Monthly Archives: March 2014

“Lucky Shot Scale Leather” Creating 1:6 Holster Rigs and Related Accessories for 12″ G.I. Joes

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Lt. Colonel Aaron Luck, US Army (above), attended Joelanta 2014 and provided passersby with the rare opportunity to observe him while working, as he created actual examples of his superb 1:6 scale holster rigs and related miniature leather goods. Luck even brought his sewing machine along to stitch his tiny creations together as fans looked on in amazement. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This elaborate 4-gun rig really caught our eye. Look at all the perfect stitch work and complex assembly. Absolutely perfect! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This elaborate 4-gun rig really caught our eye. Look at all the perfect stitchwork and complex assembly. Absolutely perfect, Aaron! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Active-Duty Army Officer Stuns Joelanta Attendees With Live Sewing and Assembly Demonstrations

“Even I can do better than THAT!” —Aaron Luck

The more customizers we meet in this hobby, the more diversity we discover among their talents and creative use of materials and techniques. Indeed, if you search the “customizers” category here on The Joe Report, you’ll be rewarded with numerous articles on talented individuals, including a few dubbed as “masters of metal,” a “3D printing pioneer,” various traditional modelers working in styrene plastics, molds and resins, and even one amazing man working exclusively with wood and other “found” materials.

You may think we’ve covered them all. But as Yoda would say… “No. There is… ANOTHER.” Meet Lt. Col. Aaron Luck (active-duty, US Army). Aaron’s impressive military resume is about a mile long, but in brief (according to the LinkedIn website) Luck is currently serving as the “Deputy Chief of Combat Operations Division at Joint Space Operations Center,” and was educated at the “Naval Postgraduate School (and) United States Military Academy at West Point.” It’s not mentioned in his resume, but Luck also happens to be an avid GIjOE fan and collector, and in his spare time, enjoys creating 1:6 scale miniature leather goods—out of real leather—for use with 12-inch GIjOEs and related action figures. HOOah!

When he's not creating accessories for use with GIjOE and other 1:6 scale action figures, Luck is busy defending the United States of America. Here, Luck wears his "class A" US Army uniform during a ceremony held recently at the Joint Space Operations Command at Vandenberg AFB near Lompoc, CA. (Photo: Chad Miller)

As a real-life “GIjOE,” Luck proudly serves his country as an officer in the United States Army. Here, he’s shown wearing the Army’s impressive “class A” dress uniform at a ceremony held at the Joint Space Operations Command at Vandenberg AFB near Lompoc, CA. (Photo: Chad Miller)

A giant "Men of Honor" action figure customized into an oversized Air Commander (humorously) holds up a poster showing various gun rigs and other 1:6 creations offered from Aaron's "Lucky Shot Scale Leather." (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A giant “Men of Honor” action figure customized into an over-sized Air Adventurer (humorously) holds up a poster showing various gun rigs and other 1:6 creations offered by “Lucky Shot Scale Leather.” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As I walked up to Luck’s dealer table at Joelanta 2014, he struck me as focused and methodical. At first, I thought he was repairing something, but then I learned he was busy CREATING something instead—a miniature 2-gun holster rig! Transfixed, I was soon joined by other fans, and we all continued to watch in rapt admiration as Aaron worked. I eventually saw that each tiny piece of (real) leather is cut out (by HAND), then carefully and skillfully stitched together using Aaron’s trusty, old-fashioned sewing machine. Finally, to finish each rig off properly, Luck carefully attaches tiny metal buckles and rings until the final 1:6 scale product looks completely realistic.

This unusual black double-rig is for a 1:6 scale "Jango Fett" Star Wars action figure. Luck created this outstanding accessory (from scratch)—during the first day of the show—in just under 4 hours. WOW!!!! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Luck created this unusual “Jango Fett” black double-rig (from scratch) during the first morning of Joelanta 2014. That’s EVERYTHING, cut, sewn, and buckled—in under FOUR hours! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

I asked Luck to comment on how he became interested in creating 1:6 holster rigs and he told me:

“About a year and a half ago, I was looking at that shoulder rig that came with the Mademoiselle Marie figure. While “serviceable,” it was bad enough that I immediately thought, ‘Even I can do better than THAT.’ So, I started making some of my own, posting pictures of the results on various GIjOE forums and Facebook. Other collectors liked what they saw and told me, ‘Hey those are great. Make me one!’ It spread from there. I just want to help other fans finish their figures!”

All of Luck's creations all completely handmade. Look at that unusual 4-gun righ on the leather-clad female spy in the foreground. And check out Bruce Willis' extended side-holster. AMAZING work! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Luck’s creations are all meticulously handmade and VERY correct. From left to right, a “cross-over’ 2-gun rig, another intricate 4-gun rig and Bruce Willis’ “Mare’s Laig” side-holster. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bottom Line: How cool is this? In what other hobby can you get something hand-created for you by the Deputy Chief of Combat Operations Division at the Joint Space Operations Center? Just think about THAT, my fellow Joeheads! If you need to “finish a figure” and would like more information on Lucky Shot Scale Leather, you can contact Aaron directly via email HERE, visit his website HERE, or “like” him on Facebook HERE. We’d “like” to offer our own sincerest thanks and gratitude to Luck for his lengthy and illustrious military service and to his recent (and outstanding) contributions to the 1:6 scale collecting hobby. OOHrah! Go, Army! Go, Aaron!

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Catching Up With Chelsea Weld, aka “Cell Phone Girl” From the Syfy Channel’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” Competition-Reality TV Show

A stunning 22-year old Chelsea Weld poses as her alter-ego, “Cell Phone Girl,” in this 2006 publicity still taken for Season 1 of SyFy’s hit competition reality series, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” While Weld clearly looked super, her “kryptonite” turned out to be dogs and headaches, a dual weakness that hastened her removal from the show. (Photo: Syfy)

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Now, THIS is an action FIGURE! At 30, Cell Phone Girl has become a muscular, hard-bodied, Cell Phone WOMAN. Here, Weld poses in the “bikini class” of a recent fitness competition. (Photo: Team DreamQuest)

Second in a Series of Exclusive Interviews with the Contestants of Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” Competition Reality Show

By Mark Otnes, 3-26-2014
Editor, The Joe Report

“I think I watched the show peeking through one eye. It feels a bit awkward to watch yourself on camera.”
—Chelsea Weld, aka SyFy TV’s superheroine, “Cell Phone Girl”

Here at The Joe Report, we’re unabashedly HUGE fans of Stan Lee’s hit TV reality show, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” (WWTBASH) And yes, we know that it’s been off the air for 7 years. But that’s not going to deter us from interviewing every single contestant from the show. Today’s interview is with Season 1 contender, Chelsea Weld, aka “Cell Phone Girl” (CPG) to her legions of fans. We caught up with Miss Weld recently at her new “secret lair” located somewhere in Hawaii, and she kindly offered to answer our questions about her life and her time on the show

TJR: Hello! And thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. As I mentioned before, I’m a HUGE fan of yours and of your superhero alter-ego, “Cell Phone Girl.” But let’s begin by catching up with Chelsea Weld, the woman, as you are today. According to your Facebook page, you’ve recently become engaged. Congratulations! Is there anything you’d care to share about your fiancé, or your future plans together?

Chelsea Weld’s found her own super-MAN in fiancé Peter Stams. (Photo: Jimmy Songvilay)

CW: “Thank you! We are getting married very soon in May and we are both so excited! I feel so blessed and lucky to have such an amazing man in my life. Our future plans are to stay healthy and happy together.”

