UK Artist’s Love of “Product Design From a Less Cynical Time” Results in Creation of Unique Art

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The “EYES” Have It— These stunning (life-sized) sculptures of a pair of VERY famous faces appear to have begun a “stare-off” at the home of UK artist, John Barton. Their amazing likenesses were hand-crafted and are now being sold to collectors around the world. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

Are you talking LOOKING at me?

Robert De Niro may have been talking to himself in the film, Taxi Driver, but you might be saying something similar to a familiar face—with repositionable eyes—mounted up on the wall of your “Man Cave” or “Joe Room” someday soon. Thanks to UK artist, John Barton, a pair of new 1:1 scale head sculptures (or “busts”) based on the heroic visage of Palitoy’s most famous fighting man are now available for purchase. We contacted Barton and he kindly provided the following intel:

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TJR: Absolutely amazing work, John. We LOVE your new toy-inspired busts!

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“I’ve invested a fair amount of time and effort on these so I’m really grateful to receive such positive feedback.” 

In addition to setting on a shelf or table, Barton's busts are designed to hang or mount up on the wall as shown above. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

Just hanging around— In addition to setting on a shelf or table, Barton’s art busts are designed to hang or mount up on the wall as shown above. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Please tell us about your new “Man of Action” (MoA) sculptures. What initially prompted their creation? What were your inspirations?

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“I’ve always had a keen appreciation for good design and illustration, which is perhaps why I was so drawn to Action Man in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The packaging illustrations by David Barnacle are classics (is there a book available featuring his work?).

My inspirations come from multiple sources: a love of pop art, ephemera, product design from a less cynical time (’70s action figures weren’t ‘ripped’ on protein drinks), classic cinema posters (of which I am also a fan) and my own childhood.

This ultra close-up reveals the quality and craftsmanship of Barton's MoA busts. Just look at those eyes! (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

I SEE YOU— This ultra close-up reveals the quality and craftsmanship of one of Barton’s MoA busts. Just look at the paint-job and those amazing eyes. Outstanding! (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Where else do you draw inspiration for your work?

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“Toy and model shops used to be full of outstanding packaging design. Tamiya produced beautiful product illustrations and graphic design, Airfix box paintings were action-packed (now sadly retouched and sanitized) and of course, Action Man’s boxes. They’ve always set the tone for ADVENTURE!”

YES! The eyes are poseable! You can make your MoA look in any direction. AMAZING. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

YES! The eyes are poseable! MoA can look in any direction. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: How did your work and interest in 1:6 scale action figures come together?

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“I’m a graphic designer. I’ve always loved creating things in three dimensions (as well), so the creation of my ‘Man of Action’ sculptures was bound to happen one day. I’m now what I’d call a ‘professional creative.’ I still turn my hand to graphic design and photography, but my real passion is for art.”

Left, Right or Straight Ahead— The choice is YOURS. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.l

Look Left, Right or Straight Ahead— The choice is YOURS. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: What else should potential buyers know about your MoA sculptures?

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“Each is handmade to order and is intended for display, NOT play. Many hours go into the creation of each piece and no two are the same. It was really important to me that the eyes were positionable. It would have been so much easier to create the mould and castings without eye sockets, and have static eyes, but I’m stubborn and I refused to compromise on this.

The eyes are independently positionable from inside the head allowing each MoA to stare intently in any direction you wish. My initial thought was to engineer an inner ‘eagle eye’ mechanism, and for a one-off this would be fine, but it’s just not replicable in numbers at a sensible cost.

As each piece is made-to-order, every customer is kept fully informed of progress with emails and photos. I may even create other versions and special editions in time. I hold out the vain hope that as a handmade, numbered piece, my MoAs will one day become collectibles in their own rights.”

Your Barton Bust will instantly become the focal point of any room. (Photo: John Barton)

Your “Barton Bust” will instantly become the focal point of any room. (Photo: John Barton)

TJR: What kind of response have you been getting from AM collectors so far?

“I only posted the MoA to a couple of forums for the first time yesterday and I’m really humbled with the positive reception received so far from aficionados. Thank you ALL for your enthusiasm and support!”

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks go out to John Barton for his assistance with this article and our best wishes to him in all of his future endeavours. We know quality work when we see it, and these new busts of his are top-notch—all the way.

Who knows how long he’ll be creating them? For that reason alone, we highly recommend you contact Barton SOON if you’re interested in adding one (or more) to your collection. For complete information on cost, shipping and options, visit his website HERE. These handsome lads would make stunning gifts for any fan who believes that he (or she) already owns “one of everything.” Talk about your “limited-editions.” This is it!

Artist John Barton poses with two of latest creations. Absolutely superb work! (Photo: John Barton)

Artist John Barton poses with two of his creations. Absolutely superb work! (Photo: John Barton)

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Happy Birthday, USA! Happy Independence Day!

Gigantic US Flag, Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Gigantic US Flag, Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Vintage AM Equipment Sets Opened at VAME Meet 5

Imagine the THRILL of being the first persons to open sealed 1970s shipping cartons packed full of NMOC (new mint on card) vintage Action Man Frogman suits. Well, that thrill was realized recently by two of Action Man’s “founding fathers,” Bob Brechin (the former chief designer at Palitoy) and famed Action Man packaging illustrator, David Barnacle.

The two hobby giants appeared together at the recent VAME Meet 5 (held in the UK) to carefully open two of these precious “time capsules” from Action Man’s venerated past. Fortunately, Action Man fans around the world can now share in the thrill of those exciting moments by watching the video captured at the event (see clip above).

We’ve also received a wonderful “after action report” from VAME 5 representative, Michael Acton, who penned the following exclusive intel for readers of The Joe Report. Enjoy!

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Michael Acton, UK Action Man fan and collector (Photo: Michael Acton)

Michael Acton, UK Action Man fan and collector (Photo: Michael Acton)

“Just a postscript to this after the event: VAME Meet 5 really was extraordinary this year and was hectic from start to finish. We were quite taken aback by the numbers of collectors that came and supported the event, so thanks to all, including some that had travelled very long (by UK standards!) distances to make it.

Too many highlights to mention here, but it included a display of Dave Barnacle’s original AM art work by the man himself, Bob Brechin joining us for the day and patiently answering all those questions and Vectis auctioneers bringing along items from the recent sale of newly discovered unopened Palitoy Action Man stock hoarded by a former salesman. The BBC film crew were very unobtrusive and commented on the sheer enthusiasm of the collectors they spoke to.

We had a bit of fun at the end of the day when a couple of trade boxes of AM frogman sets from the 1970s, that were found untouched and still sealed, were opened by Bob Brechin and Dave Barnacle. There’s a video HERE (or see it above).

