Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hasbro, you're pretty cool.

Many, many years ago, in the year 1994, I came across this insert in one of my G.I. Joe figures:

Photo from YOJOE.COM

An offer to buy the first guy to be known as G.I. Joe? Sure, I'll go for it. Something I find odd, the flier said to send in UPC's and money for shipping, rather than the usual flag points. I could have sworn I used flag points for this offer, but no matter. I quickly decided I wanted to get both figures. I already had a couple of the 12" Hall of Fame figures, and thought a 12" Joe Colton would look nice on the shelf next to them. He also came with that nice looking stand that had the plaque on the front. Just look at how dignified he looks in that picture. I could almost picture a 5 star general sitting in his office, looking at that figure and wondering, "What would Joe Colton do?". That's the kind of figure that an adult would proudly display in his study, next to the books on military theory and the model bi-plane. As for the 3 3/4" figure, I just needed someone that could boss around the little guys.

So I gathered up my UPC's (or Flag Points), wrote out a money order, and sent the whole thing off to Hasbro headquarters. The usual waiting period for these offers was 6-8 weeks,which in kid time is 10 minutes short of forever. I feel pretty certain that I pretty much forgot about the whole thing a few days after sending off the order. You would think I'd stake out the mailbox, waiting for any suspicious packages, but nope. Looking back, I find it hard to believe that I didn't feel some excitement over the prospect of getting G.I. Joe figures in the mail. I was turning 13 that year, but it's not like I had a lot going on in my life. I was getting to the point where I was starting to feel too old to want to play with toys, so maybe that's the reason for the lack of anticipation.

6-8 weeks later, I received two envelopes in the mail, both of them from Hasbro. The first one contained the 3 3/4" G.I. Joe, while the second contained this letter:

Photo from YOJOE.
I wasn't quite upset, but I was a little disappointed. Demand was too great, and rather than make more figures to fill all the excess orders, Hasbro decided to give the folks that missed out a refund. I always thought it was rather honorable of them to issue refunds, when they could have just kept all those checks and money orders. I'm sure they figured most people wouldn't have complained, since they were only out a dollar and a few pieces of cardboard. Hasbro did the right thing, but they weren't finished yet.

Not long after I got the letter from Hasbro, my parents bought a new house, and we moved. I had given away or destroyed most of my toys, and my mind was occupied with thoughts of girls, cars, and video games. The last thing I was thinking about were action figures. Then one day, I got a random phone call from one of my cousins. She had started renting our old house after we moved out, and she was calling to tell me I had a package waiting there. Since I didn't remember ordering anything, I was curious as to what could be waiting for me. My parents drove me to my cousin's house, and she handed me a rectangular cardboard box. Still puzzled, I opened it up to find this guy waiting for me:

Hasbro had sent a different version of Joe Colton to all of the folks that missed out on the original G.I. Joe offer. It still amazes me that they did something like this. Granted, this version used a standard body, and the arctic gear was already something they made, but I have to imagine this still cost them a bit of money. There really wasn't any reason for them to send these figures out, since they had already mailed people a refund for the other figure. Admittedly, it's not quite as cool as the version I ordered, but it's hard to beat a free action figure, especially one this size. It was a gesture that meant a lot to me, especially since I was entering those jaded teenage years. Arctic G.I. Joe Colton occupied a place of honor on my shelves for several years, until he went M.I.A.

So, if the person responsible for making the decision to send me a free figure is out there, all I can say is thank you. You're a pretty cool guy, or gal.


  1. Awesome looking into your Joe related past Chris thanks for sharing. : )

  2. If I'm reading the offer right, it was for a 3 3/4" figure - but to 'replace' it they sent you a 12" figure? That's extra cool!

    1. It was for two different figures. Big and small. They ran out of the 12" figures.

      I wish I knew how many were actually made, because they seem pretty rare.

    2. It was for two different figures. Big and small. They ran out of the 12" figures.

      I wish I knew how many were actually made, because they seem pretty rare.


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