If you’ve been perusing the online G.I. Joe community this week, you’ve no doubt seen mention of the possibility that there are some whispers of 6” scale G.I. Joe figures drifting in the winds. Heck, the 2015 San Diego ComicCon was even mentioned as a kick off point for these figures.
Is it true? Nobody knows at this point… but whether or not it is true, it does bring up some valuable discussion points.
I’ve received a lot of personal messages asking what I think about the whole thing (as if my opinion matters more than anyone elses). And, as usual, I can see both sides.
My first instinct is that G.I. Joe should try and focus on being the best toy it can be at one scale before it starts spiraling off into other scales. Over the past 50 years we’ve seen many different styles, formats, and figure scales, but things always seem to fall back to the old standby 12” and 4”, with 4” obviously being the dominant force in recent years. Well… dominant in relative terms at least.
So with 50 years of market data telling Hasbro that G.I. Joe is most successful at those two scales, why muddy the waters and introduce yet another scale and format to even further divide the fandom?
One might argue that G.I. Joe is having trouble finding a retail foothold at the $8 price point with 4” figures, even backed by a $400million film. Will $20 6” figures do anything to further the lifespan of the brand? Emphatically I say no.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a entirely bad idea all together.
Perhaps G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero could use a little spark, right? Perhaps, instead of wondering why Hasbro is trying to spread thin a brand that already is watered down, we need to consider the fact that since G.I. Joe isn’t a behemoth, maybe this is the time to start something new?
My only concern is that Hasbro at this point seems to be treating G.I. Joe as a short term prospect. Most toylines are short term prospects these days, but each assortment of these 4” figures is so specifically geared for a short term theme that you wonder if there are any long term plans. In recent years, G.I. Joe has obviously become a film-based toyline, with some cost-savings filler figures to fit in those gaps when movies aren’t in the theaters. I don’t see a 6” line changing that. I think we all know that the 6” line will simply revisit the vintage look at a larger (and more detailed) scale. In some instances I think that could be fun, and I think (again) short term that will provide some spark. But it’s a finite spark with a clear beginning and end. Unlike Star Wars there aren’t thousands of diehards who’ve been waiting 30 years for a 6” Ponda Baba. As soon as G.I. Joe starts dipping into 3rd tier characters (which will happen far sooner than many folks admit, I think) the 6” line will be on thin ice, and we’ll once again be faced with the whole “what’s next” approach?
G.I. Joe needs some serious revitalization. It needs some kind of Beast Wars, Sigma 6, or dare I say it, G.I. Joe: Renegades level support and effort (only maybe without friggen killing the landmark animated series before it even aired this time). A toyline can only survive on the regurgitated designs from 30 years ago for so long, and we’re reaching a breaking point.
Transformers has survived and excelled because it has successfully reinvigorated itself on a consistent basis throughout the past 30 years. Beast Wars led to Robots in Disguise, led to Armada, led to Classics, led to Generations, which has been further supplemented by fantastic comic books that Hasbro is actually using as inspiration for more toys, not to mention video games (yes I’m forgetting the films on purpose).
G.I. Joe has had one clear behemoth success, and it was three decades ago. Eventually we need to stop looking back and start looking forward, or the brand will always be taking things one year at a time, with no clear direction. While 6” figures might be a fun distraction and a quick spark, if Hasbro is serious about making G.I. Joe a player again, they must realize that’s not the solution to their problem.
G.I. Joe needs synergy. The same synergy that has worked so well for Transformers over the past few years, films notwithstanding. Get an animated series rolling, develop a video game with CARE, PRECISION and continuity. Embrace the comics! For the love of God, don’t be afraid to take some chances and put some resources behind it and maybe, just maybe give the thing half a chance to succeed or fail before you pull the plug. You might just be surprised as the results.
Image courtesy of D & D Customs and HISSTank.com
Well spoken as always, Justin!
Whether they were to go vintage or with new designs, I couldn’t be any less interested in the 6″ figure format.
I understand why Hasbro has trouble with the brand. A multimedia franchise loosely based on Delta Force is kind of hard to market to parents in a day in age when their kids can get expelled from school simply for pointing fingers and saying bang (ugh).
I’m assuming a shift to 6″ figures would be meant to cater to adult collectors, but it risks alienating long term fans in order to bring in a group of hypotheticals who supposedly aren’t currently buying because of scale issues (and not for a lack of nostalgia or because it’s associated with a pair of mediocre-to-adequate-but-not-great popcorn flicks).
I hear what you are saying, but games like Call of Duty are as popular as ever.
Call of Duty games are specifically marketed and sold as 17+. Yes, younger folks buy them, but can you imagine the backlash if Hasbro developed a game like that for a property that was actively marketed for children? Something tells me that wouldn’t go over well.
We already have people threatening boycott over the fact that Mega Bloks has Call of Duty toys. Hasbro would be in the crosshairs, and they don’t want that.
I agree that they really need to push to get something like an animated series out there. And while I guess a “war” franchise could maybe be a tough sell, Star Wars is doing well enough with kids, and G.I. Joe has enough sci-fi elements in it to work, too. If Transformers can work, I still think G.I. Joe can. And while adult collectors can keep a certain kind of G.I. Joe going, I think getting kids involved is still key. That doesn’t mean dumbing things down, either. Just like years back, there’s no reason a lighter kind of kids show can’t coexist with the more adult comic books, this time coming from IDW.
And I still think Renegades wasn’t pushed by Hasbro as much as it should have been. And also the fact that they tried to do it on The Hub didn’t help. If it was on Nick or DisneyXD I think it could’ve found an audience.
