Tiny “Cobra Enemy!” Pin a Big Hit With G.I. Joe Fans

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Stick it!— GIjOE/Cobra fan and pin creator, Mae Catt models her latest creation, a unique “Cobra Enemy!” cloisonné lapel pin that really pops against her dark jacket. (Photo: Mae Catt) Click to enlarge.

Don’t Worry—Getting “Pinned” Doesn’t Mean You’re Going Steady With Cobra

Fans and collectors of GIjOE-related collectibles and ephemera will be thrilled to learn that there is now an exciting new (little) item they can now add to their already growing stash—a tiny cloisonné lapel pin emblazoned with a “Cobra Enemy!” warning in bold black lettering which is set against a bright yellow “starburst” background and red cobra logo (see closeup below).
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POW!!!— As this super close-up reveals, the quality of Mae’s new “Cobra Enemy!” cloisonné lapel pin is top notch all the way. Resistance is Futile! (Photo: Mae Catt) Click to enlarge.

We were curious about the pin’s origins, so we contacted its creator, Mae Catt, of the aptly dubbed, Catt Call Co., who kindly replied with the following (exclusive) insider-intel:

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“Hello, all! My name is Mae Catt, I’m a big GIJOE (okay, well, Cobra) fan who also loves lapel pins. I combined those two loves into the Cobra Enemy lapel pin that you can see in the photos shown in this article. I’m just an individual seller, and I got into GIjOE in the most backwards of ways. I was only 18, and was backpacking through Paris with a high school friend when the GIjOE live-action movie was just coming out. Bombarded by the film’s foreign advertising, we decided to check out GIjOE online…” 
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Mae’s “Catt Call” business card is cleverly designed to resemble the backing cards of the old Hasbro 3.75″ action figure packaging. Sweet! (Photo: Mae Catt) Click to enlarge.

But rather than watch that (dumb) live-action movie—we downloaded the original animated movie instead and watched it on a laptop in a hotel room. I had no preconceived ideas of the context of GIjOE, Cobra or that movie, but I decided it was just good enough (and overtly ridiculous enough) to inspire me to look it all up on Wikipedia.

That’s when I discovered the absurd INSANITY of the Cobra Commander. I soon became ‘charmed’ by the character’s willpower and villainy I suppose, and have been a huge fan of the Cobra phenomenon ever since.

Back in the ‘ol US of A, I sought out friends who were actually alive waaay back in the 1980’s, and was ‘properly’ introduced to the amazing world of GIjOE and Cobra through catered screenings of the TV episodes. Now, more recently, I’ve also gotten into the lapel pin craze that’s going around.

Have you seen the increased amount of collector’s pins at conventions? Well, the scene over on Instagram is going crazy right now. Pins seem to hit a button inside me. They’re a very subtle, classy way to express your fandom on formal wear, and I latched onto pin collecting almost immediately.

The next step of course, was to start making pins myself! The second pin I ever made was the Cobra Enemy pin. It’s gold plated, 1.25″ wide, painted with hard enamel (meaning smooth) and the design is something I’d wanted to make into a pin since, oh… forever.

I’ve always thought of that little toy sticker as a badge of honor for Cobra members, sort of like, ‘Yeah, I’m the Enemy. Come at me!’ Anyway, if you’re into the GIjOE/Cobra pin scene too, please pick yours up HERE. You can also follow me on Instagram @CattCallCo for more nerdy pins. Thanks!” —Mae Catt

Any way you look at it— The new “Cobra Enemy” lapel pin from Catt Call Co. is a definite WINNER. Our advice to you? Order yours today! (Photo: Mae Catt) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: If you don’t already own this very cool pin, we’ll bet you’ll be ordering one very soon. It is a truly ROCKIN’ collectible that looks great on any GIjOE fan’s cap, convention shirt, or vest. Our sincerest thanks and best wishes to Mae Catt for her generous contributions to this article.
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Decal Sets Provide Quick-n-Easy Upgrades For 1/6th Scale Vehicles, Figures, Weapons & Gear

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Da, Comrade!— Custom 1:6 scale Dragon Russian Aerosan vehicle with added ProSeries waterslide decals from Patches of Pride. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Kent Middleton) Click to enlarge.

