Monthly Archives: March 2018

Hobbico Pre-Auction Stunner—Cross-Town Competitor Horizon Hobby Declares It Will Purchase Major Assets of Struggling RC Co.

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Meet the New BMOC in RC—Horizon Hobby. (Photo: Cameron Suhadolnik)

If Successful, “Purchase Would Close on April 6”

In a quick follow-up to our previous post about the fall of Hobbico, one of its main RC industry competitors, cross-town rival, Horizon Hobby, has made a substantial offer that may pave the road to Hobbico’s final financial destination. According to Ben Zigterman of the News-Gazette:

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Ben Zigterman, reporter for the News-Gazette (Photo: Ben Zigterman)

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“CHAMPAIGN — Hobby-product distributor Hobbico has found a buyer for its remote-control business: cross-town competitor Horizon Hobby. Horizon Hobby has agreed to buy several units of Hobbico for a combined $18.8 million…‘We believe this transaction, if completed, will further strengthen Horizon’s position as the market-leader in the RC industry,’ Horizon Hobby President and CEO Joe Ambrose said in a statement. ‘Horizon and Hobbico have served many of the same retailers and customers for years. Upon completion of this transaction, Horizon will work to provide a smooth transition within the industry.’ If completed, Horizon will be buying Hobbico’s Great Planes and Tower Hobbies divisions, as well as brands including Axial and Arrma. Hobbico had been asking for at least $22 million for these companies. The purchase won’t include Estes, United Model, Revell US or Revell Germany.

Additionally, ‘Horizon will not be assuming any of Hobbico’s debts or other liabilities in this transaction,’ Ambrose said. Following the auction, where Horizon would be the stalking-horse bidder, the purchase would close April 6. With a stalking-horse bid, the potential purchasers essentially set the floor bid of the auction in exchange for certain protections. If Horizon isn’t the successful bidder, it will receive a break-up fee of 3% of its base bid, or $540,000.”

Bottom Line: Once all of the auctioneering and legal “smoke” has finally cleared, it appears certain that Horizon Hobby will emerge the only so-called “winner” in this calamitous scenario. Hobbico was asking for $22 million, but $18.8 million comes pretty close. After the sale closes on April 6th, Horizon assumes the mantle of BMOC (Big Man on Campus) among all remaining companies in the RC hobby’s industrial complex. A big shout-out of THANKS to Ben Zigterman for his excellent reportage on this story. And we’d also like to wish everyone at Hobbico and Horizon all the best and sincerely hope that Hobbico is the LAST major (toy-related) company “domino” to fall.

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This is Gunna Be BRUTAL—The Hard Truths & Facts Behind the Demise of Retailing Giant, Toy’s ‘R Us

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In a fictional parallel to the real-world woes currently facing 31,000 Toys ‘R Us employees, Jack Nicholson’s character in the film, Broadcast News (1987), waits and watches, while all around him, fellow co-workers receive their pink slips during a company-wide, mass layoff. (Photo: 20thCF)

Bottom Line: Today, we’re keeping it VERY simple and jumping straight to the “bottom line.” Here then, is the so-called, “red ink,” regarding the harsh facts and realities of this sad event (as they are currently known to us) according to a story today on CNN:

  1. The news that Toys “R” Us is closing might conjure up wistful childhood memories for shoppers. But for the chain’s 31,000 U.S. employees, it means they’re out of a job.

  2. Mass layoffs are usually softened with a severance package, but Toys “R” Us employees won’t get any because of bankruptcy laws. They will get benefits such as health insurance and matching 401(k) payments from the company.

  3. Workers were promised 60 days pay, which is required under federal law, and they’ll receive that pay even if they don’t work the full two months.

  4. Traditional retailers are on the ropes, with a record 7,000 stores closing last year, according to Coresight Research. That’s more than triple the number of closings in 2016.
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Dance, Action Man, Dance—New Commercial for UK’s “Money Super Market” is Absolutely “EPIC!”

In yet another superb “sighting” of GIjOE and Action Man in the “mainstream media,” UK’s “MoneySuperMarket” website has just aired a brand-new TV commercial for its business—starring—the many and varied heroes of the vintage Action Man toy line-up. There’s even a ’60s Barbie “Action Girl” thrown in for good measure. According to an article over on the Campaign website:

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“The latest ad in MoneySuperMarket.com’s epic campaign stars Action Man. The Hasbro action figure is so overcome by his savings from Moneysupermarket that he rallies the troops to dance in the desert, even stripping down to his blue underpants. The ad is set to ‘90s classic ‘Finally’ by CeCe Peniston. It was created by Mother, the brand’s outgoing agency – and the joyful creativity of the spot makes it even more bittersweet that the two are parting ways.”  

