Category Archives: Books & Magazines

Famed Author & G.I. Joe Historian, John Michlig, Confirms That Hasbro’s Interest In Reviving the Original 12-Inch Version Has Always Been Low

They weren't perfect, but the "Masterpiece Edition" GIjOEs that came packaged with John Michlig and Don Levine's ground-breaking book, "GIjOE: The Story Behind the Legend," proved to be an exciting reintroduction to the GIjOE collecting hobby for thousands of fans. Unfortunately, Hasbro had little interest in the project and proved to be more of an opponent than an ally. (Photo: Vectis Auctions)

No, they weren’t perfect, but Don Levine’s “Masterpiece Edition” GIjOEs were the first Hasbro-licensed reproductions of the original 12-inch figures that fans had seen since the 12-inch line ceased production back in 1976. John Michlig’s ground-breaking book, “GIjOE: The Story Behind the Legend,” also proved to be a revealing and historic commemoration of the iconic toy. Unfortunately, Hasbro showed little interest in Michlig and Levine’s 2-part project and proved to be more of an apathetic observer than a supportive or encouraging mentor. (Photo: Vectis Auctions)

 hasbrologonewApathetic Company Forces Fans to Fend For Themselves

With all the silent stonewalling emanating from Hasbro in 2014 regarding GIjOE’s 50th and (so-called) “golden” anniversary, it should come as no surprise to fans to learn that the company’s stunning indifference to its 12-inch action figure is in actuality—nothing new. In fact, in a revealing post made just last week over on the new “50 Years of GIjOE” fan group (hosted on Facebook HERE), the renowned GIjOE author and historian, John Michlig, bluntly and forthrightly recalled the many “blank stares” he received and the surprisingly minimal interest Hasbro had in reviving what they derisively described as, an “ugly old body.” According to Michlig:

Author and GIjOE historian, John Michlig. (Photo: John Michlig)

Author, GIjOE historian and Masterpiece Edtion co-creator, John Michlig. (Photo: John Michlig)

It’s been interesting catching up with ‘Friends of GIjOE’ via groups like this on Facebook. Hasbro’s apparent attitude toward the 12-inch ‘original configuration’ GIjOE on its 50th birthday brings to mind the blank stares we received when proposing the return of the original GIjOE via the Masterpiece Edition back in the mid-90s. I naively thought it would be a no-brainer: After all, I was going in with Don Levine himself(!), who was willing to bring his reminisces to the book aspect of the project as well as his expertise to the re-creation of the tooling, etc. Instead, we heard, ‘Who wants that ugly old body?’ Hasbro really didn’t see the attraction. So, we ponied up SIX FIGURES for a license and re-tooled the original ‘ugly old body,’ and the rest is history. Of course, after we sold a whole bunch of Masterpiece Edition sets, Hasbro thought enough of the ‘old’ Joe that they introduced the Timeless Collection line.”

Don Levine interviewed on CBN (Photo: CBN)

Don Levine interviewed on CBN (Photo: CBN)

Hasbro’s (by now, almost predictable) lackadaisical attitude toward 12-inch GIjOEs has long acted as an anchor, dragging down attempts by fans like Michlig and other enthusiastic supporters. Over the years, renewed suggestions and repeated requests from collectors for Hasbro to return to its original “razors and blades” marketing concept continued to fall on deaf ears in the corporate boardroom. Fortunately, Michlig was able to recruit powerful allies, and went on to describe how he met and gained the full cooperation of creator Don Levine and many others, stating:

“The Intrepid event is where I first encountered ‘GIjOE fandom,’ and also the place where I first met Don Levine. I have a picture I took of him attending the press conference where they were announcing the new ‘Sgt Savage’ line, and he looks like a guy watching his son graduate from college. Right after I took the picture I walked up and said, ‘You had something to do with this, didn’t you?’ A LONG conversation followed.”
Former Hasbro Product Manager, Kirk Bozigian. (Photo: GIJCC)

1990s Hasbro Product Manager, Kirk Bozigian (Photo: GIJCC)

Fortunately for fans and collectors, that “long conversation” would turn into the highly prized “Masterpiece Edition” line of books and figures, which prompted renewed interest in 12-inch GIjOEs among grown men seeking to reconnect with “an old friend,” and young children who had never seen a toy quite like it before (no, we don’t count Barbie’s beau, Ken!). Michlig concluded his reminiscences by lauding another who had helped inspire the revival of 12-inch GIjOEs:

“Frankly, had it not been for Kirk Bozigian ‘on the inside’ at Hasbro—he seemed to be the only guy there who had any enthusiasm whatsoever for the concept, and was a tireless advocate—I very much doubt that the Masterpiece Edition would have gotten past the drawing board. If you have it, grab your copy of GIjOE: The Complete Story of America’s Man of Action, and look at the photos on page 12. Creating GIjOE back in the early ’60s was basically MAD MEN with toys. It’s UNBELIEVABLE to me that they aren’t celebrating the accomplishment (and risk) if not the action figure itself!” —John Michlig

