G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is a line of military-themed toys produced by the toy company Hasbro.
The name G.I. Joe was created by David Breger when he was asked to create a comic strip for United States military magazines during World War II. Breger came up with the title "G.I. Joe" from the term "G.I." His strip debuted June 17, 1942 in the military's YANK magazine and Stars and Stripes newspaper. In 1945, United Artists released a movie titled The Story of G.I. Joe , directed by William Wellman and starring Burgess Meredith as acclaimed war correspondent Ernie Pyle .
In 1964, the character G.I. Joe became a series of military-themed 12" articulated action figures produced by the Hasbro toy company. The Hasbro prototypes were originally named "Rocky" (marine/soldier) "Skip" (sailor) and "Ace" (pilot), before the more universal name G.I. Joe was adopted. The initial product offering featured members of the four branches of the armed forces as follows; Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot and Action Marine. The name, G.I. Joe, no longer referred to one specific character but to a toyline brand.
G.I. Joe was also directly responsible for coining the term 'action figure'; when the toy was designed, it was considered 'inappropriate' for a boy to play with a doll, and parents would be resistant to buying them. According to company lore, anyone who used the 'D' word in reference to the toy was in very serious trouble, indeed.
G.I. Joe has also appeared as a comic book, with many of its characters being made into action figures. The comics, in contrast to the cartoons, were much more realistic in their portrayal of violence; some characters were even killed (but no major ones, except for one "special" issue in which more than a dozen named Joes were executed by a random Cobra soldier, an event which initially distressed Cobra Commander). Comic book writer Larry Hama is credited with developing most of the characters for the updated toy collection.
According to its 1980s animated series, "G.I. Joe is the code name for America's daring highly-trained special mission force. Its purpose: to defend human freedom against COBRA, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world."
G.I. Joes represent characters of all branches of the United States military, both male and female, to fight against their "enemy", Cobra, also produced by Hasbro and marketed under the G.I. Joe brand.
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