Thursday, February 9, 2017

1994 Joseph Colton Mail Away Insert

The 1990's really brought about the rise of the collector.  For the first time, toy companies really understood that there were people who collected their brands and that they were a demographic worth catering to.  They had money to spend and could offset their smaller numbers with the increased dollars they were willing to spend on high quality or nostalgic items.  Hasbro jumped on the boat with the 12" Joe figures.  And, with 1994 being the 30th anniversary of the original G.I. Joe, they decided to do a series of homages to the brand's roots.  In late 1993, Hasbro began including a mail away promo with 3 3/4" G.I. Joe figures encouraging kids and collectors to send away for their very own Joseph Colton figure.

1994 Joseph Colton Mail Away Promo, G.I. Joe, 1993, Paperwork
Joseph Colton Mail Away Promo Cover

For 3 3/4 collectors, this anniversary meant a small figure of Joseph Colton and reproductions of the Marine, Soldier, Diver, Pilot and Astronaut from the early days of the brand.  While the "Action Series" of figures would be sold at retail in individual boxes and a commemorative boxed set, Joseph Colton was only available as a mail away.  At the time, the internet was in its infancy and communication among collectors was heavily influenced by rumors and falsehoods.  Most of these were driven by people trying to speculate in specific toys and drive up demand for something they either already owned or could easily acquire.  And, Joseph Colton was heavily influenced by that.  Adult collectors began hoarding up carded Joes so they could send off for the "sure to be valuable" Joesph Colton figures.  But, Hasbro actually made more of the 3 3/4" figures than collectors could absorb.  And, despite some high early pricing, the figures crashed in value and remain relatively easy to find to this day.

The insert shows a sample of both the 12" figure and the 3 3/4" figure.  The 12" figure is posed on a bookshelf in an obvious showcase of Hasbro's intentions behind it.  They created and marketed the figure for adult collectors of the day.  In looking at the 3 3/4" figure, there are some differences between the figure shown and the actual figure that was sent to collectors.  There are very subtle color differences in the green and brown colors.  The main change, though, is the rifle shown.  Colton is holding an M-16 inspired rifle.  It is a far cry from the 1992 Gung Ho machine gun that was actually sent with the figure.  The weapon shown in the insert was never, to my knowledge, released in any G.I. Joe line.  The sample appears production level, but it might have been a mock up and the Gung Ho weapon was released to cut costs.

1994 Joseph Colton Mail Away Promo, G.I. Joe, 1993, Paperwork
Joseph Colton Mail Away Promo Interior Pages
The Colton mail away featured one major change from prior mail aways.  Rather than requiring flag points, it required mailed UPC codes from packaged figures.  The reasoning was that many people had bags and bags of flag points and there would be no need for them to buy up the massive unsold store stock of G.I. Joe figures if the promotion required mail aways.  And, if someone bought a figure and cut out the upc, they could not return the figure to the store.  It was an interesting way to devalue flag points and spur collectors to buy up unsold merchandise.

1994 Joseph Colton Mail Away Promo, G.I. Joe, 1993, Paperwork
Joseph Colton Mail Away Promo Back Page
The legacy of this decision, though, is still seen more than 20 years later.  It is very common to find '90's era G.I. Joe figures that are MOC, but with missing upc symbols.  12" collectors and casual dealers who had no interest in retail G.I. Joe figures but had great interest in acquiring more than a few Coltons bought up retail figures, removed the upcs and then dropped the Joes into a box.  In the ensuing decades, as garages, attics and storage sheds have been cleaned out, these figures were put into the marketplace.  Most sell for loose figure pricing and remain one of the most effective ways to buy mint and complete with filecard Joes from the line's final years.

As mail in promos go, this one is fairly banal.  The Colton artwork on the front page isn't spectacular.  And, unlike most other mail away offers, this one only had a form to order the Joseph Colton figures and no other offers were present.  Just being two pages doesn't leave much room for pizzazz.  But, by 1993, the Joe line was in death throes and there wasn't much that was going to revive it.  Colton is a solid demarcation of the end of mail away premiums.  In 1996, Hasbro would start teaming up with food brands for mail aways for their new Star Wars line.  After that, mail aways were mainly retro ways to appease some collector nostalgia for bygone days.  So, this offer is one of the final legacies of the '80's Joe line.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the brown highlights on the promotional figure. I wouldn't mind mocking one of mine up to match it.