Monthly Archives: August 2013

Study Confirms China’s Ascension as “World’s Leading Manufacturer and Exporter of Toys”

Chinese workers assembling toys at a factory in Panyu, in South China's Guangdong Province. (Photo: REUTERS/Aly Song)

Chinese workers assembling the world’s toys in a factory in Panyu, China. (Photo: Reuters/Aly Song)

chinastudyMarket Research Firm Officially Confirms the Obvious

Finally! We can stop holding our collective breath now, toy fans. For those of you who were still unsure, a new study entitled, Research and Development Trend of China Toy Industry, 2013, just released by market analysis firm, Research and Markets Ltd (RML) confirms (to the surprise of absolutely no one) that China is “the world’s leading manufacturer and exporter of toys.” All together now“Well, DUH!

Perhaps a better title would have been, “Toys: They’re Made in China, Dude.” That would’ve saved RML both words and time spent on researching a topic that has such patently obvious and foregone conclusions. Seriously, who will need (or want) to read this study? What new knowledge is being offered that hasn’t already been well-known (for decades) by anyone born with innate powers of common-sense observation? Even RML’s press release for the study offers little new incentive or insight. According to Amy Cole, Senior Manager at RML:

Chinese toy factory worker (average pay .75 cents per hour) assembles a blond-haired, blue-eyed doll for unknown customers living in far-off lands. (Photo: Reuters)

Chinese toy factory worker (average pay .75 cents per hour) assembles a new doll for shipment and sale to markets overseas. (Photo: Reuters)

“Taking the advantage of their raw materials and labor cost, China has become the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter of toys. In 2012, the export of China’s toys slowed slightly, the export amount reaching 11.45 billion USD, up 5.8% compared with 2011. The export market of China’s toys shows the characteristics of focusing on OEM (original equipment manufacturer), low proportion of high creative products, excessive concentration of export markets and the added profit…”

Bottom Line: Yawn… Were you able to follow that? If it sounds like a few factoids sprinkled randomly amid a lot of pointless, blither-blather double-speak, you’re right. It is. And that’s an EDITED version! We lopped off three whole paragraphs just to start, and there are still about 75 unnecessary words left in there that we could cut out as well. But then their press release would’ve had very little to say, and that’s—actually no difference at all, really. In our opinion, this topic has now been “studied” to death!

Discussion with Round2 Exec, Ed Catto, Reveals Current Development Status and Future Plans for Captain Action’s New Heroine———“Lady Action”

Professional models hired to promote Captain Action products are attired  in full-length blue and black body suits, set off with a leather skirt, belt and knee-high boots. Note the cap features a smaller CA logo. Will the action figure's chest emblem read CA or LA? Hmm... (Photo: Round2)

Professional “Lady Action” models hired by Round 2 to promote Captain Action products have been attired in full-length blue-n-black body suits, set off with a leather skirt, belt and knee-high boots. Note that her cap features a smaller CA logo. Does this mean the new LA action figure’s chest emblem will also read CA for better “team unity,” or will R2 alter the emblem to read LA? Interesting… (Photo: R2)

Secrets of a Superheroine

She’s new. She’s mysterious. She’s… British? Blimey! Clearly, there’s a lot we still don’t know about Round 2’s much ballyhooed, upcoming release of an all-new “Lady Action” (LA) action figure. Will she be as tall as Captain Action or shorter? Thin or muscular? Normally proportioned, or…”well-endowed?”

Popular consensus seems to indicate that she’ll be “raven-haired,” but will she sport Barbie-style “plugs” or some sort of a wig? How about a painted hair GIJane-type headsculpt? Or, perhaps she’ll be shipped BALD so that her character masks can contain her hair?

Hopefully, her hair will be “real” and not look fake or rubbery like Thor. (That’d get old real fast.) Collectors universally agree that believable hair is VITAL to the success of a 1:6 female figure. “Flyaway” or chunky, hard-plastic hair is often visually unconvincing and can make the difference between a sale or no sale at checkout.

Indeed, the ability to change LA’s hairstyle and her hair COLOR will be of paramount importance if the new figure is to successfully achieve its assortment of superheroine transformations. And to keep its look, the hair would have to be semi-rigid, much like the kind found on high-end, heavily-hairsprayed Barbies.

In fact, the hair may end up being one of the most expensive and challenging aspects of creating a successful Lady Action figure. It will be interesting to see how Round 2 addresses this problem. Yes, LA can use her long dark hair to portray Wonder Woman or Spider Woman, but never Batgirl (a redhead) or Supergirl (a blonde). SO… The hair. The body. The face. At this stage, fans have MANY unanswered questions about Lady Action. Oh, what to do?

Lady Action's "raven hair" would work easily to create this version of Spiderwoman, but other characters would require Round 2 to create interchangeable wigs or find some other solution. (Art: Marvel Comics)

Lady Action’s “raven hair” would work easily to create this version of Spiderwoman, but other characters may require Round 2 to create interchangeable wigs. (Art: Marvel Comics)

Always Go to the Top

To get some answers, we decided to turn over the helm of The Joe Report (TJR) today to one of our veteran TJR “Field Reporters,” renowned 1:6 scale fan and collector, Chung Kim. Kim’s no-nonsense, straight-forward commentaries on 1:6 scale-related topics have provided years of entertaining and informative reading on a variety of forums and websites.

Fortunately for Captain Action fans, Chung had written in to us recently with news of an exclusive phone interview he had conducted with Round 2 exec, Ed Catto. During their conversation, the two discussed future plans for the Captain Action line, but thankfully for the purposes of this article, they concentrated the bulk of their discussion on current and future plans for the upcoming introduction of the “mysterious” Lady Action!

Is THIS the new look of Round 2's upcoming "Lady Action" figure? Maybe. Though many fans have commented she looks a little too "SS" with her dark cap, ammo belt and jackboots, the look appeals to many who label it "erotic" and "sexy." Currently, there are any different versions floating about the blogosphere, in various forms of fan art, convention model cosplayers, comic books, and even Round 2's own concept art. How she ends up looking remains to be seen, but the beauty of Captain Action has always been, if you don't like it, you can change him (and now HER) into any number of different heroes and villians. (Art: Moonstone)

Is THIS the new look of Round 2’s upcoming “Lady Action” figure? Maybe. Though many fans have commented she looks a little too “SS” with her dark cap, ammo belt and jackboots, the look appeals to some who label it “erotic” or “S&M sexy.” Currently, there are many different versions floating about the blogosphere, in various forms of fan art, convention model cosplayers, comic books, and even Round 2’s own concept art. How she ends up looking remains to be seen, but the beauty of Captain Action has always been, if you don’t like it, you can change him (and now HER) into any number of different superheroes and super villains. Let Justice Be Done! (Art: Moonstone)

Intrepid TJR Field Reporter, Chung Kim, decided the best way to get answers to fan's questions was to go "right to the top," which led to his calling Ed Catto on the phone to discuss the future of Captain (and Lady) Action. (Photo: Chung Kim)

Intrepid TJR Field Reporter, Chung Kim, decided the best way to get answers to fan’s questions was to go “right to the top,” which led to his calling Ed Catto to discuss the future of Captain (and Lady) Action. (Photo: Chung Kim)

“Actioneers” Want to Know

Chung admits he’s had to edit the content of their conversation somewhat as per Catto’s request, and that you may have to “read between the lines a bit” to fill in juicier parts he had to leave out. Regardless of Ed’s restrictions, Kim’s remaining intel is very enticing and informative. With that said, we turn it over to Chung Kim:

“Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Ed Catto, ‘Retropreneur’ of Captain Action Enterprises, LLC, by telephone. Our call originated due to an inquiry I had made over on the Captain Action Facebook page (found HERE) about the pending/upcoming Lady Action figure. I asked if the company was looking for input specifically from collectors of 1:6 scale female action figures. I received a reply indicating they are and Mr. Catto was kind enough to speak with me.”