The suits were as fresh and supple as the day they left the factory and not perished at all (even though the glue had dried on one or two of the cards so that the blister covering had detached from the card). It’s going to be a challenge to beat this for Action Man’s 50th in 2016, but we’ll try!” —Michael Acton, UK

Bottom Line: Sounds like a great time was had by all. And yes, Action Man fans here in the U.S., Australia and elsewhere around the globe are all VERY jealous. Thanks for the regular updates, Michael. Our best wishes to everyone in the UK who helped make VAME 5 such a ripping success!

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Captain Action Exec Responds to Fan Queries Regarding Uncertain Future of 1:6 Products

Go, Captain Action! Despite his popularity, ol' Cap faces an uphill struggle to remain relevant and profitable in the future. (Art: Jusko/CAE)

Fighting For His 1:6 Future— Despite Captain Action’s popularity among collectors of a certain age (50+), ol’ Cap faces an uphill struggle to remain relevant and profitable at 1:6 scale. (Art: Jusko/CAE)

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“We need to show the depth of this license. Captain Action cannot survive as a one-trick-pony, 12-inch action figure.”
Joe Ahearn, Captain Action Enterprises 

This odd little Lego-ish rendition of CA is yet another example of a product that many fans simply could care less about. And what's with the Mickey Mouse ears? (Photo: CAE)

Captain Action for Today’s Generation— This odd little Lego-ish rendition of CA is yet another example of a multitude of recent CA licensed products that fans of 1:6 scale could simply care less about. And what’s with those Mickey Mouse ears? (Photo: CAE)

We’ve already reported on Captain Action Enterprises’ (CAE) current controversial efforts to expand the appeal of the iconic Captain Action (CA) brand though licensing and the release of a plethora of non-1:6 scale products (see full story HERE). CAE reps, Joe Ahearn and Ed Catto, have also confirmed (to The Joe Report) many times, that they believe their business strategy remains the best hope for capturing a younger market and repositioning the 49-year old brand towards a more profitable business future.

Predictably though, their plan has met with open derision from many 1:6 collectors who lament the loss of additional 1:6 scale CA product. Others have grudgingly accepted CAE’s plans as necessary steps that must be taken if ANY beloved CA brand toys are to survive and/or remain relevant to current and future generations that know little (to nothing) about Captain Action and his schizoid superhero proclivities.

As with Hasbro (and their GIjOE brand), CAE is now openly admitting concerns that its original fan base is clearly aging. And the sad truth is, both of these toy companies have begun looking at adult-aged toy collectors as customers of their past, rather than of their present—or future.

Prototype photo of a proposed 1:18 scale version of Captain Action and his Silver Streak. Is THIS the future of CA? (Photo: CAE)

The Future is Looking… Smaller— A rendering of ZICA Toy’s prototype for a 1:18 scale version of Captain Action and his Silver Streak vehicle. Pretty nice, but is THIS the future of CA? (Photo: CAE)

In our recent interview with Hasbro’s Derryl DePriest, many GIjOE fans were stunned to learn that Hasbro now openly disdains its original “razors and blades” marketing strategy (see story HERE). Captain Action, by comparison, was a toy line heavily advertised on that self-same strategy. It was predicated on the idea that a child needed only ONE CA figure and that he (or she) could then change that ONE figure into a wide variety of superheroes simply by changing its costumes. Indeed, Ideal’s original CA became better know for its costume sets than its figures (see commercial below).

Whether or not CAE’s efforts to reinvent and reinvigorate the CA brand succeed still remains to be seen. Meanwhile, its existing customer base of “maturing” collectors, will continue to stand by patiently waiting, money in hand, and hoping against hope for the release of ANY new 1:6 scale products. (Remember the highly anticipated Rocketeer, Batman and Superman costume sets?)

In this closeup of a package mock-up for an upcoming CA Batman set, assorted DC Direct parts and simple cardboard cutouts are used to indicate the sort of contents fans can expect to see. (Photo: Toygodd)

Don’t get your hopes up, Bat Fans— In this closeup of a package mock-up for a proposed 1:6 scale Batman costume set, assorted DC Direct parts and simple cardboard cutouts were used to indicate what fans might expect to receive. Sadly, this set is now on indefinite HOLD. (Photo: Toygodd)

In a recent face-off with fans, CAE executive, Joe Ahearn, responded (once again) to comments from discouraged fans in a revealing back-n-forth online discussion that proved quite illuminating. It’s wonderful what we can learn when a bunch of well-educated toy executives and collectors all get together in the same place online. In this case, the discussion in question took place over on the CA Yahoo fan forum found HERE and began with a heartfelt post left by nevergrewup_90:

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“I won’t make assessments regarding anyone’s efforts. I’m sure that a lot of hard work has been done to get us to this point. I’ll just state my interests. I’ve been a Captain Action fan since the beginning. I have all of the original costume sets and enough Captain Actions, Action Boys and Dr. Evils to wear them all. I even have Captains wearing a jet pack and a parachute. I have all of the Playing Mantis and Round 2 costume sets and figures as well.

I’ve never had any interest in owning a Silver Streak, even as a child. Comic books were never an interest either. My only interest for the future would be in the form of 1:6 figures and costumes. I would include Lady Action in that, but the Phicen-based Lady Action is well beyond what I would be willing to spend. Besides, with the various incarnations of Captain Action being slightly less than 1:6, I would imagine she would be noticeably out of scale there.

Smaller figures and novelties don’t interest me either. My fear is that the 1:6 line has already reached the end without the beloved Batman and Superman costumes, along with an Action Boy to sport a Robin costume.” —nevergrewup_90

Fortunately, CAE’s head honcho, Joe Ahearn, saw the above post and offered this candid reply:

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

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

“Gentlemen, I would like to just say a couple of things. As far as 1/6 scale product is concerned, we of course would love to have all the stuff we all want to see out there. But due to circumstances beyond our control, it has not been able to come to pass. 

We are trying to look into a lot of different options, but all of these things take a lot longer than we would like them to. As soon as we can get some more 1/6 scale product out there, we most certainly will. It is certainly not a dead line for us by any stretch of the imagination.

We have tried to keep 1/6 items out there through our convention variants, the new Lady Action figure, the footlockers and most recently, custom heads from Marshall Made Collectibles. In the meantime, as businessmen, we need to keep the Captain Action brand moving forward in other ways to keep it growing and viable.

Do you need to like all of those other things? No you do not. If they are not your cup of tea, that’s cool, but we need to keep doing these things. Because otherwise, if we have NOTHING going on, no one will see Captain Action as a viable property, and any negativity about these other things also reflects back to our ability to do 1/6 scale stuff as well.

We need to show the depth of this license. Captain Action cannot survive as a one-trick-pony 12-inch action figure. We are still also working very hard on the animation side and are hoping to have a NEW ANNOUNCEMENT to share in a couple of weeks at SDCC.

