Monthly Archives: July 2013

It Happened Again! Relative Finds and Returns 7 Boxes of Childhood G.I. Joes to Original Owner

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Not just one, mind you, but FOUR minty, 1960s 5-Star Jeeps were recently returned to their original owner, Tim Hubbell of Ohio, after being stored in an attic for over 40 years. (Photo: Tim Hubbell)

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Administrative Pastor Tim Hubbell (OH), was recently reunited with his original childhood collection of 1960s-70s GIjOEs. (Photo: Tim Hubbell)

“I’m so excited to get started! My sister recently gave me 10 boxes of my childhood toys that were in storage and I thought long gone. They were full of my 1960s and ’70s GIjOEs and plastic army men! What a treat and a blast from the past!” —Tim Hubbell

The “Holy Grail” for GIjOE Collectors

For GIjOE fans and collectors, the most elusive and highly prized “Holy Grail” of our hobby is being reunited with one’s own childhood GIjOEs. Long ago, when we were children, they were our most valued possessions. But as we became teenagers, most of us shortsightedly sold, or simply threw them away. Now, as adults, we accept the fact that our long-lost “originals” are gone for good and hold little hope of ever seeing them again. But wait just a minute…

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This closeup of some of Tim’s “originals” reveals one minty ATV, complete with winch, crank and hook, two yellow AT Copters and some sort of “flat-pontooned” Capture Copter. (Photo: Tim Hubbell)

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Imagine digging through a childhood treasure trove of FOUR footlockers full of old gear and uniforms. What FUN! (Photo: Tim Hubbell)

Lightning CAN Strike Again

It’s a sad reality that most “original” GIjOE collections are buried and decaying in landfills across the country as we speak. Despite that dismal fact, collections ARE still being found. And surprisingly, the owners of those original collections can often still be identified, thanks in large part to the names they wrote (as children) on footlocker lids and the inside pages of field equipment manuals.

Rarely, almost like folklore, fans will hear tell of one lucky individual to whom the unthinkable has just happened; his original GIjOEs have been found—and returned to him intact! Today, we celebrate the good fortune of one such fan, Tim Hubbell, a former Ohio State Highway Patrol Staff Lieutenant, who is now the Administrative Pastor at Crossroads Church in Lima, Ohio. We asked Tim to tell us about his history with GIjOE and how he managed to be reunited with his childhood “originals.” According to Tim’s Testament:

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Four more tubs full of gear wait to identified.
(Photo: Tim Hubbell)

“I was born in 1961, just prior to GIjOE. I got my first couple of Joes when I was 5 or 6. I collected GIjOEs for the next 6 or 7 years until the girls started to catch my eye. Just prior to girls however, I traded all of my Matchbox cars and Johnny West figures for GIjOEs with all of the neighborhood boys. 

At some point and time, my Joes got boxed up by my mother and stored away. Then she moved away and apparently the Joes went with her and got stored in her attic.

After her passing, my sister was sorting through some boxes marked ‘basement’ and found the Joes and all of my green plastic army men and trucks. There were 7 large boxes of Joes and 3 large boxes of Marx and Processed Plastic army men, trucks, tanks etc. What a rush! It has been so much fun and brought back many great memories.

I have enclosed photos of the Joes in all of their “glory” and I am so excited to be reunited with them. Since their discovery, I have been cleaning, repairing, sorting, and ordering missing parts for them. There is still so much to sort through (see the large bins at the rear of the photo). I am interested in trading (or giving away) some of the extra gear. I will also need help identifying some of it.

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Tim’s “Dirty Dozen” original figures are all vintage, and include at least one bearded Adventure Team member. Imagine being reunited with your 12 original GIjOEs. WOW! (Photo: Tim Hubbell)

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This closeup of one of Tim’s four 5-Star Jeeps, shows that it has already been customized into a medic Jeep. Superb! (Photo: Tim Hubbell)

The Most Exclusive Joe Club of All

Of course, the chances of this sort of thing happening again are like lightning striking twice in the same place: extremely rare and unlikely. But as Tim’s story proves, it can and DOES still happen. Like lottery winners, the total number of collectors on the roster of this most exclusive “Original GIjOEs Owners Club” (OGOC), is probably only between 100 to 200 worldwide (if that many). They know they’re lucky, and they count their lucky stars for their many Joe-blessings!

Bottom Line: As GIjOE approaches his 50th Anniversary (Hello, Hasbro?), it’s uplifting to know that such discoveries of long-hidden vintage figures can still occur. Fortunately for Tim, there are quite a number of GIjOE fans and collectors living in or near Ohio who can help with any of his vintage identification questions. And if not, the DFW and Joelanta GIjOE shows are both coming up soon. Those would be great places for him to find help as well.

Congratulations again, Tim. And welcome to the ultra-exclusive OGOC!

