“Wild” Bill Underwood, GIjOE and Action Man fan and collector (Photo courtesy: Bill Underwood)
By Bill Underwood
“In 1993, Hasbro re-launched Palitoy’s Action Man (AM) brand (the UK version of GI Joe) with a new body design that featured less articulation than the original figures from the vintage 1960s-70s era. Not surprisingly, many vintage 12” collectors were unimpressed by AM’s new heavily muscled body, oversized head and undersized feet. But kids seemed to like him and (those shortcomings aside) AM “soldiered on” nicely until 2006 – when the line was finally discontinued (again).
One of the more interesting chapters in this resurrected AM story was a limited-edition run of six James Bond AM figures inspired by the blockbuster films, including Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, GoldenEye, The World is Not Enough, and Tomorrow Never Dies. Each figure set features an Action Man suited up as 007 from one of the films—and Hasbro did a pretty decent job recreating the outfits.”
007s Out-of-the-Box Lineup— All six of the Action Man 007 figures proudly protect the fireplace mantle in Bill’s home from dastardly super-villains. Hot stuff! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
“My favorite is Bond’s Royal Navy (Blue # 1) dress uniform from You Only Live Twice. For the record, Commander Bond also donned this uniform for The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies. Hasbro also recreated some of the gear from these films—like Bond’s spear gun from Thunderball and the GoldenEye apparatus from the Pierce Brosnan film. The most impressive all-around set (for both outfit and gear) is The Spy Who Loved Me, with its near-perfect recreation of 007’s snow ski suit (and gear) from the film’s exciting opening sequence.” (see below)
He Must Ski to Live— In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond struggles to evade a passel of pursuing bad guys by out-skiing them down a treacherous mountain slope. Look at the fit, the color and the coordinated details of this outfit. We’d buy this RIGHT NOW! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
“The strongest feature of these sets is the packaging – which is simply OUTSTANDING. Each box features beautiful original art work with extras goodies inside, like scene storyboard cards and 35mm film cells taken from the movie. My greatest ‘complaint’ with these sets is the size of Bond’s Walther PPK. It’s just too big. Even for AM’s already meaty mitts. Fortunately, two of the Pierce Brosnan sets feature a different Walther model that fits more comfortably in his hands.”
The Right Gun for any Odd-Job— Fans of 007 know that Bond prefers certain weapons over others, so it’s important to nail those details. We DIG this headsculpt! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
“I understand that these sets weren’t highly coveted by vintage Action Man (VAM) collectors, and that’s a shame, because they’re really quite cool. Yes, we also know that in recent years, other companies have produced more impressive 1:6 Bond-inspired action figures (i.e. Sideshow and Big Chief); but while those sets are ultra-realistic, they’re also ultra-pricey. I have a warm spot for these AM Bonds by Hasbro. Maybe it’s the hybrid aspect that appeals to me—in that they’re not exclusively Action Man—or Bond. They’re both. Then again, maybe I just can’t resist anything that combines two of my favorite hobbies—collecting AM figures and watching Bond films!”
