You see lots of people making posts that G.I. Joe would make tons of money if it returned to retail. Except, Hasbro is too "scared" to bring it back. The implication is that G.I. Joe would draw the ire of a small group of vocal people and that alone is reason enough for Hasbro to abandon the property. I have several issues with this idea.
The first is that G.I. Joe had "protests" back in the '80's. They've always been around and have never really been credible.
Second, Hasbro has tried to revive G.I. Joe 4 times since the original line was cancelled. (And, that's not counting the collector-geared 1997 and 1998 releases.)
- 2000 brought Joe to retail where it had great initial success. But, bad case assortments doomed it in 2001.
- But, this lead to the real renaissance of the G.I. Joe brand that started in 2002. 2002 Joes were everywhere. By the end of 2003, Hasbro couldn't keep Joe on retail shelves. But, things petered out in 2004 and the line was cancelled by 2005.
- The 25th Anniversary figures started in 2007. These succeeded in finding a smattering of adult toy buyers who had ignored the previous Joe releases. But, the figures sold in substantially smaller numbers than the 2002-2004 line and, again, lost retail steam.
- Finally, Hasbro tried the movies. The two Joe movies were forgettable devices with banal designs. The toys flopped and never found a retail audience that could sustain them beyond the pre-release hype.
Third, collectors often have a warped view of what makes something successful. We think that because we bought toys in the '80's due to a cartoon, or whatever, that kids today should too. It's an idea that's born of the fact that if younger people don't like something or behave a different way, that's an indictment of how we lived in the '80's. It's not. People constantly evolve and the world we live in now is vastly different from the 1980's. Economics, demographics, technology, population density, retail environment and general approaches to parenting have drastically changed in 30 years. Pretending that a toy line can achieve similar success to what it saw 30 years ago is simply misguided. And, to think that doing things the same way there were done in the past would work simply because it's not being done now also showcases naivete.
Finally, it simply makes no sense that a publicly traded corporation would deliberately not release a property they thought that would be profitable because of: "SJW's", "millenials", "political-correctness", "protests" or any other reason that fits into some persecuted world view. If Hasbro thought for one second they could make money on Joe, Joe toys would be sold at retail right now.
Hasbro's internal product staff are compensated by selling toys. A hit could be a career maker and even a surprise profit could get a person substantial bonuses. Again, if these people (who have access to excellent market data and other resources) aren't willing to put their neck out for Joe, that tells you the market simply won't support the line.
I have young kids. They are about the age when I first found action figures and started a life long love of playing with and collecting them. My kids don't care. They think old G.I. Joe or Star Wars toys are neat. But, that's not what they want to do. My kids and, by observation, their friends would rather play games or sports than with toys. My boys play with some old Star Wars stuff that I have around. But, that lasts for a few minutes before they turn to any of the myriad of other options they have available to them.
It's funny when you look at the toys of the 1950's. Kids who grew up in the '80's had no interest in those. And, the way toys were marketed to kids in the 1980's was drastically different than the '50's. Yet, here in the 2010's, we feel that everything should be exactly as it was in the '80's. And, maybe those born in the 50's felt the same way in the '80's. They just didn't have Facebook to gripe about it.
Joe has had an incredible retail run. The fact that there's a vibrant community nearly 40 years after the line's original release is a testament to that. But, the era of the action figure is coming to an end. You can find plenty of charts and graphs online that show how interest in the format is sliding and how kids today aren't connecting with the medium in the same way that we did. Again, though, that's not bad. It's just different. As collectors, we have decades worth of stuff to track down. Sure, it could be nice to see one final retail run full of all the stuff that we've wanted since we were kids. But, it would take a miracle for that to occur. We can be grateful for what we've seen. But, we also need to be realistic about why Joe (and toys in general) are handled the way they are today.