FLASH! Renowned G.I. Joe Collector, Kevin Bolger, Featured in New “Through the Decades” TV Show Hosted by CBS’ Veteran Newscaster, Bill Curtis

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Chicago area GIjOE expert, Kevin Bolger, in a screenshot from CBS’ Through the Decades

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Bill Kurtis, host of CBS’ Through the Decades (Photo: CBS)

We were contacted recently by the producer of CBS’ new Through the Decades show (hosted by Bill Kurtis of CBS News fame) who informed us she was going to be in the Chicago area (that week) with a production crew. She wanted to know if we would be available for an interview, regarding (of all things) “the history of G.I. Joe.” Regrettably, we had to pass, so she inquired if there was anyone else in the Chicago area whom we knew and could recommend as a bonafide “experts” on the subject. Hmm… “experts, eh..?”

We discussed the juicy topic over lunch that afternoon in our conference room, and (of course) many amazing names immediately came to mind. Over BLTs and Diet Cokes, we considered the varieties of collections and vast amount of knowledge possessed by of all the Chicago “Joeheads” we knew of (great guys and gals, one and all), but one name kept coming back to the top of everyone’s list; renowned GIjOE fan, advocate, collector, 1:6 scale hobbyist extraordinaire, and all-around “good buddy,” Kevin Bolger.

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Kevin Bolger checks the attendance list during the 2008 GIjOE Show in Algonquin, IL. All present, sir! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

For those of you who’ve never met Kevin—

Bolger’s bulging GIjOE résume´ reads as long as your arm. Suffice it to say, he’s been a member of the Chicago Division of the GIjOE Collector’s Club and a co-organizer of that club’s annual shows held in Algonquin, Illinois for many years running. A quick search of The Joe Report will bring up numerous articles featuring and/or quoting from Kevin, such as our coverage of one past Algonquin event (see HERE) and another article quoting Bolger’s pragmatic description of the struggling Chicago division (see HERE).

We contacted Bolger at his home and asked if he had any additional behind-the-scenes tidbits or exclusive intel he could provide regarding his recent appearance on TV. He kindly replied:

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“The G.I. Joe segment on the ‘Through The Decades’ TV show was on TV this week (February 2nd). It runs about 7 minutes. I was very pleased with the production and it was the first segment on the hour-long show. Kurtis narrated it, which, being a long-time fan of his from his anchor days on Chicago’s WBBM, made this experience especially enjoyable for me.”

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Unfolded GIjOE History— This is one side of the “handbill” that was originally created for use by Hasbro toy reps and distributed during the 1964 Toy Fair in NYC. (Photo: Kevin Bolger)

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A few years back, I bought a number of pieces directly from…drumroll…Sam SpeersIf you watch the video carefully, you’ll see a shot of Hasbro’s ultra-rare 1964 Toy Fair handbill or ‘salesman’s catalogue,’ which I own. I’ve attached a couple of still shots (see above and below), and the closeup of side 2 reveals one of those elusive green camo shoulder radios and an early, prototype version of the MP outfit.”

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Prototype Peek-a-Boo— This closeup from the inside of the handbill reveals an especially early shot of GIjOE’s line of Army equipment and an “elusive green camo shoulder radio.” (Photo: Kevin Bolger)

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“Through The Decades is usually on one of the CBS local off-the-air sub channels (i.e. Channel 2.2 in Chicago). They feature stories like ‘on this day in 1971, this happened, so & so was born,’ etc. In my interview, I give a brief history of Hasbro and the development of GI Joe. I also set up a bunch of vintage figures with 40th anniversary window boxes for the film crew.

The show’s website is www.decades.com, but it doesn’t look like they stream any of their programs, only the promos. I watched an episode (on TV) last week. They’re on M-F, a 1 hour show, that’s repeated a couple of times during the day). It looks like they’ll be using a lot of old CBS network news reports, 60 Minutes segments and other nostalgic stuff mixed in with original segments and features.”

Bottom Line: Through the Decades looks like a wonderful program and should appeal to all nostalgia and history buffs. Kevin’s segment on the history of GIjOE is absolutely wonderful and we were thrilled to learn that the show’s producer had taken our recommendation and ended up utilizing his expertise for the show. Our sincerest thanks to Kevin for his generous contributions to this article. Enjoy his full appearance on Through the Decades by clicking the video link below:

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Release Dates For the First (2) 50th Anniversary Action Man Commemorative Figures Confirmed

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Fans of Action Man are celebrating the toy’s 50th Anniversary throughout 2016. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Heads up, Action Man (AM) fans It’s 2016 and your favorite action hero’s 50th Anniversary is finally upon us. As you probably already know, plans are currently underway to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime occasion worldwide. Yes, we remember how Hasbro ignored GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary, but for whatever reason, it has decided to pay homage to Action Man (and his fans) by approving the production of FIVE commemorative 12″ action figures based on vintage Palitoy designs. When asked about definite release dates for the figures, AM’s chief spokesman, Bob Brechin, replied:

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Bob Brechin, former Chief Designer for Action Man at Palitoy (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“One will be released on Father’s Day (June 19th) and the second on Armed Forces Day, (June 25th). The others will follow. One of the figures will be a footballer to celebrate England winning the World Cup in 1966, just in time for the European Championships, I guess. However, these will essentially be for the collectors.”

Bottom Line: Read more about Action Man’s 50th Anniversary plans in an article published recently over in the Leicester Mercury found HERE. Stay tuned for further updates!