TJR: When you appeared in Season 1 of Syfy’s Who Wants to be a Superhero (2006), you were just 22 years old, and working as an interior designer in La Crescenta, California. Where are you now, and what are you doing?

CW: “Currently I live in Hawaii and work as a Financial Advisor. It is something that has always fascinated me. I still have the creative design bug though. I just designed our condo with the help of my fiancé!” (UPS Enterprise AE, Peter Stams)

The Woman of Bronze. Here, a statuesque, almost Amazonian Weld poses alongside renowned fitness professional Kiana Phi before a competition. (Photo: Kiana Phi)

TJR: That’s fantastic, congratulations again. You’re also quite a beautiful woman. What sort of health regimen or exercise activities do you currently participate in to keep your superhero physique looking so “fit and fabulous?”

CW: “Thank you! In July of 2012, I competed in the Bikini Class of an NPC body-building show. I placed 5th in the top 5 in my first show which was very exciting! Staying healthy and active is something I am passionate about, so I really enjoyed the whole process and the camaraderie around it. I had no idea how involved that world gets until I experienced it for myself. My goal is to compete again in 2015. For now, I’m staying healthy by working out several times a week, and eating very cleanly. For my workouts, I really prefer weight training. I don’t get the results I want with anything else. And for fun, I enjoy yoga, hiking and water sports.”

Weld stretches before training (or relaxing) on a beach in Hawaii. (Photo: Peter Stams)

TJR: Many fans have wondered if you were ever employed as a professional model or in show business as an actress? If so, what did you do?

CW: “I never did any modeling. I took some acting classes initially to get over my shyness and ended up really liking them. I love acting and think in another life I would have really enjoyed it. But I never did anything professionally.”

TJR: When you’re not working, what are you doing? What are your other interests or hobbies?

CW: “When I am not working, I love being outdoors. Whether it is laying on the beach, or being active in the water, or hiking—I love soaking up the beauty here. It is very soothing. I mentioned before that, training for fitness competitions is a passion of mine, so I look forward to getting back into training soon.”

Even as a teenager, Weld was already dreaming about someday becoming a superhero. (Photo: Jaymie Uchiyama)

Even as a teenager, Weld was already dreaming about someday becoming a superhero. (Photo: Jaymie Uchiyama)

TJR: How and when did you first get interested in superheroes? Who is your favorite superhero and why?

CW: “Back in high school, my boyfriend was very into comics, and he bought me some of my own, and the storylines just captivated me. I thought they were great; grown up stories—with pictures! That was the moment I knew I loved comics and that is what got me into superheroes. I think everyone loves the idea of being “super” at something and having extra powers. Who doesn’t want to fly or be able to teleport?”

TJR: Absolutely! And to carry the question further, did you ever dress up as a superhero and attend a toy show or comic book convention as a cosplayer?

Weld poses with fellow WWTBASH contestant E. Quincy Sloan (aka "Ty'Veculus") during the 2006 San Diego ComicCon. (Photo: Alan Crosby)

Weld poses with fellow WWTBASH contestant E. Quincy Sloan (aka “Ty’Veculus”) during the 2006 San Diego ComicCon. (Photo: Alan Crosby)

CW: “When I lived in California, right after ‘Who Wants to be a Superhero’ aired, I went to the San Diego ComicCon as Cell Phone Girl. That was SO fun! I loved seeing everyone dressed up. I love dressing up and would love to do that again!”

Most likely inspired by Weld's Cell Phone Girl character, Mattel released its "Chat Diva Barbie" in 2007. This unique figure included a moving mouth that synced with prerecorded messages like, "Yep, Totally, its Barbie!" and "Did you Get My Message? No? Really?...Later Girl." Pick one up with brown hair, and it wouldn't take much effort to customize it in your own 1:6 scale Cell Phone Girl. YES! (Photo: Lennihan/AP)

Most likely inspired by Weld’s “Cell Phone Girl” character, Mattel released its similar “Chat Diva Barbie” in 2007. This collectible figure included a unique moving mouth that automatically synced with prerecorded messages like, “Yep, Totally, its Barbie!” and “Did you Get My Message? No? Really?…Later Girl.” Pick one up with brown hair, and it wouldn’t take much effort to customize it into your own 1:6 scale Cell Phone Girl! (Photo: Lennihan/AP)

TJR: As you know, The Joe Report is primarily geared towards fans and collectors of 1:6 scale action figure toys. Do you collect anything? Any toys, superhero items, dolls, or action figures?

CW: “I would love to have collections, but over the years I’ve moved around a lot and have had limited storage space, not ideal conditions for keeping up a collection. I enjoy seeing other people’s collections though.

I LOVE a proud collector; someone who is truly passionate about their collection and can tell you everything about it. In that sense, I would say I am more of a fan—of collectors!”

TJR: Let’s talk about your time on the show. In episode 1 of Season 1, when you first stepped out of the limousine at the mansion, you said (in a voiceover):

“I love cell phones. I’m always on the phone. I love to stay in touch with people. So when it came to being a superhero, I knew I was Cell Phone Girl.”

In this screenshot from the show, Chelsea is seen for the first time as she emerges from the limosine and opens her trademark cell phone, emitting waves of superhero power! (Photo: Syfy)

Weld is seen for the first time emerging from a limousine and activating her trademark cell phone; thereby emitting powerful waves of “heroic energy.” Look out, prank callers! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: For viewers, that statement perfectly captured the essence of your character. Cell Phone Girl (CPG) was going to be an optimistic, friendly and outgoing superhero. Tell us about your creation of CPG and how the idea first came to you.

CW: “I was sitting in class one day, and at that time I was trying to figure out which carrier had better service (I had TWO cell phones). My friend saw me using both of them at once and called me ‘Cell Phone Girl.’ That name just resonated with me. That IS me. I am Cell Phone Girl!

I’m always on the phone; whether to have fun, help people out, or simply to find out some information. From that moment on, I started dreaming up my character’s super powers and what it would be like to actually BE—Cell Phone Girl.”

TJR: Cool! Okay, could you tell us about the show’s audition process? How and when did you first learn about the show? Where did you have to go, what did you have to do, etc.?

The beginning of Chelsea's journey to becoming a superhero began here, in a non-descript building hosting the first-ever auditions for Stan Lee's "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" Can you spot her in this lineup? (Photo: Syfy)

Weld’s journey to becoming a superhero began here, in a nondescript Hollywood building hosting the first-ever auditions for Stan Lee’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” Can you spot her in this lineup? (Photo: Syfy)

CW: “I saw the ad online somewhere and was instantly intrigued. I prepared my costume, went to a building in Hollywood for the audition (positive that I wouldn’t be chosen) and presented my character to them. The whole process was simply fascinating to me.

Stan Lee played his "Oz-like" role to the hilt, appearing on big screen TVs and video projectors placed in numerous locations throughout the competition. His impact was undeniably powerful and often very emotional, bringing many of the contestants to tears. (Photo: Syfy)

Stan Lee played his “Oz-like” role to the hilt, appearing on big screen TVs and video projectors placed in numerous locations throughout the competition. His impact was undeniably powerful and often very emotional, bringing many of the contestants to tears. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: When you finally met Stan Lee, where was that and what did you two talk about?

CW: “The only times I met Stan Lee were on a TV or video projector when he was talking to us. It was a magical moment when I first saw him, but I don’t even remember what he said, exactly. I just kept thinking, ‘Wow! I’m talking to Stan Lee. This is so COOL!”

