GI Joe - Original Prototype (Hasbro, 1964). Ten-HUT! Stand at attention for the five-star general of GI Joe collectibles. Th...
GI Joe - Original Prototype (Hasbro, 1964). Ten-HUT! Stand at attention for the five-star general of GI Joe collectibles. That's right, soldier! Raise your hand and sah-LUTE the first hand-crafted prototype, the original Government Issue Joe, the springboard from which was spawned not just an incredibly successful line of figures and accessories, but a revolution in the toy industry! This twelve-inch-tall icon of plastic, metal, and fabric marked the dawn of the "action figure," an unheard-of concept in 1963, when Hasbro Creative Director Don Levine first shepherded in the concept of an articulated military figure (from an original idea by Stan Weston) that would appeal to young boys in the same way that Barbie had captured the little-girl market. Based in part on the articulated wooden mannequins used by artists, this figure would expand on the popular "toy soldier" concept with a full-articulated man of action that could hold a rifle, crouch in a foxhole, and generally assume almost any pose that a real soldier could. This concept had to be developed and engineered from scratch, as no real antecedent existed in the toy industry. This hand-crafted prototype became that antecedent, and served as the opening shot in a revolution that continues to this day. The first fully-articulated prototype created for both internal visualization and presentations to potential buyers, this 12" figure consists of a plastic body with wire-spring joints, and a hand-painted plastic head that was created by pulling a temporary mold from a carved wooden original. The hand-sewn uniform consists of olive-drab fatigues and field jacket with chevrons, as well as a backpack. Also included are hand-sewn black boots, and plastic combat helmet (the helmet, unfortunately, has sustained some damage, and has a large chunk missing from the back end). Of particular note is this early version of the head, which is wider, and has noticeably different features than the final production model, and the boots, which were assembled from several different pieces, and display an incredible level of detail and care (the final production figures would have molded plastic boots). Despite these interesting variations, the most remarkable thing about this initial prototype -- created very early in the production process -- is how closely it resembles the finished, mass-produced figures, a testament to the clarity with which the creators envisioned this landmark toy. The prototype is in excellent condition overall (paint on the head is somewhat worn on the back side, with the plastic showing through in several spots), although we would not recommend storming the (imaginary) beach at Normandy with this battle-ready soldier. Not just an artifact of GI Joe history, or even toy history -- this is a piece of true Americana. From the personal collection of Don Levine, creator of GI Joe.
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