1998 Classic Collection: Hollywood Heroes Bob Hope figure.
Bob "Ol' Ski Nose" Hope, the comedian and actor, as a GI Joe figure???
I stumbled across a mention of this figure on Flickr last week, and of course I had to have one, because, like... Bob Hope as a GI Joe?
That is, I had to have one... if the price was reasonable.
As of this posting (September 2018) these twenty year old figures are fairly common on eBay, at least in the U.S. Prices vary widely, with asking prices starting at USD $25 to USD $30 including shipping for boxed examples, and ranging up to $50 to $60.
Box - Front Panel and Interior Box with FigureBox - Front PanelBox - Back PanelBox - Hollywood Heroes logoBox – Interior FlapBox – End Panel – Contents ListFigure Detail – Faux-Leather Flight Jacket & Pith HelmetMaybe ol' Bob should have been cast as Indiana Jones!
I found it odd that this figure, clearly indicated as being a GI Joe, was marketed under the Kenner, rather than the Hasbro, brand. A bit of research indicated that Kenner, the company that produced the original Star Wars
action figures in the 1970s, was acquired by Hasbro in 1991, and the Kenner name was phased out in 2000. Between 1995 and 2000, Hasbro marketed GI Joe under the Kenner, rather than the Hasbro, brand.
My question is... WHY???
Why did Hasbro basically dump
GI Joe into an already failing line? Were they trying to "save" Kenner? Or were they attempting to finish off GI Joe once and for all? I don't know. It seems very strange, and more than a little disappointing, to me that Hasbro unceremoniously abandoned GI Joe, the product line that turned them from a small regional Rhode Island company into a household name and a major player in the toy industry, pulling the Hasbro name off the toy that made them famous.
Does HASBRO Really Care? NOT A CHANCE!
I had a number of pre-Star Wars
Kenner toys when I was a kid, including an Easy-Show Projector and a Spirograph. As sad to me as the "dissing" of GI Joe by Hasbro is their acquisition and destruction of the historic Kenner company.
The Bob Hope figure appears to be the first and the last of the "GI Joe: Hollywood Heroes" line. My impression, gleaned from this one figure, is that Hasbro/Kenner may have planned an entire series of figures based on Hollywood celebrities who contributed to the war effort over the years. Why did the line never materialize? Licensing issues? The general decline in interest in GI Joe and 12-inch action figures? Did the Bob Hope figure sell much more poorly than expected? I'd be curious to know the full scoop behind "Hollywood Heroes."
The figure itself features a surprisingly realistic head sculpt for a "playline" figure, and genuinely resembles "Old Ski Nose" himself in his younger, WWII-era years, when he was entertaining the troops both at home and overseas, including in combat areas. The body, being a standard Joe body of the mid-1990s era, is considerably more muscular than Bob Hope was, although I doubt he would have minded being upgraded with a flattering "Schwarzenegger" physique.
The khaki uniform is made of a heavyweight, high-quality fabric with plenty of pockets and buttons and overall excellent construction. The molded plastic boots and pith helmet are nicely detailed, although the helmet is slightly too large so the fit on the head is very loose. The faux-leather vinyl flight jacket is extremely detailed, with a black fabric liner, shoulder epaulettes, and knitted cuffs. Other than the uniform, jacket, and hat, the figure does not include any additional accessories.
Discovering that this figure exists was a surprise. Finding the figure at an affordable price was also a surprise, although perhaps it shouldn't have been. By the time this figure was released in 1998, the 95-year old Hope was retired, and his once-famous refrain of "Thanks for the Memory" was already being forgotten. The fifty year anniversaries of the D-Day Invasion and the end of World War Two were already "old news," and interest in 12-inch action figures was in steep decline. Perhaps these factors contributed to so many of these figures remaining available twenty years after their release in mint-in-box condition.