Monthly Archives: January 2014

New 1:6 “Odds-n-Ends” You Can Find in Stores NOW!

It's tiny. It's nicely detailed. It's in 1:6 scale. And it's NOT PINK. This "retro TV" began its life as a keyring, but we removed that hardware and plan on putting in a guard shack diorama, maybe as a monitor or something the guard watches when things get dull. Either way, it'll be PERFECT! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

It’s tiny. It’s nicely detailed. It’s in 1:6 scale. And it’s NOT PINK. This “retro TV” may have begun as a lowly keychain, but we quickly removed that unnecessary hardware and plan on putting it in a guard shack diorama, maybe as a monitor or something for him to watch before falling asleep and being tied up by our Navy SEAL strike team. It’s PERFECT. And so is the cost—only $3.99! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This closeup shows the TV's scale in relation to a 12" GIjOE. Sweet! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This closeup shows the TV’s scale in relation to a 12″ GIjOE. Sweet! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Cheap. Cool. Collectible!

It’s always fun to report on new 1:6 scale “finds,” whether they’re big or small, cheap or expensive, mass-produced or custom-made “one-of-a-kinds.” Whatever they may be, if they fit into our ever-expanding “1:6 universe” of action figures, vehicles and related diorama props, we want to know about them. And we know YOU do too! Fortunately (for our wallets), today’s particular finds are all available for under $15, most for much less, and all of them are currently and conveniently available in both brick-n-mortar retail stores—and online.

We’ll begin with a Retro TV Keychain (shown in the photos above and at right). You can see that once the kechain’s hardware has been removed, it looks just like a nice little 1:6 scale b&w TV, complete with realistic light and sound effects—simply perfect for GIjOE! The company that created this item (Kikkerland) is based in Europe in the Netherlands, and during a recent trip to nearby Norway, we found it available in stores located throughout Bergen and Oslo. Ours was purchased here in the U.S. at Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas, but you can also order them online HERE. Finally, Patches of Pride (PoP) has created a new “2-minute review” video about the TV, so you can see and hear its effects before buying:

The style and design of this hand-held movie camera would be right at home in any diorama from the '40s to the '70s. After that, movie cameras faded quickly as video cameras took their place. This camera is a great candidate for additional customization including paint details and decals. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This hand-held movie camera by Kikkerland would look right at home in any 1950s-’70s 1:6 scale diorama. It’s also a great candidate for customization, including paint details, decals, etc. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

GIjOE: Signal Corps Photographer

Cameras are not often produced in 1:6 scale; hand-held movie cameras even less so. Dragon created a superb WWII movie camera for one of its high-end German “propaganda” figures, 21st Century Toys made a series of carded 35mm SLRs as an equipment pack, and Hasbro produced a wrist-strapped Hasselblad for its ’60s Mercury astronaut and a Signal Corps photographer’s equipment carded set for their ’90s Classic Collection line. Mattel has even produced a fairly nice (pink) movie camera with a tripod a few years back for Barbie. But a 1:6 scale movie camera for GIjOE? That’s been a rather rare item to track down—until now.

Keychain manufacturer Kikkerland strikes again! This time, it’s their Movie Camera Keychain, most likely patterned after the sturdy Kodak “Super-8s” of the 1950s-70s. When the keychain’s hardware has been removed, you’re left with a perfect 1:6 scale prop for GIjOE. It includes authentic sound and light effects, fits perfectly in Joe’s kung-fu and gung-ho gripped hands, and enables him to “shoot” some dangerous white tigers and pygmy gorillas on his next safari adventure. Of course this time, he’s going to be shooting them all—with FILM. We found our camera at the same Waterloo Records store in Austin for $3.99, but it’s also available online HERE. Take a look:

1:6 Scale Trash and Recycling Containers

What’s an Adventure Team to do with all of its outdated Skull Island maps and other trash? Why, throw it all out, of course. But to do so properly requires 1:6 scale trash and recycling containers, right? Right! Well, thanks to eagle-eyed Field Reporter, Andrew Garrison, there’s now hope for all of our messy Adventure Team headquarters. In a post left recently on the Trenches fan forum, Garrison announced an exciting new discovery that can help our Joes “clean up their act,” saying :

“I didn’t see this listed here—yet. I picked these up at Dollar Tree today. I’d seen them posted elsewhere and figured some Trenchers might like a heads up on these.”—Andrew Garrison

Absolutely PERFECT 1:6 scale trash and recycling containers (actually pen and pencil holders) can now be found at most Dollar Stores nationwide. A great big, "THANKS" to Andrew Garrison for first spotting these and then kindly supplying this photograph. (Photo: Andrew Garrison)

Absolutely PERFECT 1:6 scale trash and recycling containers (actually pen and pencil holders) can now be found at many Dollar Tree stores nationwide. And of course, they’re just $1 each! (Photo: Andrew Garrison)

The containers are a tad on the fragile side, so we don’t recommend dropping them on hard floors. But they’re the perfect size for Joe and their colors and graphics would look great in any 1:6 scale office, kitchen or headquarters diorama. Thanks for the “heads up,” Andrew!

You couldn't get any more ON SCALE  than this superb 1:6 scale bassoon. Absolutely PERFECT in terms of detail, quality and size. Currently $12.50 in most musical instrument stores. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

You couldn’t get any more ON SCALE <snicker> than this superb 1:6 scale bassoon. Absolutely PERFECT in terms of detail, quality and size. Currently $12.50 in most musical instrument stores. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Play it Again, Joe…

We love musical instruments that are scaled to fit GIjOE. Over the years, we’ve collected a wide variety of 1:6 scale guitars, drums, trombones, flutes, trumpets, clarinets, pianos and even a harp, for our 1:6 musicians.

This year, during the holiday shopping season, we were browsing in a musical instrument store when we came across a tiny instrument we’d never seen (in 1:6) before, a stunning, absolutely SPOT-ON 1:6 scale bassoon made of real wood and metal parts. It rang up at a pricey $12.95, but the instrument’s materials and quality made it well worth the cost, in our opinion. The bassoon’s size is perfect for Joe, and its color, keys, etc. all look correct. Although the bassoon was originally an ornament, according to the store manager:

“They’re available all year-round, because they make great gifts for birthdays, graduations, and other occasions.”

By “other occasions,” we’re not sure if he was thinking about 1:6 scale GIjOE band concerts, but that’s undoubtedly what thousands of customizers and diorama builders around the world are likely considering. Regardless, remember that despite the holidays being behind us now, your chances of still finding these little beauties in the stores are, as musicians like to say, “SOLID, Jackson!”

This closeup of Joe's new 1:6 scale bassoon reveals extraordinary fit, finish and detail. Any requests for Bach or Beethoven? (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This closeup of the new 1:6 scale bassoon reveals incredible craftsmanship and detail. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Miniature Huey Helicopter Hallmark Keepsake Ornament

There are many miniature versions of the Huey helicopter out there, but this particular one caught our eye over the Christmas holidays, and we thought we’d pass it on. As always, Hallmark ornaments are exceptionally well made, and this honey is no exception. It’s made of metal, except for the flexible plastic rotors and landing skids. Its paint job is superb and even includes sharp little ARMY lettering on each side of the tail boom. Put one in your GIjOE’s “war room,” office, barracks, or conference room, and it’ll look GREAT. Hey, Joe deserves some toys of his own, right?

Joe loves helicopters, and the Hallmark Keepsake Huey is one of his favorites! We found this one on sale for $15, normally $17. But you can probably find it online for even less. Happy Hunting! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Joe loves helicopters, and the Hallmark Keepsake Huey is one of his favorites! We found this one on sale for $15, normally $17. But you can probably find it online for even less. HOO-ah! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bottom Line: The search for 1:6 scale props and accessories never ends, so we’ll continue to pass on any new items that come across our desks here at The Joe Report, as well as any fresh “intel” from trusty Field Reporters such as Andrew Garrison. Good luck and Happy Hunting!

