Monthly Archives: September 2013

Inspired by Love of Family, Country, and G.I. Joes, Florida Man Creating Historically Accurate and Authentically Detailed 1/6th Scale Vehicles

This GIjOE Marine looks proud to be riding on one of Bob Jason's amazing custom vehicles. In this closeup, you can see Bob's addition of custom drop-down windshield armor, hand-crafted machine-gunner's box and addition of correct yellow-colored USMC ProSeries decals by Patches of Pride. Amazing work all around! (Photo: Bob Jason)

This 1st Marine Division GIjOE looks proud to be riding in one of Robert Jason’s amazing 1:6 scale customized vehicles. In this closeup, you can see Robert’s addition of a custom windshield, a hand-crafted machine-gun “pulpit” and the addition of service-correct (yellow-colored) USMC stars and other ProSeries waterslide decals from Patches of Pride. OOH-Rah! (Photo: Julie Kostick)

GIJOE fan, collector, and customizer, Robert Jason (58), details and customizes 1:6 scale vehicles for sale on ebay. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

“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.”

This overhead 3/4 view of Robert's 1st Marine Division halftrack reveals the addition of side and rear storage racks, gun emplacements and much more. Outstanding! (Photo: Robert Jason)

This overhead 3/4 view of Robert’s 1st Marine Division halftrack reveals the addition of side and rear storage racks, gun emplacements and much more. Outstanding! (Photo: Julie Kostick)

This 3/4 front view of Robert’s USMC halftrack reveals even more detail including a tow rope, gas cans, bumper markings and .50 cal ammo box decals from Patches of Pride. Fantastic work! (Photo: Julie Kostick) Click to enlarge.

“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!”

Robert's superb M8 armored car was upgraded and customized with a new OD paint job, "circle-n-star" decals from Patches of Pride, storage racks, .50 cal machinegun and a GREAT looking custom GIjOE driver. WOW! (Photo: Robert Jason)

Robert’s custom M20 armored car was upgraded with an OD paint job, “circle-n-star” decals from Patches of Pride, storage racks, bed rolls, a .50 cal and a custom commander. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

This closeup of Robert's Army halftrack reveals some of the many additional details that make his customs so special, including gas mask bags, radios, food stuffs and much more. (Photo: Robert Jason)

This closeup of Robert’s Army halftrack reveals some of the many additional details that make his customs so special, including gas mask bags, radios, food stuffs and much more. (Photo: Julie Kostick) Click to enlarge.

“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.”

This side view of Robert's custom Army halftrack shows the addition of rear and side storage racks, decals, props and a multitude of tiny rivets and bolts, all of which add greatly to its realism. (Photo: Robert Jason)

This side view of Robert’s custom Army halftrack shows the addition of rear and side storage racks, decals, props and a multitude of tiny rivets and bolts, all of which add to its realism. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

“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.”

Even tiny objects such as radios and medical kits benefit from Robert's keen attention to detail. (Photo: Robert Jason)

Tiny objects such as radios and med kits benefit from Robert’s keen eye for detail. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Robert's taken an ordinary Jeep and converted and customized it into a perfect 1:6 scale replica of MASH field ambulance. Outstanding! (Photo: Robert Jason)

Here, Robert’s taken an ordinary Jeep and converted and customized it into a perfect 1:6 scale replica of a MASH Army field ambulance. Head to the front! (Photo: Julie Kostick)

A second custom Army ambulance sports Robert's amazing, hand-crafted canvas top, complete with racks for the stretchers, medical accessories, a hood flag and decals. (Photo: Robert Jason)

A second custom Army ambulance sports Robert’s amazing, hand-crafted canvas top with racks for the stretchers, medical accessories, a hood flag and medical decals. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

This 3/4 rear view of Robert's custom ambulance is breathtakingly realistic! (Photo: Robert Jason)

This 3/4 rear view of Robert’s custom ambulance is breathtakingly realistic. Look at all the tiny straps and buckles!  (Photo: Julie Kostick)

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.

TJR’s “Video Pick of the Week” #16: “The Adventures of GIjOE: The Kayak Attack”

CIGCC logo.It’s a Sea Sled vs. SUPER Sea Sled Showdown!

The members of the Central Illinois GIjOE Collector’s Club (CIGCC) have just released another of their entertaining club videos. As usual, the members hope to remind other fans and collectors of the fading fact that GIjOEs were meant to be played with, and demonstrate yet another way to do just that.

In their past videos, the CIGCC has shown us how to create a self-towing convoy of vehicles using only pieces of nearly invisible fishing line, how to have a huge “backyard battle,” how to “swap noggin’s” between figures, and how to practice for and participate in the time-honored tradition of a GIjOE “parachute drop.”

