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Protests over Joe began in 1965Joe the mirror.
“Almost from his birth at the dawn of the Vietnam War, G.I. Joe was as much a symbol as a toy.”

... a metric of American cultureJoe at war.
“And as tensions escalated in Vietnam, public opinion turned against all things military in nature …”

Fighting man from head to toeAnti-Joe.
“There were kids whose moms wouldn’t allow them to buy Joes … Their moms didn’t want military things around the house.”

No assignment too difficult, no task too dangerousJoe the adventurer.
“The 1969 Adventures of GI Joe series was shift by Hasbro away from the military themed sets towards a world of adventure. The basic uniforms, especially of the adventurers, still have a paramilitary flavor, but the accessory sets focus much more on civilian action.”

I am the LawJoe the war profiteer.
“In fact, the biggest years for G.I. Joe were during the height of the Vietnam protest, from ’69 to ’73.” (See the Collectible Toys & Values scans.)

Takara SF Land Evolution

Updated Transformers on 20 February

Takara SF Land celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022. The umbrella term used by fans to describe various toylines with sci-fi elements sold by Takara (Takara Tomy after the 2006 merger with Tomy), Takara SF Land encompasses lines like Henshin Cyborg (a 30cm-tall figure that could transform into other characters and into a vehicle), the groundbreaking Microman (10cm-tall action figures with stunning articulation for 1974) and the Diaclone robots and vehicles piloted by 3cm-tall figures with magnetic feet.

Takara SF Land toys are notable for being original designs as opposed to being inspired by popular manga, anime or tokusatsu series. If some of the resulting toys were stand out designs far ahead of their time, it’s simply because they needed to be — they couldn’t rely on brand recognition as a crutch.

There were, of course, toy-first Takara designs that benefitted immensely from the exposure manga and anime tie-ins provided. The Magne Robo Koutetsu Jeeg figure, for example, certainly got a boost from the Nagai Go manga and the Toei anime but the toy, competing as it was with Popy Chogokin based on other manga and anime, was arguably a huge hit in the Seventies because of its innovative magnetic joints.

The most famous Takara SF Land toyline of them all would be Transformers, the result of a decades-old relationship between two storied toy companies from two different continents. Hasbro coined the term “action figure” for the original G.I. Joe in 1964 and Takara transformed Joe into Henshin Cyborg, the founding figure of Takara SF Land, in 1972. Hasbro then combined toys from two major Takara SF Land lines, Diaclone and Microman, in 1984 to create Transformers and those rebranded toys returned to Japan the following year. The line, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2019, has sold over 500 million toys and other products in over 130 countries.

To study Takara SF Land is to see how toy designs evolve across multiple lines over the course of decades. More broadly, it is to trace how an idea travels from one country to another, gets adapted for local needs, impacted by geopolitical events and return in a completely unrecognisable form. Delve into one Japanese toy company’s history and you will see just how Hasbro’s 12-inch G.I. Joe turned into Mego’s 3¾-inch Micronauts.

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