To help snuff out the influence of al Qaeda in Pakistan, in 2005 the CIA commissioned an action figure of Osama bin Laden, whose familiar visage would melt away to reveal the face of a demon. The intent was to scare children and their parents away from the real terrorist.
Photograph by Adam Goldman/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesThe CIA ultimately abandoned the campaign—code-named Devil Eyes—though hundreds of prototypes might have been shipped to the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2006. According to CIA spokesperson Ryan Trapani, however, “there were only three individual action figures ever created, and these were merely to show what a final product might look like.” The final 12-inch figure was to be covered in heat-dissolving paint that would peel away to expose haunting green eyes and red skin with black markings.
Levine’s ultrapatriotic G.I. Joe made $5 billion in sales after it first came to market in 1964. According to the Post, the project “‘appealed to [Levine] because it had nothing to do with actually hurting someone,’ said a person familiar with his decision to get involved. ‘It was the softer side of the CIA.’”