Fun Publications to end relationship with Hasbro in 2016

fun publications hasbro

Fun Publications is ending its relationship with Hasbro in 2016.  This has been rumored for some time based on the changes to memberships for both the G.I. Joe and Transformers Collector’s Clubs.  While nothing official has been stated regarding this from either the folks on Cattle Barron Drive or Hasbro, a recent email to all Transformers Collector’s Club members offers us our most concrete evidence to date:

“All memberships will end December 31, 2016.  Hasbro looks forward to sharing new plans for the Collector’s Club with you in the future.”

Okay, let’s read that again.

Hasbro looks forward to sharing new plans for the Collector’s Club with you in the future.

Did you notice something?  Nowhere in that statement does it say “Hasbro is ending Transformers and G.I. Joe forever.” It does, however, indicate, that Hasbro will no longer be relying on Fun Publications to administer the Transformers Club and, by implied association, the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club.

angry mob

I’m aware that there’s a movement out there right now among some fans to #SaveGIJoe.  I get it– some fans are running scared because the old familiar standby of Fun Publications who has run the annual Joe Con every year since 1997 is no longer going to be a part of the official brand.  As such, it’s very tempting to think that the world is ending, the sky is falling, and that G.I. Joe as we know it is going to end forever and ever.

That could potentially be the case, but, let’s be honest– it’s highly unlikely.  Why would Hasbro utterly destroy an intellectual property that they own outright?  It’s like any one of us going outside and burning our home to the ground because we don’t like the color of the shingles.

What’s more likely to happen is that the G.I. Joe brand is undergoing a moment of transition, just as it has done many many times before.  The current model for G.I. Joe isn’t working.  The fan base isn’t growing and the toys aren’t selling.  Sorry kids, but that’s pretty much the state of the franchise right now.  The two movies didn’t exactly light the world on fire and ignite a G.I. Joe Renaissance as Hasbro might have hoped.

As such, it’s time to move on and evolve and part of that means letting go of the past.  You can’t advance the brand if you keep clinging to the old images with the tenacity of remora attaching itself to a shark.

As far as the rest, I do want to address something and it’s not going to be pretty for some folks to read.  However, based on some of the comments I’ve read on the various Facebook groups this morning, I feel that it needs to be said– even if it’s just here on JBL.

  1. Hasbro owes you nothing.
  2. G.I. Joe always has been and always should be a brand directed toward children.

To the first point, Hasbro owns the brand G.I. Joe.  It’s their property to do with as they will.  While we, as fans, may have invested countless hours/days/weeks/months/years of our lives dedicated to promoting and celebrating the brand, it still belongs to Hasbro.  If Hasbro wants to change G.I. Joe then it is Hasbro’s right and privilege to do so.  It doesn’t matter how many Joe Cons you’ve attended or how many versions of Snake Eyes you’ve purchased over the years.  Ultimately, while you’ve helped to support the brand, you do not have any control over what the brand owner actually does with it.  Accept this fact and you’ll be a lot happier.  I’ve seen comments to the effect of “Mark (Weber) has a lot of guts if he’s going to host a panel at Joe Con this year” and “Hasbro better be ready to deal with an angry mob.”   Really?  Seriously?  I’m sorry but over-react much?

As for the second point, I’ve said it time and time again— if G.I. Joe is to survive, it needs to hook a new generations of fans.  It needs to appeal to children first and foremost, period.  I’m sorry if this isn’t what collectors, who want “grim & gritty” video games and television series and comics want but collectors never should be the sole focus of the brand, unless those collectors are so myopic in their view that they believe that they, as individuals, are representative of everyone in the market.   Sorry kids, that just ain’t going to happen and it’s that level of short-sighted hyper-nostalgic thinking that has led the G.I. Joe down the road that it finds itself on today.  Our beloved brand isn’t growing and it hasn’t been in any meaningful fashion for some time.

Hasbro IS trying to evolve not only G.I. Joe but many of their brands.  They’re trying to develop a brand-new cinematic universe to try and appeal to new audiences.  In many ways, the best way to do that is to start over 100% from the ground up and build a NEW G.I. Joe, just like they did with the Adventure Team in the 1970’s and with A Real American Hero in the 1980’s.

Hasbro is going to have a presence at this year’s Joe Con 2016.  I have the feeling that we, as fans, will receive some clarification about what the company’s plans for the brand are at that time.  Do I think that they’re going to unveil a five-year plan complete with merchandise release dates and creative designs?  Absolutely not– but I do feel that it’s a bit early to start storming the gates of Hasbro in Pawtucket Rhode Island demanding that Hasbro saves G.I. Joe.  Let’s not panic yet– and instead be patient and vigilant.  Let’s wait and see what Hasbro reveals in the coming months regarding their new plans rather than come across as a reactionary rabble that is jumping the gun on what we perceive to be the “deth of teh line!1!!!”