The Final Interview With Beloved Actor/Singer and Educator, Larry Hovis; Best Remembered as “Sergeant Carter” From TV’s “Hogan’s Heroes”

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Actor Larry Hovis in a dramatic 1970s publicity still. (Photo: Larry Hovis)

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As this early publicity still reveals, by the age of 18, Larry Hovis already exuded the down-to-earth, “regular guy” persona that would serve him well throughout his career. (Photo: Larry Hovis)

Lesson Learned: Always Print a Copy.

I was cleaning out a basement closet yesterday, going through boxes of GIjOEs, vintage toys and miscellaneous “to be scrap-booked” photos and papers, when I suddenly stumbled upon a copy of an interview that I had conducted with actor-singer-entertainer, Larry Hovis. Mr. Hovis is perhaps best remembered for his role as “Sergeant Carter” on the classic TV series, Hogan’s Heroes, and for numerous guest appearances on ’60s and ’70s shows such as The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle USMC, Laugh-In, The Liar’s Club, Match Game and many others.

As I studied the papers, I was reminded that our back-n-forth email exchange had occurred during June 2001, just two years prior, it turned out, to his untimely death of esophageal cancer at the age of 67. Looking back on that time now, I also remembered that my computer crashed not long afterwards and (as can happen) all of my emails, photos and other computerized records—including the Hovis interview—were lost. This would frustrate me for many years, but thankfully, I had had enough sense to print it out on paper; now the only remaining transcript of our interview. Imagine my elation at its discovery!

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Larry Hovis (right) in a scene with fellow Hogan’s Heroes cast member, Richard Dawson. Hovis played a Lieutenant in the show’s pilot episode, but was then recast as the goofy (but dependable) Sergeant Carter for the entire 168 episode run of the show, airing from 1965 to 1971. (Photo: CBS Television)

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Larry’s talent as a singer led to many solo and group gigs, including time with a quartet known as “The Mascots.” (Photo: The Continental Club)

Larry’s Last Interview

After re-reading our interview, I realized that Hovis’ comments were quite insightful and felt that they should now be re-digitized and shared on the internet with fans and Hogan’s Heroes “historians” all around the world. It also occurred to me that sadly, this particular interview is likely the last one Hovis ever gave. While not privy to the final years of his life, I am aware of the devastating effects of esophageal/larynx cancer. My father-in-law died of the same affliction, and even if dealt with successfully, the disease often robs its victim of his or her natural voice and vocal cords, requiring years of difficult rehabilitaton therapy or the use of an artificial larynx device in order to speak audibly again. Furthermore, after a lengthy online search, I have been unable to find ANY other interview with Mr. Hovis that post-dates this one.

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Too Funny! Larry in one of his many guest appearances on TV’s raucous Laugh-In. (Photo: NBC TV)

Finally, to put this “final interview” in better context, please remember that at the time, Larry was teaching drama courses at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX, and that fellow Hogan’s Heroes cast members Robert Clary (see HERE), Ivan Dixon, and Richard Dawson (see HERE) were all still alive (Dixon and Dawson have since passed away). Keeping all this in mind, here then, is Larry Hovis’ “final interview” as transcribed to yours truly, dated June 21, 2001. Enjoy!

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Hovis as “Sgt. Carter,” mixing explosives during the opening credit scenes of Hogan’s Heroes.
(Photo: CBS Television)

TJR: May I take a moment to tell you how BIG a fan I am of you and your work? I’ve been watching Hogan’s Heroes off and on since its original airing, and I still have fond memories of when I was a little kid, marching around our living room (back in 1968) during the show’s opening theme song. Also, I’ve collected and enjoy many of your old records. What fun!”

“Thank you for your very kind words. I’m always amazed when people comment that they still watch the show in re-runs. And as well, when people comment that they have found copies of some of my records. It is very nice, but hardly expected.”

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Larry Hovis’ 2001 publicity still. (Photo: Larry Hovis)

TJR: I’m very leery of intruding on your (or any celebrity’s) time. Therefore, if you’re too busy, or think that any question I’m asking is too personal, PLEASE feel free to just go on with your day.

“First of all, let’s deal with this celebrity nonsense. For some reason, those of us who work in the entertainment/arts industry seem to be dealt with differently by people for whatever reason. Let’s absolutely get beyond that. I’m a person who has been fortunate enough to have realized many of my dreams by getting to earn my living for the most part as an actor, singer, writer, comic, etc. For that, I’m extremely grateful.”

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Larry Hovis (r) tries to suppress a laugh while performing in a Laugh-In skit with movie legend Gene Hackman (l). (Photo: NBC TV)

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Hovis’ talent for mimicry and voices proved invaluable in Hogan’s Heroes where he was often called upon to fool the Germans with his “authoritative voice.” (Photo: CBS Television)

“Yes, like most people who do this, I’ve worked very hard and have given up the things this life demands you give up. The trade-off isn’t always equal or fair, but all of us know this going in and we make the bargain with our eyes open. In return, if we’re lucky, we get to do these ridiculous, silly things, instead of real jobs and we are usually well paid, and well treated along the way.

But my goodness, we’re just people like you, with hopes and dreams and aches and pains and fears and foolishness and despair and hardship and reward and loss, etc. All the things that make up living that we all endure.

