Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy Birthday to Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols (82) and to Marvel Comics’ Icon, Stan Lee (92)

Nichelle Nichols helped break down TV's racial barriers during the 1960s as she portrayed the feisty, intelligent and capable, "Lt. Uhura" in "Star Trek." (Photo: CBS/Paramount)

Nichelle Nichols broke down TV’s racial barriers during the 1960s while portraying the feisty, intelligent and ever-capable, “Lt. Uhura” on NBC’s ground-breaking sic-fi classic series, Star Trek. (Photo: CBS)

The camera LOVED Nichelle Nichols and wasted no opportunity to zoom in for yet another stunning closeup. Now, with the release of Star Trek on fully remastered DVDs, the benefits to fans are obvious (and appreciated). (Photo: CBS/Paramount)

The camera LOVED Nichelle Nichols and directors wasted no time or opportunity to zoom in for yet another stunning closeup. Now, 45 years later, with the release of Star Trek on fully remastered DVDs, the benefits to fans are clear and obvious. WOWZA! (Photo: CBS/Paramount)

Two Television and Pop Culture Icons Share the Same Birthday
—Exactly 10 Years Apart!

I met Nichelle Nichols in person for the first and only time in Dallas, TX at (of course) a 1980’s Star Trek convention. The auditorium where she was scheduled to appear that evening had quickly filled up with hundreds of faithful, adoring “Trekkies” (myself included) and the anticipation at seeing and meeting the beloved actress was palpable.

Fans looked about anxiously, watching all the doors, wondering from which direction she might first appear. The energy in the room crackled and felt like a bottle of corked champagne, ready to burst open at the first sighting of her. Fortunately, Nichols didn’t keep her eager audience waiting long; emerging through the room’s main double-doors, she walked up the center aisle amid thunderous applause and declared:

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“Thank you for coming! Thanks so much! Thank you all!”

Nichols was both a trend-setting actress as well as superb role model, helping to break through racial barriers on television and elsewhere. (Photo:

Sexy and in-charge at home (above) and on-screen, Nichols was both a trend-setting actress as well as a superb role model for all African-Americans during (and since) the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s and ’70s. Her tremendous successes have helped other aspiring actresses break through both real and perceived barriers on TV and elsewhere in the entertainment industry. (Photo: misssixtiesfashion)

Nichelle Nichols (Photo: Imdb)

Nichelle Nichols (Photo: Imdb)

At the time, Nichelle was probably just about 50, and looked every bit as beautiful as her devoted fans expected. She took her place behind the podium’s microphone and then launched into an enjoyable half-hour monologue of memories and comments about Star Trek and the rest of her life up to that time. Afterwards, she fielded questions from the audience and then offered to autograph anything and everything we cared to put in front of her. The entire audience stood up as one and a line was quickly formed. She greeted us all with great warmth, kindness and generosity and signed all sorts and sizes of Star Trek photos, posters, action figures, props, costumes and t-shirts, along with the occasional forearm or hand of a fan who had forgotten to bring anything along. (All I had was a postcard. D’oh!)

One of the most sought-after EBONY covers EVER produced, the January 1967 issue featured a stunning Nichols as she ascended Star Trek's famous "Jeffries Tube." Oh, heavenly Body! (Photo: EBONY Magazine)

Oh, Heavenly Body! One of the most sought-after EBONY covers EVER produced, the January 1967 issue featured a stunning Nichols as she ascended Star Trek’s famous “Jeffries Tube.” (Photo: EBONY Magazine)

This may sound silly, but while waiting in line, I was struck by the beauty of Nichelle’s hair. I know, I know. But when I finally reached the head of the room, and was standing only a foot away, it was also the only thing that I could think of to say to her during my alloted 15 seconds. So… after I handed her my vintage ’70s Uhura postcard to sign, I remember (somehow) commenting, “Your hair looks beautiful!” Fortunately, she was VERY happy at hearing my (clumsy) compliment and replied:

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“Thank you very much! That’s so nice of you to say!”

There wasn't a bad angle from which to photograph Nichelle Nichols. And every episode which featured her was instantly made more exciting and interesting for her millions of fans. (Photo: CBS/Paramount)

There wasn’t a bad angle from which to photograph Nichelle Nichols. And every episode which featured her was instantly made more interesting and EXCITING to millions of fans. (Photo: CBS/Paramount)

Bottom Line #1: That’s my entire Nichelle Nichols story. As I walked away, I thought to myself, “Well, that went pretty well. She seemed happy about the hair comment.” It may not seem like much to anyone else, but to me, that brief time with her will always be a treasured memory. What a wonderful, classy lady. Happy Birthday, Nichelle! 82 never looked more beautiful! Thanks again for signing my postcard and for all the joy you’ve brought to the world. Live long and prosper!

Comics legend, Stan Lee turned 92 today. (Photo: Stan Lee)

Comics legend, writer and movie actor, Stan Lee, turns 92 today. (Photo: Stan Lee)

Bottom Line #2: I also wanted to mention that (coincidentally) on this day, December 28th, exactly 10 years prior to the birth of Nichelle Nichols, comics legend, Stan Lee, was also born. And as faithful readers of The Joe Report already know, I am a HUGE fan of Mr. Lee and his work, his countless comic book creations and especially of his SyFy Channel reality-competition show, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” Over the last 92 years, Lee has clearly demonstrated he has the “Midas Touch” of creativity, and the entire world is certainly a more wonderful place for his having lived and worked among us. Happy Birthday, Stan! Thanks so much for EVERYTHING you do! 

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Collecting and Customizing 1:6 Scale Action Figures in Poland———Plus 1:1 Scale Reenacting!