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Pennsylvanian Creates 1:6 Scale Version of “Space Chariot” ATV from “Lost in Space”

Here it comes! Customizer Gary Stair's "Space Chariot" plows relentlessly through the arctic snow in search of another adventure. VRROOM!!! (Photo: Gary Stair)

Here it comes! Customizer Gary Stair’s “Space Chariot” plows relentlessly through the arctic snow in search of another sub-zero adventure. This is ALL hand-built, folks. WOW! (Photo: Gary Stair)

Among the world-wide cadre of 1:6 scale customizers and kitbashers, renowned Captain Action enthusiast, Gary Stair, continues to grow in fame, leading the way with his ever-expanding, highly inspiring “fleet” of hand-crafted and scratch-built 1:6 buildings, aircraft, and vehicles. Stair’s latest creation will be instantly recognizable to fans of the classic ’60s sci-fi TV program, “Lost in Space” (LIS), as the show’s unforgettable “Space Chariot” ATV (see photo of original version below).

Don West and Judy Robinson discuss where they can go to be alone ("I think I saw a good spot behind that rock, Judy), while the far more famous, "Space Chariot" waits patiently in the background of this scene from "Lost in Space." (Photo: CBS)

In a scene from Lust in Space, Don West and Judy Robinson discuss where they can go to be alone to perform another one of Don’s 20-minute “undergarment inspections.” Don: “I think I saw a good spot behind that rock.” Judy: “But Don, is this really necessary? It’ll be our third ‘inspection’ today. Are there REALLY such things as ‘invisible space ticks?” Don: “Of course! And the only way to find them is by FEEL. Trust me, I’m a major. I know all about ente—, entemol—, BUGS and such.” (Photo: CBS)

The LIS Space Chariot was just one of FOUR iconic machines created for the show. The other three were, of course, the “Jupiter 2” (a flying saucer), the iconic “Robot B9” (Warning, Will Robinson!) and the “Space Pod” (very similar to ones seen in the film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The LIS Space Chariot made its first appearance during the best year of the show, Season 1, and led the lost Robinson family through a dangerous battle with a giant cyclops and across an ocean with a raging cyclonic whirlpool (it was QUITE the exciting time for the Space Chariot).

Stair's Space Chariot enables his explorers to conduct dangerous missions in frozen wastelands, searching for lost UFOs and other mysterious objects. (Photo: Gary Stair)

Stair’s Space Chariot enables his explorers to conduct dangerous missions in frozen wastelands, searching for lost UFOs and other mysterious objects. (Photo: Gary Stair)

Stair’s Space Chariot is not a “bolt-for-bolt” recreation of the one on the show. Rather, it is a wholly unique and exciting custom in its own right. Here’s how Stair describes his one-of-a-kind ATV:

Toy collector and customizer, Gary Stair, PA. (Photo: Gary Stair)

Renowned 1:6 toy customizer, Gary Stair, PA. (Photo: Gary Stair)

“Hello, fellow customizers! This is my new, scratch-built, 1:6 scale “Chariot,” ala the one shown on TV’s “Lost in Space.” It’s chocked FULL of extra features, including: a domed canopy top, a top-side luggage rack, 2 side ladders, a front radar dish, front canopy lights, rear space for the ER1 (environmental robot), a sliding side door, 2 rear lab stations, an elevated center platform (to give better access to the domed top), lighted(!) interior control panels, arm rest tables for computer laptops, an overhead solar shade with tie-down straps for windy conditions, side and rear platforms for easy access (and extra carrying capacity), a rear top-side spotlight, extension power cable, de-icer hose, soil drill and front power-loader bars (to carry heavy equipment, ‘natch!).”

Gary Stair's custom 1:6 scale "Space Chariot" ATV provides a sweet ride through the arctic snow for Captain Action and his second-in-command, Major Stair. (Photo: Gary Stair)

3/4 view of Gary Stair’s 1:6 scale “Space Chariot.” (Photo: Gary Stair)

Side view of Gary Stair's 1:6 scale "Space Chariot." (Photo: Gary Stair)

Side view of Gary Stair’s 1:6 scale “Space Chariot.” (Photo: Gary Stair)

Back view of Gary Stair's 1:6 scale "Space Chariot." (Photo: Gary Stair)

Back view of Gary Stair’s 1:6 scale “Space Chariot.” (Photo: Gary Stair)

“My custom Chariot even has a couple of nifty ‘homage’ additions, including a Lost in Space (2nd Season) laser rifle, and a Star Wars Droid (he seems to have a little R2D2 in him). I hope you enjoy my latest creation and these recent ‘arctic mission’ photos. In other photos (not shown here) I’ve added even more homages to Lost in Space by including a damaged weather station and giant Cyclops footprints. Yikes! Time to call for reinforcements!”

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Gary Stair for being such a regular contributor to The Joe Report and sharing these amazing new photos of his latest 1:6 scale creation. Absolutely top-notch!

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Canadian “Master Miniaturist,” Mike Conrad, Creating Meticulously Detailed 1:6 Scale Custom Weapons, Equipment and Vehicles———Out of Wood!

“Woodworking Wonder” Mike Conrad, poses humorously for an exclusive photo taken for The Joe Report. While wielding a hammer, dremel tool, hot glue gun and a tube of…something, Conrad pretends to be working on his latest creation, an amazingly detailed 1:6 scale water-cooled machine-gun, constructed predominantly out of wood and tiny pieces of metal and rubber. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Mike Conrad's superbly handmade, 1:6 scale WWII "walkie-talkie" is absolutely perfect in every way. Once it's been painted and decaled, it will be...AMAZING. (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Mike Conrad’s superbly handmade, 1:6 scale WWII “walkie-talkie” is almost completed. Once it’s been painted and decaled, it will look… AMAZING. (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Self-Taught 1:6 “Woodworking Wonder”

At a time when most customizers of 1:6 scale action figures, vehicles, weapons and related equipment are working with high-tech aids and materials such as 3D printers (see our previous article HERE), complex resin compounds (see HERE), electro-static flocking machines (see HERE), styrene plastics (see HERE), and even metals (see HERE), longtime modeler and customizer, Mike Conrad, of Ontario, Canada, has decided to eschew modern methods and materials and return to “the craftsman’s roots” by working predominantly—with wood. For even the most talented 1:6 customizers however, working with wood is believed to be severely limiting. Outside of a pile of campfire logs or some tent poles, there would seem to be little else that 1:6 scalers could convincingly create out of the material. Conrad dispels such notions.

This closeup reveals Mike's small work area where he is completing the assembly of one of his 1:6 scale (wooden) machine guns. Simply amazing! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

This closeup reveals Mike’s small work area where he is currently completing the final fit and assembly of one of his 1:6 scale (wooden) machine guns. Simply amazing work! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

A breathtaking closeup of the front sprocket and tread assembly of a 1:6 scale M3 Stuart Tank, currently being constructed by Mike Conrad completely OUT OF WOOD. Are you amazed yet? If not, wait until you see the NEXT photo! (Photo: Mike Conrad) Exclusive to The Joe Report.

A breathtaking closeup of the front sprocket and tread assembly of a 1:6 scale M2A4 Stuart Tank, currently being constructed by Mike Conrad OUT OF WOOD. Are you blown away yet? If not, wait until you see the NEXT photo! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

How is Such Fine Work Possible?

