Do action figures really suck?

Posted by Sanjeev 
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Prometheum5
Weird. While I agree with your theory that the not-doll concept of GI Joe was rooted in some pretty damaging classical gender roles, I would blame today's lack of a dress up style toy for boys on a shitty toy market and the cost of making such a toy far before I thought to blame modern gender theory.

I'm not trying to blame gender theory as much as the self-destructive marketing that went into the line. They developed dollies and then tried to position them as anti-dollies. The transparency of the scheme blew up in their faces. On a related note, I think the militaristic angle did not gel with the adventurism and further confused the line.

As for the shit market and costs... The girls toy aisle is still full of dollies. And we also have bronies. I think it would be possible to develop a line of dollies that would be accessible to a male audience. I just don't think that it would be a good idea to bring in traditional connotations of superheroes or militaries. And I think it would be better served with highly stylized aesthetics.


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Prometheum5
The uncanny valley thing is a good point, but I only agree with part of it. I think the later 12" incarnations of ARAH characters that started coming out in the 90's look much worse than the 60's/70's Joe did, viewed both when they came out and with today's perspective. Vintage Joe is styled such that you can look at it today and see a primitively sculpted toy by guys who were just figuring this shit out. The later stuff and bad high-end sculpts look much worse to me, since they are clearly trying harder to look more 'realistic', so when they fail (which they do), it's more apparent and upsetting. Waxen-faced Dragon figures and Hot Toys' Latino Roberto Downey Jr. look far more wrong to my eye.

The 1980s and 90s Big Joe Studs were awful, awful, awful. But I don't get the appeal of faux-primitive aesthetics. Without the lenses of nostalgia or technological histories in play I can't say 1980s Joes were worse than the 1960s Joes. Side by side, they're both terrible. I also tend (and, at the time, tended) to hate on vintage toys because they just looked like garbage when they were based upon humans. As I kid I couldn't stand vintage Han Solo, Duke, He-Man, or any human without a mask. With the only bounds being our imagination, we still had to stick boring ass human characters into otherwise fantastical landscapes? Ugh. (This is also why I think that when Funko pushes a George McFly figure they're committing a crime against toys.)

As for Hot Toys or other high-end 1:6 companies - when they fail at human likenesses, they fail pretty fucking hard. It's like painting - when you go for realism, you can't go 99% and call it a success. That 1% off-model lack of attention to detail will derail the whole thing. The rules don't apply with the same precision in stylized genres - no one can accuse Picasso of failing at cubism. For a comparable toy example, look at 3A. I'm not crazy about all of their artistic direction, but their Tommorrow King and Pascha figures hit a really good balance between human-enough-to-be-an-avatar and stylized-enough-to-not-be-creepy. And, technologically speaking, 1:6 figures in the 1960s could have hit those notes just as well. But they didn't even aim in the right direction (aside from Henshin Cyborg).
I don't think this argument that the marketing of 12" Joe was self-defeating makes any sense because it was wildly successful for like a decade. The Secret History of G.I. Joe

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
Sanjeev (Admin)
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Gcrush
The transparency of the scheme blew up in their faces.

Well, like Jeremy said, the 1/6 scale really WAS wildly popular...hence Takara's desire to capitalize on it. But with the success of the Adventure People, Takara knew they couldn't keep selling the same translucent dollies forever and wanted to convert to a smaller scale specifically to market vehicles. So...if anything...it was the 3-3/4" scale that ultimately killed 1/6. But it had a great run.

But I totally agree: the marketing strategy of "dolls are for girls! try our not-at-all-dolls for boys!" is dumb as hell. Although I think that was more a product of contemporary sexist views...and less likely the cause of them (like, classic Joes certainly reinforced existing sexist tropes...but it didn't create them to begin with).

I mostly agree with the other points.
I also think you're leaving out some important factors when it comes to the switch to smaller scales, like for instance the first size shrinking was to like 8" or 6" or something like that, in the '70s, which pretty much exactly lines up with the gas crisis. Makes sense plastic would become more expensive.