Jacek NAME's amazing custom group of WWII Polish Resistance Fighters. Outstanding! (Photo:

This superb group of 1:6 WWII Polish Resistance Fighters was expertly customized by Jacek Sulowski, a fan and collector living in Krakow, Poland. Outstanding work, Jacek! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

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(Map: citelighter.com)

(Map: citelighter.com)

Playing at 1:6 Scale—Reenacting at 1:1 Scale

As we arrive at the end of GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary year, it seems appropriate to discuss a place where the emergence of 1:6 scale action figure collecting has only recently begun. While much of the free world has enjoyed 12-inch figure collecting for 50 years now, there are STILL places where our beloved hobby is relatively new. Indeed, when we think of countries that are “hotbeds of collecting” for GIjOE, Action Man, Dragon and other 1:6 scale action figures, what’s the first place that comes to mind? That’s right—NOT Poland. But it may surprise you to learn that Poland DOES boast a growing number of 1:6 collectors and fans within its ancient borders and that their new collections are growing with the gusto of a barbecued kiełbasa!

(Photo: Jacek

One of the greatest things about action figures in other countries is that their owners often create subjects we’ve never seen before or would have otherwise. Take a look at this SUPERB group of WWII Polish Commandos kit-bashed by Jacek Sulowski. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Polish action figure collector and customizer, Grz also participates in 1:1 scale WWII reenactments in Poland, often portraying enemy forces in authentic kit and gear. (Photo:

Grzegorz Borecki, a fan and collector of 1:6 scale action figures, is originally from Poland (now living in the UK) and also enjoys participating in 1:1 scale reenactments, often portraying WWII German forces in authentic kit and gear from head to toe. Here he’s dressed as a WWII Luftwaffe NCO. AMAZING! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Equally surprising, many of these new Polish “1:6ers” are also interested in collecting 1:1 scale militaria and in staging WWII military reenactments. That’s right. Despite (or perhaps, because of) their country’s tortured past, today’s (finally) freed Poles can now collect all the 1:6 scale “war toys” they desire, as well as participate openly in historic WWII commemorations and reenactments that portray both Allied—and Axis—military forces. Before the 1980s and the collapse of communist regimes across Europe, such actions would’ve been practically unthinkable by civilians living in Poland. But as the following two collector profiles clearly reveal—that is no longer the case.


Reenactor

re·en·act·or noun \ˌrē-ə-ˈnak-tər\

Definition: a person who participates in reenactments of historical events


Military reenactment groups have enjoyed a long and popular history around the globe. Thousands of organizations in the U.S. reenact forces and figures involved in events such as the American Revolution, Custer’s “Last Stand” and the Civil War. Likewise, history fans in the UK regularly reenact events from the medieval days of King Arthur all the way up through WWII’s “Battle of Britain.” It’s clear that the desire to commemorate and reenact wars of the past remains strong among many around the world; not to glorify the horrific events that occurred, surely not, but rather to demonstrate the historic uniforms and types of equipment and weaponry used at the time. And that in itself is a GOOD thing; because as we know:

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“Those who cannot remember the past—
are condemned to repeat it.” —George Santayana

Holy, Tiger Tanks! 1:6 collector and fan, Grzegorz (Greg) Borecki of Poland, poses in front of a stunning Tiger 1 tank currently on display at the NAME HERE museum in the (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki) Click to enlarge.

Holy, Tiger Tanks! 1:6 scale collector and 1:1 scale reenactor, Grzegorz (Greg) Borecki, poses in front of a stunning (and fully functional) WWII Pzkpfw VI Tiger 1 tank (Ausf. E) during his recent visit to the world-famous Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset, UK. (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki) Click to enlarge.

Hungry for freedom, leaders of the the1989 Solidarity movement in Poland evoked imagery from the iconic American western, "High Noon," starring Gary Cooper. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Alone in the face of adversity, leaders of 1989’s Solidarity movement in Poland evoked imagery from the iconic American western, “High Noon,” for this poster supporting their cause of freedom. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Collecting 1:6 Scale in Poland
A Tale of Two Citizens

If you know anything about the history of Poland, you know that it’s a very OLD country (est. 966 AD) and its people have struggled through centuries of hardship to get to where they are now—FREE. Only after the rise of the Solidarity labor movement in the 1980s, the subsequent fall of socialist regimes across Europe and their painful transition to a free market economy, have the Poles been able to experience the simple and innocent pleasures of the 1:6 scale action figure hobby. So, with 2015 just around the corner, we thought we’d offer the following inspiring profiles of two Polish 1:6 collectors, starting with Jacek Sulowski:

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“Hello from Krakow (Cracow), Poland! This is where I was born in 1960, where I live and work, as well as customize and collect 1/6th scale soldier figures. Poland is one of the fastest-growing countries in Europe, not only in terms of economic development, but also constantly improving living standards and quality of life. I know what I am saying, as I have witnessed it for over 50 years now.

Jacek Sulowski of Poland, a collector and customizer of 1:6 scale action figures. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Jacek Sulowski (of Poland), collector and customizer of 1:6 scale action figures. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Krakow is the second largest city in Poland, with a population of more than 750,000. On the one hand, Krakow is a historic city, Poland’s former capital full of fantastic historic sites, the 11th-century Wawel Royal Castle among others, a cultural centre and a university town, with numerous colleges and universities, including the 650-year-old Jagiellonian University. On the other hand, Krakow is a modern city, where Shared Services Centres (SSCs) of global corporations are located, where important sports events are held, where you can enjoy yourself at countless pubs, clubs, restaurants and where you can also find…

My action figure collection which I show and store and in white IKEA bookcases and glass display cases in one of the rooms at the electrical equipment repair and service facility business I run together with my brother-in-law. My collection consists of 300 figures, which is quite a feat, I guess, given the year I started to build it (2009). Most of my figures were built with my own hands, customizing and kitbashing, not by buying ready-made figures. In fact, there are only 6 straight out of the box figures in my collection!”