Early concept drawings of Lady Action for a possible animated cartoon series sent mixed signals to collectors. Now she appeared to be a teenager wearing gloves and sporting brown hair. Was this look going to transfer to the action figures as well? (Art: Round 2)

Early concept drawings of Lady Action for a possible animated cartoon series sent out mixed signals to collectors and fans. Now she appeared to be a teenager wearing gloves and sporting brown(?) hair. Is this new look going to transfer to the upcoming action figures as well? (Art: Round 2)

“I’ve been a collector of 1:6 scale figures since 1998, but my primary collecting niche has always been focused on 1:6 scale female figures starting with GIJane to the CY GIRLS and the current bevy of female figures now available from different manufacturers. Mr. Catto was very interested in obtaining input from collectors so the company can ensure that Lady Action will be a successful and welcome addition.”

Customizers have created their own versions of Lady Action. This one features a black beret instead of a cap, blue satin costume with matching collar and a silver belt, on a Cy Girl figure with auburn hair. Notice her custom "LA" chest emblem and beret flash. (Photo: Neal Patterson)

Customizers have already created their own versions of Lady Action. This one features a black beret (nice!) instead of the blue sailor’s cap, an all-blue leotard with matching collar and a silver belt, all on a shapely Cy Girl figure with auburn hair. Notice her custom “LA” chest emblem and beret flash too! (Photo: Neal Patterson)

“According to Mr. Catto, Lady Action is ‘still in development.’ He said they’re aware of the variety of different 1:6 female bodies that have been made by different companies over the years. And that due to the general emphasis on retail (i.e. toy) segment, we shouldn’t expect an overly feminine body per se. Overall, the proposed body will be more athletic with a ‘average or common build.’

Currently, they’re evaluating all body designs and they hope to decide upon one ‘sometime before year’s end.’ In the meantime, Mr. Catto did ask for fan and collector input to aid them in getting a better feel for this particular niche market segment of collectors within the 1:6 scale hobby.

Mr. Catto also asked if other collectors like myself were familiar with a variety of DC & Marvel Comics female characters along with female video game characters. As an example, he mentioned Lara Croft Tomb Raider and Harley Quinn.

Additional insight was shared that Lady Action will be going the same route as Captain Action in terms of a base figure and costume/outfit sets. Catto said they’re still trying to determine out how to properly create/design that aspect of a female character. From what we discussed, it’s not necessarily an issue with the costume, but the problem of making a female mask like the CA offerings, due to the differences in aesthetics and design when it comes to working with a female head sculpt. They’re also debating the possibility of rooted hair and sculpted hair for female characters.”

Captain Action "cosplayers" seem to prefer traditional depictions of the two characters. In this case, Lady Action sports a skirt with hose, rather than the blue leggings. (Photo: samaritanx)

Austin Powers would probably approve of these two Captain Action “cosplayers” who clearly prefer more “retro” or traditional depictions of the two characters. Here, Lady Action sports a ’60s mini-skirt with pantyhose and go-go boots, rather than the more modern version with blue leggings, ammo pouches and submachine-gun. Oh, BeHAVE! (Photo: samaritanx)

“As for a designer/sculptor for Lady Action, they’re not doing it in-house but have a short list of known & respected sculptors in the hobby whose works ranges from action figures to sculptures/statues. Mr. Catto mentioned one name specifically and asked me for my take regarding the sculptor. I actually own quite a few pieces of work from the named sculptor/his studio during my years of collecting statues based on comic book characters. I was really surprised by the name. They’re still working on details so I have to keep this one quiet for now. However, I’m sure some may be resourceful enough to possibly figure out who it is.

Mr. Catto also talked a bit about distribution and the recent pass by Toys ‘R Us (TRU) for the third wave of Captain Action offerings. He stated he and TRU have a great relationship, so he is not dismayed about their recent pass (so it’s not necessarily doom & gloom). But he does understand how and why some within the collector community may be concerned. His choice of words during our conversation clearly conveyed the desire and enthusiasm that Captain Action offerings appeal to kids (hence the TRU arrangement), but that they also cater to new and ‘old’ collectors like ourselves. And though their current focus is on licensed properties, they are also considering in-house concepts.”

Yes, this is a 12" action figure. Female figures have come along way since the first GIjane Nurse. The astonishing likeness of Scarlett Johansen as the Black Widow from The Avengers has set the bar about as high as it can go. Round 2 doesn't have to achieve this quality with Lady Action, but it gives them a good goal to aim for. Collectors are becoming more and more discerning—even kids! (Photo: Hot Toys)

Yes, this is a 12″ action figure. 1:6 scale female figures have come along way since the first GIJane Nurse in 1967. This astonishing likeness of Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow from The Avengers has set the bar about as high as it can go. Of course, Round 2 doesn’t have to reach this level with Lady Action, but it certainly gives them a goal to shoot for. After all, collectors are becoming more and more discerning—even little kids! (Photo: Hot Toys)

“One key point Catto hit upon was that he wants to provide offerings at an affordable price with great quality and improve when & wherever possible. Their current licensing agreement is written so that Round 2 can create ‘outfit’ sets of licensed characters, but not full boxed sets of a figure (as a licensed character). He was very specific on these points, which sheds light on how the company will approach future offerings.

Thus far, Lady Action is currently in development along with refinements to the current Captain Action base figure. Mr. Catto also stated that once Lady Action is formally launched, then the next possible evolution could be their version of a young ‘side-kick’ character (i.e. Kid Action), but it’s still too early to speculate. They are considering ‘exclusives,’ but nothing definite thus far.”

Round 2 draws inspiration for future CA and LA sets from Marvel and DC comic book characters. Marvel's "Scarlett Witch" looks like an obvious (and alluring) choice. Will she "make the cut" and be on toy store shelves soon? Stay tuned, Marvel fans! (Art: wikia)

Round 2 draws inspiration for future CA and LA sets from Marvel and DC comic book characters. Marvel’s “Scarlett Witch” looks like an obvious and alluring choice to “cast a spell” on collectors. (Art: wikia)

“The possibility of Jonny Quest also came up because I specifically asked him about it. Mr. Catto stated that it was a license he would love to acquire in addition to other classic cartoon characters that are viable in the Captain Action format. Time will tell. Space Ghost was also mentioned and is considered to be ‘a great candidate.’

Finally, as our conversation ended, I thanked Mr. Catto profusely for spending his time speaking with a collector and ‘fanboy’ such as myself. He stated (strongly) that other collectors with suggestions should submit them through the company’s website or on the Captain Action and Lady Action Facebook pages.”

