Special Guest Editorial: “The Past, Present, and Future of the 1:6 Scale G.I. Joe Collecting Hobby”

Sharing GIjOE fandom with friends. That's what Joe shows and conventions are all about. Above, Matt Stevenson, Chet Peters and David Howard posed for this snapshot at Joelanta 2012. (Photo: David Howard)

Sharing with friends. That’s what Joe shows are all about. Above (l to r), “Mighty” Matt Stevenson, “Charming” Chet Peters and “Dashing” David Howard at Joelanta 2012. (Photo: David Howard)

A young David Howard playing with his Pygmy Gorilla Set and Mobile Support Vehicle. (Photo: David Howard)

A young David Howard plays with his new GIjOE Pygmy Gorilla Set and Mobile Support Vehicle. (Photo: David Howard)

“When we get together, we are all 8 years old again, if only for a few days. You can’t beat those days in my opinion.” David Howard, GIjOE Fan & Collector

Special TJR Guest Editorial
By David Howard, with an introduction by Mark Otnes

And now, for something completely different…

Today, we turn over the helm of the media juggernaut known as The Joe Report to the very capable auspices of editorialist-extraordinaire—David Howard. In “real-life,” Howard is a professional graphic designer/illustrator, and as a longtime member of the D/FW GIjOE Collector’s Club, he has achieved well-deserved fame and renown for creating the boxes and graphics used to promote that esteemed organization’s convention exclusive figures (for complete information, see Howard’s previous profile HERE). Today, he reflects back on his life as a GIjOE collector, discusses the current state of the 1:6 scale hobby, and ponders its uncertain future. Without further ado…Herrre’s David!

Like so many GIjOE fans, David Howard's fascination with the toy line began at an early age and would resurface with a vengeance in adulthood. (Photo: David Howard)

Like so many GIjOE fans, David Howard’s fascination with the world’s most popular toy line began at an early age and later resurfaced in adulthood. Here, he places a Pygmy Gorilla in a capture net in preparation for its transport back to Adventure Team HQ. (Photo: David Howard)

An example of one of the earliest "unofficial," fan-created, GIjOE show newsletters, created by NAME. (Photo: David Howard)

One of Eva Thompson’s unofficial, fan-created, GIjOE club newsletters. (Photo: David Howard) Click to enlarge.

The ‘Early Days’ Weren’t Easy

“I’ve been collecting GIjOE seriously ‘hardcore’ since 1985 or so, making me one of the hobby’s ‘old-school’ collectors, I guess. I grew up in a small, rural Texas town, graduated high school in 1983, and attended college near Dallas. That’s important, because had I not lived there, I would never have met Eva Thompson; a dealer and friend who was an early hobby/club/show promoter.” (see examples above and below)

This closeup of a page from Eva Thompson's newsletter reads like a long-lost "time-capsule" of GIjOE history, and reveals her editorial recap of one of the earliest D/FW-area fan gatherings, a convention held all the way back in 1990. WOW! (Photo: David Howard)

This closeup of a page from Eva Thompson’s newsletter reads like a long-lost “time-capsule” of GIjOE history, and reveals her editorial recap of one of the earliest D/FW-area fan gatherings, a convention held all the way back in 1990. Looks like they had a LOT of fun!  (Photo: David Howard)

“You have to remember that back then, there were no collector forums. Heck, there wasn’t even an Internet! We trudged to shows, flea markets and garage sales in an almost quixotic quest; just hoping for a GLIMPSE of GIjOE. The only connection we really had to other collectors were toy shows and copies of ‘Toy Shop’ magazine.”

An example of one of David's GIjOE-inspired fan artworks entitled, "Adventure by the Numbers." (Photo: David Howard)

One of David Howard’s GIjOE-inspired fan artworks entitled, “Adventure by the Numbers.” (Photo: David Howard) Click to enlarge.

GIjOE Fandom Today

“What’s the current state of the GIjOE-collecting hobby? Opinions may vary, but as for me, I’m not sure that the hobby has gone ‘downhill’ as much as it has changed. Change is to be expected with everything in life and hobbies are no exception. For example, shows are still around. Not as many maybe, but they still exist and are great fun to attend. Years ago, I only knew of a handful of other hardcore collectors. But today, thanks to the Internet and GIjOE-related forums, I know and communicate with many, many more. I’ve even made lifelong friends with a few that I would have never met otherwise.”

