PROVIDENCE, R.I., May 2 (UPI) -- Thousands of G.I. Joe fans and collectors assembled in Providence, R.I., this weekend for the 17th annual G.I. Joe Collectors Convention, organizers said.
For more serious collectors, the occasion was extra special because it was the first time the convention has been held in Providence, the headquarters of Hasbro, the company that introduced G.I. Joe to the toy market in 1964, The Providence Journal reported Sunday.
Since its debut, G.I. Joe has appeared in dozens of forms, including a Heavy Metal figure and Cobra Commander, as well as comics, an animated TV series and a Hollywood action picture in 2009.
The convention attracted collectors including Michael Rush, 30, of Beverly, Mass., who told the newspaper he started collecting 3 3/4-inch G.I. Joe action figures when he was 18 because his parents couldn't afford to buy them for him when he was a kid.
"I didn't have them," he said, "but I always wanted them."
Sam Petrucci appeared at the convention, signing paintings he made of G.I. Joe characters in the 1960s when he worked on advertising campaigns for the product.
His son, Ken Petrucci, acknowledged the connection gives the old man a certain coolness.
"He's like a G.I. Joe rock star," the younger Petrucci said as fans waited in line to meet his father.