I hope we get some Bad Guys Customs for our figure contest from a lot of you out there who are so hungry to play in the 1/6 scale sandbox. It would be a great show of support for 1/6 scale  that we can use to help move things forward! Thanks always for your support of Captain Action.”Joe Ahearn, CAE

CA fan and collector, Al Hartman, represented fans who choose to remain optimistic, stating:

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Al Hartman, Captain Action fan & collector (Photo: Al Hartman)

Al Hartman, Captain Action fan & collector (Photo: Al Hartman)

“I want to add this to what Joe just wrote… Please don’t assume that the current state of the 1/6th line is going according to some purpose and plan by Joe and Ed. The first two people who want to see the DC wave on store shelves are CA’s premiere fans; Catto and Ahern (notice the first two letters of their names? huh? huh?).

They are not playing ‘keep away.’ They want to move forward, but are depending on R2 and the factories in Asia. We have to be patient and hope that the sets we want will show up under our trees someday.

Until then, they are trying to bring us other goodies. I appreciate that. Thanks guys! —Al Hartman

CA collector, Paul Dodd, represented frustrated fans with such questions and comments as:

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“Al, I appreciate your opinion, and for beating the CA bandwagon drum. But, unless you work for R2, how do you know any of this to be true? It’s been a very long time since the DC license was announced, and a very long time since Wolverine & Iron Man.

And since then, we have heard from Joe & Ed several times, (and seriously guys, I’m not calling you out here) and the story has been the same. Never anything concrete, just a lot of dancing around the issue, without revealing the real meat & potatoes of the problem.

Have the licenses expired? Has R2 severed its relationship with CAE? (or vice versa)Is there some sort of stalemate between the two? Is it a production issue? Or, POS problem?

There has been multiple crowd funding efforts for other non 1:6 C/A figures. Why can’t something like that be done for a DC uniform/equipment set? There is a reason, we just don’t know what the big secret is.

Me personally, I would like to know more. But I know these things are not my business. What I do know is other similar superhero lines are being produced on time, and with pretty high standards. Even the little GIjOE Collectors Club produces new, classically styled 1:6 product a couple of times a year. (Did you see their ‘Fantastic Freefall’ convention set?)

There is way more to this than just ‘circumstances beyond our control.’ And to me at least, it’s a cryin’ shame.” —Paul Dodd

Toy Expert and Pop-Culture Blogger, Rudy Panucci (Photo: Rudy Panucci)

Toy Expert and Pop-Culture Blogger, Rudy Panucci (Photo: Rudy Panucci) Click to enlarge.

Toy industry expert, Rudy Panucci, offered his own professional viewpoint of the current CA dilemma, stating:

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“I might be able to shed a little light on this as an impartial observer who’s offering educated guesses. In order for Captain Action to have DC and Marvel costumes sold, they have to be in the mass market at an affordable price, or be premium-priced low-production run items. Obviously the goal is to hit the mass market. In order to sell to the mass market, there have to be retailers willing to sell the costume sets, as well as a supply of figures. They have to be willing to sell these items at a price that allows everyone to make aprofit.

Due to the toy licenses held by Mattel and Hasbro, DC and Marvel costume sets can never be sold in the same package with a figure. In essence,they are “model kits.” Retailers would prefer dressed figures. They are running away, screaming, from the “razors and blades” concept. It’s even hurting Mattel’s Barbie line. Costume sets are a hard sell. The license to sell DC and Marvel model kits (and other items) is held by Round2. For CAE to produce DC and Marvel product, they have to go through Round2 to piggyback on their license. Effectively, Round2 is licensing from DC, Marvel and CAE to produce their figures. CAE is shouldering some of the risk, in order to get the product made.

The license has not expired. There are no production issues any tougher than any other small toy company experiences. The problem is finding a retail partner. Round2 is willing to go back into production as long as CAE has retailers lined up. They’re still working on that. TRU has had a management and philosophy change. They are no longer open to the idea of carrying Captain Action (at least not right now, maybe in a year things will change). Walmart would be perfectly willing to carry Captain Action if they could buy them at a wholesale price that would be slightly below the cost of production.

Target is gun-shy on exclusives from smaller companies these days. They’d be interested in online-only sales, but they don’t want to give up shelf space. Sears and K Mart are barely in the toy business at all anymore. Diamond Select is not only a distributor, but also a manufacturer, and their customer base is comic book shops and TRU. If they try to sell Captain Action through DST, and every comic shop orders two of each item–that will only amount to five or six-thousand orders. That’s not enough to turn a profit due to the license fees.

Remember that, in the case of Superman and Batman, DC gets paid first.Then Round2. Then returns and defective units are deducted. Then CAE gets whatever’s left… if there is anything. If they go through Diamond, the wholesale price is probably 40% of theretail price. Then the licensors get paid. Then the manufacturer. If they crowd-fund, they may not be able to go through Round2 and use thelicense. Even if they did, you’re still looking at comic-shop numbers.

To be honest, I’m surprised that Ed and Joe are still managing to keep the character viable. By dealing with smaller licensees like Marshall Made Collectibles, 3rd Son Books, Airship 27, Dynamite Comics, Zica and the other folks who have ‘borrowed’ Captain Action for various figure lines, they’ve managed to keep Captain Action alive as a property that more and more people know. You’d never see Hasbro or Mattel invest this much time in a revival of a toy from fifty years ago. Just look at how Hasbro bungled the fiftieth anniversary of GIjOE! Mattel only keeps the Major Matt Mason trademarks because they hope someone will make a movie someday.

This is obviously a labor of love for Ed and Joe, and I think us fans need to realize that and be patient. They’re working hard on this in an industry that is more secretive than the military industrial complex. They can’t tell us every detail of every ongoing negotiation because that would probably kill any deal that they’re working on. They can’t really risk complaining in public about retailers when they’re trying to convince them to carry their product.

My advice to Ed and Joe is to maybe look into less conventional retailers. Cracker Barrel Restaurants (630 stores) have large “general stores” loaded with retro toys and 1960s TV shows on DVD. They may beopen to a fiftieth anniversary product, if the price is right and the right characters are involved. That one deal won’t be big enough for a whole line, but it could attract the attention of a larger retailer. Just my two cents.” —Rudy Panucci

Cracker Barrel's toy shelves are nothing to sneeze at. Take a look at this recent photo. WOW! (Photo: wideopencountry) Click to enlarge.

A Future Home for Captain Action? Rudy Panucci’s idea of slotting CA products on the shelves at Cracker Barrel restaurants is nothing to sneeze at. Take a look at this recent photo of some of the chain’s great “retro” toys for sale. WOW! (Photo: wideopencountry) Click to SUPER enlarge.

In closing, CAE’s Joe Ahearn sought to reassure fans of 1:6 scale Captain Action by saying:

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“We are certainly not dancing around the issue. I’m sure you can understand that as businessmen under contract with different project partners, we are not always at liberty to discuss things in exact details with the public.

