Monthly Archives: April 2012

Don Levine Confirms “First-Ever, Prototype Footlocker” sold on ebay is 100% Authentic

Don Levine's original, 1965 prototype GIjOE footlocker. Fully documented and autographed by "GijOE's Father" himself. Click on all photos for closeups of this unique item. (Photo: Dave Burks)

Closeup of the top of the box as inscribed by Don Levine back in 1965. (Photo: Dave Burks)

Okay…quick test. How much would you pay for an empty, vintage GIjOE footlocker? $25? $35? Maybe even $50? Sounds about right. Alright then, what if the footlocker in question could be proven to be the very first GIjOE footlocker ever made? Hmm…now a price isn’t quite so easy to pin down. But it’s safe to say your valuation of it would start going up.

Closeup of the interior looks like any other footlocker, with perhaps a thicker paper used for the inner lid sticker. (Photo: Dave Burks)

What if you also learned that the footlocker had been the official Hasbro prototype and was never sold in a store? Or that it had been the personal property of the “Father of GIjOE,” Mr. Don Levine himself, for over 40 years? “Uh-oh,”  you say. “That changes everything!” Of course, you’re right. And you can see where the price is going to go now. WAY up. Indeed, to the casual observer, it may look like any other ordinary 1965 GIjOE footlocker. But when you know its unique back story and important history, the item’s “provenance” quickly takes it out of the realm of “the ordinary.”

Closeup of where Don Levine autographed the footlocker to Dave. (Photo: Dave Burks)

Recently, Dave Burks of Arroyo Grande, California, sold this one-of-a-kind item on ebay for $380.00. When the auction was over, I contacted Dave and asked him how he had initially acquired it and why he would ever sell such a rare item. Here’s what he told me…

“Hi Mark, I bought this footlocker from Don’s grandson who was selling some of Don’s original GIjOE stuff to get through college. Don and I spoke personally at great lengths over the telephone and he signed the footlocker and typed me a letter of authenticity too. I’m a musician and not really collecting Joes anymore. So I thought I’d pass it on.”

Closeup of the letter of authenticity shows that it too, was signed by Don Levine. (Photo: Dave Burks)

What a cool piece of GIjOE history! The new owner is certainly a lucky guy or gal. Hopefully, he or she will leave a comment here on The Joe Report and let us all know how Don and Dave’s ol’ footlocker is doing. HA For more information, here’s the auction listing’s product description as it appeared in Dave’s ebay ad:

“Years back, I was able to purchase this straight from Mr. Don Levine, creator of the 1960’s smash hit: GIjOE! This was Don’s personal prototype for Hasbro’s 1965 production of the GIjOE footlocker.

Don signed his initials on the top in the name and rank area. This was for his reference while the footlockers were being designed and put together. It was later stored in Don’s attic and forgotten.

This one has a few light dings, but is still bright as the day he made it in the factory. The top sticker is a bit unglued, but otherwise the locker is in minty condition and has been displayed in my glass case with my vintage Joes.

Don was nice enough to write a dated and signed letter of authenticity and has personally autographed the inside bottom of the locker as well.

A neat letter comes on Mr. Levine’s personal stationary (with an envelope). This alone is so cool. These would be stunning framed next to the box while on display in a collection. This is totally one of a kind. The first ever made GIjOE footlocker!”

GIjOE Con Exclusives, First Sneak Pics Revealed!

Box art for the upcoming "Last Man Standing" Adventure Team Heavy Weapons set, created by the GIjOE Collector's Club as an exclusive for its 2012 Convention in New Orleans, LA.
(Photo: GIjOE Collector's Club)

Amazing work at such a small-scale. Superb! (Photo: GIjOE Collector's Club)

It’s been quite a long wait for GIjOE fans, but the GIjOE Collector’s Club has FINALLY put up some initial sneak pics of its 2012 convention exclusives. Collectors of the “little guys” (3.75″ figures) are looking at a new group called the “Oktober Guard,” consisting (so far) of two males and one female figure. They’re amazingly well-detailed and come complete with removable accessories, weapons and gear. Stunning!

A female soldier figure! (Photo: GIjOE Collector's Club)

For fans of the 12″ line, the club is showing only some box art from an upcoming set dubbed the “Last Man Standing.” The figure itself looks to be a Desert Adventurer, armed with some “heavy weapons” and wearing a tan AT uniform and a vintage-style cap. Last year’s dune buggy is also shown peeking into the frame, suggesting an implied use with that versatile vehicle.

Each figure is armed to the teeth and ready for battle. (Photo: GIjOE Collector's Club)

The box art features an excellent painting by GIjOE packaging illustrator extraordinaire, Larry Selman and depicts an Adventurer striding across an almost Martian dunescape. In a future article, we plan to go into greater detail about all the superb work Mr. Selman has done for GijOE over the years, plus his current extraordinary line of military posters and prints.

