By Debbie Gregory.
Army veteran Stanley Weston, the man who conceived the “GI Joe” doll died on May 1st at the age of 84.
The toy hit stores around the same time that American troops began flowing into Vietnam, and it became a bestseller.
Weston did his homework for his concept toy, voraciously reading about and consuming all the information he could on warfare and the military. He also purchased everything he could on each branch of the military.
He then presented his “outfitted action figure” idea to fellow Korean War veteran Donald Levine at a Rhode Island toy company that later became Hasbro. Levine is credited with creating and naming “GI Joe” and getting it to market. “GI Joe” did not have a sworn enemy or mission.
Unfortunately, Weston never reaped financial rewards from his creation. He had agreed to sell his concept, “outfitted action figures” to the toy company for $100,000. He then watched as his concept grew into a $100 million dollar success story. Weston would have been better off taking a royalty on each toy.
Hasbro became a leading toy manufacturer mostly due to the popularity of their top sellers, GI Joe and Monopoly.
Stanley Weston was born in New York City on April 1, 1933. He attended New York University. He then joined the Army at the end of the Korean War.
Weston returned to New York, married, and completed his master’s degree at New York University. He then joined the emerging licensing and merchandising industry. Weston represented iconic pop culture figures like Twiggy and Soupy Sales. He formed his own company called Leisure Concepts and also represented “Charlie’s Angels” along with its star, Farrah Fawcett. He also represented the World Wrestling Federation, Nintendo and the Major League Baseball Players Association. His products represented the likeness of every baseball player in both the National and American leagues.
Many years later, Stanley Weston filed a lawsuit against Hasbro. He claimed that he and the toy company had signed an agreement that the rights to “GI Joe” would revert to Weston and his heirs in 2020, but there was no copy of this agreement. Last year, the lawsuit was settled by Weston’s daughter, Cindy.
Weston is survived by his brother, his daughter Cindy, sons Steve and Brad, and five grandchildren.
Decades later, millions of children are still playing with “GI Joe.”