For me, my life has been blessed by allowing me to know the joy of marriage (36 years to a wonderful woman who died from cancer in 1995), the privilege of fatherhood (4 children, two boys and two girls), all of whom are grown now, living their own lives with their own families. And the latest blessing; I get to be a teacher of young men and women in a field I love. None of this sucks!”

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Larry Hovis’ superb 1959 solo album, My Heart Belongs to Only You helped solidify his early career as a singer and recording artist. (Photo: Capitol Records)

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Larry Hovis in a screenshot from The Liar’s Club.

TJR: Can you tell us what you’re up to nowadays? I assume you’re retired and living the comfortable life in central Texas?

“As for me and retirement, well, that’s never going to happen. I am still at SWT (later renamed Texas State University, ed.) in San Marcos, my eleventh year in fact, as a lecturer (that just means a teacher who is not a professor). I love it here and continue to act as well in an occasional film or TV movie that shoots in the area and quite a few stage productions with the University. I’m sort of their artist-in-residence.”

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Larry Hovis as Sergeant Carter, tries on Colonel Klink’s helmet during a moment of mischief on Hogan’s Heroes. (Photo: CBS Television)

TJR: Do you ever meet with the public for autographs or talks? I’d love to have you sign my albums!

“Well, I’m pretty accessible here at school. If the opportunity ever comes up, I’d be happy to sign your albums.”

TJR: What do you know about the current lives of your Hogan’s Heroes co-stars, Ivan Dixon, Robert Clary and Richard Dawson?

“Robert Clary is busy recording CDs, jazz and show tunes, about two a year, and he also worked for Steven Spielberg’s project to video interviews with survivors of the Holocaust (Robert was in three concentration camps in WWII in Poland and Germany).

Ivan Dixon lives in Hawaii where he owns a radio station.

Richard (Dawson) still lives in Beverly Hills, has recently re-married and has a young daughter of about age 9, I believe.

I speak with Robert from time to time and Richard and I exchange e-mails often. I haven’t been able to reach Ivan, so we’re not in touch, which I regret because we were very good friends during the series filming years. I have great admiration for these guys, as do you.”

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Larry’s big break into television was an appearance in the un-aired pilot episode of Hogan’s Heroes. His performance so impressed the studio that when the show was eventually picked up, he was given the memorable role of loveable “Sergeant Carter,” leading to 5 seasons of steady work. (Photo: CBS TV)

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Sergeant Carter (Hovis) explains the intricate workings of his latest invention, a rabbit trap, which actually worked(!) in another off-beat episode of Hogan’s Heroes. (Photo: CBS Television)

TJR: What do you do when you’re not working? I mean “hobby-wise.” This is a question I always wonder about.

“Well, I write, paint, fish, sing, read, browse, stuff like that.”

TJR: Have you been in any plays lately?

“I still do an occassional film. I just finished a small film, ‘Heathens,’ and am going to do a period film, ‘Yorick’ in July. I do an occasional play here at the University. Most recently, ‘Twelfth Night,’ and next Spring, I’ll be playing Willy Loman in ‘Death of a Salesman.”

TJR: Did you crack-up your Hogan’s co-stars with your impressions and such?

“We all cracked each other up all the time during the filming of Hogan’s. That was a very funny and talented group I worked with.”

Hogan, Schultz and Klink have all been made into 1:6 scale action figures. Can James West and Louie Le Beau be far behind? (Photo: Sideshow Toys) Click to enlarge.

Hogan, Schultz and Klink have all been made into 1:6 scale action figures. Wouldn’t it be great to have Sgt. Carter and the rest of the “Heroes” lined up in front of a barracks or rigging explosives to blow up a bridge? (Photo: Sideshow Toys) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Like many, I can get “tongue-tied” when meeting a famous individual in person. For example, I once saw Frank Gorshin signing autographs at a toy show in New Jersey. I’m a really big fan and remember seeing him on Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson doing his Burt Lancaster impersonation, etc. and just rolling with laughter! But as much as I wanted to go up there and tell him that—I just couldn’t. I guess I’m a big chicken, but that made me think about the power and influence of television and movies. Isn’t it amazing how human beings can be so effected by them?

“Don’t forget that the people you enjoy watching are just people like yourself. Frank Gorshin is a very nice man and he would have loved for you to say hello. Telling anyone you enjoy their work is a very nice and thoughtful compliment, and I can’t imagine that not mattering to anyone. Remember this: The day the public stops caring is the day careers come to a screeching end. Or should.

As to the ‘power of TV and movies?’ I think it’s frightening. I think it can be a good thing and it can be used for good. Edward Murrow said of TV: ‘This instrument can teach.’ I believe that. I do wish everyone who makes movies and TV shows and records and books and paintings and dance…all the arts…would do their very best and create with the understanding that art touches all of us, and should by all means, examine and criticize the human condition, but it should also celebrate the human spirit and try to inspire and uplift mankind. Sounds pretentious and preachy, but that’s how I feel.”