It may seem obvious to most fans of The Joe Report, but a few of you “lay readers” out there may still not realize the extreme ease with which decals and other such markings can improve and upgrade items in your 1:6 scale collection. Whether the markings in question are hand-painted, comprised of traditional “peel-n-stick” papers, or output as high-end “waterslide” decals, there’s no questioning their ability to put the “WOW” factor into any custom project.

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Do YOU have the gift?— Customizer Ron Stymus’ real-life experience as a tattoo artist spills over into his 1:6 scale hobby as well. Check out his outstanding hand-painted “Rat Fink” artwork on this Joe. WOW! Of course, if you can’t draw as well as Ron, you can always apply decals from companies such as PoP. (Photo: Ron Stymus)

For example, tattoo decals can add realism and character to any action figure’s body. Instrument panel decals can add a whole new level of realism and playability to a vehicle’s interior. And without a doubt, exterior body or hull markings can go a LONG way towards upgrading any custom vehicle, aircraft or watercraft. As Nike says— JUST DO IT.

For example, Kent Middleton, recently sent in some exclusive photos showing us the progress of his custom Dragon Aerosan project. A quick (and jealous) look at the pics reveals that Kent’s new custom snowskipper has been dramatically enhanced with the addition of waterslide decals produced by 1:6 scale manufacturer, Patches of Pride (PoP).

Before, the vehicle had been unmarked. But after the installation of PoP’s decals, there’s now no doubt that Kent’s aerosan had belonged to Stalin’s WWII “Red Army.” We asked Middleton about this exciting custom project, and he kindly replied with the following updates:

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“Its not ‘done’ yet. The machinegun rig is custom, and I am painting the inside to replicate severely weathered plywood, but you can’t see that in the pics as I stuck the Russians in there. Only about 6-8 layers to go, and its a slog, cuz you can’t disassemble this beast! That, some paint chipping and some moisture ‘drips’ are still to come… someday.” —Kent “I Kan Do It” Middleton

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It’s amazing what the addition of a simple red star can do for a custom aerosan. Without it, you’d have to guess which force was behind the wheel (and machinegun). (Photo: Kent Middleton) Click to enlarge.

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Quality Counts— This super close-up reveals the amazing realism provided by PoP’s top-of-the-line ProSeries waterslide decals. In fact, they look painted on! (Photo: Kent Middleton) Click to enlarge.

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Truly Transformative— As this screenshot from the Patches of Pride website clearly demonstrates, a little paint and some professional waterslide decals can make a stunning difference in even the smallest 1:6 scale items. Which pile of ammo cans would YOU prefer to display? (Photo: PoP) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: When working on any 1:6 scale custom project, it’s important to keep in mind that tiny items like ammo cans and mammoth items like Panzer Tanks can all benefit from the creative addition of decals and/or other types of exterior markings. If your hand or art skills are limited, then we recommend you seek out the assistance of 1:6 companies whose products are proven and can help your next custom project look its best. Remember—Details Matter!

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G.I. Joe Collector’s Club’s 2017 “Man of Mysteries: The Arcane Adventurer” Promises to Be One of the WEIRDEST Adventure Team Members EVER Produced

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What the…? 2017’s GIJCC incentive figure will leave many members scratching their heads. Part magician, part Ghostbuster, part time-traveller(?), the new “Arcane Adventurer” is destined to become one of the weirdest GIjOEs ever produced. Ala-Ka-What-the-heck-is-this-guy? (Photo: GIJCC)

Ala-KAZAMM!— Here are the most recent pics of the GIjOE Collector’s Club’s upcoming (albeit unusual) “Arcane Adventurer;” a new 12-inch incentive figure that will soon be shipping out to “active” 2017 club members. To be honest, we’re not quite sure what to make of this guy.