Bottom Line: GIjOE fans and collectors owe a great debt of gratitude to men like Michlig, Levine and Bozigian. When faced with corporate indifference and tremendous financial hurdles, these intrepid and creative souls committed themselves and forged ahead to accomplish great deeds, helping to advance the 1:6 scale GIjOE hobby as we know (and LOVE) it today. Think about that. Without their efforts, where would GIjOE collecting be today? In closing, the ever humble Bozigian took a moment to reply to Michlig’s praise and sums it all up nicely, by saying:

“John, thanks for the shout-out, but the genius was YOURS. You had the vision of writing the definitive history of 12-inch GIjOE and your secret weapon—a replica of the action figure that started it all!”

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Author Details How “Utterly Generic” 1960s Military G.I. Joes Evolved Into “Hipper” 1970s Adventurers in: “The End of Victory Culture”

Wow. Is this worst book jacket EVER? Quite possibly. Hopefully, it won't hurt sales of Tom Engelhardt's intriguing new historical account entitled, "The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation. (Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press)

Wow. Is this worst book jacket EVER? Quite possibly. Hopefully, it won’t hurt sales of Tom Engelhardt’s intriguing historical account entitled, “The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation.” (Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press)

GIjOE’s “Secret History” Analyzed

We stumbled across an article the other day entitled, GIjOE’s Secret Past.” Naturally, we were intrigued. The article’s headline proved to be a tad misleading, however, as it turned out to be a collection of book excerpts instead, none of which contained anything new, unknown, or even remotely “secret” about GIjOE. Nevertheless, the book itself looks to be an interesting read, and we felt that it warranted a quick mention here on The Joe Report.

As Joeheads already know, as America changed during the ’60s and ’70s, so too did “America’s Movable Fighting Man.” What you probably didn’t know was that GIjOE’s familiar story was recounted in a 1995 book with the lengthy academic title, “The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation” by Tom Engelhardt.

Engelhardt describes his book as an “idiosyncratic history of American triumphalism.” Okay… Well, despite its wordy title, Tom’s rather obtuse description and extremely lame cover art, the passages explaining societal factors affecting GIjOE’s evolution were all very well written and seem predominantly factual. Engelhardt further described the contents of his book thusly:

Author Tom Engelhardt (Photo: Tom Engelhardt)

Author Tom Engelhardt (Photo: Tom Engelhardt)

“I filled the book with the pop culture detritus of my own childhood, from horror comics and nuclear-mutant movies, to toy missiles and toy soldiers. While writing it, I became fascinated with the way in which an adult culture of war-making played itself out in children’s lives and also the ways in which the business of children’s culture sometimes anticipated developments in the adult world…how war was stripped from children’s culture in the Vietnam era, and how it returned.”

Sideshow's so-so 12-inch figure of John Wayne from his fun, but not-so-great film, The Green Berets. (Photo: Sideshow)

Sideshow’s so-so 12-inch figure of John Wayne from his so-so 1968 film, The Green Berets. (Photo: Sideshow)

Intrigued and curious to learn more, we skimmed ahead until we located the first excerpt referring to GIjOE:

“It was 1964, and in Vietnam thousands of American ‘advisers’ were already offering up their know-how from helicopter seats or gun sights. The United States was just a year short of sending its first large contingent of ground troops there, adolescents who would enter the battle zone dreaming of John Wayne and thinking of enemy-controlled territory as ‘Indian country.’ Meanwhile, in that inaugural year of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, a new generation of children began to experience the American war story via the most popular toy warrior ever created.”

Vincent Santelmo's "Official Identification and Price Guide" from 1999 is still a "must own" for collectors and fans of GIjOE. It's full of great information, full color photos and much more. (Photo: Krause Publications)

The cover of Vincent Santelmo’s “Official Identification and Price Guide” from 1999 depicts the original 5 GIjOEs as described by Engelhardt. (Photo: Krause Publications)

In the 1960s, the U.S. would lurch from the Cuban Missile Crisis, through the traumatic Kennedy and MLK assassinations, and on into the morass of the Vietnam War. It was a turbulent, troublesome time, and Engelhardt begins by reminding readers how Hasbro’s initial marketing of GIjOE as a military soldier strategically coincided with LBJ’s Great Society, America’s Cold War with the Soviet Union, the civil rights movement and other emerging mentalities of 1964, saying:

“Joe was redolent of America’s last victorious war and utterly generic. There was no specific figure named Joe, nor did any of the ‘Joes’ have names. ‘He’ came in four types, one for each service, including the Marines…Since he was a toy of the Great Society with its dreams of inclusion, it only took a year for his manufacturer, Hasbro, to produce a ‘Negro Joe,’ and two more to add a she-Joe (a nurse, naturally). Joe initially came with no story, no instructions, and no enemy, because it had not yet occurred to adults (or toy makers) not to trust the child to choose the right enemy to pit against Joe.”