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“G.I. Joe Repair Shop” Owner Hopes His Business Will Help Revitalize “Empty” Downtown of Lone Wolf, Oklahoma———Daughter Paints G.I. Joe Murals

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The Last Place You’d Expect to Find a G.I. Joe Museum— If you don’t take your foot off the pedal, it’s all too easy to zip right through the small town of Lone Wolf, OK, little realizing you’re also passing by one of the SWEETEST little museums ever dedicated to America’s Movable Fighting Man. So, SLOW DOWN, pahduh! Maybe if they painted their water tower Adventure Team yellow..? (Photo: Nick Vitale)

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Neil Vitale, owner, operator and curator of the GIjOE Repair Shop (and museum) located in Lone Wolf, OK (Photo: Nick Vitale)

Living’ the G.I. Joe Dream—In Lone Wolf, OK

Sometimes we come across fans or collectors who are truly living the “GIjOE dream.” Typically, they’re the sort of individuals who, through a combination of hard work and dedication, are now able to comfortably display, professionally repair, and profitably sell—GIjOEs. After years of effort, they’ve finally achieved 1:6 fandom’s most highly sought-after “collecting trifecta,” and now own and operate a GIjOE-related business.

Indeed, even after decades of diehard collecting, many collectors continue to dream of a well-appointed “Joe Room,” or the space required to simply de-crate and display a burgeoning collection. Many others yearn for the knowledge and/or talents required to repair, reflock or repaint, old or broken action figures. For most of us though, it’s TIME and money that remain the most restrictive factors, and so it’s always heartening to learn when another fan has broken through those barriers; purchased his own building, and is now refurbishing it into a growing, downtown Joe-business. We’re referring (of course) to renowned GIjOE expert—Neil Vitale.

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Welcome to Neil’s Place— You’re looking at the Main Street entrance to an actual “brick-n-mortar” GIjOE store now located at 1107 Main Street in downtown Lone Wolf, OK. If you love Joes, this is THE place to hang out on weekends, get something repaired, or buy-n-sell. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Formerly of Connecticut, Neil recently moved his family (and impressive vintage GIjOE collection) to the far-flung reaches of Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. A pediatrician by profession, Nick commutes daily to the nearby Air Force town of Alton for his practice, before returning home again to his family and favorite hobby—GIjOE. In the following interview (given exclusively to The Joe Report), Vitale reveals the full “inside” story behind his exciting new “GIjOE Repair Shop.” Enjoy!

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TJR: Thanks for taking time to talk to us today, Neil. Please tell our readers how you came up with the idea for your GIjOE business and how you got the ball rolling on such an ambitious project.

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Dr. Neil Vitale, Pediatrician and GIjOE businessman (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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NV: “The GIjOE Repair shop was an outgrowth of my ebay store. I started putting together vintage GIjOE sets in 2009 and have sold over 500 in the last 7 years. I did this in my basement in Connecticut. We had recently moved to Lone Wolf, Oklahoma from Connecticut to be closer to my wife’s family and during the transition, I had all my Joe stuff in storage for about a year. While working in Oklahoma (I’m a Pediatrician), it became clear that there were a lot of empty buildings in our downtown area that people were only using for storage. Lone Wolf is a farming community of about 450 people and the downtown area is dying. So I purchased the old Flower Shop and decided to use it for Joe storage and a place to build and sell my Joe’s.”

TJR: Fascinating! What happened next? How does your new business work?

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“I found a few display cases in the surrounding communities to temporarily display the Joe’s before I sold them. It was great, because I was able to have an enormous space for my Joe’s and my wife was happy to get them out of the house. I call it the “GI JOE Repair Shop” and we buy pieces and parts off of ebay and then complete the sets to resell them, just like I did before in Connecticut.”

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Main Street Visitors— Fans and customers browsing Neil’s new store/museum. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

TJR: What was the inspiration for the way you’ve decorated your business’ interior and exterior?

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“In Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma (about 120 miles away), there’s The Action Figure Museum. They have a special section on military and GIjOE figures. We went in there and it turned out to be a pretty cool museum. Their GIjOE/military section had some neat dioramas, but not many actual vintage GI Joe’s. So, I decided that Oklahoma needed a stand alone GI JOE display.”

TJR: Sounds cool! What sort of plans do you have for future displays, etc.?

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“I shifted from selling Joes to creating a GIjOE display for Vintage 1964-1969 Joes. I still sell the 1970-76 figures to help with funding, but my goal is to have one of each Joe from the original vintage era and put them on display in one part of the shop. I have 75 on display so far. The missing Joes are the the rare and expensive ones (i.e., the Nurse, Jungle Fighter, later MPs etc.) I’ll eventually get to them!

The other part of the shop will be a 150 square foot diorama of the Normandy invasion with about 40 vintage Joes (American and German) and only genuine Hasbro equipment. I hope to have it ready for our town’s Fourth of July parade. We had nearly 100 people come in the shop that day last year and that was before the diorama! The name of the shop will be changed to The GI JOE Repair Shop and Museum this Spring.”


