This is the first in a series of posts wherein I document the rebuilding of my vintage G.I. Joe collection one figure and vehicle at a time. But first a bit of background. You may not know it by reading this site, but I am a child of the 1980s. And like any red-blooded American child growing up in the '80s, I took pride in my toy collection. And while I dabbled in He-Man figures and even had a decent M.A.S.K. collection, for me it was all about Transformers and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Recently I decided that with my son on the cusp of prime toy-playing age, it was time to restore one of my old collections to something approaching its former glory. I picked up a few Transformers G1 minibots and a few M.A.S.K., vehicles, and that was fun enough. But I don't think rebuil
The icon that was to be known as Mr. Potato head was born in the early 1950s when Brooklyn-born inventor George Lerner came up with the idea of inserting small, pronged body and face parts into fruits and vegetables to create a "funny face man" toy. After Lerner sold his idea to Hasbro -- then known as Hassenfeld Bros. -- Mr. Potato Head was officially introduced on May 1, 1952. The original toy kit cost $0.98 and contained plastic hands, feet, ears, two mouths, two pairs of eyes, four noses, three hats, eyeglasses, a pipe, and eight felt pieces resembling facial hair. By the mid 1960s, stricter government safety regulations meant that the plastic accessories could no longer easily puncture real food, so Hasbro introduced the all-plastic Mr. Potato Head in 1964. They also introduced
I've only ever known the smooth, fully plastic Mr. Potato Head toy, so it blows my mind a little bit to know that Hasbro originally produced what was quite literally just plastic body parts that you stuck on a real spud. Witness this ad from 1954: I mean, look at that thing. People bash the Pet Rock, but this thing is about half a step above that. Maybe if the Pet Rock had good accessories and you could stick it on a plastic body we'd remember it more fondly. Fun trivia: On April 30, 1952, Mr. Potato Head became the first toy advertised on television. Here's a vintage example of an early ad.
If you had asked the 10-year-old version of me what the most important things in the universe were, my response would have been, "G.I. Joe and Transformers!" Oh sure, I dabbled in other toy lines like M.A.S.K. and Star Wars, and I had an OK comic book collection (particularly Thor and The Avengers), but when it came time to get down to the business of serious playtime, I was all about Real American Heroes and toys that were more than met the eye. But it's G.I. Joe specifically that I want to reflect upon today, so here is a list of some of my favorite Joe characters from the series' golden era (dating from the relaunch of the line in 1982 till some time around 1987 (which is when I started to lose interest). Rock 'n Roll Rock 'n Roll will always hold a special place in my heart,...