Jacek's "1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade" was fully customized and outfitted for their upcoming participation in WWII's "Operation: Market Garden." Superb! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Ready for ACTION! This “1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade” was fully customized and outfitted by Jacek for an upcoming WWII battle, Arnhem, 1944. Superb! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Achtung! As this closeup of one of Jacek's Wehrmacht soldiers reveals, all of his figure's have distinctive features and superb attention to detail, making them practically lifelike. AMAZING! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Achtung! As this closeup of one of Jacek’s Wehrmacht soldiers reveals, all of his figure’s feature realistic features and superb attention to detail. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

“The idea of figure customizing evolved naturally from my previous hobby; I had built 1/35th, 1/16th and 1/9th scale models earlier. Yet, I found that one-sixth scale provides almost unlimited opportunities for detail modeling. This is what I do: The WWII soldier figures I create represent all units and formations of the Allied and Axis troops. They are replica soldiers with uniforms, weapons, accessories and vehicles, exact copies of what I find in WWII photos and films. My collection changes and develops on a constant basis, as I improve, correct and enhance the figures.

I had to part from my collection for 3 months this year as it was shown from July to September at an exhibition called the “Soldier Figure Gallery,” held at the renowned Museum of Polish Armed Forces in Kołobrzeg (HERE). As many as 200 of my figures sat proudly in custom-made showcases, extolled – as I have been told – by visitors and receiving favourable reviews in the local media. Some 50 figures and one model vehicle were then relocated to another exhibition staged at the Museum, ‘The History of Camouflage.’ I hope to have those back in April 2015.”

What an impressive group! Keen-eyed military fans and 1:6 collectors will be able to spot German forces  including the SS, Wehrmacht, Kreigsmarine and many more. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Gott im Himmel! Keen-eyed WWII buffs should be able to point out members of Germany’s SS, Wehrmacht, Kreigsmarine and many others in this superb group of Sulowski’s custom action figures. Jacek’s skills as a 1:6 modeler are apparent in every figure. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski) Click to enlarge.

Right off the bat, we noticed that Sulowski’s photos appeared to be VERY professional and seemed far superior to the typical “home-grown” photography we’re accustomed to seeing. We asked what specific equipment or techniques he might be employing, and Jacek replied:

Blimey! Every figure in Sulowski's collection is perfectly outfitted, posed and photographed. Superb! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Blimey! Every figure in Sulowski’s collection is perfectly outfitted, posed and photographed. Superb! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

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“All the photos are taken by me, as part of my love of 1/6th scale figure kitbashing. Photography is actually my second hobby. I take photos at the same place at which the collection is displayed with a Canon EOS 500D camera using standard lenses, in quite a ‘primitive’ way, I must say. 

What I need are two boards covered with black-painted bristol paper; one to put the figures on and the other to form a background for them. There are ordinary strip lights in the room and so I use PhotoScape software and an IrfanView image viewer and converter. If you like my photos, you may also visit my galleries HERE.”

Jacek Sulowski, Poland

Sulowski's skills as a modeler and customizer are clearly apparent in the vehicles he creates as well. ASTONISHING! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Sulowski’s skills as a customizer are apparent in his 1:6 vehicles as well. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

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Mind-boggling! A second view of Sulowski’s superb halftrack. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Every detail is accounted for. Absolutely SUPERB! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

It’s all there! Maps, fuel and water cans, grenades, radios, rifles, ammunition boxes, binoculars, gas mask cannisters—every detail is accounted for. Superb work, Jacek! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Soviet Snow Power! Sulowski's use of dark paper backgrounds is evident in this picture and helps his all-white Aerosan and snow troopers really stand out. WOW! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Soviet Snow Power! Sulowski’s use of dark paper backgrounds is evident in this picture and helps his all-white Aerosan and WWII snow troopers really stand out. WOW! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Typical of "Joe Rooms" around the world, Sulowski also utilizes wooden and glass display cabinets and shelves. Look how big that Aerosan is up on top of the cabinet. WOW! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Typical of “Joe Rooms” seen elsewhere around the world, Sulowski also utilizes wooden and glass display cabinets and shelves. Look at the size of that Russian Aerosan up on top of the cabinet. WOW! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Displaying 1:6 Scale Action Figures—in Poland

As the photos above clearly show, 1:1 scale reenacting and 1:6 scale customizing and collecting are all alive and well in 2014 Poland. It’s exciting to watch as formerly repressed countries begin to enjoy the fun and pleasures of some of the world’s greatest hobbies. But the following question always remains: After you’ve amassed a sizable collection (of anything), what do you do with it all? We were especially curious as to how new collectors in Poland were choosing to display their 1:6 scale collections and asked Jacek if he’d send in some photos of his own “Joe Room” in Krakow. He replied:
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“I am happy you like my collection. I would like to submit my own collection and be the first collector from Poland to do so and thus, to share it with the other fans around the world.” —Jacek Sulowski, Poland
When space is at a premium, go "up and over" as Sulowski has done here, mounting floor-to-ceiling shelves that even go above the arched accessway. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

When space is at a premium, simply go “up and over” as Sulowski has done here, mounting floor-to-ceiling shelves that even go above the arched doorway. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski) Click to enlarge.

Big vehicles take up a lot of space, as Jacek's marvelously detailed Sherman tank and others clearly show. Look at all the details! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski) Click to enlarge.