THIS JUST IN—THIS JUST IN—THIS JUST IN—THIS JUST IN

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Art Major, Rosie Vitale, blocks in colors as she begins work on the door-sized GIjOE mural for, appropriately, the front door of her Dad’s “GIjOE Repair Shop” in Lone Wolf, OK. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Beautiful Art Major Making Beautiful Murals in Oklahoma

In a related story, we were understandably curious as to the identity of the talented individual or individuals responsible for all the wonderful GIjOE artwork and murals seen inside and outside of Neil’s new store and museum. We asked Vitale for further intel on the matter and he replied:

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“My daughter, Rosie Vitale, is an art major and she was recruited to paint our three murals. The first is the advertisement for the talking GIjOE. The second is a mash-up of Action Sailor box art. The third is the Action Soldier Box that we used for our front door. She’d blocked out the pictures first, then use acrylic paints and let her talent take over. The two wall murals took about a week each to complete and the door, 4 days. They look AMAZING in person!”

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Remembering Petrucci— In her left hand, Rosie holds a color print of the original GIjOE Action Soldier box artwork created by famed illustrator Sam Petrucci (in 1964) and refers to it for guidance and inspiration while creating her own, greatly enlarged copy. Absolutely AMAZING! (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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Vintage VICTORY— Rosie’s finished painting, ready to greet customers. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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Action Sailor Artwork— Rosie Vitale continues to adorn the walls of her father’s store with additional murals. This one was also inspired by the 1964 paintings of Sam Petrucci. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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Go, NAVY! Rosie’s completed Action Sailor mural is an undeniable eye-catcher and one of the three that fans will see when they visit Neil Vitale’s GIjOE Repair Shop. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Finally, Neil offered the following hopes for his business’ effect on downtown Lone Wolf, saying:

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“We are now one of the few businesses on main street in Lone Wolf. And I’m pretty sure this is the largest collection of vintage GIjOEs on display ANYWHERE in Oklahoma. With the addition of the the diorama, I am hoping to attract some attention and maybe get a few people to come by and stop in Lone Wolf, rather than just drive on through.” —Neil Vitale, The GIjOE Repair Shop

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The Doctor Will See You Now— Neil Vitale poses alongside the “first four” of his many vintage GIjOEs in a photo taken exclusively for The Joe Report. Neil’s got the prescription—for FUN! (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Bottom Line: We were THRILLED to learn of Neil’s success and the creation of his all-new GIjOE-related business in Lone Wolf, OK. Imagine if this sort of business model was copied in other towns and cities across the country (and around the world!). How cool would that be? We also want to thank Neil and Rosie Vitale for their generous assistance with this article, and wish them both all the best in their future endeavors. Go, Neil! Go, Rosie! Go, JOE!

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Attention G.I. Joe Ephemera Collectors———One of the Earliest Known Articles Mentioning G.I. Joe Discovered in July 1964 Issue of LOOK Magazine

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Lookin’ Good, Proto-Joe! This photo of one of the first prototype U.S. Army GIjOEs, is likely a Hasbro “stock shot” taken at the 1964 Toy Fair and appeared in the July 1964 issue of LOOK magazine. Dubbed “model GI” by the magazine, this figure is (likely) one of the earliest appearances of GIjOE in popular media (i.e. media outside of Hasbro’s control). Remember, at this early time of the year in 1964, GIjOE was still largely unknown and unavailable in stores. Christmas was still 6 months away! (Photo: LOOK)

“Tough, Movable Action Figures” w/ “Battle-Incurred Facial Scars” are… “For Women Only?”

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Look for this issue— Within the pages of the July 1964 issue of LOOK magazine (on page M15, to be exact), you’ll find the previously unknown half-page article. (Photo: Mike Lynch)

If you’re one of those odd animals out there that enjoy collecting GIjOE ephemera (go ahead, raise your hand), it’s likely your pulse races at news of the discovery of anything PRINTED that describes or depicts GIjOE action figures, vehicles or equipment. And the older and lesser known that ephemera is, the more desirable it must surely become, as well.

If you’re not aware, “Ephemera” refers to fragile collectible or historic items, typically made out of paper. At the time of their creation or publication, such items were not expected to be kept, stored, or survive, for very long periods. Rather, they were meant to be read, utilized (if possible) and then tossed in the trash—never to be seen again.

Examples of GIjOE ephemera then, includes such collectibles as product instruction sheets, brochures, posters, newsletters and old “Andy & George” comic book ads. But what must be among the rarest of them all, are news articles mentioning or featuring the toy line in adult and/or general audience (i.e. non-toy industry) publications. One such “find” of publication ephemera is an unusual discovery made yesterday by The Joe Report’s very own research staff; a half-page, “for Women only(?)” article, that originally appeared in the July 1964 issue of LOOK magazine.

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Is THIS the first-ever media appearance of GIjOE’s scuba diver? Perhaps. But what we find more interesting is the use of a photo backdrop behind the figure. Such a professional set-up (in 1964) confirms that the image was likely provided by Hasbro for press release purposes. (Photo: LOOK)

How the LOOK Article Was Discovered

We were holed up in our musty research library last week (i.e. my comfy living room chair watching TV), as our faithful research staff (me, myself and I) was flipping through piles of old magazines we’d recently unearthed (er…I’d purchased at a local garage sale) when suddenly we (I) came across an unassuming, half-page article in an old, yellowing copy of the July 1964 issue of LOOK magazine.

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With all his cool equipment, it’s interesting that LOOK magazine decides to focus on the USAF pilot’s “jump boots.” What the…? This definitely looks like a Hasbro-supplied pic. (Photo: LOOK)

Bottom Line: Such a GIjOE ephemera finding would normally not be that unusual, but after rechecking the date of the article’s publication, we realized that this piece could actually be one of the EARLIEST known mentions of GIjOE ever made, especially out in the wider, “popular press.” Remember, GIjOE was introduced at Toy Fair in NYC Feb. 9, 1964—just 5 months earlier!

