This is Hasbro's 1968 Catalogue advertising the GI Joe range, released only to the toy trade and not available to the general public.
1968 was a watershed year for the GI Joe line. 1967 had seen the anti war toys movement bite and the sales of GI Joe were severely affected. In 1968 Hasbro released no new product for the line, but indulged in a major repackaging and marketing campaign for existing sets and some unique combinations of existing equipment.
But it was to no avail. While the Action Man line continued as a predominantly military line right up until its demise in the mid 1980s, 1968 saw the sad end of the GI Joe military line. After a false start in 1969 with The Adventures of GI Joe, the beginning of the 1970s saw GI Joe reborn in The Adventure Team.
So, presented here, a little piece of history - the last ever GI Joe military catalogue, before they pulled his teeth and sent him off in search of pygmy gorillas and the like....
The last appearance of the original four that started it all, but bowing out bellowing their lungs out as talkers.
The new photo box packaging. This was as much a cost cutting exercise as a marketing strategy, as the box style was simpler and therefore less expensive than the complex cut and folded tray sets that were previously produced.
The new packaging contained the uniforms and equipment packed loose in polythene bags, a much less labour intensive (and therefore less expensive) process than sewing the equipment on to backing cards as had been done previously.
An example of the tweaking of existing sets that took place. Notice that the Tank Commander set includes more equipment than the original set, in the form of the mortar and shells.
Notice the Action Pilot with the "foreign" head sculpt from the 1966 Soldiers of the World range. Some talkers were also released with foreign heads.
Another recycling ploy. Each pack contained a mixture of kit from the four services, but only if you bought all four could you get the complete sets for each service. For example, if you look carefully at the contents, pieces from the MP set is spread over several boxes.
Something I had never come across before seeing this catalogue - stocked footlockers with mixtures of equipment from the four services.
The Talking GI Joe Adventure packs. These sets are where where many of the "foreign" head talkers turned up.
These big value packs were absolutely stuffed with loads of equipment as well as a talking figure. Anyone care to put a value on that Foreign Soldiers set?
The mega-rare Action Nurse, ignored by every boy in America at the time. Many of those same boys would kill for one today!
The superb 5 Star Army Jeep and its desert version.
The only way you could obtain the full length Crash Crew tunic (as illustrated on the box art) was with this vehicle.
Some of the 1/1 scale GI Joe equipment to allow boys to become GI Joe.
Notice that it's all Action Soldier equipment. Wouldn't a full size replica of the Scramble Pilot helmet have been nice?
Some of the GI Joe board games HAsbro produced with, for some unknown reason, three non-Joe items, the only ones in the catalogue.