In a superb example of "Joe Karma," GIjOE fan and collector, David Howard, preproduces vintage packaging in limited quantites and offers them at cost to fellow fans in a very generous effort to, as he says, "give something back to the GIjOE community." (Photo: Mark Otnes)

In a superb example of “Joe Karma,” GIjOE fan and collector, David Howard, reproduces vintage packaging in limited quantities and offers them at cost to fellow fans in a very generous effort to, as he says, “give something back to the GIjOE community.” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A Plethora of Product

“There has never been more great product to choose from in this hobby than there is right now—and for every budget. I can remember when there was ZERO 12″ product on store shelves. But look at all the stuff that has been produced in the last 20 years. A person can come into this hobby today, start a new collection, and there are endless forms his (or her) collection can take, including: Hasbro 12″ vintage, 12″ modern, 3 3/4″ vintage, 3 3/4″ modern, Sideshow, DID, 40th Action Man, or a combination of it all. And the level of detail and craftsmanship of these new items is 10-fold what it was 20 years ago (trust me, it is).”

An Explosion of Knowledge

The earliest know Joe book was this "GIjOE Value Guide" by Carol Moody (Photo: Hobby House)

One of the earliest known Joe reference books was the “GIjOE Value Guide” by Carol Moody (Photo: Hobby House) Click to enlarge.

“I still have the very first book that came out on the GIjOE hobby. It was a crude book by Carol Moody, with a few black and white photos and a LOT of badly drawn illustrations of GIjOE equipment and sets. But “Wow! ” I thought,”We have a book!” I laugh nowadays, when I think about how excited I was to get a copy of that thing.

Now we have hundreds of top-notch websites, chocked full of information, many great collecting books to choose from, and thousands upon thousands of talented individuals who are more than happy to share their talent, experience and wealth of knowledge through forums, videos, blogs and broadcast. Simply put, if you don’t have the information you need or want, you ain’t looking for it! Never has there been so MUCH great info out there on our hobby.”

Many Joeheads have begun to explore the "cosplay" aspect of GIjOE fandom, as David (r) and Greg Brown (l) demonstrated at a recent show. We especially like David's appropriately scaled GIJOE dogtag. Hilarious! (Photo: David Howard)

Many Joeheads have begun to explore the “cosplay” aspect of GIjOE fandom, as David Howard (r) and Greg Brown (l) clearly demonstrated at a recent show. We especially like David’s appropriately scaled GIJOE dogtag. Hilarious! (Photo: David Howard)

GIjOE’s Future—is FUN!

“Has the hobby evolved over the years? Yes. For better or worse? That depends on the individual. My personal outlook is that the glass is more than ‘half full.’ There are so many great shows that I can’t afford to go to them all now (JoeCon, Joelanta and smaller regional shows). I also have more collecting friends than I have ever had (in-person and online). There’s also more great product to choose from than ever before, and so many websites to read that I can’t keep track of them all. In fact, from time to time, I have to back off my collecting and acquiring due to money, work, or other interests. Despite the occasional lull, I find that GIjOE holds a special place in my heart, and always will. Collectors are kindred spirits from childhood, and when we get together we are 8 years old again—if only for a few days. And you can’t beat those days in my opinion.”

Bottom Line: Our thanks to David Howard for his continued contributions and reportage to The Joe Report. It’s clear that the GIjOE-collecting hobby has grown exponentially and has continued to evolve ever since it was first introduced back at 1964’s Toy Fair—almost 50 years ago. Joe’s childhood fans have now become adults, and their needs and wants may have changed, but the underlying affection we all share for GIjOE and its myriad offshoots remains as strong as ever. If you’d like to comment on David’s editorial, you can do so HERE.