BONUS: Here’s the entire article as it appeared in LOOK. What a “time tunnel” trip. Enjoy!

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Joe’s History BEGINS— Here’s the entire “For Women Only” article that appeared in the July 1964 issue of LOOK magazine introducing GIjOE “action figures” from “Hassenfeld Bros., Inc” (Scan: Mark Otnes)

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Weedns Produce Promo Video For Joelanta 2016

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Lisa and Tim Weedn, creators of superb 1:6 scale stop-motion videos. (Photo: Tim Weedn)

Bottom Line: Those married masters of mirth and mayhem, Tim and Lisa Weedn, have done it again. They’ve just released a brand-new video promoting the upcoming Joelanta and Great Atlanta Toy Convention. As usual, the new Weedn video is equal parts charming, creative, entertaining and informative. As The Tonight Show’s announcer Ed McMahon was fond of saying: “Everything you ever wanted to know about Joelanta 2016—is IN this video. Enjoy!

BONUS CLIP: Before you get back to surfin’ the web, take another look at the Weedn’s (21-sec) “Training Tower” music video (below). It’s friggin’ AWESOME, dude! ROCK ON, GIjOE and Jane!

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“Action Flo” TV Commercial & Print Ad Campaign For Progressive Insurance is Parodying G.I. Joe

New Insurance Company TV Commercial Mimics 1960s and ’80s G.I. Joe Ad Campaigns

As readers of The Joe Report know all too well, GIjOE “sightings” in media and pop-culture are often found in unlikely or unexpected places. Most show our friend Joe way off in the background somewhere, or only mention him by name, as in the aforementioned scene of Cheers (see HERE).
It must be even rarer then, to discover parodical sightings wherein Hasbro’s GIjOE is being used to promote the products and/or services of another company altogether. But insurance? Really? We have to admit we didn’t see this one coming. (Please view the 30-second spot above.)

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Look Out COBRA…er, High Insurance RatesProgressive’s On Its Way! Fans of the 1980s “GIjOE: Real American Hero” Saturday morning cartoon will recognize this opening shot from the Progressive commercial showing vehicles zooming overhead. Excellent mimicry of the RAH! (Photo: Progressive)

Indeed, the commercial in question is for Progressive Insurance (PI) and it will undoubtedly strike nostalgic chords with millions of Joeheads of all ages. Even if you’ve never seen this spot before, if you grew up during the 1960s, ’70s or ’80s, you’ll instantly recognize it as a not-so-subtle homage to Hasbro’s GIjOE promos of the past, mimicking their gung-ho music, animations, and voice-overs.

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They’re Ready to FIGHT—For lower rates! This screenshot from PI’s “Action Flo” commercial reveals various characters in poses similar to those depicted in ’80s RAH GIjOE spots. (Image: Bigshot)

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery— If so, Hasbro should be thrilled with this new parody by PI. Indeed, if you leave the sound on your computer turned OFF while watching the commercial, it’ll appear as if the subject(s) being promoted is indeed, action figures and toys. However, with the volume turned ON, you can enjoy its true intent and the spot’s tongue-in-cheek narration, which reveals the humorous truth behind “Action Flo” —Psst…she’s selling insurance!

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Oh no! In this screenshot from the commercial, fans of 1960s GIjOE commercials will recognize the surprised, mouth-agape expression of these two kids who’ve just discovered that their GIjOE businessman is now “up to his neck in operating costs.” The horror! Absolutely HILARIOUS.

What we enjoy most about Progressive’s new “Action Flo” ad campaign (and this commercial, in particular) is that it seamlessly and expertly combines elements from all eras of GIjOE advertising. For example, this PI spot opens with a hard-charging, GIjOE RAH-esque ’80s animation sequence, which then segues smoothly into excellent live actor portrayals (ala Hasbro’s 1960s and ’70s ads) of children playing with both “Action Flo” and GIjOE-type figures, somewhere in backyard America.

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Lookout for the birdbath, Joe! In this screenshot, a 1:6 scale lawncare worker runs into a customer’s birdbath. Hey, Joe! Damaging the customer’s property requires the services of a insurance company!

PI’s beloved TV spokeswoman, “Flo,” makes her usual cameo appearance towards the end of this spot, giving her new Action Flo toy line (i.e. Progressive Insurance) a big thumbs up. Just after the director calls out “Cut,” she finds herself being hilariously “dissed” by a smart-alecky kid who apparently has some “pull” with the smoothy maker over at the production’s crafts services.

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The “Bad Guy” of the spot is the homeowner whose birdbath was damaged. He yells, “Now you’re gunna pay!” and is an interesting one-of-a-kind creation, custom-made from multiple sources.

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GRRR!!! This closeup screenshot reveals the Bad Guy’s hand-painted head sculpt. Excellent!