This time around, the club has created an all-new, fan-fantasy GIjOE commercial entitled, “The Kayak Attack.” In it, a son decides to pit his vintage 1966 Sea Sled against his Dad’s modern-era “Super Sea Sled” to in attempt to determine which is the fastest.

Bottom Line: We love seeing children, teens, men and women (of all ages) playing with and enjoying their GIjOEs. Here at The Joe Report, we say, FREE YOUR JOES! When you grow tired of looking at them from behind all that cellophane, we recommend that you follow the lead of the members of the CIGCC and rediscover just how fun it is to PLAY with GIjOE. Go, JOE!

2nd Annual D/FW G.I. Joe & Action Figure Show Set For Saturday, September 21, 2013 in Grapevine, TX

dfwshowposter

Heads up, Joeheads!

One of the best GIjOE and action figure shows in the U.S. is set to rock Grapevine, Texas tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 21) between 10AM and 4PM. The event will feature dealers from all over the country who specialize in all things related to GIjOE, plus others offering a plethora of vintage to modern toys and action figures. General admission is still only $5, and is FREE to all active duty service personnel, first responders and even members of the Boy Scouts!

Man-o-man! Fans had so much great stuff to choose from! There's a minty-fresh 5-Star Jeep, some High Altitude Infiltrators, a 1:6 Hummer and a Love Bug Beetle, the list of "Joe-goodies" goes on and on. Look at all that great stuff! (Photo: DFW GIjOE Collector's Club)

This photo from the 2012 DFW show shows one dealer’s goodies. (Photo: DFW GIjOE Collector’s Club)

Bottom Line: This show is a “must see” for any fan or collector who can make the trip. The members of the DFW club are some of the most generous and talented individuals it’ll ever be your pleasure to meet, and this show promises to be a great time for the entire family. For complete information, we recommend you visit the show’s official Facebook page found HERE. And to view a newly released CBS News video featuring DFW club rep, Greg Brown, jump HERE.

Holy WOW, Batman! Hot Toys Reveals All-New Pics of Upcoming 1:6 Scale Batman and Robin Figures

batman9

We’ll keep this short and sweet, Bat-Fans!

In a surprise press release received today from official Batman licensee, Hot Toys, we learn that:

“Hot Toys is excited to introduce the 1/6th scale Batman collectible figure from the 1966 feature film. The collectible figure is newly developed and highly detailed, which is specially crafted based on the image of Adam West as the iconic character Batman, featuring a screen-accurate masked head sculpt, specially made costume with the Batman logo, weapons and accessories. The Batmobile will be coming soon too, so please stay tuned!”

That said, here are the latest Batman product photos courtesy of Hot Toys. Enjoy!

batman3

batman2

batman1

batman4

batman5

batman6

batman7

batman8

batman10

batman11

batman12

batman14

batman13Bottom Line: It’s taken almost 50 years for the stars to align and a company as talented as Hot Toys to come along and do these iconic figures justice. With Batman at least, it appears we’ll also receive an assortment of weapons, THREE different facial expression options, and a wide variety of interchangeable hands. We assume Robin will be similarly outfitted. Stay tuned as we eagerly await further intel from Hot Toys. Same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel! 

SHOCKER! Fabled “2001 Twinch Squad” Spacesuit Uniform Sets Slashed in Price and Once Again Being Offered for Sale as NRFB “In Stock” Items

This group photo supplied by Hobby Crash shows three of the four known uniform set colors. Only the blue version is missing. (Photo: Hobby Crash)

This group photo supplied by Hobby Crash shows three of the four known uniform set colors. Only the blue version is missing. (Photo: Hobby Crash)

exclusivebanner

In an unheard of scenario, individual parts are also being offered, such as this red-orange air-conditioner pack. (Photo: Hobby Crash)

In an unheard of offering, individual Twinch Squad parts are now also being offered, such as this excellent red-orange air-conditioner pack.
(Photo: Hobby Crash)

“Open the Pod Bay Doors, Hal.”

For stunned collectors, that should probably read, “Open my wallet now, Hal.” Because the last time we last checked in on this subject, the only remaining copies of those now legendary “2001: A Space Odyssey” uniform sets, originally produced by long-defunct and bankrupt manufacturer called Twinch Squad (in Spain), were the ones that have been (and still are) languishing unsold over on ebay for almost 2 years. As of this date, you can still find those auctions HERE.