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Jazz Hands!— Instead of a “Kung-Fu Grip,” this Action Man soldier shows viewers what his computer-animated “jazz hands” can do, while striking a pose on the main contents page of the UK “MoneySuperMarket” website. Out-STANDING! (Photo: MSM) Click to enlarge.

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“I’ll put you right through, sir!”—Characters from the TV commercial also appear throughout the MoneySuperMarket website, such as British Barbie (shown above) fielding incoming messages from prospective customers. Blimey, how great is THIS? (Photo: MSM) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: This new commercial is without a doubt the most advanced combination of stop-motion and computer animation since GIjOE’s last appearance in a superb (2016) TV commercial for Subaru (see HERE). Who knew Action Man was so good at dance choreography? It’s time to get out some of your figures and “Pump up the JAMS!” Enjoy!

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Selling “All Assets” to Highest Bidder—Hobbico Prepares to Take the Next (and Saddest) Step in its Own Arduous Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Proceedings

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It’s Hammer Time!— Everything at Hobbico must GO, and go it shall, to the highest bidder at an auction being held March 29th in Chicago. Will the RC giant survive? (Photo: auctionclipart.com)

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Picking up the Pieces— What will remain for RC fans after Hobbico’s demise? Repairing a crashed 1:6 scale RC vehicle or plane may get a LOT more expensive once the company has liquidated all of its assets and parts become scarce. (Photo: rcplanecrashes.com)

While news of the imminent collapse of Toys ‘R Us continues to dominate national news headlines, another more local, but no less important story, is shaking fans and collectors of 1:6 scale RC aircraft and vehicles to their very core. We’re talking again, of course, about the upcoming demise of Hobbico, (formerly) one of the RC hobby’s leading manufacturers and distributors. Hobbico’s troubles hit very “close to home” around here. That’s because they’re headquartered just a few miles up the road from our offices here in central Illinois, Champaign-Urbana (C-U) to be exact. As such, we see and hear news that is related to Hobbico probably a little more often than the rest of the country, but the impending loss of ANY 1:6 scale product manufacturer—and employer—will undoubtedly send economic “ripple effects” outside of our local community, into the worldwide “toy economy” as well. Today’s updates come to us from News-Gazette reporter, Ben Zigterman, who provides the following intel on the company’s upcoming liquidation auction:

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Ben Zigterman, reporter for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette (Photo: Ben Zigterman)

“Having filed for bankruptcy protection in January, Hobbico plans to auction its assets March 26 in Chicago in a bid to find a buyer. The hobby-product distributor, which employs more than 300 people in the county, placed ads Wednesday in The News-Gazette and USA Today with notices of the auction, as required by the bankruptcy process. In the past couple days, former employees also told The News-Gazette they had received notices about the auction, which will be followed by a hearing on March 28. When Hobbico filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it said it had added too much debt and faced ‘an increasingly competitive industry, market headwinds and a series of one-off events with key suppliers.’ It also said that it had an estimated 200 to 999 creditors, $10 million to $50 million in assets, and $100 million to $500 million in liabilities. In recent court documents, Hobbico also indicated it had $114 million in revenue in 2017, down from $175 million in 2016. Hobbico asked for a minimum bid for all the assets at $38 million, or less than that for different parts of the business, according to court documents.”

hobbicologoBottom Line: This latest, saddest phase of Hobbico’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy saga parallels the similar travails currently going on at Toys ‘R Us, which is unsettling to many, to say the least. The March 26 auction up in Chicago will completely hand the reins of Hobbico over to whomever (or whatever) “new ownership” may step in, and those new owners must then decide the fates of hundreds of hard-working employees and what—if anything—can (and will) be done to keep the company afloat.

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Hot Pics!—March 2018 Issue of G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Newsletter Reveals Images of Their Upcoming “B&W TV Edition” Club Figures and JoeCon 2018’s “Green Beret Machine Gun Outpost” 2-Figure Set

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FIRST Look at the Club’s “LAST” 12-Inch Set?— This image is the first pic released by the GIjOE Collector’s Club that reveals (some) of the artwork that will adorn the boxes of their upcoming 2-figure 12″ exclusive set created for attendees of JoeCon 2018. As usual, this military masterpiece comes to fans hot off the easel of “Classic Collection” maestro, Larry Selman. (Click to enlarge).