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You’ll Get!— Members who select the 12-inch option will soon receive THIS mysterious figure in the mail. ZING! The club’s already made his pants disappear! We’re diggin’ that gray AT sweatshirt, though. Out-STANDING! (Photo: GIJCC)

Here’s the club’s official press release describing the figure:

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“This is the Man of Mysteries: The Arcane Adventurer! He is all decked out in this MOCK UP image, in his add-on accessory set (purchased separately). When the adventure gets too weird, the team calls in THIS GUY!

This Club Exclusive 12″ Action Figure comes FREE to active members who select the 12″ option dressed in his shirt and shorts. The add-on set (purchased separately) will complete the figure! The accessory set will include:

– trench coat
– pants
– shoes
– AT amulet
– goggles
– glow-in-the-dark samurai sword
– satchel case
– dimensional scanner
– glow-in-the-dark “mummy case”
and MORE!

This FREE figure wearing shirt and shorts ONLY will be sent to any G.I. Joe Club member that selects the 12″ figure option and whose membership is active by March 16th, 2017. Make sure you’re an active member of the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club to receive 12 monthly issues of the Club Magazine, access to Club Exclusives, Discounts for the International G.I. Joe Collectors’ Convention, and your choice of a FREE 3 3/4″ or 12″ G.I. Joe action figure for 2017!”

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A Rare Gem, Indeed— This new figure also comes with a unique AT amulet shaped like a scarlet gemstone. Pretty sweet. Just imagine all the magical possibilities! (Photo: GIJCC)

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Look Out, Luke!— This latest pic reveals that the Arcane Adventurer’s samurai sword is actually some sort of glow-in-the-dark lightsaber. Holy, Han Solo! (Photo: GIJCC)

Bottom Line: Active members should all keep a “mystical eye” on their mailboxes. This strange “Arcane Adventurer” will be “materializing” in their zip codes soon!

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The Trenches Forum May Be Down—But it’s Not Out

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Scott Beckmann, Trenches Founder

Numerous 1:6 scalers have written in to us lately regarding the unknown status and/or “fate” of the beloved GIjOE/action figure forum known as The Trenches. Clicks onto old links connecting to the website are currently coming up bone dry, and searches on Google too, are currently yielding no results. To discern the answer to this perplexing (and clearly troubling) question, we contacted the forum’s top man himself, Scott Beckmann, who kindly provided the following insider-intel:

malecomment“The Trenches are currently offline. We’re doing server maintenance and also some other stuff.”

Bottom Line: Take a breath, oh faithful “Trenchers.” Your favorite 1:6 scale hangout will be returning (sometime) very soon. And as they say—Good things come to those who wait!

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WHOOSH!—UK’s 3-D Design Wiz, Harry Peters, Teams Up With Famed U.S. Customizers Wayne Faucher and Roland Delaune to Create New 1:6 Bell Rocket Pack

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Prepare for TAKE-OFF!—The new Peters/Faucher/Delaune 1:6 scale Bell Jet Belt, shown in unpainted front view. On sale now! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Exclusive to The Joe Report

Will Sell For Less Than Half the Price of Proposed Version by Executive Replicas 

Longtime contributor, field reporter, and expert customizer of 1:6 scale, Wayne Faucher, wrote in recently with the following exciting new product intel—exclusively for readers of The Joe Report!

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Wayne Faucher (Photo: WFT)

“Hi Mark! I thought I’d let you in on this first. No one, outside of the 3 people involved in this project, has seen this yet. So…if ya wanna share it, you and your readers will have the exclusive intel first—and I know you all dig that! 

You may recall my Lost in Space John Robinson (with the Jet Pack) custom garnered some notice a few years ago within the 1/6 community (see our article on that amazing custom by Faucher HERE, ed.). Afterwards, I had a ton of people inquire about the possibility of mass-producing a 1/6 Bell Rocket Belt. Well, that project didn’t seem feasible at the time. But now, with the advent of 3D printing—it’s become a reality!”