But now, SOMEHOW, according to reputed online 1:6 dealer, Hobby Crash (HC), those self-same, rare, and highly collectible uniform sets are being offered for sale from THIER website, and at (comparatively) bargain-basement prices! The two uniform sets we believed were the last remaining unsold NRFB Twinch Squad sets are STILL listed in those same ebay auctions with “Buy it Now” prices of $3,500 apiece. Fantastically, the very same uniform sets are now offered by Hobby Crash (HERE) for approximately $526 to $573 apiece (price varies by uniform color and current Euro to Dollar conversion rate).

Caveat Emptor! The buyer of this Twinch Squad helmet should be aware that although it is still in it's original packaging, it is less than perfect condition. Note the dimples and wrinkles in the casting at the bottom right of the helmet. But despite the flaws, it IS one of the rare Twinch Squad helmets. (Photo: Hobby Crash)

The buyer of this Twinch Squad helmet needn’t worry about what appear to be defects. According to HC’s head honcho, Juanma De Castro, they’re only shadows created when photographing through the plastic blister packaging. (Photo: Hobby Crash)

Bottom Line: We doubt there are many of these sets remaining, but at almost $3,000 LESS (per set) than the ones being offered over on ebay, these Hobby Crash “Twinchies” are clearly a STEAL. Yes, $573 is still a sizeable chunk of change for ANY 1:6 scale uniform or equipment, but given the rarity of these items and the fact that Twinch Squad “2001” astronaut suits have achieved an almost mythic status among collectors, HC’s prices seem like a real bargain. If you have the resources and the inclination, NOW would be the time to jump on these rare items. Undoubtedly, owning each color variation would be ideal, and it will be VERY tempting (for collectors who can afford it) to “add them all” to their 1:6 scale astronaut line-up!

NYCC Exclusive “Captain Action” Coloring Book Intended for Kids———But Appeals More to Adults!

Copies of this superb retro-modern Captain Action "sketch and coloring book" will be sold to fans attending the New York City Comic Con in October, 2013. Outstanding! (Photo: Joe Ahern, Round 2)

Copies of this all-new, retro-modern Captain Action “sketch and coloring book” will be sold to fans attending the New York City Comic Con, October 10-13, 2013. Outstanding! (Photo: Joe Ahern, Round 2)

Joe Ahern of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises. (Photo: Joe Ahern)

Joe Ahern of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises. (Photo: Joe Ahern)

New CA Collectible to Debut 10-10-13

In yet another creative (and intelligent) demonstration of how Round 2 strives to please its existing customer base while simultaneously creating a new generation of “Actioneers,” Captain Action (CA) Enterprises head honcho, Joltin’ Joe Ahern has just released a press release announcing the production of an eye-popping CA “sketch and coloring book” to be offered as an exclusive to fans and attendees of the upcoming 2013 New York Comic Con. Ahern excitedly declared:

“Hey Actioneers! Captain Action Enterprises announces another New York Comic Con exclusive: The Captain Action Convention Sketchbook and Coloring Book. Building upon the fan enthusiasm for convention sketchbooks, this 44-page book will feature Action Artwork by an impressive collection of comic artists, including: John Byrne, Joe Jusko, Ron Frenz, Ruben Procopio, Steven E. Gordon and Art Thibert.”

This "retro-modern" ad for Weston crayons perfectly captures the mood of "surprise" and delight that Round 2 strives to achieve with its own reinterpretation of Captain Action's vintage charm and fun. (Photo: Round 2)

This “retro-modern” ad for Weston Crayons perfectly captures the mood of “surprise and delight” that Round 2 strives to achieve with its current assortment of Captain Action products. And yes, little girl, we’d like a copy of that Jonny Quest coloring book too! (Photo: Round 2)

Ed Catto of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises. (Photo: Ed Catto)

Ed Catto of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises posing with—and wearing—some recent additions to the growing CA product line. (Photo: Ed Catto)

R2 Decides to “Take It Up a Notch”

In contrast to their colorful, fantastically painted outer covers, the black-n-white line-art filling the interior pages of coloring books is often simplistic and well…DULL. Round 2’s decision to upgrade their new CA book by utilizing only well-known and TALENTED comic book artists, ensures that its convention souvenir will become an instant collectible. Ahern’s fellow genius-in-business, Excellent Ed Catto, chimed in with his own intel, saying:

“With a nod to the retro past that Captain Action so often embraces, this limited-edition is designed to evoke the look and feel of a classic 1960s coloring book. From the painted cover to the black-and-white interior images to the corny captions, it’s all designed to make the reader feel as if he or she’s stumbled across a lost coloring book in a forgotten corner of some out-of-the-way antique store. This NYCC Limited Edition Convention Exclusive will be sold at the Captain Action booth at the New York Comic Con, and retail for $9.99.”

nycc2013-logo-thumbBottom Line: This new book is a no-brainer for Captain Action fans. We recommend you keep your eyes peeled and pick one up whenever and wherever you can. If you’re in the area, the 2013 New York Comic Con will be held at the Javits Center in New York City on October 10-13th. So…”git yer crayons out” and… Let Justice Be Done! (Psst! Hey, Hasbro! Here’s ANOTHER great idea for GIjOE’s 50th… Hello?)