Bottom Line: It’s exciting to be in on the early planning stages of Lady Action’s development. But it must also be somewhat nerve-wracking for Round 2 as they attempt to leap LA’s myriad production hurdles. We wish them the best of luck with this and all future CA projects and concur with Ed Catto’s suggestion that if you have ANY comments or ideas for Lady Action or Captain Action products, please leave a message over on the CA website found HERE, the Captain Action Facebook page HERE, or the Lady Action Facebook page HERE. It’s a good bet either Ed or Joe will see it, read it and respond to you promptly. Our sincerest thanks too, to TJR Field Reporter, Chung Kim, for his in-depth and informative report. If you enjoyed his hard work, please leave a comment here to tell him so. Thanks, and…”Let Justice Be Done!”

Filipino “Master of Metal,” Jonathan De Guzman, Creating Vehicles, Weapons & More———In 1:6 Scale

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Expert tinsmith, die-maker and metalwork artisan, Jonathan De Guzman, takes a break recently in his workshop in the Philippines. De Guzman’s work has evolved from creating tiny Christmas tree ornaments to fabricating intricate 1:6 scale vehicles, weapons and accessories. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

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OUCH. As with many great artists, De Guzman has had to sacrifice for his art and livelihood. But unlike Van Gogh’s intentional ear amputation, De Guzman lost the tips of the fingers on his left hand in a “power press machine accident.” Regardless, he continues to produce the world’s greatest metal miniatures in 1:6 scale. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Artisan (noun)
1: A skilled manual worker who makes items that are functional or strictly decorative. Artisans practice a craft and may through experience and aptitude reach the expressive levels of an ARTIST.

An Artisan Becomes an Artist

A few months ago, eagle-eyed TJR Field Reporter, Kent Williams, alerted us to an incredibly talented, “up-and-coming” customizer in the 1:6 scale hobby: Jonathan De Guzman. After reviewing a wealth of online information regarding De Guzman’s work, we noticed the phrase “master of metal” was repeatedly used to describe him. We’re happy to report that his unique sobriquet is well deserved. From his origins as a “tinsmith and die-maker” in the Philippines, the humble De Guzman has since evolved into something much greater and his fame continues to spread around the world. According to Field Reporter Williams:

“I’m sure readers of The Joe Report will enjoy learning about this awesome custom scratch-builder and his 1:6 scale, all-metal masterpieces. I first heard about him over in the pages of Fine Scale Modeler Magazine (FSMM) of all places. I thought they were more interested in the smaller scale 1/24 to 1/72 scales, but I’m not going to argue with their decision to feature Jonathan’s work!”

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Jonathan’s workshop and tools are simple and basic, while the customs he creates are anything but. Here, an old, tattered chair sits next to his well-used drill-press, waiting patiently for “The Master” to return. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

From Humble Origins…

Intrigued, we contacted De Guzman in his workshop in the Philippines and he confirmed that indeed, he is “a tinsmith making seasonal ornaments for export, and a die-maker for press machines.” Okay. That’s all well and good. But Jonathan’s skills clearly elevate him above such simplistic description. Whether he realizes it or not, he truly is an ARTIST of the highest caliber. Jonathan’s chosen medium is metal, and HE—is its master.

…To Worldwide Acclaim

Word of Jonathan’s expertise continues to spread among fans and collectors of 1:6 scale, but it’s only a matter of time before other groups, businesses and organizations learn of him as well. In fact, ANYONE interested in commissioning miniature museum-quality vehicles, equipment or weaponry will find his abilities highly intriguing.

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You see what he sees. De Guzman’s ordinary tools include a hammer, pliers, soldering iron, etc. There are no secrets behind Jonathan’s success. Only hard work and great skill. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

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A sampling of De Guzman’s superb miniature swords in perfect 1:6 scale. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

We asked Jonathan to tell us a little more about himself and how he works:

“Please pardon my not-so-good-English. Thank you for looking at my work. I really appreciate that. I’m 37 years old and known as ‘Fullmetal’ on the various online fan forums. I am a ‘mold and die-maker’ by trade, and am also scratch-building scale models. All of my custom works are produced on commission based on an hourly rate. I work with the help of machines such as press drill, angle grinder, soldering iron, scissors, files, and sets of pliers and cutters. I use tin, brass, steel, aluminum and steel plates for my medium, sometimes adding wood, acrylic plastics and anything else that can be found in my backyard or at the junk shops here. I use lead solder and ordinary welding for assembly.”

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A closeup of De Guzman’s new 1:6 scale “Humvee Gunner’s platform.” (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

With his busy 1:6 scale customizing business, we wondered if Jonathan ever had free time to enjoy the very hobby he was now working in, and he replied:

“I am not a collector myself (for now), but I’m trying hard to become one! And I don’t keep copies of my work, aside from the excess that Sir Dave and I haven’t sold yet. By the way, ‘Sir Dave’ (Davinator65 on OSW and SSF forums) is my Korean friend. He is the one who helps me sell my customs. He is also the one taking commission works for me, as I am not so good in English. In fact, I am having nosebleeds here (lol).”

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De Guzman’s children happily pose next to his first 1:6 scale masterpiece, a Vietnam-era M113 CAV armored personnel carrier. The all-metal beauty was quickly snapped up by a happy collector in Spain for $4,000 plus shipping. WOW! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

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This view of Jonathan’s M113 reveals a rear loading ramp for troop access. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman) Click to enlarge.

The Universal “Language”
—of EXCELLENCE

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Jonathan produced THREE of these astounding Simba APC vehicles at 1:32 scale. When he was all done, the process had so drained him that he swore off working at that small of a scale for good. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman) Click to enlarge.

Despite any language difficulties, De Guzman’s work speaks volumes by itself. Perhaps his most famous 1:6 scale custom to date is also the first one he ever made, a Vietnam-era M113 ACAV armored personnel carrier (see photo above). Sold for a whopping $4,000 + shipping, the all-metal masterpiece remains something fans around the world regard with awe and respect. We asked Jonathan for a quick rundown on the M113 and any other custom 1:6 vehicles he’s produced in recent years:

“The very first scale model I built (believe it or not) was the all-metal 1:6 scale M113 ACAV. I started by buying a 1:72 scale Tamiya model kit as reference. I’ve also ventured into 1:35 and 1:16 scale customs, making tank sprockets and a set of three 1:35 scale Simba APC vehicles used by the Philippine Army (view all photos of the Simba build process by going HERE).”

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The view of Jonathan’s M113 reveals a fully finished interior with a wealth of details, all hand-crafted (no robot welders or computers) out of solid metal. THIS, my friends, is art. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

“After all that hard work on the 1:35 scale Simbas, I felt really exhausted and decided 1:16 and 1:35 scale model building was too small and hard for me. I no longer accept commissions in that scale. After I posted photos of the 1:6 scale M113 on the OSW forum, response was so strong, it confirmed my future was in 1:6.”

