Ailing James DeSimone Chooses to Speed Up Sale of G.I. Joe Collection, Selling All in Final Auction

“GIJOE’s #1 Fan,” James DeSimone (Photo: James DeSimone)

“I most likely will not live long enough to deal with selling single items.”
James DeSimone

In a sad scenario that thousands of toy fans and GIjOE collectors will have to face someday (some sooner than others), GIjOE’s #1 Fan,” James DeSimone, is currently in the process of divesting himself of his beloved vintage GIjOE collection. It’s a depressing and devastating process that most of us don’t even want to consider, but when someone you know personally (or someone famous such as DeSimone) is facing this issue, the rest of us are forced to take heed.

As we reported back in October of 2013 (see HERE), Mr. DeSimone, perhaps the world’s best-known GIjOE fan, advocate and collector, recently suffered a heart attack and felt he needed to begin selling off items from his famous toy collection in order to help pay medical bills, etc. With the able aid of his son, Jonathan DeSimone, the two began the slow and arduous process of placing small groups of related items up on ebay. Now, almost a year later, the ailing DeSimone has decided to speed up the divestment process dramatically by putting ALL of his remaining GIjOE items up for sale in one big, final auction. This decision prompts the question that most of us dread considering…

Need some vintage backpacks? How about some pup tents? Now's your chance! (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Need some vintage backpacks? Or pup tents? James DeSimone’s collection has at LEAST a couple a dozen each! Click to enlarge. (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

What should WE do with our GIjOE collections when we’re…”Done?”

Unfortunately, there’s no single, clear-cut “collection divestment strategy” that applies to everyone’s needs. Most collectors will try to sell their collections, but others may not have the requisite time, ability or desire. Fortunately, there are other options one can consider, including the following four methods:

Willing It to Descendents: This is an easy choice to make. But is it the best option for everyone? Should collectors declare everything in their wills as inheritance to be divided equally among potentially apathetic and/or openly disinterested relatives or offspring? Perhaps not. GIjOE fans care too much about their collections to dispatch them off to an unknown fate, and would prefer to see them go somewhere they know they’ll be appreciated—and loved. If your family never cared much about your “doll collection” before, then they’ll probably resent having to pay inheritance taxes on them, and/or having to cart them off to Goodwill. Surely, there must be a better way!

With over 100 figures, we couldn't begin to show them all, but here's a nice group of vintage sailors, just waiting for the loving attention and TLC of a devoted collector! (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Some of DeSimone’s vintage sailors, just waiting for the loving, restorative attention of another devoted GIjOE fan to come along. Could that person be YOU? (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

There's enough medical supplies and equipment here to outfit your next MASH diorama. WOW! (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Look at all this AWESOME vintage medical equipment! Click to enlarge. (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Donating to Museums: Okay, how about donating your collection to a toy museum? Unfortunately, there are only a handful of such places around the country (you can probably count them all on your fingers). And even if you do find a reputable museum that’s willing to accept and care for your pile of precious playthings, how many other collections could they hope to absorb afterwards, before having to turn away the rest of us? There are at LEAST hundreds of thousands of GIjOE/Action Man/Action Team/Geyperman collectors around the world. Oh well, have you considered…

With over 100+ figures in the auction, we can't show them all to you here. But take a look at this second batch of vintage sailors and everything they come with. Click to enlarge! (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

With over 100+ figures in the auction, we can’t show them all to you here. But take a look at this second batch of vintage sailors and everything they come with. Click to enlarge. (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Throwing it Away: Sacrilege? Well, yes. But let’s face it, depending on the collector’s age, physical health and subsequent mental state at the time, he or she may simply decide to put everything out on the curb—with their TRASH. As inconceivable as that nightmare scenario may sound, it happens ALL THE TIME. Just imagine what’s buried out there in our landfills. It’s enough to break your heart! Your smartest move is, of course…

Selling it Piecemeal—or All Together: Fortunately, most collectors will never drag their collectibles to the curb, but opt instead to deal with the hassle of selling their beloved treasures to the highest bidder—until their patience and/or time runs out. Let’s face it, setting up and organizing large collections at flea markets or posting it all online and then spending precious life hours/weeks/years haggling over prices is a tedious game for the young (and healthy). Unfortunately for Mr. DeSimone, the luxury of TIME is one he apparently no longer enjoys. According to the auction description written by his son, Jonathan (edited for length):

Jonathan DeSimone, son of James DeSimone (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Jonathan DeSimone, son of James DeSimone (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

“My Dad, James DeSimone, has failing health. He actually flatlined (died) for 10 whole minutes! But yes, he still functions (somewhat) OK. We are selling what he has valued and kept of his GIjOEs. As you know, the stories are legendary of the tons of stuff Dad has traded over the years. Nothing rare, just good ol’ common stuff you played with as a child.

We have 50 photographs…If you go to Dad’s website at GIjOEInformation and look, he still has 2 or 3 of the 8′ long diorama boards and the 8′ long ship. If you buy this collection, those items are included ONLY if you want to pay to ship them. Nothing… is duplicated or photographed twice.”

Selling off a collection often provides unique insights into a collector’s personal preferences as well. One such intriguing example is revealed below:

“There is so much stuff that it was hard to sort it all out in advance. For instance—Jeep shells. We kept finding more and more! Dad couldn’t buy them fast enough or get enough of them, so they are in several different pictures.