New “Flag of Honor” Commemorates 9/11 Victims

A closeup of the new "Flag of Honor" displayed outside the headquarters building of The Joe Report. The flag has

A new “Flag of Honor” displayed outside the headquarters building of The Joe Report today, 9/11/13. Proceeds from sales of the commemorative flags benefit 9/11-related charities. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“We Shall Never Forget Them.”

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States of America. On this day, wherever you live, we hope you’ll take a moment to remember and honor the victims of those horrible events. As a public expression of our sentiments today, we’re displaying a few extra U.S. flags outside as well as a brand new “Flag of Honor.” According to John Michelotti, the flag’s creator:

“The ‘Flag of Honor’ contains the names of all those who perished in the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon, United flights 175 and 93, and American flights 11 and 77. The flag also contains the names of the emergency service responders and personnel—the heroes who gave their lives so that others could live. Together, these flags give the families, friends, all of America, and the world, symbols that will forever memorialize, individually, the men, women and children who were lost that dreadful day. We shall NEVER forget them.”

9_11_11

Bottom Line: We found our new “Flag of Honor” for sale at a local Menard’s home-improvement store and they can still be purchased online HERE. As described by Mr. Michelotti, in place of the usual red and white stripes are the names of all of the men, women and children who were killed that day in those deadly attacks. Profit from sales of the flags goes to numerous charities. You can read all about it on the official flagofhonor.org website found HERE.

Collectors Group Learns to Apply “Teamwork Strategies” to Achieve Greater Success When Searching Flea Markets For “Lost” G.I. Joes

Searching for anything as small as a GIjOE at a flea market is much like looking for a needle in a haystack. But by applying various teamwork strategies, members of GIjOE collector clubs can efficiently "canvas" the giant sale events. This giant, hand-painted, vintage "freak show" banner heralding "Nina, the Headless Wonder" was visible to everyone from hundreds of yards away. Unfortunately, GIJoes are MUCH harder to locate. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This giant, hand-painted, freak-show banner heralding “Nina, the Headless Wonder” was easily spotted by attendees at the recent “Third Sunday Market” in Bloomington, IL. By contrast, locating 12-inch action figures at such massive public sales can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Again, "size matters" when you're looking through literally MILLIONS of objects for only a few certain ones. In this case, what looked like a GIJOE from across one of the pavilions, turned out to actually be an over-sized Douglas MacArthur doll measuring approximately 18" or more in height. While he was close, ol' MacArthur wasn't QUITE the sort of GIjOE we were looking for. Our search went on! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“Size matters” when you’re looking through literally MILLIONS of objects for only a few certain ones. We wondered why this “Joe” stood out so well from across the pavilion. It turns out he’s not a GIjOE at all, but rather an over-sized Douglas MacArthur doll measuring approximately 24″ or more in height. Definitely cool, but Ol’ Mac wasn’t exactly the type of GIjOE we were looking for. We decided to leave him for some doll collector or military history buff. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Learning to Search for “Lost” Joes—As a TEAM

Five months ago, we documented a typical search and rescue mission for a “lost” GIjOE. In that case, it was a Talking Adventure Team Commander in very good condition in his original box. Somehow, the poor guy had become trapped and “paralyzed” within a display case. Nooooo!!!!! When we learned he was going to be put up for auction, an urgent call went out for his immediate “rescue” and all loyal Joeheads in the area quickly came his aid (see story and photos HERE).

In this, the second of our “Searching for Lost GIjOEs” articles, we decided to tag along with members of the Central Illinois GIjOE Collector’s Club (CIGCC) and document their day at the Third Sunday Market (TSM). If you’ve never heard of it, TSM is a massive indoor-outdoor flea market held (as you might expect) every third Sunday of the month on the sprawling grounds of the massive Interstate Center in Bloomington, Illinois. With hundreds of dealers and thousands of buyers in attendance, we felt it would be a perfect opportunity to witness several successful GIjOE “search and rescue” missions. However, the day did not go quite as the club expected…

Big Crowds Mean Big Delays

Learn from the mistakes of others, dear readers. If you plan on attending a flea market, understand right off the bat that they are popular—and crowded—events. Allow plenty of extra time for travel, parking and dealing with the crowds. Originally, the members of the CIGCC had told us that they hoped to gather at the front entrance to the market at 9 AM. Unfortunately, heavy attendance created longer traffic delays in the parking areas, longer walk-up times and congestion.

