Monthly Archives: June 2014

1:6 Scale “Big Rack” Deer Antlers [Video Review]

Bottom Line: Following “hot on the hooves” of yesterday’s review of Shedz’ new 1:6 scale “Wild Boar Skull,” our good friends over at the Patches of Pride Video Channel on YouTube have just released another new video detailing a related product. This time, it’s a 1:6 scale (white-tailed deer) miniature trophy mount called, the “Big Rack.” (No easy sex jokes, please. HA) This cool new item has AT outdoorsman diorama potential written all over it. And as PoP’s description reads:

“Your 1:6 scale ski lodge, hunting shack, or log cabin diorama won’t look complete without an awesome set of 1:6 “Big Rack” deer antlers mounted up on the wall (or over the front door outside). Get the POINT? If not, don’t worry, this majestic miniature display has 14 of them (points, that is)!” —Mark Otnes, PoP Video Channel

1:6 Scale “Wild Boar Skull” [Video Review]

Bottom Line: If you’re a GIjOE collector or 1:6 scaler who’s ever built even the simplest of dioramas, then you can understand how the never-ending search for appropriately scaled props, furniture and other items can quickly become an all-consuming passion for many fans. Fortunately, Joeheads are also known to be a dedicated and close-knit bunch, and whenever a newly discovered 1:6 scale item appears in stores or online, we’re typically quick to share and spread the good news to others. In this case, a 1:6 scale “Wild Boar Skull” has been successfully “tracked down” and it has fantastic diorama potential. For a hands-on look at this new piece, we recommend the 2-minute VIDEO review recently posted over on the Patches of Pride Video Channel. Enjoy!

G.I. Joe’s Robot Friend “Dies” While Playing Chess

Bottom Line: In yet another intriguing “Joe Sighting” on TV, GIjOE has just been spotted in a commercial for Energizer Batteries. In this clever spot, our 1:6 scale hero is shown competing in a grueling (6-month long) chess match with a toy robot friend (ala Toy Story) who suddenly collapses and “dies” from battery leakage and corrosion. It’s all a little shocking, but Joe’s reaction to losing his buddy is priceless. (Who knew Talking GIjOEs were so emotional?)

Forget G.I. Joe———Creative Geniuses at Hasbro Debut “The Best Thing EVER.” Get Yours NOW!

Bottom Line: Good news! Hasbro debuted a new toy commercial during a recent episode of Fox’s “Family Guy” that we’re sure will soothe the ruffled feathers of disgruntled G.I. Joe collectors everywhere. It’s great to see that the creative minds at Hasbro are hard at work on a brilliant new idea to replace that bothersome, “ugly old figure” from the 1960s. Enjoy!

SHOCKER! “Father of G.I. Joe,” Don Levine, Worked Secretly With The CIA To Produce Prototypes Of Osama Bin Laden “Devil Eyes” Propaganda Doll

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The headsculpt of a CIA-proposed, 1:6 scale action figure depicting 9/11 terrorist and mass-murderer, Osama Bin Laden, utilized a special dissolving face paint that peeled away to reveal a startling, underlying “Devil Eyes” appearance. Despite secret assistance from GIjOE’s co-creator, Don Levine, the controversial U.S. propaganda doll was never actually produced or sold. (Photo: Adam Goldman)

Don Levine, "The Father of GIjOE" (Photo: topnews)

Don Levine, aka “The Father of GIjOE” (Photo: topnews)

Creepy 1:6 Scale OBL Action Figure Intended to “Spook” Children—NOT Inspire Them

For Don Levine, a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War, former executive of Hasbro Toys, and co-creator of America’s iconic GIjOE action figure, that first phone call from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) must’ve struck him as quite extraordinary. After having spent over half a century of his life creating toys that entertained and inspired millions of children (and later too, adults), Levine must’ve been stunned when the voice on the other end of the line suddenly began asking for his help, not to inspire millions yet again—but to REPULSE them.

Indeed, in a surprising story published today by The Washington Post (TWP), it was revealed that Levine (now deceased) had worked secretly with the CIA to create a 12-inch, 1:6 scale action figure of Osama Bin Laden (OBL) for use in an oddly contrived propaganda scheme designed to discourage young children and their parents from idolizing and following the world’s most infamous terrorist leader. Prototypes of the unusual (and never-produced) action figure utilized a special “heat-dissolving” face paint that when handled, was easily peeled away, revealing what a CIA spokesman described as OBL’s “Demon Eyes.” TWP reporter, Adam Goldman, provides the following additional intel on this bizarre toy idea:

Adam Goldman, reporter for The Washington Post (Photo: Adam Goldman)

Adam Goldman, reporter for The Washington Post (Photo: Adam Goldman)

“Beginning in about 2005, the CIA began secretly developing a ­custom-made Osama bin Laden ­action figure, according to people familiar with the project. The face of the figure was painted with a heat-dissolving material, designed to peel off and reveal a red-faced bin Laden who looked like a demon, with piercing green eyes and black facial markings. The goal of the short-lived project was simple: spook children and their parents, causing them to turn away from the actual bin Laden.

