe with her Barbies, he is having a jolly ole time.


  4. #4
    I had the Gyrene G.I Joe, with Cammies and M-1 carbine, in the 60's. (Not sure what ever happened to it.)
    The girls gave me the "Bayonets & Barbed Wire" series WWI Devildog last year. Pretty realistic looking figure (more so than The Joes). The Devildog is a p!ssed-off looking Marine Private with red-rimmed eyes and bad teeth.

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