I tried my best to give an overview to give everyone the gist of the current scenario. It shouldn’t really matter what the exact details are, rather knowing that we are not giving up on getting new 12-inch stuff out to you guys should be the big take away. When that will be, we cannot say. But it is still on the table.” —Joe Ahern

Bottom Line: An emotional tug-of-war continues to be waged between frustrated collectors and manufacturers of 1:6 scale Captain Action products. Our sincerest thanks to those who continue to keep Cap’s legacy alive through such well-informed discussion. Let Justice Be Done!

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G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Releases First (Actual Product, Not Prototype) Photos of Upcoming Action Pilot and Action Sailor “Lost Talkers”

These are the first photos of the actual products being produced by the GIjOE Collector's Club for fans of the 12-inch GIjOE line. (Photo: GIJCC)

FIRST PICS! These are the first official photos of the actual products being manufactured for sale by the GIjOE Collector’s Club for fans of the 12-inch figures. (Photo: GIJCC)

Apparently, things are progressing nicely at the GIjOE Collector’s Club HQ down in Ft. Worth, TX. According to a recent official press release shown on their website (HERE):

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“Hey 12″ G.I. Joe fans! As we announced at GIJoeCon 2015, the Collectors’ Club will be producing the two remaining figures in our lost talker series. The photo shows actual samples from the factory and boy do they sound GREAT!

These limited-edition figures will feature 10 phrases, unlike the originals which only had 8. The two added phrases were recorded back in the 1960s but never used until now! Stay tuned for details on when the LOST TALKER PILOT and LOST TALKER SAILOR will be available in the Club online store for Pre-order.”

Bottom Line: These look really nice. We’ll be first in line to pick ours up, ASAP. Go, JOE!

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Collector & Customizer of 1:6 Scale Reveals Methods Used in Action Figure Photography

Steve Benson, former Army WHATEVER, poses with two of his subjects in his backyard training grounds. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Steve Benson, a lawyer living in Colorado Springs, CO (and a JAG officer in the Army Reserves), poses with two of his 1:6 scale grunts training on his backyard obstacle course. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson)

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Super Soldiers— Each of Benson's figure have been carefully and accurately outfitted for the most realism, right down to the smallest details, including tiny PT patches from Patches of Pride. EXCELLENT! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Super Soldiers— Benson’s action figures are realistically outfitted, down to the smallest details including ARMY t-shirts and reflective belt. Some even sport 1:6 scale cloth PT patches from Patches of Pride. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Customizer Puts “ACTION” Into 1:6 Scale Action Figure Photography

We’ve been admiring and following the work of 1:6 scaler, Steve Benson, for quite a while now, and thought that this would be a good time to share some of his recent figure and diorama photography with the rest of the world. In the following exclusive series of images, Benson utilizes a superbly hand-picked and hand-customized squad of soldiers; each carefully selected, dressed and prepped for the day’s main activity—outdoor PT.

Playing with GIjOEs and other action figures in the great outdoors is one of the most enjoyable activities fans can participate in AND capture in their own photographs. After all, GIjOEs are TOYS and they were meant to be played with in largely outdoor-based action scenarios, settings and environments. As a result, backyard play allows our imaginations to run free (see Tom RazoolyHERE).

Steve Benson’s action figure photography stands apart from others we seen by (somehow) putting LIFE into the figures themselves. You can almost feel their muscles straining and hearts pumping as they tackle various obstacles put before them in Benson’s backyard training course. We asked Steve if he would share some of his “secrets” for creating convincing ACTION photos with GIjOEs and he kindly replied:

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“My secret is a lot of patience, a lot of swearing, and a weekly therapeutic massage! I use figures with stiff joints and continue to work with them until they are posed exactly how I want them. Balancing them takes a lot of time and they try to fall over a lot in these gusting Colorado breezes. I hate setting up formations because if one falls down, half the company goes down with him! My back is usually plenty stiff after a detailed session like the ‘Tough One.’ Fortunately, I have two (10 and 14 year-old) daughters to assist me.”

Fall in! Eyes Front! Benson's squad prepares for a rigorous session of PT with a mohawked paratrooper drill sergeant. Notice the diversity of characters and attention to detail. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Fall in! Eyes Front! Benson’s eager squad of 1:6 scale soldiers prepares for a rigorous session of PT led by their (mohawked) paratrooper drill sergeant. Notice the diversity of characters and their accurate attention to detail. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

“My 17 year-old son has refused to participate until we switch to male soldiers engaged in combat operations. That will be coming reasonably soon, but I have to get O’Mara and Devereux (the two women) through Ranger School first, which I plan to have done by the end of July. After that, it will start getting rough with operations in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Sudan. I’m looking forward to it.”

Hit the dirt and gimme 25! The drill sergeant wastes no time in getting the soldiers warmed up and working. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Hit the dirt and gimme 25, maggots! Benson’s Army drill sergeant wastes no time in getting the other soldiers warmed up and working hard. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

“I only photoshop to change facial expressions (eyebrows usually) and to remove imperfections like dog hairs from my beagle or stray uniform threads that sneak into the photo. So far, I’ve never had to use any wires or special posing aids, except for the Littlebird chopper and the deployed parachute. I did use wires to hang those pieces and photoshopped them out of the pictures later.” —Steve Benson

Here then, is a sample sequence of some of Benson’s recent action figure photos. Enjoy!

All the way up, and all the way down! There's no substitute for proper form when doing pushups the ARMY way! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

All the way up, and all the way down! According to the Drill Sergeant, there’s no substitute for proper form when doing push-ups the ARMY way. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Leg scissor kicks work the abs and turn wimps into warriors! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Leg scissors work the abs and turn wimps into warriors! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Learning to work as a TEAM is essential in the military. GO, girls! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Learning to work as a team is essential in the Army. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

“Sgt T” instructs Chief Warrant Officer Devereux how to do a proper Army chin-up. And no, they’re not going to be easy, soldier. So… GET UP THERE! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

CWO Devereux show Sgt. T she's got what it takes and maxes out each rep. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

CWO Devereux show Sgt. T she’s got what it takes and maxes out each rep. HOOah! You GO, girl! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Devereux's determination is clear to those around her. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Devereux’s determination is clearly making her “ARMY STRONG!” (Photo: Steve Benson)

Hit that Wall! Devereux continues her way through the course and

Hit that Wall! Devereux continues to the next obstacle of her “Tough One” training (taking place in Benson’s backyard). Note the realistic stride in this pic. WOW! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

WOW! This is a very difficult pose to capture realistically, but Benson does so masterfully. Great job, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson)

This is a perfect example of the athletic and physical realism we were describing earlier. It’s very easy to believe this figure is actually jumping onto this obstacle. You can almost sense and FEEL her musculature making the effort. Such moments in time are VERY difficult to pose and capture in a way that convincingly “fools the eye.” Excellent work, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge (and STUDY).

