Donald Levine, the creator of one of the most well-known toy franchises in the world has died. Levine helped create the “GI Joe” dolls in the mid 1960s. Today, not only have GI Joe toys become the definition of “action figure,” but the’ve also become an icon for adults who grew up on the toys, accessories, cartoons, comic books, and other merchandise.
Donald Levine died last Thursday due to cancer at the age of 86. He leaves four grandchildren, three children, and his wife, Nan Levine, who he almost celebrated 60 years of marriage with. Our condolences go out to them. Hasbro had this to say about the late toy creator:
“His work forever changed the way kids play with toys, and in particular helped birth the G.I. Joe brand which has been a part of the American fabric for 50 years”
A veteran of the Korean War, Levine lead a team at Hasbro to create a toy that would honor US military. Starting with a male doll that was 11 1/2 inches high and had 21 moving parts, the figure soon evolved into the first GI Joe American Hero doll. Levine’s team also created uniforms for the toy that were modeled after the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines that included helmets and weapons.
When GI Joe was released for the 1964 Christmas shopping season it was a big hit. However the popularity soon died down due to dividing views of the Vietnam War. In order to boost sales Hasbro downplayed the military themes and made them more an action/adventure toy series. They expanded the brand to comics and a certain cartoon series and the rest is history.
Sound off below with your favorite memories of GI Joe!
Source. Huffington Post