Monthly Archives: May 2013

Fans Learn to Collect 1:6 Scale “On The Cheap”

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Tony Carducci’s persistence and tenacity often pays off big time. Here, he sets a GIjOE doctor figure inside the garage sale Barbie van he found (just $10) and then customized into an Adventure Team Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV). Outstanding! And cheap. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Tony said he found this perfect, 1:6 scale “Thor’s Hammer” keychain ($6) at a local grocery store coinciding with the release of The Avengers movie. Wow! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“He who spends less, can buy MORE!”

At first reading, the quote above may seem contradictory or counter-intuitive. But as many fans of 1:6 scale are finding out, it’s actually true. While Hasbro’s offerings dwindle and higher-end alternatives from Sideshow and Hot Toys continue to climb higher in price, a growing number of collectors have begun looking for inexpensive ways to satisfy their 1:6 appetites. That means spending less on each individual item to get MORE.

And let’s face it. Joeheads love everything in 1:6 scale. It’s almost like an addiction. We’re always on the lookout for new figures, uniforms or accessories. Every so often, we pick up a new vehicle; maybe even an extra one just for customizing. But no matter what the size or scope of a collection, the “thrill of the hunt” for 1:6 scale never seems to go away.

“I would NEVER pay that much!”

Over the years, a 1:6 “sticker shock rebellion” had begun to squeeze its way into the 1:6 hobby. To illustrate the effects of this “rebellion,” we interviewed a leading proponent of the growing “Spend less to get MORE” crowd; big-time Adventure Team fan, Tony Carducci, of Colona, Illinois. After a long day repairing electric guitars and providing music lessons to wannabe rockers, Tony enjoys nothing more than relaxing at home with his extensive 1:6 scale action figure collection.

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Each shelf in Tony Carducci’s Joe Room is filled to capacity with a wide variety of 1:6 scale action figures. And dig that Adventure Team Yellow wall paint. Cool! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Tony found these 1:6 scale refrigerator magnets at his local Jewel-Osco grocery store. Each is a superb miniature sack (made of real paper) full of a variety of items. Get this: They were only $1 each! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

But, as with many collectors, adequate display space for his growing collection quickly became a problem. Undeterred, the “hands-on” and cost-conscious Carducci decided to add on to his home. Predictably, he chose to forgo hiring expensive contractors and in little over a year, with the able assistance of his family, he had completed a new master bedroom, bathroom and (best of all) expanded his basement area for an all-new “Joe Room!”

“Guess How Much I Paid For THIS?”

Tony readily admits he doesn’t like spending money. And the “fiscally responsible” (or restrictive) attitude he and other fans share carries over into his GIjOE-collecting hobby as well. According to Carducci:

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“I’m always keeping my eyes open for 1:6 scale stuff. And no, I don’t like to spend any more money on it than I have to. That’s why I regularly haunt places like Goodwill and local thrift stores, garage sales and even ebay. Fortunately (for me), for some reason, here in Colona there’s always a lot of great GIjOE-related stuff to be found. You just have to get out and look for it!”

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Happily ensconced in his new Joe Room, Tony Carducci enjoys working with a variety of 1:6 scale miniatures to create custom figures for use in his “Bob Diablo” photo-comics. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Here’s a nice closeup of one of Tony’s “City Survival” backpacks that come filled with chewing gum and are still sold at most supermarkets for just $2. What a great value! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

All of that time scrounging for 1:6 deals has clearly paid off for Carducci, who’s become the pride of his local division: The Central Illinois GIjOE Collector’s Club (CIGCC), At each club meeting, Tony simultaneously amazes and inspires with reports of recent low-cost acquisitions, and then advises others how they can do the same. According to one CIGCC member:

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“Every…single…time…we see Tony at a GIjOE club meeting, he’ll have a story to tell of some fantastic ‘find’ he picked up at a garage sale or thrift store. 1:6 scale vehicles for $1. A dozen Joes for $10. I mean, the guy hardly spends ANYTHING and yet he has more in his collection than 2 or 3 of us put together. On his days off, Tony’s always out there, looking for Joes and anything else he can find in 1:6 scale. Just look at his amazing collection. The guy is a Class-A, hardcore SCROUNGER!”