Engelhardt hits the bulls-eye repeatedly and intelligently with such prose, and in additional excerpts from the book, he recounts how the GIjOE product line began and then evolved over time, reflecting concurrent and shifting American attitudes towards “triumphalism,” war, and the appropriateness of war-related toys. Tom begins by reminding readers of GIjOE’s initial positioning:

“In TV ads of the time, Joe was depicted as the most traditional of war toys. Little boys in World War II-style helmets were shown entering battle with a GIjOE tank, or fiercely displaying their Joe equipment while a chorus of deep, male voices sang (to the tune of ‘The Halls of Montezuma’), ‘G.I. Joe, G.I. Joe, Fighting man from head to toe on the land, on the sea, in the air.’ He was ‘authentic’ with his ‘ten-inch bazooka that really works,’ his ‘beachhead flame thrower,’ and his ‘authentically detailed replica’ of a U.S. Army Jeep with its own ‘tripod mounted recoilless rifle’ and four rocket projectiles.”

We’ve located that original 1964 GIjOE commercial Engelhardt mentioned. You can view it NOW:

The "hippest" of all GijOEs had to be the "Counter Culture Joe' produced by the national GIjOE club as their 2003 convention exclusive figure. The CCJ's are now highly sought after by collectors. (Photo: GIJCC)

The “hippest” of all GijOEs had to be the “Counter Culture Joe’ produced by the national GIjOE club as their 2003 convention exclusive figure. The CCJ’s are now highly sought after by collectors. (Photo: GIJCC)

<Drool> Oops. Sorry! I’ll clean that right up. After tracing Joe’s story up through the Adventure Team era of the 1970s, Engelhardt eventually exhausts his GIjOE (reflected-an-evolving-U.S.-society) analogy, and moves on to introduce Barbie, the Star Wars films, and other such pop-culture examples deemed relevant to his discussion. But for our own selfish “Joe-centric” interests, we’ll leave you with one final passage from the book:

“This hipper, new Joe was, if not exactly gaining a personality, then undergoing a personalizing process. He no longer appeared so military with his new hairstyles and his ‘A’ (for adventure) insignia, which, as Katharine Whittemore has pointed out, ‘looked just a bit like a peace sign.’ In fact, he was beginning to look suspiciously like the opposition, fading as a warrior just as he was becoming a less generic doll. By 1974, he had even gained a bit of an oriental touch with a new ‘kung-fu grip.’ In 1976, under the pressure of the increased cost of plastic, he shrank almost four inches; and soon after, he vanished from the scene. He was, according to Hasbro, ‘furloughed,’ and as far as anyone then knew, consigned to toy oblivion.”

Bottom Line: Engelhardt’s book goes on to assert that little by little, “the monolithic story of America that had previously been imposed on a nation of children” is being stripped away, leading to the rewriting of history texts and a nation’s rediscovery of much of its “forgotten” history (re: minorities, the poor, native americans, etc.). The book may not seem like an obvious choice for a collector’s “GIjOE Library,” but it would make an enjoyable read nonetheless. And it’s always interesting to learn about how the “world’s favorite toy” has impacted the lives of so many around the globe. If you’d like to purchase Tom’s book, you can find it for sale HERE. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Larry Storch! Famed Actor, Comedian, & Star of ’60s TV, Turns 91 Today

A 1960s "F-Troop" comic book depicts the cast with Larry Storch on the right as Lt. Agar, perhaps the most famous character portrayal of his career. (Photo: ebay)

An “F-Troop” comic book cover depicts the show’s cast, including (from l to r) Ken Berry, Melody Patterson, Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch (far right) as Corporal Agarn, the most famous comedic character of his long and illustrious shown business career. (Photo: basementcomics)

Larry Storch entertains the crowd during a 2011 appearance at the Friar's Club in New York City. (Photo: Drew Friedman)

Larry Storch entertains the crowd during a 2011 appearance at the Friar’s Club in New York City. (Photo: Drew Friedman)

F-Troop star and TV icon, Larry Storch turns 91 today. Happy Birthday, Larry!

My “Brush with Greatness” Double-Header in Small Town, USA

It was 8PM on a cold, dark September evening. The year was 2002, and the place was a Barnes & Noble (B&N) bookstore in the small college community of Champaign, Illinois. At that time, the bookstore was perched on the outermost edge of town, at the end of a retail district where civilization seemed to come to an abrupt end, butting up to hundreds of square miles of adjacent corn and soybean fields that stretch off to infinity in all directions.

