Prof. Bozigian of PC Discusses Helping to Launch G.I. Joe and the Role of Toys

Monday, April 16, 2018

 

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Prof. Bozigian talks about re-launching G.I. Joe

Professor Kirk Bozigian today teaches marketing at Providence College, but in his varied career, he had the experience of helping to build part of the history of American toys. During his career, he helped to relaunch the G.I. Joe toy franchise while a key marketer at Hasbro.

SEE SLIDESHOW BELOW THE HISTORY OF G.I. JOE

Bozigian discussed the changes in the toy industry and how children are losing the opportunity to use their imagination. Today, Bozigian said children spend so much time with electronic devices. He said they are limited by the electronic game's boundaries as set by programmers versus when a child plays with an action figure they can leverage their imagination.

The original G.I. Joe was developed in 1963 by Stan Weston. But Bozigian and his team took the toyline and re-invested it by making it smaller and creating accessories. The smaller G.I. Joe's were launched in the early 1980s and were expected to sell $15 million, but that first-year sales exceeded $50 million in sales.

A consumer marketing and new product development expert he worked on a wide variety of toys, games, sporting goods at Hasbro. And was a key player in not only relaunching G.I. Joe,  but also launching Transformers, Tonka and was the co-Inventor of the Junk Ball backyard baseball.

 

Related Slideshow: Pawtucket’s Hasbro Celebrates GI Joe’s 50th Anniversary

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The Original GI Joe

In 1964, Hasbro's factory in Pawtucket released the first ever action figure--they called it "G.I. Joe: America's Moveable Fighting Man." 

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The Original Lineup

The original prototypes for Hasbro's action figure include a sailor ("Skip), a marine ("Rocky"), and a pilot ("Ace"), but it was Joe who stole America's heart. The idea of Joe as part of a team would resurface decades later. 

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G.I. Joe Ages Gracefully

In the 1970s, America and G.I. Joe both saw big changes. Joe got hip with some realistic facial stubble, and added new moves to his arsenal with the "kung fu grip"--an innovation from Britain that allowed for Joe to grip objects. 

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New Characters

This was the decade that saw Joe joined by a host of other related characters (including Atomic Man, seen here). Joe was now part of a unit--and would continue to be throughout the franchise's history. 

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Joe in the 1980s

In the 1980s, G.I. Joe launched G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, immortalized in various media. Getting in line once more with the mood of the buying public, Joe was cleanshaven again, with even more innovations to the action figure. 

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Joe in Comics

Joe has been a hallmark of a variety of media, but his comic book incarnation is among the most beloved. He has existed in comics in one form or another since the 1940s, decade before the action figure was even manufactured. Here's a shot from a later story, based off the Real American Hero series from the 1980s. 

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Joe Moves into the 90s

In the 1990s, the G.I. Joe franchise continued to adapt and expand. Joe was outfitted with Desert Storm-style cameo for the Target Exclusive Duke action figure, seen here. 

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Joe in the 2000s

In the 2000s, Joe made the leap into his first blockbuster, with the character title of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra played by emerging star Channing Tatum. The movie spawned a video game adaptation and grossed over $300 million worldwide. 

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The 2010s

In the past few years, Joe has continued on his upwards trajectory. A sequel to the 2009 movie, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, grossed $375 million worldwide. Talks of a third movie by the same director are already in the mix. 

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G.I. Joe Today

All of the media platforms, spinoffs and hoopla surrounding this famous RI product ultimately boil down to one thing--the joy and imagination of the people who opened the box to find the original Joe in 1964. Those fans haven't forgotten--and you can bet that GIJoeCon, the annual Dallas fan-centered event, will be prepping for the fiftieth when they assemble this April. 

 
 

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