Typically, when you think of wooden toys, you think of standard flea-market finds such as wagons, horses, choo-choos and other such simplistic children’s fare. But Conrad’s work isn’t made for children. Rather, each piece is a miniature work of military fine art, replete with perfectly defined parts and realistic details. The fact that nearly everything is made out of wood is literally mind-boggling. It’s the kind of 1:6 custom work you have to see up close and in-person to believe. We asked Mike to tell us about himself and his background, expecting the requisite story of intensive training and years spent apprenticing with master woodsmiths and artisans. Surprisingly, he replied:

“I was born and raised an Air Force “Military Brat.” Our family packed up and moved away from friends and familiarity every 4 years. In 1982, we moved to Lahr, West Germany. I was 12 at the time. Shortly after we arrived, I happened upon something that a lot of us built as a kid (when the costs were cheaper)—an almighty, 1/35th scale TANK. I fell in love! My passion for model-building snowballed from that point on to include planes, ships, submarines, corvettes and most recently, 1/6th scale WWII.”

This stunning rear-view of the M3 Stuart's sprocket gears and tread assembly is an absolute MIND-blower! Can you (in your wildest dreams) imagine making all of this BY HAND and out of WOOD? Fantastic work, Mike! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

(Here’s the photo we warned you about.) This stunning rear-view of the M2A4 Stuart’s sprocket gears and tread assembly is an absolute MIND-blower! Can you imagine (in your wildest dreams) the talent required to make all of this BY HAND—and out of WOOD? Simply exquisite work, Mike! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Another view of the tread assembly reveals a flexible, underlying rubber belt, sandwiched with perfectly spaces wooden blocks. Can you imagine all the careful planning and painstaking detail work required to create this masterpiece? (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Another view of the tread assembly reveals a flexible, underlying rubber belt, sandwiched with perfectly spaced wooden blocks. Can you imagine all the careful planning and painstaking detail work required to create this masterpiece? (Photo: Mike Conrad)

“Of course, while growing up, we never had much money, so when it came to model building (or as I like to call it now, ‘model creating’), I had to make do with whatever was available at hand. Whenever images or ideas were in my head, the next step was scrounging and hunting for the various parts and pieces in my Dad’s parts bins in the basement and garage. (Thanks, Dad!). I’ve always been good at picturing the finished product from all sides and how to go about building or creating it. I have never had any formal training in model building or painting, but I’ve won numerous awards for my ‘Creature Creations and Prop Building,’ having also worked for a professional theater In Halifax.

Withe the main tread assembly and lower hull in place, Mike begins adding the upper armor and turret, cannon and top .50 caliber machine gun. Yes, it's ALL made of wood. Imagine how great this will display when it is completed! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

With the main tread and lower hull assemblies in place, Mike begins to add the upper armor sections, turret, main gun, etc.. Yes, it’s ALL made out of wood. And YES…it will be R/C! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Piece by piece, bit by bit, Mike cuts, shapes, sands and carefully assembles and fits each and every part of his amazing, wooden creations. Here, he attaches a perfectly carved call-button to the side of his new 1:6 scale walkie-talkie. WOW! (Photo: Mike

Piece by piece, Mike cuts, shapes, sands and carefully assembles each and every tiny part of his amazing, 1:6 scale wooden creations. Here, he attaches a perfectly carved call-button to the side of his new 1:6 scale walkie-talkie. WOW! (Photo: Mike

Simply Fascinating!

Despite a lack of any formal art education, Mike has clearly become a VERY talented and gifted artist. And his decision to work in wood makes his creations all that more special. We confessed to Conrad that we were surprised he had chosen to create his 1:6 scale customs out of wood, when there were so many other more “toy-like” materials available. He replied:

“I’ve used anything and EVERYTHING I could find; from the wood panels off the sides of a small tangerine box (see my current .30 cal machine-gun project), to the hardwood dowels I found at local Dollar Stores (those stores are a good hunting ground for bits and pieces, by the way). No matter what materials (or media) you decide to use, I say to kids out there… Put down that video game controller or cell phone. Scrounge around the house. Raid your Dad’s parts bins. Use your imagination. And for Pete’s sake… START CREATING!”

Holy Hot Lead! Words cannot do justice to Mike’s 1:6 scale miniature M1917A1 water-cooled Browning machine gun. Here it is in its pre-paint status, revealing all of its superbly handcrafted and intricate parts. Next up, the weapon’s water tank, ammo box and ammo belt. Hooah! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Conrad's wooden creation of the lighter, more manueverable Browning 1919A2 air-cooled machine gun and tripod would look right at home in any miliatry museum (or the hands of a 1:6 scale action figure). Just wait until it's painted! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Conrad’s 1:6 wooden creation of the lighter, more maneuverable Browning 1919A2 air-cooled machine gun and tripod would look right at home in any military museum (or in the hands of a 1:6 scale action figure). And just wait until it’s painted. Yessiree! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Going Against the Grain

Of all the materials to work with in 1:6 scale, it seems that wood would be the most artistically challenging and work-intensive. But such thoughts don’t appear to concern or deter Conrad, who describes his preference for wood thusly:

“Well, the idea of working with wood came to me just because of the simple fact that (in my head) I’m always looking for other uses for house-hold materials, and there was always scrap wood sitting around in the garage, basement, etc. And of course, it was FREE.

Personally, I find that wood is very easy to carve. If I make any mistakes—there’s always good ol’ wood filler that I can make myself out of sawdust and glue. It’s also non-toxic (and FREE). I hate waste, so I try to find uses for EVERYTHING. Gimme a dremel tool and some wood and I can make practically anything. I’ve actually just finished carving out the button for my new U.S. walkie-talkie.”

Another view of David's unfinished tank shows it beginning to come together nicely. Can you imagine the satisfaction of building something this cool from SCRAPS of wood you find around the house? WOW. (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Another view of Mike’s unfinished tank shows it’s beginning to come together nicely. Imagine the satisfaction of building something this cool from scraps of wood you find lying around the house? WOW. (Photo: Mike Conrad)

“I’m also building a 1/6 M2A4 scale tank, all out of wood, using wooden packing crate boxes for oranges that I picked up from the grocery store and some other scrap wood I found lying around. If the tooth of a gear ever breaks, I can just cut out a new sprocket, because—it’s FREE! I just rough cut the circles out on my band-saw, then spin them using my drill press and a long nut and bolt, using it like a wood lathe. Whatever I make is just for my own personal collection. I’ve never really thought of any other options, such as selling them. But if such an offer ever came up, I’m sure I would consider it!”

The first call comes in on Mike's new handcrafted 1:6 walkie-talkie: "Hello? What's that you say? You want to buy Mr. Conrad's 1:6 scale wooden tank? HA. Get in line, fella!" (Photo: Mike Conrad)

(The first call comes in on Mike’s new handcrafted 1:6 walkie-talkie): “Hello? What’s that you say? You want to BUY Mr. Conrad’s 1:6 scale wooden tank? HA. Get in line, fella!” (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Mike Conrad for his contributions to this article. His extensive use of wood as a customizing material gives his 1:6 creations a unique tactile and artistic esthetic that few others can claim. And Mike’s suggestion of using inexpensive (i.e. FREE) supplies is great advice for hobbyists of all ages. There’s no better way to begin an artistic pursuit than boldly jumping in and spending practically nothing. He’s also living proof that you don’t have to have a formal or expensive art education in order to begin creating your own 1:6 scale masterpieces. Remember, anything created by you becomes an instant keepsake and family heirloom, possessing far greater memories of satisfaction and accomplishment than ANY mass-produced hunk of plastic. So, as Mike likes to say… “For Pete’s sake, start creating!”

