Ty Burr
July 29, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

GI Joe: The Complete Story of America's Favorite Man of Action

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
John Michlig
genre
Pop Culture
We gave it a B

Appearing in 1964 at the height of the Barbie era and routed, 13 years later, by platoons of Star Wars figurines, GI Joe was a toy both of and in spite of its times. Despite industry wisdom that “a boy will never play with a doll,” the “action figure” (as Hasbro insisted it be called) was a massive success right out of the gate. Later, when Vietnam soured combat-toy sales (and this reviewer and his little chums were putting Joe on trial for war crimes), the company cannily repositioned its plastic-molded hero as an “adventurer.” While Michlig’s text divulges more about Hasbro interoffice politics than you really need to know, this beautifully designed coffee-table tome is as much a fetish object as the original 1965 Deep Sea Diver Joe.

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