TJR: Have you experienced any “Beatles-type” moments? You know, crowds of girls rushing after you, etc.? Seriously!

“Any ‘Beatles-type’ moments? Actually…yes. But that was a long time ago and it was when I was much younger; traveling the country, playing clubs and doing singing and stand-up. But never on that scale, mind you.”

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Although I never did get my albums autographed by Mr. Hovis, they remain treasured keepsakes and entertaining reminders of his (and his castmates) vast and versatile talents. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

TJR: Thank you so much for your time! My dream would be to treat you to some BBQ some day and just listen to you talk—about ANYTHING.

“You said the magic word! BBQ! My brother, Tommy Davis, owns a couple of BBQ places in Austin (The Green Mesquite). I love BBQ. By all means, if you get down this way, arrange to say ‘hi’ and we’ll try to make time to visit, my treat. I’ll be happy to sign your records, etc.”

Bottom Line: Unfortunately, I never did have an opportunity to share some BBQ and conversation with Mr. Hovis in person. But what a blessing it was to have him spend some time and share his thoughts with me via email for this interview. And to find the “lost” hard copy of it all over a decade later! How great is that? When I finally do make it back to Austin, I think I’ll pay his brother’s restaurant a visit, raise a fork full of brisket (or a smoky rib) to the sky and say, “This one’s for you, Larry. Thanks for everything!”

North West Georgia Collector’s Club Hosting Big “Toy & Comic Show” Saturday, July 27, 2013

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Show organizer John Reynolds has promised to give away at least one Blu-Ray copy of GIjOE Retaliation as a door prize—a full 3 days before its official public release! (Photo: Hasbro-Paramount)

It’s Time for a Toy Show!

And we love any club (or anybody) that has the wherewithal, ability and chutzpah to put one on. Fortunately for toy fans within a reasonable distance of northwest Georgia, there’s going to be a BIG one held tomorrow in the city of Douglasville. According to one well-known toy collector, Terry Lee Stair Sr., over on the NWGCC Facebook page:

“I’m going to be set up this weekend with new stock of vintage G1 Transformers, vintage He-Man, vintage 12-inch GIjOE (about 50) and 300 miscellaneous 12-inch figures (Dragon, 21st Century, and others). Come check out the show!”

Bottom Line: With an admission fee of only $3, you can’t go wrong. So leave the lawnmower in the garage, get out of your easy chair, and head on over to Douglasville, GA for some toy fun! Go, NWGCC! And Go, JOE!

Hasbro Has No Plans For 12″ G.I. Joes in 2014?

Recent interview with Hasbro Exec casts dim light on prospects for 12-inch GIjOEs in 2014

Derryl DePriest is a longtime fan and collector of the original 12-inch GIjOE and is the author of The Collectible GIjOE. (Photo: Courage Books)

In this short video, famed toy blogger PixelDan conducts an energetic interview with renowned GIjOE expert and Hasbro executive, Derryl DePriest. Unfortunately, what the two DON’T discuss looms much larger than what they do. The two met recently at the Comic Con in San Diego (DePriest’s 36th!), and during their discussion, DePriest repeatedly states that Hasbro is now solely focused on its line of “Retaliation” movie tie-in figures and the (preschooler) line of KRE-O toys. Only towards the end of the interview does DePriest (reluctantly) reveal that yes, there will be “some surprises” in store for GIjOE in 2014.

Bottom Line: This video is sadly intriguing for what it DOESN’T reveal. Neither PixelDan nor DePriest ever mention the original 12-inch GIjOE. It’s as if our beloved 1:6 hero has vanished from the Earth—again. C’mon, fellas, what, if ANY, are Hasbro’s plans for Joe’s upcoming 50th anniversary? Or the toy’s future production in 1:6 scale? Who would have thought that after 50 years and BILLIONS of dollars in sales, America’s Movable Fighting Man would’ve morphed and devolved into a toddler’s Lego clone, and that its creators would be unable (or unwilling) to create (or promote) new 12-inch Joes that aren’t connected to a pair of so-so motion pictures?

10 New 1:6 Scale Props and Accessories You Can Find Online or in Stores Near You———Right Now!

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FIND #1: It’s “Joe vs. Joe” during a tense game of Chinese Checkers. This outstanding 1:6 scale prop features 3-D marbles that are actually painted and permanently fixed into position, so you don’t have to worry about losing them. Highly detailed, it’s sold as a Christmas tree ornament, and is available year-round in Christmas specialty stores nationwide. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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FIND #2: While out looking for 1:6 scale game ornaments, keep your eyes peeled for this superb Checkers set. Like its Chinese cousin, the tiny 3-D game pieces are painted and permanently affixed to the board, so you’ll never lose them, making it a quick and easy set up. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Are you in need of a
1:6 Scale “Quick Fix?”