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/20/2014 04:01PM by Ginrai.
Yeah, I pretty much think that the 3 3/4" stuff is what did it in finally. When you could carry your favorite character around in your pocket, it beat the pants off any 12" tall doll. That and vehicles/playsets/etc. just sealed the deal.

More serious than thou
The stuff I've browsed from Japan interviewing Takara staff indicates that the main reason for the size shift was due to rising costs due to the "oil shock" of the era. The vehicle/base stuff was an added side benefit that came into its own quickly after the initial Microman Zone launch.

Of course it's easy to see why they chose that particular size, going from one Standard foot tall to one metric decimeter (10 cm).
The real problem was that the common household Barbie couldn't learn enough nursing to take care of Joe's wounded in combat. With rising casualty rates, the Government lost it's taste for losing full-sized fighting men, leading to the introduction of the more expendable "little guy" that was sent to the toy shelves in mass throughout the 80's!
Sanjeev (Admin)
Ah! Hence the further evolution into the Diaclone scale! :P
Sanjeev (Admin)
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SWEET.

JEEZUS.
Interesting.... though my guess is they'll be even pricier than the Gentle Giant Star Wars jumbo figures because of more parts, articulation and accessories.... but a 12 inch vintage style Storm Shadow would even cause me to go "hmmm...".
Yeah, there's a few of these I'd go for. Destro and helmet Cobra Commander especially. Very few of the Joes are odd-ball enough to make it worth owning a big version of one.

More serious than thou
Sanjeev (Admin)
An actually-color-changing Zartan would be killer. A BAT with a lenticular chest sticker. Can I get a Golobulus in here??? :P
Yeah, it's pretty much all Cobra guys that are worth it, IMO. Maybe a Snakeyes, Gung Ho, Grand Slam, Snow Job, Roadblock or Scarlet for the Joes. The rest are all just kind of generic military guys for the most part. The Cobra characters were always where Hasbro placed the majority of their creativity.

More serious than thou
Sanjeev (Admin)
Yeah, I'd say that's mostly the case. But then again, aren't bad guys--in general--often cooler anyway? Who wants a Luke Skywalker figure when you can get a Darth Vader??? ;)

Oh....I'll take a 1/6 SNAKE armor, please.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/25/2014 10:12AM by Sanjeev.
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Sanjeev
Yeah, I'd say that's mostly the case. But then again, aren't bad guys--in general--often cooler anyway? Who wants a Luke Skywalker figure when you can get a Darth Vader??? ;)

Oh....I'll take a 1/6 SNAKE armor, please.

That's the one Phil Reed mentioned would be cool as well. I don't care about ARAH, but I might throw down the $500 for a scaled up SNAKE suit. 'Course, we could probably make that ourselves for much less... just a matter of cutting it into small enough pieces ;)

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fujikuro
Yeah, it's pretty much all Cobra guys that are worth it, IMO. Maybe a Snakeyes, Gung Ho, Grand Slam, Snow Job, Roadblock or Scarlet for the Joes. The rest are all just kind of generic military guys for the most part. The Cobra characters were always where Hasbro placed the majority of their creativity.

I don't necessarily agree. The early ones, sure, most of them were pretty much the same color and I'll admit, I had two copies of one generic guy that I used as a grunt... but the bad guys have cool helmets and covered faces and whatnot, while the good guys have to have utility or personality or something (besides Snake Eyes, the only one allowed to look cool until they overdid it and came out with fifty ninjas).

So you get Chuckles and Shipwreck and Bazooka and all kinds of looney good guys that they built the cartoon around. They certainly weren't generic.
Watch the first one they release will be a Stalker or Grunt or Rock and Roll....
SNOW JOB? There's a GI Joe named Snow Job? Does he hang out with guys with names like The Rimmer or what?

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
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Ginrai
SNOW JOB? There's a GI Joe named Snow Job? Does he hang out with guys with names like The Rimmer or what?