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9 thoughts on “Special Guest Editorial: “The Past, Present, and Future of the 1:6 Scale G.I. Joe Collecting Hobby”

  1. dan says:

    Great story! I love reading about the early days of collecting. I remember in the early ’80s, buying a ton of Action Man stuff and having other Joe collectors I knew getting all excited cause they had never heard of Action Man. You were right. We had no internet, so if you didn’t see it, or know someone who had it, you always assumed GIjOE was American-only. My first experience with Action Man was in 1973. A friend had just came back from England and he had weird GIjOE stuff; a Royal Guard, British officer, Foriegn Legion and a Scout car. We played with it all. My point is, I love this website. Don’t ever change it or lose it. This is so awesome! Thanks

  2. Keith "Big Daddy K" Mayo says:

    Seeing David’s photos of him as a kid playing with his Joes reminds me of Xmas of ’71. We were in Hawaii as Dad was stationed at Marine Barracks, Pearl Harbor. I had pretty much lost touch with GI Joe at that point and became interested in astronomy. My parents had saved up about $200 (which in ’71 was a BIG pile of dough) to buy me this really nice telescope at Sears.

    Xmas day arrived and after opening the presents my father began to put the telescope together. Unfortunately with his huge manly biscuit snatchers he ended up breaking the head of the tripod the telescope was supposed to sit upon. I was heart broken but I know Dad felt much worse. Here he and Mom had put away a little here and a little there to get me the only thing I had asked for and now it was ruined.

    A day or two later Dad and I packed up the telescope and headed out to Sears to exchange it only to discover it was the last one in stock. This was ’71 and there was no “We’ll call another store and have it shipped to you”. Heck, there wasn’t even another store in Hawaii at the time!. The answer to the problem offered by the good folks at Sears Roebuck and Co was to take the broken item back and give Dad a $200 store credit, which he did. Dad says, “I’m so sorry I broke your telescope, but you can spend the $200 on anything you want here in the store.”

    You can imagine how thrilled I was with that news. We started walking towards the toy section and came upon the huge display of Adventure Team GIjOEs. Some of you may remember how Hasbro sent out those large cardboard set-ups for the stores to display Joe and all the play sets (the razors to Joe’s blade). When all was said and done I walked out of Sears with the entire AT line of products. One each of all the AT figures, all of the carded accessory sets and every other AT item Sears carried at that time – Jeep, Copter, ATV – the works! I was in Joe heaven!!!!

    For the next few months, my house became THE place for boys in the neighborhood to hang out and play with our Joes. I remember my Dad being put off by the “life like hair and beard” Joe was wearing since he mustered out of active duty (“hippie Joes” is what he referred to them as). Anyway of all that cool AT stuff nothing remains. What didn’t get destroyed by all the rough play my friends and I could give them was lost forever when it came time to move back stateside.

    Weight limits (determined by rank) made it so my brother and I had to whittle down our property for the move back to Alabama from Hawaii. What items I couldn’t take with me on the move were given to friends. Turns out there was Good Joe karma back then too. Every time I see any AT Joe stuff I’m immediately taken back to December of 1971 and how what seemed like a disaster (Dad breaking my telescope with his big ol’ honkin’ lobster claws) turned into a year or more of great times playing with Adventure Team Joes and the other boys in the neighborhood.

    It would be another 25 years before I rediscovered GI Joe and the other “boys” in the neighborhood. This time though the neighborhood was the internet and Cots and mostly The Sandbox. I wonder if Mr. Levine and the other folks at Hasbro have any idea the joy they gave to all of us kids back then and even to this very day.

  3. Wayne Faucher says:

    Still love that Moody book. I remember it was the first time I’d seen many Joe items as an adult. I’d had most of them as a kid, but the details had faded in memory. Every page was a FLOOD of memories…..I still have my original copy on the shelf!

    I’ve been collecting since 1986, so I remember if you saw an item at a toy show, you had to grab it, cuz it was probably going to be the only one you’d see for a while. Now you can get on Ebay and see 5 Jungle Fighters in as many weeks! We WORKED for our collections!

    I sound like my dad….

  4. Ruby Rios says:

    attn: how can I get a tee shirt the kind David Howard and Chet Peters are wearing PLEASE HELP thank you how can I get information to go to one of the G IJOE meeting I am a big time G I JOE collector. please someone reply thank you :))

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