Superb news all around, Joeheads! Both of these sets look very exciting and superbly executed. We’ll keep our eyes peeled and post any additional updates as they become available.

Joelanta 2012 Parachute Drop Video on Youtube

Only minutes out of its box, this "virgin" Action Man Parachutist is about to make the first of two successful jumps or "drops" from the 15th floor. GERONIMO! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A screenshot from the video shows the viewer is in a "You Are There" vantage point, standing on the floor of the Marriott, looking up at the action.
(Photo: Mark Otnes)

With all the talk about Joelanta, one event has gone largely unmentioned— the Parachute Drop. While this year’s “drop” was a casual, family friendly affair, there was plenty of action and intrigue going on as well.

For example, during the event, one bystander began to gather up the fallen parachutists and proceeded to place them on her “For Sale” table! It turned out there was a language problem and things were quickly straightened out, but for a few minutes there, this person thought it was raining free GIjOEs!

Then, as families scrambled to catch one of the three elevators to the top floor, others began hurrying back down. This created sort of an “elevator traffic jam” for a while, but there was apparently enough to go around and no one seemed to mind waiting for a minute or two.

In this screenshot from the video, an anxious crowd watches helplessly as one of the Joes floats into the dark elevator shaft. It's fate is unknown.
(Photo: Mark Otnes)

It was also fun to watch the hotel security guards “working.” Throwing objects over the railing is normally the sort of juvenile activity they would be called in to shut down. But on this night, they too, were happily taking part in the fun. Big, beaming smiles spread over their faces as they moved about helping fans catch and retrieve the falling Joes. They were clearly having a very good time—and getting PAID for it!

Unfortunately, some Joes didn’t have a smooth trip down. Many became hung up on light fixtures or plant boxes, some rammed mercilessly into the walls, and one even drifted into a dark elevator shaft. For non-attendees, the good news is that a new video on YouTube documenting the drop places viewers in a perfect “You are There” vantage point, looking straight up from the lobby floor with the other attendees. It’s 2 1/2 minutes of old-fashioned fun. Watch it HERE now.

Collector Matt Babek’s GIjOE granted official display status in Smithsonian Museum

Imagine having your own, personal GIjOE become part of the national collection at the Smithsonian.
That fantasy has become a reality for collector Matt Babek. (Photo: Smithsonian)

Hot off the wire and Exclusive to The Joe Report…

The card beneath Matt's Joe is simple and to the point. Click to enlarge. (Photo: Smithsonian)

After waiting for several years, long-time GIjOE fan and collector, Matt Babek, was recently notified by officials at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, that the vintage GIjOE Action Soldier he had given them is now on official display.

Babek’s GIjOE has been transitioned from being one person’s plaything to a VERY special public representative. The painted-hair Army figure has been positioned “front and center” inside of a large, glassed-in display case, adjacent to a vintage Barbie. During regular museum hours, Matt’s Joe can be seen standing at perfect attention, eager to greet his visitors. Here’s how Matt describes the events…

“I’m a longtime vintage GIjOE collector. Back in the mid-90’s, I heard that GIjOE was in the Smithsonian. I did some research and found out that they only had a fuzzy-haired Joe from the 1970’s.

I contacted the Smithsonian to let them know that I thought they should also have an original, 1964 painted hair GIjOE in their collections and that I would be willing to donate one.

After several months of letters and pictures, in 1996, I was very pleased to learn that the Smithsonian had accepted my gift of an original GIjOE boxed Action Soldier into their permanent collections.

I was recently notified by them that the GIjOE is currently on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. They sent me a few pictures which I have attached for you. Thanks”

Our heartiest congratulations to Matt and his entire family. His generous gift of one of his personal GIjOEs has become a “one-in-a-million” action figure. We’re sure this Army Joe will faithfully execute his new duties, to the best of his abilities, for generations to come. Hooah!

“Man of Evil” GIjOE Shipping to Club Members

The unique 1:6 scale "Man of Evil" figure is now shipping to current club members. (Photo: GIjOE Collector's Club)

For GIjOE Collector’s Club members, this month marks the arrival of the long-awaited, exclusive, “Man of Evil” 12″ action figure. The club’s Man of Evil figure, aka “MOE” for short, has been showing up recently in mailboxes around the U.S. and fans are relieved to finally see his ugly kisser in person. (No hurry, Brian, but I’m still waiting for mine. Just a heads-up!)

In a dramatic departure from its previous membership incentive figures, this time the club decided to “ugly up” a GIjOE and took the venerable foreign head sculpt (first introduced in 1966 as a “Soldiers of the World” Joe) and changed it by adding a prominent and disfiguring scar through his right eye.