He hangs out with Wet Down and Tunnel Rat and fights the evil Cobra Snow Serpents.
Sanjeev (Admin)
It's a lifestyle choice.
Ahem. A Snow Job is a con. So, yeah.

I'm one of those folks who doesn't much give a crap what happened in the Joe cartoon or the Transformers cartoon. I want my modern toys accurate to the original figures, not to the cartoons. So, those Joes don't really mean much for me. But I do remember liking Stalker and that one paratrooper guy as well. Those were pretty cool looking figures at the time.

And Snake Armor? Hell yeah!

More serious than thou
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Ginrai
I don't think this argument that the marketing of 12" Joe was self-defeating makes any sense because it was wildly successful for like a decade. The Secret History of G.I. Joe

I'm skeptical of any (toy company) hagiography like that. They throw out that $16.9 million figure like it means something but we have no idea if: A) it is accurate; or B) how it compares to other brand data from the same era. The reason I maintain that the whole way Hasbro treated Joe Dolls was a failure was because the 1:6 boys' dollie format died out relatively quickly. I suspect this has far less to do with the cost of oil as opposed to the internal corporate taboos they placed upon it. Why?

If we look at the history of Barbie there was never any "cost-cutting" shrinkage in format despite it undergoing the same economic challenges. The 12" girlie-dollie format never went away and, instead, expanded to include other properties. That never happened with Joe-like boy dollies. Hasbro might have saved money by changing Joe's format from 12" to 3.75", but without any data we can't know if it's true. And it doesn't account for why other companies in the same market wouldn't have followed suit.

In other words, I think the "high cost of business" line about shrinking Joe is a convenient line of misdirection that dodges the issue of a company not even being able to openly manage their own product.
Sanjeev (Admin)
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Gcrush
The reason I maintain that the whole way Hasbro treated Joe Dolls was a failure was because the 1:6 boys' dollie format died out relatively quickly.

Wut.

From 1964 to around '76 or so, Hasbro was pumping out 1/6 Joe product at a reasonably consistent pace. That's more than a decade...and in ANY era of corporate toy-making, that's a fucking *ETERNITY*. Hell, half that would be considered a very successful run.
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Gcrush
The reason I maintain that the whole way Hasbro treated Joe Dolls was a failure was because the 1:6 boys' dollie format died out relatively quickly. I suspect this has far less to do with the cost of oil as opposed to the internal corporate taboos they placed upon it. Why?

You've lost me. Plus, now that I've had more time to think about it, I don't even really believe in my initial idea that the line went away due to rising costs.

I've been reading a lot about the history of GI Joe lately, and the line was a colossal success when it came out. GI Joe: The Story Behind the Legend claims that Hasbro sold millions of Joes in the first year alone. Then the line went on for over a decade, long enough to become a cultural icon and staple of a generation. The marketing is almost genius in a way... sales were faltering due to anti-war sentiment, and Hasbro managed to reinvent the line as Adventure Team, arguably a more successful and recognizable line than the initial military dolls.

I'm starting to think that the real driver of the shift from things like America's Movable Fighting Man to A Real Action Hero was the shift towards character and media driven marketing. The 12" dolls managed to sell gazillions of units without a cartoon. Kids were already used to and enjoyed the dress up aspect of the 12" dolls, so I don't know if they would have fit well with a character line. The ARAH line was a reaction to Kenner's juggernaut Star Wars line, where kids started wanting figures and vehicles from what they saw on TV.

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Sanjeev
From 1964 to around '76 or so, Hasbro was pumping out 1/6 Joe product at a reasonably consistent pace. That's more than a decade...and in ANY era of corporate toy-making, that's a fucking *ETERNITY*. Hell, half that would be considered a very successful run.