Get up there! Go! GO! GO! Devereux refuses to quit. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Get over that obstacle—NOW! Devereux struggles but refuses to quit. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Almost...Don't Stop! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Almost over…Don’t Stop! Get off that obstacle! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Success! (Was there ever any doubt?) (Photo: Steve Benson)

Success! (Was there ever any doubt?) HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson)

What's next, Drill Sergeant? On to the rope and net climbing obstacle, of course! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

If you build it—they will TRAIN. What’s next, Drill Sergeant? Benson’s handcrafted climbing tower obstacle is an ominous 1:6 scale masterpiece. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Heads up! When the Drill Sergeants go over the basics of rope and net climbing, you'd better pay attention. They will NOT repeat themselves! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Heads up! When the Drill Sergeants go over the basics of rope and net climbing, you’d better be paying attention—they will NOT be repeating themselves. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Now, GO! GO! GO! Get up that rope! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Not ready? Too bad. Get up that rope NOW, maggot! (Photo: Steve Benson)

If you slip, it's a long way down. Keep going! (Photo: Steve Benson)

If you slip or fall, it’s a long way down (and embarrassing). So keep going! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Excellent! Devereux continues to excel on the course. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Excellent! Devereux continues to excel on the course. Go! Go! GO! (Photo: Steve Benson)

What's next? The course only gets more difficult! (Photo: Steve Benson)

What’s next? Failure is NOT an option, soldier! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Look out! One misstep and you'll pay for it in the field hospital for weeks. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Look out! One misstep and you’ll pay for it in a field hospital for weeks. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Now up the slanted ladder obstacle. Don't slow down! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Up the slanted ladder obstacle. Don’t look down! (Photo: Steve Benson)

You're at the Top! Now go over and start down the net -climb. Hurry! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Yes, you’ve reached the top! What do you want? A medal? Get over yourself and climb down off of the obstacle, soldier. MOVE IT! MOVE IT! MOVE IT! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Watch it,

Watch out, “Spiderwoman.” If you get tangled up in THIS web, it’ll make an easy target for an impatient Drill Sergeant to “pick you off” like an enemy sniper! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Good job! Now suit up and MOVE OUT to the next obstacle. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Good job, soldier! Now jump off and MOVE OUT to the next obstacle. Notice the natural, realistic posing of the action figures in Benson’s photos. He clearly has a GREAT “eye” for this type of 1:6 artistic pursuit. (Photo: Steve Benson)

That's right,

That’s right, soldier You’re going to learn to rappel—like a RANGER! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Remember what your Drill Sergeant told you and get down off of this obstacle—NOW! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Sgt. T’s eyes bore holes into Devereux’s skull as she prepares to step off the obstacle. Remember what your Drill Sergeant taught you soldier—and get off of this obstacle—NOW! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Rappelling requires training. And the Army is training soldiers to LEAD and WIN. Now MOVE OUT! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Rappelling requires training. And the Army trains its soldiers to LEAD and to WIN. Anytime, Sweetheart. We’re losing daylight. Now, MOVE!!!!! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Devereux and another soldier move over the side and begin a series of short hops, working their way down the obstacle. We love the upward angle you've chosen for this shot, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Devereux and O’Mara move over the side and begin a series of short hops, working their way down the obstacle. We love the upward angle Benson chose for this shot. (Photo: Steve Benson)

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Letting out lengths of line, the soldiers carefully focus on keeping correct rappelling postures so as to quickly and safely descend the obstacle. And take a good look at their highly accurate and realistic 1:6 scale harnesses and gear. Superbly staged photo, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson)

In the Army, fellow soldiers always

Good job! Soldiers always “have each other’s back” in the Army and are trained to keep a sharp eye out in case someone needs help. It looks like these two soldiers did just fine. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson)

1:6 scale photo Wiz, Steve Benson, poses next to some of the equipment he's built for his backyard

1:6 scale photo Wiz, Steve Benson, poses next to some of the equipment he’s built for his backyard “training” photos. This shot helps give a sense of scale. He’s even installed a RANGER plaque at the very top to provide inspiration to his rope climbing soldiers. Fan-TASTIC work, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Bottom Line: Who knew that an Army JAG lawyer would also be a natural photographer of 1:6 scale ACTION? If you’d like to see more of Benson’s work, we highly recommend the new Facebook page he’s created for his miniature heroes found HERE. It’s chocked FULL of great pics and adventures. Our sincerest thanks go out to Steve Benson and his daughters for their generous contributions to this article and for sharing these exclusive and wonderful photos. Go, ARMY!

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Back From the Dead———G.I. Joe Fan-Favorite Website oldjoes.com Revived & Renamed as “oldjoes.net”

G'Day, Mate! Superb, ultra-sharp closeups were a hallmark of the original oldjoes.com website. And now...it's BACK! (Photo: David Kish)

G’Day, Mate! Superb, ultra-sharp closeups of minty-fresh vintage GIjOEs were a hallmark of the original oldjoes.com website.(Photo: David Kish)

As the old saying goes: “Good things come to those who wait.”

But we never actually expected this to happen: Oldjoes—the original GIjOE photo website—is BACK. Fans of vintage 1:6 scale Joes will remember the site fondly, primarily due to its plethora of full-color closeup photographs of near-perfect vintage figures. While not 100% complete in its listings, it was nonetheless, one of the first major “cataloging sites” for GIjOE.

Indeed, Oldjoes.com set the “reference bar” extremely high and keep it up there until its unexplained disappearance back in 2012. Since then, other, newer, and more “whiz-bang” reference sites have arisen to take its place (most notably vintage3djoes), but memories of the original Oldjoes ‘site still holds a firm place in many fans’ hearts.

Newly relaunched and rechristened as oldjoes.net, this cyber-touchstone of the early days of GIjOE collecting has (thankfully) been resurrected and returned to full and “active duty,” thanks solely to the efforts of its creator and webmaster, David Kish. According to Kish, the reasons behind his site’s disappearance in 2012 wasn’t quite as mysterious as we’d been led to believe. In fact, in the note we received from him today, David goes on to reveal the following insider intel:

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David Kish

GIjOE collector and website pioneer, David Kish, was the original creator of oldjoes.com, one of Joe-fandom’s first and BEST resources for vintage GIjOE information. (Photo: David Kish)

“Hi Mark! I googled my name today and was shocked to find your blog post (see HERE, ed.) from 2012 about me and my oldjoes.com website! I had no idea you had devoted a post to the demise of my site, nor that you had attempted to reach me regarding it. After I stopped collecting G.I. Joe and spending time on the site, I inadvertently allowed the domain name to expire. After years of sporadic failed attempts to re-register the domain, a reseller acquired it.

When I saw your article tonight, I decided to call my hosting provider and re-register the site under a new domain name—oldjoes.net. I’m happy to report that the site is now back up at www.oldjoes.net. Please let your readers know. Thanks!”

Bottom Line: It’s our sincerest pleasure, David. Thanks for writing! If you loved Kish’s original website, then you’ll enjoy it twice as much today. It’s remains a fantastic, photo-laden resource for collectors; a nostalgic look back to the early days of Joe’s vintage history, reminding fans of the earliest glory days of the original GIjOE toy lines. Thanks SO MUCH for putting oldjoes back up on the internet for fans to enjoy, David. It is truly a historical and VALUABLE resource for us all.