The code-name for the bin Laden figures was “Devil Eyes,” and to create them, the CIA turned to one of the best minds in the toy business…Donald Levine, the former Hasbro executive who was instrumental in the creation of the wildly popular G.I. Joe toys that generated more than $5 billion in sales after hitting the shelves in 1964. The CIA’s interest in Levine was twofold: He had an eye for toys and a vast network of contacts in China, where the bin Laden action figures were ultimately manufactured. Levine had done business there for nearly 60 years and had the means to have the action figures discreetly developed and manufactured.

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These prototype headsculpts for the OBL figure are actually quite excellent. In them, GIjOE collectors will recognize the familiar style and expertise of an unknown Hasbro artist responsible for many of the company’s “Classic Collection” line of GIjOEs during the 1990s. (Photo: Adam Goldman)

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Without handling this OBL prototype figure in person, it’s difficult to say exactly which 1:6 scale body type was used. But judging from its hands and familiar “arms akimbo” stance, it’s likely one of the large, “bendy” HOF muscle bodies from the 1990’s. (Photo: Adam Goldman)

“Levine died last month at age 86, after a lengthy battle with cancer. In response to questions about his work on the bin Laden toys, his family said in a statement:

‘Don Levine was a dedicated Patriot, and proud Korean War veteran. When called on, he was honored to assist our country.’

There’s a dispute over how many of the figurines, if any, were ultimately delivered. A person with direct knowledge of the project in China said hundreds of the toys — one of which was seen by The Washington Post — were made as part of a pre-production run and sent on a freighter to the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2006. The CIA, while not disputing that it had commissioned the bin Laden figures, said the project was discontinued shortly after the prototypes were developed.

‘To our knowledge, there were only three individual action figures ever created, and these were merely to show what a final product might look like,’ CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said. ‘After being presented with these examples, the CIA declined to pursue this idea and did not produce or distribute any of these action figures. Furthermore, CIA has no knowledge of these action figures being produced or distributed by others.’

Regardless of how far the “Devil Eyes” project proceeded, it appears to have borne all the hallmarks of what are known in intelligence parlance as “influence operations.” As part of its covert action programs, the agency has for decades tried to win the hearts and minds of local populations or turn them against a particular ideology.
 Beginning around 2006, the CIA began developing an Osama bin Laden toy to counter his influence.”

Text HERE

This test head reveals peeks at the red and black “devil” face hidden beneath a test coat of the experimental dissolving paint. Weird stuff! (Photo: Adam Goldman)

Absolutely fascinating. Think of it, a major governmental “intelligence”agency considers using TOYS to counter the very real dangers of very real terrorists. What a bizarre/weird/wonderful(?) concept! Maybe someone working for the CIA had taken one too many missions to “Spy Island” as a kid? Curious about Levine’s involvement in Project “Devil Eyes,” Goldman’s article goes on to declare:

“Levine was initially asked to help with the toys for boys. ‘It appealed to [Levine] because it had nothing to do with actually hurting someone,’ said a person familiar with his decision to get involved. ‘It was the softer side of the CIA.’ CIA officials later approached Levine about the possibility of producing the bin Laden figures and having them sent to Pakistan or Afghanistan. Levine was initially ambivalent about the project but would later throw himself into the work, according to the people familiar with the project.

Levine developed prototypes before settling on a standard 12-inch figure with the facial features bin Laden. The head was superimposed on a figurine that was already in production in the Chinese city of Dongguan. A Chinese artist took publicly available photographs of bin Laden and created an image that was strikingly close in appearance to the al-Qaeda leader. The final prototype was dressed in traditional garb and packaged in a cheap box covered with plastic and presented to the CIA for approval. Levine was said to have been pleased with the final product Although the CIA said it decided not to move forward with the operation, at least one of the figures remains at the agency’s headquarters.”

Bottom Line: What an amazing “capper” (or caper) to Don Levine’s already storied and incredible life, legacy and career. But we still have some questions… Were only 3 actually made? Or was it 300? Were these face-peeling OBL’s ever shipped off to Pakistan and given out to confuse and “spook” Pakastani children as originally planned? If so, what were the results of the “mission?”

Regardless of the answers, it’s our considered opinion that if Levine’s OBLs had been sold in the U.S., they would have sold fairly well, if only because so many Americans would have loved to use its “devil-eyed” head for target practice—or as a pit bull’s chew toy! (Editor’s note: Our sincerest thanks to intrepid TWP reporter, Adam Goldman for his fine work in “peeling back the layers” of this intriguing (and repulsive) subject. Go, Joe! Go, ADAM!)

