Soapbox Sunday: Could Hasbro Revitalize the G.I. JOE Brand with a 6-Inch Figure Line?

G.I. JOE Snake Eyes 6-Inch Bootleg (1 of 3)

I’m not a good G.I. JOE fan. When I was a kid, I had a lot of the original 3.75-inch Joes from the mid-80s. I watched the cartoon whenever I could, and I’d wage a lot of war against Cobra on the floor of my bedroom. But as an adult collector, I don’t buy a lot of G.I. JOEs anymore. And although the Hasbro brand has seen some resurgence after a lackluster first live action movie outing with a better received sequel in G.I. JOE: Retaliation, that hasn’t exactly translated into better sales in the toy aisles to kids and their moms either. With the brand losing shelf space at retail, it’s looking rather bleak for the toy line for 2014.

A couple years ago, I picked up a bootleg Snake Eyes in the 6-inch scale. I don’t know the origin of the toy, but it holds together like something made in a factory. It’s got the articulation setup of the 25th Anniversary Joes. And it’s got almost everything that I’d want to see in a G.I. JOE toy line for the adult me.

That leads me to my topic today – could Hasbro breathe life into G.I. JOE with a new six-inch action figure line?

G.I. JOE Snake Eyes 6-Inch Bootleg (2 of 3)

There’s only a few toy brands that you could consider “evergreen” – ones that have and will run forever. Mattel has Barbie. In action figures, there’s the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (actually the longest running action figure brand out there) and Star Wars. If the toy lines you collect don’t fall into the evergreen category, then you’re going to see the normal life cycle for the brand, in which it goes through: launch, its heyday, its decline, and eventually a retrenchment period where you as a collector will go wanting.

Joes are in that lull now, and they’re not alone. Mattel has hit that rough patch with its DC Universe Classics line, just like Hasbro did with Marvel Legends a few years back.

One option brand managers pursue when their toy lines are in the dumps is relaunching the brand with new product lines. Mattel is in the process of doing that this year with its DC retail brands, launching a new 4-inch scale line and a Total Heroes line partially aimed at collectors (which I think could be a horrific train wreck). When Hasbro’s initial foray into Marvel Legends didn’t follow the success that Toy Biz had with the line, they kept the Marvel brand alive with the 4-inch scale Marvel Universe line.

Even the formidable Star Wars figure lines have seen some weakness lately, and Hasbro has preemptively launched the Black Series. I think it’s time for the Hasbro Joe brand team to borrow that playbook and give 6-inch Joes a try.

G.I. JOE Snake Eyes 6-Inch Bootleg (3 of 3)

As with any toy line with established collectors, any time you change it up, you’ll see fallout in your existing customer base. We’re seeing that with long-time Star Wars and DC fans today, and we saw it with Marvel Universe a few years back. When Joes hit a rough patch a few years ago, we saw it when they tried to bring life back to the brand with Sigma Six.

But I figure with the brand in such dire straights, a new line in a new scale is better than nothing at all. We’ve seen what Hasbro can do with Star Wars and a couple more inches of toy. Now let’s see what they can do with G.I. JOE.

That’s my take. G.I. JOE fans, past and present, what do you think? If Hasbro launched a 6-inch figure line for G.I. JOE, would you buy it? Leave a comment and let me know.

30 thoughts on “Soapbox Sunday: Could Hasbro Revitalize the G.I. JOE Brand with a 6-Inch Figure Line?”

  1. I would probably buy a couple but I would also question the longevity of such a line were it to become another Sigma 6- didn’t that nearly bankrupt their boys toys division at one point or at least severely hurt them if I recall correctly? Then you have the “Thundercats Bandai” potential where we only get a couple and are left with a huge hole in the event something happens and it’s deep sixed (no pun intended).

  2. AdamBradleyFreeman – you make a good point when you bring up longevity. 
    one thing that I think hurt both Sigma Six and the Bandai’s classic Thundercats is that they didn’t fit in with any other toy lines. the potential of a 6-inch Joe line would be that it could live with Hasbro’s other 6-inch lines, much like how Marvel Universe could live with Star Wars and Joes.
    when Hasbro got back into the 3.75-inchers with the 25th Anniversary figures, it was for initially for those two boxed sets of the core Joes and Cobras. they could follow a similar approach in 6-inches and see how it goes from there. what do you think?

  3. I have the ENTIRE story behind that six inch Snake eyes. Pretty interesting. Left you my contact info in your messages. I have one as well.