Big vehicles take up a lot of space, as Jacek’s marvelously detailed Sherman tank and German armored vehicles clearly show. Look at all the details! (Photo: Jacek Sulowski) Click to enlarge.

Glass shelving and display cases prove valuable ways to display figures while keeping them dust-free as well. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Showing off Jacek’s Masterpieces— Glass shelving and display cases are ideal ways to display collections of all types. (Photo: Jacek Sulowski)

Polish 1:6 Collectors Living Abroad 

For our second Polish collector profile, we return to  Grzegorz (Greg) Borecki, who, as you’ll recall, also enjoys 1:1 scale WWII reenacting. Borecki wrote in recently and revealed the following:

Remembering the Past— Greg poses in a fully restored U.S. Army Jeep, somewhere in the UK. (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Remembering the Past— Borecki in a fully restored U.S. Army Jeep in the UK. (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

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“I’m 46 years old and of Polish nationality. In 2005, I started my adventure with WWII reenactment and I’m still a member of Stowarzyszenie Historyczne Prusy (Historical Association “Prussia”) in Poland. In 2006, I moved to the UK and since that time I’ve become a permanent resident, both living and working there.

I’ve always been interested in the history of WWII. As far back as 1990, I began making models in 1/72 and 1/35 scale, and am most interested in German vehicles and tanks. Here in the UK, I’m also devoted to a new passion: kitbashing and collecting 1:6 scale action figures (see photos). At the moment, I own 49 figures depicting German soldiers from WWII. My favorite formations are Luftwaffe (especially Air Force Ground Units) so 2/5 of my collection shows soldiers of those units. Because I still feel strong relations to Poland, I would like to ask you if I could also represent my country on your website, GIjOE CollectionsMany thanks!”

Standard (adjustable) wooden shelves work just fine to display a number of Borecki's 1:6 scale action figures. What a great display! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Adjustable wooden shelves work just fine to display a number of Borecki’s 1:6 scale WWII action figures. Excellent! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

A closeup of another of Greg's shelved displays reveals superbly detailed 1:6 figures representing a wide variety of WWII forces. (Photo: Grzgorz )

Look at this closeup of one of Greg’s shelved displays. It reveals superbly detailed 1:6 figures representing a wide variety of WWII German forces. Fan-TASTIC! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Get even closer and you can see that every figure is authentically and accurately detailed. WOW! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Move up even closer to can see every figure is authentically detailed. (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Three superb Feldgendarmerie (WWII German Military Police) figures, complete with every detail. Out-STANDING work, Greg! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

HALT! Show me  your papers! Borecki’s three superb Feldgendarmerie (WWII German Military Police) figures, complete in every detail. Out-STANDING work, Greg! (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki)

Greg’s 1:6 collection is top-notch and growing fast, but we wondered about his other hobby, 1:1 scale reenacting. Had he ever inadvertently or unknowingly offended anyone while portraying a member of WWII’s Luftwaffe? Even 70 years later, the memories of that terrible time remain fresh in many people’s minds. It’s easy to imagine tears flowing during WWII reenactments. Borecki said:
Visitors to one of the WWII reenactments examine the camp conditions and equipment used by German soldiers during WWII. (Photo: Grzegorz Boreck)

Visitors to a UK reenactment examine camp conditions and equipment used by Germans during WWII. (Photo: Grzegorz Borecki) Click to enlarge.

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“We’ve not experienced any bad behaviours or reactions. There are so many living history groups in Poland that portray the German Army, including Waffen SS (which personally, I don’t like). I’ve heard that (sometimes) there are some awkward situations but this is very rare. When Polish combatants are amongst the spectators, after the show they’re sometimes coming over to reenactors portraying ‘Germans’ and shake their hands. Our particular association presents the Polish Army during 1939 and Polish Resistance fighters as well. In fact, very small group of people show Soviets Red Army. If you’d like to see more photos of past reenactments, please check HERE.”
National flag of Poland (Photo: Wikipedia)

National flag of Poland (Photo: Wikipedia)

Bottom Line: It’s exciting to witness the emerging freedoms of the people of Poland and to learn that they are now able to collect, customize and PLAY with 1:6 scale action figures along with the rest of the free world. The amazing collections of Jacek Sulowski and Grzegorz Borecki are two timely reminders that a wonderful new era of 1:6 fandom has begun to sweep through their once oppressed nation. We wish both men all the best in all of their future endeavors. Go, POLAND!

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BBC2 Releases 1st Promo For “Action Man at the Speed of Sound” Episode Airing December 25th

Bottom Line: Attention, Action Man fans in the UK and Europe! Be sure to mark your calendars for this Christmas Day, December 25th, 2014. After opening your presents and stuffing yourselves silly, you’ll want to tune your telly over to BBC2 to catch the “Action Man at the Speed of Sound” episode of “Tony May’s Toy Stories.” We covered this topic in an in-depth article previously HERE, but the video clip shown above is the first official “promo” for it we’ve seen. Enjoy!

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Look Out, G.I. Joe! “Dr. Isotope, The Radioactive Menace” To Be Club Membership Figure In 2015

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Stand back, Joe! The GIjOE Collector's Club is about to release its ominous new membership figure, "Doctor Isotope," the first-ever 12-inch glow-in-the-dark GIjOE. WOW! (Photo: GIJCC)

Stand back, Joe! The GIjOE Collector’s Club is about to release its ominous new membership figure, “Doctor Isotope,” the first-ever 12-inch glow-in-the-dark GIjOE. WOW! (Photo: GIJCC)

isotope
/ˈīsəˌtōp/
noun
1. one of two or more atoms with the same atomic number that contain different numbers of neutrons

Too Hot to Handle?

