We begin this article by admitting that it’s impossible to confirm this event holds any “official” world’s record. For such certification, there needs to be independent verification from impartial observers along with indisputable photographic proof. In this case, we have the photographic proof, but the only witness to this particular amazing feat was the creator himself.
Nonetheless, it is quite safe to assume that there’s no similar record of anyone placing such a large number of unaided, free-standing 12-inch GIjOE and Action Man figures in one room. No exact count was made, but the simultaneous standing of approximately 650 12-inch figures by Didier Crahay, without the use of artificial support aids such as figure stands, wires, glues, etc., undoubtedly sets a very high-precedent for other collectors who may try to recreate such a feat in the future.
Of course, 1:6 scale GIjOEs can easily stand unaided on their own, even for years at a time. There are thousands of dusty Joes, patiently “standing guard” on their collector’s shelves throughout the world that can attest to this fact. What makes THIS feat remarkable however, is the large number of figures and the close proximity in which the figures are standing (practically shoulder to shoulder).
Such a massive, unaided standing display is VERY difficult to achieve. Stories of “shelf diving” GIjOEs are commonplace in every household. Whether or not a figure remains upright or dives head-first to the floor boils down to factors such as the strength of internal elastic, tensity of ankle and knee joints and the weight of accessories strapped onto its back.
Typically, the heavier and older the figure, the more likely it will be falling down—and sooner rather than later. Then, depending on the direction of its fall, the toppling of any one figure can easily affect many others standing nearby. The resulting “domino effect” makes standing Joes shoulder-to-shoulder a challenging test of the collector’s patience and balancing skills. Didier experienced these difficulties first hand while working to set up his 650-figure photo-op. Here’s his account…
“The story of the ‘all together’ photo shoot is pretty short. I don’t have enough patience to photograph all my figures individually. So the idea came to me to have them all standing up in one room. That way, I could just take one picture. But I’ll never, EVER set them up like this again. When one falls over, the resulting domino effect is something horrible. Some of them fell a couple of times in the beginning. Others fell 5 times! That made me very nervous.
The solution I found was to set them up in groups of 25-30 figures and then place a ‘steady box’ in front of the group to help prevent them from knocking down others. Then I would set up another group of 25-30 figures on the other side of the box, and so on. That way, any domino effect couldn’t contaminate more than 30 figures at a time. When everything was in place, I carefully removed the boxes to take the photos. That’s the reason why you can see gaps in the group from place to place.
It took me 2 complete afternoons to get them all to stand up. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to use an empty apartment in my neighborhood to set up this display. It would have been impossible to do in my house with my wife and 2 boys walking around. To accomplish this, I needed solitude and CALM. When I was done, there were approximately 650 figures standing—all at the same time!”
After I saw these amazing pictures, I tracked Didier down. Turns out he lives in Belgium, about 60 kilometers from Bastogne. When I contacted him, he was quick to grant approval for this article, although he hoped that readers of The Joe Report understood that this was not his “normal” way of displaying his collection. In fact, he readily admitted that he still PLAYS with his collection. Here’s what he told me…
“I have to say that I would be disappointed if everyone thought this sort of display was normal for me, because it is not. This isn’t the way I prefer to play with my figures. When I play, I enjoy creating short photo stories or “scenarios” with the figures, just like when I was a kid. But I can understand why these ‘free-standing’ photos have impressed those who have seen them. After I’d finished setting them all up, I felt that one picture wasn’t enough… so I took MANY more!”
Bottom Line: Didier’s collection looks amazing and his “unofficial” photographic record of 650 unaided standing figures will surely “stand” for many years to come. Perhaps someday, a worthy challenger will come along and try his (or her) hand at besting his feat. If they do, we hope they have their attempt independently verified and photographed. After all—Guinness may be watching!