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R2/CAE’s Efforts to “Expand the Brand” For Captain Action Resulting in Numerous Non-1:6 Scale Reincarnations———Fan Reactions Mixed

Tonner's new Lady Action DOLL would make GIjOE look like a runt. She tops in at a whopping 18" tall and features a large Barbie-like head, straight black hair, barely poseable body and mixed quality accessories and costume. Although some collectors of 1:6 scale Captain Action will want to "pick her up," the lanky "Lady A" is quite expensive, created mainly for static display and does little to advance the collection of 1:6 CA fans. (Photo: Tonner)

Tonner’s new 1:4 scale Lady Action DOLL makes a 1:6 scale Captain Action figure look like a runt! She tops in at a whopping 16-inches tall (17″ with hat) and features a large Barbie-like head, straight black hair, (barely) posable body and mixed-quality accessories and costume. Although some collectors of the original 12-inch Captain Action will want to “pick her up,” the lanky, leggy, 1:4 scale “Lady A” is expensive ($200) and is primarily intended as a static display “adult-collectible.” (Photo: Tonner)

Depending on Your Perspective, New CA Products Will Frustrate—or Delight

Captain Action (CA) is changing, and we don’t mean he’s changing into a new superhero costume. “Evolving” may be a more accurate description of what’s happening to the line, and not everyone is happy with the results. What are we talking about exactly? We’re talking about the creation of a multitude of new CA-related products, the majority of which do nothing to help outfit or accessorize your 1:6 scale action figures. We’re talking about product-line “brand expansion,” and Cap’s stuck smack in the middle of it.

Brand expansion involves the production and marketing of assorted ancillary or “offshoot” products in an effort to expand the brand awareness of a particular toy line (or company). It’s standard business practice, but when mishandled (or handled ineptly), it can become a major drain on creative resources and capital, potentially endangering a company’s most precious commodity—customer loyalty.

What does it cost to gain a new loyal customer—or to LOSE existing ones?

The old expression, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” is a time-honored truism in business. Yes, new customer acquisition is a good thing, but expecting existing customers to wait idly by while you cater to others is a risky ploy. Indeed, if a company’s brand expansion efforts are poorly executed, they can actually be counter-productive in the long run. Rather than build a brand up, they can just as easily dilute it or lead to its ultimate dissolution. Such strategy can become a dangerous row to hoe.

What do you get when you remove 91% of the fat from a hamburger and replace it with seaweed? A complete flop in the marketplace. What do you get when you remove 91% of the action figures, costumes and accessories from the Captain Action line and replace it with coffee mugs, dolls and comic books geared at very young children? That remains to be seen. Hopefully CA will not end up like McDonald's McLean DeLuxe sandwich which remains one of business' biggest product-extension blunders of all time. (Even its ads were lame.) (Ad: MeDonalds)

The McFlop: What do you get when you remove 91% of the fat from a hamburger and replace it with seaweed? A complete flop in the marketplace. What do you get when you remove 91% of the action figures, costumes and accessories from the Captain Action line and replace it with coffee mugs, dolls and comic books geared at very young children? That remains to be seen. Hopefully CA will not end up like McDonald’s McLean DeLuxe sandwich which remains one of business’ biggest brand expansion blunders of all time. (Even the ads were lame.) (Ad: MeDonalds)

Remember the disastrous marketing of “New Coke?” How about McDonald’s seaweed-based “McLean” sandwich? Both of those widely ballyhooed product “extensions” were complete and utter failures in the marketplace and cost the companies millions of dollars. Coke and McDonald’s bounced back of course, but they’re gigantic, well-resourced corporations. Smaller businesses are at a much greater risk financially with each new product launched. Fail—and you’re looking at dire consequences. Are you worried about the future of Captain Action yet?

Concerned CA Fans Largely Quiet—For Now

Captain Action’s original fans (1:6 scalers) are right to be concerned by the current corporate decisions coming out of Round 2 (R2) and Captain Action Enterprises (CAE) boardrooms. Instead of new (widely hoped for) “core products” (i.e. 1:6 scale CA uniforms, figures and accessory packs), all Actioneers are seeing now is the release of an endless line of CA brand extensions, most of which do little to satisfy the needs and wants of “core” CA collectors. Cap’s so-so sales at Toys ‘R Us (TRU), largely due to lackadaisical in-store promotion (no end-caps, signage, etc.), have seen the renewed line slowly disappear from store shelves, forcing CA to “retreat” to a handful of online outlets and independent comic stores (which are themselves, quite endangered). Round 2’s answer to all this? Extend the CA product line! Grasp for new customers! Expand customer demographics!

Captain Action coffee mug. (Photo: zazzle)

Captain Action coffee mug (Photo: zazzle)

Don’t get us wrong.Those are all admirable goals and we wish R2/CAE the very best of luck in every endeavour. But it’s easy to understand why existing fans and customers may be growing impatient or feel as if CA’s stewards are beginning to take advantage of their patience and good will. Instead of focusing precious company resources (like a laser beam) on creating new products for 1:6 scalers (CA costumes, vehicles, accessory sets), they’re expending it on what many believe to be questionable, almost “frivolous” extensions.

The “Something For Everyone” Strategy

R2/CAE’s current business practice reminds us of playing with a toy train. You know that it travels on a circular track, so if you’re willing to wait long enough, it’ll eventually have to come back around to you. Right? Eventually, fans of 1:6 scale Captain Action will get something new. They must! Until then, it’s just a matter of waiting for today’s “brand-expansion train” to roll on by…

CA coffee mug? Got it. CA comic books? You bet! Want ’em? Not really. Buy one? Maybe. (After all, nothing else is available.) R2/CAE clearly believes there’s enough room on the Captain Action Express for everyone. So what’s next, fellas? A box of Captain Action-shaped gummy bears? We’re sorry, but no matter how hard Cap tries, he can’t defeat Dr. Evil with little squishy candies.

