“I grew up listening in AWE to their stories of sacrifice, bravery and courage.”
One Man’s “Commemorative Customs”
As members of America’s “Greatest Generation” continue to slip away, concerned family members have begun to transfer their fading WWII photos, slides and movie reels onto to more permanent storage media such as DVDs, Blue Ray discs and USB hard drives. Other relatives, grateful of their loved ones sacrifices, are “getting creative” and producing commemorative keepsake objects such as scrapbooks, artwork and shadow boxes, comprised of their family member’s service medals, unit patches, war mementos and other personal effects.
Not surprisingly, many collectors and customizers of GIjOE (and other) 1:6 scale action figures are now busy creating commemorative custom figures (see HERE), custom uniforms (see HERE), custom figure boxes (see HERE) and even full-blown custom dioramas (see HERE) depicting the military exploits of their own family members during WWII. One such customizer, Robert Jason of Cudjoe Key, Florida, has chosen to produce (and sell) historically accurate and heavily detailed custom 1:6 scale vehicles. We asked Robert to describe how he became interested in GIjOEs, 1:6 scale vehicles, and the production of his exciting “commemorative customs.” He replied:
“Well, I’ve been doing customization for a while now and collecting GIjOEs for a very long time as well. I played with them when they first came out waaay back in the day, and now this is my hobby. It’s a great means of relaxation for me from my full-time job.
My interest and motivation comes from my Dad who served in the Italian campaign of WWII. He was an infantryman with the 85th Infantry Division as US troops marched through Italy. He became a POW for a year until liberated by Patton’s 3rd Armored Division.
Another inspiration was my Uncle, who was a Marine with the First Marine Division and fought through the entire Island campaign. I grew up listening in AWE to their stories of sacrifice and bravery and courage. I knew I was listening to true American heroes! I make these customs to commemorate their service and of all the other heroic WWII Veterans who unselfishly fought for our country.”
“I am a Detail Guy.”
Judging from his work, Robert has an affinity for the many variations of American Jeeps, ambulances, armored cars and halftracks of WWII, leaving the more “heavyweight realm” of tanks, etc. to others. We asked him what he hoped to accomplish with his custom creations and he replied:
“I try to put that ‘personal feeling’ in each custom with pin-up photos and what limited personal comforts there were back in that era. These vehicles were the soldiers homes , they lived in them and fought from them and I want people to see that in each vehicle. Whenever I build one of these custom vehicles, I use actual WWII combat museum photos to be as accurate as possible.
When I first started selling them, I discovered there was a need (and market) for reasonably priced 1:6 scale custom vehicles for serious collectors. Yes, there are much higher priced all-metal kits that are extremely well detailed, but one must have model-building experience and the time required to assemble them, and as you know, TIME is often very hard to come by!”
“These Vehicles Were the Soldier’s HOMES.”
Robert’s recently completed a pair of halftracks for two lucky buyers, an US Army version in OD green (shown at right and below) and a yellow-starred USMC version with unique “machine-gun pulpit” (shown above). We asked him to describe his production techniques and methods in greater detail and he replied:
“On the USMC halftrack, the machine-gun pulpit, the side racks, the rear racks, and the rusty tailpipe were all scratch-built from sheets of Plastruct and strip plastic. The machine gun ring is from a Hasbro M8 armored car, although I usually scratch-build those as well (I just happened to have one in my parts bin). All of the miniature screws and bolts used on my vehicles are from MicroMark as are a lot of the miniature tools and brushes.
Each custom I create is a one of a kind. I use Patches of Pride decals exclusively, because of their high quality and accuracy. I’ll also add some light paint ‘distressing,’ as on the USMC one, creating a ‘rusty’ tailpipe, paint variation on the star on the hood to indicate a field repair or battle damage. I’ll airbrush or use rattle-can paint to achieve the effect I want. I will be expanding my weathering and distressing in future projects.”
“The detail of WW II equipment and uniforms these days from manufacturers like Dragon, DID, Ultimate Soldier and others is incredible ! They are spot on. I am a detail guy, and I believe ‘It’s all in the details.’ And I feel that is also what collectors are looking for—at a reasonable price.”
Bottom Line: Robert states he was inspired by the heroism and sacrifices of those from the “Greatest Generation.” Well, we’re inspired by his attitude and his superb custom vehicles. Hopefully, he’s signing the underside of each of his creations, because to us, they seem like works of ART! You’re an inspiration to us all, Robert. Keep up the great work! Contact Robert HERE.