As a result, club members arrived at widely different times, some over an hour later than the first. And repeatedly, rather than wait the morning away at the entrance, eager members (understandably) would begin the day’s search on their own, leaving latecomers to their own devices. Upon reflection, it would have been much better for everyone to rally at an outside location, such as a nearby Walmart parking lot, before driving the final mile to the market together, thereby ensuring everyone could park and arrive together (Oh well, live and learn).

So close! And yet... As we walked up, this Marine-Cowboy LOOKED like he might've been a GIjOE, but he turned out to be a Big Jim character or other something. Disappointed, we didn't stick around to find out. Adios, Cowboy! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

At first glance, this oddly attired “Cowboy Marine” looked like a GIjOE, but turned out to be some sort of smaller “Big Jim” character instead. Disappointed, we left the scowling (and handless) figure behind for someone else to “rescue” and continued searching for REAL GIjOEs. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Creating a Cell-Phone “Hotline”

After an erratic and disappointing start, the club regrouped and decided to utilize smarter and more efficient “teamwork strategies” to improve their search prospects. Early arriving members had already perused the grounds for over an hour and imparted their advanced knowledge to the newcomers much as a “scout”would do. Such intel can be an invaluable timesaver when facing a large, crowded sale.

Determined, the members dispersed and began their search anew. Spreading out through the masses of shoppers, the individual club members all shared one common goal: “Rescue Lost GIjOEs!” As we followed along, we noticed that their cell phones soon began to buzz back and forth. Whenever a member located a dealer with some sort of “lost Joes,” he described what the items were, and where they had been found.

If interested, the other members would quickly make a bee-line to the site. And if not interested, they would simply continue on their own way. As the club’s search party strategy began to play out, its cleverness became obvious in terms of both simplicity and efficiency. Cell phones were indispensable to the plan’s outcome and are a must-have tool for its successful implementation. Indeed, it was clear to us that being able to fan out and yet remain in constant contact with other members had given the club tremendous advantages over the search capabilities of an individual. One member put it this way:

“Flea Markets like this are just too big for us all to stay together. This one had 2 indoor pavilions, 4 outdoor pavilions and all of the surrounding grounds, FULL of booths and people sellin’. You have to use a cell phone if you’re going to stay in touch. Tell your readers to be sure they share their cell phone numbers with other club members so they can all keep each other updated.

For example, I just found a great booth waaay over there in the corner of this field, and it had about 20 Classic Collection Joes plus a bunch of Jeeps and other 1:6 scale vehicles and stuff. I put out a call, and suddenly —WHOMP! All the other club members descended on it like locusts. Now THAT’S successful teamwork strategy! “

This all-metal "footlocker" was misleading stickered as being "GIjOE" by its seller, but in actuality it was MUCH larger '60s-ish knock-off. Its condition and graphics were in pretty fair shape, and looking back at it now, we regret not making an offer for it. Oh, well! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As our search progressed, this all-metal “footlocker” caught our attention. It was misleading labeled as being “GIjOE” by its seller, while in actuality it was a MUCH larger ’60s-ish “knock-off” trunk. Its overall condition and graphics were pretty nice, and we regret not making an offer on it when we had the chance. Once cleaned up, it would have made a VERY cool “treasure chest” for any vintage GIjOE collection. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This elaborately carved wooden bench is actually in perfect 1:6 scale! It was missing only that one little piece in its back rest. The dealer told us it was a miniature music box and that it still worked. What a great prop this would make for any 1:6 diorama. His asking price? $400. Oh well... (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This elaborately carved wooden bench is actually in perfect 1:6 scale! It was missing only that one little piece in its back rest. The dealer told us it was a miniature music box and that it still worked. What a great prop this would make for any 1:6 diorama. His asking price? $400. Oh well… (Photo: Mark Otnes)

We found a few of these wooden doll swings for about $35 each, perfect for 1:6 scale figures. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