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3/4 View (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Exclusive to The Joe Report

“I’ve been consulting with the amazingly talented Harry Peters, a 3D designer in the UK who makes his work available through the cutting-edge Shapeways website. Make no mistake—this is really Harry’s baby. He poured his heart and SOUL into it after my friend Roland Delaune and I showed him my initial prototype and inquired if it was even possible to produce.”
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Harry’s Got Your Back— The curved backshield of Peters’ Bell Jet Belt conforms to the body of any James Bond, Lost in Space, or Adventure Team “Rocketeer” figure. Absolutely AMAZING attention to detail from every angle. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Exclusive to The Joe Report

“Harry seemed pretty confident that such an item could in fact be done, and so we proceeded. I acted as a consultant and provided some reference materials, being careful to point out the (many!) inaccuracies of my prototype. Well, Harry not only rose to the task but he clearly surpassed any expectations that Roland and I had.”
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Exploded View reveals the various parts of the pack, including jet nozzles, tanks and back shield. WOWZA! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Exclusive to The Joe Report

“When it comes to accuracy and detail, Harry’s 1:6 Rocket Belt leaves my scratch-built version in the dust! It’s currently available for sale over on the Shapeways site HERE. No, it’s not cheap. But with word that the Executive Replicas John Robinson figure w/Jetpack may have been indefinitely delayed (see HERE), this really is IT when it comes to a 1/6 scale Rocket Belt. And it’s available NOW for less than HALF the price!”
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Fits like a glove—Mr. Bond seems quite happy with the scale and extraordinary quality of Mr. Peters’ Jet pack. Now… let’s go get SPECTRE! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Exclusive to The Joe Report

“Again, I was really just a consultant and cheerleader on this project, Roland was the one who first hooked up with Harry for a few other Lost In Space pieces and Harry was the (very) creative force behind it all. Also, note that these images feature the 1/6 Bell Rocket Belt right out of the box. NO DETAILING or painting has been done, so you can imagine how dynamite this thing would look with a little work! And I want to be clear about one more thing: Roland and I aren’t making a DIME off of this product. We just appreciated Harry’s work so much that we thought it deserved to be shared with a wider audience than just the two of us. Enjoy!” —WEF
We knew our faithful readers would want to know more about the realities of the 3D product-making process, so we decided to contact the inimitable Harry Peters directly. Thankfully, he quickly replied and generously provided the following exclusive insider-intel:
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“The Bell Rocket Belt has been far and away the most rewarding modeling commission I’ve had the pleasure to work on. Despite source material differing greatly between various versions of the pack that existed, Roland, Wayne and I eventually found enough high-resolution images from the prop used in the James bond film Thunderball and of the ‘Bell No. 2 Rocket Belt’ (one of the last remaining examples in good condition, which currently resides in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum) to piece together an accurate reconstruction.”

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Side view (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Exclusive to The Joe Report

“Since we’d managed to gather so much quality reference material, I decided to try and make it as accurate as I possibly could, down the the finest details I could glean from the photographs, (even going as far as to add a pivoting hinge so the rockets could be directed using the handles). I kind of ran away with it, unsure exactly how well these tiny details would resolve when printed at 1:6 scale. What I ended up with was this design with a level of detail more accurately represented a 1:1 scale replica as opposed to 1:6!”

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Back View (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Exclusive to The Joe Report

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Harry Peters, UK (Photo: Harry Peters)

“The risk of course was how well these details would actually come across once 3D printed, and there’s always an element of risk when you’re 3D printing with a company like Shapeways, since all the printing and shipping is handled by their engineers in their own factory. Because of this, I rarely get to see my own designs outside of my computer screen as I’m entrusting the task of making them a reality to a third party. Thankfully, though, Shapeways are incredibly good at what they do and, despite working with them for the past 3 years now, the level of detail that they are able to reproduce always surprises me!I’m currently looking forward to adapting the design of the Bell Rocket Belt to match the famous Lost in Space Jetpack prop (bicycle seat and all!) to list alongside the original recreation.” —Harry Peters, UK

We also wondered about Roland Delaune’s contributions to this outstanding new product. Thankfully, Roland promptly sent in his own exclusive intel revealing the following:

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Roland Delaune (Photo: Roland Delaune)

“I actually met Wayne inadvertently through The Joe Report when I read your August 25th, 2012 article on him. I have been a HUGE  fan of the Irwin Allen series Lost In Space since I was about six years old, and when I saw the absolutely AWESOME custom figures that Wayne had made (John Robinson with Jet Pack, and John with Space Suit) I knew I had to have them.

