Some accidents were meant to be. In the case of the USS Flagg, a toy created from the fictional U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in the G.I. Joe universe, this product from Hasbro almost never existed!
Brian Volk-Weiss, the creator of Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us, guested on The Christmas 24-7 Network’s The Six Months of Christmas show and discussed all things toys, including a couple spinoff shows he has planned for the future. He also revealed some shocking information about the USS Flagg toy that became so popular in America in the mid-1980s.
Apparently, the toy was created completely accidentally after Alan G. Hassenfeld, the CEO of Hasbro in 1985, approved the USS Flagg and then completely forgot he’d approved it to go into production.
“So cut to about three months later,” Volk-Weiss told hosts at Christmas 24-7. “They’re at a toy fair, and uh, there’s all these Flaggs being put together for a demonstration. They like, have eight of them on a table, and Hassenfeld walks in and he sees them, and he goes, ‘why, why, why are there eight of these?’”
The USS Flag was around 7 feet long!
According to Volk-Weiss, the staff believed Hassenfeld meant there needed to be more than eight toys, and they mistook his surprise for something else entirely. The staff, believing Hassenfeld wanted there to be more toys manufactured than what he saw on the table, emphasized they’d have more toys soon.
“Hassenfeld was like, ‘what do you mean? This isn’t in production,’” Volk-Weiss added, “And they’re like ‘no, it is in production. You, you approved it.’ And he’s like, ‘I didn’t approve this.’ And they’re like, ‘no, you did approve this.’”
Turns out, Hassenfeld thought only one was being approved as a model for toy fairs!
From the sounds of it, Hassenfeld went into shock and believed production of this toy would bankrupt the entire company due to the cost in manufacturing. The biggest issue being the actual size of the toy itself—measuring approximately seven feet in length.
Fortunately for Hassenfeld and Hasbro, the toy turned into a huge success, and Volk-Weiss explained Hasbro only stopped manufacturing it because the cost would set the company back for a few months at a time.
Near the end of Volk-Weiss’ discussion with The Christmas 24-7 Network, the conversation turned to possible spinoffs we could see for his show. After the success of The Toys That Made Us seasons one and two, Volk-Weiss pitched another show called The Video Games That Made Us. In this spinoff, we could see
Volk-Weiss continued by saying, “I can say this and not be too egotistical cause our staff made it, not me, um, but it was a phenomenal tape. I mean, literally people were tearing up watching it, like you would see Lara Croft, 1992 version, morphing into like the 2018 version, and we did that with Link from Zelda, Mario, whatever.”
Volk-Weiss went on to say that despite a successful pitch, he pitched a second idea—literally a picture of Bruce Willis in front of Nakatomi Plaza with Frank Sinatra’s head photoshopped on top of Willis’ head (for the explanation involving Sinatra’s contractual obligation, you’ll have to watch the full interview!). After the studio listened to Volk-Weiss’ second pitch, they greenlit this over video games, and then also asked him to wait until after season three of The Toys That Made Us before they would revisit the idea of his video game show.
As this story shows, sometimes the best plans are simply accidents in disguise.
For this and more, be sure to catch the Christmas 24-7 interview with Volk-Weiss.
Season three of The Toys That Made Us is now available on Netflix.