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Inside the M113, there’s plenty of room to arrange 1:6 scale troops. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

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Even the deck plates of the M113 utilize the correct scale pattern. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

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A top-view looking down through the gunner’s station. Stunning! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

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The treads, sprockets and wheels were ALL hand-made and then painted and weathered by Jonathan. Absolutely amazing work from stem to stern! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

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Exotic PKM tripods, Russian night-scopes and custom ammo cans like these require the skills of a true artist such as Jonathan De Guzman in order to pull it all off correctly. Remember—it’s ALL hand-made! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

1:6 Perfection Isn’t Cheap

Creating intricate custom works in metal is an expensive proposition and commands top-dollar prices from serious collectors. So we wondered about De Guzman’s customer base and whether or not if, during these tough economic times, such expensive commissions were difficult to obtain. Jonathan replied:

“To be honest, in the beginning, it was really tough. Only one man, Enrique Royo Pastor, from Spain, was buying my customs. Business has grown significantly since then, but if I am given any opportunity in your article to thank someone, other than David Park, I would like to thank Enrique, and of course, all of the great members of the OSW, SSF and OSP forums.”

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We can’t imagine how Jonathan makes tiny 1:6 scale sunglasses. WOW! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

With Friends, Anything is Possible.

Jonathan’s friend, David Park, took the opportunity to chime in with his own opinions of De Guzman’s work, saying:

“I met Jon when he was trying to sell his M113. He wanted money very badly, and was offering to sell his M113 for a mere $2000. I said I would help, and long story short, we ended up selling it for $4000 + shipping. Later, he showed me some weapons he had made in 1:6 scale and I was impressed. I remembered a collector in Spain. He bought several of the weapons and we became friends. His name is Enrique Pastor. Anyways, Enrique bought all of the weapons Jon had made. He was the sole clientele for almost a year. Then slowly, other commissions started to come in, and then more and more. Now, Jon is fully booked-up out to about 2~3 weeks. Jon is a great guy and a great friend. Thank you so much for writing an article about him. You could not have found a better guy to write about!”
As hard as it is to comprehend, this superb samurai sword, scabbard, display rack, machine gun and magazines were ALL made by hand. According to De Guzman, "The scabbard is made from wood, cut to shape by a saw, then cut in the middle for the blade. I cut a piece of wood that lays with the pattern of the scabbard, then glued it and used an angle grinder to shape it. Then, I used files and sandpaper to make it all smooth." (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Superb weapons in miniature even include this samurai sword, scabbard, and display rack. According to De Guzman, “The scabbard is made from wood, cut to shape by a saw, then cut in the middle for the blade. I cut a piece of wood that lays with the pattern of the scabbard, then glued it and used an angle grinder to shape it. Then, I used files and sandpaper to make it all smooth.” (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

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Jonathan’s ultra-realistic harpoon gun in perfect 1:6 scale (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Jonathan's amazing all-metal 1:6 scale ammo cans. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Jonathan’s amazing all-metal 1:6 scale ammo cans. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Although rescuers were too late for this poor Joe, Jonathan's superb all-metal rescue stretcher is an exact miniature duplicate of the real thing. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Although rescuers were too late for this poor Joe, Jonathan’s superb all-metal rescue stretcher is an exact miniature duplicate of the real thing. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

De Guzman's intricate, all-metal 1:6 scale wheelchair with oxygen bottle and bell. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

De Guzman’s intricate, metal/leather/rubber 1:6 wheelchair w/ oxygen bottle and bell. Can you IMAGINE the level of skill required to create this beauty from scratch? (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

All-metal, fully-functional 1:6 scale rescue tripod. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

All-metal, fully functional 1:6 scale rescue tripod. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

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Even simple props like a 1:6 scale crutch look better made of real metal. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

There are no better 1:6 scale nunchuks made anywhere in the WORLD. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Jonathan’s 1:6 scale nunchuks made of real metal and wood. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Jonathan's superb 1:6 scale rendition of Han's deadliest claw from the film, "Enter the Dragon." (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Jonathan’s superb 1:6 scale miniaturization of Han’s deadliest claws from the film, “Enter the Dragon.” (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

How about a massive, 1:6 scale jail or prison cell for the "worst of the worst?" (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

How about a 1:6 scale jail or prison cell for the “worst of your worst?” (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

If you have a 1:6 scale cannabilistic serial killer you need to transport, what better way than with one of Jonathan's outstanding, all-metal human "dollies?" Don't forget the fava beans! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

If you have a 1:6 scale cannibalistic serial killer in need of transport, what better way than with one of Jonathan’s outstanding human “dollies?” Don’t forget the fava beans! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Highly realistic machete weapons at perfect 1:6 scale. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Highly realistic machete weapons at perfect 1:6 scale. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

1:6 scale club billy club, ready for a RUMBLE! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

With Jonathan’s superb custom 1:6 scale metal billy club, your Joe’s will soon be ready to RUMBLE! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)

Bottom Line: Jonathan De Guzman’s all-metal 1:6 scale customs are probably the best available anywhere in the world today—bar none. Yes, some items can seem expensive, but the actual cost per piece varies greatly depending on the amount of work involved. For what you get, his work is actually priced very reasonably. Remember, this sort of custom product is all created by hand, and upon completion, each unique work becomes an instant (and valuable) collectible.

Mark these words: As time goes by and Jonathan’s fame and popularity inevitably spreads, we can foresee the day (very soon) when Jonathan’s rates will begin to rise. So, if you have a custom 1:6 project in mind for the Master of Metal, it would be wise to “get in line” sooner than later. Ordering seems to be a fairly informal process, and either Jonathan or David can help you through the steps involved. Our thanks to “eagle-eyed” Field Reporter Kent Williams, and to Jonathan’s friend and assistant, David Park, for their help producing this article. And our sincerest wishes for a rewarding 1:6 scale career to Jonathan De Guzman. We look forward to seeing his next great masterpiece! Contact Jonathan via email HERE. Or contact David HERE.

Popularity of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” Captures Imaginations of 1:6 Scale Fans

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British-born actor, Andrew Lincoln, portrays iconic American hero, Rick Grimes, in a scene from AMC’s hugely popular TV series, “The Walking Dead.” Customizers have begun creating their own 1:6 scale action figures of Grimes, while others await the release of officially licensed versions. (Photo: AMC)

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Gareth Pippen’s custom Rick Grimes 1:6 scale action figure is an outstanding example of “collaborative customizing.” The figure’s uniform, accessories, custom headsculpt, etc. were all produced by different customizers, then assembled into its final form (as shown above) by Pippen himself. Look out, Walkers! (Photo: Gareth Pippen)

“Joeheads” Becoming “Deadheads!”

It’s no secret that action figure collectors are also fans of films, comic books and television programs that include ACTION heroes involved in ACTION-adventure stories. It should be no surprise then, that AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (TWD) has begun to soar in popularity among 1:6 scalers, inspiring many to create their own custom figures based on characters in the show.

If you’ve never seen TWD, it’s a “monster” hit series now in its 4th season and depicts the horrific life and death struggle between disparate bands of “Survivors” (living people) and an endless parade of “Walkers” (dead people who are also flesh-eating zombies). Based on a popular comic book, the show is essentially a never-ending game of “Tag—You’re DEAD,” keeping viewers hooked with its suspenseful “you never know who will die next” storyline, plus excellent effects, photography and acting.

As you might suspect, TWD features many characters that are ripe for transformation into 1:6 scale action figures. Foremost among them is its star and hero, Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes. Grimes is a soft-spoken, big gun-totin’, hero of the “old school,” standing tall while trying to protect his tiny band of survivors from danger around every turn. Action fans and customizers will also appreciate the show’s extensive use of weaponry, including knives, axes, samurai swords, and one really famous crossbow!