Not expecting  a reply, I messaged Wayne over on The Trenches Forum and asked him about his custom Lost In Space figures. I was shocked when he not only answered me, but answered question, after question, after question, on ad nauseam! We have since gone on to be good friends.

I stumbled onto Harry Peters in much the same way, but through Shapeways Inc. I was looking through the Shapeways website when I noticed a 1/6 scale Lost In Space helmet for sale. It was very similar, but was different in a lot of ways from the version used in the TV show. I bought that one and tried to adapt it to make it look more like the original, but in the end I ruined it.

I messaged Harry and asked if it would be possible to make some changes to the design, and he said yes! So that started a series of back and forth emails, with myself making suggestions and Harry making the changes. After about 15 emails, Harry had changed his
design to match the on-screen version exactly.

Wayne and I both bought versions of the re-designed helmet, and Harry went on to create the backpack (which Wayne had originally built from scratch), a 3-button control panel that attaches to the red vest on the space suit, and even a 1st season Lost In Space laser pistol. All of these products are now on sale on Shapeways through Harry’s shop, MiniatureMachine.

After seeing what could be done with 3D printing and Harry’s talent, the Bell Rocket Belt was the next logical step. The rest, as they always say, is 1:6 history!” —Roland Delaune

Bottom Line: The advent of 3D printing and the increasing use of it by 1:6 scalers is an exciting development in our beloved hobby. Apparently, if we can dream it, talented people like Wayne, Roland and Harry can make “it” become a reality! Our sincerest thanks to all three gentlemen for their generous contributions to the hobby (and to this article). You guys are the BEST! —Mark 🙂

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G.I. Joe Club Announces (2!) New Club Exclusives: 12″ Super Joe Commander and (WILD) “Darkon-Gor”

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Get a Grip! This new Super Joe Commander from the GIjOE Collector’s Club FINALLY comes with the highly desirable super-articulated body and gung-ho gripping hands. Out-STANDING! We really dig that monstrous scorpion, too. It’s WEIRD and WILD. (Photo: GIJCC)

Out of the blue, fans and collector’s of 12-inch GIjOEs suddenly have 2 brand-new and brand-authentic GIjOE action figures available to them for purchase. According to the following official product description recently provided by the GIjOE Collector’s Club (GIJCC):

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“The SuperJoe Commander (SJC) is a 12-inch figure homage to the short-lived 8-inch Super Joe figures from the late 1970s. The SJC is a SUPER-articulated figure that comes dressed in his classic black uniform with insignia, yellow piping and tall black pull-on boots. His hair and beard are flocked (unlike the 8-inch figure’s molded beard) and he comes with an ‘Ion Emitter’ and ‘Plasma Rifle’ presented in the classic SuperJoe color scheme. Also included is an enemy beast mutated by Terron Industries and a mini comic. 

Merging the concepts of two 1970s Super Joe figure concepts, Darkon and Gor, Darkon-Gor is a SUPER-articulated 12-inch figure homage that continues the story of Sebastian Gorman from the 2013 GIJoeCon ‘Secret Mission To Dragon Island’ figure set. Gorman’s fate was left a mystery, but NOW it is revealed. He comes in a green uniform with belt, tall black pull-on boots, backpack emitter, and his Vac-Metalized Lightning Lance and mini comic. Quantities are SUPER limited. Approximate shipping first part of April.” —GIJCC

