While toy company Mattel could barely keep up with demand for its Barbie dolls in the early 1960s, its competitor, Hasbro, realized the market had no equivalent for boys. In 1963, Hasbro began development on a military-themed line of dolls that, like Barbie, could be accessorized with different outfits and equipment. Boys wouldn't want to be seen playing with dolls, so the word "doll" was never used by Hasbro or anyone involved in the development or marketing of G.I. Joe. "Action figure" was the only acceptable term, and has since become the generic description for any poseable doll intended for boys. "America's movable fighting man" is a registered trademark of Hasbro, and was prominently displayed on every boxed figure package.
Because of the success of Hasbro's G.I. Joe line, there began a new breed of buyers who bought the toys not to play with them but to collect and pose them and these 12-inch figures became 1/6th scale collectibles. Fueled by the demand for collectibles, companies began manufacturing and releasing 1/6th scale outfits and figures for the collector market, no longer targeting boys but grown men who were keen and eager for more detailed uniforms and accessories.
This is the 1996 GI Joe Collectors’ Club exclusive “Memphis Belle” pilot. "Memphis Belle" is the nickname of a Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress during the Second World War that inspired the making of two motion pictures: a 1944 documentary film, "Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress", and a 1990 Hollywood feature film, "Memphis Belle". The aircraft was one of the first B-17 United States Army Air Forces heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions with her crew intact. The aircraft and crew then returned to the United States to sell war bonds.
The World War II US Army Air Force B–17 Bomber Pilot came with all his flying gear including “Memphis Belle” A-2 leather jacket, USAAF Shoulder Insignia, Officer’s service cap, Officer’s service shirt with dress necktie and light drab “pink” trousers, Pistol belt with hip holster and 1911 A1 .45 Colt pistol, B-4 life preserver, HS-33 Headset with Intercom link, clipboard and dress shoes. I added the Officer's crush cap with gold officer’s insignia by Cotswold Collectibles.
One of my all time favorites is this: US Army Air Force B–17 Waist Gunner, World War II - Flying gear includes High Altitude Cold Weather B-3 sheepskin leather jacket, sheepskin gauntlets, A-3 sheepskin leather trousers, A-6A leather boots (black rubber soles with front zip fasteners), inflatable B-4 life preserver, ANH-16 Winter helmet, garisson cap, ‘Skyway’ goggles and A-8B oxygen mask with H-2 emergency oxygen cylinder. Outfit produced by Aces, 1996 plus some GI Joe accessories added. MORE pictures HERE :)
Here's Dragon's World War II USAAF B-17 Bomber Captain "Skip" released in 2001 with Crush cap and gold officer’s insignia, Olive Drab shirt (rank & branch on collars) with khaki tie, Aviator wings above left breast pocket, Fur-lined collar flying jacket, waist belt & buckle, web belt with 1911 .45 Colt pistol in holster & ammo pouch, trousers and sheepskin flying boots. Also included was Aviator’s kit bag with ankle boots, Bausch & Lomb sunglasses & wrist watch. MORE pics HERE
This 1/6th scale 12-inch US Army Air Force P-40 Pilot “Lt George Taylor” was released by Dragon also in 2001 when the movie "Pearl Harbor" came out. Dragon's P-40 Pilot of December 7, 1941 wore Type A-9 summer helmet with brown leather ear cups, B-7 flight goggles, A-4 summer flight suit made from light olive drab gabardine with waist belt over light olive drab shirt, B-3 life preserver, S-2 parachute with “bayonet” type harness fittings, M-1936 web belt with M-1911A1 pistol in its M-1916 leather holster plus 2 extra clips and standard GI service shoes. MORE pics HERE
Dragon Models Limited (DML) released this 1/6th scale World War II American Volunteer Group (AVG) "Flying Tiger" P-40 pilot "Ben Cole" in 2001 with Type A-8 flight helmet with brown leather ear cups, B-7 flight goggles, Garrison cap, A-2 leather flight jacket with Nationalist Chinese flag and Blood Chit, Leather shoulder holster with Browning HP automatic pistol, “chino” khaki shirt and trousers, waist belt, White scarf with Generalissimo Chiang kai-shek’s "stamp" presented in 1941, S-2 parachute with “bayonet” type harness fittings, and service shoes. MORE pics HERE
Action Unique released this World War II era Flying Tigers uniform set which consisted of a US Navy Flight suit and belt with buckle, leather flying jacket with First Air Commands Group and "Hell's Angel" insignia of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron (AVG), blood chit on back, White Silk Scarf with red stamp of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, brown leather boots, Smith & Wesson "Victory" Model 0.38 caliber revolver in shoulder holster, Browning High Power (HP) automatic pistol in hip holster on service/pistol belt, tan Overseas Cap with National Chinese "Sun" insignia, Flight Helmet (Type A-8), Flight Goggles (Type B-7) and aviator's kit bag/flight bag. MORE pics HERE
1/6th scale US Army Air Corps Captain released by Cotswold Collectibles
G.I. Joe 40th Anniversary 1/6th scale Air Force Dress Uniform set from 2004 with Jacket, dress pants, shirt with necktie, garrison hat, black low quarter shoes, insignia on a 12-inch G.I. Joe figure
Action Man 1/6 Royal Air Force Working Dress comprising RAF garrison cap, RAF blue-grey sweater and trousers, tri-service colours belt, RAF woollen greatcoat and boots.
Action Man 1/6 scale Royal Air Force Fighter Pilot 12-inch figure wearing black flying helmet, goggles and oxygen mask, and dressed in RAF blue-grey cotton service jacket and trousers, belt, pilot's scarf, life vest and Pattern 1940 flying boots
BBI Elite Force 1/6 scale Royal Air Force 12-inch Fighter Pilot figure "Keith Gordon" with RAF peaked cap, sunglasses, Type C Pattern 42 Flight helmet, Mk IVB flight goggles with painted metal frames and two hinged lenses, oxygen mask fitted with microphone and oxygen tube, silk scarf, RAF battledress, whistle, web belt with British Enfield .38 pistol in holster, flare pistol, flare rounds in metal container, pouch, jack knife in trouser pocket, map,1932 pattern ‘Mae West’ life jacket, gloves, watch, 1936 pattern 40 flying boots with sheepskin lining.
Another british RAF pilot. This one's by three Zero I think. Recognize the David Beckham head sculpt?
Here's a picture of the whole group of WWII Allied Forces pilots and air crew standing united together.
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And these are some of the 1/6th scale accessories that the 12-inch pilots carry with them.
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Isn't it interesting that at the start of the war, men were flying in planes with propellers but by the end of the war, jet engine planes were taking to the skies. The Messerschmitt Me 262 became the first jet-powered fighter aircraft — the fastest, most advanced war plane at the time. The British did finally get their own jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor, up in the air at the tail end of the war.