A Toy Story
Rare G.I. Nurse action figure a valuable find for collectors
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Bloodless Survival Surgical techniques to use when transfusion drops out of the equation In 1967, Hasbro released the fabled G.I. Nurse Action Girl, a doll so rare that certain models mint-in-box can bring up to $6,000 on today’s collectors’ market.Few toy franchises have experienced the kind of success enjoyed by G.I. Joe. With the exception of Barbie, Joe and his camouflage-clad buddies are perhaps the most famous and beloved toy line in the world.Hasbro released the first G.I. Joe action figures in 1964, and young boys snatched ’em up by the thousands. Named for the 1945 William Wellman war flick The Story of G.I. Joe, the 11BD-inch every-soldier with 21 moving parts quickly became a fixture on backyard battlefields across the United States.In 1967, Hasbro expanded the line to include a series of talking figures, and Hasbro Canada produced a Canadian Mounties set. That year also saw the release of the fabled G.I. Nurse Action Girl, a doll so rare that certain models mint-in-box can bring up to $6,000 on today’s collectors’ market.“The G.I. Joe Nurse is so valuable today because it was released for only one year,” says Sharon Korbeck, editorial director of Toy Shop, a biweekly magazine aimed at toy collectors. “The figure didn’t do very well because boys weren’t interested in a female doll, and girls weren’t interested in anything related to G.I. Joe.”Sales also suffered because toy store managers didn’t know how to position the doll. Some put her with the G.I. Joe action figures, while others stocked her next to Barbie and her friends. Either way, 50% of the prospective market was lost.“Another problem was that Hasbro didn’t have any accessory sets for the G.I. Joe Nurse,” adds Dale Womer, owner of The Joe Depot, a retail store in Parkesburg, Pa., that specializes in G.I. Joe collectibles. “If the company had given girls more to play with, the doll might have enjoyed greater success. It was a stark contrast to the playability of a Barbie doll.”No belle of the ballThen there was the doll’s appearance. G.I. Jane (as she’s occasionally known among collectors, though she never had a proper name) wasn’t exactly the belle of the ball, which put her at a severe disadvantage compared to the preternaturally attractive Barbie.“To me, it’s an extraordinarily ugly doll,” laughs Korbeck. “It basically looks like a soldier in a wig.”Womer agrees. “From the chest down, it was a male G.I. Joe but with smaller proportions.”So what did boys and girls get for their allowance money if they bought a G.I. Joe Nurse in 1967? According to Brian Savage of Fort Worth, Texas, director of the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club and a dealer in contemporary G.I. Joe merchandise, the G.I. Joe Nurse came with a World War II-era nursing uniform, white hose, a small hat bearing a red cross, white shoes, a small medic bag, bandages, crutches, splints, and a bottle of plasma. Unfortunately, the hat is typically missing when a G.I. Joe Nurse comes on the market today, Savage says, because it was too small to fit her head properly and thus easy to misplace.