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Darkon-Gor will strike you down—with his giant chrome lighting bolt!(?) The club’s new Darkon-Gor action figure is certainly an attention-getter at full 1:6 scale. He too, comes with a super-articulated body and black “gloved” gung-ho gripping hands. While he may have been a snoozer collectible for many fans at his original diminutive 8″ size, the club’s new 12-inch version is positively TOWERING over other Joe villains! (Photo: GIJCC)

Bottom Line: What the…? WOW! These are some crazy-looking GIjOEs. We were never really fans of the 8″ Super Joes line ourselves (other than Terron), but when you super-size them all up to 1:6 scale, they take on a whole new dimension of possibilities. These guys are REALLY interesting. You can learn more about the original 8″ Super Joe Commander HERE and Darkon HERE.

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First Pic!——G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Reveals New “Return to the Lost Temple” 2-Figure Exclusive, a 1:6 Scale Set Created For JoeCon 2017 Attendees

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WOWZA! Here’s the first (and only) pic of the contents of the JoeCon 2017 12-inch, 2-figure exclusive set, “Return to the Lost Temple.” Out-STANDING! (Photo: GIJCC) Click to enlarge.

So much for stringing fans along for months in advance

This year, instead of posting numerous little “teaser” pictures online in an obvious attempt to pique collector interest and increase JoeCon convention attendance, the GIjOE Collector’s Club has decided instead to simply post one BIG pic and be done with it. And WHAT a pic it is! This solitary image answers a multitude of fan questions and in one fell swoop, reveals the contents contained in the club’s upcoming, exclusive, 2-figure (12-inch) set for JoeCon 2017. Further description is also forthcoming in the club’s official press release, which states:

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“This year’s 12-inch convention set is based on the vintage Marine Jungle Fighter and the Adventure Team, Jungle Survival accessory set. It comes with: Painted Head Figure; Marine Jungle Uniform; Belt; Canteen and Cover; .45 and Holster; Boonie Hat; Vinyl Shoulder Radio; Flame Thrower; Tall Brown Boots; M-16 Rifle; Machete and Scabbard and Dog tag; Flocked Head Figure; Jungle Survival Uniform; Tall Black Boots; Belt with Canteen; two Snake Anti-Venom Pouches; Pith Helmet; Yellow Short Radio; First Aid Kit; Compass; Machete and Scabbard; Tranquillizer Rifle; Equipment Storage Crate; Dog Tag; Knuckle Knife; Snake and Golden Cobra Staff. It also comes with a Mini-Comic with a surprise ending!”

Bottom Line: You know you want it. So call or visit the GIjOE Collector’s Club today!

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Catastrophic Capsule Failure Dooms Astronaut “Major Bob Tom” During “Mercury 10” Mission Commemorating Action Man’s 50th Anniversary

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Lost (From) Space— The whereabouts of the UK’s most famous 1:6 scale astronaut, Major Bob Tom, remain unknown. Did he survive his momentous fall? Can YOU help find him? (Photo: Rob Wisdom)

Final Fate and Location of Organizer’s Vintage Action Man Astronaut Remain Unknown

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Robert Wisdom, Action Man fan and collector (Photo: Robert Wisdom)

Bottom Line: A 1:6 scale “space mission,” designed to lovingly commemorate Action Man’s 50th Anniversary, has ended with mixed—some might say, heartbreaking—results. The goal was to lift a vintage Action Man astronaut figure (strapped securely into a vintage AM space capsule) up, up, UP through the stratosphere with the aid of a helium-filled balloon, and return him safely back down to the Earth (see our earliest coverage of this event HERE).

Designated “Mercury 10” by its organizers, the UK mission was masterfully coordinated by Rob Wisdom and funded primarily through donations raised in a surprisingly successful (10-day!) Kickstarter campaign (see that fundraising page HERE). Thankfully (for the thousands of AM fans around the world who were not able to attend), this mission’s breathtaking ascent, its startling final fate, and the frustrating field search for the intrepid (yet sadly, still missing) “Major Bob Tom,” have all now been preserved and presented in an excellent 25-minute video (see below). Enjoy!

