Breaking News: GI Joe is a Doll!

This just in (from 1989), three federal judges determined that Hasbro had to continue to classify GI Joe as a doll, at least in the context of import tariffs. Well ain’t that a B. All these years, I’ve argued with my wife that I don’t collect and play with dolls. Now I guess I have to man up and admit it–from a certain point of view.

Now I know! And knowing is half the battle–from a certain point of view.



  • ”Girls play with DOLLS-Boys are He-Men. They play with Action Figures, so G.I.JOE:A Real American Hero IS As Always, an Action Figure, NOT DOLLS!” These judges from the 1989 news article, should go into the public, and ask the opinions from boys ages 5 and up, what they think G.I.Joe is.

  • I’m curious if this tariff is still in effect. And, did it apply to Star Wars toys? The definition specifically says “representation of a human”. So, if droids and aliens are not humans, was Kenner exempt?

    • James From Miami

      Very good questions. But, where there any Star Wars toys been sold in 89? I ask, because I don’t remember seen any in any stores back then at that time. I do remember the Micro Machines Star Wars stuff from the early to mid 90’s though. I guess Galoob and Kenner had some kind of good deal with each other. And I bet it was a very good deal.

  • James From Miami

    Too bad the photo is in black and white, but that Duke looks to me like the 88 Tiger Force version. The Flint figure, I can not tell, but I think it is also the 88 Tiger Force version. The big Joe, I don’t know what it is. Or if it is an original from the 1960’s, or if it is a replica. Most likely it is an original. I sure hope that there is a better photo of this, and in color. As for the small Joes, I would bet any money that no one back then would have thought that in 2007, those 3 1/2 scale figures would be rebooted in a taller scale, that would not be compatible with those older ones. I know that I would have never thought that. And to me, even the big Joes are action figures, not dolls. But, the government always gets their way.

  • Tomato tomato.

  • Yeah there’s different import tax on human and non-human toys. Lawyer for marvel went to court to reclassify the xmen as non-human because they are mutants. Funny how a group of heroes that struggle for equality and acceptance in the comic book world are so easily classified as not human in the real world.

  • …to save a few million dollars

  • Strange tariff to have.

  • It also seems like a result of the absence of having a legal definition for action figure. Of course, it is understandable from a very broad point. The difference between dolls & action figures is mainly one of scale and of types of accessories. Action figures usually come with weapons, tools, gear (like backpacks) not adornments… though He-Man blurred the line, with many figures having harnesses (like He-Man himself), snap-on-armor, or even clothing (though the late line figure Ninjor is the only one that comes to mind on that front) while dolls come with fabric-based accessories (clothing) and household accessories (like brushes). Dolls go back far while action figures likely come after these import/export laws were written.

  • Action figure

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