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These small, barely poseable figures from McFarlane Toys are no substitute for vastly superior 1:6 scale customs. (Photo: Toys ‘R Us)

Collaborative Customizing

Despite the show’s popularity, 12″ action figures based on TWD have been slow in coming. There are a few in the pipeline, but until recently, only small-scale, barely poseable figures have been available. Tired of waiting, customizers have begun creating their own customs, but even for the most talented among us, such an undertaking is often beyond one person’s abilities. That’s where the concept of collaborative customizing comes in. “Collaborative customizing” is the ingenious combination of a group of talented customizers, each one considered to be an expert in their own way, working separately to create one or more specific uniform, weapon or related accessory. The disparate parts are then combined under the auspices of a “Master Customizer” (Rick R.” for example), resulting in the creation of a unique custom figure or vehicle not available in any store.

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Gareth Pippen’s custom 1:6 scale Rick Grimes. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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It’s All in the Family: Toy dealer and customizer Gareth Pippen (l) poses with his father and fellow toy dealer, Barry Pippen (r) in their booth at Joelanta. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Gareth’s Grimes Group
(Say that 3 times fast!)

We’ve seen a variety of custom Rick Grimes figures, but without a doubt, the BEST one to cross our desk so far was created by well-known UK action figure collector, customizer and toy dealer, Gareth Pippen. In a superb example of collaborative customizing, Gareth directed a worldwide group of 1:6 scale “pros” to produce all of the individual parts required, and then combined them to create a one-of-a-kind custom Rick Grimes. In an exclusive interview with The Joe Report, Pippen elaborated on his process of coordinating outside experts:

“My custom Rick Grimes action figure took 18 months to put together. His Deputy Sheriff uniform was created by famed Hong Kong 1:6 tailor, Katoki Ellis (he goes by ‘Kato’), arguably the best-ever at creating 1/6th scale custom clothing. Kato consults for Hot Toys and made an initial run of 30 of the uniforms, then a second run of 30 six months later, and offered them through the Sideshow Freaks forum.

The head was sculpted by a US sculptor, Scott Peterson, aka “Velvetmorning,” and it too, was also offered through the Sideshow Freaks forum (a friend of mine here in Glasgow painted it for me). The hat and all the badges (sheriff, name badge and collar dogs) were made by another guy in the US called Jeff aka “Entropy,” also from the Sideshow Freaks forum. The revolver came from a VTS figure called “Stone Cold Killer,” which was actually Bruce Willis as ‘Hartigan’ from ‘Sin City.’ And the boots are from a Hot Toys Wolverine figure. All in all, it’s an amazing custom, and easily one of my favorites from my collection!”

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This closeup reveals a variety of amazing, tiny details, all expertly created by “Gareth’s Grimes Group.” FANTASTIC work, guys! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

walkingdead2Bottom Line: As always, fans of 1:6 scale have shown that they can (and WILL) step up whenever manufacturers let them down. Talented customizers such as Gareth, Kato, Scott and Jeff, have proven to the rest of us that ANY figure can become reality, whether built alone or with the aid of others.

Fans of The Walking Dead will also be thrilled to learn that Season 3 of the series is (finally) due to be released on Blue-ray on August 27, 2013. So…Look out, all you Dead-heads! And RUN (don’t be a “Walker!”) to Walmart or Amazon (same price) and pre-order or pick up some DVDs of this superb AMC TV series (great for frame-by-frame analysis). Finally, we’ll leave you with this short VIDEO from yet another customizer, Rae Beck, who’s made his own Rick Grimes custom in much the same collaborative manner as Gareth. Outstanding!

Is Your Collection Too Big For You to Handle?

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This collection shows all the signs of having “Crossed the Rubicon.” Boxes upon boxes are randomly jammed and wedged into these shelves; very little is actually visible for visitors or the owner to enjoy. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

How to Know When You’ve “Crossed the Rubicon” of Collecting

Have you reached that undefined, yet anxiety-ridden point as a collector where you feel you’re no longer in control of your own collection? Has what started out as a pleasant reason to visit flea markets and garage sales become an around-the-clock, ebay-stalking obsession? How about handling, arranging, displaying, and storing your ever-growing mountain of mementos? Is all of that work (and it IS work) as much fun as it used to be? Or has it mushroomed into something beyond your control? Something you wish would just—take care of itself? 

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Stackable, plastic totes are one of the best ways to handle long-term storage of a collection. Cardboard boxes are prone to crushing and rotting, while these tubs are rigid, portable, and moisture-resistant. In a flood situation, they’ll even float, giving their owner one last chance to rescue the contents undamaged. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Take a Good Look Around You

You’ve been a collector now, for what, 10, maybe 20+ years? You’ve come a long way during that time, right? So, how’s your collection looking today? Is it as you always imagined it would be, neatly displayed inside well-lit, dust-free display cases? Or is it piled up so high that producers of A&E’s Hoarders have begun peering through your windows? If you find yourself expending more energy stepping OVER and AROUND your treasures than actively and enjoyably engaging with them—then you (and your collection)— have “Crossed the Rubicon.”

“I Know. I Have Too Much Stuff!”

Whether that’s true of yourself or not, it’s important that every collector understand the factors that can negatively impact their collecting experience; starting with:

LACK OF SPACE— For most collectors, a lack of adequate display (or storage) space is the numero-uno problem they face. Of course, the irony is, no matter how much space one has, it never seems like it’s enough. For example, frustrated collectors who are limited to just one display cabinet or even an entire bedroom are surprised when they learn other collectors—who possess much MORE space—are still complaining about the same problem. Why is that? Let’s find out…

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Stackable, plastic drawer sets are an economical and efficient way to store collections that are comprised of many small objects (such as GIjOE uniforms, helmets, boots, weapons, and accessories). Once the drawers are labeled, it takes only seconds to locate any desired part. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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These display cases from IKEA have proven to be one of the most space-efficient and inexpensive ways to display 12″ action figure collections. With four levels and a small “footprint” of only 17″ x 17″, it’s possible to display a great number of figures while using up very little floor space. Even better, the items are kept dust-free! (Photo: Alex Yu)

Collections Abhor a Vacuum

And collectors will rush pell-mell to fill whatever available space they can find. Depending on the items in one’s collection, an appropriate display area can range from a simple set of shelves, all the way to a custom display room. One collector we spoke with recently, a “Mr. X,” described his own spatial dilemma thusly:

“My collection is wayyyyy outta control. No matter how I organize it, there just isn’t enough room to set everything up. Are there some kind of shelves or something that might help me? If not, I guess it’s time to make some hard decisions and start culling the herd, so to speak.”

Mr. X’s comments are ones we’ve all heard (or said ourselves) before. But his question about shelving and organizing options leads us to our next collecting quandaries:

STORAGE SOLUTIONS— If you don’t have enough room to adequately display your treasures, it’s important that you know how to store them properly in the interim. Cardboard boxes won’t suffice. They wear out, foster mold, and crush down upon themselves. A far better solution is to purchase a set of stackable, plastic “totes” and/or drawer sets (see photos above). They’re durable, moisture and insect resistant, and even FLOAT if caught in a flooded basement.