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Identifying Marks— To help you find him, note that Major Bob Tom was bedecked in an original silver space suit with a union jack flag and custom “Mercury 10” patches from Patches of Pride—one was even placed on his helmet for maximum visibility. Also-fricken-TASTIC! (Photo: Rob Wisdom)

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A Perfect Fit— As this closeup reveals, the real cloth “Mercury 10” patches provided by Patches of Pride conform perfectly to the folds and sleeve of a vintage AM space suit. If you find an astronaut in a field in Britain, look for THIS patch. It’s only on the uniform of Major Bob Tom! (Photo: Rob Wisdom)

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Miguel Tavarez—Master of Miniaturization—Creates Astonishingly Realistic (1:6 Scale) Diorama of U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) Paratroopers in Action

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Bring it On— In a stunning display of 1:6 scale artistry, customizer Miguel Tavares has recreated a battle scene from the Korean War featuring two figures from the U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Inf. Co. (Airborne). This closeup of the Master Sergeant reveals he has been authentically detailed with correct unit insignia and helmet emblems produced by Patches of Pride. (Photo: Miguel Tavares) Click to enlarge.

Expert Modeler Depicts Soldiers of “Forgotten War’s” All-Black, All-Ranger Regiment

Welcome to 2017, 1:6 Scalers!

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Immortalized on the Cover—UK hobby industry magazine, Military Modelling (vol. 41, issue no. 1) celebrates the skills of master modeler, Miguel Tavarez, by splashing his work (deservedly so) on the front cover of its most recent issue. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Military Modelling)

It’s a brand-new year and the guys and gals at The Joe Report felt like kicking things off with a BIG photo-story about a new, rising talent among the 1:6 scale customizing community—Miguel Tavarez. Tavares is a master modeler and 1:6 customizer of the highest degree, and in recognition of his superlative skills, the UK hobby magazine Military Modelling recently published an article about his work, even going so far as to feature a photo of his new (2-figure) paratrooper diorama on the publication’s cover.

The remarkable diorama in question depicts two African-American U.S. Army paratroopers of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) during the Korean War. They’ve just completed a jump and one soldier appears to have suffered a hard landing or been otherwise wounded. His Master Sergeant has rushed to his side, all the while gazing grimly skyward as he watches other Rangers still descending.

This 1:6 scale masterwork is both wonderful and inspirational to behold. Action figure customizers and diorama builders around the world would probably pay good money just to take a 1 hour class from this talented artisan. If fact, we felt Miguel’s Ranger dio achievement was so important, that it was worthy of further mention and praise beyond just the pages of a UK hobby magazine. Therefore, despite any repetition, we’ve wholeheartedly chosen to share it here, too—on The Joe Report!

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A Bad Time for a Sprain— What a superb choice of headsculpt! This figure’s excellent facial expression perfectly captures so much emotion at once. The frustration, pain, and yes, even anger, at being hurt before even getting to fire a shot, must surely be a severe disappointment to this Ranger. After training for months, making dozens of practice jumps, and going through everything required to become a U.S. Army Ranger, to be sidelined and/or hobbled like must be quite a blow. Let’s hope this brave paratrooper’s leg is only sprained and not broken. Go, Rangers! Go, ARMY! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

 Details Do Make the Difference

When you study Miguel’s custom figures, you quickly discover that he is zealously devoted to both military accuracy and authenticity, as well as the execution of professional, almost extreme modeling detail. Take a (very close) look at those hands (the fingernails!), the figure’s wrinkled and “weathered” uniforms, their weaponry, equipment, and even the stones and grass on the ground cover beneath their feet—it’s all been magnificently painted and otherwise realistically executed. HISTORY—has been brought back to life in three dimensions: visibly, tactilely—and in miniature!