Weld manages to pull off a remarkably normal, Clark Kent-like, "secret identity," both at work and in "real life." Who would suspect this mild-mannered financial advisor could suddenly transform into...Cell Phone Girl! (Photo: Chelsea Weld)

Weld manages to pull off a remarkably normal, Clark Kent-like, “secret identity,” both at work and in her “real life.” Who would suspect that this mild-mannered financial advisor could suddenly transform herself into…Cell Phone Girl?!
(Photo: Chelsea Weld)

TJR: When and how did you learn you had been selected as a contestant for the show? Were you notified via phone, email or letter? What specifically did you do to prepare?

CW: “The details are fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure they notified me by phone. I mean, how else would you notify Cell Phone Girl? At that point, I already had my costume and character, so the only thing for me to do was show up.”

TJR: Your long, elegant legs were shown to great advantage in both of your Cell Phone Girl costumes. But wasn’t it difficult to run in those high-heel boots? And did you ever poke anyone in the eye your with your cape’s antennas?Looking back, what do you think of your two costumes now?

CW: “I WISH I got to have that second costume while I was still on the show. The show’s costumers did a great job creating it. When I finally got to wear it, I was very excited. And yes, if I turned around too fast, and someone was standing too close, my antennas could get caught in someone’s hair, but people quickly learned how to keep clear.”

Chelsea demonstrated that running in high-heel superhero boots is not as difficult as you may think in this scene from "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" (Photo: Syfy)

Weld demonstrated that running in high-heel superhero boots is not as difficult as one might think in this scene from “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” (Photo: Syfy)

“The boots were actually fine to run in, thick heels are a superhero’s friend. Looking back, my first costume still holds a special place in my heart because it has all the memories of the entire process tied to it. But I also LOVED that second costume!”

TJR: You were eliminated from the show before receiving an “on-air” official costume makeover, but were given your beloved second costume later nonetheless, for photo shoots and other promotional activities. Did you get to keep that new (studio-created) costume? If so, where is it?

CW: “Yes I still have it, safely in storage. Maybe I’ll break it out and wear it again!”

TJR: Did you get to keep any other souvenirs from the show? Did anyone ever bring up the irony or pointlessness of giving Cell Phone Girl yet another cell phone or “communicator?”

In 2006, there was no Skype, so Stan Lee's "communicators" were still considered to be very high-tech. Too bad they were just non-functioning props. (Photo: Syfy)

In 2006, there was no Skype, so Stan Lee’s “communicators” were still considered to be very high-tech. Too bad they were just non-functioning props. (Photo: Syfy)

CW: “Ha-ha! No, no one did mention the irony. And technically, Cell Phone Girl doesn’t need any cell phones, so you are correct. No I don’t have any other souvenirs. Just my costume.”

Weld describes herself during a scene from WWTBASH. (Photo: Syfy)

In this screenshot from the show, Weld admits one of her weaknesses is a fear of dogs. The revelation would later prove to be quite prophetic (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Personality-wise, what sort of heroine did you envision Cell Phone Girl to be? High-tech? Vain? Or youthfully immature like Spiderman, the X-Men, etc (all originally brash teenagers)? The reason I ask is that in the earliest audition tapes, you actually stated the following:

“If there’s a hot guy walking by, it’s a dilemma…

Do I help the person (in need), or do I go for the hot guy?”

TJR: Looking back now, I’m sure you’ll agree, that was hardly a “heroic” thing to say. By portraying Cell Phone Girl in that manner, it seemed as if you were almost working against yourself. Your thoughts?

CW: “Every super hero has their weaknesses—hot guys were one of mine. I didn’t say I chose the hot guys over saving someone, just that it was a dilemma. Superheroes always do the right thing, so of course, I would always choose to SAVE someone! I envisioned Cell Phone Girl as being very tech-savvy, confidant, and empathetic towards people.”

The show's producers felt Weld's character held so much potential, they even went to the lengths to create a logo for Cell Phone Girl (shown above). (Photo: Syfy)

The show’s producers felt Weld’s character held so much potential, they even went to the trouble to create a logo for Cell Phone Girl (shown above). (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: The first time viewers hear from you is in a voice-over referring to Stan Lee, in which you say:

“Being immortalized by this master of all superheroes would be a dream come true.”

TJR: The producers liked that comment so much they ended up using it in every episode, even after your departure from the show. Was that statement your own idea? Or did the show have writers “feeding” contestants certain phrases?

CW: “For our commentaries, we would have conversations with the crew where they would ask us questions. They never told us what to say, but if we said something that might be taken the wrong way, or it was stated unclearly, they might help us to phrase something differently. The statement is true—it WOULD be a dream come true. I don’t remember now if they helped me to articulate that particular sentence, but they never put words in my mouth.”

In this screenshot from the show's opening credits, Chelsea receives a call for help and begins peeling off her "civilian" dress to reveal her superhero costume underneath. Go, Cell Phone Girl! (Photo: Syfy)

In this screenshot from the show’s opening credits, Weld receives a call for help and begins peeling off her “civilian” dress to reveal her superhero costume underneath.
Go, Cell Phone Girl! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Did you realize that the show had a separate, unique theme song for Cell Phone Girl? It’s true! If you watch episode 1 and listen carefully just before you step from the limousine (at the mansion), you’ll hear the music spin off into a unique counter-melody that was created specifically for your character—and it’s PLAYED on cell phone buttons, to boot! Pretty cool!

CW: “I think I watched the show peeking through one eye. It feels a bit awkward to watch yourself on camera. So I don’t quite remember that. But thank you for pointing that out. I will look for that! That is very cool.”

After gathering in "the mansion," some contestants decide to break into dance, even forming a conga-line. Here, contestant Chris Watters (aka "Major Victory") joins Chelsea in the action. (Photo: Syfy)

After gathering in “the mansion,” some of the contestants decide to break into dance, eventually forming a conga-line. Here, contestant Chris Watters (aka “Major Victory”) joins Weld in the action. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Who’s idea was it to start conga-line dancing in the mansion? Did the producers say “Okay everybody, let’s start dancing.” Or did the contestants just begin to do that on their own?

CW: “Ha! I think it was Creature’s idea. She (Tonya Kay) is a VERY playful person and lots of fun. We all had so much fun together!”

Chelsea reacts along with fellow contestants Chris Watters and E. Quincy Sloan as Stan Lee suddenly appears on a nearby monitor accusing them of NOT behaving like superheroes. From this moment on, contestants learned they were being judged "at all times" and that behavior considered to be "unheroic" could get them eliminated. (Photo: Syfy)

Weld reacted with “shock and awe” along with fellow contestants Chris Watters and E. Quincy Sloan when Stan Lee suddenly appeared on a nearby monitor and accused them of NOT behaving like superheroes. From that moment on, contestants understood that they were being judged “at all times” and that any behavior Lee considered unbecoming or improper (for a superhero) could get them eliminated from the show. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: When you learned you were leaving the mansion for an unknown “lair” elsewhere, you lamented:

“I don’t want to leave the mansion. I want to stay here. This sucks!”

TJR: You may have said that innocently, but the comment came across as somewhat “spoiled.” Was that your intention, or do you believe the producers carefully selected comments so that you and the other contestants would be perceived and portrayed in a certain way? How do you feel you ultimately came across on the show?

CW: “Of course, the show cherry-picked comments to help create drama, every show does that. And yes, it does sound spoiled, but the intention behind my comment was more about the FUN we were having, not the fact that we were in a mansion.”

From the very beginning, "Rotiart" stood out and seemed somewhat...unusual. Turns out, he was an actual contestant! (Photo: nashentertainment.com)

From the very beginning, “Rotiart” stood out as being somewhat…unusual. And rightly so!
(Photo: nashentertainment.com)

TJR: Did you ever suspect that “Rotiart” (Jonathan Firestone) was a spy? Did he ever interrogate you, looking for “dirt?” What are your thoughts of him and Levity (Tobias Trost) both leaving the show before even entering the lair?