Heads up, GIjOE collectors, there’s a new “bad guy” in town, and his very touch could spell the end of your toughest “good guy” Joes. He’s the GIjOE Club’s 1:6 “Doctor Isotope” and he has all the earmarks of becoming an instant classic. What makes this guy so special, you may ask? Doctor Isotope will GLOW IN THE DARK, my friend. That’s right, hold this 12-inch evildoer under a lamp for a minute and he’ll be able to threaten your Adventure Team’s headquarters even in total darkness. Imagine all the sleepless nights you would’ve enjoyed as a kid if you’d had one of these ghostly guys to play with. That’s guaranteed FUN!

For those who aren’t aware, every year, members of the GIjOE club are given the choice of receiving either a 3.75″ or 12″ club membership figure as an “exclusive” reward for their paid membership dues. Offerings over the years have ranged from so-so to nice, but 2015’s evil Doctor Isotope looks to be one of the BEST ever produced. For eligible members (i.e. those who are paid up on their dues), the deadly “Doc Iso” figure will be shipped complete with his first-ever, very unique glow-in-the-dark body, a flocked headsculpt and a 2-piece underwear set complete with his nifty atomic chest logo. It also appears the doctor lost his irises during his unfortunate “nuclear fire,” thus giving him a sort of zombieish blank stare. 

The optional uniform set for Doctor Isotope is practically a "must-have" for most fans and collectors. What a great look! (Photo: GIJCC)

The optional uniform set for Doctor Isotope is practically a “must-have” for most fans and collectors. And with KFG hands, he can actually hold both weapons. WOW! (Photo: GIJCC)

Of course, ol’ Doc wouldn’t strike much fear into our hearts if he ran around in his underwear all the time, so the club is also going to offer an optional uniform set (see photo above). As with past club figures, these optional outfits have ranged from ho-hum to neat-keeno, and this one looks like it will rank right up there at the top. Prices haven’t been announced, but according to the photo supplied by the club, you’ll receive a 2-piece silver radiation suit, pair of short black boots, goggles, gloves and twin “blasters.” According to the official press release from the club:

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“This will be the first ever 12″ GIjOE action figure that will glow-in-the-dark! Doctor Isotope is a new adversary for the Adventure Team. Born from fires of a nuclear nightmare, he is bent on the destruction of the Adventure Team and anyone else who dares oppose him in his mad quest for power! His very touch is deadly as his blood boils with the power of the atom.”

CLUBlogo_blkBottom Line: It seems obvious (to us) that Doctor Isotope is a going to be a SMASH HIT with most members of the GIjOE club. We can already envision the wide variety of custom boxes, dioramas, and equipment additions being planned by customizers out there in Joe Land. If you’re not a member of the club, this may be a good time to join (HERE).

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Mysterious “Project: HERCULES” Excites Fans of 1:6 Scale Worldwide———Purpose of “X-1” Unknown

Due to a current news "black-out" and strictly enforced "no photos" policy recanted enacted by the ground crew at the Patches of Pride launch site, we're unable to bring you a better image of the upcoming "Project: HERCULES. Just WHAT are we looking at? The boys in our photo lab have done their best to clear up this image, taken last night in total darkness using a long-range telephoto lens and night-vision filter. The best consensus we can reach is that it appears to show some sort of canister, possibly a fire extinguisher and most likely, the helmet of the test pilot of the enigmatic "X-1." Unfortunately, we can't be sure of either assessment, but those are our best guesses. (Photo: TJR)

We’re in the Dark Due to a current news “black-out” and strictly enforced “no new photos” policy recently enacted by the ground crew over at the Patches of Pride launch site, we were unable to bring you a better image of their upcoming “Project: HERCULES than this. So… WHAT exactly are we looking at here? The boys in our photo lab have done their best to enhance and clean up this image. It was taken last night in total darkness using a long-range telephoto lens and night-vision filter, but the best consensus we could reach is that it appears to show some sort of spray canister, most probably a fire extinguisher and what looks like a flight helmet, quite possibly that of a test pilot of the mysterious “X-1.” This leads us to believe that whatever the X-1 may be, it’s operable at night, even in total darkness. Unfortunately, we can’t confirm any of these assessments at this time. (Photo: TJR)

A recently posted sign warns photographers to keep their lens caps on. ARGH! (Photo: Tracey Evans)

No Pictures! A recently posted sign warns news photographers approaching the Project: HERCULES launch site. (Photo: Tracey Evans)

Little more than a week away from its official “launch date” on December 22, 2014, a mysterious new product line is generating genuine intrigue and debate among fans of 12-inch action figures who are eager to learn the answers to its many secrets. Officially and enigmatically dubbed “Project: HERCULES” by its creators at 1:6 accessories manufacturer,  Patches of Pride (PoP), the specific nature and potential usage of the new line remains largely unknown and has actually puzzled fans of the renowned company— for almost 3 YEARS.

You read that right. After some digging, reporters here at The Joe Report discovered that the origin of Project: HERCULES actually dates back to 2011, when PoP first released a free, daily, online photo-comic entitled, “A Joe a Day” (AJAD). According to PoP company rep, Mark Otnes, the figures featured in the strip were his 7 original, childhood GIjOEs that had been stored in his brother’s home for over 40 years. After they’d been returned to Otnes (that year) over Christmas, “Mark’s Magnificent 7” were quickly reassigned as a time-travelling team of military heroes who join up with members of his Adventure Team and embark upon a cross-country road trip, all the while protecting the contents of The Commander’s mysterious briefcase, containing what is only known only as— “Project: HERCULES.”

