Society

G.I. Joe Inventor Stanley Weston Dies at 84

| by Michael Doherty

Stanley Weston, known as the inventor of G.I. Joe, died May 1 at the age of 84, according to his daughter, Cindy Winebaum.

Stanley didn't name the action figure that came to be known as G.I. Joe, but he developed the concept and sold it in the 1960s to the company that would later become Hasbro, according to Polygon.

Before G.I. Joe and the rise of "action figures" for boys, the market had been dominated by Mattel's Barbie line of dolls marketed toward girls, Mental Floss reports. Stanley reportedly sold the idea to the predecessors of Hasbro for a flat fee of $100,000.

Stanley later sued Hasbro for ownership of the G.I. Joe brand, but the suit was settled in 2016.

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Stanley's brother, Jay, wrote about the relatively small amount of money his brother received for the idea, compared the the massive franchise it evolved into.

"Should he have sold for that set amount, instead of taking a small royalty in perpetuity?" wrote Jay. "Of course not."

Stanley went on to become influential in the emerging world of licensing and merchandising in America after World War II, founding his own company, Weston Merchandising. Weston Merchandising later changed its name to Leisure Concepts, representing clients like Farrah Fawcett, the World Wrestling Federation and Nintendo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Stanley is also known for helping create the popular 1980s animated series "ThunderCats," and for buying one of the first group licenses with the Major League Baseball Players' Association.

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After the G.I. Joe toy line was created in the 1960s, it was withdrawn in 1976, in part because of public sentiment about the Vietnam War.

In 1982, the line relaunched, sparking a resurgence in interest about the franchise. G.I. Joe and the other characters have gone on to appear in comics, movies, and cartoons alongside the action figures that made the brand a household name.

The toys found international success, being sold in countries from Brazil and Canada to India and China. The series was more recently adapted into two live action films, which came out in 2009 and 2013.

G.I. Joe was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2004, and was voted the most popular toy of the last 100 years in a poll conducted by the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, How Stuff Works reports.

Stanley was inducted into the Licensing Industry Hall of Fame during its opening year in 1989, joining creators like George Lucas, Jim Henson and Walt Disney.

Stanley leaves behind three children and five grandchildren, as well as his brother.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, How Stuff Works, Polygon, Mental Floss / Photo credit: Fenicio18/Pixabay

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