G.I. Joe is pretty well fucked, innit.
It’s like Greg and I’ve talked about before. Hasbro has had more than a decade of writing on the wall and ignored it. This is the inevitable result.
No one wants to be reminded that Daddy might not come home from Iraq. Terrorists aren’t the thing of childhood fantasy anymore, they’re the thing of real-world propaganda/fear mongering. And this generation sees Captain American on the big screen, and he’s the normal dude.
As maligned by fandom as they are, a period of space-adventure or adventure-team-esq schennanigans could have saved Joe. Make the Joes more like MASK, average “joes” brought into amazing circumstances. Keep the colorful, fun and well, awesome Cobra characters (who doesn’t love CC and Destro? Who doesn’t inappropriately love the Baroness?) and give them someone worthy to fight. Make the Joes more like SHIELD, make them superheroes that makes sense in a modern context (they’ve always been super heroes, after all, every single Joe would have to be a genius to have their skill-sets), do something other than recycle 1983-85.
Joe had two things going for it, one is a play pattern. Well, they’re right fucked now, because the average kid can get Marvel AND DC’s all-star lineups in 3 3/4ths scale, ready and able to drop right into any Star Wars vehicle they have onhand. And the Corps! and others are just lining up to seize the military thing for those that are interested. And cheaper on a by-figure basis too.
And if a kid’s really die-hard for military stuff, there’s always the X-Box.
The other was the GI-Joe fantasy… not that the US military could conquer all, but that you could project yourself onto a hero that you could relate to. The Joes were diverse for their time. Now kids have the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon franchise, the Avengers, the X-Men. Who wants to be Roadblock when you can be Power Man, or Falcon, or Nick Fury? Who wants to be Law when you can be be Nova? Scarlet can’t hold a candle to Black Widow. The superheroes rose up and took that niche.
Joe didn’t adapt.
Maybe in 3-5 years we’ll see a rival. Maybe Joe will eventually get its Beast Wars, it’s new interpretation that eclipses the original and energizes the whole endeavor once more.
For my part, it’s Cobra I’m going to miss.
Ok, mostly the Baroness.
IIRC, G.I. Joe survived through the 1970s because Hasbro gave him a beard and sent him on adventures - if Joe was in the military, he’d be fighting in Vietnam, and that probably wasn’t too fun for kids.
G.I. Joe survived in Japan in the 1970s because Takara turned him into a cyborg. (You might argue that this isn’t exactly surviving.)
But yeah, military toys feel like a hard sell right now.
And it’s worth noting that “A Real American Hero” was originally a SHIELD vs. Hydra concept. Fascinating to think that now, those two entities are probably more well-known to kids than Joe/Cobra.