The ‘blinded” eye is now painted all-white with some added sculptural dimensionality (see photo at bottom of article), creating a very “evil” overall appearance. Add a perpetually scowling expression and a shirt with an evil dagger logo, and there’s little doubt that Moe is supposed to be the bad guy.

The club's MOE uniform set provides some much needed "Evil" attire. (Photo: GIjOE Collector's Club)

Of course, it’s difficult to fight good guys wearing just a pair of boxer shorts and an undershirt. So, the club has also prepared an appropriately EVIL uniform set (sold separately, ‘natch!) to provide Moe with a black jumpsuit, evil eye-patch, some weapons, a (yellow?) jacket and belt and a pair of storm-troopin’ jackboots.

But our favorite accessory has to be his “Good GIjOE” mask. That is hilariously clever! Now your Man of Evil can sneak up on a an enemy and dramatically peel off his mask before attacking. What fun! We’re sure once he’s all dressed for his evil-doings, fans everywhere will be putting him right in the middle of the action! The club even provides us with a short back story, declaring…

“In the early years of the Adventure Team, one of their most valued members was lost during a dangerous mission. It was presumed he would never been seen again. But now, from out of the past, he has returned! Or has he?”

This closeup reveals Moe's "Evil Eye" and its unique sculptural dimensionality. Cool! (Photo: Newton Gimmick)

This unique figure is a no-brainer for most fans, who will eagerly and happily add it to their collections. GijOEs have always needed bad guys to fight, and a figure named “The Man of Evil” is certainly a welcome addition to our ever-expanding 1:6 scale world.

For a complete “head-to-toe”review of this figure, we recommend you visit Newton Gimmick’s Infinite Hollywood site found HERE. He’s already received his Moe-Joe and has written a great article on what you can expect.

Wait! Is that the postman outside? Sorry, I gotta go…Wheeee! <gleefully clapping hands>

New Captain Action Line #1 Seller at Toys ‘R Us

Prototype box of the upcoming Captain Action THOR uniform set. (Photo: Round 2)

In fantastic news for CA’s Round 2 (and collectors of 1:6 scale action figures), their new line of Captain Action toys recently replaced Todd McFarlane’s “Walking Dead” line as the #1 sellers at Toys R Us. Sellouts have taken place at some store locations and according to an ICV2 article…

“Round 2’s Captain Action was the #1 bestselling collectible toy line in Toys R Us the week it was introduced, dislodging McFarlane’s The Walking Dead figures after a long run. The newly revived toy line features Captain Action with costume sets for Spider-Man and Captain America.  Series 2 will include a new Dr. Evil figure with Thor and Loki outfits and accessory packs.”

Fans are showing TRU store managers that the return of ol’ Cap is for REAL this time, voting with their wallets in both “brick-n-mortar” stores and online. Our sincerest congratulations to Ed, Joe and all the good people at Round 2 for their well-deserved success. Let Justice Be Done!

Atomic Batteries to Power. Turbines to Speed. Let’s Move Out———In Three 1:6 Scale Batmobiles!

Hot Toys' 1:6 scale "Tumbler" Batmobile is essentially a high-tech, hard-charging Street TANK. This amazing vehicle is shown next to a 12" HT Batman figure (sold separately) and is slated to debut sometime in 2012. (Photo: Hot Toys, DC Comics)

We all have our favorite version of Batman…

Whether you remember him best as DC’s “Masked Manhunter,” television’s “Caped Crusader,” or the big screen’s “Dark Knight,” we can all agree that Batman drives one SWEET ride; the world’s most famous car—the Batmobile! Let’s take a look at the three known, 1:6 scale Batmobiles…

Fully finished DeSimone Batmobile. (Photo: James DeSimone)

1:6 Scale Batmobile by James DeSimone
(Overall Score: ♦♦ 2 diamonds out of 5)

If you grew up in the 1960s, you’re probably partial to the comic art-inspired Batman TV series that starred those two acting icons, Adam West and Burt Ward. Their glitzy and glossy Batmobile zoomed around Gotham City with the whine of a jet engine and quickly set the worldwide gold-standard for superhero cars. The original, full-sized car, was designed and built in California by renowned car customizer, George Barris. It was replete with exotic crime-fighting gear and gizmos such as a “Bat-Laser” and “Bat-Radar” and set the stylistic design bar VERY high, making it the version fans still cherish the most.

Side view of DeSimone Batmobile customized by Jack Hall. (Photo: Jack Hall)

For action figure collectors, the only 1:6 scale version of Barris’ Batmobile currently available is from “GIjOE’s #1 Fan,”  James DeSimone. A very simplistic rendition, it has to be considered an “entry-level” version at best, both in terms of its so-so quality and price. Its blow-mold plastic construction, like the old IRWIN vehicles, is not of a very high quality, nor are its tires. More of a child’s sandbox plaything than a high-end collectible, DeSimone offers his vehicle only in an unassembled kit form for $300, selling it exclusively from his personal GIjOE Information website found HERE.