As with all things, let’s look to the future and see what it holds for G.I. Joe.  This is a moment of transition and great strides forward can be found in such times.

Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.

moments of transition

9 thoughts on “Fun Publications to end relationship with Hasbro in 2016

  1. Thank you, I strongly feel your post was spot on. G.I Joe should inspire children to be heroes, learn right from wrong, how to work with others, and inspire dreams. I vrew up with the classic 80’s line and have been saddened by the release of figures and vehicles at a price point that is unattainable for children in their parents.

    There is a great future for the Joes in that many of the Pursuit of Cobra and Rise of Cobra sculps can be re-issued and re-released for both classic collectors, who want the same figure on a different card, and kids who wish to “Live The Adventure.”

    Here is a great idea for sales, bring back Flag Points. Since collectors are buying multiple figures anyway, let them put those to good use and mail off for premiums. At the same time, kids can get the opportunity to work towards saving and getting some extra figures, vehicles, and playsets.

  2. Excellent post. Personally, I’m ready to let GI Joe go, into the hands of a new generation. I truly hope that can and will happen. Hopefully, GI Joe will return and be of some interest to a new generation. The BRAND is too important. Part of the overall issue also has to be a bit cultural. While society doesn’t mistreat the military like it did post Vietnam, there is still a general malaise about the military and a general cultural downshift in patriotism and love of country. The national patriotism of the 80’s is gone and the glory days of GI Joe are gone. I really doubt the retail space that GI Joe commanded back in the 60’s and the 80’s were phenomena that may never be seen again by the brand. Hopefully, Hasbro can reinvent GI Joe, keeping a link to the military roots, but somehow making it both interesting for kids and profitable for the company.

  3. I will disagree with your opinion that “G.I. Joe always has been and always should be a brand directed toward children.”. The adult collector market has been the heart and soul of the line since it’s re-launch. I’ve attended events and collected since I was a kid and as of late the toy line has pretty much been adult oriented. Parents these day, seem to be reluctant to allow “war based” toys into their homes, so yes the now adult lovers of the toys are who the market has been directed toward. Much like the He-Man toys for Mattel. Within the last year, there was a 50th Anniversary show at the Military Museum in Saratoga NY. There were many of us old fogies there, simply enjoying the memories of childhood associated with the toys. But you are right, Hasbro owns it and Hasbro can do what they choose to with it. However, it doesn’t make it less sorrowful to yet again see it vanish.

  4. “Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.”

    And into the trash it goes. Is that chocolate on your nose? Your corporate lords and masters at Hasbro aren’t going to love you more if you tow the company line like that.

    You’re defending Hasbro the way a battered wife defends her abusive husband. Even Patty Hearst would be taken aback by the astronomical levels of Stockholm Syndrome displayed by alpha-faux-mature “fans” that infest moderator cliques and affiliated blogs like this. You are the cancer killing the fandoms today.

    Simple fact of the matter is that GI Joe wouldn’t be the pop-culture mainstay it is today if it wasn’t for the support of the fans. The fact that there’s a large amount of non-Hasbro Joe collectibles out in specialty shops featuring RAH era characters mirrors this. So yes, Hasbro DOES in fact owe us.

  5. Wow– you are certainly entitled to your opinion as I welcome discussion of all viewpoints here.

    So, Hasbro OWES you a G.I. Joe line? Really?

    I hate to say this but G.I. Joe isn’t a pop-culture mainstay anymore. Seriously– just go to a shopping mall or a Hobby Lobby or even a Hot Topic and walk around. You’ll see nostalgia branding for a great many 1980’s properties– Transformers, Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, My Little Pony, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc. What you don’t see anywhere is G.I. Joe. Think about it– when is the last time you saw a random G.I. Joe non-toy licensed item in a story that wasn’t left-over product from Retaliation or Rise of Cobra? The simple answer is that you most likely haven’t unless it is fan produced.

    Saying that Hasbro OWES you a G.I. Joe line is like saying that George Lucas OWED us a prequel trilogy that went along with what the fans wanted and not what the creator of the brand had in his head. That’s ludicrous entitlement mentality at best and utter niavete at worst.

    I’ll say this– I’m not out to appeal to the “corporate lords and masters at Hasbro” and I never have. If you’ve read anything at JBL, I’ve always tried to speak from a common sense perspective with relation to the brand, regardless of whether or not it fit what I wanted. If the brand is to survive, then it must evolve and that only comes through change.