    WTF? Another example of R2/CAE's recent attempt to extend Captain Action to a new demographic is its introduction of a (rather unusual) manga comic book entitled, Captain Action Cat. What can we say about this? The decision to pour untold amounts of company money into this "kiddie comic" MAY pay off, but again, most fans of 1:6 scale Captain Action will want nothing to do with it. They're not the target market. (Photo: CAE)

Another example of R2/CAE’s recent attempt to extend Captain Action to a new demographic is its introduction of a (rather unusual) manga comic book from Dynamite entitled, Captain Action Cat. What can we say about this? The decision to pour untold amounts of company money into this “kiddie comic” appears to be paying off, but again, most fans of 1:6 scale Captain Action will probably want nothing to do with it or the forthcoming Captain Action Cat toys from Titan Merchandise. (As much as we love comic books here at TJR, the appeal of this title is lost on us and clearly targeted to a different demographic, most likely to CA fans under the age of 10.) (Photo: Dynamite)

Predictably, 1:6 scalers were quick to pounce on this particular kitty. Here’s one fan’s thoughts:

“A word of advice, stick to 1:6 scale. I don’t know where you came up with that ‘Action Cat’ stuff (totally a bad idea). Focus on 1:6 scale! Continue with this silly Action Cat (and the 3 3/4″ junk) and Captain Action will quickly fade away—again.”  —William

Many versions of a Batman costume prototype have been shown, discussed and mocked up. Nevertheless, nothing definite has come forth. (Photo: R2/CAE)

Holy, empty boxes, Batman! Many new 1:6 scale costume prototypes have been shown, discussed and even mocked-up for presentation to the public at toy shows. But the likelihood of such “concept products” ever getting made now appears to be decreasing. (Photo: R2/CAE)

Playing “The Delaying Game”

We’re not privy to R2/CAE’s financial situation, but it’s as if they’re (almost desperately) throwing a handful of darts (all at once) at some sort of “customer demographic target” and hoping something (anything!) sticks in the bulls-eye. We understand the reasons behind such decisions, but 1:6 fans are beginning to sense a growing pattern of bait-n-switch. Whatever happened to that cool Rocketeer costume idea (see article HERE)? And what happened to the DC properties, especially the 1966-related Batman costumes (see article HERE)? And what about all the other Marvel costume sets that were dangled before collectors at trade shows? Where are they all now? Have they been sidelined indefinitely? Sadly, there’s little fans can do about ANY of this except keep their fingers crossed and wait. Meanwhile, company bosses and spokesmen attempt to stay ahead of the fray and soothe swelling customer angst by issuing placating posts on forums—such this one from CAE rep, Ed Catto:

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

Ed Catto of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises holds a CA comic and model kit. (Photo: Ed Catto)

“Before the negative chatter starts up—this (Lady Action Tonner doll) is meant to build the CA brand and the excitement, and while Joe and I don’t necessarily think this will appeal to the majority of you guys (and girls?) on this list (the Captain Action Fan Forum), it’s kind of a different type of collectible. Although I will tell you all that when my wife saw the prototype, she said ‘Oh, this we could display in the living room.’ She hasn’t been eager to say that about ANY of my other CA/comic/toy stuff.” —Ed Catto, R2/CAE

This new comic title, "Codename: ACTION," is clearly targeted more to teens and young adults, demonstrating once again how R2/CAE is trying to touch upon every possible demographic and market segment. Here, CA is clearly being refashioned into a very James Bond type of hero, replete with guns, nubile women and action galore. Great for comic fans, not so great for 1:6 scale CA collectors. (Photo: R2/CAE)

Dynamite’s new Codename: ACTION comic book was created to appeal to teens and young adults in the hopes of recruiting new fans to the CA brand. But many existing CA customers wonder if such efforts actually help or hinder the production of the line’s 1:6 scale “core” products. (Photo: Dynamite)

Zica Toys released this cool computer-rendering of a proposed 3.75" Captain Action figure. Fans of smaller scale GIjOEs will definitely be interested, but efforts spent on this scale only frustrate collectors of 1:6 scale. Still, this little guy looks to have great "cross-over" potential and is likely to be well received if it makes it to final production. If this brand extension is successful, it will enable R2/CAE to gain market share among yet another "strata" of collectors. (Illustration: Zica Toys)

Zica Toys released this 3-D computer-rendering of a proposed 3.75″ Captain Action figure (shown larger than actual size). Fans of smaller scale figures will definitely be interested, but collectors of 1:6 scale may feel neglected again. Still, this little guy looks to have great crossover potential and is likely to be well received. If successful, Zica should enable R2/CAE to gain market share among yet another “strata” of collectors. (Illustration: Zica Toys)

Rise of “The Independents”