The crops themselves had been harvested just a few weeks before, so now, there remained only row upon row of jagged corn-stubble and upturned, gray soil. The stalks pointed “all a kilter,” looking like the blast craters of a WWI battlefield, missing only trenches and doughboys to complete the effect. Flying high over the desolate scene, visiting Hollywood icon Larry Storch must’ve looked out his plane’s window and felt like he was about to land on the moon!

Peter Marshall on the set of "Hollywood Squares" in the 1970s. (Photo: NBC)

Peter Marshall on the set of “Hollywood Squares” sometime in the 1970s. (Photo: NBC)

But I’m getting ahead of myself. On that particular night, I wasn’t waiting to meet Mr. Storch at all. Rather, I was flipping through pages of a new book entitled “Backstage with the Original Hollywood Square,” written by another television great, Peter Marshall, the longtime host and star of the iconic comedy game show, Hollywood Squares. It was actually Marshall, that I and about 25 other “locals” were there to see.

Despite our town’s small population and relatively isolated location, Marshall had been scheduled to appear there that evening for a personal appearance and book signing event. Purely by chance, I had seen a tiny blurb about the event in the paper the day before, and almost disbelievingly, decided to drop by the B&N after work. But why, I wondered, would Peter Marshall want to come here, when Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis are all just a few hours away? Those were much bigger markets. Hmm…

Peter Marshall and wife, Laurie Stewart. (Photo: getty)

Peter Marshall and wife, Laurie Stewart. (Photo: getty)

An Unexpected Celebrity 2-for-1

Whatever the reason, I planted myself in front of a table displaying his books, and filled the time as I waited by looking at the book’s photos, marveling at all of the great celebrities Marshall had known, worked with, and befriended during his many decades in show business. Suddenly…the doors of the store opened. All heads turned. And in walked…Peter Marshall!

He was accompanied by his beautiful wife, Laurie Stewart, and the “crowd” began to drift towards the area where he would sign his books. But hold the phone, Watson! A few seconds later, in walks Larry Storch (!)…also accompanied by HIS wife! I remember just blurting out, “Hey, That’s Larry Storch!” to a perfect stranger standing next to me. Unlike many celebrities, Mr. Storch is instantly recognizable in person. Despite his age, he has changed very little over the years. That night, he looked spiffy in a black turtleneck, slacks and sport coat, and he walked across the room with an almost imperious self-confidence. I was actually more excited to see Mr. Storch in person than Mr. Marshall. 

This is my copy of the Peter Marshall book, “Backstage with the Original Hollywood Square.” I actually bought two copies that night, and had both stars autograph them (one as a gift for a relative). (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

What a FAN-tastic Surprise!

Okay, so here’s where the Twilight Zone part of my story begins: As Peter Marshall busied himself greeting the B&N manager and various store employees, I gathered up my nerve, and approached Mr. Storch first. He and his wife were just standing there, watching the activities, and no one else was talking to them. After telling him of my great admiration of his work, he and his wife, Norma Storch (an actress), thanked me and then… asked me to sit down WITH them in some chairs on the front row! Stunned, I quickly accepted, and after we had all introduced ourselves and shook hands, we sat down together… for a chat! Here it is:

In this 2003 photo, Larry Storch poses with his F-Troop co-star, Melody Patterson (c) and his wife, Norma Storch (r). Both Storch and his wife look much as they did when I met them a few months earlier. Sadly, she died from cancer a few months later. (Photo: Blessing Moore)

In this 2003 photo, Larry Storch poses with his F-Troop co-star, Melody Patterson (c) and his wife, Norma Storch (r). Both Storch and his wife look much as they did when I met them a few months earlier. Sadly, Norma died from cancer less than a year later. (Photo: Blessing Moore)

The “World’s Shortest Interview” with ’60s TV Icon and Funnyman, Larry Storch and his wife, Norma Storch

TJR: How was your flight? Are you having a nice trip?

Larry: “Oh man, it was rough. What a terrible flight!”
Norma: “The worst!”

TJR: I’m so sorry. What was the matter? What kind of plane was it?

Larry: “It was one of those little prop-jobs. And it was just bumpy all the way.” (Norma nodded and added an eye-roll for emphasis.)

My copy of Marshall's book with both his and Storch's kind inscriptions and autographs. What nice guys! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

My copy of Marshall’s book with both his and Storch’s kind inscriptions and autographs. What nice guys! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

TJR: Well, I’m so glad you made it okay. But it’s such a surprise to see you here. Why ARE you here, by the way?

Larry: “We’re just traveling with Peter and Laurie, to keep ‘em company and have some fun.”
Norma: “Yes, but I don’t even know where this place is. HA!”

I suddenly realized what a rare opportunity our private little conversation was, and asked Storch if he would also sign Peter Marshall’s book. He chuckled, and said, “Sure!” writing out the kind inscription and autograph you see in the photo above. Soon after, Peter Marshall took his seat at the “official” book signing table, and since they were ready to begin, I thanked Larry and Norma and excused myself to get in line to meet Peter.