We want those toys! Action figure fans and collectors of advertising will undoubtedly be impressed by the quality of the Action Flo toy line and all of its superb, blister-packed accessories. Sadly, it doesn’t appear the toys are destined for mass-production—yet. We were able to locate a couple of “promotional” copies, but the majority of what you see onscreen, is not even real. According to a recent Bernstein & Andriulli article on this topic:

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“If you can believe it, what you see aren’t actual toys. They’re CGI composites. ‘The original intent of this wasn’t to make a toy, it was just to make a series of print ads,’ says Klim Kozenevich of Bigshot. ‘But because of how our process works, action figures are possible.’ Does that mean this is going to turn into an action figure? Plenty of people are asking for them, but we can’t know for sure. For now, we have to satisfy ourselves admiring the detail and variation that Bigshot Toyworks and Progressive brought to the range.”

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Yes, This “Action Flo” is REAL— She sold recently on eBay for $104.01. Most likely she was a VERY limited production promotional piece made for a limited purpose and not sold at retail. (Photo: eBay)

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Standing Tall— You gotta admit, this line of (non-existent) “Action Flo” toys has been superbly executed. Simply Out-STANDING work, Bigshot! (Photo: Progressive)

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Who ‘dat? This closeup screenshot reveals one of the Joes was (most likely) based on Hasbro’s Ulysses S. Grant figures. The gloves are crudely made, but only appeared on-screen for a split-second.

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Here’s another REAL “Action Flo” (not a CGI rendering) that you may never be able to actually own. Again, this was most likely a VERY limited promotional prototype. (Photo: eBay)

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Not-so-Good-Buddy— Trucker Flo seems to be the least inspired prototype. Fairly dull.

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Here’s the back panel which helps prove these actually existed, at least in prototype form.

Stop Teasing us, Flo! The print ad campaign carries through with "photos" of the action figures. Progressive, you're such a tease! (Photo: Bigshotklim)

Stop Teasing us, Flo! The print ad campaign carries through with “photos” of the (currently non-existent) action figures. Progressive, you’re such a tease! (Photo: Bigshotklim)

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Creative designer, Klim Kozenevich, gives the prospect of (someday) seeing Action Flo in toy stores a big thumbs up. For now, you can only contact Progressive—and hope! (Photo: Klim Kozenevich)

For those of you who are diggin’ the “Action Flo” toy line and want to know if you can buy them NOW, we offer one little ray of hope. When asked by one fan whether they were actually going to make the toys, Bigshot’s Klim Kozenevich optimistically opined:

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“You would have to contact Progressive to get the information on where and when you can get a Flo Figure.”

 

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Look closely, this is NOT real— It’s a CGI illustration of a fantasy product. Amazing! (Art: Bigshot)

Bottom Line: This new “Joe sighting” is a fast-paced and fun homage to GIjOE from beginning to end and has something for fans of all eras. As for the Action Flo figures, at this time, it’s not certain whether or not they’ll ever make the transition from fantasy CGI to reality, but if they ever do, it appears some of the line’s accessories are close to 1:6 scale. The “Log Haulin'” metal helmet (see above) looks especially promising. Our heartiest congratulations to everyone at Progressive and Bigshot Toyworks for their superb work on this campaign. Go, JOE! Go, FLO!

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“I’m Willing to Sell Damn Near Everything!” Lifelong G.I. Joe Fan Getting Out of the Hobby

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GIjOE fan, Rick Pell, has decided to go where few dare—the “Zero-Collecting Zone!” (Photo: Rick Pell)

We’ve often wondered, both aloud and in print, exactly where, when and how the collecting lives of thousands of diehard GIjOE fans will ultimately come to an end. Make no mistake, in another 30 years or so, the number of faithful “Joeheads” like yourself, individuals who lovingly remember their childhood connections to GIjOE and thus nostalgically yearn for, actively seek out, collect, and then BUY 1:6 (or 1:18) scale GIjOE action figures—will have dwindled dramatically.

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Who ya’ gunna call? If you’re looking for 12″ GIjOEs, the answer is (sadly) no longer Hasbro.

Hasbro’s already gotten out of the 12″ GIjOE business, openly admitting they’re “ignoring” collectors of 12-inch Joes altogether (see HERE) and have little plans to sew seeds towards any future 1:6 scale fandom. Having thus turned their collective corporate backs on thousands (millions?) of “12-inchers,” any future Hasbro GIjOE product is likely to be limited and lackluster, further accelerating the departure of once loyal fans like Rick Pell, who recently declared on Facebook:

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“I’m willing to sell damn near everything G.I. Joe that I have! I want to keep only my childhood stuff and some favorites. LMK if you are looking for anything in particular, and I will try to help you out! I have vintage PH, AT, AM, and tons of 40th and other Hasbro licensed repros! I also have lots of 90s 2000s Hasbro Joes and Dragon, 21st C. Vehicles too! Too much to make a list! PM me with what you are looking for! —Thanks, Rick Pell

Judging by the large number of exclamation points inserted by Rick into his message, we have to believe he’s truly serious and determined in his current efforts to completely divest himself of (nearly) all things GIjOE. How did such a day ever come for Rick? For years now, he’s almost been a one-man-band for Hasbro’s vintage 12-inch action figures. During 2014, Rick went so far as to create an entire Facebook page HERE dedicated to the celebration of the figure’s 50th Anniversary.