In this frame from Mark Otnes' "A Joe a Day" photo-comic serial, the mysterious "football" briefcase contains the secrets and answers to the mysterious "Project: HERCULES." Unfortunately, the serial has not yet been concluded. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

What’s inside the “Football?” In this frame taken from Otnes’ “A Joe a Day” photo-comic serial, a briefcase known as the Commander’s “Football” containing top-secret materials related to the mysterious “Project: HERCULES” is removed from a team member’s backpack for examination. Unfortunately, the serial has yet to be concluded and the football’s contents remain unknown. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

While Otnes’ intriguing AJAD storyline has yet to be completed and hence, the exact nature and capabilities of Project: HERCULES are known to no other, it’s expected that the answers to many a fan’s questions will be revealed with the imminent release of these new PoP products. Suspense continues to build as the company’s “countdown” (to the product launch) continues, and a slow trickle of “sneak pics” make their way to eager fans trolling for clues over on PoP’s Facebook page (HERE) and/or VIP Customer Mailing List (HERE). With the release of each new tantalizing image, debate is stirred anew, resulting in heated conjecture among collectors, including the following:

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Renowned GIjOE collector and customizer, Angelo D'Annibale (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo D’Annibale

“I’m getting hopes up for some sort of helipad or jet pack. Can’t wait to see more!”Angelo D’Annibale

Kyle Knox (Photo: Kyle Knox)

Kyle Knox

“Driving me crazy! But I have an idea. A space capsule akin to NASA’s Orion.”
Kyle Knox

Lyle "Bigfoot" Button (Photo: Lyle Button)

Lyle “Bigfoot” Button

I was thinking some kind of unmanned drone, but now I’m not so sure.” —Lyle Button

Good ideas all, gentlemen! But we believe renowned GIjOE fan and collector, Scott Turnbull may have come closest to deciphering the various clues and “sneak pics” of Project: HERCULES with THIS intriguing supposition:

Scott Turnbill

Scott Turnbill

“Something tech-ish, I’m sure, which hits the sweet spots of my collections! Maybe a temporal experiment…”
Scott Turnbull

Bottom Line: We asked PoP’s secretive “Commander-in-Chief,” Mark Otnes, if he had any further comment regarding the upcoming Project: HERCULES, and he declined, citing his company’s official “news blackout” until December 22nd. Despite Otnes’ intransigence, we intend to forge ahead on this matter and promise to apprise our readership of any and all fresh intel as it becomes available. —Editor

Since last week, PoP has begun giving away free 1:1 scale "Project: HERCULES" t-shirts to lucky winners over on its fan page on Facebook HERE. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

FREE T’s! PoP has begun giving away free 1:1 scale Project: HERCULES “ground crew” t-shirts to lucky winners on its Facebook Fan Page. Wow! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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2002 G.I. Joe 10-Piece “Party Lights” Set Features “Real Action Detail” to Light Up Your Holidays!

Show us the Joe-Light! This new set of GIjOE-themed string-lights from "Partylights" is officially licensed by Hasbro and includes 4 soldiers, 5 logos, and 1 mini television. OOHrah! (Photo: ebay) Click to enlarge.

Show us the Joe-Light! This 2002 set of GIjOE-themed string-lights from “Brain Wave” was officially licensed by Hasbro and includes 4 soldiers, 5 logos, and 1 mini television. (Photo: ebay) Click to enlarge.

If you want to expand your string-lights or only want one of each, they're also sold in these basic 2-packs (no strings or bulbs). Simply snap them over an existing string-light and you're good to go. (Photo: ebay)

If you need to expand your string-lights or only wanted one of each, they’re also available in basic 2-packs (w/no strings or bulbs). Simply snap them together over any existing string-light and you’re good to go, Joe. (Photo: ebay) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: As GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary year draws to a close, fans are still looking for something…ANYTHING, to help them celebrate their favorite action heroes over the holiday season. Except for a very brief showing of 50th commemorative ornaments sold at select Hallmark stores, there has been very little to report. Fortunately, we think we’ve found a fairly cheap solution that could make many Joeheads happy again. Do you remember a set of fairly cheap string-lights created back in 2002 by the now-defunct “Brain-Wave” party-lights company? Well, a LOT of those sets are still around, still unopened, and still unsold.

Twelve years after their debut, many unsold sets are now finding their way back onto the secondary market, and the prices are still very reasonable (just $14 to $17 per set, typically). If you’ve never picked one up before, this might be just the thing to raise your “Joe Spirits” this Christmas. They can be used to decorate a space in your office, light up a Christmas tree or even provide some vintage logo illumination for a “Joe Room” display case. Remember, they’re available two ways: as a 10-piece set (see photo above) and in small “light cover” 2-packs (see photo at right). We did a quick search and found both versions for sale over on ebay (today), but as with all GIjOE-related product-hunts, patience and persistence are watch-words to live by. Good luck and Best Wishes!

The back panel of the package reveals how the lights are strung together. Pretty cool! (Photo: ebay)

The back panel of the package reveals how the GIjOE lights look once they’re strung together and lists other toy brands that Brain Wave produced. Pretty cool! (Photo: ebay) Click to enlarge.

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73 Years Ago Today, Japanese Sneak Attack at Pearl Harbor, HI, Kills 2,403 U.S. Servicemen

Battleship USS West Virginia sunk and burning at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. In background is the battleship USS Tennessee.