Builders of 1:6 scale dioramas are always on the lookout for new props and accessories. No matter what the item’s original purpose, if it fits into our marvelous miniature creations, we’re definitely interested. If you’re such a collector-customizer-creator and the current dearth of “official” 1:6 scale merchandise has you feeling a little down, we want to help you out. Here then, are a variety of new “1:6 finds” that you can pick up online and at stores near you:

1:6 Scale Games

Games are always good items for dioramas. They help create an instant scene (see photos above) or work equally well as background “fodder,” helping to establish a mood in any scene or environment. The first two finds we’d like to recommend are a pair of Christmas tree ornaments. They’re actually little sculptures of games, made of a dense plastic that closely resembles painted wood, are highly detailed and ready to use. The tiny marbles and checker pieces are all part of the sculpts, so you’ll never lose them. Simply toss the ornament hooks, place the games into a diorama scene and you’re done! A nice contrast to all the plastic-n-sticker keychain games out there. Price: $7 each. Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦

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FIND #3: At 1:6 scale, this wrench features superb details and is spot-on perfect. Sold as a keychain in most hardware stores. Remove the rings and it’s ready for use. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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FIND #4: These metal pliers make a great 1:6 scale tool. Use ’em as is, or add a little paint to their handles for more visual  “oomph!” Either way, they’re GREAT! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

1:6 Scale (Keychain) Tools

Let’s face it. Whether 1:1 scale or 1:6 scale, you can never have too many tools. If you’re not aware of these already, you need to know about a new series of hardware store keychain mini-tools (see wrench version above) currently available in stores and online. We can’t show them all here, but each tool is cast in solid metal and features superb details. So far, we’ve seen an ax, wrench, hammer, screwdriver, power drill and pliers. Great for GIjOEs. Price: $4 each. Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦

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FIND #5: While these Apple laptop pocket mirrors are a tad over-sized, once they are set up with a figure they manage to look pretty convincing. We recommend you cover the mirror with some detailed computer graphics to complete the effect. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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A little smaller than a deck of cards, but a little larger than 1:6 scale, these attractive Apple laptop pocket mirrors open up to reveal a detailed keyboard and mirrored screen. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

(Almost) 1:6 Scale
Apple Laptop Pocket Mirrors

We stumbled across these on the internet. They’re little mini-mirrors for women’s purses that are made to resemble an (almost) 1:6 scale Mac laptop computer. At first glance, they seem too big to use with GIjOE, and probably are if you’re a perfectionist. But open one up, set it on a table next to a Joe and it looks pretty darn good! We were pleasantly surprised how quickly it “fooled the eye,” and we’re sure creative customizers out there will quickly cover the mirror with a nifty high-tech computer graphic, furthering the laptop illusion even more. They’re a tad pricey, but that ultra-detailed keyboard and Apple logo make it a superb prop for any diorama. Price: $10+. Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦

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FIND #6: The Coca-Cola Ice Bucket Christmas Tree Ornaments are in PERFECT 1:6 scale and features finely detailed logos, realistic-looking ice cubes, real metal handles and 13 bottles of “ice-cold” Coke. This is a “must-have” for any 1:6 scale party or picnic diorama. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

1:6 Scale Coca-Cola Ice Bucket Christmas Tree Ornament

It pays to check out that Christmas tree ornament aisle, you never know WHAT you’ll find. For example, these outstanding 1:6 scale Coca-Cola ice bucket ornaments were originally released a few years ago, but they must’ve sold really well because they’re back in stores again for Christmas 2013—and it’s only July! These beauties are perfectly sculpted, painted and detailed with professional decals. There are even two metal handles on either side to pick it up with. Remove the tiny eyelet screw from the center bottle and it’s ready to use in any diorama. Highly recommended, but we advise that you wait until they’re on sale and snag one (or more) at half-price! Price: $15. Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦♦

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FIND #7: These American Beauties by Mayberry Street Miniatures are in perfect 1:6 scale. Mmm…Aurora likes ’em too! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

1:6 Scale Flowers for
the Love in Joe’s Life

This next find might fly under the radar of many 1:6 collectors because the subject matter may seem too…”girly.” But when we discovered them hanging on a peg at our local Hobby Lobby, we knew we’d have to pass them on. These superb miniature roses are part of a line of miniatures made by Mayberry Street and are intended for use in 1:12 scale doll houses. However, we noticed that the flowers were actually oversized for that purpose and would look more “at home” in a 1:6 scale setting. Each bouquet comes with 10 roses, assorted greens and a shiny porcelin—not plastic—vase. A great gift for any 1:6 scale sweetheart. Price: $7. Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦♦

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FIND #8: This Adventurer can’t believe his good fortune. This superb 1:6 scale globe features razor-sharp “old world” historic maps. Now he can search for that long-lost treasure! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Don’t forget to browse those museum gift shops! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Every Adventurer Needs a Globe!

Finding a good miniature globe can be difficult. Oftentimes, they’re either too big, too small, have a big coin slot in the top, or are, well, too “tacky.” But we think we’ve found the answer to this vexing problem.

On a recent trip to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, we were “navigating” our way through their gift shop when we came upon this little all-metal gem. A superb 1:6 scale “old world” globe (pencil sharpener).