Front view of Jack Hall's customized DeSimone Batmobile.
(Photo: Jack Hall)

Bottom line? Although it’s not too bad, owners will definitely have their work cut out for them in terms of final customization. Collector and fan Jack Hall attempted to upgrade his own DeSimone Batmobile and shared some photos of the completed project over on the Trenches forum. Here’s what he had to say about the experience…

I’ll tell ya, Batman was my favorite show as a kid and I still watch it here in Detroit every night at 7pm on WADL TV. I also have a custom Batman and Robin and a James DeSimone Batmobile that I assembled and customized. It turned out better than I thought it would, but I’m no Scott Beckmann when it comes to pimping out rides.
 

Jack Hall's amazing Batman and Robin figures. WOW. (Photos: Jack Hall)

First, I painted it and added red pinstripes. Then, I added non-working headlights by taking a pair of toy compasses I found in a bubblegum machine, cracked them open, removed their needles and put tinfoil over the faces before gluing it all back together.
 
After drilling mounting holes in the headlight area, I popped them into the holes and they looked pretty good! The way this car is made, I don’t think you can get a metal mesh to fit over the headlight area. At least I couldn’t. Finally, I also added a fire extinguisher and a batphone. But it doesn’t really look like THE batphone.”

(Great job, Jack. Your figures look cool too. Especially Adam West!)

The new 1989 Batmobile from Hot Toys is due in 2013. (Photo: Hot Toys, DC Comics)

The “1989” Batmobile by Hot Toys
(Due out in 2013, Overall Score: ♦♦ 5 diamonds out of 5)

Twin 50 cals pop up and blast away at the bad guys. This feature alone earns this Batmobile 5 diamonds. WOW! (Photo: Hot Toys, DC Comics)

In the 1980s, Tim Burton’s Batman movie starring Micheal Keaton and Jack Nicholson debuted a completely redesigned Batmobile that borrowed as equally from the past as it did from the future. Burton was adamant that the car would spit out real flame like its ’60 television predecessor, but he also wanted an all-new design that better reflected the brooding, moody Batman of his film. The resulting car was a spectacular success.

Complete bat-armor is also available. Do you see why this vehicle is going to be so expensive? Whoa!
(Photo: Hot Toys, DC Comics)

Due out sometime in 2013, the 1:6 scale version of the “1989” Batmobile by Hot Toys looks like it will be best of the three versions by FAR. Right out of the box, it appears to be on another planet quality-wise; vastly superior to the simplistic DeSimone vehicle. But you’ll pay dearly for all that quality. Cotswold Collectibles currently has it listed on their website HERE with a pre-order price of $579. OUCH.

Bottom line? This is clearly a “big boy’s toy” for those fortunate few collectors who have exceptionally DEEP pockets. You won’t be pushing this through the mud, watching brittle parts popping off along the way. It’s going to rest securely in a place of honor somewhere in your Man Cave, probably behind a glass cabinet door (dust can wreak havoc on black plastic). If you’re one of those who are lucky enough to ultimately own one, we hope you’ll show it to us someday. It’s gorgeous! Go HERE for more great pics.

And finally, for fans of the modern-day “Dark Knight” we have…

The "Tumbler" Batmobile by Hot Toys features a fully detailed cockpit with oodles of gauges, lights and buttons. SUPERB. (Photo: Hot Toys, DC Comics)

The “Tumbler” Batmobile by Hot Toys
(Due out in 2012, Overall Score: ♦ 4 diamonds out of 5)

Batman emerges from his 1:6 scale "Tumbler" Batmobile, ready to fight crime. While the styling of the "Tumbler" Batmobile doesn't appeal to all "Bat fans," it sure gets the job done! (Photo: Hot Toys, DC Comics)

Most recently, the Dark Knight’s Batmobile was again redesigned for the big screen; this time into something akin to an armored military vehicle on steroids. While impressive, many fans consider this newest version to be less interesting stylistically than its predecessors. It definitely looks less “batlike” and more like something the armed forces would be using on the battlefield.

Although cool as can be, the “Tumbler” Batmobile is much more of a “blunt instrument” vehicle than artistic statement, combining dune buggy agility with overwhelming military-level capabilities. Essentially a high-tech tank; it was built to attack evildoers head-on and with unapologetic brute force. (Look out, Joker!)

Of course, design taste is subjective and this version of the Batmobile definitely has its fans. When the 1:6 scale version debuts sometime in 2012, there will surely be buyers who will pony up the $449 Hot Toys is asking. For additional photos of this vehicle go HERE.

In the end, all versions of the 1:6 scale Batmobile will find buyers, of that there is no doubt. If you ever own any of these unique vehicles, please leave a comment here on The Joe Report and tell us about your experiences. NowTo the Batpoles!

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