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If not for the efforts of the GIjOE Collector’s Club and its 2014 JoeCon, the 50th anniversary of the world’s most popular toy might have passed largely uncelebrated. Here, GIjOE co-creator and ’60s Hasbro icon, Sam Speers, poses with a 50th Anniversary banner in Dallas, TX. (Photo: GIJCC)

Ironically, it wasn’t disappointment with Hasbro’s inaction that prompted Pell’s massive sell-off. Rather, it was the fact that he had simply collected TOO much. He had run out of display and storage space for his GIjOE passion, and selling them was the only solution left. According to Rick:

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“I just have too much stuff! I have a 2 bedroom apartment, rent a 50 by 14 foot garage, and my living room has become my bedroom. I have been overtaken by toys and it is time to refocus! Maybe I’m just getting older and tired of venturing into my Joe Room or garage and finding nice things stashed away that I may NEVER use. Collecting has been fun, but if I haven’t seen something or needed it for 5 years, maybe someone else can enjoy it. I’ve also been out of work for a while and times are tough. AND…I have a grandson on the way. One must rethink one’s destiny—occasionally.”

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Unofficial GIjOE “Rabblerouser,” Rick Pell, stands outside Hasbro’s Worldwide Headquarters building in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. (Photo: Rick Pell)

Pell’s reasons for selling his collection may predominantly be due to a lack of space or temporary economic downturn, but we also wondered how the famed Pawtucket “rabblerouser” was affected by Hasbro’s actions—or inactions—during GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary. He quickly replied:

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“I was, and still am, discouraged that Hasbro let us all down for the 50th. I have spoken to Hasbro people, off the record, and it was just not going to happen. I spent a lot of personal time and effort hoping to help make it happen. If there was a perpetuation of Joes as we knew them, then yes, I’d still be buying!” 

Is it Possible to “Out Grow” G.I. Joes?

Apparently so. In fact, most collectors, if they’re at all honest with themselves, will remember a time when he (or she) seemed to feel Joes were toys for “little kids,” and that it was time to leave them behind or sell them off at a garage sale. Typically, such “madness” occurs during our transition from childhood to teenager, and it’s only years later that we recognize the insanity of our actions and begin a mad scramble back to “recapture our youth” at flea markets and on eBay.

One such example of this societal and consumer phenomenon is occurring right NOW as we speak in Iowa. Longtime GIjOE collector and father, Rob Menagh, wrote in to tell us about his teenage son, John Menagh (also a Joehead), who’s announced that his own collecting tastes have “evolved” and he’s now ready to begin his own version of “the big sell-off.” According to Rob:

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Is This the End? Former GIjOE collector, John Menagh (left) and his father, Rob Menagh (right) search for gear at the 2009 JoeCon in Kansas City, MO. 7 years later, John has decided to leave his GIjOEs behind in search of more “adult” toys. With John leaving the hobby, does this spell the end of the special “Father-n-Son” moments these two men once enjoyed? (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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“I have some nasty news…. John has decided to out-grow us. He is looking at newer, more “Adult” toys. So now he’s looking at finding good and loving homes for all of his Joes. I will try to get cracking and learn to use the wife’s camera and get some pictures out there to everyone who might be  interested. He has a large number of WWII Airborne, WWII Marines, some Vietnam-era
figures and a few modern. There are also vehicles, ala 21st century Hummers and Jeeps. I also have some nice Photobucket pics taken when we were playing with our Joes around the house…and out in the backyard…together. <sigh> —Rob Menagh

Bottom Line: John Menagh’s rejection of GIjOE is likely only temporary as he pursues his other, more “adult” interests. Hopefully, he’ll someday realize the error of his ways (HA), return to the hobby and share all-new moments and memories with Joe—and his Dad. Of course, it’s impossible to predict how anyone’s collecting days will actually play out and ultimately end. Hopefully, your hobby decisions won’t be forced upon you because you’ve become ill, laid-off, or otherwise negatively impacted. And regardless of Rick or John’s choices, we’d like to wish them both all the best with wherever their interests (and grandsons) take them in the future. We hope too, that YOUR collecting journey is a long, happy, and fulfilling one. Go, Rick! Go, John! Go, JOE!

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Shocker! “Project ARE” to Cease Production of Custom Clothing For Use w/ 1:6 Scale G.I. Joes

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Skip Are of Project ARE Action Outfitters. (Photo: Skip Are)

In a stunning announcement made today, renowned 1:6 scale clothing merchants, Skip and Robin Are, have declared that this coming March 15th will mark the end of their long-run 1:6 scale clothing business, Project ARE. No more will GIjOE fans and customizers be able to order one of their superb 2-piece lycra frog man suits, multi-colored t-shirts, perfect fitting pants or other assorted uniform pieces with the simple the click of a button. What was once one of the premier “go-to” resources for a multitude of collectors is sadly, calling it quits. Skip’s announcement is as follows:

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“Well, I wasn’t sure how or where to announce this, so I’ll start here. The recent death of my brother-in-law reminded Robin and me that life is short, and we still have many things we want to do. Unfortunately, we can’t do them and continue to make and sell our GIjOE items. After 2 decades in the hobby, we will stop taking orders for our sewn clothing on March 15th. We’ve had a great time and have made a lot of good friends. Thank you to all the wonderful customers we’ve had over the years. We have enjoyed the creative process, and every compliment we received both publicly and privately has brightened our days. Thank you all!”

Skip and Robin Are

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Robin and Skip Are pose with friend and fellow dealer, Barry Vedros (at left). (Photo: Barry Vedros)

projectarelogoBottom Line: This is sad news, indeed. Readers of The Joe Report will remember the previous article we did on Project ARE Action Outfitters (HERE) and the wide variety of products the talented Robin Are has been sewing (and selling) for collectors since 1996. Our sincerest and best wishes go out to both Skip and Robin in all their future endeavors. Their contributions to 1:6 scale GIjOE collecting, customizing and kitbashing were truly substantial and will be sorely missed.