DISPLAY SOLUTIONS— Seriously though, what’s the point of owning a collection if you can’t display and enjoy it? To maximize whatever square-footage you do have, we recommend the use of space-efficient, built-in shelving (attached to studs in the walls), or in lieu of that, floor-standing, glass-n-metal Detolf display cases from IKEA (see photos above and below). The Detolf cases are easy to assemble, require very little real estate in your Joe Room, include a built-in light at the top, display 20+ figures easily, keep your collectibles dust-free, and look GREAT. Problem solved!

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Alex Teo of Singapore (far right), is a shining example of a collector who’s successfully managed to integrate his love of action figures and toys into his home life. With the loving support of his wife and family, Teo’s collection is spread throughout his house, yet avoids becoming “clutter” by being carefully and respectfully arranged within high-quality display cases. Outstanding! (Photo: Alex Teo)

Bottom Line: Collectors such as Alex Teo (above) are leading the way, showing the rest of us how to successfully integrate large collections into our homes and avoid crossing over the dreaded “Rubicon of Collecting.” Neatly arranged and out of everyone’s way, Teo’s amazing collection is easily seen and regularly enjoyed by all. What an inspiration! If you think your collection has gotten too big to handle, just take some “Tips from Teo.” And…Happy Collecting!

All-New Photographic Reference Website for Collectors of Vintage G.I. Joes, With Unique 360-Degree Imagery, to Debut August 24, 2013

Artist and GIjOE collector, Matthew McKeeby, prepares to capture a rotating, 360-degree photograph of the three vintage cadet figures for use in his new “Vintage3DJoes” website. (Photo: Matthew McKeeby)

exclusivebannerGIjOE Experts Join Forces to Create All-New “Vintage3DJoes” Website

In a stunning revelation, longtime GIjOE fan and collector Matthew McKeeby has announced that on August 24th, 2013, he will be debuting an all-new photographic reference website for fans of vintage (1960s-’70s) 12-inch GIjOE action figures. To accomplish this, McKeeby has enlisted the expertise of renowned RAH GIjOE expert, Carson Mataxis, and revealed that they intend to utilize the same 360-degree-view photographic process first demonstrated on Mataxis’ superb 3DJoes website.

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Matthew McKeeby, co-creator of the new Vintage3DJoes website. (Photo: Matthew McKeeby)

We asked Matthew to discuss why he decided to take on such a massive undertaking, and to elaborate on his plans for this exciting new vintage GIjOE website. He replied:

“We are now on the ‘eve’ of GIjOE’s 50th birthday, and ‘Vintage3DJoes.com’ will be my tribute to a toy that I loved as a child and now obsess over collecting as an adult. Back in the 1990s, when I started collecting GIjOE, it was hard to get information about the toy, and experienced collectors often kept those details to themselves.

The exception to that was Dan McKee, host of one of the web’s greatest vintage GIjOE sites (found HERE) that inspired me to chase down all the sets I didn’t have, and has always been incredibly sharing with information and advice. When the content of his original site disappeared at the end of AOL’s hosting, it was a great loss to the GIjOE collecting community.

Fortunately, my friend Dave, an enthusiastic RAH Joehead and host of the Flag Points podcast, turned me on to 3DJoes.com a few months ago. That site is a fantastic resource that integrates 360-degree spinning photography alongside information about the 1980s and ’90s GIjOE line. Dave also introduced me to Carson Mataxis, 3DJoes creator, who was incredibly supportive about the idea of setting up a new website dedicated to the vintage 12-inch line.”

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Carson Mataxis poses with just SOME of the hundreds of figures featured on his original, 3DJoes website. Wow! (Photo: Carson Mataxis)

3DJoes creator and Vintage3DJoes co-creator, Carson Mataxis, had the following to say about working on two such ground-breaking GIjOE websites:

“We wanted the two sites to be similar in terms of navigation and functionality (so users will have a seamless experience going between them), but different in look and feel.

The 12″ GIjOE line, with its removable uniforms, has a very different, more textured, more tactile feel. I felt the design of Vintage3DJoes should reflect that.

After a one hour kick-off phone call, I knew immediately that Matt was just crazy enough to take on such a big project. So, I spent a couple of hours setting up a few page templates and designing the new website’s logo banner.” (Just a quick note about Carson’s dedication: He did all this and more while closing on and moving into a new house!—Matt)

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Matthew McKeeby as a child playing with a GIjOE 5-Star Jeep. (Photo: Matthew McKeeby)

McKeeby went on to discuss his goals for the new Vintage3DJoes site, revealing:

There have been a number of excellent works published that can help collectors learn about the many adventures and faces of GIjOE. Unlike a book, however, this site will allow me to present more visuals than a publisher could fit in any one volume, so I hope it will become one of your favorite stops on the web. It’s our goal to accurately catalog all the vintage 12-inch GIjOE sets produced by Hasbro between 1964 and 1976. The use of 360-degree spins will allow Joe fans to get a good look at all sides of sets, and create an interactive environment for viewers.

When it is complete, the website will have reference related to the entire 12″ GIjOE line produced between 1964 and 1976. I hope to document all the pertinent details related to the sets eventually, though it will take a while to get all that information photographed and written up.

Initially, there are a lot of picky details about tags, color varieties, or differences in molding that won’t be on the pages. The beauty of the web format though, is that I can continue to edit and add to the pages as necessary. If there is something missing (or a mistake), please feel free to contact me.

Most of what you will find on Vintage3DJoes.com comes from my personal collection, though I’m hoping that fellow collectors who might have variations or packaged items that I don’t, will be willing to share them on the site (with full credit to them, of course). Look for pages that request a picture, and if you have the item in question and would be willing to share it, please contact me via email HERE.

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Imagine being able to view full, 360-degree images of all your favorite vintage 12-inch GIjOE figures and sets. Beginning August 24th, your dream will come true! (Photo: Vintage3DJoes)

Bottom Line: This is SO exciting! Matt’s new Vintage3DJoes website, along with Carson’s RAH counterpart, 3DJoes, will provide GIjOE fans around the world with a bookend pair of reference sites offering unparalleled access to a library of superb, full-color, 360-degree photographs. And, although the websites’ names may be somewhat misleading (the photos are 360-degree rotating images, but are NOT in 3-D), we’re sure they will quickly become fan favorites worldwide. And what better tribute could these two men have paid GIjOE on the eve of his 50th Birthday? We look forward to the grand opening of their new site on August 24th, and thank both gentlemen for their hard work and contributions to this article.

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Toys ‘R Us “Takes a Pass,” Forcing New Captain Action “Wave 3” Wolverine & Iron Man Costume Sets To Be Sold Online and in Comic Shops Only

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Ed Catto, of Round 2, waits to answer fan questions during a CA panel discussion held recently at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con. (Photo: captainaction.com)

Round 2 Rep Drops Bomb on Fans

If you’re a fan and collector of the new 12-inch Captain Action line of toys, comics and other merchandise (and aren’t we all?), then you’ll want to know the following intel about Cap’s upcoming “Wave 3” sets and figures. Let’s get right to it with a “hot of the presses” update from Round 2 and CA head honcho, Ed Catto

“We wanted to let you know we will NOT be selling Captain Action’s Wave 3 line at mass retailers. Rather, we’ll be selling the wave via online retailers, comic shops and hobby shops. For Wave 3, Toys ‘R Us has told us they want to ‘take a pass.’ However, we ARE planning to sell them Wave 4, with the Batman and Superman outfits. So, to paraphrase Arnold—We’ll be back.”