Oh, also, a while back before Marvel and Lucasfilm was bought by Disney, there were rumors Hasbro was going to be bought. I know sometimes Disney is a hated company, but I’ll bet they wouldn’t waste the franchise. Imagine if some of the people involved in the Marvel Studios movies ended up working on G.I. Joe? The Captain America movies have been great examples of what a proper Joe movie would be!
I definitely think a fresh take would be a great idea for G.I. Joe. I don’t need another Snake Eyes v2, just because they figured out how to articulate every individual knuckle on his toes.
Back in the ARAH days when they revisited a character, they would give the character a new look, but it would still capture the essence of that character. I feel like this is something that’s missing from the modern era, for the most part.
Yes, there was the occasional repaint or redundant design, in those days, and there are quite a few modern designs that they really knocked out of the park, but when half of this year’s figures look just like half of last year’s figures, which look like half of the figures from the year before, etc, it kind of gets old.
I’m not sure if it can be fixed, given the cost of tooling, etc, but $8 per figure is kind of off-putting. Though I suppose the alternative would be the drop in quality that we saw with the 50th Anniversary line. On the other hand, I find their Transformers price points to be rather reasonable.
That being said, I would definitely pick up some of the figures if they did a 6″ line. I doubt there’d be much steam, beyond the 10-odd core characters, and a handful of troop builders, though.
There are about 50 characters which are “core” enough to be highly demanded in a 6″ line. This article seems to be based on a made-up premise, that a 6″ Joe line is being done to reinvigorate the brand all by itself. There is no basis for that. Almost every other Hasbro 6″ line is simply a supplement to concurrent 4″ or 3″ lines….Star Wars, Marvel Universe, Spider-Man, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy. X-Men is the one exception to that rule this year. Even if G.I. Joe would go the X-Men route and only do 6″, it’s still a great idea. There isn’t very much exciting Hasbro can do with the 4″ line for collectors now. Almost every key character has been made in 4″. Making every character again slightly better than the last version will get boring like it did with Star Wars. The Club is already filling in the gaps for the more obscure ARAH figures and would certainly continue to do so after a 6″ line is introduced. A new media tie-in is absolutely necessary to fully reinvigorate the brand, but that discussion has absolutely nothing to do with a discussion about adding a 6″ range to the Joe toy line. Whether the line is pushed as a mass media effort or tailored solely to a small collector base in the period before the next movie, a 6″ line is an exciting addition either way.
Yeah, I think that if Joe Black is released in waves of four like SW, at the same interval, this line could be milked for a number of years.
The major problem with the current GI Joe toy lines has been that it lost it’s original concept. Thirty years ago ARAH was designed primarily as a vehicle/playset action figure toy line. If Hasbro wants to recapture that magic and success GI Joe needs to go back to that basic premise.
Really cool overly articulated action figures are useless if kids don’t have anything to use them with. Half a dozen vehicles (if we are lucky) per line just doesn’t cut it.
Hasbro needs to do a complete reboot of the franchise. Redesigned for today with dedicated media support int he form of new ongoing cartoon and comic series. Update the classic characters and PLEASE continue to add new ones. Don’t be afraid to drop characters whose specialties no longer fit in (sorry Blowtorch, loved you back in the 80’s but you were outdated even then).
But most importantly: BRING BACK THE VEHICLES AND BASES!
I have 2 nephews in the GI Joe age range of 10 and 12. I bought them all the original movie line and POC figures when they came out and they loved them but quickly lost interest because there was nothing for the figures to interact with. I’ve since showed them all the cool stuff ARAH had when I was growing up through youtube videos and they were in love.
The problem with vehicles and playsets is that parents don’t want the expense and retailers don’t want to dedicate the space to something that could be a shelf warmer. There aren’t a lot of vehicles even for properties like SW. Having said that, Gi Joe playsets still rank tops in the “Best Toys of All Time” lists that come out around the holidays. Flagg and Defiant – need I say more.
You make a lot of good points. Do TF fans demand G1 Tformers or else, or demand that G1 is simply updated every year? Maybe they do, but Joe fans definitely seem to feel that if you get away from ARAH then somehow you are betraying the brand. I grew up in the height of the ARAH days and I love it, but I still like Renegades and Sigma 6. Beast Wars is a far cry from G1 but it did really well. I don’t think it is betraying the brand identity to try something new and focus on a subteam like Sky Patrol or Star Brigade. You could build a new toon and a new story but that is also in keeping with overall Gi Joe story.
The biggest bummer is the fact that I get the impression of some folks, based on what they post, that they would rather see Gi Joe dead and buried rather than see something replace ARAH or go in a new direction.
Totally agree. I think it’s pretty much common knowledge that without Beast Wars, Transformers would have died an early death in the mid 90’s. Beast Wars completely revitalized and recaptured the energy of that brand.
I’m sure it would have made some sort of return even if Beast Wars had failed, but Hasbro went outside the box on that one and hit a grand slam. We need them to do the same thing for G.I. Joe, and not worry about collectors so much.
After all, collectors absolutely detested Beast Wars at first, but because of the mainstream success, Hasbro was able to catapult Transformers into things that the collectors want while also doing stuff for the kids as well.
I think Renegades was really the way to go. As a matter of fact, I think Sigma 6 was a really cool idea that was unfairly slammed by collectors. People acted like Sigma 6 was such a huge insult to the brand, when it was a pretty fresh idea. I do feel that sometimes, collectors are holding the brand back. There are other sites where posting that statement would bring instant vilification.