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Winnipeg toy collector is G.I. Joe’s biggest fan

The Story

Maurice Arpin got his first G.I. Joe action figure when he was a young boy in 1964. He still has that toy - plus hundreds more G.I. Joe figures and a plethora of paraphernalia. The Winnipeg man is a G.I. Joe nut, and proud of it. "I think of myself as a very large six-year-old with a moustache," he jokes. In this 1996 CBC-TV clip we get a glimpse at Arpin's impressively large G.I. Joe collection, which he shows off with great enthusiasm.

Medium: Television
Program: Coleman and Company
Broadcast Date: Nov. 25, 1996
Guest(s): Maurice Arpin
Interviewer: Sandi Coleman
Duration: 6:05

Did You know?

• The G.I. Joe action figure was first manufactured by Hasbro in 1964 as a boy's alternative to the highly popular Barbie dolls (which had been around since 1959). Hasbro coined the term "action figure" to avoid the feminine connotations associated with "doll."

• The name "G.I. Joe" came from a 1945 war film called The Story of G.I. Joe.


• The original 1964 toy release included several different G.I. Joe figures representing all four branches of the military: army, navy, air force and marines. Sales were spectacular that first year, with Hasbro selling more than two million G.I. Joe products.


• G.I. Joe toys remained extremely popular throughout the 1960s. But by the 1970s, people's attitudes toward war and military toys began to change due to the Vietnam War. Between 1976 and 1982, Hasbro stopped producing G.I. Joe.


• After the six-year break, G.I. Joe resurfaced in the toy market in 1982 with a new look and new characters. The toy line was a huge hit once again. A G.I. Joe cartoon began airing in 1983, which provided a further boost to the toy line's appeal.


• While the popularity of G.I. Joe skyrocketed among kids in the 1980s, there was a bit of a backlash. Public protests against war toys became common. A 1984 Globe and Mail article discussed the growing protest movement against violent toys, pointing the finger at toys like G.I. Joe, as well as Masters of the Universe and Transformers. "I worry when children start stockpiling MX missiles in the living room," said one mother quoted in the article.


• In 2009, 45 years after the action figure made his debut, director Stephen Sommers made a film called G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Its cast includes actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sienna Miller, Christopher Eccleston, Channing Tatum and Dennis Quaid. 



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