We found a few of these wooden swings for $35 each, perfect for 1:6 scale figures. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As members began to close in on GIjOE, CIGCC member, Brad Curry, was the first to hit paydirt when he snagged this superb Super Joe "Terron" monster for only $5. What a deal! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As members began to close in on GIjOE, CIGCC member, Brad Curry, was the first to hit paydirt when he snagged this superb Super Joe “Terron” monster for only $5. What a deal! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Finally! We discovered these two authentic, "Lost" GIjOEs in their old footlocker in a dealer booth in one of the outdoor pavilions. Yes, they had some broken hands, missing feet and patchy scalps, but the two veteran adventure teamers could've been easily repaired. Unfortunately, the owner was set at $175 and would accept nothing less. We whispered to the Joes told them "not to give up," and that "SOMEONE will rescue them soon." (It just wasn't going to be us!) (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Finally! We discovered these two authentic, “Lost” GIjOEs in their old footlocker in a dealer booth in one of the outdoor pavilions. Yes, they had some broken hands, missing feet and patchy scalps, but the two veteran adventurers could’ve easily been repaired. Unfortunately, the owner would only sell it all together at $150 and would accept nothing less. We whispered to the Joes to “not to give up hope” and that “someone will come along to rescue them soon.” (It just wasn’t going to be us!) (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Here's a nice little pile we located indoors, all reasonably priced. Remember, if you don't need it, don't just walk away. Call your fellow club members and then "Stand Guard!" (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Here’s a nice assortment we located indoors, all reasonably priced. Remember, if you don’t need something, don’t just walk away. Call up your fellow club members and then “Stand Guard!” That MIB Snake Eyes or Marine Corps Sniper might make someone in your club VERY happy! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Yet another booth under yet another outdoor pavilion produced yet another vintage footlocker with equipment and two MORE bearded adventurer Joes. The figures were in loose, but good condition. After doing some mental calculations on its worth, we were shocked when the owner said "$250, no less!" We notified other club members, but no one in our group was interested at that price. Regretably, we had to leave the two "lost" Joes to their uncertain future fate at the flea market. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Yet another booth under yet another outdoor pavilion yielded yet another vintage footlocker with equipment and two MORE bearded adventurers. These figures were in loose, but nice condition. It was marked at $200, and we were saddened when the dealer adamantly declared, “I’ll take $175, but no less!” We notified the other club members, but no one was interested at that price and we were forced to abandon the two “lost” Joes to their uncertain fate. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Success! The slightly smug, clearly contented expression on the face of CIGCC member, Tony Carducci, reveals his true inner feelings after "rescuing" two "lost" MIB adventurers from the "clutches" of a dealer at the Third Sunday Market in Bloomington, IL. Just before he made this score, Tony had sent out a call regarding another Joe sighting, bringing us over in time to capture this photo at Tony's "moment of triumph!" (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Success! The slightly smug, clearly contented expression on the face of CIGCC member, Tony Carducci, reveals his true inner feelings after “rescuing” two “lost” MIB adventurers ($9 each) from the “clutches” of a dealer at the Third Sunday Market in Bloomington, IL. Just before he made this score, Tony had sent out a call regarding another Joe sighting. We arrived in time to capture this photo of his “moment of triumph!” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

3rdsunday7

While not a GIjOE item per se, this beautiful, vintage Navy ship’s signal light would make a KILLER decor item for any respectable “Man Cave” or Joe Room. Before you move on, let your fellow club members know about it. OOH-rah! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Be Systematic. Be Savvy. Be Helpful!

As our time at the flea market wound down, the success of the club’s search strategy had proven itself time and time again. By using their cell phones like walkie-talkies, the members had been able to cast the widest possible “search net.” If we learned anything from observing the members of the CIGCC that day, it was that utilizing well-planned and smartly executed “teamwork strategies” is vital to a successful Joe-search. If you haven’t already, we highly recommend that you locate and join a local division of the official GIjOE Collector’s Club in your area. If there isn’t any, start up one of your own! And then, take advantage of your new club’s “strength in numbers.”

Bottom Line: Finding and rescuing any GIjOE figure, accessory or vehicle is always exciting. But sharing that feeling with others makes it doubly so. If you locate something you don’t need, don’t just walk away. Take a moment to use your cell phone and notify other club members as to its location. If you can, wait for them to arrive, even “standing guard” over it if possible. As they walk up, point the item(s) out, and enjoy the expression of delight as it spreads over their faces. You’ll be happy, and and your fellow Joeheads will be even happier. THAT’S what spreading “Joe Karma” is all about!

Prototype G.I. Joes Fail to Sell (Again) at Auction

protojoe1

The original, one-of-a-kind GIjOE prototype action figure stands 12-inches tall and was completely hand-crafted by Hasbro artisans to “pitch” the idea as a new toy line for introduction at the 1964 Toy Fair. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

History For Sale on the Auction Block

The three old warriors stood proudly, almost defiantly, in the bright glare of the auctioneer’s spotlight, their provenance and authenticity emphatically declared to be “impeccable and unassailable.” GIjOE fans and collectors around the world concurred and waited anxiously for the proceedings to unfold “live” over the internet on their computer screens. Auction and GIjOE history was to be made that day. And the next few minutes would be decisive and final.