Bottom Line: In the end, both men signed my copy of Marshall’s book and today it remains one of my most valued possessions. Our youngest readers may have no clue about the two stars I’ve discussed today, and that’s truly a shame. Both men are hugely talented, widely accomplished, and were a great pleasure to meet in person. If I’ve peaked your interest in Larry Storch or Peter Marshall at all, I suggest you watch the following two short videos. Enjoy!

John T. Marshall, Renowned Author of “G.I. Joe and Other Backyard Heroes,” Stuns Fans With Plans to Sell-Off His Entire G.I. Joe Collection

Author and "Joelebrity," John T. Marshall, has announced he intends to sell-off all of his GIjOEs on his Facebook page. (Photo: John T. Marshall)

Renowned toy book author and “Joelebrity,” John T. Marshall (49), recently announced intentions to sell-off his entire GIjOE collection, starting on Facebook and then on ebay. (Photo: John T. Marshall)

Marshall's book, "GIjOE and Other Backyard Heroes," shows many of the vintage items to be included in the sale. (Photo: Schiffer Books)

Marshall’s book, “GIjOE and Other Backyard Heroes,” shows many of the vintage items to be included in the sale. (Photo: Schiffer Books)

“Joelebrities” Lining Up—to Sell-Off

In an exclusive announcement made to The Joe Report yesterday, esteemed and respected GIjOE fan, collector, expert, and author, John T. Marshall (NJ), has announced his intentions to sell-off his ENTIRE vintage (and famous) GIjOE collection. It was the second such announcement made this month by a noted “Joelebrity.” Earlier this month, a similar announcement was made by the son of the ailing GIjOE superfan and collector, James DeSimone.

Is this the start of some sort of “sell-off” trend among collectors of vintage toys and GIjOEs in particular? Or is it purely a coincidence that two such famous Joeheads would go down the same “dark path” at the same time? (Hum the Twilight Zone theme music here) We contacted Mr. Marshall and he graciously agreed to the following interview:

Comic Book Hero Toys by John T. Marshall (Scheiffer Books)

Comic Book Hero Toys by John T. Marshall
(Schiffer Books)

TJR: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, John. Could you tell us WHY you’re having this big sale?

“The truth is, I’m a TERRIBLE collector. I get restless and I like to ‘flip’ collections. GIjOE, then superheroes, then movie memorabilia, then back to GIjOE again.”

TJR: How will you conduct this sale? Through ebay, a local auction company, or…?

“It was only when I rejoined the GIjOE collector community (via Facebook) that I saw the love and dedication—and expertise—that fans have for all things Joe. That’s when I knew that anything I had of real rarity or value should go to you guys—where it will ALWAYS be appreciated for the fantastic stuff that it is. So…I’m selling and offering it to the GIjOE community on FACEBOOK first.”

Collecting Monster Toys by John T. Marshall (Schiffer Books)

Collecting Monster Toys by John T. Marshall (Schiffer Books)

TJR: When will your big sell-off begin and how will you handle it?

“The sell-off began on October 14th and will include EVERY collectible object in my possession. Primarily, loose and packaged vintage GIjOE stuff. I’m previewing it all on my Facebook page called,’ John T. Marshall’s Vintage Adventure Figures’ HERE and members of that page can (and have) submitted offers. Any collectors who aren’t members are encouraged to join the page. Anything left on January 1st will go up on eBay.

Action Figures of the 1960s, by John T. Marshall (Schiffer Books)

Action Figures of the 1960s by John T. Marshall
(Schiffer Books)

TJR: And your goal on ebay will still be a complete “sell-off?

“EVERYTHING will go. I have decided that collecting things simply takes too much time away from my creative projects. As I stare down the big 5-0, I’m very aware of how quickly time is passing and I feel like I’ve not been as productive as I could’ve been in the last few years.”

TJR: Once you’ve sold-off all of your GIjOEs and toys, will you be writing more books?

“Once in a while I get asked by my publisher for book ideas, but I feel that the Internet has become the great repository of information on collectibles. I have joined many toy-related Facebook pages and there are many collectors who are walking reference guides. I thought I knew everything, but after a few months on Facebook, I realize I only know ALMOST everything!”

The DVD cover of "Slammerella," an independent film by John T. Marshall (Photo: John T. Marshall)

The DVD cover of “Slammerella,” an independent film by John T. Marshall (Photo: John T. Marshall)

TJR: Will you be working on creating more comic books then, or…?

“Probably not comics, but movies DEFINITELY. I tried my hand at filmmaking a few years ago and made a micro-budget comedy called Slammerella. I’d never expect anyone to pay to see it (if anything, just the opposite) but it’s pretty decent for a first try and very well acted. Several of the people in it went on to much bigger things.”

TJR: Sounds great! Any final words for your fans in the GIjOE collecting community?