CW: “When we were all in the limo together, I remember thinking that something about Rotiart seemed ‘off,’ but I couldn’t put my finger on it, and I was even about to look at his name spelled backwards and then got distracted by someone. If I had done that then, we might have figured him out sooner! As soon as he said his real name, I thought back to that moment. Having Levity leave was very disappointing. BOTH of those moments definitely made the threat of leaving a reality.”

Before stepping foot in the lair, the contestants stood stunned outside, upon hearing Stan Lee reveal that "one of you is a SPY." Weld would continue, but Tobias Trost was not so fortunate. (Photo: Syfy)

Before stepping foot in the lair, the contestants stood stunned outside, upon hearing Stan Lee reveal that “one of you is a SPY.” Weld would continue, but Tobias Trost was not so fortunate. (Photo: Syfy)

From the outside, the hero's "lair"  was a rather depressing old warehouse with blacked-out windows and barbed wire. It's address, "11400 Willow Street," is somewhere in the greater Los Angeles area, although its exact location remains unknown. (Photo: Syfy)

From the outside, the show’s superhero “lair” was a rather depressing looking old warehouse with high walls and barbed wire. It’s (possibly false) address, “11400 Willow Street,” was purported to have been in the Los Angeles area, although its exact location is unknown. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What can you tell us about your time in the lair, and of the lair building itself, that we may not already know? Was the address really 11400 Willow Street? What city was it in? Can you provide any (previously unknown) “behind the scenes” information?

CW: “I don’t really know where it was. If I remember correctly they blacked out the windows of the limo we were all in somehow. The interior was a very beautifully revamped warehouse. I loved it! Even more so than the mansion.”

Chelsea and fellow contestants, Tonya Kay (l) and Mary Votava (r) react with excitement as they tour the spacious and well-appointed interior of the show's superhero "lair" for the first time. (Photo: Syfy)

Weld and fellow contestants, Tonya Kay (l) and Mary Votava (r) react with excitement as they walk through the spacious and well-appointed interior of the show’s superhero “lair” for the very first time. (Photo: Syfy)

“Half of my excitement was because I loved what they did with the interior space, and the other half was because I was on the show and that was just so exciting. When we weren’t shooting, we would all sit around talking and playing and making each other laugh. We really did have a great time together. Other than the interior, I really have no idea where we were. They were very good at keeping that a secret, even from us. Somewhere in the LA area is all I know.”

Chelsea and the other contestants listen as Stan Lee instructs them to find a public place to change into their costumes in "a superhero-like manner." (Photo: Syfy)

Weld (far left) and the other contestants listen as Stan Lee (off-screen on a TV monitor) instructs them to find a public place to change “inconspicuously” into their superhero costumes. (Photo: Syfy)

While she waits her turn, Chelsea scans the area looking for a good place to change her clothes—in public. (Photo: Syfy)

While she waits her turn, Weld scans the area looking for a good place to change her clothes—in public. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: During the first challenge, you said (in a voice-over):

“When I heard what our first superhero challenge was, changing in public, I thought, you gotta be kidding me!”

TJR: But in fact, Stan didn’t tell the contestants to change in public. Rather, he urged everyone to find a place to change “inconspicuously,” ala Clark Kent. And so, the question many fans immediately ask is, why did YOU, Nitro G, and a few others, decide to change right out there in the open? When it was your turn, as the camera panned to the side, people are clearly sitting or walking by only a few feet away! Why didn’t contestants just go into one of those public porta-potties?

Despite her best efforts to remain "inconspicuous" while changing into her superhero costume, Chelsea was anything but, as the show's camera crew clearly proved by taping her in this private moment. (Photo: Syfy)

Despite her efforts to remain “inconspicuous” while changing, Weld was anything but, as the show’s camera crew clearly proved when taping her during this private moment. (Photo: Syfy)

CW: “Oh trust me, if there was anywhere to change in private, I would have found it. EXCEPT for a porta-potty! I draw the line there. I try to avoid them at all costs. They basically took us to an open park. No buildings. No restrooms. In fact, I don’t even think there WERE any porta-potties. So I hid behind a wall. I was hidden from the public pretty well, but it was not an ideal spot. I think I was kneeling in the bushes. Where I was changing people couldn’t see me or I wouldn’t have changed. You can’t show the public your superhero quick-change routine. That ruins the magic!”

In this screenshot from the show, Chelsea pulls on a gauntlet during her "inconspicuous" public change. (Photo: Syfy)

Weld pulls on a gauntlet during her “inconspicuous,” yet public, quick-change. When things became TOO personal, she adamantly shooed camera crews away. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Okay… I think we’ll require some clarification here. Forgive me for asking, but your fans will HAVE to know this: Were you already wearing your costume’s black tights and fishnet stockings under your t-shirt and jeans? And if you weren’t (again, excuse me if I’m being indelicate), then exactly how far did you have to strip down (in public!) for this “revealing” challenge?

CW: “No, I was NOT wearing my tights or stockings! So…when I started to change and the camera crew found me, I told them if they didn’t LEAVE, then I wasn’t going to finish changing. To my knowledge, no one saw anything. And to anyone who did—you’re welcome! HA!”

In a stroke of brilliance, the show's creators came up with Stan's (very) tele-visual "cubes of elimination." At night, the internally-lit cubes were dramatically effective in setting a mood and communicating two simple facts: Standing on a red cube meant you were facing final elimination. Standing on a white cube meant you were "safe"—for now. (Photo: Syfy)

In a stroke of brilliance, the show utilized 13 “cubes of elimination.” At night, the internally lit cubes dramatically set the mood and communicated two simple facts: Standing on a red cube meant you were facing elimination. Standing on a white cube meant you were safe—at least for the moment. (Photo: Syfy)

Chelsea (nervously) awaits her fate during one of the show's ominous nighttime "rooftop" eliminations. (Photo: Syfy)

Weld (nervously) awaits her fate during one of the show’s ominous nighttime “rooftop” eliminations. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: What are your memories of the nighttime “rooftop eliminations?” On the show you said:

“When I got to the roof, and saw all of those boxes lit up, it was intense. It was definitely intimidating.”

TJR: Could you hear Stan clearly? Was he really appearing on that billboard-sized TV screen?

CW: “I remember being VERY nervous. I enjoyed being on the show and didn’t want to leave, so I think that was going through all of our minds. We would see Stan on a big flat screen, but probably not the size of a billboard. It was a big screen though.”

To face the "Attack Dog Challenge," Chelsea had to wear a full-body protective suit and helmet. Despite the added protection, she would fare well against the ferocious canines. (Photo: Syfy)

To face the “Attack Dog Challenge,” Weld had to don a full-body protective suit and helmet. Despite the added protection, she would fare poorly against the well-trained and ferocious canines. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Tell us what you remember about the “Attack Dog Challenge.” Before it began, you honestly and openly admitted:

“Wow. I’m nervous! This reminds me of a time when I was actually bitten by dogs.”

TJR: And then during the attack, you lasted only 4-seconds before quitting. Afterwards, you stated:

“I have a horrible headache, and those dogs just made it worse.”