The three figures in question were hand-crafted “prototype” action figures from the earliest halcyon days of GIjoe’s long and storied history. But on August 10th, 2013, during an eagerly anticipated Heritage Auction held in Dallas, TX, those same hallowed collectibles were being put up for auction, and then just as quickly, would be summarily taken down from the auction block due to (get this)—a lack of bids.

No bids? For the ULTIMATE GIjOE collectibles? How could that be? Surely not for a lack of interest or money. Stunned observers pointed out that a strapless gown “possibly” worn by Marilyn Monroe sold easily for $30,000 at the same auction. And a “heavily repaired” coffee mug and movie script autographed by John Wayne sold for well over $40,000! Clearly, there was money to be spent, but none of the three original, 12-inch prototype GIjOEs, created (and authenticated) by the “Father of GIjOE” himself, Don Levine, attracted even a single buyer willing to meet the minimum bid amounts required to participate. The silence in the auction hall must’ve been deafening.

Were Fans Trying to Send a Message?

Some GIjOE experts believe they understand why the one-of-a-kind figures were so conspicuously “ignored” at an auction. Many collectors believe public auctions to be beneath or “unworthy” of such famous and iconic artifacts. As they watched each unsold prototype GIjOE being sent ingloriously “back to base,” fans attending the auction that day were seen to be both nodding and shaking their heads. But why? What exactly was going through their minds? Hmm…

Is he sad? Angry? Or just relieved? The enigmatic face of the original 1964 hand-crafted GIJoe prototype offers no reaction to his recent non-sale at the Dallas auction. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

Despite a sluggish world economy, there are still a lot of deep-pocketed, “investment artifact collectors” out there; individuals who are always eager to take advantage of rare purchase opportunities. So it must’ve been something else —something unusual— happening that day. Something bigger than any one person’s collection, bank account or retirement plan. One observer to the auction summed up his own conflicted feelings about the non-sale this way:

“Actually, I’m kinda glad they didn’t sell any of those Joes. They’re all irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind prototypes. In my opinion, they should never be hidden away in any one guy’s basement collection or locked up in a safe deposit box. They’re part of American toy and pop-culture history now. They belong in the biggest and best museum —the Smithsonian Institution— permanently on display so everyone can see, enjoy and appreciate them for generations to come!”

This prototype is a little further along the design "chain" and features a raw, unpainted headsculpt, rubber ball hip sockets, and early versions of the chest and hip sections. Much would change before this figure would be accepted and go into actual mass-production. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

This second prototype is a little further along the design chain than the initial “pitch” version. It features a raw, unpainted headsculpt, rubber balls for hip sockets, and early versions of the chest and hip sections. There were many refinements still to be made before the figure could be put into mass-production. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

For Those Who May Not Recall…

After storing the prototype GIjOEs, molds and accessories in an ordinary box in his closet at home (for four decades), Don Levine finally decided to sell the items at auction in 2003. Interestingly, the rarest item, the very same hand-crafted GIjOE (shown above) failed to sell at that first auction as well. But Baltimore-based businessman and pop-culture collector, Steve Geppi, eventually offered Levine a whopping $200,000 for the figure and the sale was made. At the time, Geppi explained the reasons behind his expensive purchase with a belief that it was about something “more” than just enhancing his own personal collection:

“While GIjOE is an integral part of American pop culture, he has always stood for something MORE. He is a hero who represents all of the American servicemen who made—and continue to make—great sacrifices to ensure the triumph of liberty and democracy. I am honored to own this unique part of Americana.”

Flash Forward to 2013

Mr. Geppi is now willing to relinquish ownership of the world’s most famous action figure—but only at the right price. Unfortunately (for Geppi), his minimum bid requirement was set too high and the iconic one-of-a-kind original (plus two other prototypes) remained unsold as of press time for this article. Will another deep-pocketed collector step up and approach Geppi outside of the auction venue? What happens next remains to be seen. Until then, take a look at these…

This view of the original figure's sergeant rank chevrons and 3rd infantry division patch, taken closer up than any previously released photo, clearly reveals they are made not of fabric, but rather, some sort of metallic and relective plastic. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

This view of the original figure’s sergeant chevrons and 3rd ID patch, taken closer up than any previously released photo, clearly reveals they are made not of fabric, but rather, some sort of reflective plastic or metal. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

Auction Photos Provide Unexpected Resource Boon To GIjOE Historians

If there’s any “good news” to be gleaned from this story, it’s that the wonderful closeup photos taken by Heritage Auctions for their sale have proven to be an unexpected resource boon for GIjOE fans, collectors and “historians” who may never get to see the aforementioned, historic prototypes in person.