“As passionate as I am about vintage toys, I simply cannot juggle career, family, filmmaking AND collecting GIjOEs. So collecting had to go. But I will ALWAYS love vintage toys and I intend to stay as active as I can on the Facebook boards, with my usual mix of arcane knowledge and cheap jokes!”

Bottom Line: So there you have it, Joeheads. Two famous GIjOE collectors are now selling off their entire collections—at the same time. One due to health concerns, the other due to mid-life crisis and career wanderlust. We wish them both the best, but remember… If you want to nab some of Marshall’s famous Joe-swag, you’ll need to start by “liking” his Facebook page first. Whatever’s left after the initial run-through, will then go over to ebay. Good luck and Happy Hunting! Our best wishes and thanks to John T. Marshall for his contributions to this article. 

NYCC Exclusive “Captain Action” Coloring Book Intended for Kids———But Appeals More to Adults!

Copies of this superb retro-modern Captain Action "sketch and coloring book" will be sold to fans attending the New York City Comic Con in October, 2013. Outstanding! (Photo: Joe Ahern, Round 2)

Copies of this all-new, retro-modern Captain Action “sketch and coloring book” will be sold to fans attending the New York City Comic Con, October 10-13, 2013. Outstanding! (Photo: Joe Ahern, Round 2)

Joe Ahern of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises. (Photo: Joe Ahern)

Joe Ahern of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises. (Photo: Joe Ahern)

New CA Collectible to Debut 10-10-13

In yet another creative (and intelligent) demonstration of how Round 2 strives to please its existing customer base while simultaneously creating a new generation of “Actioneers,” Captain Action (CA) Enterprises head honcho, Joltin’ Joe Ahern has just released a press release announcing the production of an eye-popping CA “sketch and coloring book” to be offered as an exclusive to fans and attendees of the upcoming 2013 New York Comic Con. Ahern excitedly declared:

“Hey Actioneers! Captain Action Enterprises announces another New York Comic Con exclusive: The Captain Action Convention Sketchbook and Coloring Book. Building upon the fan enthusiasm for convention sketchbooks, this 44-page book will feature Action Artwork by an impressive collection of comic artists, including: John Byrne, Joe Jusko, Ron Frenz, Ruben Procopio, Steven E. Gordon and Art Thibert.”

This "retro-modern" ad for Weston crayons perfectly captures the mood of "surprise" and delight that Round 2 strives to achieve with its own reinterpretation of Captain Action's vintage charm and fun. (Photo: Round 2)

This “retro-modern” ad for Weston Crayons perfectly captures the mood of “surprise and delight” that Round 2 strives to achieve with its current assortment of Captain Action products. And yes, little girl, we’d like a copy of that Jonny Quest coloring book too! (Photo: Round 2)

Ed Catto of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises. (Photo: Ed Catto)

Ed Catto of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises posing with—and wearing—some recent additions to the growing CA product line. (Photo: Ed Catto)

R2 Decides to “Take It Up a Notch”

In contrast to their colorful, fantastically painted outer covers, the black-n-white line-art filling the interior pages of coloring books is often simplistic and well…DULL. Round 2′s decision to upgrade their new CA book by utilizing only well-known and TALENTED comic book artists, ensures that its convention souvenir will become an instant collectible. Ahern’s fellow genius-in-business, Excellent Ed Catto, chimed in with his own intel, saying:

“With a nod to the retro past that Captain Action so often embraces, this limited-edition is designed to evoke the look and feel of a classic 1960s coloring book. From the painted cover to the black-and-white interior images to the corny captions, it’s all designed to make the reader feel as if he or she’s stumbled across a lost coloring book in a forgotten corner of some out-of-the-way antique store. This NYCC Limited Edition Convention Exclusive will be sold at the Captain Action booth at the New York Comic Con, and retail for $9.99.”

nycc2013-logo-thumbBottom Line: This new book is a no-brainer for Captain Action fans. We recommend you keep your eyes peeled and pick one up whenever and wherever you can. If you’re in the area, the 2013 New York Comic Con will be held at the Javits Center in New York City on October 10-13th. So…”git yer crayons out” and… Let Justice Be Done! (Psst! Hey, Hasbro! Here’s ANOTHER great idea for GIjOE’s 50th… Hello?)

Newly-Published “Sector 6” Fan Fiction Utilizes 1:6 Scale Action Figures; Inspired by Format of WW2 German Propaganda Magazine, “Signaal”

libro-abierto_0

Professionally designed and printed, the first issue of Oscar Aguado Garcia’s Sector 6 is an outstanding example of 1:6 scale “fan fiction.” (Photo: Oscar Aguado Garcia)

signaal

A typical issue of the propaganda magazine, Signaal (1940-1945), depicted happy, healthy Wehrmacht troops, ready and able to defend the Third Reich against its enemies. (Photo: ioffer)

First, a Short History Lesson…

During the second World War, print publications proved to be some of the most effective ways to reach out and “touch” the hearts and minds of a civilian population. Germany’s answer to the Allied Forces newspaper Stars and Stripes was its own political publication titled “Signaal.” Signaal was a slick little propaganda magazine, professionally designed and chocked full of articles and heroic imagery depicting the “supremacy” of German armed forces.