Mind-Blowing Boxes— Many GIjOE and AM collectors would love to pick up these 007 sets just for their unique and outstanding packaging. This superb one from Thunderball combines vintage ’60s artwork from the original movie poster (and soundtrack album) with all-new artwork from the ’90s, and it does it flawlessly. GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
“If you’re interested in picking up any of these bad boys (and who isn’t?), I would recommend lurking on eBay. Prices there have generally ranged from $35 to $60. One caveat though—if you purchase the Thunderball set (shown above and below) make sure that the rubber skindiving jacket is intact—BEFORE finalizing your purchase. The first set I picked up looked fine from the front, but (sadly) it was deteriorating in the back. Good luck AM and Bond fans—and Happy Hunting!” —Bill Underwood
Rubber Suit Awareness— Look out for dreaded “rubber rot” when picking up one of the Thunderball figure sets on eBay. This suit looks fine from the front, but… (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Movie Minutiae— Back panels of the boxes are crammed with movie trivia regarding each of the six sets, souvenir film clips, scene and figure pics, etc. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Box Me Up, Baby! This box gets our blood burnin’ for Bond! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
The skiing Bond figure out of the box and all set up. WOW! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Bond’s a Bad-A**!— And this Goldeneye box deserves a Gold medal for package design. And look— Hasbro added a GIjOE/Action Man scar to his cheek! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Lead will FLY— Tomorrow Never Dies was just one big shoot-out. Notice how in the artwork, Bond’s tuxedo is MUCH more form-fitting than its AM toy-version? We suggest you get out your needle and thread and get to work. Baggy jackets are NOT allowed. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Dressed to Impress (and to KILL)— Regardless of how he’s dressed, 007 is always ready to mete out justice to his enemies. Yes, by 2018 we’ve seen better suits, but this tuxedo is actually pretty nice and can always be “tailored” to improve its fit and appearance. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Nyet! Window Boxes are NOT Better, Comrade— Some of the AM Bond’s packages were relegated to less-collectible, standard window boxes that featured far less artwork and thus had far less shelf appeal. The unique Russian blue uniform on this Action Man has OODLES of customization potential, but this set’s plastic window box is boring and “toss-able.” (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Da!— The Russian-uniformed Bond inside the window-box package. Check out the highly detailed star patch and ID cards. VERY nice. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Bill’s Favorite Bond Figure— is the one from You Only Live Twice where 007 is dressed in his Royal Navy uniform as “Commander Bond.” Out-STANDING! Where else are you going to find a RN dress cap with all that detail? Sadly, Hasbro went with a window-box for this figure, cramming all the cool artwork off to the sides, making the package less exciting overall. But—the cap, uniform and figure, all make this unique set a definite “keeper” for your AM/Bond collection. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Welcome aboard, Commander Bond— This closeup of the AM Bond figure in his Royal Navy dress uniform and cap looks VERY cool. That cap is an EXCELLENT miniature replica of the real thing (note the crown above the anchor). A few minor tailoring adjustments to his uniform and this figure will soon be ready for a full-dress inspection. All hands on deck! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.
Open Wide, Mr. Bond— Another (big) advantage to full-box packaging is that its front flap opens up to provide MORE opportunities to display supporting graphics and text re: the figure and its contents. And that background behind the figure looks like a miniature diorama. VERY nice. Now THIS is the way to display a figure, NMIB. Be sure to click this pic for a closeup! (Photo: Bill Underwood)
Bottom Line: What FUN stuff. We’re big fans of Action Man and James Bond, so these figures are right up our collecting alley. Our sincerest thanks go out to Bill Underwood for all of his generous and wonderful help compiling the material for this article. You are the MAN, Bill! —The Editor
Melody Mooney in a posed studio portrait depicting her unforgettable (and squeaky-clean) superhero character, Hygena. (Photo: SyFy)
It seems like just yesterday, but Stan Lee’s wildly popular “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” reality-TV competition on the SyFy Channel actually ended back in 2007. Since that time, The Joe Report has done its best to keep up with the heroic cosplaying contestants who made their famous (and sometimes infamous) superhero debuts on that program. To date, we’ve published four exciting contestant interviews, and (when time permits) we hope to conduct even more. Until then, we’ll leave you with this quick compilation of the final thoughts of (some of) the heroes who’ve posted their thoughts and best wishes for ol’ Stan to read during his heavenly journey across the “cosmic rainbow bridge” to infinity. Enjoy—and Excelsior!
