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

  1. Savage21 says:

    Sweet! Those are some good tips. I know I gotta do some of these. I also print and cut out my own accessories

  2. kneonknight says:

    That’s the way to do it! Watch and learn, folks.

    This is the ultimate result of manufacturers putting less into a package and expecting to get the same profit or more than they did in the previous year. A “sticker shock rebellion” is exactly what it is, and unfortunately the company that should be the leader of the 1/6 scale market seems either unwilling or unable to produce decent figures at an acceptable price. Regular readers of the Joe Report have seen my rants and tirades on this subject, multiple times, and I’m going to spare everyone this time around. Suffice to say that I have a love/hate relationship with a certain company in Rhode Island and want to have 30 minutes alone with their marketing executives…nothing too severe, just a friendly little “wall to wall” chat to show them the error of their ways and how to improve both sales and customer relations. I am fairly certain that the phrases “razor-and-blades” and “listen to your customers” would feature prominently.

    That aside, I have come to rely on my 5 year old daughter to point out a lot of inexpensive accessories and gear that can be repurposed very easily for our growing collections. At her prompting, I recently spent about $3.00 in quarters in one of those ‘gumball’ type machines that have the little doodads in the plastic capsules, and ended up with 8 assorted pistols and knives, a camera, a hairdryer, and 2 little robots(?) that look like a cross between Gundam and Power Rangers. A quick snip with a pair of clippers to remove the ring attaching them to their keychains, and voila! A bunch of stuff for customs, plus the plastic capsules which have many 1/6 scale applications (helmets, visors, equipment covers, radomes, lampshades…) for way under the cost of a set of 3 or 4 handguns from one of the major manufacturers.

    In closing, I think the future of the ‘real’ G.I. Joe is going to be in the hands of the collectors and customizers that have known and loved him for the past half century, and not some uppity MBAs in a boardroom that wouldn’t know a collectible if it bled to death on their coffee table. As more and more people discover the 3D Printing/Rapid Prototyping technology, or how to cast their own pieces from resin, metal and urethane, there is going to be less and less demand for overpriced, fragile, art pieces in limited editions of 5,286,353, 042 worldwide at $1000.00 apiece (end hyperbole). Then, and only then, will the manufacturers wake up and realize that the vast majority of collectors are NOT ridiculously wealthy, and that a drastic change in their thinking is required if they want to survive.

    • So well said! I couldn’t agree more. And your gumball machine story…D’oh! Now I have to start looking at those things again. I love your ideas! Thanks for your intel as always, Kent!

  3. kneonknight says:

    Thanks, Mark. It’s good to know I’m not raving in a vacuum. By the way, I have our friend Wayne Faucher to thank for some of the uses for the plastic capsules. I was previously just using them for lampshades and terrariums for my daughter’s doll house.

  4. Gary says:

    I just love the creativity! It gives me some awesome ideas for customs!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  5. “Think in Scale” I’ve been doing and saying that for years. Things aren’t always what they appear to be, question is what can they be in 1:6?

    Add a bit of imagination and voila!

  6. momen says:

    Looking to sell my 1/6th scale WWII collection ! its very large one ! troops, vehicles N more ! if anyone is interested ?

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