Monthly Archives: December 2018

The So-Called Professional “Movie Critics” are just plain WRONG—”Welcome to Marwen” is an Enjoyable and Entrancing Romantic Adventure!

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True Love at 1:6 Scale— Stars “Captain Hogie” and “Nicol” share a dance during a tender scene taken from “Welcome to Marwen,” a truly touching, heartwarming, and FUN 1:6 scale fantasy-drama from Universal Pictures, now showing in theaters across the U.S. (Photo: Universal) Click to enlarge.

Romance, Action, Laughs—What more could you want from ANY movie?

You should only take what “professional” movie critics have to say with a grain of salt. When “Welcome to Marwen” premiered for press reviews today, initial critiques flew quick and harsh, all too hurriedly denouncing Robert Zemeckis’ superb new film as a major disappointment. But BOY, those critics are SO wrong. The movie is GREAT—and Patches of Pride got a few closeups, too!

Film Title: Welcome to Marwen

At Peace with his condition (we hope)— Steve Carell depicts Mark Hogancamp, who must deal daily with brain injuries suffered during a near-fatal beating. Welcome to Marwen is filled with scenes like this, where Hogancamp (Carell) takes time to set up figures and take photographs for an upcoming art gallery exhibit. (Photo: Universal) Click to enlarge (and check out those Patches of Pride patches!)

Bottom Line: Marwen is a WONDERFUL adventure-fantasy-drama. From its opening scene to its last, the film is chocked full of action figure FUN. If you’ve ever loved playing with GIjOEs, Barbies, doll house miniatures, or anything else to do with the ever-expanding 1:6 scale collecting and customizing hobby, then this film is for you. More importantly, if you also crave to see movies with characters that you can really care about, individuals who demonstrate that they have good, honest, GENTLE souls, then you’ll love Marwen. Get up out of your office chair, get in your car, and go down to the local theater NOW to see this movie. We give it two BIG thumbs up—Go, HOGIE!

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Pain in the Plastic—Early Reviews SLAM “Marwen”

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Carell asks: “Why don’t they like me?” GIjOE Julie replies: “It’s too early, hon. Let’s wait for the 1:6ers to weigh in.” (Photo: Universal)

Will 1:6 Fans Agree—Or Disagree?

Bottom Line: While searching online for some additional intel this morning, we came across the Rotten Tomatoes website containing early reviews of “Welcome to Marwen.” To put it mildly, the critics don’t like the film. Comments from ordinary audience members have yet to come in in any force, but the critics are giving the 1:6 scale production a right ol’ PANNING right now, we’re very sorry to say. We’re posting a couple of screenshots we took about 11AM-ish today to give you an idea of what the critical coverage was looking like at the time of the posting of this article. Will this be yet another example of “love the subject matter, but hate the film?” Hope not! Let us know what YOU think—after you see the film. Thanks! —The Editor

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REJOICE!—Biggest 1:6 Scale Movie EVER—”Welcome to Marwen”—Premiering in U.S. Theaters Today

Grab your coat, get yer keys, start the car, it’s MOVIE TIME!— “Welcome to Marwen” premieres in theaters across the U.S. today. Don’t miss this 1:6 scale-PALOOZA! (Photo: Savoy 16) Click to enlarge.

We’re closing the Joe Report offices early today and treating everyone on staff to a “free” day—at the movies! As you probably already know, today is being celebrated simply as “Marwen Day,” because today is the long-anticipated (U.S.) premiere of the big-budget, (hopefully to be) blockbuster film, “Welcome to Marwen.” Directed by renowned auteur Robert Zemeckis and starring comedic/dramatic actor Steve Carell, