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G.I. Joe action figures makes an unexpected return - after 40 years

He’d been sent on a top-secret mission, and I'd forgotten all about him while he was gone.

He returned unexpectedly more than 40 years later.

"I found some of your stuff in the attic" by brother explained. "It’s in a box in the garage."

I knew some of my old things had been left in the attic of the house I grew up in: a Tip-It game with a broken and re-glued leg, jigsaw puzzles with pieces missing, a box of old 45s (including The Beatles’ "I Want To Hold Your Hand") and other childhood remnants that had once been important.

I took the box back home, wiped away decades worth of dust, sat in the middle of the living room floor and peeled back the cardboard flaps to see what treasure had resurfaced.


It was like getting an extra Christmas.

After more than 40 years, G.I. Joe had returned.

I was six years old when Hasbro made its first G.I. Joe, and he showed up under our Christmas tree later that year.

He was created as a boy’s answer to Barbie; he stood almost a foot tall, had arms and legs that moved, and a look on his face that said "Don’t mess with me". And while Barbie and Joe each came with a complete wardrobe and an assortment of accessories, the boys all knew they weren’t anything alike: Barbie was a doll. G.I. Joe was an action figure.

For several years, birthdays and Christmas brought new additions to the G.I. Joe collection – a rubber scuba suit, a Mercury-style space capsule and a motorcycle with a sidecar.

Together we created our own adventures and fought imaginary enemies; we stalked through the tall grass in the back yard and got sand in our shoes in the sandbox.

I got wrinkled toes, and he dripped for two days following an undersea adventure in the bathtub.

While Barbie was going to the mall, Joe was fighting for our country.


If it drives a pink Corvette, has long blond hair, flawless skin and sequined sneakers, it’s a doll.

If it wears fatigues, eats meals out of a mess kit, wears a helmet with camouflage netting and has a scar on one cheek, it’s an action figure.

But even the most important things from childhood eventually lose their importance.

G.I. Joe had his last change of uniform when I was ten years old; by that time he was starting to seem like a doll, and he went on a top-secret mission into an attic filled with rarely-used suitcases, an old baby crib and a musty box of National Geographics.

More than 40 years later, G.I. Joe came back.

I probably haven’t thought about him more than once or twice in all that time. If he’d gone into the trash with his plastic canteen, his walkie-talkie (with retractable antenna) and his canvas rucksack, I wouldn’t have known the difference.

But he didn’t, and I feel oddly glad about that.

G-I Joe has now gone on another secret mission — this time, into our basement.


He might never return from this one, and he’ll probably never again see a change of uniform.

But the last time I changed his clothes — before he went missing for more than four decades — I had dressed him in his green camouflage.

That seems like a good way to live out your retirement when you’re an action figure.

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