If you could, how many of these wonderful

An astounding Aquanaut GIjOE from the oldjoes.net website. (Photo: David Kish) Click to enlarge.

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Bob Brechin, Chief Designer for Palitoy, Goes “On the Record” to Discuss the Creation and Evolution of Palitoy’s “Action Man” in the UK

Happy Birthday, Son! DVD creator, Tony Roberts, added numerous moments of supplemental material by utilizing adult (and child) models, then dressing them in period clothing with retro hairstyles and having them reenact moments all too familiar to fans of GIjOE and Action Man. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Happy Birthday, Son! For his superb DVD, “The Story of Action Man,” director Tony Roberts filmed numerous retro-recreations, including this realistic sequence of a young boy opening a brand-new Deep Sea Diving equipment set on his birthday. To recreate such nostalgic scenes, Roberts utilized adult and child actors and dressed them in period clothing. Then, during editing, he faded the color and added numerous “old film” special effects to complete the illusion. The final moments were indeed, VERY familiar to fans and collectors of both GIjOE and Action Man. Out-STANDING work, Tony! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

The Story of Action Man has been faithfully recounted on a superb 2013 DVD by Australia's Tony Roberts. (Photo: ebay)

The Story of Action Man was faithfully recounted in a superb 2013 DVD by Australian Tony Roberts. (Photo: ebay)

Exclusive Insights From One of the “Founding Fathers” of Palitoy’s Iconic (UK) Action Man

When Bob Brechin (the former Chief Designer for Palitoy) wrote to us recently to discuss his memories of the history and development of Action Man and his involvement with “The Story of Action Man” DVD (a wonderfully informative film produced by Tony Roberts), we grabbed our reporter’s pads and pencils and stood up at attention. We knew whatever Brechin had to say, it would be coming “straight from the top.”

If you aren’t already aware, Brechin is the UK’s equivalent of America’s iconic toy creator and former top Hasbro executive, Don Levine (now deceased) and is without a doubt, one of the 1:6 scale hobby’s most beloved “Founding Fathers.” To millions of collectors around the world, Bob is especially admired for all the work he did EXPANDING the Action Man line. So many new uniforms, equipment sets and vehicles were introduced during his tenure that it literally boggles the mind. When his email “blinged” into our inbox, we couldn’t wait to read what UK’s toy legend had to say!

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Bob Brechin, former Chief Designer of Palitoy, took time out to write to The Joe Report recently with more of his personal memories and insights into the creation of the iconic Action Man toy line in the UK. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Bob Brechin, former Chief Designer of Palitoy, took time out to write to The Joe Report recently to avail its readers of his personal memories of the evolution of the Action Man toy line. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Here’s what Brechin wrote to The Joe Report:

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“Having just read your feature by Mike talking about  the VAME show on 6th of June and noticing the post he included about the showing of the ‘The Story of Action Man’ (see HERE, ed.) I thought I would follow that up and tell you more about it…

About this time of the year (50 years ago), the management at Palitoy were negotiating with the Hassenfeld Brothers for the license to market in the UK what was controversially called ‘a rugged doll for boys’ by its inventor, Stan Weston. Having seen the success of G.I. Joe in the States, the company saw the potential in the toy and (like the Hassenfeld Brothers), ignored comments such as, ‘boys will not play with a doll.’

Action Man was

Palitoy’s Action Man built on the excellence of early GIjOE products, revising them with a decidedly British twist. Many of the UK-themed figures, sets and vehicles were never offered in the U.S. and are passionately sought after by fans on “both sides of the pond.” (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“So confident was the company (Palitoy), that marketing plans were decided and Toy Fair catalogues were printed before the licence was agreed and signed very late in 1965. The ink had barely dried when the toy was launched at the British Toy Fair the following January. As you are aware, it went on to be an enormous success; collecting The Toy of the Year award in its first year and later being voted The Toy of the Decade in 1980.

Although Action Man was still selling well, in 1984 General Mills decided to cease production because plans were afoot to get out of the toy business. The design and development department was closed down and the following year Palitoy became Kenner Parker and the intentions of the new company was to distribute American developed products only, throughout Europe. The intellectual rights to Action Man were passed over to Hasbro and as we know they resurrected the 12” toy in the late 90’s.”

In this scene from Robert's DVD, Bob Belchin reminisces about the early days of Action Man production at Palitoy. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Remembering When— In this scene from Tony Robert’s DVD, Bob Brechin reminisces about early product concepts and the development of Action Man at Palitoy. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“I joined Palitoy in 1967, a year after the launch, right through until its demise in 1984. Throughout that time, I was the lead designer for Action Man, helping to transform what was essentially G.I. Joe in Palitoy packaging into a British phenomenon. I also led a team that developed the range ‘Action Force’ before we were aware of Hasbro’s intentions to develop the same range of 3 3/4 “ action figures that was to be  a “resurrected” G.I. Joe.

It was later that we introduced some Hasbro product into the Action Force range that saved us from some big tooling investment. Action Force was very popular (after the conceptual repositioning in year 2) and money for new tooling was forthcoming. One of my proudest designs was the ‘Roboskull,’ which  seems to be very popular with the fans in the States.”

Collectors

Collect Them All! AM collectors such as Daren Millar (shown here in a screen capture from Tony Robert’s DVD), fill their shelves at home with Action Man. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“After leaving Palitoy, I remained in toy design and development and it was during this period I became aware of the collecting mania that had grown. My first real awareness was when I took my (old) boss Bill Pugh, who conceived the ideas to give Action Man ‘realistic hair’ and ‘gripping hands’ (kung-fu grip to G.I. Joe fans ), to an Action Man collector’s show at the Tank Museum in the south of England.

He was totally amazed with the whole collecting scene as we walked amongst the tanks (many from WWI) and the Action Man displays. Sadly, shortly after our visit he passed away. But I was pleased to be able to show him a glimpse of the love that collectors have for a toy that we were able to play a part in bringing to the nation.”

Details REALLY Do Make the Difference! This super closeup of the Action Man astronaut window box set will make any fan drool with envy and LUST. WOW! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

Details REALLY Do Make the Difference. This closeup of a NMOC vintage Action Man astronaut suit equipment set would make any fan drool with envy. WOWZA! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“Since that immersion into the Action Man collecting community, I have been approached by individuals and groups for my thoughts and to attend meetings as a guest. I was involved in the production of the book ‘Action Man: The Official Dossier’ by Ian Harrison, writing the foreword as a dedication to Bill Pugh.

It was with some interest later, in July 2011, when I received an email from a curator at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnall Green, London, that a collector wanted to talk to me about a film he was making about the history of Action Man. After some thought, I told the curator that this person should contact me. Apparently, he took three days composing his email to get it right because he didn’t want to lose me. (He didn’t.)”