Indeed, the photos were taken at so close a distance, that they provide incredible new insights and details regarding the figure’s construction and specific use of materials. For example…

This superb closeup, a 3/4 view of the prototype's backpack and bedroll reveal exactly how it was constructed, sewn and then 'packed." (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

This superb closeup 3/4 view of the prototype’s backpack and bedroll reveal exactly how it was all constructed, sewn and then packed into a simple shoulder harness. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

The first-ever GIjOE canteen is hand carved out of...what is that? Metal? Plastic? It's hard to tell. But notice it's being crudely held together with a piece of scotch tape! (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

The first-ever GIjOE canteen is hand carved out of…what is that? Metal? Plastic? It’s hard to tell. But notice it’s being crudely held together with a piece of scotch tape! (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

This closeup of the original prototype scuba diver reveals a superbly hand-painted headsculpt, covered with a rather crudely hand-cut scuba hood, clearly made from a bicycle innertube. WOW! (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

This closeup of the original prototype scuba diver reveals a superbly hand-painted headsculpt, covered with a rather crudely hand-cut scuba hood, clearly made from a bicycle innertube. WOW! (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

A rarely-ever seen 3/4 back-of-the-head view, revealing that the original Joe's hair paint has been seriously worn away. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

A rarely ever seen 3/4 back-of-the-head view, revealing that the original Joe’s hair paint has been seriously worn away. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

This closeup yielded yet another mystery for GIJoe historians to solve. Scrawled with a pen on the back of the dungaree shirt of Levine's prototype Talking Action Sailor, it clearly reads, "TO MEN 8/3/67" But what else does it say above that? And what does it all mean? Was it some sort of Hasbro "company-only" codetalk or...? (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

This closeup yielded yet another mystery for GIJoe historians to solve. Scrawled with a pen on the back of the dungaree shirt of Levine’s prototype Talking Action Sailor, it clearly reads, “TO MEN 8/3/67” But what else does it say above that? And what does it all mean? Was it some sort of Hasbro “company-only” codetalking or…? (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

More Joe trivia revealed! This ultra-closeup (back view) of the prototype scuba diver reveals that his suit was originally intended to connect front to back between the legs, just like an actual suit. Apparently, that feature proved unworkable or too expensive to make and was dropped in favor of the simpler zip-up jacket production version. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

More Joe trivia revealed! This ultra-closeup (back view) of the prototype scuba diver reveals that his suit was originally intended to connect front to back between the legs, just like an actual suit. Apparently, that feature proved unworkable or too expensive to make and was dropped in favor of the simpler zip-up jacket production version. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

Here's something you probably didn't know: GIjOE's original prototype boots actually weren't boots at all! As this new closeup clearly reveals, they were constructed out of some sort of tennis shoe (Ken's maybe?) with additional black material sewn on to cover the ankles and resemble the higher cut appearance of black combat boots. It must've been "just" good enough to sell the concept of 1:6 scale combat boots to the Hasbro brass, because they ended up making MILLIONS of them. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: GIjOE’s original prototype boots actually weren’t boots at all. They were more like tennis shoes with leggings. As this new closeup clearly shows, they were constructed out of some sort of black tennis shoe (Ken’s maybe?) with additional black material sewn on to cover up the ankles and resemble the higher cut style of black combat boots. As we now know, it must’ve been good enough to sell the concept to Hasbro execs, because they ended up making MILLIONS of pairs. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

Previous photos have only shown GIJoe's prototype helmet from the front, making it appear to be in good condition. This unique, rarely seen "top-down view" reveals it has much more damage than previously known. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

Previous photos have only shown GIJoe’s prototype helmet from the front, making it appear to be in good condition. This unique, rarely seen “top-down view” reveals it has much more damage than previously believed. (Photo: Heritage Auctions)

Bottom Line: Whether or not GIjOE fans were “sending a message” about the sale of their beloved icons is uncertain, but with Don Levine’s prototype now commanding over $200,000, it’s clear that any future sale of the figure will be BIG news. Currently, the coveted and “first” GIjOE remains in the possession of Steve Geppi in his personal collection, housed in the Geppi Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, MD. If you’d like to see “the figure that started it all,” then that’s the place to go. And you may want to hurry. Because who knows? If he is eventually sold to some foreign investor, “America’s Movable Fighting Man” could find himself locked up in a bank vault somewhere with no way out—as just another “retirement investment.” Sadly, on that day, it’d be “Mission over FOREVER, Joe.”