  4. They should do a pair of waves to test the waters: (Cobra Trooper BAF)
    Suggested Wave 1: Duke, Cobra Commander, Scarlett, Baroness, Roadblock, Firefly 
    Suggested Wave 2: (B.A.T. BAF)
    Flint, Destro, Lady Jaye, Zartan, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow 
    If it works then Wave 3: (Cobra Viper BAF)
    Shipwreck, Tomax, Spirit, Xamot, General Hawk, Serpentor
    then the rest of the main joes. (and Sgt. Slaughter)

  5. SamuRon AdamBradleyFreeman  – Yes and please! There is so much potential here. I am not a huge Joe fan but would buy nearly everything they put out in 6″ if it were up to the standards of ML and the new SW Black line.

  6. Marvel Legends did not “hit a lull.” It was the most successful line on the shelves until Toy Biz lost the license and Hasbro launched an inferior line with terrible packaging, limited articulation, and terrible sculpts and paint jobs. Mattel killed the DC Universe line by putting out figures at retail that no kid and most current fans didn’t recognize… as soon as their was an entire WAVE of JSA and Super Friends figures, that was the end. The G.I. Joe Pursuit of Cobra line, following the terrible figures modeled after the horrendous first movie, were a great success, and never warmed shelves in California (with the exception of one “Arctic Destro” figure. But once again, Hasbro killed their success with limited articulation figures based on the second, slightly less-terrible movies, collectors said no, and the movie didn’t make kids want to buy the characters any more than collectors. Not to mention the worst figures were in the first wave, clogging pegs with unsellable figures after a year-long movie delay. The “lull” this line is experiencing is, as with many of these lines, the fault of poor decisions on assortment and distribution by executives who are out of touch with their fan base.

  7. Yeah, as Charisma said, the problems with the GI Joe brand are caused by Hasbro’s ineptitude and the movie delaying a year, not any sort of “problem” with the current scale(the new Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow, and Kwinn are easily the three best figures I’ve gotten this year in any line so far). I don’t have any faith that they’d fix all those problems just by launching a new scale, especially with how they’ve mishandled both Marvel scales this past year.

    That aside, if they launch a new line alongside the normal Joe figures, then fine, that’s cool. But if they just cancel all the great looking unreleased product they’ve been showing off at recent conventions in favor of a new scale, I think that would drive more fans away than attract new ones. Aside from the botched launch wave of Retaliation product, I think the Joe line since with Pursuit of Cobra began has been the best retail line out there. Amazing detail, perfect articulation, tons of accessories, good amount of vehicles. To trade all that for a few $20 6″ figures would be, for me at least, a huge bummer.

  8. I really don’t think that a six inch line would do very well for Joe – remember the Sigma Six line didn’t fare very well despite being intricately articulated and accessorized.  Joes either need to be 12″ or 1/18th.  6″ would just cost a ton more in tooling which Hasbro just doesn’t have the funds to do.  Even if they bastardized existing Marvel Legends tooling it wouldn’t be the same.  GI Joes’ issues aren’t with scale as stated below, it’s the release of product, the stupid moves they’ve made with drivers, and the inconsistent distribution at retail.  
    Besides with the library of tooling they have now for the 25th/30th line that really could be evergreen if they stopped putting in Duke/Roadblock/Snake-Eyes in every single wave.

  9. I’ve been waiting for this to happen ever since I first bought a ML figure. It absolutely would NOT be that hard to accomplish using the existing ML tools and some new ones. However, I will only buy the figures if they have the articulation-point styles of something like the Bucky-Cap figure. One elbro/lack of bicep swivel or one swivel ankle and I’m out.

  10. Here’s the thing – GI Joes are peg-warming and not selling at a $10 price-point – what makes you think they’ll sell at double that price?  Sure there’s a few collectors who would buy them, but there’s nowhere near enough to sustain a line of toys, and the tooling is more expensive than you think.  Each figure, even using existing ML molds, would run in the near six figure range just to tool.  Hasbro has already got a winning formula with more recent “ultimate” figures – expanding the line to 6″ isn’t the best move at the moment.  

    Remember, it’s been tried and failed.  

    Heck, Marvel Legends and other 6″ lines aren’t doing very well at retail anymore.  More and more 1/18th scale figures are becoming the norm.  I’ll be very very surprised if the Star Wars Black line runs for more than 3 -4 waves total.  I see them peg warming already.

  11. WilliamNoetling 
    It hasn’t been tried and failed. Show me 6″ Joes that were in stores. Especially in the ML style. There never were.
    Your correlation between price and sales doesn’t take into effect size or style quality. Sigma Six was garbage from a style perspective, compared to the style of ML. 
    6″ Joes would be much larger than 4″ Joes and could have much more detail in their acc. and even their clothing-part sculpts. If they gave us minimal acc. they could also sell them for less than $20.
    If they make widely available 6″ scale Joes in ML style for $16 plus tax and don’t screw up the art. I’ll buy every one of them.