Lay Down Suppressing Fire!— This first pic from the cover of the March 2018 issue of the GIjOE Collector’s Club “Official Magazine” is one we’ve been waiting for for a lonnnng time. It’s Larry Selman’s latest (and perhaps FINAL) painting for a GIjOE product, the cover art for the “Green Beret Machine Gun Outpost” 12″ figure set to be released this coming June at JoeCon 2018 in Chattanooga, TN. As we expected, the artwork ROCKS and the two Special Forces soldiers shown are clearly “in it” and fighting for their lives defending their sandbag-ringed outpost. If you look carefully, you’ll get a pretty good idea of all the equipment that will included in this set. HOO-ah!

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Completely Black-n-White (Almost)— Is it really, physically possible to create ALL of these figures and ALL of their equipment SOLELY in black and white shades and hues? The ad copy above states this is a “color image,” and we do indeed seem to detect a faint tinge of green in the skin-tone of a couple of the figures. The copy also states that these are “preproduction figures,” so let’s hope this issue is corrected before the final figures are made. We wouldn’t want our action soldiers and marines to look queasy, now would we? (Unless they “glow-in-the-dark!”) (Photo: GIJCC) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: If this really is the final year (and final convention) for the GIJCC, then it appears they intend to go out BIG TIME with some truly collectible products. Hopefully, any color or tonal imperfections in the plastics and other materials can be worked out before the “B&W TV Editions” are released. We can’t wait to see more pics of the Green Beret set’s box and contents, either. We’re sure it’ll all look AMAZING. Stay tuned for additional intel as it becomes available.

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A Real Pain in the Wallet—Hasbro and Mattel’s Stock Values Take Immediate Hit After News of Toys ‘R Us’ Imminent Liquidation Announced

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Stop the Madness— It’s like dominos—If Toys ‘R Us fails or “falls down,” then toy manufacturers too, may begin to fall—like dominos. And if that actually happens, we’ll all have to start buying those wooden “educational toys” peddled at local farmer’s markets. Oh, nooooo!!! (Graphic: dreamtime)

And so it begins— Yesterday’s news of Toys ‘R Us “facing its finality” sent immediate shockwaves throughout the toy industry, reflected most clearly by a corresponding drop in both Hasbro and Mattel’s share values. Hasbro survived yesterday’s economic “ripple effects” better than Mattel, dropping -2.06%, while Mattel fell a whopping -7.11%—in just 1 day! According to MarketWatch: 

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“Mattel’s stock has tumbled 36.6% over the past 12 months and Hasbro shares have lost 4.1%, while the S&P has gained 15.8%.”

Bottom Line: Ouch. Anyway we look at it, while the economy and stock markets continue to perform strongly, the toy industry is now officially headed in the other direction. Fortunately for both Hasbro and Mattel, the stock market closes today at 1PM, hopefully shielding them from any further losses—at least until Monday. Stay tuned. We may need to revisit this topic frequently.

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Toys ‘R Us Preparing to Call it Quits in the U.S. Toy Business—Complete U.S. Liquidation Coming Soon

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If every one of his stores close, Toys ‘R’ Us’ mascot, “Geoffrey” may soon be a homeless company mascot. (Graphic: Toys ‘R’ Us)

Attempts to “Find a Buyer” Evaporated

Prepare for the end, boys and girls…

It appears that Toy’s ‘R Us (TRU) has failed in its ongoing efforts to restructure its debt and will be forced into complete liquidation of its assets as early as next week. This will include the closing and selling off of its entire chain of U.S. retail stores. The profound economic “ripple effects” that will occur are sure to hit toy manufacturers hard, as well as an untold number of smaller toy companies and distributors. According to today’s article in the UK’s Daily Mail:

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“It’s anticipated that toy manufacturers will suffer if Toys ‘R’ Us does liquidate in the U.S., as the company accounts for about 15 per cent of American toy sales. In addition, Toys ‘R’ Us was known for giving small companies and new products a chance, whereas other toy-selling retailers, such as Walmart and Target, prefer to go with tried-and-true merchandise.” —UK Daily Mail

Bottom Line: There’s not much more we can say on this matter at this point. Toy fans around the U.S. are surely aghast at the prospect of losing ALL of its Toy’s ‘R Us stores. We thought at least a few would remain open, but that appears to be wishful thinking on our part. If you’d like to read the entire article in today’s UK Daily Mail, jump HERE now.

