“All the collectors want to rescue feelings from childhood,” said Argento, who values his collection at $200,000. “You don’t play with toys to feel upset. You play with toys to feel happy.”

Charles Mohs, a pharmaceutical company executive from Morristown, New Jersey, brought his wife and three young children to the Joe Con. His first G.I. Joes were Man of Action and Man of Adventure, both 12-inchers. He still has them, along with 50 other big guys and 600 of the smaller ones, all in his basement.

“At that time it was a very special gift,” Mohs said. “It was a prized toy.” Mohs and his buddies would play all summer long with their Joes. Man of Action would go through the yews and up a wall and then parachute out of a tree, maybe an oak. “It was just so cool.”

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