  12. SamuRon AdamBradleyFreeman I could see that working even going as far to say making it a retail exclusive to a specific  store chain (I know I know it sucks but it works marketing wise) just to test the waters.

  13. Here was my list of 6″ scale Joes I made up around the Hasbro got the ML license:
    I think it could be great with 1 out of 2 cases being the variant case, and the chase figure replacing one non-variant so the variant case would be either 5-6 variants and the chase, or 5 variants, one regular figure w/variant BAF part and one chase. You could adjust it so there’s only 6 figures and the chase if you don’t want a 7-figure wave as well.
    Hasbro could either do vehicles with the drivers, or do them as mail-in figures or something along those lines. If you don’t like the idea of mail-ins, then I’m sure a boxed-set of drivers would sell nicely.
    My picks for first 5 series are as follows:

    Wave 1:
    Snake Eyes v1 w/rem. backpack, Uzi and ammo/E.O.D. pack (similar to Beachhead’s). 
    Unmasked variant w/scarred face.
    Scarlett v1 w/crossbow, rem. throwing stars, and wakizashi. 
    Purple costume variant w/ponytail.
    Grunt v1 w/rem. helmet, M-16 and M1911-A1 pistol. 
    Hawk v1 variant!
    Stalker v1 w/rem. beret, Pulverizer and Ka-Bar combat knife.
    Cobra Commander v1 w/removable helmet, pistol and cobra staff.
    Darker blue variant w/hood & cape!
    Cobra Trooper w/removable helmet, Dragonuv sniper rifle, pistol and combat knife. 
    Viper Pilot variant.
    Chase: Cobra Officer w/rem. helmet and AK-47 assault rifle
    BAF: R.A.M. Cycle w/Dreadnok colored variant parts

    Boxed Set:
    Breaker w/rem. helmet, comm. set and Beretta pistol
    Flash w/rem. helmet, visor, backpack and lazer rifle
    Short Fuze w/rem. helmet, visor, backpack w/rem. mortar rounds and mortar w/bipod
    Zap w/rem. helmet, backpack w/rem. bazooka rounds and bazooka

    Wave 2:
    Airborne v1 w/rem. helmet, backpack, M14 rifle and zipline. 
    Jungle camo variant.
    Snowjob w/rem. backpack, skis, laser rifle and ski poles. 
    Removed hood variant
    Gung-Ho v1 w/rem. hat, backpack and grenade launcher. 
    Variant w/hair and larger tattoo
    Torpedo v1 w/rem. mask, backpack, flippers and speargun. 
    Black and yellow variant
    Major Bludd w/rem. helmet, backpack and pistol w/rem. missiles!
    Destro w/rem. backpack and pistol. 
    Unmasked variant
    Chase: Duke v1 w/rem. helmet, backpack, Pulverizer and binoculars
    BAF: White S.N.A.K.E. armor, variants have blue variant armor parts

    Doc w/rem. helmet, black sunglasses and stretcher
    Tripwire w/rem. helmet, backpack w/rem. mines, and mine detector

    2pack (variant):
    Doc w/OD green clothes and silver sunglasses
    Tripwire w/orange (Listen ‘n’ Fun) outfit

    Wave 3: (Bring On The Badguys)
    Recondo w/rem. hat, backpack and rifle. 
    Tiger Force variant
    Roadblock v1 w/rem. backpack, M-60 machine gun and Tripod.
    Tiger-Force variant.
    Spirit w/rem. backpack, arrow gun and Freedom. 
    Sl. Mar. variant
    Baroness v1 w/rem. backpack, rifle and glasses. 
    Blue variant
    Firefly v1 w/rem. backpack, sub-gun and walkie-talkie.
    Jungle camo variant
    Storm Shadow w/rem. backpack w/rem. arrows, ninja-to, tanto, and bow.
    Satan variant!
    Chase: Zartan w/color-change plastic, rem. backpack, mask, pistol, and torso armor.
    BAF: C.L.A.W. glider

    Boxed Set:
    Blowtorch w/rem. helmet and breather mask, backpack, and flamethrower
    Mutt w/Junkyard, rem. helmet, Uzi, baton and leash
    Ripcord w/rem. parachute pack, helmet and rifle
    Scrap-Iron w/rem. helmet, missile stand w/rem. missiles, and hand-held controller