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Is it Over? 9-Word Sentence in the G.I. Joe Club’s Official Magazine Sparks Concern & Confusion

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Burying the Headline— A short, 9-word sentence in the January 2016 issue of the GIjOE Collectors’ Club official magazine has set off “alarm bells” among the ranks of its membership. Take a close look at the paragraph above that begins with “Please note.” Many believe that the second sentence not-so-subtly announces an impending death-knell for the club. What do YOU think? (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Whether he meant to or not, the GIjOE Collectors’ Club (GIJCC) President and Editor-in-Chief of Fun Publications (FP), Brian Savage, has created a mini-firestorm of concern and confusion among the faithful members of the GIJCC. If this is still news to your eyes and ears, dear reader, then here is the “alarming” sentence many believe has declared the foreseeable end of the mighty GIJCC:

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Brian Savage, GIjOE Collector’s Club (Photo: GIJCC)

“All memberships will end with the December 2016 issue.” —Brian Savage

Whoa. That’s not good news. At first reading, the meaning of the sentence seems clear enough, perhaps even ominous—but is it really? Could it simply be a misunderstanding? Or semantics? Perhaps it’s merely an example of a how a hastily worded sentence can lead to unintended confusion or misinterpretation. Of course, only Savage and FP know the answer(s) for sure, but they’re not talking. So, while we wait for further clarification on the issue, let’s consider the following two possibilities:

#1: The Club is Merely “Resetting” Its Membership Calendar.

If everything’s still fine and dandy at the GIJCC and FP, Savage’s sentence may merely mean the magazine is resetting its signup date, and thus the calendric policy that it utilizes for processing annual memberships. It’s possible they’re moving to a single signup month, one wherein all members must enroll and pay their dues (i.e. the month of January?). Establishing such a system may help provide the club with a more predictable budget and revenue-stream for its wide variety of club events, exclusives, etc. This may be a naive supposition on our part, but the only other alternative appears to be…

#2: It’s OVER. Savage and Fun Publications are Getting Out of the Toy Fan “Biz”

Yes, sadly, the many doomsayers out there in Joeland may be correct. The end of the GIJCC may now be in sight. However, at the moment, Savage and his club are refusing further comment. And rather than circling their wagons financially, the GIJCC continues to steam full-speed ahead with plans for JoeCon 2016 in Colorado this upcoming June.

Then there’s licensing. Hasbro isn’t a cheap partner, to be sure. Keeping their officially sanctioned status may be becoming too costly a burden for the club to bear. And don’t forget, Savage and FP also run a similar club organization for fans of Transformers, hosting annual conventions known as “BotCons.” Apparently, those fans (and customers of FP) are now facing a similarly depressing “end of times” scenario. According to one renowned expert…

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Chicago GIjOE Club members, Kevin Bolger (left) and Tave Lamperez (right), at a previous Joe Show in Algonquin, IL. Bolger weighs in on the current “sentence” controversy below. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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“It looks like this may be the end for the national GIJCC. Brian hasn’t confirmed anything so far, but he’s also not denying that all memberships will END in December 2016. And it appears this is the end of Brian Savage and Fun Publications helming the Transformers’ Club as well (see Allspark article HERE).

I’m not sure if the end of licensing with Hasbro was Brian’s choice or Hasbro’s. I remember a number of years hearing what the cost of the franchise was, but it was some real high $ amount. There has been some folks wishing that someone else would take it all on, but I doubt there will be any takers.

We’ll see what happens, but the conversations on the GIJCC Forum asking about the future seemed to be unanswered from the Club. Why would all memberships end on December 2016 unless this was the end? I’m not sure that anyone would really want to take on the big franchise cost to do an official Hasbro-sanctioned club, or want to do it as a business.

It’s really too bad, as the national Club did bring together folks together, especially in the early days of the internet. It gave incentive to those of us who would run into a fellow Joehead at a flea market or in the aisles of Toys R Us in the early ’90s, to actually get together at a large show devoted to our hobby.

I helped to start one of the local Chapters (the Chicago Division of the GIjOE Collectors’ Club) which had a good run. Hopefully, Joelanta and smaller Regional shows will continue to help fill the in-person void. And places like the Trenches provide something more frequently.” —Kevin Bolger, Chicago, IL

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The only official club reply to repeated fan requests for clarification reads as follows:

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“In regard to GIJCC memberships, the only information we have at this time is what is posted online. Thanks and have a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!” —GIjOE Collectors’ Club

Bottom Line: If Savage’s 9-word sentence was unintentionally misleading and simply led to confusion based on ambiguous or overly succinct wording, then we hope he clarifies the situation quickly, stilling the racing hearts of thousands of anxious fans. If, however (and sadly), he meant what he said in the first place… then you’d better take a closer look at your own local club divisions and help prepare them to “fly solo” sometime in the near future. Stand by for updates!
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Medicom and Captain Action Enterprises Team-Up to Produce a 1:6 Scale “Ultraman” Costume Set

Look! It's ULTRAMAN— This spread in Shonen magazine reveals one of the intriguing "grainy pictures" of Ideal's proposed costume for Ultraman—that sadly, was never made. (Photo: Ed Catto)