Chelsea and fellow contestants Tonya Kay ("Creature") and Steel Chambers ("The Iron Enforcer") react after learning their next challenge was facing down two highly-trained attack dogs. (Photo: Syfy)

Weld and fellow contestants Tonya Kay (center) and Steel Chambers (right) react after learning the next challenge required facing down two highly trained attack dogs! (Photo: Syfy)

Chelsea climbs over the fence to face the dogs. Her "bull-riding" helmet did little to help her in the event. (Photo: Syfy)

Weld climbs over the fence to face the dogs. Her “bull-riding” helmet did little to help her in the event. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: Looking back on that day now, what are your strongest memories? What was it like being a chew-toy for two vicious K-9s? Were you physically hurt, or did just you just suffer some wounded pride?

CW: “That was a VERY tough day for me. When I was 5, my family and some other families went camping in the desert. One of our family friends had Rottweilers and I remember the owner telling us not to run or the dogs will chase us. Well, when you are 5 and it looks like a big Rottweiler is chasing you on his own, you RUN! And sadly, I could not outrun him, so he bit my butt. That hurt!

So, while I was waiting for my part of the challenge, all I remember thinking was about that moment and how much it hurt to be bit by a dog. Not to mention scary, because they are usually barking also. I was already in that big ‘sumo suit’ so I was also very hot. Being hot and anxious for hours will give anyone a headache.

I was also very nervous because those were specially trained attack dogs who could only be called off by one word from their owner. If I said that word or if anyone else said that word they wouldn’t listen. So on top of everything else, I was thinking ‘gosh, I hope this guy doesn’t drop dead or something before he says the command to call them off me.’ Plus, they had an ambulance nearby!”

Upon entering the yard, Chelsea was instantly set upon by the two dogs, who immediately knocked her down, bit down hard onto her arms and legs and began shaking their heads much like great white sharks. (Photo: Syfy)

Immediately upon entering the yard, Weld was set upon by the two attack dogs which proceeded to knock her down, bite hard onto her arms and legs and shake their heads like sharks. Quickly thereafter (within 3-4 seconds), she yelled out, “Uncle!,” and the trainers called off the animals. (Photo: Syfy)

Within just 4 seconds, Cell Phone Girl lay bruised and defeated. Weld's failure of this challenge was her character's undoing, and Stan Lee would eliminate her from the show that same day. (Photo: Syfy)

In just 4 seconds, Cell Phone Girl’s fate had been sealed, leaving her bruised—and defeated. Weld’s failure in this challenge was her final undoing, and Stan Lee eliminated her from the show later that same day. (Photo: Syfy)

CW: “So there I was, in this huge padded suit that was hard to move in, wearing heels(!), and I’m supposed to outrun some trained attack dogs?! As soon as my feet hit the ground, the dogs were on me in 2.5 seconds. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the door (another 25 feet away) so decided not to prolong the pain. Those suits we were wearing were not padded. They were just thick enough for a bite to not break skin. You can still definitely feel the pressure though. I think I even had bruises from it.”

As fellow contestant E. Quincy Sloan looks on, Weld defends herself for one last time before Stan Lee finally eliminates her from the show. (Photo: Syfy)

As fellow contestant E. Quincy Sloan looks on, Weld steps forward and defends herself for one last time before Stan Lee finally eliminates her from the show. (Photo: Syfy)

CW: “I don’t think they showed it, but when Stan was asking me questions to eliminate me, he asked me if Cell Phone Girl was afraid of dogs and I said, “No. Cell Phone Girl isn’t. But I (Chelsea) am!” I was looking around at the production crew thinking, ‘Don’t they know I’m not REALLY a superhero?’ News Flash: I, Chelsea, cannot fly or teleport either. Only Cell Phone Girl can! Oh well, in the end, Stan made his choice and I was just happy to have had the experience of being on the show.”

After being told by Stan Lee to "Turn in your costume," Weld deposits her phone, gauntlets and cape into the dreaded trash can, whereupon they are instantly vaporized by bolt of lightning. Zzappp!!! (Photo: Syfy)

After being told by Stan Lee to “Turn in your costume,” Weld deposits her phone, gauntlets and cape into the dreaded trash can, whereupon they are instantly vaporized by bolt of lightning. Zap!!! (Photo: Syfy)

A defiant Weld raises her cell phone proudly, appearing determined to continue her fight against evil! (Photo: Syfy)

A defiant Weld raises her cell phone proudly, determined to continue on with her fight—against evil! (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: That’s a good way to look at it. And regardless of the 4-second outcome, it took a lot of guts for you to get in there with those two dogs. If you were faced with the same sort of challenge TODAY, would you do anything differently?

CW: “Dear God, I hope I am never faced with that same challenge again! If I was, it would probably be in real life and I would definitely fight the dogs back. Those dogs were only attacking me because they were trained to, so I felt like it would have been very wrong of me to hit them or fight back. I felt like my only option was to just take the attack. If I were put back in that exact same moment in 2006 for a ‘do over’ right now, today, honestly, it probably would have ended the same way. I might have tried to run a little bit farther, but I don’t think the outcome would’ve been any different. What would YOU do if you had 2 trained German Shepard attack dogs coming for you?”

Years after appearing on "Who Wants to be a Superhero?," the beautiful female contestants of Season 1 (including from left: Tonya Kay, Chelsea Weld and Mary Votava) remain of great interest to their fans worldwide. (Photo: Syfy)

Their beauty is undeniably SUPER, and years after appearing on “Who Wants to be a Superhero?,” the lives of the female contestants of Season 1 and 2 (including from left: Tonya Kay, Chelsea Weld and Mary Votava) continue to be of great interest to their legions of devoted fans. (Photo: Syfy)

The prototype cover for a Dark Horse comic starring Cell Phone Girl that (unfortunately) was never produced. (Photo: Syfy)

The prototype cover for a Dark Horse comic starring Cell Phone Girl that (unfortunately) was never produced. (Photo: Syfy)

TJR: That’s a good question, and the perfect opportunity for me to change the subject (HA). So…are you aware of the various adult-oriented “fan-fiction” and comic strips that’ve been created about the women of WWTBASH? What are your thoughts about being the subject of such online amateur (and professional) erotica?

CW: “No, I am not aware! Being that I have no idea what you are talking about, I don’t know that I can offer a comment. But I will have to check into that.”

TJR: When you find it, you may want to read it much like you watch yourself on the show, by “peeking through one eye!” (Some of it’s pretty risqué!) Finally, it’s been 8 years now since your appearance on WWTBASH. Looking back, would you amend your departing statement in any way? And is there anything you would have done differently?

In a recent "selfie" taken by Weld with her new tiger-striped cell phone, a stronger, leaner, beautiful-er "Cell Phone Girl" shows that she's MORE than ready to continue her fight against evil. Excelsior! (Photo: Chelsea Weld)

In this new “selfie” (taken with her current cell phone), Weld flexes the impressive muscles of a stronger, leaner “Cell Phone Girl,” proving she’s MORE than ready to continue her fight against evil. Excelsior! (Photo: Chelsea Weld)

CW: “I would not change my parting statement, because I think that it summed up how I felt in that moment. And looking back, the only thing I could have done differently would be to have tried to run a little faster!”

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and gratitude go out to Miss Weld for her generous response to this interview. We wish her all the best in her future endeavours, and in her upcoming nuptials. To view a 30-second promo of Chelsea’s time on the show, click on the video link below. And stay tuned for our THIRD exclusive WWTBASH contestant interview—coming soon!