After being struck by 7 Japanese torpedoes, the Battleship USS West Virginia burns and then sinks during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Punch Bowl National Cemetery, Oahu, HI. (Photo:  Pestovich)

Victims not on the USS Arizona were interred at Punch Bowl National Cemetery, Oahu, HI. (Photo: Pestovich)

Bottom Line: Rest assured, we will never forget. In addition to the 2,403 U.S. servicemen who were killed on this day in 1941, another 1,178 were wounded. 68 American civilians were killed as well, and another 35 wounded. As members of that “greatest generation” continue to pass away, the responsibility to honor their sacrifice and remember and retell the events of that terrible day has fallen to subsequent generations. So, if you haven’t already, please take a moment to explain the importance of Pearl Harbor to your children, many of whom may never learn about it in school (you’d be surprised). While you’re at it, please thank an active-duty serviceman or woman you may know for everything that they do now, or have done in the past, in service to our country.

inmemoriam2

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Whoosh! UK TV Show, “James May’s Toy Stories” (on BBC2), Will Attempt to Fly a 1:6 Scale Action Man Astronaut Faster Than the Speed of Sound in New Episode to Air This Christmas Day, 2014!

British TV celebrity, James May, poses alongside a clear rocket containing an Action Man astronaut in this publicity still promoting an upcoming episode of his show, "James May's Toy Stories." (Photo: BBC)

British TV celebrity, James May, looks on admiringly at a clear model rocket (missile?) containing one very brave, 1970s-vintage, Action Man astronaut in an intriguing publicity still promoting an upcoming episode of “James May’s Toy Stories,” scheduled to air on Christmas Day, 2014. (Photo: BBC2)

bbc 2If you mention the name James May, or his television show, “James May’s Toy Stories” (JMTS), to viewers here in the U.S., you’ll most likely just get a blank stare in return. But that should be expected. Since its debut in 2009, the British show has only produced 9 episodes. And when it does finally air, the shows are shown only in Britain and Europe on BBC Two. Nonetheless, GIjOE, Falcon, Geyperman and Action Man fans around the world should all now start paying attention to May’s hour-long odes to toys, because his upcoming 10th episode is intriguingly titled “Action Man at the Speed of Sound.” As its title implies, this particular episode features numerous examples of UK’s favorite 12-inch action hero participating in efforts to launch a 1:6 scale astronaut into the upper atmosphere—BREAK the sound barrier—and then return safely to Earth. Can it be done? SHOULD it be done? You’ll need to tune in this Christmas day (2014) to find out. Whoosh!!!

Don't try and tell them where the explosive bolts go, or that they're just going to go along for the ride. In this scene from "The Right Stuff," actors recreate one of many serious conversations astronauts held with NASA engineers regarding the construction and design of the Mercury and Gemini space capsules. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Don’t tell them where the explosive hatch bolts should go, or that they’re just “going along for the ride.” In this scene from “The Right Stuff,” actors recreate a disagreement the real “Mercury Seven” astronauts had with NASA engineers regarding the construction and design of their space capsules. Will Action Man get a similar chance to speak up during his own pre-flight briefing? Let’s hope so. Especially if he turns out to be a “Talking” Astronaut. Just pull that string, James! (Photo: Wikipedia)

12-inch GIjOEs have been launched into the upper atmosphere many times, most famously as "Mercury Joe" (shown above). (Photo: Mercury Joe)

Boldly demonstrating that they possess “the right stuff,” 12-inch GIjOEs have been launched into Earth’s upper atmosphere MANY times, most regularly, repeatedly and famously as “Mercury Joe” (shown above). MJ even has his own Facebook fan page now. WOW! (Photo: Mercury Joe)

1:6 Scale “Right Stuff” Action Figures

The concept of May’s upcoming episode of JMTS is very exciting. It instantly reminded us of one of America’s most famous space-related movies, The Right Stuff, and of GIjOE’s own trips into the upper atmosphere as the now-famous Mercury JoeWhile few of us will ever experience the thrill of being a real-life test pilot or astronaut, the possibility of 1:6 hobbyists sending their own action figures into the great beyond is something which we can all reasonably now attempt. (See below.)

The original promotion graphic used by BBC2 to "enlist" 1:6 scale volunteers for May's dangerous spaceflights. (Graphic: BBC2)

Stay Calm and Fly High! The original promotion graphic used by BBC2 to “enlist” 1:6 scale volunteers for May’s risky JMTS spaceflights. (Graphic: BBC2)

Anti-Action Man Bias Evident in Unusual BBC Two Press Release

May’s “Action Man at the Speed of Sound” JMTS episode is part of a big holiday programming blitz by BBC2. You’d think they’d want to stir up good feelings of anticipation for the show, but in a strangely worded press release, (for whatever reason), someone over in the promotions department at BBC2 clumsily did the exact opposite. In a surprising display of “anti-Action Man” bias, their harshly worded pre-show announcement openly derides and mocks UK’s most famous 12-inch action hero. It’s not funny. Or clever. It just comes across as “mean.” Here it is in its complete, original format (key derogatory phrases bolded for emphasis):

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BBC2 TV personality, James May, buying Alan Hall’s Action Man Guides at Birmingham NEC 2013. (Photo: Stephen Lees)

“In perhaps the most challenging ‘Toy Stories’ so far, James May attempts to rehabilitate one of Britain’s most derided toys by seeing if it’s possible for Action Man to do what no toy has ever managed—travel faster than the speed of sound. For decades, Action Man, despite his name, has been a disappointment. He promised so much with his eagle eyes, his gripping hands and his natty outfits. But what has he ever achieved? Nothing….yet.After half a century lazing around the back of the toy cupboard, he must prove that he has The Right Stuff, redeem his shattered reputation and boldly go where no Toy has gone before. The challenge is daunting. Breaking the sound barrier and returning Action Man safely to the earth will test James and the team to the limit. In an action-packed series of attempts, James battles high-speed physics, unforeseen explosions and catastrophic design setbacks that account for a large number of Action Man volunteers before settling on an experimental supersonic vehicle made entirely from scratch—a vehicle that threatens to send Action Man and the team into oblivion. In a gripping final act, Action Man must not only succeed and survive intact—but go faster and higher than a rival supersonic attempt led by his arch nemesis: Sindy. Will Action Man redeem himself? Will he survive Mach 1? Or will he lose out to a doll?”