Well, compare it to the 60 years that building blocks have had. Or the 50 years or so that 1/6 girl dollies have had. Or the more than 40 years that diecast pocket-sized cars have had. Or the almost 40 years that 3.75" actiony figures have had. Or the 30 years that 5" fight-figures have had. Or the more than 20 years 6" actiony figures have had. And so on.

I agree that a decade is a long time. And would be an unimaginable period of success for a single property in the current market. But as a format with built-in play patterns, it didn't prove to be very enduring or adaptable.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Well, now you're talking about them like they're an entire genre unto themselves. You can't really compare GI Joe with ALL girl dolls or ALL diecast cars. To make that fair, we'd have to consider ALL 1/6 dolls lines for boys...which isn't an argument you're gonna win. But I think I see where you're going with this: you're saying that the 1/6 scale is obsolete as a format for boys' toys?

If so, I can kinda see that. As an adult, I can see picking up a 1/6 dolly because of nostalgia for toys (like reissue old-timey 1/6 Joes...for most people anyway...as for me, I'm looking forward to Gentle Giant's upcoming upscaled ARAH Joes!) or nostalgia for characters (Sideshow's upcoming Stormshadow. Rowr!). But those aren't reasons why any kid would want them in this day and age. Kids--if they even *want* toys--seem more into smaller items. 3-3/4" figs and whatnot.

But then again, what other vintage toy format still endures half a century later??? I mean, even vaunted sofubi kaiju aren't viable as toys for children--they're just boutique designer collectibles for nostalgic adults.
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Prometheum5
You've lost me. Plus, now that I've had more time to think about it, I don't even really believe in my initial idea that the line went away due to rising costs.

I've never bought into the rising costs line of crap as a rationale explanation. I do, however, think it reflects the discourse still surrounding the product - it focuses on external causes rather than saying that hyper-masculinizing Joe because they didn't know how to handle a boy-doll in the first place was a mistake.

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Prometheum5
I've been reading a lot about the history of GI Joe lately, and the line was a colossal success when it came out. GI Joe: The Story Behind the Legend claims that Hasbro sold millions of Joes in the first year alone. Then the line went on for over a decade, long enough to become a cultural icon and staple of a generation. The marketing is almost genius in a way... sales were faltering due to anti-war sentiment, and Hasbro managed to reinvent the line as Adventure Team, arguably a more successful and recognizable line than the initial military dolls.

I thought Joe and Adventure Team both had similar runs or around five years, give or take. I don't know how we could gauge the success of one against the other without some numbers.

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Prometheum5
I'm starting to think that the real driver of the shift from things like America's Movable Fighting Man to A Real Action Hero was the shift towards character and media driven marketing. The 12" dolls managed to sell gazillions of units without a cartoon. Kids were already used to and enjoyed the dress up aspect of the 12" dolls, so I don't know if they would have fit well with a character line. The ARAH line was a reaction to Kenner's juggernaut Star Wars line, where kids started wanting figures and vehicles from what they saw on TV.

I agree with your take on Hasbro basically apeing Kenner's little doods because of the media angle. The reliance upon media driven marketing has pretty much been a staple of the industry for thirty years now.
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Sanjeev
Well, now you're talking about them like they're an entire genre unto themselves. You can't really compare GI Joe with ALL girl dolls or ALL diecast cars. To make that fair, we'd have to consider ALL 1/6 dolls lines for boys...which isn't an argument you're gonna win. But I think I see where you're going with this: you're saying that the 1/6 scale is obsolete as a format for boys' toys?

Basically. But I think Joe had a hand in making it obsolete because of how Joe came to define what a 1/6 scale doll for boys meant. Hasbro introduced a new genre and then mismanaged it when they didn't know how to promote or develop something that, internally, they treated as taboo. Hasbro wanted to ape the success of girls' dolls by creating a boys' doll to rival it - that might have been a challenge to existing gender stereotypes, but instead of going with it they over-conformed by hyper-masculinizing Joe. Hasbro continued to insist that, "Boys' dolls equal war," right up until it killed the original Joe. Adventure Team was a good salvage, but it still relied upon a conflict-driven play pattern that didn't align with what girls' dolls do. No one ever stopped to consider how or why girls play with their dolls, nor how or why some boys play with girls' dolls.