TJR’s Video Pick of the Week: Rudy Panucci’s Recap & Review of the Fun at Joelanta 2014

Toy Expert and Pop-Culture Blogger, Rudy Panucci (Photo: Rudy Panucci)

Toy Expert and Pop-Culture Blogger, Rudy Panucci (Photo: Rudy Panucci)

Okay 1:6ers, grab a cup-a-Joe, put your feet up and prepare to spend the next 38 minutes catching up on everything you missed at Joelanta 2014. This superb “highlight reel” was produced by renowned toy expert and “pop culteer,” Rudy Panucci, and is an obvious MUST SEE for all GIjOE fans. If you weren’t able to attend the show, it’s an ideal opportunity to walk around in Rudy’s shoes as he goes from the dealer rooms to the exhibits, discussions, car show, concert, parachute drop and more.

Bottom Line: For more information, we also highly recommend you visit Rudy’s website HERE (and tell him The Joe Report sent’cha)!

“Auto World” Slashes Prices on Captain Action

A recent press release from Auto World touts their current "Extreme Sale" on all things Captain Action. (Photo: Auto World)

An Auto World press release touting their current “Extreme Sale” on all things Captain Action.

Who wants to be a Superhero? No one more than ol' Captain Action himself, obviously! And one lucky superhero and action figure fan will have a chance to win the exact figure shown in the photo above. According to online 1:6 scale dealer, Patches of Pride, the company has recently announced that it is giving away the brand-new figure (over on its Facebook page) to celebrate an upcoming celebrity interview article to be published soon here on The Joe Report. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Who wants to be a Superhero? No one more than ol’ Captain Action himself! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Calling All Captain Action Fans!

You never know where the next great 1:6 scale deal will come from. This week, a bunch of them have popped up over at Auto World (see website HERE). Auto World continues to expand its inventory and reputation beyond selling simply die-cast cars and slot cars and has moved most recently into offering model kits, clothing, and yes, even action figures!

Normally, their pricing isn’t all that special, but for the moment, they’ve got our attention. All of the (new-ish) Round 2 Captain Action figures and uniform sets have been slashed in price during an aptly named, “Extreme Sale.” And while the prices are not “Walmart clearance cheap,” the deals they’re offering are very tempting. Take the deluxe CA figure, for example. It’s been marked down from $39.99 to $19.99! Anytime you can save $20 off a figure is a good deal in our book.

Bottom Line: If you haven’t “gotten your feet wet” collecting the new CA figures or costume sets yet, Auto World’s “Extreme Sale” may be just the money-saving opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Speaking from experience of ownership, we can heartily recommend ALL of the “deluxe” versions of Captain Action, Dr. Evil, Spiderman, Thor, Captain America and Loki. After that, the quality slips a bit, but put these costumes and masks on some of your unused GIjOE bodies and you have instant Marvel FUN. Excelsior! Let Justice be Done!

Collectors and Fans of 1:6 Scale, 12-Inch G.I. Joes to Gather This Weekend in GA For Joelanta 2014!

joelantaposterBottom Line: It’s big. It’s fun. It’s full of GIjOE dealers, collectors and fans. Be There! ‘Nuff said!

Matthew McKeeby Teams Up With Ace Allgood to Restore and Release Two More “Missing” Vintage G.I. Joe TV Commercials Not Seen Since the 1960s!

In this screenshot from commercial #2, NAME searches through a prototype footlocker full of prototype gear. What an amazing moment in GIjOE history!

In this scene from commercial #2, child actor Paul O’Keefe searches through a prototype footlocker full of prototype gear. What an amazing moment in GIjOE history! (Screenshot courtesy of Matthew McKeeby)

In an eagerly anticipated follow-up to an article (recently published HERE on The Joe Report) regarding the discovery and restoration of a long-lost 1964 GIjOE TV commercial, renowned GIjOE collector and archivist, Matthew McKeeby, has just announced the completed restoration and release of two additional vintage GIjOE commercials. According to McKeeby’s press release:

GIjOE fan, collector and Vintage3djoes.com "curator," Matt McKeeby. (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

GIjOE fan, collector and Vintage3djoes.com museum “curator,” Matthew McKeeby. (Photo: Matthew McKeeby)

“While the big news this week is the arrival of Joelanta, things are moving right along at Vintage3DJoes.com, with the release of two more rediscovered 1964 television commercials! These follow the spot released on the site last month.

The two new black and white commercials both begin with some sharp stock footage of early 1960s military maneuvers and move on to shots of kids playing with GIjOE in great diorama settings. One focuses on GIjOE’s poseability, while the other features available accessory sets.  As with the previously released spot, early issue and prototype items abound creating a visual feast for collectors of military-era Joes and anyone interested in the roots of the greatest of all action figures!”

GIjOE uber-fan, Ace Allgood (shown at right) had just arrived from Minnesota. He hoped to reconnect with old Joe-buddies and sell some of his new custom GIjOE pins.

Ace Allgood (shown at right) greets a fellow collector at last year’s Joelanta. Allgood has a professional background in video production and recently assisted GIjOE’s online “curator,” Matthew McKeeby in restoring two 1964 GIjOE TV commercials for the Vintage3djoes.com website. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Look into his eyes... This GIjOE was one of the first ever created. Its a rare, prototype figure that probably exists now, only in our imaginations. (Screenshot courtesy of Matthew McKeeby)

Look into his eyes. This GIjOE from commercial #3 was one of the first ever created! It’s a rare, prototype figure, probably long ago destroyed, that exists now, only in our memories. (Screenshot courtesy of Matthew McKeeby)

As Hasbro Turns Their Back During GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary, Dedicated Fans Join Forces to Help Restore and Preserve His History—Before It’s Too Late

In an intriguing twist to this story, Matthew informed us that he had enlisted the professional skills and talents of fellow GIjOE collector and video professional, Ace Allgood. Together, the two dedicated “GIjOE historians” cleaned-up the irritating audio and video problems so common to old film reels, thereby preserving two more important pieces of GIjOE history for future generations. McKeeby continued:

“Enjoyment of these commercials wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of collector extraordinaire, Ace Allgood.  Ace is one of the most enthusiastic fans of Joe there is, and is a professional in the video and editing field. He graciously volunteered his time and connections to help makes these audible again after others said the sound couldn’t be fixed.  He also ensured higher resolution footage and deserves all our thanks!  Check out his website HERE and his collection HERE!”

To GIjOE collectors, these precious, one-of-a-kind film reels from 1964 are worth MORE than their weight in gold. Fortunately, they're now in good hands! (Photo: Matthew McKeeby)

To GIjOE collectors, these precious, three-of-a-kind film reels from 1964 are worth MORE than their combined weight in gold. Fortunately, they’re all now in very good hands! (Photo: Matthew McKeeby)

Bottom Line: GIjOE fans around the world owe Matthew McKeeby and Ace Allgood a great debt for all the fine work they’ve done to help preserve GIjOE’s history. To view all three of the newly restored vintage commercials, jump HERE now. And if you haven’t visited McKeeby’s amazing Vintage3DJoes.com website yet, it is undoubtedly one of the world’s BEST interactive “museums” of GIjOE nostalgia and information. Check it out today to celebrate GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary!

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Shocker! Toys ‘R’ Us to Close 100 Store Locations in Coming Weeks and Cut 200 Employees From Corporate HQ Jobs

During the economic growth of the '80s and '90s, it seemed Toys 'R Us could do no wrong as its stores continued to grew bigger and more omnipresent. Today however, the sluggish economy and consumer switch to online purchasing has put a severe bite into the toy giant's once dominating market position. (Photo: Toys 'R' Us)

During the economic growth periods of the ’80s and ’90s, it seemed Toys ‘R Us could do no wrong as its stores continued to grow larger and become omnipresent around the world. Today however, a sluggish worldwide economy and increasing competition from Walmart and Amazon have combined to put severe pressure on the toy giant’s once dominant market position. (Photo: Toys ‘R’ Us)

Toys 'R' Us mascot, "Geoffrey" (also unceremoniously "retired"), is looking a little less upbeat these days, after hearing the news that 100 of his stores will soon be closing. (Graphic: Toys 'R' Us)

Toys ‘R’ Us mascot, “Geoffrey” (also unceremoniously “retired”), is looking a little less upbeat these days, especially after hearing the sad news that 100 of his beloved stores will soon be closing. (Graphic: Toys ‘R’ Us)

The End of “Brick & Mortar” Toy Stores?