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The Future of Toymaking?—Hasbro’s New “HasLab” Crowdsourcing Initiative Attempts to Raise Funds For Production of Star Wars’ “Jabba’s Sail Barge”

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Will They Succeed?— This computer-rendering of HasLab’s (first-ever) crowdsourced toy project, “Jabba’s Sail Barge,” reveals the incredible potential for similar collector-driven toy projects in the future. But questions remain: Will HasLab succeed? Is crowdsourcing the future of toy production? Will fans be able to sustain “toys” that costs them $500 a pop? (Photo: HasLab) Click to enlarge.

In what may be the clearest view yet of toy-making’s future, Hasbro has just launched its new “HasLab” crowdsourcing initiative. The goal of this particular collector-funded toy project will be to locate and sign up at least 5,000 fans who are willing to pony up $500 each for an exclusive, 4-foot long (compatible w/3.75″ figures) “Jabba’s Sail Barge” from Star Wars. A prototype shown at Toy Fair and all of the computer renderings online look absolutely GORGEOUS. If Star Wars toys are your thing, you should watch HasLab’s customer recruitment video shown below.

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Aiming High— HasLab’s new business model may reflect the future of “high-end” collectible toy production. The potential for such crowdsourced toys would seem to be sky-high. (Photo: JpM)

haslablogoBottom Line: If this approach to “high-end” toy production is successful for Hasbro, you can expect to see similar efforts forthcoming from other toy manufacturers in the future. Perhaps Hasbro would even consider creating something new, big and amazing for 12″ GIjOEs? How about an updated, more realistic version of a 1:6 scale USAF Crash Crew Truck? Joe fans can dream, too!

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Hasbro Bluntly Urges its Loyalest Customers to “Ditch the Digital Distractions” (and Return to Toys) in Mass E-mail Promotion Released Today

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How to Help Hasbro Stem the Flow—In this screenshot (taken today) of our email “inbox,” the subject heading of Hasbro’s most recent mass emailing urges consumers to “Ditch the digital distractions.” Digital devices such as cell phones and video games are a growing threat to an already beleaguered toy industry. This latest plea from Hasbro appears to confirm that fact. Click to enlarge.

An Open Admission of a Major Threat to a Struggling Toy Industry

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“Ditch the digital distractions.”

Those four powerful words are actually quite revelatory coming from a company like Hasbro. Giant corporations that generate billions of dollars in sales—per year—typically want nothing more than to paint the rosiest of pictures (regarding their businesses) for their customers and of course, their stockholders. But for a few years now, toy industry analysts (including those here at The Joe Report) have been openly ruing and discussing how two specific inventions—the cell phone and the video game console—have largely been responsible for precipitating an industry-wide slump in toy sales; not to mention the bankruptcies and closings of major toy retailers (i.e. Toys ‘R Us, Hobbico, etc.) and the scariest thing of all—the growing LOSS of the toy industry’s  historically primary customer base—CHILDREN. Yes indeed, those are four POWERFUL words.

One BIG Question Remains—Will Children “Tune Out” of Toy Fandom FOREVER?

Remember the days when toy companies simply had to urge us to “Collect ’em All!” and we’d frantically beat a path to our local toy store to comply? Sure ’nuff! And growing up, we’d watch all of those Hasbro and Mattel commercials on TV, see their products displayed in store windows, and peruse their ads in endless pages of comic books. By the time we’d finally convinced our parents to take us to the toy store, our desires had become almost Pavlovian. See the toy—want the toy. Remember the mad scrambles over Cabbage Patch Dolls back in the 1980s? The idea of that sort of consumer “scrum” over ANY toy today seems almost quaint. It’s just not likely to happen.

Forgotten how to PLAY? (Photo: The Finder)

Bottom Line: This latest email from Hasbro may be nothing—or it may be something. How’s that for a wishy-washy conclusion? Regardless, we’re sure that the “big boys” over at both Hasbro and Mattel would be THRILLED to see some of that ol’ “rabid” consumer interest in their products once again. But thanks to today’s dreaded digital distractions, that sort of mania doesn’t seem likely to happen ever again. In fact, the current, ongoing, DECREASING demand for nearly all categories and brands of toys continues to paint a gloomy (rather than rosy) picture for the industry. It clearly has MANY manufacturers worried (see our previous story HERE). Fingers crossed for better news!

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Customizers of 1:6 Scale Vehicles Now Utilizing “Shapeways” 3-D Printing Services to Recreate Lost, Broken or Missing Original Vintage Parts

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Missing Parts be Damned— As the newly 3-D printed missile launchers of Gary Stair’s vintage 1960s “Silver Streak” vehicle clearly prove, the ability to recreate broken or missing parts of vintage toys has DEFINITELY arrived. Out-STANDING work, Shapeways! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge.