Up There! It’s ULTRAMAN— This spread in Shonen magazine reveals one of the intriguing “grainy pictures” of Ideal’s proposed costume for Ultraman—that sadly, was never made. (Photo: Ed Catto)

12-inch Captain Action Toy Line Lives On—For Now—As a ’60s Japanese Superhero

Just when we all thought it was over (again) for the world of 1:6 scale Captain Action collecting (admit it, you did too), an official CAE (Captain Action Enterprises) bulletin crosses over our news desks from one of Cap’s biggest fans—Ed Catto—who writes in with the following exciting intel:

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

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

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“Hi Mark, Thought you might enjoy this one! Attached is our latest news. This press release is all about a new uniform set for our 1/6th scale line. It’s a long-lost character, Ultraman, who was supposed to be part of the Captain Action line, but never quite made it to the U.S. market. Now he’s back, and we’ve got him! This is just one of the many fun things we have planned for 2016 – Captain Action’s 50th Anniversary Year! All the best” —Ed Catto

Where's my boots? So far, Medicom's upcoming costume for Ultraman appears to be sans boots. It seems hard to believe CAE would allow this set to go out without any footwear, but we'll see! (Photo: Ed Catto)

Where are my boots, Sensei? Hmm… So far, Medicom’s prototype photos for an upcoming costume for Ultraman appears to be sans boots and gloves. It’s hard to believe CAE would allow this new costume set to be released without any footwear. No gloves? Maybe. But no boots? (Photo: Ed Catto)

Here is the press release provided by Mr. Catto (edited for length):

“Captain Action Enterprises, LLC is proud to announce a partnership with MEDICOM TOY CORPORATION to produce the long-lost Ultraman outfit. This uniform set was planned to be a part of the popular super-hero line of costume sets to be used in conjunction with the iconic 12” (30 cm) Captain Action figure. An image of this outfit was shown only once in Shonen (Magazine) in the 1960s and was designed to be a contest prize for the readers. To many modern fans, it was surprising to learn such a thing existed!”

Exploring the history behind Captain Action’s ill-fated Ultraman costume, Catto continued:

Pretty Sweet! Put some boots on this outfit and you're 90% there. It's simplicity is among its many charms and fans will undoubtedly be lining up when they're available. (Photo: Ed Catto)

Is this enough detail for fans? We were excited about Ultraman’s see-thru belt until we realized that it’s just a plastic clip helping the figure stand up. The costume’s simplicity is undeniable, yet Ultraman fans will undoubtedly be lining up to buy one when they become available. What do YOU think? (Photo: Ed Catto)

“For Captain Action’s launch in Japan, Nippon Ideal made plans to give Captain Action an Ultraman costume. However, events conspired to prevent the Ultraman costume from becoming a reality, but not before pictures of it had appeared in articles about Captain Action in several issues of “Shonen (Magazine)” (“Boys Magazine”).

For decades, fans of both Ultraman and Captain Action have looked at those few grainy pictures and wished that the Ultraman costume had been released to toy stores,” said James Long, a Japanese Anime and Tokusatsu Historian and fan of Captain Action. This new Ultraman outfit will be released as a part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of Captain Action. Additional 50th Anniversary plans are scheduled to be announced.

MEDICOM TOY is working closely with Captain Action Enterprises to create retro-style packaging consistent with the original 1960’s line. Shipping and sales are planned for June 2016. The MEDICOM TOY Premium Club will take orders from January 24, 2016 until March 5, 2016.”

Founding partner of CAE, Joe Ahern, offers Cap’s fans one final upbeat and optimistic comment:

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Joe Ahearn, founder of Captain Action Enterprises (Photo: CAE)

Joe Ahearn, founder of Captain Action Enterprises (Photo: CAE)

“After almost fifty years, we’re thrilled to be making this long-lost costume set available. The uniform is sized for 1/6 scale figures. As far as Captain Action goes, you should be able to use it with Ideal, Playing Mantis or Round 2 figures. And if this does well, perhaps we can get them (Medicom) to do some more. For Captain Action fans, it’s not quite the Holy Grail, but it’s pretty close! Nuff’ Said…” — Joe Ahearn

Bottom Line: The Holy Grail for Captain Action fans? We’re not so sure about that, Joe. The Rocketeer was getting pretty close. That Adam West ’60s Batman costume, definitely. But Ultraman? No. Oh well, at this point in Captain Action’s convoluted 12-inch history, ANY news regarding ANY new 1:6 scale product offering will be considered as GOOD news to the patiently waiting, “eager ears” of CA’s faithful fandom. However…

If what we see in the photos above is what we’re getting from Medicom, then we recommend you gird your corporate loins, because there’s sure to be some negative commentary coming your way. Many fans will undoubtedly label this simplistic costume as nothing more than Ultraman long-johns. Of course, if additional details not currently visible are added to the helmet, boots and equipment, then it’s quite likely this new costume will ultimately achieve a very high COOL factor. And we can’t wait to see what “retro-style packaging” you have in mind for it as well. As always, best wishes! For more information on CAE’s products, visit their official website found HERE.

If Ultraman is a hit for CAE, can an Ultragirl costume be far behind for Lady Action? Stand by, fans! (Photo: Jazz & Blues)

Now we’re Talking! If Ultraman’s costume set becomes a hit for CAE, can an Ultraman-GIRL costume for Lady Action be far behind? Let’s hope so! Stand by, Actioneers! (Photo: Jazz & Blues)

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