In addition to partnering with Tonner, Zazzle and Dynamite, R2/CAE has also teamed with a couple of independent toy makers, Zica Toys and Fresh Monkey Fiction, hoping their assistance will help shoulder the burden of CA’s brand expansion. The first agreement to be announced concerned a line of smaller, 1:18 scale CA figures to be produced by rising independent, Zica Toys. Zica’s recently released 3-D rendering (shown at right) of a proposed mini CA figure generated a great deal of positive “fan buzz” around the internet. According to Zica’s head honcho, Craig Owen:

“I’ve been given the ‘green light’ to officially spill the beans on our new Captain Action project. The format is 3.75″ scale done in the classic 80’s Hasbro GIjOE style. Starting out the line will include Captain Action, Action Boy, Dr. Evil and the Silver Streak! The press release says ‘Kenner’ style, which is incorrect. The original plan was to go that route, but I started to think the 80’s GIjOE style would be a better choice. Work is just starting on the project, but hopefully I’ll have some prototype shots to share fairly soon.” —Craig Owen, Zica Toys

In an independent effort to "expand the brand," a rubbery, barely poseable, but very muscular interpretation of Captain Action will be offered by newcomer, Fresh Monkey Fiction, IF...they can raise the funds via Kickstarter to create Cap and the rest of "Series 1" of their proposed, "Amazing Heroes" line of action figures. Good luck! (Photo: Fresh Monkey Fiction)

In another effort to “expand the CA brand,” a rubbery, barely poseable, but very muscular interpretation of Captain Action will be offered by newcomer, Fresh Monkey Fiction, IF…they can raise the funds via Kickstarter to create Cap and the rest of their proposed first series of “Amazing Heroes” action figures. (Photo: Fresh Monkey Fiction)

As cool as Zica’s proposed 1:18 line sounds, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that news of a new 3.75″ Captain Action has left collectors of the original 1:6 scale version feeling (predictably) frustrated and disappointed. The first question that came to the mind of many was, “What happened to Zica’s proposed line of 12-inch Action Jackson figures (see article HERE)?” We don’t know, but it appears to have stalled. Don’t let that surprise you. The truth is, smaller companies operate on MUCH slimmer profit margins and many new product ideas are scuttled before reaching final production.

And again, don’t get us wrong. We absolutely LOVE the look of Zica’s CA prototype, and they’re the only company to have ever even mentioned attempting a reproduction of Cap’s venerated Silver Streak vehicle—in ANY scale. For that reason alone, we wish Mr. Owen and his team at Zica all the best of luck.

Perhaps Mr. Owen should consider the modern entrepreneurial thinking of fellow independent toy maker, Fresh Monkey Fiction (FMF), which is also hoping to create it’s own miniature version of Captain Action (see photo at right) as part of a new “Amazing Heroes” line. FMF hopes to raise the required production funds by utilizing Kickstarter (beginning in July) in combination with the pre-order services of the Big Bad Toy Store (see HERE). By doing so, they effectively “hedge their bets” against failure and are saved the ignominy of a warehouse full of unsold figures and a bank balance pushed too far into the red. FMF founder Bill Murphy states:

Bill Murphy of Fresh Monkey Fiction (Photo: Bill Murphy)

Bill Murphy of comic and toy company Fresh Monkey Fiction (Photo: Bill Murphy)

“As much as we love Kickstarter, the reality is that  some folks are uncomfortable with using Kickstarter, so we wanted a way for those fans to get a hold of the figures. Joel at BBTS has been super supportive of the line, he reached out to us and made this happen.” —Bill Murphy, FMF

Then, the good folks at Big Bad Toy Store further clarified how the practice of gathering customers first and producing products second works by definitively stating on their own website:

“These figures are subject to a minimum order quantity (MOQ) in order to be manufactured. If the MOQ is not met between retailer orders and the Fresh Monkey Fiction Kickstarter campaign (which starts in July), the figures will not be produced and all preorders will be cancelled. Please spread the word and help Fresh Monkey Fiction reach their goal and put these great figures into production!” —BBTS

The fate of these four proposed "Amazing Heroes" action figures (including Captain Action) rests entirely on the results of a July 2014 Kickstarter campaign and customer pre-orders received by the Big Bad Toy Store website. Will these heroes make it to production? (Photo: FMF)

The fate of these four proposed “Amazing Heroes” action figures (including Captain Action) rests entirely on the results of a July 2014 Kickstarter campaign and customer pre-orders received by the Big Bad Toy Store website. Will these heroes make it to production? (Photo: First Monkey Fiction)

actionelitelogoRaising the Bar—and the Price—With “Action Elite”

Finally, Captain Action fans who can recall purchasing the original ’60s figures and costume sets from Ideal will need to prepare themselves for some severe “sticker shock.” Even fans from the 1990s who grew used to paying $30 to $40 for repro CA products from Playing Mantis may want to hold onto their wallets, because the suggested retail prices of 1:6 scale Cap stuff is about to go up—WAY up.