Wow. Odd language, indeed. We’re not sure if BBC2’s oddly worded press release will succeed in increasing the show’s viewership or ratings, but it will undoubtedly succeed in raising the hackles and stirring the ire of millions of Action Man fans around the world. “One of Britain’s most derided toys?” Since when is that the case? And that “what has he ever achieved? Nothing” line? Please! Action Man’s popularity and achievements as a toy line stand him head and shoulders above his competition. Whoever wrote that pile of PR tripe should get his (or her) head out from under their Cabbage Patch doll sunbonnet and smell the REALITY of 1:6 heroism—Action Man!

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Steve Before Mission

Don’t let his “ordinary” face fool you. This unique Action Man figure is none other than Daniel Smart’s “Steve,” pausing to offer his owner one final salute before leaving on his dangerous mission into the stratosphere and subsequent appearance on James May’s Toy Stories.  (Photo: Daniel Smart)

Intriguingly, it appears that one of our very own intrepid UK Field Reporters, Daniel Smart, may have also played a vital role in this exciting, new television production. According to a recent “behind-the-scenes” intel report filed by Smart exclusively with (and for) The Joe Report:

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Daniel Smart, UK Action Man collector (Photo: Daniel Smart)

Daniel Smart, UK Action Man collector (Photo: Daniel Smart)

“Back in March 2014, I was contacted by an editor friend of mine and was told that James May’s Researcher Tom Harris and James would be at the Birmingham NEC Toy Show on 20th April 2014 and would like to meet me and ask if I had an Action Man that would like to take part in a special adventure. I already knew that Mike Rees (aka Action Burt) was to be there and Craig Crane (Doublecee) was involved in some way. So, off I went with my childhood figure ‘Steve.’ I met May and his production team, handed Steve over and did a few short interviews with him which were filmed for (possible use in) the program.”

Daniel Smart Handing Over Steve to James May at Birmingham NEC Toy Fair April 20th 2013

Daniel Smart hands over “Steve” to James May at the Birmingham NEC Toy Fair on April 20, 2014. Smart wouldn’t see Steve again until November and won’t learn until December 25th exactly how his childhood Action Man was used on May’s TV show. Did “Steve” break the sound barrier? (Photo: Daniel Smart)

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“James explained to me that Action Man was going to attempt to break the sound barrier and travel at supersonic speed! Everyone was being quite tight-lipped about how this was all going to take place and I was only told that my ‘Steve’ was just one of many who had volunteered for the exciting mission. Some of the figures would be ‘test pilots,’ but only ONE would make that special journey and cement his reputation as the ‘Greatest Hero’ of them all. I was told that all that took part would receive a free 1:6 overall and snazzy new flock job, but also that it couldn’t be guaranteed that my Steve would even make it back.”

Birmingham Nec 20th April 2013

The enduring and ongoing popularity of Action Man was apparent by the crowded Birmingham NEC held recently in the UK. Why BBC2’s PR department chose to describe the toy line as a “disappointment” that had “lazed around” and never achieved anything is beyond our understanding. (Photo: Stephen Lees)

Daniel Smart's "Steve" was returned to him safe and sound, sporting a brand-new flocking 'do featuring some WILD mutton-chop sideburns. (Photo: Daniel Smart)

Daniel Smart’s “Steve” was returned to him safe and sound, sporting a brand-new flocking ‘do featuring some WILD mutton-chop sideburns. (Photo: Daniel Smart) Click to enlarge.

malecomment“It would be great if my childhood Action Man was chosen, but deep down I secretly want Action Burt’s ‘Stuntman Extraordinaire’ to be chosen as the natural (and right) choice. Fortunately, after filming, I received Steve back in the post last week, sporting a new head of flocked hair. But the note from James only said, ‘Thank you for the loan of Steve. He has now been discharged from duty.’ The show will air on UK’s BBC2 on Christmas Day at 5.10pm. How exciting! It’s the best Christmas present I could hope for!” —Daniel Smart, UK

Action Burt Stuntman Extrodinaire

Action Burt’s Stuntman Extraordinaire certainly looks like he could stand up to all those g-forces. WOW! We wonder…was HE chosen to break the sound barrier? Or Smart’s “Steve?” (Photo: Daniel Smart)

Bottom Line: Regardless of how May’s attempt to propel Action Man faster than the speed of sound plays out, his December 25th episode (watch it HERE) is undeniably a program all GIjOE and Action Man fans will enjoy. Fortunately, 1:6ers around the world can catch other JMTS episodes HERE on Hulu—also for FREE. Our sincerest thanks to Daniel Smart for all his exclusive pre-show intel. We wish him and “Steve” all the best in their future adventures together. Go, Action Man!

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G.I. Joe and Jem Appear Together For Second Time in New “Fa La La La Love” Honda TV Commercial

Bottom Line: Despite Hasbro “deep-sixing” our favorite 1:6 scale action hero, GIjOE is clearly, a long way from being retired as an American icon. In a second TV commercial in as many months, Adventurer Joe and his hot date, Jem, are featured together (again) in a new 30-second TV spot for Honda automobiles. This time, Joe is clearly the star, singing, dancing and kung-fuing his way into Jem’s heart. Our only beef? The animators took the quick-n-easy way out when animating his mouth in this spot, utilizing what looks like a simple, cut-out paper mouth stuck onto Joe’s face. The result is cheap and “fake” looking. Otherwise, this spot is terrific fun to watch. Enjoy!

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