In an article published Monday, March 3rd, 2014 in the digital edition of the The Record, stunning news was revealed regarding the not-so-rosy future of giant toy retailer, Toys ‘R’ Us. According to The Record’s staff writer, Joan Verdon, the once dominant company will soon cut 200 corporate jobs at its headquarters, and then close 100 of its stores. Here is the article (edited for length):

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“Toys “R” Us is expected to announce layoffs at its headquarters in Wayne (NJ), and some 100 store closings in the coming weeks, according to industry sources. Toys spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh would not comment Monday on a New York Post report that the retailer is preparing to eliminate up to 200 corporate jobs, but toy industry sources said they expect cutbacks will be announced soon. “We’re all waiting for the shoe to drop,” said one toy analyst.

At the American International Toy Fair in New York City two weeks ago, several manufacturers said privately that Toys executives had told them they would be making cuts and streamlining operations in order to improve the company’s focus. “We’ve all heard the rumors and we all expect there are going to be layoffs and store closings,” said veteran industry observer Jim Silver, editor of TTPM, a toy review and news website.

Cutbacks and store closings have been predicted for Toys since early January, when the retailer posted another set of disappointing holiday sales results for Christmas 2013. Sales at U.S. stores declined 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter, which includes the important holiday shopping months of November and December, the period when Toys makes most of its profit for the year.

Sean McGowan, a senior analyst at Needham & Co., said he had no specific information about planned cuts at Toys, but said the company has been under growing competitive pressure, particularly from online retailer Amazon. “What’s ominous about Amazon’s growth is it strikes at the heart of one of Toys’ competitive advantages, which is selection,” McGowan said. While Walmart and Target have a smaller selection of toys in their stores than Toys, a website such as Amazon can offer a limitless selection of toys.”

Bottom Line: While Toys ‘R’ Us isn’t going away completely, the experience of taking your child, hand-in-hand to a neighborhood toy store to “marvel” at all the latest cool toys, may soon become a distant memory for many. In fact, playing with toys, games, dolls and other inanimate objects, which was once considered so vital, almost revered by children, also appears to be threatened. The world is changing. And the children of today are growing up so MUCH faster. As time marches on, it seems inevitable that future youth will become hooked on electronic distractions such as cell phones, the internet and video games at ever younger ages, leaving their innocence and carefree “play” of childhood behind all too soon. The ultimate result? Who can say?

1:6 Scale Custom Stuart Tank by Ryan Nagata

In this screenshot from a video released by the Replica Prop Forum (RPF), professional Prop Master, Ryan Nagata, poses with some of his 1:1 scale custom ray guns at a 2012 "prop party" convention held in California. (Photo: RPF)

In this screenshot from a video released by the Replica Prop Forum (RPF), professional Prop Master, Ryan Nagata, poses with some of his 1:1 scale custom ray guns at a 2012 “prop party” convention held in California. (Photo: RPF)

21st Century Toys—Taken to the Nth Degree

It’s Thursday, so that means it must be—Tank Day! And what better way to celebrate Tank Day than by remembering the superb 1:6 scale Stuart tank produced by 21st Century Toys? You know the one. Right out of the box, that heavy, plastic beast of a machine was a ton-o-fun for GIjOE and RC fans alike. Its wheels, treads, and opening hatches were all were nicely done, but ardent “tankers” couldn’t help but want—more.

Fortunatley, along came highly talented, professional “prop master,” Ryan Nagata. Ryan’s experience in creating impeccable recreations of famous movie props made him a superbly qualified candidate to take the Stuart to the next, higher level. And so, after properly researching the extensive WWII history of 21st’s spunky “iron coffin,” Ryan soon had his own Stuart transformed to an astonishingly accurate replica with heretofore unimagined levels of detail and realism.

Ultimately, “tanks” to the internet (Ha!), Mr. Nagata’s intricately customized Stuart quickly became world-famous. It’s now an unbelievable example of a rolling, smoke-belching, gun-firing work of miniature military ART. Beautiful to behold and thrilling to operate, it’s the sort of tank all GIjOE fans dream of adding to their collections. According to Nagata:

“This is a 1:6 scale model of a WWII Stuart tank I built for an upcoming project. This one has all the bells and whistles including proportional steering, a working turret, recoiling gun barrel, a mini smoke generator to simulate exhaust, working head and tail lights, and an animatronic commander and driver.”

Bottom Line: Absolutely amazing work, Ryan. Thank you for inspiring so many fans and showing us what a 21st Century Stuart CAN become if we take our time to do—it—right. Imagine all the “backyard battle action” that “tankers” could enjoy with this beauty! If you’d like to see a video of Ryan discussing his professional prop creations, go HERE. If you’d like to see Nagata’s tank as profiled on the Patches of Pride site, go HERE. If you’d like to learn more about the man himself, visit Ryan’s personal website HERE.

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Famed Author & G.I. Joe Historian, John Michlig, Confirms That Hasbro’s Interest In Reviving the Original 12-Inch Version Has Always Been Low

They weren't perfect, but the "Masterpiece Edition" GIjOEs that came packaged with John Michlig and Don Levine's ground-breaking book, "GIjOE: The Story Behind the Legend," proved to be an exciting reintroduction to the GIjOE collecting hobby for thousands of fans. Unfortunately, Hasbro had little interest in the project and proved to be more of an opponent than an ally. (Photo: Vectis Auctions)

No, they weren’t perfect, but Don Levine’s “Masterpiece Edition” GIjOEs were the first Hasbro-licensed reproductions of the original 12-inch figures that fans had seen since the 12-inch line ceased production back in 1976. John Michlig’s ground-breaking book, “GIjOE: The Story Behind the Legend,” also proved to be a revealing and historic commemoration of the iconic toy. Unfortunately, Hasbro showed little interest in Michlig and Levine’s 2-part project and proved to be more of an apathetic observer than a supportive or encouraging mentor. (Photo: Vectis Auctions)

 hasbrologonewApathetic Company Forces Fans to Fend For Themselves

With all the silent stonewalling emanating from Hasbro in 2014 regarding GIjOE’s 50th and (so-called) “golden” anniversary, it should come as no surprise to fans to learn that the company’s stunning indifference to its 12-inch action figure is in actuality—nothing new. In fact, in a revealing post made just last week over on the new “50 Years of GIjOE” fan group (hosted on Facebook HERE), the renowned GIjOE author and historian, John Michlig, bluntly and forthrightly recalled the many “blank stares” he received and the surprisingly minimal interest Hasbro had in reviving what they derisively described as, an “ugly old body.” According to Michlig:

Author and GIjOE historian, John Michlig. (Photo: John Michlig)

Author, GIjOE historian and Masterpiece Edtion co-creator, John Michlig. (Photo: John Michlig)

It’s been interesting catching up with ‘Friends of GIjOE’ via groups like this on Facebook. Hasbro’s apparent attitude toward the 12-inch ‘original configuration’ GIjOE on its 50th birthday brings to mind the blank stares we received when proposing the return of the original GIjOE via the Masterpiece Edition back in the mid-90s. I naively thought it would be a no-brainer: After all, I was going in with Don Levine himself(!), who was willing to bring his reminisces to the book aspect of the project as well as his expertise to the re-creation of the tooling, etc. Instead, we heard, ‘Who wants that ugly old body?’ Hasbro really didn’t see the attraction. So, we ponied up SIX FIGURES for a license and re-tooled the original ‘ugly old body,’ and the rest is history. Of course, after we sold a whole bunch of Masterpiece Edition sets, Hasbro thought enough of the ‘old’ Joe that they introduced the Timeless Collection line.”