When DeSimone found something he liked, he often bought multiple copies of it, as this photo of assorted vintage weapons reveals. (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

DeSimone clearly likes 1:6 scale ordnance and collected multiples of 5-star Jeep shells, ammo boxes, grenades, mortar rounds, bazooka shells, etc. BOOMMM!! (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Fascinating! Why James DeSimone has such a yearning for tiny 1:6 ordnance remains a mystery, but the proof of his attraction to them is obvious. Additionally, the condition of the items in his collection reflects his personal approach to their care, use and display. While many fans take pride in storing their collections in airtight, dust-free, glass cabinets, DeSimone clearly preferred to play with his GIjOEs in giant indoor and outdoor dioramas. Jonathan confirms this view, stating:

“A lot of stuff has years of dust on it. We can assure you Dad never repaired, doctored or cleaned a single thing. There was tons of stuff on the ship diorama. Most of it is dirty, from 20 years of dust exposure and neglect, plus the past 2 years since Dad’s health issues.”

Bottom Line: DeSimone’s collection is known worldwide and despite its current “dusty” condition, is highly regarded for its authenticity and vintage, unaltered status. Here’s a direct link to the auction. It’s not likely to remain unsold as collector interest appears to be widespread, strong and growing. Expect many “snipers” to jump in with deep pockets on the last day. But we recommend you also heed this final bit of “insider-intel” from Jonathan:

“We have just started to reach out to Dad’s numerous contacts and collectors. A collector from Ohio is coming out to see the collection next week so we reserve the right to end this auction at any time. We are hoping that there is one person out there that understands the magnitude of what it took to collect and obtain all this stuff and appreciate what it means to also lay claim to owning the world’s largest diorama of GIjOEs.

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12 thoughts on “Ailing James DeSimone Chooses to Speed Up Sale of G.I. Joe Collection, Selling All in Final Auction

  1. Roy Jones says:

    I hope I am able and healthy enough to just gift all of my toys to kids who will play with them. Very sad hearing about him being sick. It is great that he was able to contribute to the hobby as much as he did and when he has passed this will remain.

  2. Matthew Pak says:

    This might sound awful, but perhaps we should have a “tontine” among super collectors and as each one of us “fades away,” we donate our collections to the survivors. Literally, the one who dies with the most toys wins.

  3. Dennis Widner says:

    I brought this question up at the Sixth Army Division, where I hang out. Most of us pinheads are getting up there in age. Some are facing debilitating aging processes. What to do with our collections? I hope some of my favs are buried with me, kinda like King Tut. At least some of my 1/6 handmade items will live on hopefully for the owners, like a Stradivarius.

  4. Mike Nash says:

    I am very sad to hear about this. James DeSimone is, of course, a legend, and I use his excellent book all the time both for reference and simple enjoyment. I suppose when it is time, I will just call some sort of estate auction place to sell my Joes. I don’t care about the money, and I could not stand a protracted period of time where I slowly sell off everything I own.

  5. scott hill says:

    I was big into collecting back in the 90s, but luckily, I didn’t let it consume me. My father was into antique cars. He’s in Hershey, PA for a car show as I type this. Collecting things is fine, as long as you have spent enough of your life preparing for the next life. Otherwise, it is silly to spend so much time on something that has no lasting value. The torch has been passed and the cost of Joes (like everything else) has decreased as those who have a sentimental attachment for them grow older.

    Others don’t care about the toys YOU had as a kid for the most part. I like Lionel trains, but would never spend money to collect them. Didn’t have any as a kid. Everyone needs to realize the “bell curve” effect. “The day you die everything you own belongs to someone else, what you ARE is yours.”

    This is true for cars, Joes, Star Wars, etc. Time not spent servicing others and Our Heavenly Father is a sad waste. Just hope James doesn’t fall into that category. But this hopefully shows all that time marches on and you won’t have room to take it with you. Don’t love something that can’t love you back. Didn’t read all the options for getting rid of a collection but selling it off and giving the money to your family or a charity would help your cause in the next life.

  6. scott hill says:

    A higher priority if they are still alive is to spend time instead taking care of doing for your parents who made it possible for you to have these fond memories . Otherwise you would most likely not care about Joes , just like I don’t really care for Capt Action since I never knew about them as a kid .

  7. scott hill says:

    I remember James from long ago. If he is the one that started the GIjOE Club, I was member number #100. Did he only collect loose stuff? Did he sell off his boxed items already? I was interested to see what oddball items he may have had, like displays etc. But I think he was the one who said he would have “no prisoners” and didn’t collect MIB stuff etc. Just curious. I don’t collect anymore. I remember he had a room full of Jeeps if I’m thinking of the right person.

  8. jerome kennedy says:

    I have a MOC Hall of fame Grunt do you know how much is it worth.

  9. Larry Thomas says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about my GIjOE buddy. I’ve bought some of his great vehicles. Does he have the gi joe jet still? Larry Thomas. 205-243-0536

  10. Brad Baldwin says:

    I’m very sorry to hear of James’ poor health. I had contact with him when purchasing one of his GI Joe Panther Jets a few years back. Somehow, his collection needs to be saved by a serious collector to preserve its history or go to a special place where it can be viewed and even played with by children and/or those who have a true love for this most beloved of all toys. I came across this page searching for the 40th Anniversary poster. Best wishes from a lifelong fan. —Brad Baldwin

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