It's my understanding that he bought them from hasbro for little-to-nothing, as they had no plans for items with those names. Other people have speculated that Hasbro let the trademarks lapse and he snatched them up, but I don't think that's correct. Being a former hasbro guy that still seems to be on reasonably good terms with them, I don't think he was trying to screw them over.
The watering down of the brand to keep Marvel and SW looking respectable is irritating. Did sales of those lines tank when PoC was giving us superior value at the 4" scale? No, they did not.
It reminds me of car development. My '01 SS Camaro was the first year to get the LS1 V8, previously developed for the corvette. Reading stuff from the former developers, they said that track lap times in the camaro were so good that they rivaled the contemporary corvette, and GM would not stand for that, as the Corvette had to be substantially better as the flagship sports car. So GM made the Camaro developers put a silverado truck camshaft in the camaro to lessen the performance. And even then, they actually fudged the camaro HP values downward to further appease the corporate overlords. All to keep the perceived value of the corvette high, as it cost twice as much.
So it's a shame we're not getting the full beans. Joe deserves better. One could argue that without ARAH, Hasbro might very well have been gobbled up by another company like mattel or kenner (rather than the other way around). They are the largest toy company because Joe kept them afloat more than once in the brand's history, yet they treat it like a red-headed step-child.
I like the Vala stuff. I'll be buying most of the first offerings just to check it out. The Steel Brigade figure looks like a sufficiently updated/modernized version of the '86 toy, so that's cool. And I can't wait to see what else he comes up with that can be used to fill in the gaps in the Classified line. It's clear Hasbro is only interested in half-assing the official stuff. On a positive note, Habsro is doing a running change to the w1 figures that gives them a more muted deco without the red and gold bits. I already customized ARAH-ish versions of them, but I'll probably pick up a muted duke just because.
No doubt that covid delaying the SE movie screwed up their plans for the line, so they're scrambling for product, hence the slight repaints. But it still vexes me that they once again underestimated the demand for Joe, and the more ARAH they make it, the more fans like it. We need to engrave this in stone above the HQ entry doors, lest each new design team has to learn the hard way every time.I agree that Joe (and the original Xfrmers) are what built Hasbro and got them enough capital to weather the lean times. I wonder, though, if H'bro just underestimated the demand for GJC. If they are already issuing muted versions of the early waves, I wonder if maybe, just maybe, they'll see the potential for their own profit and up the quantities and re-releases. Even if some peg warm, they still have the profit cushion from not having to pay royalties. They ought to jump on it. I took a look at the re-deco'ed Duke on EE. He's better than the original. I might end up with one at some point.
BTW, my daughter is all about the 6" figs right now (mostly Marvel Legends). I picked her up a SW Black Series Leia. She looks tiny next to pretty much any Marvel fig. Is there any explanation why the SW figs are pretty much 15% smaller? Is it just a GI Joe 3-3/4" to SW 3" thing, where all the SW stuff is just smaller in general, despite the "similar" scale? It's almost comical that she's so tiny next to them.