It is with great sadness and regret that I write to acknowledge the passing of Don Levine. Levine is the former Hasbro executive who shepherded the development of the original 1/6 scale GI Joe in 1963. While the actual work was obviously a team effort, Levine is often credited with being the "father" of GI Joe. The term "action figure" is also attributed to Levine and his team since, in 1963, conventional wisdom was that boys would never play with dolls.
It took an enormous amount of guts and foresight, as well as a large portion of Hasbro's available capital, to bring GI Joe to market. While GI Joe made Hasbro the multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporation it is today, there was a very real risk that it could've destroyed a carefully run, well respected and successful mid-level toy company had it been a failure.
I owe my life-long fascination with all things doll/action figure to GI Joe and by extension, Don Levine and his team as well as then-Hasbro president Merrill Hassenfeld. Don's passing is made even more sad because 2014 is the 50th anniversary of GI Joe, yet "the company that Joe built" has done little to nothing to acknowledge this.
Regardless, I hope that this small tribute will serve as my heartfelt "thank you" to Don Levine. God speed sir and rest in peace!