We’ve covered this topic before, and we’ll cover it again—because 3-D printing ROCKS! Wassamatta, Joe? Can’t you find that rare, missing, or broken piece of your classic GIjOE or other vintage toy? Well, fear NOT, my friend. Nowadays, thanks to the modern-day miracles of 3DP, you can simply MAKE ONE YOURSELF (see our previous article HERE). In further confirmation of the evolution of this exciting field of “amateur” toy creation, diehard customizer and revered TJR Field Reporter, Gary Stair, wrote in recently to describe a new 3DP project he had just completed for his beloved Captain Action “Silver Streak” vehicle. According to Mr. Stair:

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Toy collector and customizer, Gary Stair, PA. (Photo: Gary Stair)

 

“I bought the Captain Action Silver Streak vehicle many, many moons ago and have been searching for rockets and replacement launchers for it for some time. After reading about Wayne Faucher’s Bell jet pack / Shapeways article on the Joe Report HERE, it dawned on me one day—DUUHH—that I have the resources required to make all-new parts—with 3D printing!”

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We can rebuild them— Will 3D printing become a panacea for collectors of vintage toys, allowing them to replace or recreate ANYTHING they need? We think YES! (Photo: Gary Stair)

“I began by interviewing several designers and finally found one over in Australia who was up for the challenge. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a vintage Silver Streak rocket anywhere—and believe me I hunted. I wanted the designer to have an exact replica to work from. But in lieu of that, I emailed him a TON of photographs, and he was able to use them to figure out the (close to) exact measurements required to recreate a “non-firing” version.”

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99% Accurate, NON-FIRING— Gary’s new Silver Streak replacement parts do NOT come with a spring-loaded system that “fires” missiles off their launchers. but the shape, size and accuracy of these parts is—nonetheless—unbelievable. WOW! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge.

“Unlike the original versions, my new rockets do NOT fire. On the original vehicle, a spring came inserted in the rocket that would then lock onto the launcher. I wasn’t sure I wanted that level of liability yet—let me sell a few first—(LOL) so I went with a non-firing version. Regardless, overall, it is a near-perfect design and DOES fit PERFECTLY onto any original 1960s IDEAL Silver Streak Captain Action vehicle (as you can see in the photos).”

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Things of BEAUTY— Gary’s new 3D printed parts simply snap into place, perfectly replacing the original missing launchers and rockets. WHOOSH!!! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge.

“As for the Silver Streak’s LAUNCHERS, I did manage to locate some (broken) vintage ones, and sent those off to my designer in Australia, communicating via email every step of the way. And while this was an expensive project, the new 3-D printed parts from Shapeways came out GREAT. After I sell a couple on eBay HEREI may jump back in and work on a ‘firing version’ (with spring inserted), allowing the ‘2nd generation’ repro rockets to ‘hook’ onto their launchers.”

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Armed and Ready to do Battle with Dr. Evil— Superb! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge.

“Customizers can paint them silver (like the ZICA version) or blue (like the Ideal original) or ANY color to replace their missing launchers and rockets. It is amazing all of the things you can do with the 3D printing process. I’m not sure what I will create next (maybe the gear shifter?), but for now, it’s just great to know that we have the tools required to make replacement parts or create NEW parts for our 1:6 scale GI JOE, Action Man, Captain Action and other figures. What a great resource!”

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Big, Bad, and BEAUTIFUL— Say, who stuck those .50 cals on the front? (Photo: Gary Stair)

“Thanks again (and hats off) to the pioneers of 1:6 scale 3DP, Wayne Faucher, Sean Huxter and David Pruitt (see HERE) for showing all the rest of us “the way.” And a great big thank you to you too, Mark Otnes, for helping us all keep our 1:6 scale dreams alive. Go, Joe Report and Go, Patches of Pride!” —Gary Stair, PA

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Zoiks! It’s ZICA— The mini Silver Streak from ZICA Toys for 3.75″ figures. (Photo: ZICA)

Bottom Line: 3-D Printing is proving to be quite the boon for creative-thinking customizers and 1:6 scalers. A few years ago, “Super” Sean Huxter made some short videos demonstrating a couple of his new 3DP product ideas in prototype form (see below), proving that the potential for new GIjOE-related accessories appears to be practically limitless. Our sincerest thanks and best wishes go out to Gary Stair for all his generous help with this article and to the other “pioneers” of this new 1:6 scale field of expertise and endeavor. You guys are all the BEST!

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