    Wave 4:
    Snake Eyes v2 w/Timber, rem. backpack, Uzi, and commando sword. Unmasked variant
    Dusty w/rem. helmet, backpack, bullpup style rifle and bipod. 
    Tiger Force variant
    Flint w/rem. beret, backpack and riot-gun. 
    Tiger Force variant
    Footloose w/rem. helmet, backpack, M-16 assault rifle, and L.A.W. Sl. Mar. variant
    Buzzer v1 w/rem. backpack frame, gas can, and chainsaw.
    Red shirt variant
    Ripper v1 w/rem. backpack, jaws of life, and laser rifle w/bayonet.
    Purple shirt variant
    Torch v1 w/rem. backpack and blowtorch 
    Chase: Lady Jaye w/rem. hat, quiver and javelins. 
    BAF: Trouble Bubble flight pod. Dark-grey variant parts

    Tomax and Xamot w/pistols

    2pack (variant):
    Crimson costume versions

    Boxed Set 1:
    Airtight w/rem. helmet, backpack and vaccuum gun
    Alpine w/rem. hat, goggles, backpack, grapnel rifle and sub-gun
    Barbecue w/rem. helmet, backpack, foam pistol and axe
    Bazooka w/rem. helmet, backpack w/rem. bazooka rounds and bazooka
    Shipwreck w/rem. watch cap, flintlock pistol and Polly

    Boxed Set 2:
    Crimson Guard w/rem. helmet, backpack and AK-48 assualt rifle.
    Eel w/rem. helmet, backpack, speargun, and flippers
    Snow Serpent w/rem. helmet, backpack, missile w/bipod, parachute, AK-47 w/skeletal stock, and snow shoes
    Tele-Viper w/rem. helmet, backpack, camera and assault rifle

    Wave 5:
    General Hawk w/rem. helmet, jacket, M-16 and M1911-A1 pistol. 
    Beachhead w/rem. backpack, sub-gun and ammo pack/pouch. 
    Unmasked variant
    Lifeline w/rem. helmet and goggles, backpack, and pistol. 
    Tiger Force variant
    Lowlight w/rem. cap, backpack, sniper rifle w/bipod and Uzi. 
    Sl. Mar. variant
    B.A.T. w/rem. hand, backpack, claw, flamethrower and machine gun.
    Inferno B.A.T. variant
    Viper w/rem. helmet, backpack and assault rifle.
    Python variant
    Chase: Sci-Fi w/rem. helmet, backpack, lazer rifle and little plastic dinosaurs
    BAF: Regular Skyhawk. Variants have Dreadnok Skyhawk parts

    Zandar w/color-change plastic, rem. backpack and arrows, arrow gun
    Zarana w/color-change, rem. backpack and saw-gun

    2pack 2:
    Dr. Mindbender w/rem. glasses, cape, sound generator and pistol
    Monkeywrench w/rem. silver mirror shades and assualt rifle

    Boxed Set 1:
    Dial-Tone w/rem. beret, backpack, and rifle 
    Iceberg w/rem. hat and goggles, backpack and M-60 machine gun
    Leatherneck w/rem. cap, backpack and M-16 w/grenade launcher underslung
    Mainframe w/rem. helmet, backpack, laptop and Beretta pistol
    Wet Suit w/rem. helmet and mask, backpack, hydro-sled and flippers

    Special Brazil Missions boxed set:
    Convention exclusive recolored version of Boxed Set 1 which includes:
    Claymore w/rem. helmet, backpack and Uzi instead of Iceberg.

    And you can continue it on from there.

  14. hasbro started to let me down in 2009.they released wolverines X-MEN ORIGINS.but i never got a 6 inch movie edition dead pool action figure from the movie line. nore did i get a movie edition gamebit a blob. when they did X-MEN ORIGINS i didn’t get movie edition havok banshee or ezazel .AND STILL I DON’T SEE SILVER SAMURAI the movie edition.  i hope they do the right thing with gi joe.

  15. but i still love hasbro i just wanna see more 6 inch movie figures and i may not be the only one thats what im trying to say.

  16. I would buy but only a limited amount. Keep it four or five waves only and showcase Duke, Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, Roadblock, Scarlett, Destro, Major Bludd, & the Baroness. Add the Cobra Troops to army build and that is it. Plus lower the price point to $15 across the board

  17. I have never bought a joe. i have absolutely zero interest in 3.75″ figures. But the characters intrigue me, and I would love a 6″ line. And would buy them all. And anyone comparing an honest go at the 6″ scale to sigma 6 must be joking.  Those figures looked like wal mart brand joes. I’m fairly certain that no one is suggesting they try that again.

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