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Entire 3-Season Series of Original 1966 “Batman” TV Show (FINALLY!) To Be Released on DVD in 2014

Calm down, Bat-fans. These are fakes. Such illegally duplicated, amateurishly packaged, criminally distributed and sold VHS and DVD copies of the original Batman TV series have been "pirated" in the open online for decades. Occasionally, legal pressure was brought to bear on the perpetrators, but others quickly took their place on ebay and websites specializing in video sales. Now, for the first time EVER (legally), Warner Brothers has officially announced its plans to release the entire series on licensed, professionally remastered DVDs. Hooray! (Photo: mista shake speer)

Calm down, Bat-fans. The DVDs shown above are all homemade FAKES (aka “bootlegs”). At best, they’re 2nd generation copies. Such illegally duplicated, amateurishly packaged, and criminally distributed VHS and DVD copies of the original 1966 Batman TV series have long been “pirated” and sold openly online. Occasionally, legal pressure is brought to bear on the perpetrators, but others quickly arise, selling their own copies on hundreds of  “unofficial video” websites. (Photo: mista shake speer)

This "unofficial" Batman bootleg DVD bears the DC Comics logo and the DVD logo in an attempt to look more authentic. But buyer beware! These are also fakes and yes, illegal. (Photo: classicdiscs)

Another FAKE. Here’s a second Batman “bootleg” DVD collection that even bears a DC Comics logo in an attempt to appear more “legit” and authentic. But buyers beware! These are also illegal copies. (Photo: classicdiscs)

Holy Bootlegs, Batman!

After almost five decades of wanting and waiting, Bat-fans around the world are finally about to be rewarded for their patience and enduring loyalty to one of television’s most unique and memorable programs, the 1966 camp classic—Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward. In a surprise announcement made yesterday, TBS talk show host Conan O’Brien “tweeted” the following insider intel:

“Very excited @WBHomeEnt is releasing the Batman ’66 Complete TV Series in 2014!” —@ConanOBrien 

Press response (of course) was rabid and immediate. According to a follow-up article on USA Today:

“The original 1960s Batman show is finally getting a home-video release, and Conan O’Brien couldn’t be happier. USA TODAY confirmed the news that the late-night talk-show host tweeted to his 9.75 million followers Wednesday: WB Entertainment will be releasing the complete series this year in a box set. He also added a picture of himself and the classic Batmobile with the quip, “The seat smells like Adam West.”

Conan O'Brien poses with one of the Batmobile copies before sending his "tweet" announcing Warner Brother's intent to officially release of the 1966 Batman TV series on DVD in 2014. (Photo: Conan O'Brien)

Conan O’Brien poses with a copy of the 1966 Batmobile before sending out a “tweet” announcing Warner Brother’s intent to officially release the Batman TV series on DVD in 2014. (Photo: Conan O’Brien)

Yet another "Bat-FAKE." Apparently, if you have no consciounce, a DVD burner and some graphics software, it's very easy to go into the DVD pirating "business" and make your own illegal copies. (Photo: ebay)

Yet another “Bat-FAKE.” Apparently, if you have no conscience, a DVD burner and some graphics software, it’s very easy to go into the DVD pirating “business” and make your own illegitimate copies of the show. (Photo: ebay)

The USA Today article continues:

“The TV show was a lighthearted, campy affair starring West as the earnest Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne, Burt Ward as Robin and Yvonne Craig as Batgirl. However, the many colorful villains they faced on a weekly basis were arguably more of a draw, with a stable of mainstays including the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) and three different women to wear the tight leather of Catwoman (Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar). Celebrities of the day were regular guest stars, including film director Otto Preminger as Mr. Freeze, Milton Berle as Louie the Lilac, Vincent Price as Egghead, Liberace as Chandell and his twin brother Harry, and Zsa Zsa Gabor as Minerva. Details will be announced later on specific platforms and pricing.”

More fakes. Fake, fake, fake. If you're one of those law-abiding Bat-fans who's been able to wait this long for the real thing, you're patience is about to be rewarded. So...Don't buy THESE. They're bootlegs! (Photo: ebay)

Yes, these are also fake, fake, fake. If you’re one of those law-abiding Bat-fans who’s been able to wait all these years for the real thing, your patience is about to be rewarded. So…Don’t buy THESE. They’re just some pathetic basement-dweller’s bootlegs! (How’d they divide 3 seasons into 2 volumes?) As soon as we have pictures of the REAL Batman DVDs, we’ll post them here ASAP. (Photo: ebay)

Whatever loser produced this fake DVD used the wrong logo (it's from a cartoon). Another fake to avoid. (Photo: ebay)

Whatever loser produced this fake DVD made a telltale error: he used the wrong bat-logo (this one’s from a cartoon). Another fake to avoid. (Photo: ebay)

Bottom Line: This news couldn’t have come at a better time for all of the “old farts” around the world who are about to raid their kid’s college funds in order to purchase the all-new (and VERY expensive) 1:6 scale Batman and Robin action figures from Hot Toys (see article HERE) and the requisite 1:6 1966 Batmobile (also from Hot Toys, see HERE). Of course, a lot of the DVD pirates out there may have to finally move out of their parent’s basement and go back to work at the food court. Oh well, all good crimes have to come to an end sometime.

And… as soon as WB releases its prices and photos of the OFFICIAL Batman DVD sets, we’ll report that information to you here on The Joe Report. Until then, we suggest you clean off your bat-screens, change the batteries in your bat-remotes, load up on some bat-snacks, and get ready for some serious ’60s “bat-binge TV viewing!” To the DVD store!

FLASH! As Hasbro Sleeps Through G.I. Joe’s 50th Anniversary, Upstart “Figures Toy Company” Releases All-New Lines of 12-inch Action Figures

FTC's superb new line of 12-inch "Dressed to Kill" KISS action figures. Fans of the band's famous original foursome AND collectors of VERY special 1:6 scale action figures will all be pleased.  These are some sharp-dressed hard rockers. Absolutely out-STANDING set! (Photo: FTC)

Take a look at FTC’s superb new line of 12-inch “Dressed to Kill” KISS action figures. WOW! Fans of the band’s famous original foursome and collectors of unusual 1:6 scale figures will all be pleased. These are some sharp-dressed hard rockers. Were YOU in the KISS Army? (Photo: FTC)

You couldn't make a better Paul Stanley headsculpt than this. And look at that superb paint-job. EXCELLENT work, FTC! (Photo: FTC)

You couldn’t make a 1:6 scale Paul Stanley headsculpt much more accurate than this. EXCELLENT work, FTC! (Photo: FTC)

New FTC Releases Include KISS, “Dukes of Hazzard” Cast, J.R. Ewing & Evel Knievel 

Get ready, 1:6 scalers! While the “Big H” (Hasbro) continues to disappoint GIjOE fans and collectors during our 12-inch hero’s (apparently forgotten) 50th anniversary, a growing cadre of competing toy companies continues to pick up “Has-blow’s” frustrated customers—and reap massive PROFITS—by selling their own lines of 1:6 scale action figures. Some are good. Some are not so good. Whatever the case, there’s a flood of NEW 1:6 product coming in 2014. 

In previous articles, we’ve discussed the outstanding work being done by Hot Toys, Sideshow, Round 2 and Cotswold. Today, we’re focusing on a manufacturer that’s relatively new to 1:6 scale: Figures Toy Company (FTC). Until recently, they’ve primarily been known for creating wrestling-related products and smaller, “mid-sized” (8-inch) action figures, ala the old Mego brand. But FTC is growing, and in recent years, they’ve expanded their brand licensing acquisition, enabling them to increase the number and variety of their TV celebrity, superhero, music industry, and other pop-culture inspired products. Think of them as sort of a “Mego on Steroids.”