I can seriously imagine an alternate reality where a toy company successfully integrates play patterns and genre to create a more enduring mainstream product. I even think, to an extent, Japanese companies that cater to bizarro moe loving otaku fetishes create dolls that closely match the play patterns of what girls do with dolls - dress them up and enact mundane scenarios using fantasy characters. Albeit the otaku probably end up rubbing their penises on them when they're done playing since they are disgusting grown ass adults with seriously crippling interpersonal issues.

I think we see something similar with the high-end, ultra-realistic 1:6 scale women that are in the US market, too. Over at places as mainstream as BBTS adults can throw down for a consumer-configured (skin, bust, hair), seamless, poseable, anatomically accurate dolls that they then dress up in custom tailored clothing (and presumably jack-off in front of). I think this type of weirdness also harkens back to the origins of Barbie as based upon the Bild Lilli doll (which was originally marketed towards German adults as a kind of high-end, briefcase-sized sexy doll).


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Sanjeev
If so, I can kinda see that. As an adult, I can see picking up a 1/6 dolly because of nostalgia for toys (like reissue old-timey 1/6 Joes...for most people anyway...as for me, I'm looking forward to Gentle Giant's upcoming upscaled ARAH Joes!) or nostalgia for characters (Sideshow's upcoming Stormshadow. Rowr!). But those aren't reasons why any kid would want them in this day and age. Kids--if they even *want* toys--seem more into smaller items. 3-3/4" figs and whatnot.

This gets into a different discussion about kids not playing with toys and playing games instead. I buy that to an extent - toys might become less profitable than they were when compared to digital media consumption, but I don't think they'll die as a genre. Though, again, I think that the rhetoric about the End of Toys fits tightly with the dominant discourse.


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Sanjeev
But then again, what other vintage toy format still endures half a century later??? I mean, even vaunted sofubi kaiju aren't viable as toys for children--they're just boutique designer collectibles for nostalgic adults.

But boutique sofubi and mass-marketed-to-children sofubi were always going to be different. And aren't there still the latter?

Anyway, I'll whip out some hyperbole and say that dolls are an enduring genre of toys - perhaps even the first. Many cultures throughout history have had them and they appear to have been developed independantly, too. Once a society reaches a certain level of material subsistence and technology they're probably bound to start popping out dress-em-up avatars that fit their culture. In Joe's case, I think Hasbro interpreted American culture too rigidly and ended up making something that over-conformed to an unrealistically segregated view of society. The early run-away success of Joe only further deepened the scope of its inevitable extinction.

Joe was awesome in the beginning because, "Holy shit, no one is making mass-market dolls for boys," but then it tanked because, "Holy shit, these dolls are only about war," and the fallout has been a rather enduring, "Dolls are for girls and boys toys equal conflict," discourse that has frozen things in place.

Here's my TLDR take-away: I'm willing to bet that 1:6 dolls for boys could have been an enduring toy genre if the first ones on the scene had more closely hewed to how girls play with dolls without inserting hyper-gendered connotations to compensate for perceived cultural taboos. I'm basing this in part on the observation that such dolls continue to be profitable when sold in a high-end, sexualized context to adult men, pointing to a play pattern that probably transcends rigid gendered stereotypes. Hasbro helped kill 1:6 boy dolls as a genre becuase they couldn't deal with connotations it seems they brought to the table themselves.
I took some of my old Joe boxes out of storage. I couldn't bring myself to open them. I'm pretty sure they're conclusive proof that action figures do indeed suck.







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Sanjeev (Admin)
Woulda replied sooner...but SRGM and all...

