Based on the title of this article, you may think I’m here to condescendingly explain the evils of merchandising. You may think I’m here to talk about how stupid and damaging it can be to prostitute something of great artistic value by pasting it on a coffee cup. I’m not. Like any business-minded, free market-obsessed consumer who has watched way too many episodes of The Men Who Built America, I’m all for companies maximizing the return on their investments. I’m all for the powers that be doing anything on the right side of the law in order to generate money. Now that baseball has fallen off the cliff in terms of popularity, making a quick buck truly is Uncle Sam’s most beloved game, and apart from Star Wars, Barbie and KISS, few franchises have ever more aggressively tried to haul in cash than GI Joe.

So, don’t think of the following article as a big middle finger toward GI Joe. Think of it more as a stream of good-natured insults, much like the ones you would give a buddy if you found out he secretly slept with a truly unfortunate woman or purchased a gallon of milk only to return home and notice the week old expiration date. I like where GI Joe’s head is. I like the idea behind turning Snake Eyes and Chuckles into camouflaged cash cows, but for the love of Cobra, I just can’t figure out why they thought anyone would ever buy these damn things. Either because the basic connection to GI Joe doesn't exist or because the quality isn’t exactly impressive, these five items probably never should have been produced. But they were. So, let’s laugh about them…

GI Joe TV Tray
GI Joe TV Table Tray
You know what I always think when I’m getting ready to eat? "A graphic war scene would really improve my appetite. If only I could actually eat off a picture of fully loaded men charging into combat." Wait. Nevermind. I’ve never thought that before and outside of a small percentage of young boys way too obsessed with battle tactics, I’m not sure anyone else has either. Besides, it’s not like kids need to be coaxed into eating in front of the television by GI Joe table trays. If anything, they should be selling GI Joe brand tablecloths. Sure, they would be ugly and emotionally upsetting to dinner guests, but they might actually convince a seven-year-old boy to have a family meal at the table without a fight.

I have no idea how many of these things GI Joe actually sold, but based on Internet searches and random stories, I’m pretty sure it was more than a couple. That being said, considering everyone seems to have paid between five and ten dollars for their item second-hand, it seems like most consumers eventually realized this ugly, off-putting monstrosity has no real value.

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