Its detailing is striking for its size (just look at the photos), the materials are excellent (“antiqued” copper) and the globe graphics are sharp and solid. Place it anywhere in your AT Commander’s office and watch his eyes light up! Price: $8. Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦♦

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FIND #9: This miniature lantern from Mayberry Street is appropriate for a multitude of uses at 1:6 scale. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A Lantern For Every Occasion

When the power goes out, Joe will always need a trusty flashlight or a 1:6 scale lantern. Problem solved! Go back to that same “girly” aisle at Hobby Lobby and pick up one or two of these sharp little red lanterns. Again, they appear to have been mistakenly marketed as something for use in 1:12 scale doll houses, but (fortunately for 1:6ers) are actually much closer to 1:6 scale. They’re all-metal and painted bright red and glossy black. The glass portion has some sort of bubble in it, but that doesn’t detract from it in the slightest. Not perfect, but a very versatile prop that you can use in any number of eras and/or dioramas (even German WW2 bunkers). Price: $4. Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦

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FIND #10: It may seem silly to get excited about a 1:6 scale toy trash can, but we actually think this one ROCKS (especially after you get rid of that ugly packaging wrapper). (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Ignore the packaging! At first glance, we had trouble imagining this “Trash Pack” puzzle was much of anything. But if you look beneath its ugly shrink-wrap packaging, there’s a brand-new, shiny metal trash can in perfect 1:6 scale just waiting to be used in your next diorama! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Real Metal 1:6 Scale Trash Can

Finally, when Joe wants to clean out the barracks, he wants a full-sized, 1:6 scale trash can. And all those cheap, undersized, plastic versions just won’t cut it anymore. Wa-LAH! We have the answer once again. Head on over to Toys ‘R Us online (or a brick-n-mortar store) and pick up one of these “Trash Pack” jigsaw puzzles. Tear off the wrap-around label, give the puzzle to some deserving little one, and give the shiny, 1:6 scale metal trash can to your hard-working GIjOE. The “Trash Pack” logo is embossed on one side, but that’s easily solved by turning it around. Price: $10. Rating (out of 5): ♦♦♦

Bottom Line: In a time when “official” 1:6 scale products are on the wane, collectors and customizers have to rely more on their intuition and imagination. All of these products are widely available, both on the internet and in a variety of brick-n-mortar stores nationwide. Happy hunting!

SDCC Video Closeups of New “1966 Batman” Toys

Bottom Line: While we continue to wait for Hasbro to do something…resembling ANYTHING…for GIjOE fans, let’s take a few moments to watch a couple of videos of the upcoming 1966 Batman TV series toys currently being displayed at the SDCC. Our thanks to PixelDan and Itakon, for producing and sharing these over on YouTube. Holy anticipation, Batman!

Toy Haven’s Alex Teo Posts First Clear Photo of New 1:6 Scale 1966 Batman and Robin by Hot Toys

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Prototypes of Hot Toys’ new 1966 Batman and Robin action figures look ready to defend Gotham City from all evil-doers. The two were shown to the public for the first time today. (Photo: TBD)

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Toy collector and blogger, Alex Teo. (Photo: Alex Teo)

This Just In…

Thanks to famed action figure collector and blogger, Alex Teo, fans now have their first clear look at the new 1:6 scale Batman and Robin action figures from Hot Toys. Teo found this pic taken at the San Diego Comic Con and quickly posted it online over at his superb blog, Toy Haven. The picture reveals each figure comes with multiple sets of hands, and we love that Robin has been properly scaled to Batman and is not quite so tall. And is that a BOMB peeking up in the foreground? YES! Bottom Line: Fans can stop holding their collective breath—These figures are really coming! Thanks for the pic, Alex!

UPDATE: At first, we thought Alex snapped this pic. But we were in error. According to Alex:

“The pic was taken by someone who has been to SDCC. Credit has to be given to the photographer who took it and shared these on the world wide web 🙂 I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more pictures over the next few days on the internet.”

12-Inch G.I. Joes Evolve From “Child’s Playthings” Into Expensive, Higher-End “Adult Collectibles”

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This isn’t your Father’s GIjOE. The new 2013 “Roadblock” 1:6 scale action figure from Hot Toys features an ultra-realistic headsculpt of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, amazing scaled-down weaponry, body armor and accessories. Of course, such intricate detail elevates the figure to an “adults-only” collectible, making each part a fragile choking hazard. Children need not apply. Cost?: $219.99. (Photo: Hot Toys)

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This closeup of Roadblock’s body armor reveals a level of detail never before seen on ANY GIjOE. Even the zippers have been down-sized to 1:6 scale, making them quite a delicate chore to work with. We recommend a magnifying glass light and a good pair of needle-nose pliers. (Photo: Hot Toys) Click to enlarge.

When Does a Toy…
Stop Being a Toy?

