• Stanley Weston GI Joe inventor and licensing industry pioneer.
    Stanley Weston GI Joe inventor and licensing industry pioneer.

Stanley Weston, inventor of the GI Joe action figure and licensing industry pioneer, passed away on 1 May 2017 in in Los Angeles, California.

According to a report published by The Hollywood Reporter, Weston was born in Brooklyn in 1933 and served in the Army shortly after the Korean War ended.

Upon his return to New York with his wife, Weston accepted a position at the McCann Erickson advertising agency, and enrolled in MBA night classes at New York University, where he had studied as an undergraduate.

Weston soon discovered a talent for the nascent licensing and merchandising industry, and he struck out on his own, founding Weston Merchandising to represent early properties such as Dr. Kildaire, Soupy Sales, Twiggy and How the West was Won.

Weston Merchandising was later renamed, Leisure Concepts, whose client list included Charlie's Angels-era Farrah Fawcett, Nintendo and the World Wrestling Federation, as well as TV shows such as Alf and Welcome Back, Kotter. Weston also helped to create the 1980s animated phenomenon ThunderCats.

Observing the success of Barbie dolls, and the fact that many boys were playing with Ken dolls, Weston realised there was an untapped market and conceived of the idea of a military action figure.

Weston sold GI Joe to Hasbro in 1963, a toy that went on to one of the most successful toy properties in history, spawning hit TV shows and blockbuster films as well.

Weston is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the licensing industry and was inducted into the Licensing Industry Hall of Fame in 1989 as part of the inaugural induction class. In subsequent years, names such as Walt Disney, George Lucas and Steve Spielberg became fellow inductees.

He is survived by his brother, Jay, and three children, Steve, Cindy (Jake) and Brad (Lori), as well as five grandchildren.

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