“People always ask me what Stan Lee was really like. My small intersection with his large amazing world made me feel like I really could be a superhero. He was a legendmaker, a storyteller, a champion for the little guy, the underdog, and their rise to greatness. He was funny and wise and a true believer in the magic of a good cape, a good tag line, and a world where we all could be super. My heart feels very broken today, but boy, did Stan leave this world so much better than he found it. Excelsior and thank you, Mr. Lee!” —Melody “Hygena” Mooney
Stan Lee reacts to the “loud-n-proud” primal-scream of Mary Votava’s “Monkey Woman.” (Photo: Syfy)
“A brilliant light has left the world. You will be greatly missed, Stan. Love and Excelsior forever!” —Mary “Monkey Woman” Votava
Season 2 WWTBASH winner, Jarrett “The Defuser” Crippen was ready to fight crime, “anyplace, anytime.” (Photo: giligula)
“Rest In Peace, my friend. You’ve earned it more than most. It was my honor to work with—and for—you for so many years.” —Jarrett “The Defuser” Crippen
Tonatzin Mondragon shone as the radiant “Lemuria.” (Photo: F. Scott Schafer)
“Thank you so much Stan. You gave me so much. I hope you are united with your wife and loved as much as you were in this life. To my superhero family I love you all and I am sorry for this loss.” —Tonatzin “Lemuria” Mondragon
The beautiful Aja De Coudreaux championed the use of recyclable materials (items found in the trash) to create a uniquely memorable superhero she dubbed, “Basura.” (Photo: violet photography.com)
“Excelsior, Stan Lee. Thank you for believing in me and the character I created. Thank you for the stories you gave us all.” —Aja “Basura” De Coudreaux
Stan the Man Lee and Dapper Dan Williams— Super-Friends to the very end! (Photo: SyFy)
“Stan Lee has always been an idol to me ever since I was a kid. To me, he was the personification of a comic book legend and every time you heard his iconic voice you knew you were in for some superhero fun! Stan made my childhood dreams come true when he chose me as a Superhero for his TV show, ‘Who Wants To Be A Superhero?’ I was given the chance to be Parthenon, an out and proud gay superhero on a national stage, for which the show (and I) were nominated for a GLADD award, which was the SyFy Channel’s first-ever nomination for any gay award!
This picture (above) is from the Red Carpet Premier Party for our show. It was one of the happiest nights in my life and it is how I choose to remember Stan. I truly thank Stan for all that he has done and he will be truly missed.” —Dan “Parthenon” Williams
WWTBASHs obviously over-qualified and undeniably AWESOME Steel Chambers appeared as the imposing “Iron Enforcer,” a conflicted hero-villain. (Photo: SyFy)
“Rest in peace, superhero story genius, Stan Lee.” —Steel “Iron Enforcer” Chambers
Darren Passarello’s exciting “Nitro G” held great promise as a superhero character, but (unfortunately) he was all-too-quickly eliminated from Season 1’s competition. (Photo: SyFy)
“No one ever thinks it will hurt as much as it actually does, epesically when it’s supposed to happen…but ya know what? It does…it really, really does. All day everyone has been sending condolances and asking questions. I’ve thought really hard about the words I would say to sum up what I’m feeling. The thing I will miss most is never hearing something so mundane as ‘Nitro G, where is your hat?’ Ya know something Stan, you WERE Peter Parker in the Spider-Man films. Make Mine Marvel!” —Darren “Nitro G” Passarello
Handsome and Heroic—but VERY unlucky. Most famous for being the FIRST contestant eliminated from the show, Tobias Trost’s “Levity” superhero held great promise that was—sadly—never to be revealed. (Photo: SyFy
“I only met him 3 times, but he was always lovely to me and remembered that I was on his show once. He lived a long and fruitful life, and we have a TON of amazing Marvel heroes and movies and cameos and awesomeness.” — Tobias “Levity” Conan Trost
Sexy Tonya Kay showed superhero fans how to WHIP IT—Whip it GOOD! (Photo: SyFy)
“It was my honor to meet you and work with your ‘Old Hollywood’ flair. You were a class act, Stan Lee. Rest In Peace. —Tonya “Creature” Kay
The following two BONUS testimonials are
The hilarious and unforgettable Chris Watters appeared as “Major Victory” in Season 1 of WWTBASH. (Photo: SyFy)
“I always equated meeting Stan Lee with meeting my wife. It was April 4, 2006 when I met Stan and Jennifer Mae. A producer named Jeff brought her over and introduced us in our Superhero identities. ‘Major Victory this is Diamond Girl.’ We hit it off and kept in touch. From that day on, we were together.
We met on April 4th, got married on April 4th, and we both met Stan Lee on that rainy April 4th in 2006. We both wanted to leave the audition because we felt like we did not belong, but when they lined us up to meet Mr. Lee, we calmed down.
Stan was generous with his time and had great anecdotes for everyone participating in the process. He was, and will always be, a great person full of creativity and love. The best thing I remember about Stan was that he was an incredibly fast walker. Probably why he lived so long!” —Chris “Major Victory” Watters
As fellow contestant E. Quincy Sloan looks on, Stams faces Stan Lee during eliminations. (Photo: Syfy)
“I didn’t post anything publicly, but of Stan’s passing I would say that he left behind an incredible legacy, and I was honored to be a part of it—in a small way.” —Chelsea “Cell Phone Girl” Stams
Bottom Line: The passing of comics legend Stan Lee has left a gaping hole in the hearts of millions, but he will forever be remembered for his countless contributions to the world of entertainment and yes—to literature. There were many more contestants on “Who Wants to be a Superhero?,” but (unfortunately) some have become increasingly difficult to locate or contact. Nevertheless, our sincerest thanks to those contestants (shown above) who took the time to provide these salutes and homages. It is greatly appreciated. —Excelsior!