What a fantastic headsculpt of KISS lead guitarist, Ace Frehley. Give him a careful haircut (that’s just too much hair, guys) and Ace will be ready to ROCK ON! (Photo: FTC)

In fact, FTC has grown so much lately, they’re now selling their products from FOUR different websites. We’re not sure if that’s really necessary, however, and they do tend to repeat their offerings across sites. Imagine if Hot Toys were to put all their superhero figures onto one website, all their monsters on another, aliens on another, etc. That’s what’s going on here. While it might seem like a good idea at first, in the end, it may only serve to dilute the FTC brand. In addition to their main website, here are FTC’s three other “sister” websites:

ClassicTVToys.Com was started by Figures Toy Company in 2004 and began manufacturing retro MEGO-type 8-inch action figures. Initial lines included classic shows from the past such as Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, Space 1999, The Munsters, Married with Children, Mad Monsters and Mad Clowns. Also introduced were the “Worlds Greatest” lines of Robin Hood, Super Pirates, American West and Super Knights. Classictvtoys currently specializes in producing custom 8-inch bodies, boots, outfits and accessories for 8-inch Mego-type action figures.”

For fans who know what Peter Criss looks like, this headsculpt is RIGHT ON. Again, FTC gave him WAY too much hair. Criss never had very long hair, just shoulder length. A simple (careful) haircut would fix him right up. WOW! (Photo: FTC)

For KISS fans who know what Peter Criss looks like, this headsculpt is RIGHT ON. However, FTC gave him WAY too much hair. Criss never had very long hair, only about shoulder length. A simple (careful) haircut would fix that right up. Finally, replace his “open” hands with a pair that have “kung-fu grip” (for holding drumsticks, natch) and he’s ready to Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night!  (Photo: FTC)

WrestlingSuperStore.com specializes in manufacturing fully licensed WWE, WCW, and ECW championship replica belts. Our other products include replica wrestling masks, belt buckles, finger rings, wrestling action figures and related accessories.

MyFaceOnaFigure.com It’s time to start collecting figures of yourself and your friends!We have a big selection of body sizes and outfits to choose from for your action figure. Create your very own design for your action figure’s packaging. It takes just 3-5 business days for us to make your custom action figure. Now that’s fast!”

Gene Simmons is, without a doubt, the most photogenic and memorable of the 4 original members of KISS, and KTC has certainly done him justice with this amazing 12-inch action figure. And get a load of that suit! WOW! (Photo: KTC)

Gene Simmons is, without a doubt, the most photogenic and memorable of the 4 original members of KISS, and FTC has certainly done him justice with this amazing 12-inch action figure. And get a load of that suit! WOW! (Photo: FTC)

blasco

Figures Toy Company CFO Anthony Balasco poses with his original Gene Simmons KISS Mego figure from 1978. Gee, do you think Anthony is still a KISS fan today? (Photo: FTC)

Wow. FOUR total websites. That’s quite a large web “footprint.” We were also surprised to learn that FTC has been around, in some form or another, since 1989. According to their history:

“Figures Inc. was started by Anthony Balasco in 1989, and began selling collectible toys and action figures through print catalogs, magazine ads and collectible toy shows throughout New England. In 1993, the company refocused its complete attention to the selling of collectible wrestling merchandise. In 1999, Figures Inc. became WrestlingSuperstore with the launch of its online e-commerce website. In 2004, Figures Toy Company started classictvtoys.com and began manufacturing classic Mego-like 8-inch action figures and accessories reminiscent of action figures from the 1970’s. In 2012, Figures Toy Company began recreating the classic KISS action figures from the 1970s, with all-new lines based on different eras in KISS’ legendary career!”

FTC offers many variations of KISS figures, and unfortunately, the quality varies from set to set, compelling potential buyers to "do their homework" before deciding which versions to buy. This photo shows the company's KISS figures based on the costumes worn for the "Sonic Boom" album. (Photo: FTC)

FTC offers multiple versions of their KISS figures, all with album-specific headsculpts and costumes. Unfortunately, the quality seems to vary greatly from set to set, and collectors are cautioned to do their homework before selecting which version(s) they ultimately decide to buy. (Photo: FTC)

In this rear-view of FTC's new 1:6 scale Evel Knievel action figure, you can see how well put together the costume is. Remember his jumsuit's big "Elvis" collar? Absolutely perfect! (Photo: FTC)

A rear-view of FTC’s new 1:6 scale “Evel Knievel” action figure. The stars, the stripes, the stitching, it’s all perfect. And remember that big “Elvis” collar? YES! (Photo: FTC)

Moving on UP—to the Next Size

Recently, FTC began sort of a stealth campaign of silently (but surely) “upping the scale” of some of their 8-inch figures, introducing them anew into the 12-inch market. It’s not a strategy many industry observers saw coming, but now that it’s happening, we couldn’t be more pleased. (Are you paying attention, Hasbro? Sorry to wake you.)

A quick tour of FTC’s main website found HERE, reveals that it has produced (or is about to produce) 12-inch versions of characters from The Dukes of Hazzard, multiple variations of the members of KISS, a Larry “J.R.” Hagman from Dallas, and our personal favorite, America’s premier motorcycle (and rocket-riding) daredevil, Evel Knievel. Even 12″ figures from Gilligan’s Island have been announced. We can’t wait to see the Skipper and Gilligan!

FTC's choice of packaging makes good sense to collectors. Its two clear "clamshell" halves are easily opened for removal and/or replacement of the figure. Great for play—or display! (Photo: FTC)

FTC’s choice of packaging makes good sense to collectors. The two clear “clamshell” halves are easily opened for removal and/or replacement of the figure. Great for play—or display! (Photo: FTC)

Out of its package, FTC's 12-inch Evel Knievel figure stands tall and proud, ready for his next breath-taking daredevil motorcycle jump. Each figure comes with a cardboard display "stand" as well. (Photo: FTC)

Out of its package, FTC’s 12-inch Evel Knievel figure stands tall and proud, ready for his next breath-taking daredevil motorcycle jump. Each figure comes with bell-bottomed jumpsuit, cape, helmet, and cardboard display stand. Okay, who’s up for building a 1:6 scale “Skycycle X-2” rocket, and launching Evel over the Snake River Canyon again? Whoosh!!!!! (Photo: FTC)

A picture's worth 1,000 words, and this one says, "Quality." The graphics, the stitching, EVERYTHING looks perfect at 1/6th scale. (Photo: FTC)

A picture’s worth 1,000 words, and this one says, “Quality.” The graphics, the stitching, EVERYTHING looks perfect at 1/6th scale. (Photo: FTC)

In this closeup, everything looks great. But Evel's "weak link" is his so-so, open-mouthed headsculpt. It's just not that well done. However, when he's wearing his helmet, you don't really notice. Many collectors would probably want to swap out his head and body anyway, because it's really Evel's great costume that "sells" this figure. (Photo: FTC)

In this closeup, everything looks great. But Evel’s “weak link” is his so-so, open-mouthed headsculpt. It’s just not that well done. However, when he’s wearing his helmet, you don’t really notice. Picky collectors may want to swap out his noggin’ and body anyway, because it’s really Evel’s great costume and helmet that “sells” this exciting new figure. (Photo: FTC)

These 12-inch "Dukes of Hazzard" figures will just FLY off the shelves. And again, FTC's inspired use of easy-open, easy-close "clamshell" packaging means after you've played with 'em, you can put 'em back inside and display 'em, just like that! (Photo: FTC)

These 12-inch “Dukes of Hazzard” figures will FLY off the shelves, guaranteed. And again, FTC’s inspired use of easy-open, easy-close “clamshell” packaging means that after you’ve played with ’em, you can put ’em back inside and display ’em, keeping them dust and mold free. Yee-HAW!!!! (Photo: FTC)

