“The Karma of Joe” Prompts Acts of Generosity From Thousands of G.I. Joe Fans and Collectors

There were 10 distinctive versions of the "G.I. Love Joes!" buttons which were handed out free to 100 lucky attendees at the recent Joelanta 2103 show in Atlanta, GA. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“Joe Karma” in action: 100 grateful fans received free “G.I. LOVE JOES!” buttons at Joelanta 2013, courtesy of Patches of Pride. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“The Karma of Joe” is a very real force for GOOD that grows stronger every year.

In a superb example of "Joe Karma," GIjOE fan and collector, David Howard, preproduces vintage packaging in limited quantites and offers them at cost to fellow fans in a very generous effort to, as he says, "give something back to the GIjOE community." (Photo: Mark Otnes)

In another generous example of “Joe Karma,” GIjOE collector, David Howard, reproduces vintage packaging and offers it at cost to fellow fans in an effort, as he said, “to give something back to the GIjOE community.” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

GIjOE collecting has evolved quite dramatically over the last four decades. In its earliest phase of the 1980s, collectors and fans were left largely on their own; forced to rely on their individual wits and wherefores in order to gather new items for their nascent collections.

Most had no clue that there were even any other fans out there pursuing this peculiar little hobby. There was no internet. No ebay. No online forums or newsgroups. The only reliable sources of vintage 12″ figures were print publications like Toy Shop Magazine (remember those?), repeated trips to antique stores, flea markets and neighborhood garage sales, or searching through relative’s attics in hopes of discovering something that had been “left behind” from someone’s childhood.

There were no GIjOE clubs. No conventions. No online networks of fans brimming with the wisdom of thousands of like-minded collectors with whom you could share questions, discoveries and observations. In those early years, “Joeheads” were lonely—and disconnected. Fortunately, Things Change!

USO Logo

Charitable organizations such as the USO have benefited from generous GIjOE fans and “Joe Karma” over the years. (Graphic: USO)

With the introduction of the internet in the 1990s, the GIjOE hobby began to evolve. Suddenly, fans discovered they weren’t alone. Online forums and websites proliferated. The “loner” mentality of many collectors began to fade. New friendships were forged online and a community “Spirit of GIjOE” took root. THIS…was the beginning of what fans now affectionately call, “Joe Karma.”

“Joe Karma,” simply put, is ANY act of generosity given by a GIjOE fan to another person or organization. The recipient of the “karma” doesn’t have to know ANYTHING about GIjOE. In fact, over the years, acts of Joe Karma have spread out to include support for charities such as the USO, the Joelanta beneficiary Cody Lane Memorial Toy and Diorama Museum, the USMC’s Toys For Tots and many others. Over in the old Sandbox forum, collector “BDK” had this to say about Joe Karma:

“I am only repaying all the great ‘boxers who helped me when I first came to this wonderful place we call ‘The Sandbox.’ And helping each other is what it’s all about. I hope that we can hold firm to the true meaning of ‘Good Joe Karma’ and hang tough during the bad times. Fortunately, our good times FAR outnumber the bad.”

Many GIjOE fans are also Marine Corps veterans who heartily support the annual "Toys for Toys" drive. (Graphic: USMC)

Many GIjOE fans are also Marine Corps veterans who heartily support the annual “Toys for Toys” drive with donations of new, NRFB GIjOEs. Oohrah! (Graphic: USMC)

Collector-to-collector Joe Karma goes largely unheralded on a daily basis, and includes such selfless acts as throwing in extra items with orders or trades, helping out by hosting GIjOE club meetings, assisting and setting up dioramas for local events at VFWs and/or museums, giving out “freebies” at shows, and much more. If you’ve committed ANY such act of Joe Karma, we’re all the better for your generosity.

In conclusion, let’s take a brief look back at the earliest days of Joe Karma when renowned GIjOE collector and veteran Sandboxer, Thor Sadler (son of celebrity SSgt Barry Sadler, of “The Ballad of the Green Berets” fame), penned a timeless essay entitled, “A Story of Joe Karma” (edited for length):

GIjOE fan and collector, Thor Sadler, hoisted high by his father, famed US Army Green Beret SSgt, Barry Sadler. (Photo: albertarose.org)

“To all the Sandboxers who’ve come and gone, I dedicate this post to ‘Joe-Karma.’ It’s a hundred degrees plus with the heat index today. No sign of Winter, nor even Fall as I look out my window.

There’s no merry music playing on the radio. But news of death and tragedy abounds.

There’s not a tree in my house with lights or objects that glitter. No word from a preacher about a child being born. It is not Christmas.

But there in my foyer, are several boxes full of LOVE and GOOD WILL, all destined for children I know only by their names, living in nations all around the world.

Who are these children? I’ll tell you…they’re our kindred spirits. They’re YOU. They’re me. They’re all the children we offer a small portion of our wealth to, so that THEY too, may know the JOY—of our kindred toy…G.I. Joe.” —Thor

Bottom Line: Why do so many GIjOE fans participate and believe in the power of “Joe Karma?” Well, we can’t speak for all of them, but we have to believe it’s because Joeheads are predominantly a bunch of thoughtful, generous souls. We enjoy spreading the good will of GIjOE whenever and wherever we can. “Joe Karma” is a very real force. And it’s alive and well! Go, JOE!.


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