Stanley Weston, the creator of the “G.I. Joe” action figure and subsequent animated kids’ series, died May 1 at the age of 84, TheWrap has learned.
Born in Brooklyn in 1933, Weston was drafted into the Army shortly after the end of the Korean War. After his service, he took a job at the New York ad agency McCann Erickson while taking night classes for a MBA at NYU, after which he entered into the licensing industry with his own company, Weston Merchandising.
In the early 1960s, Weston noticed that despite the popularity of Barbie dolls, there were no dolls being marketed to boys. To fill in that niche, he came up with the idea of a military character that could be made into a doll. In 1963, that idea became known as G.I. Joe and was sold to Hasbro, thus creating the first ever line of action figures. G.I. Joe became one of the most famous toy lines of all-time, reaching the peak of its popularity in 1980s with its “Real American Hero” rebranding, which gave rise to a hit animated TV series. The 1985 cartoon became known for its public safety lessons at the end of every episode, which always ended with the catchphrase, “And knowing is half the battle!”
Building off the success of G.I. Joe, Weston founded the licensing company Leisure Concepts, which in the 80s made products for James Bond, Farrah Fawcett during her run on “Charlie’s Angels,” Nintendo, and “Star Wars.” Through Leisure Concepts, Weston helped create another hit among Generation X kids: the animated series “Thundercats,” which also came with a successful toy line.
Weston is survived by his brother, his three children and five grandchildren.