Batten down the hatches—for BATTLE. Armortek’s all-new, all-metal M3 Grant-Lee tank looks heavy enough to CRUSH all enemy forces, much less blow them away. (Photo: Armortek) Click to enlarge.
Some things look too good to be true. In this particular case, something VERY good is also something very true—and very real. So get a grip on your nearest GIjOE or Action Man fellow customizers, because what you’re looking at (above) is also —in 1:6 scale. That’s right. This stunning, steel-plated behemoth is actually something your GIjOEs, Action Man (Men?) and other 1:6 military action figures will feel “right at home” in whilst reenacting WWII’s deadliest 1:1 scale tank battles (see historic intel by Wikipedia HERE). According to Armortek’s, Kian Shroff:
“I was reading The Joe Report online magazine and thought your readers may be interested in our latest release a M3 Lee Medium Tank from WWII. In case you do not know about Armortek, we are the world’s leading manufacturer of 1:6 scale metal model kits. Our kits weight 120lbs upwards and take about 200 hours to assemble. I have attached our press release as well as some images – feel free to use these on your website. Let me know any questions you may have.” Kind regards, —Kian Shroff
Side view dimensions of the Armortek M3 (Art by Armortek) Click to enlarge.
Top view dimensions of the Armortek M3 (Art by Armortek) Click to enlarge.
Front view dimensions of the Armortek M3—AWESOME! (Art by Armortek)
According to Shroff and Armortek’s official press release:
Kian Shroff at Armortek’s headquarters, UK (Photo: TMM Photography) Click to enlarge.
17th September 2018:
Armortek (www.armortek.co.uk), the world’s leadingmanufacturer of 1:6 scale metal model kits announces the launch of their latest products – the iconic M3 Lee/Grant medium tanks. Used by the Americans, British, Australians, Indians and the Russians during World War II, the M3 medium tank was most effective in matching and even beating the German firepower in the North African campaign and was a vital “stop-gap” until the M4 Sherman tanks made their debut. In keeping with previous Armortek releases, the Armortek M3 Lee and Grant medium tank kits are a result of detailed research and measurements of a full-scale vehicle. Made predominantly from CNC machined aluminium and steel, the kits feature scale thickness armour, prototypical suspension and can be remote control enabled.
Containing over 2,000 parts (with more than 200 unique components), the M3 medium tank kit will take about 200 hours to build. The M3 Lee/ Grant from Armortek measures 94cm (37”) long and 44cm (17”) wide and stands 48cm(19”) tall. They will weigh approximately 80kg (180 lbs) in their remote-controlled configuration. The kits are manufactured in a small batch as Limited Editions and each one comes with a serial number and certificate of authenticity. Option packs can be added to the kits to provide them with remote-controlled drive, turret turn, gun elevation and slew, realistic sounds and exhaust smoke.
Armortek is a family owned business operating from its state-of-the-art factory in Hampshire, UK. Research, design and manufacture of the kits are all done in house. Armortek has been producing 1:6 scale all metal model kits for over 15 years and, in that time, has produced over 20 different WW1 or WW2 kits for hobbyists, engineers and collectors across the world. For sales information, please email us at email@example.com.For further press information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
A Bridge Too FAR OUT, Man!— How about a REAL metal and wooden bridge for your tanks to cross over your backyard streams and rivers? Armortek makes them too! The products shown above were on display at Armortek Open Day 2017. WOW! (Photo: TMM Photography) Click to enlarge.
Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to TMM Photography, Kian Shroff (and everyone else) at Armortek for their generous assistance in the creation of this article. Can YOU assemble one of Armortek’s amazing new M3 Lee/Grant tank kits? Isn’t it time you found out? Whichever Armortek product you build, it’s sure to became THE stellar attraction of your 1:6 collection. For more information, visit Armortek’s website HERE or their fan page over on Facebook HERE.