Let’s begin by stating that this will not be a review of the latest “high-end” GIjOE action figures. You can already find that sort of product dissection ad nauseam throughout the internet. Rather, we wanted to discuss our favorite toy’s recent “product evolution,” and what it will mean for its collectors and fans.

As you know, GIjOE was first introduced in 1964 as a toy targeted primarily towards young boys. Over the next 50 years, the venerable action figure has undergone numerous reincarnations, and been reintroduced time and again to each new generation. But the toy’s latest evolution is one we’re sure his original creators would never have envisioned or considered likely; that of an “adult collectible.”

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This super-closeup of the Rock’s headsculpt reveals the detail is so extreme, you can even see his pores! The use of 3-D computer imaging to create photo-realistic ‘sculpts has clearly found its way into the toy industry mainstream. Absolutely unbelievable! (Photo: Hot Toys)

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Bruce Willis too, has been perfectly captured and reduced to 1:6 scale. The details are absolutely incredible. What an achievement. (Photo: Hot Toys) Click to enlarge.

You Won’t See Children Playing With These GIjOEs.

Of course, with the passage of time, everything must change. GIjOE’s original 1960s, ’70s and ’80s fans are all beginning to age. Today’s current generation of children is growing up faster than ever before and the window of opportunity for Hasbro and GIjOE to appeal to their play interests with “imagination-based” toys continues to shrink.

As a result of this ever-changing marketplace, Hasbro began offering to license its flagship brand to outside manufacturers such as Sideshow Collectibles and Hot Toys (HT). The results have been great news for adult collectors, but not for children. For them, only a smattering of 1:18 scale Joes and stiff-armed, 1:6 scale “statue-figures” remain.

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The new Bruce Willis “Joe Colton” GIjOE will be revealed at various toy and comic shows during 2013 and is estimated to retail for a whopping $229.99. (Photo: Hot Toys)

hasbrologonewHasbro to Stop Making GIJoes—Again?

GIjOE’s worldwide brand-name recognition is the stuff that corporate dreams are made of. But just a few months before the iconic brand celebrates its 50th Anniversary, Hasbro has announced ZERO plans for the release of any “50th Anniversary”commemorative GIjOE products (in ANY scale). If not for these new high-end HT GIjOEs, “America’s Movable Fighting Man” will effectively have disappeared from toy store shelves altogether. But we’ve seen this sort of product “drought” before. And yes, Hasbro has ceased creating and selling GIjOEs before. During the toy’s “golden era” of the 1960s and ’70s, stores of all types carried the line. Now, GIjOE products are scarcer than hen’s teeth. Whether Hasbro stops making them completely (again) or not, remains to be seen.

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The new Storm Shadow GIjOE will absolutely blow collectors away with its superb detail. Of course, all of the figure’s (real metal) weaponry is sharp and pointy, and his uniform’s buckles and zippers are tiny and fragile, making the toy a real challenge to dress. Clearly not a toy intended for children. (Photo: Hot Toys)

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The new 1:6 scale HT Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes figures have raised the bar about as high as it can go. Collectors should have little to complain about, except maybe their price tags. Ouch! (Photo: Hot Toys) Click to enlarge.

What’s Next for GIjOE?

In the past, even when battered, beaten and abused, GIjOE could always be repaired, reflocked and returned to duty by his faithful fans. Spare parts and uniforms are still widely available, regularly sold and traded online, at toy shows and at collector’s club meetings. Affordable alternatives are still being made by competitor’s worldwide (see HERE) and collectors with deeper pockets will surely pounce upon these new offerings from Hot Toys.

But the collecting world is evolving. And as long as Hasbro refuses to reinstate its original (brilliant) “razor and blades” marketing strategy and surrenders future production of the world’s greatest action figure to producers of high-end, “adult collectibles,” fans and collectors will just have to deal with the situation as best they can.

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It is physically impossible to create better headsculpts than this. Hot Toys continues to show it is the undisputed leader in ultra-realistic 1:6 action figures. Perhaps someday, Hasbro will grow tired of being “second best” and ramp up its competitive corporate power to produce its own line of top-notch, “adult-collectible” GIjOEs. Only time will tell. Until that day (if ever)…Bring it on, Hot Toys! (Photo: Hot Toys)

Bottom Line: For 50 years, GIjOE has remained a toy that promised hours of wholesome fun and escapist entertainment, all wrapped up in a convenient, and affordable 1:6 or 1:18 scale size. However, his latest evolution as an expensive “adult collectible” is reason to give many pause. Despite being in the very capable hands of Hot Toys, such high-priced figures are not for everyone. Let’s hope Hasbro’s “drought” does not go on forever, and that GIjOE’s upcoming 50th Anniversary provides some welcome and surprising relief for “thirsty” Joeheads. Go, JOE!

Hot Toys Releases First Sneak Pics of 1:6 Scale 1966 Batman and Robin 12-Inch Action Figures

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This closeup of Batman’s utility belt shows it to be spot-on perfect. Even the little bat logo is properly blind-embossed into the buckle. And take a good look at the tiny stitching along the seam of his trunks. Absolutely amazing work. (Photo: Hot Toys)

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This view of Batman’s cape and collar assembly is blurred somewhat by a lens flare. Nevertheless, we can see that it strongly resembles the version in the TV show and appears to be made of the properly colored and textured fabric. (Photo: Hot Toys)

Holy Perfection, Batman!

