Today marks the 50 birthday of the American line of action figures known to the world at large as G.I. Joe! Depending on who you ask (and which search engine you're using), the origin of the term is up to debate. The abbreviation "G.I." was originally a stamp on military gear meaning it was made from galvanized iron. Later on the term was used as a shortened version of Government Issued. Now, it's a used as a generic way to speak of any member of the military.

The toy line has been a staple in US history for years now, even being inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 2003. The first Joe action figure was the 12 inch model. Probably the more famous version, at least from my generation, are the 4 inch figures. The 80's saw toy industry giant, Hasbro, extend the line with vehicles and playsets along with the animated series and a monthly comic book. In the last decade, the Joe legacy has expanded further with two full length live action movies which starred big names like Channing Tatum, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Bruce Willis.

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Avid comic book fans like myself and even WWE Superstar CM Punk have G.I. Joe inspired ink. Other than the ever famous Cobra logo, probably the best known symbol is the Arashikage Clan symbol (shown below) which is worn by the ninjas, Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes.

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Other than Transformers (which is also distributed by Hasbro), G.I. Joe was probably my favorite childhood toy. With a rich storyline and plenty of multicultural characters to choose from that represented each of the four branches of the military, the "Joe lore" has grown into more than just a toy... it represents a Real American Hero!