It seems only appropriate less than 24 hours after the State of the Union address last night that a mild controversy has formed within the walls of the online G.I. Joe community.
Honestly, it’s tough to remember a time when some sort of controversy wasn’t brewing with an online fandom somewhere.
In the latest SmallJoes.com newsletter, the following little nugget of information was in there:
“We are not expecting any new GI JOE 3 3/4″ product at retail in 2014.”
For obvious reasons, this caused a bit of a flurry of activity. But I do want to caution people to get to heavy handed or critical, and be tempted to shoot the messenger.
I’ve seen posts online claiming that perhaps the G.I. Joe fandom was “lied to” at San Diego ComicCon this past summer, and I would just ask that we please stop. The man who provided the information at SDCC was Derryl DePriest, someone who many of us have known for a very long time, and one of the hugest supporters of the G.I. Joe brand over the past decade. I have talked to him frequently at conventions over the past several years, and I can say without doubt or hesitation that he did not and would not “lie” to anyone about plans for a G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary.
That doesn’t mean that we’re getting something this year, though. In fact, signs point to no. But it’s much more a matter of plans changing, not so much someone directly “lying”.
The Internet is a wonderful thing. It has provided billions of people with a way to directly interact with each other in real time, and that atmosphere has created a strong sense of entitlement when it comes to early information. As a fandom, we all demand to hear and see things as early as humanly possible, and often berate corporations who don’t show us what they’re working on months or years in advance. So what do we expect when we ask a corporate rep something that far in advance, and then the plans change and we’re unhappy with the end result?
We cannot have it both ways. If we’re going to ask for this early information, we have to be mentally prepared to accept the fact that things can change in a period of 6 – 8 months, and it certainly seems like that happened in this case. But please, let’s not assume that Derryl stood up in the Hasbro booth in San Diego and “lied” to several fan representatives who asked him directly about 2014. That is not at all fair to him.
Now, I’m not absolving Hasbro of all blame here. If anything, I’m feeling far more critical of the way they’re treating (or not treating) one of their flagship brands on the 50th Anniversary of the brand’s creation. And not just the brand. We’re talking action figures as a whole. This entire industry was born 50 years ago this year, and even if G.I. Joe at large has faded from public consciousness, Hasbro makes enough money off of other action figure lines to at least pay some sort of lip service to the brand that started it all. To do otherwise is disrespectful and short sighted.
There are plenty of ways that Hasbro could do something with G.I. Joe using existing tooling at limited cost and through limited retail channels, but by all accounts they seem unwilling to do even that. Disappointing to say the least.
Of course this point might all be moot if we see something at Toy Fair, but by the sounds of it, that does not seem likely. At this point, though, in the midst of excellent Convention reveals and FSS shipments by the G.I. Joe Collectors Club at least there is a silver lining, though one that is more expensive than what many collectors are willing to consider.
So, I guess in conclusion, let’s not jump all over Derryl, I’m sure he was going by the information he had at the time, and Hasbro proper, if you’re reading, when you look at all of those Avengers, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Star Wars, Transformers, and dozens of other specific action figure toy lines that earn your revenue, pay your salaries, and continue to keep your entire corporation relevant, let’s not forget where that all started.