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Shelves groan under the weight of Carducci’s superb collection. But don’t ask how LITTLE he spent on it all. You wouldn’t believe it if he told you. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Here are some more “Tips from Tony” regarding recent 1:6 scale bargains:

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How about some cool, miniature boxes for your Joe’s “Joe Room?” These 1:6 scale superhero boxes were sold in bulk during Halloween and filled with candy. Dump out the candy and you have some killer props for a diorama. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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How about a 1:6 scale Monopoly game wit 3-D dice, card piles, houses and hotels? Just $2 at Walmart in their scrap-booking section. Superb “bang for the buck!” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Your Joes don’t like Monopoly? How about LIFE? Same price. Same place. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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There’s also Scrabble ($2, Walmart), complete with tiny tiles and racks. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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One of Tony’s greatest “on the cheap” achievements is a Barbie van that he customized and converted to a Mobile Adventure Team Satellite Tracking Station Vehicle (or MATSTSV), complete with backlit radar screens, flip down laptop console, computers and professional waterslide decal graphics provided by Patches of Pride. Carducci found the vehicle at a garage sale and traded for the PoP decals, keeping his final total cost for this amazing custom to only about $15. WOW. Fantastic job, Tony! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Don’t forget to look for these tiny erasers at Target and Walmart ($1). This milk jug is spot-on PERFECT at 1:6 scale. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bottom Line: To look at his collection, one would think Tony had spent a fortune amassing it all. But in reality, the truth is quite the opposite. His tenacity and dogged determination to save a buck has clearly paid off for him BIG time as a GIjOE collector and provides a shining example for the rest of us on how to go forward during these tough economic times. Remember: “Collecting on the Cheap” doesn’t mean collecting poor quality items. It means saving on each and every purchase—to buy MORE tomorrow!

(Editor’s Note: Inspired by Tony’s success, we recently discovered even MORE 1:6 scale bargain items which we’ll share with you in an upcoming article soon.)

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New “Flying Car” Prototypes Have Potential to Revolutionize GIjOE’s Personal Transportation

Great for land AND air exploration, this yellow-n-black RC version of a new flying car practically SCREAMS “Adventure Team.” Its unique propellers-in-the-wheels design is a significant technological leap forward. A 1:1 scale prototype is now being constructed. (Photo: Jalopnik)

Holy, Blade Runner!

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Technology has come a long way since the 1970s and the simplicity of the Adventure Team’s “Skyhawk” hang glider. (Photo: Hasbro)

I was sitting in my opulent office in the Patches of Pride International Headquarters Building the other day (feet propped up, natch) and began to daydream about what could/should be the next exciting addition to GIjOE’s 1:6 scale motor pool. Over the years, collectors have been fortunate to amass quite an array of ground-based vehicles, but other than a space capsule, Panther Jet, Skyhawk (hang glider) and a couple of helicopters, our favorite action hero hasn’t seen a significant technological upgrade to his aircraft hangar for quite a while.

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Screenshot from the opening credits of the 1960s cartoon, The Jetsons. (Photo: Hanna-Barbara)

So then it hit me…how about a Flying Car? Ever since The Jetsons debuted on TV back in the 1960s, the idea of everyone riding around in flying cars has remained a big part of an eagerly anticipated high-tech future. Imagine simply punching in a destination (like your GPS), and sitting in comfort while it gently lifts you up, hovers, and flies you safely to your destination. As George Jetson would say:

Jane!  Stop this crazy thing!