Anyway, I think I hear what you're saying. Despite *actually* being wildly successful for over a decade, they DID play themselves by pigeon-holing the subgenre they created. But I'm still a little hesitant to say that they fucked up by hyper-masculinizing 1/6 dolls for boys. I mean, does life imitate art or does art imitate life? They could simply have been exhibiting/exercising the predominant, contemporary form of sexism...and just didn't know any fucking better.

Also, while I'm not a huge fan of realistic pure war themes in toys (I shudder to imagine kids today playing with Mega Bloks' Call of Duty toys...as ingeniously-designed as they are), I'm not convinced that conflict-driven play patterns are unhealthy. Conflict implies cooperative social behavior; for example, when we were kids, my buddies and I always played on the same "side" against foes we also controlled...but even if little boys are fighting against each other, they have to agree on some ground rules and such. Hell, conflict is the heart of fiction and is what makes story-telling worthwhile! I've hardly done exhaustive research, but MOST of the women our age I've talked to about toys from their childhoods prefer stuff like Jem & the Holograms and She-Ra to Barbie or other tea-party or shopping-driven Barbie nonsense. And Jem and She-Ra were ALL about conflict.

So what if we take the hyper-masculinity and the war-culture-indoctrination out of the conflict-driven play pattern. I think that'd be okay. In fact, I could see that being healthier than the mundane crap little girls have traditionally been taught to do with their dolls (all the "hyper-feminine" stuff that teaches them to consume, be dissatisfied with their own appearance, and behave in very narrow, polite modes).

Anyway, maybe *my* TLDR take-away is that BOTH Hasbro and their dollies-for-boys AND Mattel and their dollies-for-girls could probably have benefited from introducing broader (but still conflict-driven) play patterns into their respective toy lines...as long as that conflict wasn't fraught with gender/race/class/etc stereotyping. The doll-for-boys died because they couldn't get away from those feminine connotations they intended to contradict...but just because the slice-of-life play patterns of the doll-for-girls has endured, doesn't mean that it's healthy...or that it'll be around in another generation or two (remember: throughout history, many cultures have had dress-up dollies...but they WEREN'T as narrowly interpreted as modern Barbie dolls).

Those boxes are genius, by the way! ;)
I went to a store yesterday and saw 12" no-they're-not-dolls-I-swear of several Star Wars characters. I'm really not buying the dolls-for-boys thing is dead or died because of being unmanly. Yes, not as popular as 3 3/4"-4" or 6" toys, but I mean, they are literally on the shelves to this day.

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
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Ginrai
I went to a store yesterday and saw 12" no-they're-not-dolls-I-swear of several Star Wars characters. I'm really not buying the dolls-for-boys thing is dead or died because of being unmanly. Yes, not as popular as 3 3/4"-4" or 6" toys, but I mean, they are literally on the shelves to this day.

DOLL:




NOT A DOLL:





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Sanjeev
Woulda replied sooner...but SRGM and all...

Anyway, I think I hear what you're saying. Despite *actually* being wildly successful for over a decade, they DID play themselves by pigeon-holing the subgenre they created. But I'm still a little hesitant to say that they fucked up by hyper-masculinizing 1/6 dolls for boys. I mean, does life imitate art or does art imitate life? They could simply have been exhibiting/exercising the predominant, contemporary form of sexism...and just didn't know any fucking better.

Regarding the life/art idea - I'm of the opinion that people generally over-estimate social conservatism because a dominant discourses about it tend to overshadow any real, measureable evidence. People talk about cycles of liberal and conservative values in American society (usually in terms of decades), but they have a hard time pointing to concrete evidence other than, "See how people are talking about these things? They must be real!" This doesn't mean that perceptions based on discourses don't have real effects - they do - but they're basically founded on misperceptions as opposed to data.

For example, people point to the lack of bathrooms in early TV sitcoms as evidence of their era's conservatism. But the decisions to avoid depicting bathrooms were made based less on how studio heads thought of bathrooms themselves and more based on how they thought Americans thought about bathrooms (without ever bothering to check). Yet the challenges to their decisions weren't spontaneous watershed events - there was always a countervailing pressure to relax their bizarre executive decisions.