The original, 1960s Captain Action rocket-pack set included special gloves, helmet and rocket-pack. How might Go Hero toys, and Phicen Limited recreate this set for modern collectors? We shall see! (Photo: James DeSimone)

The original, 1960s Captain Action rocket-pack set included special gloves, helmet and of course, a rocket-pack. Fans are wondering how Go Hero Toys, Executive Replicas and Phicen Limited will reinterpret this set as a high-end “adult collectible.” We shall see! (Photo: James DeSimone)

In the steepest CA brand expansion ever attempted, a new line of 1:6 scale high-end figures, costumes, and equipment sets will soon be released under a new name: Action Elite, and is scheduled to appear sometime during the 3rd or 4th quarters of 2014 (although that seems overly optimistic to us). Created in joint cooperation by R2/CAE, Go Hero Toys, Executive Replicas and Phicen Limited, this new line of “adult-collectible” Captain Action figures is clearly a bit of good news for weary 1:6 scalers. Unfortunately, as we indicated, this all-new CA line will command significantly higher prices than anything that has ever been branded with Cap’s familiar “recycling triangle” logo. For more details on Action Elite, we first turn to a post by famed CA insider, Frank Bonilla:

“Go Hero will start with the Rocket-Pack Captain Action. It will be highly detailed. My guess is metal parts. Ed Catto said they want the parts to be interchangeable with vintage. Costumes will be from DC, Marvel, Dynamite, and Moonstone. The Go Hero costumes will be more detailed on a Hot Toys level. I think Action Elite will sell well because there are collectors who are willing to pay for that level of detail and their exclusivity may make them more valuable in the future.” —Frank Bonilla

Joe Ahearn, founder of Captain Action Enterprises (Photo: CAE)

Joe Ahearn, co-founder of Captain Action Enterprises (Photo: CAE)

R2/CAE founder, Joe Ahearn, provided further details in the company’s official press release, stating:

“Action Elite (AE) is an exciting new venture that will bring the Captain Action name to the boutique designer level of collectibles. We’ll now be able to offer high-end, museum quality items as part of the total Captain Action figure line. We’ll also use the opportunity to fill in a lot of the items on collectors’ wish lists.

Captain Action, Doctor Evil, Lady Action, and Action Boy will be redesigned using cutting edge tech, high-end bodies that reflect a collector’s quality, beyond the standard toy level.  This effectively creates an additional collector’s level for the line.”Joe Ahearn, CAE

Steve Forde, founder of Go Hero Toys (Photo: Steve Forde)

Steve Forde, founder/principal of Go Hero Toys (Photo: Steve Forde)

There it is! In the last line of Aherrn’s quote (above), he confirms his company’s desire to create “an additional collector’s level for the line.” Expand that brand! Not surprisingly, the founder of Go Hero Toys, Steve Forde, shares Ahearn’s fervent desire to grow CA’s brand. In a recently released statement, he declared:

“We’re dedicated to original pop-icons, especially those with historical credibility. Captain Action is the perfect fit because of its honored place in the world of 1:6 scale collectibles. It is a real joy to be able to pool our talents with the contagious commitment of Ed and Joe.  We’ve tried for years and finally the timing is perfect to develop the Captain Action brand into exciting NEW arenas.” ~ Steve Forde, Go Hero Toys 

goherotoyslogoWe caught up with Forde over on Facebook and asked him if he had any further intel regarding Action Elite, beyond what was contained in his company’s official press release. He graciously demurred, saying only:

“I’m leaving the announcements on that to Ed and Joe. We have some great stuff brewing and options that I think 1:6 scale fans are going to love. News is coming next week!” —Steve Forde, Go Hero Toys

Thank you for your comments. Keep 'em coming! (Photo: atomicreach)

1:6 CA fans are never shy about sharing their opinions about ANYTHING. (Photo: atomicreach)

As expected, a slew of anonymous collector comments have already been posted about Captain Action’s latest (and most expensive) brand expansion idea. Here are a few select fan-bites:

“As a lonnnng time Captain Action fan & collector, this news sounds extremely interesting. But if it’s done at the same pace as the regular line, it’s gonna be super slow (i.e., 2 costume sets a year)!”Ron

“I’m not sure how I feel about this. Very happy to hear a top of the line Action Boy body is coming, but more than a little nervous that I may have been priced out.” —Daniel

“I grew up with CA. I dabbled in the Playing Mantis revival, and was disappointed when it failed. I’ve also purchased all the recent CA sets. They were affordable and available locally. But you completely missed your target demographic! No 10-12 year-old boy alive today has any idea who these CA characters are. PLEASE consider interchangeable heads with Action Elite. CA as a character that ‘becomes other heroes’ (wearing a mask) is a lost cause. Stick with 1:6  scale and avoid ‘funny animal’ distractions.”Jon Rann

Fans of classic Cap, don't lose hope! This "Character Guide" of fully inked and colored CA art reveals an exciting and hopeful look at how the original Cap can be properly rendered for modern comics, toy packages and maybe even a "retro" comic book animated series, ala Jonny Quest. Keep your fingers crossed that this is what it would look like! (Photo: R2/CAE)