Optimistically, I perused worldwide news sources and was pleasantly surprised by my findings. While you still can’t go down to your local dealer and buy a flying car (yet), it appears that the reality of the requisite technologies are closer than ever before. If you have a few minutes, I think you’ll enjoy viewing these 3 short flying car videos. In the first, an inventor demonstrates the RC version of his all-new flying car. Can an Adventure Team version be far behind?

The second video (below) is a scene from a Top Gear episode. ‘Nuff said. Let it be a surprise!

This final video is a low-tech, and sobering look at why there are still no flying cars—yet. Enjoy!

Adventure Team Fan Creates His Own Toys Using 3-D Printing Technology; Produces 1/18th Scale Mobile Support Vehicle & “Mummy’s Tomb” ATV

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David Pruitt’s groundbreaking custom 1:18 scale Mobile Support Vehicle is the first of its type produced by a GIjOE fan using 3-D printing technology. The one-of-a-kind (so far) MSV features a detachable forward cab, removable clear windshield, rolling wheels, hollow trailer, raising rear hatch, retractable control panel, maps and chairs—just like its 1:6 scale predecessor. Outstanding! (Photo: David Pruitt)

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GIjOE fan, collector and customizer, David Pruitt, a pioneer in the use of 3-D printing, poses with some of his recent creations. (Photo: David Pruitt)

“Who needs Hasbro?”

Prior to 2013, such brash talk would have seemed almost sacrilegious coming out of the mouth of a devoted GIjOE fan. But not any longer. As of this month, David Pruitt, a self-professed, longtime fan of the Adventure Team, can back up those challenging words with a hard, physical reality—he makes his OWN custom toys! According to Pruitt:

After growing up with Adventure Team as a kid, I was blown away with the GIjOE Collector’s Club releases of the 3 3/4 Adventurers. Naturally, I had to have some retro vehicles to go with those extremely cool figures, so I decided to build my own!”

Pruitt, a professional design engineer from Jonesboro, Arkansas, has been making headlines all over the internet since revealing his creation of superb 1:18 scale replicas of vintage GIjOE vehicles. Of course, talented individuals around the world have been making their own toys for years, all by hand, without the aid of a Hasbro or Mattel (See: Kampfgruppe Von Abt). So what makes David’s achievements so unique? Let’s take a closer look…

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Pruitt’s 1:18 scale 6×6 ATV works perfectly with his diminutive Adventure Team. (Photo: David Pruitt)

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Using measurements taken from his 1:6 scale MSV, Pruitt produced this early CAD rendering (viewable from all angles) and scaled it down to 1:18 scale, providing the data required by the 3-D printer. (Artwork: David Pruitt)

“Simply AMAZING!”

What makes Pruitt’s custom creations so absolutely extraordinary is not that they were made, but how they were made. By combining his knowledge of 3-D CAD software and the capabilities of 3-D printing (3DP), David has shown fans, collectors and other customizers around the world, that professional-level toy production is now within reach of the “average Joe.” Prices of 3-D printers continue to fall, and 3-D printing services will soon become commonplace at quick-print shops such as Kinkos. This is BIG, folks. Hold on to your pith helmets!

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Pruitt’s CAD drawing of the ATV’s main body is ready for production by a 3-D printer. (Art: David Pruitt)

How Does 3-D Printing Work?

Simply put, 3-dimensional objects can now be produced in a variety of materials (including metals and plastics) based upon the specifications set forth in a 3-D CAD drawing created on a computer. Such technology has been in use by major toy companies and manufacturers for years, primarily to create prototypes of their own products. But recently, “desktop” 3-D printers have come down in price to such a point that home users are beginning to get interested—VERY interested. Pruitt further explains the process this way:

“Today’s 3-D printer moves in x and y directions and prints layer over layer to build up the z part (height). The spooled ABS material feeds into the printing tip similar to a hot-melt glue gun. All in all, it’s a much less technical way of creating a 3-D part than the older, more labor-intensive methods.”

