Today, we turn over the reins of The Joe Report to Marten Jallad, a longtime member of the Atlanta GIjOE Collector’s Club and one of the chief organizers of its upcoming Joelanta GIjOE and Action Figure Show (being held in Atlanta, GA, this coming March 13, 14 and 15th). Today, Marten’s going to reflect on the origins and history behind this incredibly popular GIjOE event. Take it away, Marten!
The History of Joelanta
by Marten Jallad, 2/27/15
Why start a toy show anyway?
Well, back around the late 1990s, GI Joe fans Buddy Finethy and Brian Becker realized that there must be more than just buying GI Joes off the shelves, so they decided to start the Atlanta GI Joe Club. By setting up at local toy shows and word of mouth, membership grew. Buddy also realized that so many of the local members may never be able to have the ability to attend one of the yearly national shows, so together with Jim Marianetti and Lanny Lathem they put on the very first Joelanta in May of 2001.
I don’t think that any of us who have been involved actively in its organization or who have attended as a patron every year could have ever imagined what the event would grow to become. Joelanta has not only grown to be the largest one sixth scale vintage GI Joe show in the country, but now it offers so much more. For example:
The Joelanta Film Festival
The Cursed Chest from artist Adam Hughes was one of the first entries into what has become the Joelanta Film Festival. Each year, many (often hilarious) action figure fan films are submitted and shown at the show. Some favorites including 2006 winner Plastic Chef and All My Li’l Ninjas (shown above) by Jack Walsh. Government Issue Joseph episode #20, The Revenge of Sarah, films from Tim Weedn, Mike Trout and countless more. One year, we even debuted a seldom seen (ahead of their time) show called Pak Rats, that featured both Buddy’s and David’s collections!
E.J. White’s World Famous Lobby Swap
You really have to experience this in person to see what all the fuss is about, but I’ll try and describe the event. As the momentum builds on Friday, as folks who have purchased Commander’s packages prepare for registration, the excitement is palpable. Everyone wants to start buying toys! Around 6pm-ish, all Commanders and dealers will start to bring down a tub of stuff for sale—and it begins! As the MC, EJ (one of Joelanta’s original members and founder of this event) will open the Lobby Swap up. Some dealers will set up displays in their room and make $1000’s before the show even starts. The event has spurned a couple a couple of T-shirts and Lobby Swap tote bags. This year, EJ is cooking up something extra special with a very limited run (20) Lobby Swap exclusive figures. (You may want to get on the list for this one!)
The Joelanta Parachute Drop
The parachute drop is a MARVEL as the atrium turns into this huge frenzy of kids of all ages hurling their favorite Joes off any one of the 15 floors. It’s always fun to see the reaction of other hotel guests as they observe in amazement at the spectacle. Everyone is always holding their breath that none of the parachutes will fall down the elevator shaft, which a number of them have over the years (see 2012’s video below).
The Radio Cult Concert
There’s nothing like enjoying great music with your friends but that gets even better when your friends become part of the act. There’s always a rendition of Crocodile Rock by Captain Fantastic himself Mr E.J. White or David Lane and Mike Gardner jamming out, Don Coffee belting out Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” We really didn’t know how it would go over the first time but everyone had such a great time that it has now become a mainstay event .
Joelanta’s Custom Figure, Vehicle and Diorama Contests (with PRIZES!)
There has been such an amazing array of talented creators over the years and although largely one sixth scale, a surprising variety of items have been featured recently including some amazing Monster High customs. This part of the show is growing and we will be displaying all of this year’s entries in their own room for Joelanta 2015.
Joelanta’s Annual “Large Diorama”
Steve Bugg, Mike Gardner, Caleb Brown and Eric Nowles have been wowing the crowd with such notable dioramas as The Battle of Stalingrad, Wild West Ghost Town, a War of the Worlds-inspired Martian Walker, a Medieval Castle with a battle between knights and a skeleton army, Frankenstein’s Windmill, a Civil War train called “The General,” and the list just goes on and on. These spectacular dioramas are one of the main reasons why the show has become a leading supporter of the Cody Lane Foundation, a 501©3 non- profit organization with an ultimate goal of having a Toy and Diorama museum to preserve and share these magnificent works of art. The creators of these works also host special panel discussions to reveal their building and customizing “secrets” and answer questions from fans interested in building their own 1:6 scale dioramas.
The heart of Joelanta is—and will always be—the camaraderie between all the folks who come from all over the country to visit with friends. Joelanta has become one large family gathering that continues to grow with new members, as the show has now morphed with the addition of The Great Atlanta Toy Convention to include special guests, a pop culture car show and many special panels throughout Saturday and Sunday. For more information, please visit www.joelanta.org and like us on Facebook at Joelanta and The Great Atlanta Toy Convention HERE. Thanks—and GO JOE! —Marten Jallad
Bottom Line: We’d like to thank Marten for providing all the text and intel for this article and for all the hard work he continues to put into organizing and hosting Joelanta. A quick shout-out of thanks should also go to Jim Marianetti, Lanny Lathem, Buddy Finethy, David Lane and all of the other wonderful members (and families) of the Atlanta GIjOE Collector’s Club. Without their combined efforts, hard work, volunteer spirit and gung-ho enthusiasm, there would be no Joelanta. You’re all the BEST!