Did you know G.I. Joe, considered the world’s first action figure, was first conceptualized in Brooklyn? The famous toy was invented by NYC native Stanley Weston, who passed away this month at 84 years old. Weston, born in Brooklyn in 1933, sold his idea for a military-themed toy to Hasbro for $100,000 when he was just 30 years old. Hasbro later turned it into a $100 million success, with more generations of the dolls, comic books, a television series and movies following it.
An ad for one of the first G.I. Joe’s created by Hasboro via GeekTyrant
Weston attended New York University before joining the Army as the Korean War ended. When he returned to the city, he completed his degree at NYU and joined the up-and-coming licensing and merchandising industry. According to his brother, Weston’s idea for a military-style doll came from repeated trips to the Army-Navy store in New York and learning everything he could on warfare in the Encyclopedia Britannica.
He later presented his action figure idea to Donald Levine, an executive at Hasbro, who is now credited with naming the toy G.I. Joe and putting it on the market. Levine, a veteran of the Korean War, came up with an 11.5-inch figure with 21 moving parts and outfitted the toy in uniforms of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, with accessories like guns, helmets, and cars. G.I. Joe first hit the shelves in 1964 selling for $4 per doll.
While the action figure remained popular until the late ’60s, the opposition to the Vietnam War forced Hasbro to introduce the “Adventure Team” G.I. Joes that slightly muted the military themes of the original toys. In the 1980s, Hasbro shrunk the figure to just over three inches to model toys made popular by the Star Wars franchise. G.I. Joe was elected into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2004.
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