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The various parts of Pruitt’s 1:18 scale MSV were “printed” in gray plastic. Here they are prior to the finishing steps of sanding, painting and final assembly. (Photo: David Pruitt)

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After “printing,” new parts (like this ATV body) can be sanded, primed and painted any color. Hmm…Maybe yellow. What do you guys think? (Photo: David Pruitt)

Why “3DP” is Great News for Joeheads

Imagine being able to design and produce your own spare parts and accessories— on demand—out of solid plastic—without ever touching a sheet of styrene, a jar of resin or a putty knife. Imagine being able to simply hit “PRINT” on your computer’s keyboard and a much-desired part “magically” appears. Such an exciting concept has long been a fantasy for many.

And why not? Who wouldn’t want to replace a missing Crash Crew Truck handrail, broken Sea Sled spear gun or other rare vintage part? We clearly can’t rely on Hasbro. There’s simply not enough profit in it for them to bother.

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After adding some yellow paint, the MSV is starting to look VERY familiar. (Photo: David Pruitt)

What Else Should We Know?

The only real “hang-ups” with 3DP are cost and time. Regardless of  what you’re planning to do with them, these machines can be both expensive and slow. According to Pruitt:

3-D printers range in cost from thousands of dollars to as little as $500 (HERE). As an example, all of the parts for my MSV were printed at one time and took about 17 hours to complete. Materials-wise, 17 cubic inches of ABS spooled extrusion material were used, at a total cost of around $70. The costs and time required depend entirely on what you’re making.”

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Almost done! This closeup of Pruitt’s new 3DP ATV shows it is only lacking some crane rope, a hook and the two little steering pegs. Outstanding work! (Photo: David Pruitt)

New 3-D printing technology reminds many of an early version of the the famous "replicator" devices shown on episodes of Star Trek. Both use a process called "additive manufacturing" (AM) to create 3-dimensional objects, seemingly from thin air! (Photo: Paramount)

New 3-D printing technology reminds many of an early version of the famous “replicator” devices shown on episodes of Star Trek. Both use a process called “additive manufacturing” (AM) to create 3-dimensional objects, seemingly from thin air! (Photo: Paramount)

“This All Seems…Strangely Familiar.”

It should! Remember the “replicators” from TV’s Star Trek? The computerized, almost magical devices that seemed like they could make almost anything out of thin air? Today’s 3-D printing is very similar. Here’s how Wikipedia describes the Star Trek replicator:

“A replicator works by rearranging subatomic particles, which are abundant everywhere in the universe, to form molecules and arrange those molecules to form the object. For example, to create a pork chop, the replicator would first form atoms of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, etc., then arrange them into amino acids, proteins, and cells, and assemble the particles into the form of a pork chop.”

Although it’s unlikely GIjOE fans will be creating pork chops with 3-D printers anytime soon, it’s a sure bet they’ll be following in the footsteps of 3DP pioneers such as Pruitt and making their own spare parts, accessories and vehicles.

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Closeup side view of Pruitt’s MSV. The figures fit perfectly! (Photo: David Pruitt)

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Pruitt’s utilized 3DP to create a prototype of Target’s new all-plastic shopping cart. The same CAD drawings could easily be printed at 1:6 or 1:18 scale. How about a Target store diorama? Maybe a mock-up of a new “Joe Aisle?” (Photo: Target)

More 3DP Intel from David Pruitt

We asked Pruitt to elaborate on his experiences with 3DP. No surprisingly, he uses the versatile technology in his professional life as well. Here’s what he had to say:

“I’m an engineer by trade and my big claim to fame career-wise was co-designing and developing a new all-plastic shopping cart for Target back in 2005-6. After making the parts with a 3-D printer, we glued it all together to make the frame, basket, handle, etc.

Then, we built large plexiglass boxes and hung the assembled parts inside the boxes with wire. Next, we filled the boxes with a clear liquid silicone. After the silicone had set, we took the box sides off and cut everything into two pieces.