This superb “Character Guide” for CA comic artists nicely captures the look of a classic ’60s Captain Action. Yes, it would be great if Cap’s proposed animated TV series utilized this sort of artwork (ala Jonny Quest) but it’s not going to, so don’t get your hopes up, muchacho. (Photo: R2/CAE)

Bottom Line: R2/CAE is trying to remake and reintroduce a toy line from the 1960s so that it’s appealing to both nostalgic and future toy buyers. Let’s face it, ol’ Cap’s original fans are mostly in their 40s and 50s now, and today’s children have ZERO emotional connection with the line. If GIjOE, Action Man, Johnny West, Captain Action, or any other 1:6 scale toy of the past is to remain viable and profitable into the future, they must constantly be reinvented in order to reach ever-new market “segments.” Currently, fans of the original 1:6 scale version of Captain Action are worried about what the future holds for their spandex-clad superhero. Fortunately, Round 2 and CAE have demonstrated they have a keen business sense for the nostalgia toy market, and if their efforts to “expand the brand” of Captain Action are successful, they’ll ultimately be rewarded with multiple lines of income, diverse customer demographics, and the most important thing of all—happy customers. Let Justice Be Done!

Editor’s Note: What are YOUR thoughts on the various CA “brand expansion” products and methods detailed in this article? Leave your own comments below to become part of “the permanent record” here on The Joe Report. Only then…will Justice TRULY be Done!

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Customizer Creates 1:6 Scale Replica of 1942 Harley-Davidson Army Prototype “Model XS”

Robert Jason's custom 1:6 scale 1942 Harley-Davidson prototype NAME XS motorcyle and rider, fully finished and detailed with custom sidecar, tires and much more. AMAZING! (Photo:

They don’t get any rarer than this. You’re looking at a one-of-a-kind, 1:6 scale, museum-quality replica of a prototype 1942 Harley-Davidson motorcycle (that never made it into mass-production). Created by professional modeller and customizer Robert Jason, the Model XS “hog” comes complete with a vintage GIjOE outfitted as a US Army courier rider and a fully detailed custom sidecar. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Customizer Bob Jason (Photo: Bob Jason)

Customizer Robert Jason (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Motorcycle History in Perfect 1:6 Scale

Artist and master modeller, Robert Jason of Florida, widely renowned for his creation of ultra-detailed and historically accurate custom 1:6 scale trucks and Jeeps, is now trying his hand at creating custom, one-of-a-kind, 1:6 scale motorcycles. The results are, needless to say, VERY impressive. Regular readers of The Joe Report will recall that we profiled Mr. Jason previously, in an article published back in September, 2013 (see HERE). At that time, we discussed in detail (and highly praised) Robert’s artistic skills and incredible work on what are now known as his “commemorative customs.”

Until recently, Jason limited himself to the “heavy vehicle” category that reminded him so much of the machines his Father and Uncle had fought in during the war. Now, with the addition of 1:6 custom motorcycles, Jason is expanding his scope and revealing a willingness to work on other sizes and types of WWII vehicles. It’s hard to believe, but most (if not all) of Robert’s masterpieces end up being sold to the highest bidder on ebay (see current auction listing HERE). As he told us before:

Another closeup showing the miniature Harley-Davidson manual. Out-STANDING! (Photo:

Details such as this outstanding custom 1:6 scale Harley-Davidson maintenance manual (included) help to “tell the story” of Jason’s vehicles. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

“Whenever I build one of these custom vehicles, I use actual WWII combat museum photos to be as accurate as possible. When I first started selling them, I discovered there was a need (and market) for reasonably priced 1:6 scale custom vehicles for serious collectors.Yes, there are much higher priced all-metal kits that are extremely well detailed, but one must have model-building experience and the time required to assemble them, and as you know, TIME is often very hard to come by!”

Opposite view showing dual rifle scabbards, two seats, radio, saddlebag and unique "tractor" tires. (Photo:

This opposite view shows the motorcycle’s two rifle scabbards, its independent twin seats, field radio, saddlebag, deep-tread “tractor” tires, and decals from Patches of Pride. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Curious about the origins and details of Jason’s miniature motorcycle masterpiece, we consulted his unofficial “Director of Marketing,” Julie Kostick, who kindly replied:

Robert Jason's "Director of Marketing," Julie Kostick. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Julie Kostick. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

“This is a one-of-a-kind, original 1/6th scale model of a rare prototype motorcycle that never went into full production (the piece is signed by the artist). It was created using a Hasbro GIjOE US Army WLA 45 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle as a stock base, and has dual rifle scabbards, an M1 carbine and a Thompson .45 cal. sub-machinegun, plus a field radio, canteen, shovel, map, flashlight and saddle bag. It even has a Harley-Davidson Military Motorcycle Operation and Maintenance Manual!

It also comes with an original 1964 GIjOE action figure,  dressed in a period-correct WWII US Army uniform with goggles, helmet, holstered .45 cal. 1911 pistol, motorcycle riding boots and gloves. Wherever your interest lies, be it vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles, WWII history, memorabilia, or GIjOE, this one-of-a-kind piece of art is a MUST for your collection!”