While one might suspect Signaal was a product of Joseph Goebbels and his vaunted Propaganda Ministry, it was actually created and controlled entirely by the German Army or “Wehrmacht.” Everything within its pages was carefully selected by Wehrmacht staffers to portray an idyllic and heroic vision of German troops as they fought to defend the Third Reich from advancing allied troops and the “Bolshevik hordes” (that would be the Russians).

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Oscar Aguado Garcia poses on the set of a Spanish TV show prior to being interviewed about his new fan-fiction book, Sector 6. (Photo: Oscar Aguado Garcia)

Looking past the patently obvious hyperbole of its contents, Signaal has long been regarded by historians as one of the better sources of photographic reference about the Wehrmacht during WWII. It even featured a full-color centerfold! If we ignore the political slant of its articles, the LOOK of the magazine was undeniably clean, crisp—and effective.

2013 “Fan Fiction” Inspired by 1940′s Design

Over 68 years later, Oscar Aguado Garcia, an action figure fan and collector from Spain has just created an all-new publication entitled Sector 6. Clearly inspired by the Wehrmacht’s wartime design of Signaal, Garcia’s new work of “fan fiction” is a faithful (and expensive) recreation, but with a unique twist: All the soldiers depicted in his photos…are in 1:6 scale! Utilizing an excellent selection of Dragon and other high-end figures, Oscar has essentially produced an all-new version of a vintage Signaal magazine. In an interview with The Joe Report, he describes Sector 6 this way:

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Sample page of Sector 6 (Photo: Oscar Aguado Garcia) Click to enlarge.

“Sector 6 was inspired by World War II propaganda magazines, specifically the German magazine, Signaal. The title comes from an abbreviation of ‘Sector 1:6,’ referring to the scale that we all love to work with. Inside, action figures from the Second World War rewrite history from their own unique point of view, creating fictional war scenes in an exclusive selection of over 300 photographs (246 colour and 55 black-n-white.)

Sector 6 was designed to look like the vintage WW2 magazine and its contents are based on different articles, some of them true, others fictional, and others in-between. With a total of 82 pages, 14 articles (1 romance illustrated by pictures), 1 DIY, and (as in the original Signaal) adverts of various products, the publication measures 210 x 275,5 mm, and is a very high-quality product.”

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In this screenshot, Oscar reacts to a question from a TV show host during an appearance on Spanish television promoting his new book. (Photo: YouTube)

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As in Signaal, Garcia’s Sector 6 also includes humorous advertisements for products such as suppositories, typewriters and boots. (Photo: Oscar Alguado Garcia) Click on image to enlarge.

Fan fiction is a very narrow niche extension of action figure collecting. It requires creativity, artistic ability and graphic design experience just to get a project off the ground. Then, passion, patience and yes—MONEY—are also needed to see it through to its completion. We began to wonder about all the hard work and financial risks involved and asked Oscar to share his thoughts on those topics, as well as on any other projects he’s currently working on. To that, he replied:

“Sector 6 is actually the culmination of an 8-year ‘game’ I have been playing where I act as a war correspondent and my collection of action figures are the characters or ‘stars’ in the war. But I want to make clear that unlike the original Signaal, my book has NO such ideological intentions. On the contrary, I criticize and parody such propaganda.

I also have other projects in the Blue Division Museum and at the trade exhibition “No sólo Militaria.” But, as I am the only worker there, my biggest efforts are now focused on selling out the first printing of Sector 6 and then releasing numbers 2, 3 and so on.”

Bottom Line: Currently, Sector 6 is only available in Spanish, and there are no plans to release it in English. But that doesn’t really matter to us here at The Joe Report. We believe the publication’s original Spanish version will be the best and most collectible. If you’d like to purchase a copy of Sector 6 for your “Joe Library,” we recommend you visit the official Sector 6 website HERE and contact Garcia personally via email HERE.