FTC's new line of 12-inch figures based on "The Dukes of Hazzard" includes all the main characters except Uncle Jesse and Daisy Duke (Aw, shucks!) (Photo: FTC)

Out of their packages, FTC’s new line-up of 12-inch “Dukes of Hazzard” figures look like they’d be a lot of fun to play with. All you need now is a 1:6 scale “General Lee!” VRROOMMM!! (Photo: FTC)

This back view of Luke Duke reveals an excellent shirt, belt and jeans. Look at the tiny pocket stitching details! (Photo: FTC)

This back view of Luke Duke reveals an excellent shirt, belt and jeans. Look at the stitching! (Photo: FTC)

He's charming. He's smiling. He's...Bo Duke! Opinions may vary, but that much molded hair strikes us as...not so great. What do YOU think? (Photo: FTC)

He’s charming. He’s smiling. He’s…Bo Duke! Opinions may vary, but that much molded hair strikes us as…not so great. What do YOU think? (Photo: FTC)

"Boss Hogg" was portrayed a country buffoon on the show, and FTC's 12-inch version looks much the same. While we don't care much for this figure, his white suit is unique and the plastic Stetson is nicely sculpted. (Photo: FTC)

“Boss Hogg” was portrayed a country buffoon on the show, and FTC’s 12-inch version looks much the same. While we don’t care for this figure, his white suit is very unique and that plastic Stetson was nicely sculpted. A clear case of the pieces being better than the whole.(Photo: FTC)

This back view of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane's uniform reveals FTC went to extra lengths to get the details right. The shirt, the epaulets, the belt and weapon are all very nice. (Photo: FTC)

This back view of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane’s uniform reveals FTC went to extra lengths to get the details right. The shirt, the epaulets, the belt and weapon are all very nice. That glossy, painted black hat? Not so great. (Photo: FTC)

From the front, Roscoe's uniform is shown to well made, with a very nice tie-clip, gold star and contrasting tie and pocket flaps. Good job, FTC! (Photo: FTC)

From the front, Roscoe’s uniform is shown to well made, with a very nice tie-clip, gold star and contrasting tie and pocket flaps. (Photo: FTC)

FTC's "J.R. Ewing" may be pretty basic as action figures go, and it may not look THAT much like Larry Hagman (although it does—a LITTLE), and the suit may be underwhelming, but hey! It's J.R.! (Photo: FTC)

FTC’s 1:6 scale J.R. Ewing from TV’s “Dallas” may look like a pretty basic action figure, and it may not look that much like Larry Hagman (although it does—a LITTLE), and that beige suit may be…underwhelming, but hey! It’s J.R! Could they make that Warner Brothers logo any bigger? Geez! (Photo: FTC)

While it may be a sufficient likeness, FTC's 1:6 scale headsculpt of Evel Knievel is nonetheless, a tad simplistic and subpar. And upturned, "questioning" eyebrows are never a good choice for any action figure (also see Hasbro's Ted Williams figure). (Photo: FTC)

While it may bear a sufficient likeness, FTC’s 1:6 scale headsculpt of Evel Knievel is nonetheless, sub par. And the upturned, “questioning” eyebrows are never a good choice for any action figure (see also Hasbro’s Ted Williams GIjOE). (Photo: FTC)

After taking an informal poll around the office, opinions about FTC’s new figures seemed to come together fairly predictably. As always of course, please feel free to post your own comments to this article, but to the staff here at The Joe Report, there seemed to be a fairly general consensus regarding the following:

First, it was unanimous that picking up all four of FTC’s excellent “Dressed to Kill” KISS figures was a “no-brainer.” They are just too cool. With their superb head sculpts and excellent facial paint, snappy 3-piece suits, funky ties and shoes, these new 1:6 scale figures succeed in recreating the original hard-rockin’ foursome perfectly. FTC “Dressed to Kill” 12-inch KISS Figures: Rating: ♦♦♦♦ (4 diamonds out of 5)

FTC’s other 12-inch versions of KISS didn’t impress us nearly as much. And they appear as if they’ll require much more “help” in order to improve their appearance. In addition, some of the other KISS headsculpts seemed downright simplistic in comparison to the excellent ones created for the “Dressed to Kill” group. All other FTC 12-inch KISS Figures: Rating: ♦♦½ (2½ diamonds out of 5)

The helmet for Evel's blue uniformed version features different graphics correct for that time in his career. (Photo: FTC)

The helmet for Evel’s blue uniformed version features different graphics correct for that time in his career. (Photo: FTC)

Next, despite its “soft” looking headsculpt, the 12-inch Evel Knievel action figure appears to be very well done, and received high marks for its well-made costume (especially the original white version) and highly detailed crash helmet. Most also considered it to be a “must-have” for their collections. FTC Evel Knievel Figures: Rating: ♦♦♦½ (3½ diamonds out of 5)

Finally, as to the Dallas and Dukes of Hazzard figures, those were all viewed as more of an “acquired taste,” with some perilously approaching the ever-pink land of Ken and Barbie. We liked them, but many reviewers felt the headsculpts were only so-so, or bordered on cartoonish. The Duke boy’s clothing, however, received high marks for fit and quality. FTC Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas Figures: Rating: ♦♦♦ (3 diamonds out of 5)

You can't say FTC isn't paying attention to the details (well, you can, but...). This extreme closeup of Luke Duke's groin reveals the exquisite detail and quality of his iconic..."bear paw" belt buckle. Nice job, FTC! (Photo: FTC)

You can’t say FTC isn’t paying attention to the details (well, you can, but…). This extreme closeup of Luke Duke’s groin reveals the exquisite detail and quality of his iconic…”bear paw” belt buckle. (HA) Nice job, FTC! (Photo: FTC)

Bottom Line: Regardless of FTC’s varying quality, there’s clearly a lot of potential in the company’s new 1:6 scale lines. But we do think they should work on their headsculpts and prop details. Collectors of 1:6 scale are going to be more discerning, and product details need to be increased significantly over those of the more “toy like” Mego-style 8-inch figures. Nevertheless… it’s obvious FTC is off to VERY good start, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next. If you’d like to keep up with FTC, we recommend you visit one of their four websites, or “like” them on their Facebook fan page HERE.

Editor’s Note: Our sincerest congratulations and best wishes to everyone at FTC. Great work!

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Author Details How “Utterly Generic” 1960s Military G.I. Joes Evolved Into “Hipper” 1970s Adventurers in: “The End of Victory Culture”

Wow. Is this worst book jacket EVER? Quite possibly. Hopefully, it won't hurt sales of Tom Engelhardt's intriguing new historical account entitled, "The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation. (Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press)

Wow. Is this worst book jacket EVER? Quite possibly. Hopefully, it won’t hurt sales of Tom Engelhardt’s intriguing historical account entitled, “The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation.” (Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press)

GIjOE’s “Secret History” Analyzed

We stumbled across an article the other day entitled, GIjOE’s Secret Past.” Naturally, we were intrigued. The article’s headline proved to be a tad misleading, however, as it turned out to be a collection of book excerpts instead, none of which contained anything new, unknown, or even remotely “secret” about GIjOE. Nevertheless, the book itself looks to be an interesting read, and we felt that it warranted a quick mention here on The Joe Report.

As Joeheads already know, as America changed during the ’60s and ’70s, so too did “America’s Movable Fighting Man.” What you probably didn’t know was that GIjOE’s familiar story was recounted in a 1995 book with the lengthy academic title, “The End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation” by Tom Engelhardt.