This closeup reveals the M1 carbine and Thompson machine-gun in their

This closeup reveals the M1 carbine and Thompson machinegun snug in their (not identical) scabbards. Words simply fail. WOW! (Photo: Julie Kostick)

This closeup shows the addition of the correct hosing, wiring, decals and custom paint and weathering. Superb! (Photo:

Closeup revealing Jason’s addition of hosing, wiring, decals and paint weathering. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest congratulations go out to Robert Jason for his latest amazing 1:6 scale achievement, and our thanks go out to his “Director of Marketing,” Julie Kostick, for her generous assistance with this article. To watch a video showing the only known surviving example of this motorcycle (on display at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI), click on the link below:

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70th Anniversary of D-Day Invasion Remembered

Bottom Line: Please remember to honor all of those who fought and died for our freedom on this day 70 years ago, June 6, 1944. Better yet, remind your children and grand-children why today is so important, and why it is so vital that we NEVER FORGET.

Chester Nez, U.S. Marine, Last Survivor of Original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, Dead at 93

As the LAST of the original Navajo Code Talkers, Chester Nez, was recently the subject of a wonderful profile article in Navajo Nation Fair Magazine. (Photo: Navajo Nation Fair Magazine)

Bottom Line: We start with the “bottom line” today to tell you simply (and sadly) that American hero and Navajo Code Talker, Chester Nez, has died at the age of 93. As you may recall, Nez was the subject of a previous article here on The Joe Report, concerning the book he had co-authored recounting his time and experiences during WWI. In honor and memory of Nez’s passing, we’re re-running that article here today. For a complete obituary on Nez, we recommend you go HERE.


inmemoriam2The following was originally published September 25, 2012:

I came across an important magazine article today…

It’s about a tough, American war hero, Chester Nez. At age 90, Nez is a former Marine and the LAST surviving member of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers. This made me curious, and so I browsed around the ‘net until I found another article (from ICTMN), revealing more about Nez…

“His mission was so important that he didn’t get leave for three years. His mission was so secret he couldn’t talk about it until 23 years after the war ended. Proper honor for what he did wouldn’t come for 55 years. Code talkers were sworn to secrecy even after the war in case the code had to be used again. And it was, in the Korean Conflict and again in the Vietnam War.”

“Code Talker” by Chester Nez is now available in bookstores and online. (Photo: Berkley Trade)

Fortunately for all of us, the real story of the Code Talkers and their activities during those conflicts has finally been revealed with the recent publication of Nez’s new book entitled, “Code Talker.” Nez’s book is the ONLY memoir written by one of the original Navajo Code Talkers and for that reason, is considered by WW2 historians to be a VERY important account.

All too often, members of “the Greatest Generation” have passed on before leaving behind any written or oral record of their military service. Here is just one exciting excerpt from Nez’s book about WW2 in the Pacific theater…

“With saltwater filling our boots and dragging against each step, Roy Begay and I force ourselves forward. We try to avoid the bodies and parts of bodies that float everywhere. But that’s impossible. Blood stains the tide washing onto the beach. Roy and I tote a TBX radio and a microphone. Headsets clamp over our ears, so we can’t hear the hiss as hot bullets hit Pacific waters. But we’ve heard that sound too many times before. Rifles remain slung over our shoulders, unused. Our job is to talk, not to shoot.”

A Navajo Code Talker during WW2.
(File photo: USMC)

Such first-person accounts are becoming all the more important as time passes by. For example, when asked why he decided to join the Marines and help form the original Code Talkers, further insight is revealed when Nez replies…

“I reminded myself that my Navajo people had always been warriors, protectors. In that, there was honor. I would concentrate on being a warrior, on protecting my homeland. Within hours, whether in harmony or not, I knew I would join my fellow Marines in the fight. The white man’s military had accepted us as tough Marines. Hardened by the rigors of life on the reservation. We often out-performed our white peers.”

Hasbro saw fit to (appropriately) honor the Code Talkers with a unique “talking” GIjOE. These figures are still available online, and this one includes a code-word sheet and free “Junior Navajo Code Talker” patch. COOL!
(Photo: Southwest Indian Foundation)

Today’s Homework Assignment for all Joeheads… If you’re interested in learning more about the USMC Code Talkers, you can read more about Chester Nez online HERE, purchase his new book HERE, watch a moving, 10-minute video (below), visit the official Code Talker’s museum website HERE, or order one of the GIjOE Code Talker action figures from the Southwest Indian Foundation website store HERE. Davey Baker, a fellow Marine who worked with the Code Talkers during WW2, described the Code Talker’s thankless, secretive work best, when he said…

“If God alone may know, they saved thousands of American lives, yet their tale has been hidden by the very role they played.”

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25th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Massacre Recalls Astonishing Bravery of “The Tank Man”

Bottom Line: GIjOE fans love tanks, but few of us have the cojones to stand down a column of them, much less alone. 25 years ago today, China’s “Tank Man” did just that. He stood his ground, putting his life on the line for freedom. While you watch this superb video and honor the memories of the dead, consider this as well: NOTHING you’re viewing can be shown or seen in China.