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As Real as it Gets— The mind boggles looking at the reality of this ground cover. Make special note of Miguel’s careful selection of the grass and tiny white flowers. Where other customizers would choose or create plantlife that is oversized, Tavarez has ensured that even the tiny flowers are correctly scaled to match his diorama. Un-freakin’ believable! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

It’s Okay to Seek Outside Help

Tavarez has also taken the trouble (and expense) to commission custom waterslide decals and cloth patches from renowned miniatures manufacturer, Patches of Pride. All of their tiny products are carefully researched and recreated from scratch, so their inclusion helped to elevate this unique diorama to undisputed “masterpiece” status. Custom works of such high caliber are truly rare, and this one solidifies Miguel’s well-deserved reputation as a master modeler of 1:6 scale.
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Let’s Get a Move On, Ranger!— Staying out in the open for too long after a combat jump can be an invitation to disaster, as this Master Sergeant clearly knows. This side view of their combined poses demonstrates that there is a clear sense of urgency and peril to their situation. Just LOOK at all the amazing detail! The patches, helmet emblems, ammo bandolier, boots…WOW! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez)

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Miguel describes the inspiration behind his 2-figure Ranger diorama:

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Cheers, Customizers!— Miguel Tavarez raises a cold one in toast and tribute to other members of the 1:6 scale community in this exclusive photo taken for readers of The Joe Report. His outstanding customs are providing inspiration to thousands of fellow kitbashers around the world. (Photo: Miguel Tavarez)

“This diorama is about two African-American Rangers during the Korean War. The Korean War is often referred to as “ the forgotten war” because of the lack of public attention it received both during and after the war, and in relation to the global scale of World War II, which preceded it, and the subsequent angst of the Vietnam War, which succeeded it. After finishing my last 1/6th dio, I was looking for a new project to do, and so I decided to read up on the Korean conflict and see if I could find a subject to recreate within my own little 1/6th scale kitbashing ‘world’.

I came across a book on a very fascinating unit of a segregated, all-black elite Ranger company that had fought with distinction during the first 2 years of the “Forgotten War” in Korea. I had previously done a WWII 761st African-American tanker before, so I became keen on creating something that would also honor this all-black Ranger company—the 2nd Ranger Infantry Co. (Airborne).”

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Don’t Forget the Base— Yes, you can simply set your figures on a table, but the creation and use of a custom base beneath their feet helps add geographical texture and context, as well as increasing the realism of your tabletop diorama scene. Beautiful! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

“As I mentioned before, they were an African-American unit at a time when the U.S. military was slowly being integrated after years of racial segregation. President Truman’s executive order 9981 in 1948 changed that. But the reality was that the desegregation policy was yet to come into full compliance. Segregation was still being practiced right into the Korean War.

White high-ranking officers who did not support desegregation would funnel the colored troops into units such as the 2nd Ranger Co. in the first several years of the war. But 1950s racial issues aside, the ‘Buffalo Rangers,’ as they were known, gave a good account of themselves in the Korean War until their deactivation in 1951.”

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Remembering and Honoring Our Heroes (in 1:6 Scale)— This 3/4 front view shows off the entirety of Miguel’s amazing custom diorama and reveals that he included an actual Ranger pin down in the bottom righthand corner. Congratulations on a great job, Miguel! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

These “Buffalo Rangers” participated in “Operation Tomahawk” on March 23rd 1951. This operation was historic for two reasons; one, it would be the first time a Ranger unit participated in an Airborne combat jump. Secondly and more importantly, it would be the first combat jump for black troops in the U.S. military. Attached to the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (its parent unit), it would make this historic jump in ‘Operation Tomahawk’ into North Korean and Chinese-held territory!” —Miguel Tavarez

Bottom Line: Miguel’s work is AWESOME. That’s the bottom line. Our sincerest thanks go out to Mr. Tavarez for sharing these photos of his work and for the exclusive account of his inspiration for this piece. As of the date of this article, you could still buy a copy of the issue of UK’s Military Modelling magazine featuring Miguel’s amazing work HERE.

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Happy New Year, Everyone! Have a Great 2017!

happynewyear2017Bottom Line: Whoever you are, wherever you live, we wish you a WONDERFUL 2017!