    If you’d like to discuss this further, I’m open for it. However, I don’t think you can really accuse JBL of being a Hasbro shill site in any way at all.

  6. Bwaaahaahaaaa!!!! “A REAL American Zero”, your comments are awesome! I especially love the part of hiding behind a screen name! That is SO clever! But I can see the line’s uncertainty has broken past your safe zone and is causing you undue micro-aggression and anxiety! And it wouldn’t be fair to keep you in this state. So, (Spoiler Alert Trigger Warning): Yes, you will get exactly what is owed to you!

    First off, you are correct. In the name of transparency, yes, we are on Hasbro’s payroll. We get $67.14 for every positive post we say about them. That jumps to $209.87 for every glowing review we do on the toys. Plus, every full moon we get free cases of troop builders! (No one has more Rock-Vipers than us!)

    Now for the good news. We had wanted to wait another few months before we mentioned anything so we could keep this a SDCC surprise, but Fred and I are also the new owners of the ‘Joe club. And to reward us for being the bestest, most loyal Pollyannas in the entire fandom, the first new convention set will feature brand new figures in Fred and my likenesses—with working parachutes! We also get to do whatever we want for the 15 figure set, and we decided to do “G.I. Joe: Civil War”—which will be a totally rad set pitting 7 loyalists vs. 7 haters! Each side will come with a variety of guns and tools! As for the 15th figure, that is the most exciting part! It’s a new 6″ troll character created from the Mega Marines Monstro-Viper body with a newly sculpted head! The troll will be the mysterious mastermind pitting the loyalists against the haters—and he will be the first of the new 6″ line.

    Rest assured my friend, you are entitled to only the best, and that is what you’ll be getting! So stop worrying! 2017 will be an exciting time to be a ‘Joe collector!

  7. “Hasbro owes you nothing”

    Yeah and Flint, Michigan doesn’t owe its residents clean water. They can just move! FANS CAN JUST QUIT! (then you same folks wonder later “why is no one supporting the line?”)

    JBL isn’t a Hasbro shill site, because like most people, no one remembers that JBL exists. You’re low tier on a fan base that’s dying. Since you aren’t corporate shills, it is you who don’t owe Hasbro…any excuses, faux explanations, appeasements, apologies or even patience. You pretend to be above all the hype and negativity, but in truth you gobble it down for meager website hits. I bet you think you are “telling it like it is”. Yeah, saying there’s nothing and people should accept nothing makes you so relevant, as relevant as every other twit who’s been saying the same spiel for years now. Admit you want the reactionary comments, you want the hype…because without it, what is fandom now but a bunch of sad sacks waiting for a ship that’ll probably never come in?

    It’s hard to argue with much validity anymore that “G.I. Joe always has been and always should be a brand directed toward children.” when:
    a. There hasn’t been a serious attempt at kid-aimed line in years. Retaliation barely counts. HASBRO has resigned the small military toy market to Lanard and whatever Toys R Us carries. HASBRO has surrendered GI JOE to the competition, including its own licensed brands, because they sell better. (It’s like when it comes to GI JOE, Hasbro owes kids nothing, either.).
    b. There’s no other media to back that up, as you’ve mentioned. The current comics aren’t aimed at kids. There hasn’t been a cartoon since Renegades, which lasted one season. If GI JOE is for kids, where is it?
    c. As an adult fan that’s admitting that you are wasting your life on something childish. Which of course, we all are. One generation saved the world, another complains about frivolous crap while trying to one-up each other on arguments, like this one, that are essentially meaningless.
    d. Just about no one cares about that deep down. Fans want what they want. You can say it’s about the kids until you are red, white and blue in the face…deep down, you want what you want, fanboy. You want conventions, articulated figures in a scale you prefer and movies that aren’t crap. You can cling to the hope that Hasbro will launch a new line that’s kiddie friendly and has collector appeal, but if you’ve looked at toy aisle lately, there’s as much chance of that happening as there is of a flying pig becoming the next pope.

    Good luck with your future endeavors after you finally shut this internet tomb down.

  8. sabatini! (Quite appropriate your name is lowercased), thanks for the comments! I was just telling Fred earlier I hoped we’d cause enough controversy to be covered like a Trump rally by brining in the rabble-rousers, and here you are! Just like magic(k)! So congrats! (Hasbro also pays us $5.25 for every comment we generate, so that’s a free Miccy D’s two cheeseburger meal! Woot!) But you do have a point, Fred and my Pollyannachlorine counts are quite low compared to yours, and given your IP addy’s location, maybe we could stop by your place and we can all have our Thetan Levels adjusted? I have Tuesdays and Wednesdays off, so let’s plan next week. See you next Tuesday; or Wednesday—whichever works best.

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