Engelhardt describes his book as an “idiosyncratic history of American triumphalism.” Okay… Well, despite its wordy title, Tom’s rather obtuse description and extremely lame cover art, the passages explaining societal factors affecting GIjOE’s evolution were all very well written and seem predominantly factual. Engelhardt further described the contents of his book thusly:

Author Tom Engelhardt (Photo: Tom Engelhardt)

Author Tom Engelhardt (Photo: Tom Engelhardt)

“I filled the book with the pop culture detritus of my own childhood, from horror comics and nuclear-mutant movies, to toy missiles and toy soldiers. While writing it, I became fascinated with the way in which an adult culture of war-making played itself out in children’s lives and also the ways in which the business of children’s culture sometimes anticipated developments in the adult world…how war was stripped from children’s culture in the Vietnam era, and how it returned.”

Sideshow's so-so 12-inch figure of John Wayne from his fun, but not-so-great film, The Green Berets. (Photo: Sideshow)

Sideshow’s so-so 12-inch figure of John Wayne from his so-so 1968 film, The Green Berets. (Photo: Sideshow)

Intrigued and curious to learn more, we skimmed ahead until we located the first excerpt referring to GIjOE:

“It was 1964, and in Vietnam thousands of American ‘advisers’ were already offering up their know-how from helicopter seats or gun sights. The United States was just a year short of sending its first large contingent of ground troops there, adolescents who would enter the battle zone dreaming of John Wayne and thinking of enemy-controlled territory as ‘Indian country.’ Meanwhile, in that inaugural year of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, a new generation of children began to experience the American war story via the most popular toy warrior ever created.”

Vincent Santelmo's "Official Identification and Price Guide" from 1999 is still a "must own" for collectors and fans of GIjOE. It's full of great information, full color photos and much more. (Photo: Krause Publications)

The cover of Vincent Santelmo’s “Official Identification and Price Guide” from 1999 depicts the original 5 GIjOEs as described by Engelhardt. (Photo: Krause Publications)

In the 1960s, the U.S. would lurch from the Cuban Missile Crisis, through the traumatic Kennedy and MLK assassinations, and on into the morass of the Vietnam War. It was a turbulent, troublesome time, and Engelhardt begins by reminding readers how Hasbro’s initial marketing of GIjOE as a military soldier strategically coincided with LBJ’s Great Society, America’s Cold War with the Soviet Union, the civil rights movement and other emerging mentalities of 1964, saying:

“Joe was redolent of America’s last victorious war and utterly generic. There was no specific figure named Joe, nor did any of the ‘Joes’ have names. ‘He’ came in four types, one for each service, including the Marines…Since he was a toy of the Great Society with its dreams of inclusion, it only took a year for his manufacturer, Hasbro, to produce a ‘Negro Joe,’ and two more to add a she-Joe (a nurse, naturally). Joe initially came with no story, no instructions, and no enemy, because it had not yet occurred to adults (or toy makers) not to trust the child to choose the right enemy to pit against Joe.”

Engelhardt hits the bulls-eye repeatedly and intelligently with such prose, and in additional excerpts from the book, he recounts how the GIjOE product line began and then evolved over time, reflecting concurrent and shifting American attitudes towards “triumphalism,” war, and the appropriateness of war-related toys. Tom begins by reminding readers of GIjOE’s initial positioning:

“In TV ads of the time, Joe was depicted as the most traditional of war toys. Little boys in World War II-style helmets were shown entering battle with a GIjOE tank, or fiercely displaying their Joe equipment while a chorus of deep, male voices sang (to the tune of ‘The Halls of Montezuma’), ‘G.I. Joe, G.I. Joe, Fighting man from head to toe on the land, on the sea, in the air.’ He was ‘authentic’ with his ‘ten-inch bazooka that really works,’ his ‘beachhead flame thrower,’ and his ‘authentically detailed replica’ of a U.S. Army Jeep with its own ‘tripod mounted recoilless rifle’ and four rocket projectiles.”

We’ve located that original 1964 GIjOE commercial Engelhardt mentioned. You can view it NOW:

The "hippest" of all GijOEs had to be the "Counter Culture Joe' produced by the national GIjOE club as their 2003 convention exclusive figure. The CCJ's are now highly sought after by collectors. (Photo: GIJCC)

The “hippest” of all GijOEs had to be the “Counter Culture Joe’ produced by the national GIjOE club as their 2003 convention exclusive figure. The CCJ’s are now highly sought after by collectors. (Photo: GIJCC)

<Drool> Oops. Sorry! I’ll clean that right up. After tracing Joe’s story up through the Adventure Team era of the 1970s, Engelhardt eventually exhausts his GIjOE (reflected-an-evolving-U.S.-society) analogy, and moves on to introduce Barbie, the Star Wars films, and other such pop-culture examples deemed relevant to his discussion. But for our own selfish “Joe-centric” interests, we’ll leave you with one final passage from the book:

“This hipper, new Joe was, if not exactly gaining a personality, then undergoing a personalizing process. He no longer appeared so military with his new hairstyles and his ‘A’ (for adventure) insignia, which, as Katharine Whittemore has pointed out, ‘looked just a bit like a peace sign.’ In fact, he was beginning to look suspiciously like the opposition, fading as a warrior just as he was becoming a less generic doll. By 1974, he had even gained a bit of an oriental touch with a new ‘kung-fu grip.’ In 1976, under the pressure of the increased cost of plastic, he shrank almost four inches; and soon after, he vanished from the scene. He was, according to Hasbro, ‘furloughed,’ and as far as anyone then knew, consigned to toy oblivion.”

Bottom Line: Engelhardt’s book goes on to assert that little by little, “the monolithic story of America that had previously been imposed on a nation of children” is being stripped away, leading to the rewriting of history texts and a nation’s rediscovery of much of its “forgotten” history (re: minorities, the poor, native americans, etc.). The book may not seem like an obvious choice for a collector’s “GIjOE Library,” but it would make an enjoyable read nonetheless. And it’s always interesting to learn about how the “world’s favorite toy” has impacted the lives of so many around the globe. If you’d like to purchase Tom’s book, you can find it for sale HERE. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Larry Storch! Famed Actor, Comedian, & Star of ’60s TV, Turns 91 Today

A 1960s

An “F-Troop” comic book cover depicts the show’s cast, including (from l to r) Ken Berry, Melody Patterson, Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch (far right) as Corporal Agarn, the most famous comedic character of his long and illustrious shown business career. (Photo: basementcomics)

Larry Storch entertains the crowd during a 2011 appearance at the Friar's Club in New York City. (Photo: Drew Friedman)

Larry Storch entertains the crowd during a 2011 appearance at the Friar’s Club in New York City. (Photo: Drew Friedman)

F-Troop star and TV icon, Larry Storch turns 91 today. Happy Birthday, Larry!

My “Brush with Greatness” Double-Header in Small Town, USA

It was 8PM on a cold, dark September evening. The year was 2002, and the place was a Barnes & Noble (B&N) bookstore in the small college community of Champaign, Illinois. At that time, the bookstore was perched on the outermost edge of town, at the end of a retail district where civilization seemed to come to an abrupt end, butting up to hundreds of square miles of adjacent corn and soybean fields that stretched off to infinity in all directions.

The crops themselves had been harvested just a few weeks before, so now, there remained only row upon row of jagged corn-stubble and upturned, gray soil. The stalks pointed “all a kilter,” looking like the blast craters of a WWI battlefield, missing only trenches and doughboys to complete the effect. Flying high over the desolate scene, visiting TV icon Larry Storch probably looked out his plane’s window and felt like he was about to land on the moon.

Peter Marshall on the set of

Peter Marshall on the set of “Hollywood Squares” sometime in the 1970s. (Photo: NBC)

But I’m getting ahead of myself. On that particular night, I wasn’t waiting to meet Mr. Storch at all. Rather, I was flipping through pages of a new book entitled “Backstage with the Original Hollywood Square,” written by another television great, Peter Marshall, the longtime host and star of the iconic comedy game show, Hollywood Squares. It was actually Marshall, that I and about 25 other “locals” were there to see.