In other words, life and art tend to feed off of each other in an exaggerated fashion because people have no fucking clue how to understand society from an empirical perspective. Such was the case with Joe. Hasbro execs overreated to what they thought would be American conservatism, but that decision was not about anything factual and instead all about the misperceptions of people in high places. I mean, which is more plausible - that American society flipped 180 degrees and embraced non-militaristic values, or that non-militaristic values were present alongside militaristic rhetoric the whole time? The usual discourse on Joe is basically claiming the former and, for the life of me, I can't see it having even a kernel of truth.


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Sanjeev
...Jem & the Holograms and She-Ra vs. Barbie...

I had to check, but She-Ra had dozens of heroines with dolly-hair and dress-up gimmicks and only one villain. Who, it turns out, is basically She-Ra with black hair (which was still dolly-combable alongside dress-up play). Based on the toys, it seems like the play pattern was "That Bitch with the Black Hair is a Real Bitch because of Her Stupid Black Hair". I'm pretty sure Jem toys followed the same trend, though I honestly didn't check.

The media was, of course, totally different. And She-Ra as a cartoon was about as neutered as He-Man in terms of violence or conflict.

But I get your point - those shows had a very differnt type of characterization than Barbie. They had narratives about competition and cooperation as opposed to consumption. Though I still think the toys had more in common with Barbie.


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Sanjeev
So what if we take the hyper-masculinity and the war-culture-indoctrination out of the conflict-driven play pattern. I think that'd be okay. In fact, I could see that being healthier than the mundane crap little girls have traditionally been taught to do with their dolls (all the "hyper-feminine" stuff that teaches them to consume, be dissatisfied with their own appearance, and behave in very narrow, polite modes).

Anyway, maybe *my* TLDR take-away is that BOTH Hasbro and their dollies-for-boys AND Mattel and their dollies-for-girls could probably have benefited from introducing broader (but still conflict-driven) play patterns into their respective toy lines...as long as that conflict wasn't fraught with gender/race/class/etc stereotyping. The doll-for-boys died because they couldn't get away from those feminine connotations they intended to contradict...but just because the slice-of-life play patterns of the doll-for-girls has endured, doesn't mean that it's healthy...or that it'll be around in another generation or two (remember: throughout history, many cultures have had dress-up dollies...but they WEREN'T as narrowly interpreted as modern Barbie dolls).

I whole-heartedly agree with this. The more people engage in less strictly defined gender roles in their youth the less likely they are to be swayed by extreme discouses on the topic as adults. Personally, I think society could benefit from less conflict driven themes in play and more "wonder of exploration" themes. The latter emphasize cooperation and tend to fuel things like space programs and "adventure science". I can't think of a time when humanity couldn't have benefitted from that.


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Sanjeev
Those boxes are genius, by the way! ;)

Thanks. I had a good time mocking them up. I can't wait for the Sucklord versions to come out.


So this twelve inch Obi-Wan is not a doll but that Han Solo is? Why? You are seriously not making sense here.

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
Sanjeev (Admin)
Jeremy, G's using the dress-up factor as the differentiator between "dolls" and "action figures"...regardless of scale. I think that makes sense because there obviously is some taboo against boys having toys that require dressing. At least in our generation--not sure about kids nowadays, but I'm guessing it's still there.

And I get the idea that art imitates an overly-conservative interpretation of life. After all, you're trying to SELL SHIT...you're naturally gonna err on the side of caution (conservatism).

That said, however, I still think Joes going from militarism to Adventure Team WAS primarily brought about by the unpopularity of the American war in Vietnam. That's not to say that non-militaristic values weren't present before, during, and after military Joe dolls, but the war was likely the deciding factor.

Similarly, a lot of toy historians point to the '69 moon landing as a huge turning point against space-themed toys. Prior to Apollo 11, there were shit loads of space toys...but once we learned there were no actual moonmen, kids stopped being interested in ray guns, space ships, alien figures, etc. At least for a time.

