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THE CLASSIC CAPTAIN ACTION AD, DRAWN by KURT SCHAFFENBERGER!
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SECRET ORIGINS OF CAPTAIN ACTION - PART 1 of 6
WHERE THE ACTION IS!
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Welcome to DIAL B for BLOG's penultimate SECRET ORIGINS series, celebrating the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest toys of all time... the amazing nine-in-one hero, Captain Action!

Speaking of dolls... Barbie, one of the most successful toys in history, made her debut in 1959. One of the things that made the Mattel toy company’s Barbie doll such a huge hit, economically speaking, was Barbie’s penchant for accessories. She liked them. More importantly, little girls liked to BUY them for her. Each Barbie sale usually meant the buyer would be back to purchase a seemingly endless array of Barbie ACCESSORIES.

Hasbro attempted to duplicate the runaway success of Barbie by inventing a BOYS toy that also used “accessories" -- but in this case, the accessories were LETHAL. While Barbie made her fortune off make-up kits, wigs, dresses and dreamhouses, Hasbro’s distaff knockoff planned to cash in on machine guns, bazookas and tanks.

He debuted in 1964, and his name was G.I. Joe, and he looked like this...
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Despite the warnings of marketers, it turns out little boys DID want to play with dolls -- or not dolls, but newly-renamed "Action Figures." In no time, Joe became a smash hit, and he was advertised to comic buyers in a series of full-page promos that emphasized the toy’s membership in the Army, Navy, Air force, AND Marines (two shown below).

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G.I. Joe was also promoted in a long-running "G.I. Joe Club" comic book ad campaign starring "ANDY & GEORGE," the world's greatest G.I. Joe fans. These black and white, comic-style ads, drawn by Irv Novick, usually ran on the comic's inside back cover. Here's "New Man Joins The Platoon!"
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As you can tell from the dialogue in the "ANDY & GEORGE" ad below, despite their young age, the two lads are geopolitical strategists on a level with Metternich! Seriously! Just look at the global setup Andy has built, and the surprisingly realistic battle figures George brings to put in the... "Battle Grounds of the World!"

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Meanwhile, in the actual story part of the comic, military characters such as Our Army At War's Sgt. Rock were gaining in popularity. The success of G.I. Joe prompted DC to give him his own tryout issue of DC’s Showcase, complete with a three-section cover by Joe Kubert (shown below) that again focused on the toy’s “land, sea, air” capabilities. Below the covers is a DC house ad for Showcase #53, featuring GI Joe.

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OAAW #112 (NOV 1961) SHOWCASE #45 (JULY 1963) SHOWCASE #53 (NOV 1964)
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FROM MOUSE TO MAGIC TO ACTION

Barbie invented the “accessory” game, but G.I. Joe took it to the next level. Barbie was "just" an internationally famous supermodel -- Joe had the advantage of serving in ALL FOUR branches of America’s military simultaneously. This meant .four times the action, four times the fun, and above all, four times the ACCESSORIES!

G.I. Joe was co-created by a man named Stan Weston. Remember Mouse Trap (shown right), the kid's board game where players assemble a series of small plastic toys into a Rube Goldberg-ish machine meant to catch a mouse? Weston invented that game! And guess what – Stan Weston was also the father of our hero!

Using money earned from his involvement with G. I. Joe, Weston formed his own licensing company, Leisure Concepts, which entered into partnerships with DC and Marvel comics as well as King Features Syndicate, purveyor of comic strips. These connections provided Weston with the .raw materials he would use to create his masterpiece.

It was the magical year of 1966 when Weston first proposed the creation of a doll for boys named CAPTAIN MAGIC. The basic concept was a military man who could magically transform himself into different superheroes. That way, Ideal could sell the Captain Magic doll itself, as well as the superhero uniforms needed to dress Cap in after he “transformed.” This masterstroke increased the “accessory market” from a handful of items to hundreds and potentially thousands.

But before hitting the market, Captain Magic’s NAME was transformed. Perhaps influenced by the increasing unpopularity of the Vietnam War, Ideal decided to tone down the doll’s military aspect. With the Batman TV show topping the ratings charts, it made sense to play up the doll’s superheroic appeal.

So, the “magical” nature of his transformations was eliminated, and Captain Magic, supernatural military man, became a superheroic adventurer who was no longer in the military, although his rank and "cover" (hat) still reflected his military origins. His new name was...
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CLICK HERE
FOR PART 2


SECRET ORIGINS OF CAPTAIN ACTION PART TWO
"THE AMAZING NINE-IN-ONE SUPERHERO!"