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A beautiful model at the SDCC holds up one of the show’s exclusive new “coffin box” Dr. Evil figures. Wave 3 appears to indicate the start of a new cost-saving strategy for Round 2. Less packaging equals less expensive products which could mean greater profits! (Photo: captainaction.com)

Smoke Clears, Writer Recovers

Phew! (crawling out of bomb crater, wiping forehead) That was close. Oooh…so dizzy… Give me a minute to restart my heart with the office defibrillator.

CLEAR!…ZZZZAP! Once more…

CLEAR!…ZZZZAP! (beep—beep—beep)

Okay, I’m back. For a minute there Ed, it sounded like you were setting us up for the dreaded, “We’re going out of business” speech. But thankfully, it was only… Anyway… Sorry for the interruption. Please continue, Mr. Catto…

“We want to play it straight. We’re disappointed, but it’s not the end of the world by any means. As you know, Toys ‘R Us has always had a lot of troubles with our brand. They didn’t merchandise it consistently across all stores; the figures were often not placed with the costume sets; the Marvel sets weren’t with the Marvel toys, and their dot.com division could never list it correctly, nor get it up on their site in a timely fashion. Toys ‘R Us is struggling as a company and has a LOT of internal issues to work out.”

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1960s Captain Action store displays were undeniably bright, attention-getting and graphically powerful. Unfortunately, Round 2 and Toys ‘R Us both failed to utilize such displays for the toy’s modern-day marketing, leading to lower overall sales at the retail store level. (Graphic: stewartsattic)

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This close-up of the new, slimmer, “Wave 3” CA packaging, reveals an excellent “neo-retro” use of classic Marvel comics artwork. Superb! (Photo: captainaction.com)

What Captain Action Fans Should Know

Until the release of the Batman and Superman CA sets, Catto advises collectors to remember:

“If you shop only at Toys R Us, make plans to pre-order the Wave 3 items at your local comic shop or from one of our many online retailers. Comic shops will be placing their orders soon, so now is the time to tell them that you want to reserve your Wave 3 purchases.”

Okay! No problem, Ed. We can do that. We’re sitting at our computers right now anyway, so it’s a lot easier to simply click on a few “add to cart” buttons than it is to drive all the way across town to an old, decrepid toy store. But please remind us again what to expect in Cap’s upcoming “Wave 3.” And will this reshuffling of your retailers make its availability scarcer, or…?

“We will be producing LESS quantities of Iron Man, Wolverine, and the Codename: Action CA figure, so this wave will probably be our most collectible yet. Without the Toys ‘R Us basic quantities, quite frankly, we’ve had to dial back the production run. This should help the collectors-market down the road. Also, we think that many folks will want to get the Iron Man and Wolverine sets to complete their Hawkeye Build-a-Figure/Assemble-an-Avenger parts, so demand might be stronger than anticipated.”

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The two newest costume sets for Captain Action, Iron Man and The Wolverine, will come in the new, slimmer packaging that marks them as part of CA’s “Wave 3.” (Photo: captainaction.com) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: We’re not surprised to hear that Toys ‘R Us is struggling, or that Round 2 is being forced to revise its Captain Action marketing strategy as a result. And Mr. Catto’s correct about the potential demand for Wave 3 sets being stronger than any before. We recommend you heed his advice and jump on the “pre-order” button over at webstores such as the BigBadToyStore. As of today, they had a great combo-offer ($35.99) for the Wolverine and Iron Man sets (found HERE). Thanks for all the updates and intel, Ed. Our continued best wishes. Let Justice be Done!

U.S. Company, Cotswold Collectibles, to Open Talks with Brazil’s Estrela Toys; in Hopes of Reviving 1970s Line of “Falcon” Action Figures

Greg Brown (above), formerly of EKLYPS, and now with Cotswold Collectibles, had some difficult dealings with Twinch Squad and its elusive owner, Jose Luis Ayuso. (Photo: DFW GijOE Club)

Greg Brown (above), formerly of EKLYPS, and now with Cotswold Collectibles, hopes to reach a deal with Brazil’s Estrela Toys for a future revival of the Falcon action figure line. (Photo: DFW GijOE Club)

cotslogoThat’s One Small Step For Cotswold…

In a proactive, forward-thinking move taken right from the playbook of late 1940s-era diplomacy, specifically the U.S. “Good Neighbor Policy,” American action figure manufacturer, Cotswold Collectibles, has extended a hand of cooperative business friendship towards Brazilian toy company, Estrela Toys, in what it clearly hopes will be the first step towards a mutually beneficial agreement between the two. Their ultimate goal? To help resurrect the imaginative Estrela toy line known as—Falcon.

As we discussed in a previous article (HERE), Falcon was Brazil’s creative offshoot of America’s “GIjOE,” UK’s “Action Man” and Spain’s “Geyperman.” But Falcon is not remembered so much for its similarities to those other lines as it is for the many differences it had from them. And, as it was offered only in Brazil, the line has not been widely collectible elsewhere.

Estrela_logo…One Giant Leap, For Falcon!

Good businesses move quickly. Only a day after our article on Falcon first appeared, Cotswold’s chief spokesman and Director of Marketing, Greg Brown, had already sent a timely, almost urgent, note to Falcon’s resident expert in Brazil, Ricardo Beluchi, hoping to secure his assistance in dealing with Estrela. Here’s Brown’s letter in its entirety:

“Hello Ricardo,

My name is Greg Brown and I am the Director of Marketing for Cotswold Collectibles. I understand that you are the “go to” person on Estrela’s Falcon figures. We would be interested in trying to help bring this brand back. Do you have any contacts within Estrela that we could e-mail to see if we could persuade them to make the products or if they have the tooling, sell it to us? We currently make our own 1:6 ‘vintage’ items (Elite Brigade) and work closely with the company that owns the Spanish Geyperman tools. We would love to bring back Falcon!

Thanks in advance,

Greg Brown
Director of Marketing & New Products
Cotswold Collectibles, Inc.”

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Brazilian Falcon expert, Ricardo Beluchi. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

A clearly pleased Beluchi quickly notified Falcon fans over on Facebook and a slew of excited replies in support of the idea immediately followed. Here’s Beluchi’s hopeful note:

“Friends, The American (Joe Report) story about Falcon begins to bear fruit. I was approached by Greg Brown of Cotswold. They have an interest in reviving Falcon there and asked me to contact Estrela. If this works, it will help many collectors!”

Bottom Line: As the old adage states, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.” Let’s hope Cotswold’s “acorn” takes root. If it does, Falcon fans may indeed see their favorite toy return. (Here’s an idea: If it rises from the “ashes of incinerators past,” maybe they should rename it: “Phoenix!”)

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Brazil’s “Falcon” G.I. Joes Remain the Most Difficult to Collect———Even for Brazilians!

