G.I. Joe began in 1964 as a line of 12-inch articulated action figures produced by Hasbro. They represented four of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces with the Action Soldier (Army), Action Sailor (Navy), Action Pilot (Air Force) and Action Marine (USMC).
The development of G.I. Joe led to the coining of the term action figure. In 1982, the line was relaunched with the smaller 3 1/4 scale complete with vehicles, playsets, and a complex background story involving an ongoing struggle between the G.I. Joe Team and the evil Cobra organization. The relaunch pioneered several tactics in toy marketing, combining traditional advertising with a new cartoon miniseries and an ongoing comicbook.
Thanks to writer Larry Hama G.I. Joe became a smash comic book sensation at Marvel in the 1980's that is still strong today. IDW currently publishes several popular G.I. Joe titles and Hasbro continues to produce several successful toylines.