Tony Roberts, director of

Tony Roberts, director of “The Story of Action Man,” poses with some of his personal Action Man collection at home in Perth, Australia. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“Tony Roberts lives in Perth, Australia. He emigrated there from England when he was a young boy. Whilst in England, he was given an Action Man as a present and fell in love with it straight away. Every birthday and Christmas, he had to have something Action Man as a present and little did he know—he was building up his collection!

When his family moved to Australia, Tony’s love for the toy did not wane and his collection grew. When he grew up, he wanted to emulate his hero, so joined the Australian Army. After serving his time, during which he was seriously collecting, he move back to England and joined the British Army.”

With a Face Like THIS— It's easy to understand how millions of young children would be inspired to emulate their real-life heroes. Go, Action Man! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

With a Face Like THIS— It’s easy to understand how millions of young children would be inspired to emulate real-life heroes with really cool action figures. Go, Action Man! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“The London Iranian Embassy Siege, that began on 30th April 1980 and was so dramatically ended by the SAS on 5th May, resulted in Palitoy fast-tracking an Action Man version. It must have also inspired young Tony because later when he was serving with the British Army, he applied for the famous SAS. He was rejected; but Action Man doesn’t give in; so he reapplied and was successful.

After serving with the regiment in the Middle East, Tony took on the role as a security consultant, managing a team that was protecting politicians, industrialists and aid-workers who were part of the operation trying to rebuild Iraq after the conflict. Still collecting Action Man and sending them back home, during this time in Iraq he developed his other love of film-making.”

Now THAT'S a box! The dramatic, bullet-ridden Action Man logo was sure to stir the passions of young Brits, eager for some serious play ACTION! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Now THIS is a box! And that dramatic, bullet-ridden Action Man logo surely stirred the passions and imaginations of many young fans; eager for some serious backyard ACTION! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“Many of his films that were shot from the dashboard of his Humvee received high praise from his colleagues and they would invariably ask for a copy to take with them when their tour of duty ended. When Tony’s own time came, he was unsure of what to do next. Many of his chums were taking up roles on merchant ships protecting them from pirates around the horn of Africa. Tony wanted out; but still unsure of where his life should go.

One day he had a thought. ‘People keep telling me my films are good, they always ask for a copy. That would be an interesting and different career move.’ But he needed a subject. ‘Well, I have this wonderful and almost complete collection of Action Man. The history of the development of the toy would make a great film.’ Bingo!”

Gotten himmel! The photography in Tony Robert's DVD is truly outstanding. By combining closeups with lavious backgrounds, the final effect was quite cinematic. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

Gotten himmel! The photography in Tony Robert’s DVD is truly outstanding. By combining closeups with lavish backgrounds, the final effect is quite cinematic. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“On his return to his home in Perth, he eagerly set to work building dioramas and began shooting. He needed to flesh out the film with face-to-face interviews with some of the people involved in Action Man’s ‘story,’ so yet another return trip was made to England so as to track them (including myself) down.

Tony’s email convinced me with its sincerity and enthusiasm that I should help him with this film. After all, there were plenty of books out there on the subject already, but no definitive story for the screen. So, we spoke on the phone and agreed that he should travel up from his family’s base in the south to Coalville, the old home of Palitoy.”

Don't Forget GIjOE! The original 12-inch action hero also features prominently in the Robert's film. After all, with Hasbro's creation, Action Man may never have existed! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

Don’t Forget GIjOE! America’s original 12-inch “Movable Fighting Man” also features prominently in Tony Robert’s DVD, “The Story of Action Man.” OOHrah! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“In the meantime, I contacted some old ex-colleagues. A room at a local hotel was booked for a couple of days so that Tony could conduct his interviews before he went off to a show to conduct similar interviews with collectors. A few months later, he returned with the first draft of his film.

I arranged with Snibston Discovery Museum (only a stone’s throw from the old Palitoy factory) to show the film there to all those involved, including their friends and family. The attendees were very impressed and thoroughly entertained. From their comments, he returned to Australia and re-edited the film before finally offering it for sale as a DVD from his website.”

Snibston

Set to Close Soon? The Snibston Discovery Museum faces an uncertain future. (Photo: SDM)

“The Snibston Discovery Museum is due for closure at the end of July due to the county council having to make cuts in its budget as a result of the national government’s austerity programme. It is a tragedy that such important places that are guardians of local and national heritage are being closed. 

Coalville, as its name suggests, was a coal mining town that grew from humble beginnings and now has a population well over 30,000. The Snibston museum celebrates this industrial heritage, but also is home for other interesting collections; one of which is the TOYS that were once made at Palitoy!”

bobbrechin

Bob Brechin remains hopeful that things will work out for the Snibston Discovery Museum, but made alternative arrangements at a local theatre for showing Tony Robert’s film. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“My plan WAS to celebrate Action Man’s 50th anniversary at Snibston, so as to promote the toy AND the museum together. But with its closure imminent, an alternative venue was needed. Since the Century Theatre is also part of the Snibston establishment, I have arranged for the Story of Action Man to be screened there, instead. 

The showing will help kick off Action Man’s 50th Anniversary, and enable the people of Coalville to see it—especially those that worked at Palitoy and their family and friends. Collectors and fans are particularly welcome. This is a one-off, non-profit event with a £3 ticket price to cover the use of the theatre.”

Century-Theatre-Front

Action Man on the BIG Screen— What better way to see a film about the creation and evolution of your favorite action figure than on a giant movie screen? Go, Action Man! (Photo: Century Theatre)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and best wishes go out to Bob Brechin for his generous contributions to this article, and to Tony Roberts and all of the other Action Man fans living in the UK, Australia, and elsewhere around the world, as they prepare to celebrate their 1:6 scale hero’s fantastic 50th Anniversary. If you can make the trip to Snibston on July 4th, be sure to attend the film’s showing at the Century Theatre. For complete showtime information, go HERE.

FLASH! THIS JUST IN (6-12-15):

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“Hi Mark, I just read the feature you included on The Joe Report. The only thing I must take issue with is putting me up on the same pedestal as Don Levine. I don’t think I deserve that. If Don was in the gold medal position he was up there with Bill Pugh. I would have been lower down (silver medal?).

If you want to make your feelings known about the closure of Snibston, the HOME of Palitoy and Action Man toys, please write to Nicholas Rushton, Leader of the Council, Leicestershire County Council, County Hall, Leicester, LE3 8RA.

Keep issuing great stories about G.I. Joe (and Action Man). I will keep you posted on any 50th news!”Regards, Bob Brechin

FLASH! THIS JUST IN (6-13-15):

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“Hello again Mark, I have reread the article in The Joe Report and you say that the Century Theatre was the alternative for celebrating the 50th anniversary of Action Man. I also reread my email to you and could see how you misunderstood me. Century Theatre is not an alternative for the celebrations.