In a series of slightly murky, almost mysterious images, details of the highly anticipated, 1:6 scale 1966 Batman and Robin action figures from Hot Toys (HT) are finally beginning to trickle out. According to the company’s official website (found HERE), prototypes of its first new Bat-products will be revealed to an anxious public sometime in 2013.

While no official company announcement of a specific introduction time, date or place has been made, many believe attendees of the upcoming San Diego Comic Con (July 18-21) are in for some exciting news. Indeed, the chances that Hot Toys will reveal these new Batman figures at SDCC are very high. It’s hard to imagine a better place for a new product “reveal” than at a convention hall full of costumed comic book and superhero fans!

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Batman’s gauntlets are correctly wrinkled and his chest bat-emblem looks properly executed as well. Clearly, the designers at Hot Toys want to ensure collectors these new figures will be highly accurate. (Photo: Hot Toys)

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words.

If that old adage is correct, then just a quick look at these new “teaser” pics from Hot Toys tells us a lot. For example, the materials used in the costumes? Perfect. The dull gray of Bat’s tights are a perfect contrast to the shinier blue of his trunks. Different fabrics, obviously carefully selected, and then painstakingly dyed to the correct hues. And dig that crazy Bat Utility Belt (see photo at top). It would’ve been so easy for HT to simply paint a logo there or slap a little sticker on that buckle, but they took the effort to properly “blind emboss” the uniquely shaped bat-belt logo as it originally appeared in the show. Yes, the logo on the belt is different from the logo on his chest, which is also different from the logo in the opening of the show. A VERY minor detail to some, yes, but its one that a majority of fans will notice and appreciate immediately.

Gadget-wise, we can only get a glimpse of our hero’s fabled, “batarang,” but we assume that it too, is going to be perfectly sculpted, and maybe even fold-up as it was shown to do in one episode of the show. For that, we’ll have to wait and see.

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Robin’s tunic, cape and collar are all RIGHT ON. With quality such as this, all we can say is, “Where do we send our money?” Unbelievable! (Photo: Hot Toys)

Bottom Line: Fan expectations are high for these new figures and the pressure is really building for Hot Toys to deliver. Collectors of 1:6 scale (and Batman) are all about the details. When a toy company gets it right, we reward them with heavy sales and high profits. Get it wrong, and…

Finally, while these new HT Batman figures may not be available for a year or more (quality takes time), eager fans are already queuing up (and saving up) for them; perhaps hoping to build a 1:6 scale Batcave in their basements. After all, what better place is there to park a new 1:6 scale HT Batmobile? And don’t worry. Food, rent, and electricity are all overrated.

TJR’s Video Pick of the Week #15: Pilotless Drone X-47B “Completes First Carrier-Based Launch”

Take a moment to consider the future.

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You can run, but you can’t hide! Today’s Predator drones can already circle above targets for up to 24 hours before firing their ordnance. Future drones promise to be even more lethal. (Photo: USAF)

Pilotless drone aircraft, high-speed robotic tanks, possibly even humanoid-shaped killing machines chase down and fire upon human troops, terrorists or other “enemy targets.” Such heavily armored mechanisms prove quite difficult to “kill,” enabling their faraway operators to achieve maximum destructive potential with minimal personal risk.

This future battlefield scenario is not as far-fetched as you (or even Hollywood filmmakers) may think. In fact, much of it is already going on around the world. While there are no Terminator robots (yet), there are already drone aircraft, drone helicopters and EOD bomb-defusing robots at use on the modern-day battlefield. The list of impressive warfare technology and its use by militaries around the world continues to grow exponentially.

One Giant Leap—For the Navy

On May 14th, 2013, the United States Navy took one giant leap forward with their X-47B, a full-sized experimental drone aircraft. Amazingly, the massive X-47B successfully took off from and landed back on the deck of an American aircraft carrier—all without a pilot on board.

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Skynet’s fully robotic “human-killer” aircraft from the Terminator films don’t seem quite as far-fetched as they once did. (Photo: Orion Pictures)

Yes, America’s Predator and Desert Hawk drones have already been flying and fighting in the skies for many years, but the X-47B is a much larger airborne platform and is capable of carrying much heavier payloads (i.e. explosive ordnance). The success of the X-47B is indeed, quite an accomplishment. Go, Navy!

Bottom Line: This video originally caught our eye not because we approve or disapprove of what it is being heralded by many as “the rise of the machines.” Rather, we were intrigued by one question: What happens to the pilots and other air heroes? Already, many are chair-bound in bunkers or the bowels of ships with only a computer screen and joystick to “fly.” Hardly the exhilaration of flight the Wright Brothers anticipated. Still, imagine this cool plane in 1:6 scale—and it has fold-up wings!