Finally, we removed the original cart parts and put the two silicone mold halves back together so as to cast solid urethane parts. Wa-la! A full-scale shopping cart prototype. You can build just about anything you want if you can afford the materials!”

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With each added detail, Pruitt’s amazing 1:18 scale MSV nears completion. (Photo: David Pruitt)

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Yes, the tires roll. Yes, the bubble is clear plastic. YES, THIS TOY IS TERRIFIC! (Photo: David Pruitt)

When asked if he had any future plans for producing his own line of vehicles or products, Pruitt optimistically replied:

I’m working on getting my own printer and thinking about building and painting and selling these. I still have a few steps to go. The coolest aspect of 3-D printing is that you can design and make anything you can think of. Watch out Hasbro! Now we can make ANY toy we want!”

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This closeup of the rear section of the MSV reveals a wealth of added details including decals, maps and a retractable control panel. WOW! (Photo: David Pruitt)

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David later added a rooftop storage rack, spare tires and equipment crate! (Photo: David Pruitt)

“Hey, You. No Cutting in Line!

Potential customers for Pruitt’s amazing creations have already begun queuing up on various online forums. One such eager fan, “GIJOEY,” wrote in on the Hisstank website to say:

“I know this comment is going to sound over the top, but I just cried happy tears to see a toy that I owned in the past come to life again in the scale that I now love. Thank you, David, for making a middle-aged man get excited like he was 10 years old again. I cannot wait to see you do more pieces from this era. You are a true artist!”

Bottom Line: Clearly a leader in the use of 3-D printing by GIjOE collectors, David has proven that fans no longer have to rely on the whims and unpredictable corporate decisions of Hasbro or any other toy company. As “Cobra Blue” so eloquently summed it up over on Hisstank:

“David Pruitt is a pioneer. I predicted in another forum that this was where we were headed with technology, and that sooner or later, this was how we were going to get updated or better versions of RAH vehicles in the future. Someone on this forum said ‘it is still a VERY long way from replacing the volume injection molding.’ Well, if ‘very long way’ means four months, then I guess that prediction is true. I read an article on MakerBot that they have a desktop 3-D Printer which will SCAN an object and then print it. This is exciting!”
Pruitt's MSV is finished and loaded to go on its first mission. Note the last-minute addition of some roof-mounted flood-lights. Good luck, men! Go, JOE! (Photo: David Pruitt)

Pruitt’s MSV is finished and ready for its first mission. Note the last-minute addition of a bank of 4 roof-mounted flood-lights. This Adventure Team is ready for ANYTHING. Go, JOE! (Photo: David Pruitt)

TJR’s Video Pick of the Week #13: “TV’s Original Batmobile Sells at Auction for $4.2 Million!”

While collectors and fans of 1:6 scale continue to wait patiently for the arrival of Hot Toys’ new 1:6 scale ’60s Batmobile, we thought you would enjoy seeing the real thing selling at a recent auction featuring custom car guru George Barris and his one and only “Number 1 Batmobile.” As they say in the video, the sale of this iconic American custom car is “truly historic.” Watch as the excitement grows, and the bids slowly creep up to its final selling price of a WHOPPING $4.2 million dollars

Newly released photos of the upcoming 1:6 scale Batmobile by Hot Toys:

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It was standing room only at a recent Comic Con in San Diego, as fans jostled for a glimpse of the upcoming 1:6 scale Batmobile by Hot Toys. (Photo: Bat-Blog)

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A new closeup of the rear end reveals outstanding details. Check out those drag chutes! (Photo: Bat-Blog)

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An interesting pic from a recent Comic Con in Hong Kong shows the Batmobile displayed behind glass with video monitors playing old episodes of the show. Has there ever been such a highly anticipated 1:6 scale vehicle? Holy, Bat-Mania! (Photo: Ivan)