G.I. Joe is a series of action figures manufactured by Hasbro, a toy company from United States. It was designed and presented to the world for the first time in 1964. They were named after the term for U.S. soldiers which is in use since the First World War. At that time, most of the equipment issued to U.S. soldiers was marked "G.I." which meant that it was made from galvanized iron. Abbreviation was later used to mean “Government Issued”. Toys were called “action figure” because manufacturers believed that boys, toward whom G.I. Joe was marketed, would not play with “dolls”.
There are two main types of G.I. Joe action figures, 12 inch type and 3 ¾ inch type. First line of G.I. Joe that was manufactured from 1964 to 1969 was of 12 inch type and was called “G.I. Joe: America's movable fighting man”. Prototypes were modeled after the main military branches and named "Rocky" (marine/soldier) "Skip" (sailor) and "Ace" (pilot). From 1970 to 1976 Hasbro tried to move focus from Vietnam War that was just starting and disconnect it from G.I. Joe line so they renamed it to “The Adventures of G.I. Joe” and later to "Adventure Team". Figures had "Life-Like" flocked hair and beard to make figures more realistic. That technology was taken from Palitoy, company from England to whom Hasbro have sold the rights for G.I. Joe and from which Palitoy made their line “Action Man”. One more idea taken from Action Man was “Kung-Fu Grip”. Namely, hands were made from softer plastic which allowed them to hold objects in a more realistic way. G.I. Joe action figures were given eagle eye vision. They were made to look like they look around when a lever was moved at the back of the head. Although marketed as “Adventure Team” action figures of G.I. Joe were made as generic soldiers with no idea of the team. But from 1975, Hasbro made bionic action figure "Mike Power, Atomic Man" because they could not obtain rights to the Six Million Dollar Man from Britain. Along with him they made a super-hero, "Bullet Man" and "Eagle Eye" Joe. In comic that were made to be included with action figures these three characters worked together as a real team. 12 inch G.I Joe was licensed to Palitoy from 1966 to 1984 as Action Man, to Germany and Italy under the Action Team name, to Spain as Geyperman, to France as Action Joe and to Japan as G.I. Joe and Combat Man.
3 ¾ inch type was made by Hasbro from 1982 to 1994. They were marketed with traditional advertisements and with cartoon and comic books as well. This line was called “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero”. Using less material for smaller figures allowed Hasbro to make vehicles and playsets for action figures.
Between 1997 and 1998 Hasbro made line of G.I. Joe action figures called “Stars & Stripes Forever – TRU Exclusives” which were released as Toys "R" Us exclusives to celebrate the 15th anniversary.
Line “A Real American Hero Collection” was released between 2000 and 2002 which were re-release of a selection of repainted 3¾" G.I. Joe figures and vehicles from the Real American Hero line. They were sold in pairs.
Lines manufactured between, 2002 and 2013 are: “G.I. Joe vs Cobra”, “Direct to Consumer”, “25th Anniversary”, “The Rise of Cobra”, “The Pursuit of Cobra”, “30th Anniversary” and “Retaliation”.