Don Levine interviewed on CBN (Photo: CBN)

Don Levine interviewed on CBN (Photo: CBN)

Hasbro’s (by now, almost predictable) lackadaisical attitude toward 12-inch GIjOEs has long acted as an anchor, dragging down attempts by fans like Michlig and other enthusiastic supporters. Over the years, renewed suggestions and repeated requests from collectors for Hasbro to return to its original “razors and blades” marketing concept continued to fall on deaf ears in the corporate boardroom. Fortunately, Michlig was able to recruit powerful allies, and went on to describe how he met and gained the full cooperation of creator Don Levine and many others, stating:

“The Intrepid event is where I first encountered ‘GIjOE fandom,’ and also the place where I first met Don Levine. I have a picture I took of him attending the press conference where they were announcing the new ‘Sgt Savage’ line, and he looks like a guy watching his son graduate from college. Right after I took the picture I walked up and said, ‘You had something to do with this, didn’t you?’ A LONG conversation followed.”
Former Hasbro Product Manager, Kirk Bozigian. (Photo: GIJCC)

1990s Hasbro Product Manager, Kirk Bozigian (Photo: GIJCC)

Fortunately for fans and collectors, that “long conversation” would turn into the highly prized “Masterpiece Edition” line of books and figures, which prompted renewed interest in 12-inch GIjOEs among grown men seeking to reconnect with “an old friend,” and young children who had never seen a toy quite like it before (no, we don’t count Barbie’s beau, Ken!). Michlig concluded his reminiscences by lauding another who had helped inspire the revival of 12-inch GIjOEs:

“Frankly, had it not been for Kirk Bozigian ‘on the inside’ at Hasbro—he seemed to be the only guy there who had any enthusiasm whatsoever for the concept, and was a tireless advocate—I very much doubt that the Masterpiece Edition would have gotten past the drawing board. If you have it, grab your copy of GIjOE: The Complete Story of America’s Man of Action, and look at the photos on page 12. Creating GIjOE back in the early ’60s was basically MAD MEN with toys. It’s UNBELIEVABLE to me that they aren’t celebrating the accomplishment (and risk) if not the action figure itself!” —John Michlig

Bottom Line: GIjOE fans and collectors owe a great debt of gratitude to men like Michlig, Levine and Bozigian. When faced with corporate indifference and tremendous financial hurdles, these intrepid and creative souls committed themselves and forged ahead to accomplish great deeds, helping to advance the 1:6 scale GIjOE hobby as we know (and LOVE) it today. Think about that. Without their efforts, where would GIjOE collecting be today? In closing, the ever humble Bozigian took a moment to reply to Michlig’s praise and sums it all up nicely, by saying:

“John, thanks for the shout-out, but the genius was YOURS. You had the vision of writing the definitive history of 12-inch GIjOE and your secret weapon—a replica of the action figure that started it all!”

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Use of G.I. Joe as Example Helps USMC D.I. and His Platoon Win Drill Competition at Parris Island

In this file photo, a US Marine Corps Drill Instructor (left) watches as a new recruit or "puke" goes through the various steps and procedures required for proper "Inspection Arms." (Photo: USMC)

In this file photo, a US Marine Corps Drill Instructor (left) watches as a new recruit or “puke” goes through the various steps and procedures required for proper execution of “Inspection Arms.” (Photo: USMC)

USMC Drill Instructor and GIjOE fan, Keith Mayo, utilzed descriptions of vintage 12-inch GIjOEs to inspire and instruct his platoon. (Photo: Keith Mayo)

USMC Drill Instructor Keith Mayo, utilized descriptions of vintage 12-inch GIjOEs to inspire and instruct his platoon. (Photo: Keith Mayo)

Over the past 50 years, GIjOE has had a tremendous impact on millions of men, women and children. Originally patterned after military personnel, Joe’s highly detailed 1:6 scale uniforms, weapons, equipment, and related vehicles have also helped instruct and enlighten countless fans to the myriad ways and means of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. One such Joehead (also a bona-fide “Jarhead”) is real-life former USMC drill instructor, Keith Mayo, who recently recounted an ocassion in which GIjOE had helped him instruct a squad bay full of “pukes” in the finer points of “Inspection Arms,” thereby enabling them to win a drill competition later in the week. According to Mayo:

“As a brand new USMC Drill Instructor on my first platoon, I was never allowed to teach the boys anything. My job was to yell and scream for 18 hrs a day. The ‘Heavy A’ (green belt DI with the most experience) did all the teaching. This one day, it was raining cats and dogs, so we were doing drill inside the squad bay.

With little room to maneuver, we concentrated on ‘Inspection Arms.’ The 2nd, 3rd and 4th counts of that movement require the proper placement of the thumb and first finger on the M-16 charging handle in just a certain way. After going over the first four movements for about a half an hour and the boys not getting it just so, the Heavy A lost his temper and stormed off for a dip of chew.

Another file photo of raw recruits being instructed how to properly execute "Inspection Arms." (Photo: USMC)

File photo of USMC recruits being instructed how to properly execute “Inspection Arms.” (Photo: USMC)

The recruits stood there silently, not knowing what to do. I broke ‘character’ and had them gather around me in a circle. ‘How many of you maggots had a GIjOE when you were a kid? And I don’t mean that little dude—I mean the REAL GIjOE?’ The majority of them raised their hands (this was in 1982 btw). Then I said, ‘Do you remember Joe’s booger-pickin’ fingers on his right hand that made it impossible for him to hold anything?’ They yelled back in unison ‘YES, SIR!!!’ I told them that was EXACTLY what we were looking for.

I then called the Heavy A back over and told him to give it just one more try. He reluctantly agreed and called the platoon to attention and in a voice that would make R. Lee Ermy sound like a little girl he gave the command, ‘Inspection – ARMS!!!’ To his amazement, the boys got the movement perfectly. He was dumbfounded. ‘How in the HELL did you get them to do that, Sgt Mayo?’ I smiled a bit, looked at the recruits and said the catch phrase from a commercial that was popular at the time: ‘Ancient Chinese Secret.’ The platoon burst out in laughter and we took them out in the rain and made ’em dig in ‘the sand pit’ for a while for their lack of discipline. When we got to the Drill Competition later in the week, I said to them as they were getting into formation, ‘Remember, GIjOE.’ We won the trophy that day and all the credit goes to GIjOE! True story. If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin.” —Semper Joe, BDK

This platoon's D.I. steps back and watches as a Marine Corps Captain takes over the inspection in this file photo. (Photo: USMC)

In this file photo, the D.I. has stepped aside as a Captain takes over the inspection. It’s ironic to note that GIjOE, originally inspired by the armed forces, has in turn, inspired them! (Photo: USMC)

Bottom Line: We’d like to thank Keith Mayo for his inspirational and entertaining story. Of course, we know that his isn’t the only tale of GIjOE helping and/or inspiring others. We know that there are thousands more, and we’d love to hear YOUR inspirational Joe-story as well. Please email it to us HERE at The Joe Report and we’ll be happy to share it with the rest of the world. OOHrah!

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