Or...

Was this another case of toy execs overcompensating???

And I also agree about adventure/exploratory science being a better (more healthy, anyway) theme than anything more clearly conflict-driven...but I'm not sure US culture is really amenable to that (yet?). There *have* been many such themed toy lines in the past, but to my knowledge, none has endured like conflict-driven lines...
The Cobra Commander from about 10 years was sure dress up, and as recently as 2009 they had 12" dress up Joes like this fella:

Destro

A few years ago there were dress up Doctor Who figures:



They made Spider-Man dress up 12" toys in the 2000s, including very-obviously-a-doll Mary Jane:

Mary Jane

Mary Jane 2

Spider-Man

Doctor Octopus

Green Goblin

Ultimate Spider-Man

Now here's some Wolverines, of both '90s and 2000s vintages:

Wolverine 1

Wolverine 2

Wolverine 3

Speaking of X-Men, these Storms and Rogues are also obviously dolls:

Storm

Rogue and Storm

Mohawk Storm

Even this big old hard plastic upscale of the '90s Toy Biz toy has a removable cloth jacket: Rogue

Here's a 12" dress up of Van Helsing from that terrible movie a decade ago or whatever: Van Helsing 1

Van Helsing 2

I spent like 5 minutes googling these. I'm sure there's more.

GCrush, I don't mean to be offensive, but why are you so invested in this? 12" dress up action figures for boys may not be as popular as they were back in the day, but the idea that they went away in the '70s because they weren't manly enough is simply not true.

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/01/2014 02:25PM by Ginrai.
How did you forget the infamous AUNT MAY dollie... that was Corey's muse!
Oh you're right! Aunt May! But wasn't that the smaller 8 inch size? Mego size? I think there was a Dark Phoenix that matched Aunt May. I seem to recall this from when I briefly worked at a Kaybee Toys in college one miserable Christmas season.

-Ginrai
Golden Gate Riot on dead trees at: [www.destroyallcomics.com]
Quote
Ginrai
[examples]

I spent like 5 minutes googling these. I'm sure there's more.

GCrush, I don't mean to be offensive, but why are you so invested in this? 12" dress up action figures for boys may not be as popular as they were back in the day, but the idea that they went away in the '70s because they weren't manly enough is simply not true.

You're pretty much making my point for me.

Original Flavor Joe:

1/6 scale
Dress-up and accessorize play pattern
No TV/movie media tie-in
No competing scales in same property
No sub-genres

Your Examples:

1/6 scale
Dress-up play pattern
All TV/movie based tie-ins
Multiple competing scales
All sub-genres

If you played with Joe, you played with it in a dress-em-up format - there was no alternative play-pattern. All of your examples are the exact opposite of that - they're not toy lines themselves, they're all small bits of larger existing toy lines. Not a single one of them is comparable to Joe. It takes more than a cloth jacket on a blown-up action figure to make it into a dolly.

I'll admit the Toy Biz Marvel Special Collector's Edition figures are really close to what OG Joe was. In fact, they're almost the exception that proves the rule. But they weren't accessoried, they were all supported by a pre-existing media franchise, they were a sub-line presented alongside competing scales that gave plenty of non-dress-em-up options, and the fact that they - along with similar sub-genres - haven't been on shelves for a long time pretty much proves that even as a sub-genre the 1:6 scale dollie for boys is a bust. What we have had pretty much up to now (since The Great Shrinking) are either 1:6 scale action figures or models.
Quote
Sanjeev
And I also agree about adventure/exploratory science being a better (more healthy, anyway) theme than anything more clearly conflict-driven...but I'm not sure US culture is really amenable to that (yet?). There *have* been many such themed toy lines in the past, but to my knowledge, none has endured like conflict-driven lines...

Such a shame too. Adventure People is still probably my favorite "action figure" line of all time, and it's a perfect example.

More serious than thou
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