Bottom, Bottom Line:  We just received a complimentary copy of the Sector 6 book. It is absolutely PHENOMENAL. Far and away better than we could have ever imagined. And it’s LONG too (80 pages)! Top-notch, professional graphic design, layout and photography all throughout. Chocked full of inspirational outdoor diorama set-ups and photos. Yes, it’s all in Spanish, but who cares? We’ve never seen a 1:6 scale photo-book as cool as this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

UR Professor Researches G.I. Joe Collecting and the Internet’s Original “Sandbox” Newsgroup for An Upcoming Book on “Virtual Communities”

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Renowned University of Richmond professor (and toy collector) Dr. Joe Essid, works surrounded by assorted action figures from his extensive vintage toy collection. “The Action Man on the left was one that I helped my late mother-in-law complete.” Essid’s chapter on GIjOE collecting and the original online “Sandbox” newsgroup will appear in the new book, “Identity and Leadership in Virtual Communities: Establishing Credibility and Influence,” to be published in early 2014. (Photo: Joe Essid)

Academic research books are not typically known to “fly off bookstore shelves” or hover near the top of a best-seller list. Most are targeted and sold directly to libraries, academic institutions and a select group of fellow professors, while the remainder tend to linger unsold in boxes in warehouses, fading quietly away on Amazon or elsewhere. But ONE book appears set to buck that trend.

Although it hasn’t been published yet, an upcoming academic tome impressively entitled, “Identity and Leadership in Virtual Communities: Establishing Credibility and Influence,” is already generating significant pre-press excitement and wide-spread anticipation among an unexpected audience of non-academic readers—GIjOE fans and collectors.

The one, the only, Sandbox logo. (Art: Daryl Williams)

The one, the only, original USENET Sandbox logo. (Art: Daryl Williams)

Why all this sudden “Joehead” interest in some “dry as dust” academic publication? Two words: The SANDBOX. The new 15-chapter book will feature one very special chapter written by well-known GIjOE fan and collector, Dr. Joe Essid, who, as it also turns out, is a professor in the Departments of English and Rhetoric & Communication Studies at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

As a longtime fan of vintage toys such as GIjOE, Action Man, and Major Matt Mason, Professor Essid’s intimate knowledge of the subject matter, coupled with his academic background, made him an obvious choice for researching the history of the Sandbox. As longtime users of the Sandbox will recall, the ‘Box was an often contentious, but widely accessed place on the ‘net. As such, its historical significance and impact on the hobby of action figure collecting deserves to duely recorded and remembered.

Slated to “hit the stands” sometime in early 2014, Dr. Essid’s chapter in the book has GIjOE fans around the world looking eagerly around, wondering, “Will he mention ME? Is he going to talk about you-know-who? What about that famous flame-war I had with such and such?” Relax. To any worried ‘Boxer out there, Essid wants to reassure you that no one will be embarrassed, saying:

“My publisher asked that I not name names or even use online pseudonyms, but to change them all.”

This screenshot shows Google’s activity record for the discussion group alt.toys.gi-joe (aka “The Sandbox”) and its dramatic decline in use over the years as fans switched to more versatile forums. Click to enlarge.

In addition to collecting and writing about toys, Essid directs the Writing Center at the University of Richmond, writes op-ed, speculative fiction, and academic prose about technology in the classroom. We asked him about his life and his upcoming publication. Here’s what he had to say:

“I came to my project about the ‘Sandbox’ community from a long history with GIjOE. I’ve collected vintage figures since 1966, when my dad reluctantly bought me an Action Marine ‘doll’ from the local hardware store. Some of my fondest memories of that era involve Richmond’s downtown Sears store, where an elevator ride to the basement meant the slow revelation of the Joe section past the washers and dryers and Craftsman tools. I’d RUN over to see what was in stock each week!

Two decades later, by the time I went to grad school for a PhD in English, my childhood collection had dwindled. What remained were a Land Adventurer whose beard I’d shaved (very nicely; I build scale models too) and a Negro Adventurer. Thanks to my future mother-in-law, who collected Joes, ‘Boxer Gary Braswell and I resumed the collecting we had shared in our childhood. Gary and my wife’s mom are both gone now, as is Garry Douglas of London, who was interviewed by me in 2006, along with several other ‘Boxers, for my article.

At that time, an academic publisher wanted to put out an anthology about the stylistic and rhetorical strategies that online communities use. The Sandbox was then a USENET group, a real free-for-all of flame-wars, trolls, and “Good Joes” who helped newcomers to the hobby.

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When he’s not teaching, researching, or writing about GIjOEs, Essid’s acting like one. Here, while outfitted in full ‘lumberjack gear’ including safety helmet, full-face shield, hearing protection, work gloves and boots, Joe uses his trusty chainsaw to “lay up some cords” for the Winter. Vrroom!
(Photo: Joe Essid)

Going back to that era, when Hasbro’s re-issues of 1:6 scale figures coincided with the rise of Internet access, was astounding. Real friendships got made: Garry Douglas gave my wife and me a five-star tour of his native London in 2009, and, since I know London well, Garry and I had a tipsy great time showing each other our favorite pubs! That would never have happened without The Sandbox.” —Dr. Joe Essid

Bottom Line: Essid’s new book may be a research text for academia, but longtime Sandboxers will surely know who’s “who” and what’s “what.” It should make for some very interesting reading. Our sincerest thanks to Dr. Essid for his generous assistance with this article. We wish you all the best success with your new book. Go, JOE (Essid)!

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