It was always the intention to show the film in the theatre but follow that up with a 50th anniversary show in the museum next year. The theatre had a reprieve but the closure of the museum is still imminent so hence a need for an alternative for next year.” —Bob Brechin

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Pin THIS! Tiny 1:6 Scale Clothespins for G.I. Joe

How small can we go? At (almost) 1:6 scale, you can fit quite a lot of these tiny clothespins in your hand. They're made of real wood and metal. They really work. And they look GREAT! Available in many arts-n-crafts stores including Michaels and Hobby Lobby. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

How small can we go? At (almost) 1:6 scale, you can fit quite a lot of these tiny clothespins in just one hand. And yes, they’re made of real wood, real metal, and they really work. And they look GREAT! Available now in many arts-n-crafts stores including Michaels and Hobby Lobby. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Another quick heads-up for all you customizers of 1:6 scale dioramas out there. Intrepid TJR Field Reporter, James Long, wrote in to us today with some interesting intel and pics of, well, a rather ordinary household item. But what makes this particular “sighting” of interest to us (of course), is that the items in question are in 1:6 scale. And as we all know, customizers of 1:6 scale don’t care WHAT an item is; if it’s in 1:6 scale—we’re DEFINITELY interested!

In this closeup of the product recently found in Michael's, you can see that you'll receive 6 full-sized clothespins (give those to your children) as well as

In this closeup of the product Long found recently in Michael’s, you can see that you’ll receive 6 full-sized “glittery” clothespins (give those away to your kids) and 24 of the miniature (no glitter) versions in black, purple, orange and OD green. Keep those for your “Laundry Adventurer!” (Photo: James Long)

As you can tell by looking at these pictures, in this specific case, the items in question are—hold onto something—tiny wooden clothespins! Yes, we’re about to enter the exciting world of GIjOE doing his weekly laundry. What? You didn’t think his clothes washed themselves, did you? Perhaps if we called Joe a “Laundry Adventurer” or labeled his next mission “The Search for the Lost Socks,” it’d help make this product announcement a little more exciting. According to Long:

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“My wife and I were at Michael’s yesterday, and we spotted something that might make a good addition to your next article on 1:6 scale items and be useful as props for Joe dioramas—clothes pins! Okay, they’re actually just slightly larger than 1:6 scale, but they’re close enough that most people won’t complain. They come with some larger clothespins that aren’t of much use for Joe, but for $1.99 on clearance, I wasn’t going to argue!

It’s a Michael’s exclusive item (according to the back of the packaging) and as you can see in the attached photo (shown below, ed.), they work quite well. Yes, even GIjOE now has the drudgery of doing his laundry. Enjoy!” —James Long

James Long's "Laundry Adventurer" pins up some of his laundry at AT headquarters using his new clothespins. Go, JOE! What a hero! (Photo: James Long)

How’s it Hanging, Joe? James Long’s AT “Laundry Adventurer” pins up some of his laundry recently using the new clothespins Long found at Michaels. What a hero! (Photo: James Long)

Bottom Line: In the photo shown above, Joe’s new miniature clothespins appear to be in accurate 1:6 scale. And the fact that they’re not made of stiff (pink) plastic and that they’re fully functional makes them even more appealing to 1:6 scalers and diorama builders who wish to recreate this exciting…uh…dangerous(?)…looking scene. Anyway, Happy Hunting!

Joe prepares his new EOD robot for use in searching suspicious cars and packages. (Photo: Sean Huxter)

Joe’s EOD robot. (Photo: Sean Huxter) Click to enlarge.

WIN A FREE E.O.D ROBOT!

Here’s How: In this exciting TJR “Bonus Contest,” be the first person to guess EXACTLY how many of the 1:6 scale clothespins are being held in the hand in the photo at the top of this article and you’ll win the FREE 1:6 scale EOD Robot shown at right (GIjOE figure not included).

To enter, simply leave a comment to this article, here on The Joe Report, and when the first correct answer appears, we’ll announce the winner. Please limit yourself to one entry per day. If you don’t hear from us via email, feel free to try again the next day until a winner is named.

International fans are also welcome to participate. The (1) prize will be shipped to the (1) lucky winner completely free of charge. Best of luck to all. Ready? Go!!!!!!

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Cool Flea Market Find: Breyer’s “Molly the Mule”

It's easy to imagine Joe or Johnny West getting into a heated tug-of-war with a decidedly defiant

Joe tries to calm Molly down— It’s easy to imagine Joe (or Johnny West) getting into a heated tug-of-war with a decidedly defiant “Molly the Mule” from Breyer. Imagine the possibilities! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The original

This closeup of another original “Molly the Mule” shows it came in a basic brown and black color scheme. Excellent paint job! (Photo: kismetkennel)

Get UP, Girl! Just a quick heads up to notify you about a cool scale animal discovery made this past weekend at the 3rd Sunday flea market located in Bloomington, IL. As fans of 1:6 scale already know, Breyer horses, despite all of their wonderful qualities, are a tad undersized for most of our purposes at 1:6 scale. They’re actually typically sculpted at about 1:10 scale or so, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. Occasionally, the company puts out creations that can easily “blur the line” of acceptability between the two scale universes and look perfectly appropriate when posed alongside GIjOEs or Johnny West figures. For example—“Molly the Mule!”

This wonderfully painted blond version of Molly was recently spied over on ebay. (Photo: ebay)

This wonderfully painted blond version of Molly was recently spied over on ebay. (Photo: ebay)

Molly is a superbly sculpted and uniquely posed, “balking” beast of burden. It requires very little imagination to accept her use at 1:6 scale. If you don’t know much about mules or donkeys, you should know they come in a wide range of sizes (and colors) and are used for a variety of tasks. The smaller breeds were—and still are—used to pull children’s wagons and serve as canyon and/or mountain-climbing pack animals. Medium-sized mules (like ol’ Molly, here) are most often seen pulling fruit-n-vegetable vendor’s carts or farm plows. The largest mule breeds are typically harnessed together into teams for pulling heavily laden wagons. To me, Molly seems like a dead-ringer for those medium-sized breeds. That makes her appropriate for use in a wide variety of dioramas, all the way from the Old West to WWII European villages. YES!

This spotted version was found for sale online, still in its original box. Superb! (Photo: ebay)

This spotted version of “Molly” was found for sale online in its original box.  (Photo: ebay)

Bottom Line: My slightly nicked Molly the Mule will require a little TLC, but once restored, she will be a wonderful addition to my growing collection of diorama-ready animals. I only paid $5 at the flea market for her, but when I later researched Molly online, I found you can still pick up new ones on ebay and elsewhere for between $25 and $200 (depending on its year and version). Molly was apparently very popular, because she’s been remade in many different colors and patterns. You’ll have a wide choice depending on your preferences (and budget). I can’t wait to touch up my own brown-n-black Molly and add some real leather reins and rigging to her as well. Happy Hunting!

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