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The cover of the first Falcon catalog (1977) reveals the Brazilian-made version of GIjOE debuted with an excellent mix of military and adventure themes. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

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These two Falcon figures look right at home in this Adventure Team Headquarters. The Brazilian version of GIjOE shared many similarities with its American cousins, but also went off in its own creative and distinctive directions. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

Onde estão os Joes Falcon?

Where are they, indeed? That’s a question that nags at the minds of thousands of Brazilian “Falcon” GIjOE collectors. Even when first introduced, the popular toys were difficult to find. Today, Falcon figures and vehicles have become downright scarce. What happened to them all?

Produced by Brazil’s Estrela Toys between 1977 and 1983, Falcon Joes were targeted primarily to middle-class children located in major cities of South America’s largest nation. But for those living outside of Brazil’s major markets, buying opportunities were rare.

Despite the uneven distribution, word spread and the new toys became hugely popular and thoroughly played with by thousands of happy South American children. Today, those same ’70s and ’80s children have grown to adulthood and are once again clamoring for a “fix” of their favorite 12-inch Brazilian hero. But there’s a problem. There are hardly any Falcon Joes left to be found—anywhere! Some (occasionally) appear for sale on ebay, but collectors are clearly facing a supply and demand shortage. And it’s only getting worse.

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This Google street-view of Estrela Toy’s once-bustling production facility reveals only a long-shuttered and abandoned factory today. Fortunately, the company has reorganized and is now headquartered in Sao Paulo. But its future (and that of Falcon GIjOEs) remains unclear. (Photo: Google Maps)

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“Condor” was a 1:6 scale android, making it an extremely cool Falcon figure. Somehow, this example has survived the last 40+ years in its original window box. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi) Click to enlarge.

Buried in a Landfill—Or Burned Up and Gone With the Wind?

We’ve touched on this depressing aspect of GIjOE collecting in previous articles; but unfortunately, literally thousands of vintage figures are going to be forever MIA. Relegated to the ignominious fate of a landfill or waste incinerator, the “body count” of today’s surviving Falcons is undoubtedly much lower than it should be. For collectors of the line, it’s a sad and undeniable reality.

Simply put, Falcon Joes are scarce, and the last 40+ years have not been kind to their collectors. Today, even with the aid of the Internet, locating good examples of the unusual line is an uphill struggle, even for native Brazilians. The majority of MIA Falcons reside deep within Brazil’s depressing “trash mountains” with no hope of a future rescue.

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Great figures, superb outfits (check out that tan one on the left), and a slightly altered AT logo prove these Falcon figures are still 100% GIjOE! (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

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Renowned Falcon expert, Ricardo Beluchi (right), poses alongside a colorfully dressed cosplayer during last year’s second Falcon convention in Brazil. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

O Herói de Verdade!

Falcon’s motto is translated as “The Hero of Truth!” And if you’re a Falcon fan, there’s one expert you can always count on to get to the truth: Ricardo Beluchi. Beluchi’s superb Portuguese-language Falcon website (found HERE) is chocked full to overflowing with all things Falcon. Here are some passages translated into English via Google Translate:

“Falcon was first launched in 1978. Originally, there were two models available: one with a dark beard (Action Camouflaged) and one who was beardless (Counter-Attack). But with instant success, additional models were quickly introduced. The themes were of many adventures, and since Falcon had to fight with an opponent, he struggled primarily against nature, including sharks, giant spiders, octopi and ferocious gorillas.

Falcon was also a secret agent, defying death with sets such as ‘Fantastic Leap Forward’ or ‘High Voltage.’ Initially, parents were concerned that their little boys were playing with dolls, but then they saw that Falcon had nothing ‘girly’ about him. With knives, guns and a scar on his bearded face, Falcon is today, the most MACHO of toys.”

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Fans in Brazil hope to generate enthusiasm for a revival of Falcon and gathered recently for the SECOND annual Falcon/GIjOE convention. Exhibits included 12″ and 3.75″ GIjOEs, 1:1 cosplayers in elaborate homemade costumes, dioramas, and of course, the ever elusive Falcon! (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

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This table at the second convention in Brazil reveals an Adventure Team headquarters (see GIjOE box), three Falcon figures and one of those cool, “Condor” android dudes.Sweet! (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi) Click to enlarge.

Is There a Future for Falcon?

At this point, it’s impossible to determine what, if any, plans Estrela may have for Falcon, but the company HAS indicated that it is at least curious about fan interest in the line. In a recent poll conducted by Estrela (you can still cast a vote for Falcon HERE), there appears to be overwhelming consumer support for the line’s return. Reminded of Geyperman’s successful reintroduction (see HERE), we wondered if anything else was being done to generate excitement for a possible Falcon “resurrection.” Beluchi replied:

“A few years ago there was a group of Brazilian collectors who joined together to form a Falcon fan club called the ‘BraJoes.’ But after a few years, the club disbanded. In 2012, members of that group teamed up once again and held a convention. This year, a second convention was held. Several items were displayed at that event, including Falcons, GIJOEs, customs figures and dioramas, etc.. There was also a competition for cosplayers and we had many visitors!”

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Figures on the back row (frogman, deep-sea diver, etc.) look familiar to fans in the U.S., U.K., Spain and other countries, but the front row of “exotic” figures are unique to Brazil’s Falcon line. We see inspiration from Bulletman, Logan’s Run, Flash Gordon, and other schlocky ’70 sci-fi. (Photo: Washington Espínola)

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It’s good to see fans in Brazil are beginning to work on dioramas as well. Here’s a nice closeup of a garage dio, complete with tools, mini pin-ups, and other related equipment. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi) Click to enlarge.

So the news is encouraging. But what about Falcon’s increasing rarity, rising cost, and decreasing availability? We asked Ricardo if he could comment some on the line’s history and how it created this dilemma. He replied:

“Here in Brazil, Falcon figures were originally found only in major toy stores. Because of the poor overall financial situation of our country, it was an expensive toy to purchase, and so few children ever received more than one or two. Usually, we earned them only on specific dates such as our birthdays or Christmas.

You also need to understand that Brazilians only began collecting Falcon figures a few years ago. During the 70s-’80s, nobody thought of collecting these toys. People actually played with them, and many were THROWN AWAY when they broke. So, nowadays, it’s very difficult to find them in good condition, complete, or for a good price.

I have a few Falcons in my own collection, but since they are so rare, I try to refocus my collection onto GIjOEs and the Adventure Team line-up that I love so much! I hope this helps. If your readers have any more questions about Falcon, please let them know I am available!”

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Cosplayers are like costumed “cheerleaders” for GIjOE and Falcon, and this group appeared at the second Falcon convention recently to root for their favorites. (Photo: Ricardo Beluchi)

Bottom Line: Already rare in Brazil, it’s a safe bet that Falcon figures, uniforms and equipment will continue to hold a place of high value and fond esteem among Brazilian collectors. Whether or not fans in other countries will see many of them in person is doubtful. Collectors hold on to them tightly, and turnover is infrequent. As long as Estrela remains on the fence about 12-inch figures, fans will just have to keep their eyes and ears open. Our sincerest thanks go out to Ricardo Beluchi for his help with this article. If you’d like to ask Ricardo any more questions about Falcon, you can contact him directly through his Facebook page found HERE. Go, JOE! Vai, Falcon!