Despite our town’s small population and relatively isolated location, Marshall had been scheduled to appear there that evening for a personal appearance and book signing event. Purely by chance, I had seen a tiny blurb about the event in the paper the day before, and almost disbelievingly, decided to drop by the B&N after work. But why, I wondered, would Peter Marshall want to come here, when Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis are all just a few hours away? Those were much bigger markets. Hmm…

Peter Marshall and wife, Laurie Stewart. (Photo: getty)

Peter Marshall and wife, Laurie Stewart. (Photo: getty)

An Unexpected Celebrity 2-for-1

Whatever the reason, I planted myself in front of a table displaying his books, and filled the time as I waited by looking at the book’s photos, marveling at all of the great celebrities Marshall had known, worked with, and befriended during his many decades in show business. Suddenly…the doors of the store opened. All heads turned. And in walked…Peter Marshall!

He was accompanied by his beautiful wife, Laurie Stewart, and the “crowd” began to drift towards the area where he would sign his books. But hold the phone, Watson! A few seconds later, in walks Larry Storch (!)…also accompanied by HIS wife! I remember just blurting out, “Hey, That’s Larry Storch!” to a perfect stranger standing next to me. Unlike many celebrities, Mr. Storch is instantly recognizable in person. Despite his age, he has changed very little over the years. That night, he looked spiffy in a black turtleneck, slacks and sport coat, and he walked across the room with an almost imperious self-confidence. I was actually more excited to see Mr. Storch in person than Mr. Marshall.

This is my copy of the Peter Marshall book, “Backstage with the Original Hollywood Square.” I actually bought two copies that night, and had both stars autograph them (one as a gift for a relative). (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

What a FAN-tastic Surprise!

Okay, so here’s where the Twilight Zone part of my story begins: As Peter Marshall busied himself greeting the B&N manager and various store employees, I gathered up my nerve, and approached Mr. Storch first. He and his wife were just standing there, watching the activities, and no one else was talking to them. After telling him of my great admiration of his work, he and his wife, Norma Storch (an actress), thanked me and then… asked me to sit down WITH them in some chairs on the front row! Stunned, I quickly accepted, and after we had all introduced ourselves and shook hands, we sat down together… for a chat! Here it is:

In this 2003 photo, Larry Storch poses with his F-Troop co-star, Melody Patterson (c) and his wife, Norma Storch (r). Both Storch and his wife look much as they did when I met them a few months earlier. Sadly, she died from cancer a few months later. (Photo: Blessing Moore)

In this 2003 photo, Larry Storch poses with his F-Troop co-star, Melody Patterson (c) and his wife, Norma Storch (r). Both Storch and his wife look much as they did when I met them a few months earlier. Sadly, Norma died from cancer less than a year later. (Photo: Blessing Moore)

The “World’s Shortest Interview” with ’60s TV Icon and Funnyman, Larry Storch and his wife, Norma Storch

TJR: How was your flight? Are you having a nice trip?

Larry: “Oh man, it was rough. What a terrible flight!”
Norma: “The worst!”

TJR: I’m so sorry. What was the matter? What kind of plane was it?

Larry: “It was one of those little prop-jobs. And it was just bumpy all the way.” (Norma nodded and added an eye-roll for emphasis.)

My copy of Marshall's book with both his and Storch's kind inscriptions and autographs. What nice guys! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

My copy of Marshall’s book with both his and Storch’s kind inscriptions and autographs. What nice guys! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

TJR: Well, I’m so glad you made it safely. But it’s such a surprise to see you here. Why ARE you here, by the way?

Larry: “We’re just traveling with Peter and Laurie, to keep ’em company and have some fun.”
Norma: “Yes, but I don’t even know where this place is. HA!”

I suddenly realized what a rare opportunity our private little conversation was, and asked Storch if he would also sign Peter Marshall’s book. He chuckled, and said, “Sure!” writing out the kind inscription and autograph you see in the photo above. Soon after, Peter Marshall took his seat at the “official” book signing table, and since they were ready to begin, I thanked Larry and Norma and excused myself to get in line to meet Peter.

Bottom Line: In the end, both men signed my copy of Marshall’s book and today it remains one of my most valued possessions. Our youngest readers may have no clue about the two stars I’ve discussed today, and that’s truly a shame. Both men are hugely talented, widely accomplished, and were a great pleasure to meet in person. If I’ve peaked your interest in Larry Storch or Peter Marshall at all, I suggest you watch the following two short videos. Enjoy!

Sideshow Collectibles Thanks Fans in New Video

Have you ever wondered what it looked like “behind the scenes” at Sideshow Collectibles? And exactly WHO makes all of their wonderfully detailed 1:6 scale action figures based on our favorite movie and TV stars, superheroes, aliens and monsters? Well, in an entertaining “Thank You” video recently released by the company, eagle-eyed fans finally get a chance to sneak some quick peeks into the company’s various rooms, workshops and warehouses. It’s an enjoyable (but all too brief) insight into one of the best 1:6 companies in the world.

Bottom Line: When you’re through watching the video, you’ll want to say, “Thanks!” right back to ’em for all of their great work. And be sure to check out that amazing “Queen Alien” sculpt in the background. WOW! Game over, man!

Patches of Pride Owner Announces Company’s Plan to “Spread Joe Karma” By Giving Away 365 Free Prizes to Customers, 1 Per Day, During 2014

opjoekarmalogoIn an audacious plan of goodwill and fan fellowship, Patches of Pride (PoP), a manufacturer of 1:6 scale miniature patches, decals and related miniature accessories, has announced its intention to “help spread Joe karma” in 2014 by rewarding 365 of its faithful customers and fans with free gifts. According to PoP company founder and representative, Mark Otnes:

“We were sitting around the office the other day, just talking about how we felt Hasbro had ‘dropped the ball’ bigtime for GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary. That led to kicking around ideas about what, if anything, we could do to help rectify the situation.

Someone pointed out that the national GIjOE club was hosting JoeCon 2014 in Dallas, but to be honest, nobody seemed to be very interested in attending. Most felt fans of the original 1:6 scale GIjOE had been forgotten and excluded from the activities at the 2013 JoeCon in Indy, and there was little desire to repeat that experience.

So… after about an hour of back-n-forth grumbling, we realized that if anything substantive was going to be done in 2014 to honor and respect GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary, it would have to have to come from the fans— and be FOR the fans, aka ‘Joe karma.’

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That’s when a lightbulb went off. After we had  replaced it with a new one (HA), an idea came to us… GIjOE is all about being helpful, heroic, and making people happy. So what better way to honor that tradition than by giving BACK to the very fans who made its success so long-lasting and worthwhile? That’s how ‘Operation: Joe Karma 2014’ was born. In addition to donating $1 (from every order received over $25) to the USO, every single day during 2014, we’ll be giving away free prizes to our customers, ranging from store credit, to gift certificates, vintage comic books, GIjOE action figures, uniform sets, equipment packs, and even vehicles. We’re even going to surprise fans following us on Facebook. It’s going to be quite a ride in 2014!”

Bottom Line: As far as we’ve been able to determine, no other 1:6 scale-related company has EVER made such an abundant, year-long offer of “Joe karma” to its fans and customers. And the company’s donations to the USO are like icing on the cake! Patches of Pride continues to break ground with its efforts to reach out and “give back” to fellow fans and collectors of GIjOE, Action Man and related 1:6 scale action figures. If you’d like to learn more about PoP’s “Operation: Joe Karma 2014,” we recommend you go HERE now. And…Happy 50th Anniversary, GIjOE!