Since its introduction, GIjOE has always been more than just a toy. The beloved action figure seems to have an instant and “magical” effect, encouraging endless hours of interactive play between friends and family members. Robert Browning, a retail sales manager from Knoxville, Tennessee, brought his two sons along to Joelanta this year, hoping that the three of them would “create some memories together” during the big 2-day event. And so they did!
From the show’s earliest moments, the three were clearly happy to be working and spending time together. At the “Lobby Swap,” Robert had staked out a small area to sell some of his extras. His sons were active and vital participants, engaging customers directly and offering items for sale. Soon, the two boys began moving around the lobby area to better “work the crowd” on their own, offering passersby free 1:6 pistols (lugers) as an incentive. Whether they actually sold very much seemed to be of secondary importance to their father, however, as Robert told me, “Their being here is what it’s all about. Father-son bonding time like this is really so important.”
Robert’s been a GIjOE fan and collector for over 15 years now. He remembers playing GIjOEs with his uncle as a kid and enjoys “carrying that tradition through” today with his sons. Later that evening, as the impromptu parachute toss began, he would get his chance to do so again.
For about 30 minutes, fans of all ages raced up and down 15 floors to toss and retrieve their parachute Joes and Action Men. There were many other children in attendance that evening and all clearly enjoyed watching the figures slowly drifting back down to the lobby and trying to catch them. The Browning family was no exception as Gus and Ben enthusiastically enjoyed every moment.
Sunday proved almost overwhelming with all the great toys, dioramas and customs on display. It was great to see Robert and his sons so excited about the figures and other items they were picking through. The possibilities seemed endless and Robert’s smile told the whole story as he watched his sons eyes growing wider with each new discovery. But there was one BIG surprise to come…
Toward the end of the show, winners of the various contests were being announced. The Browning trio had entered a custom figure of “The Shadow” and as it turned out, they had won FIRST PLACE! The boys eagerly showed me their prize, an expensive Sideshow Cobra Ninja figure. SWEET. Congratulations, Gus and Ben. Thanks to your dad Robert, you too, have discovered the “Magic” of GIjOE!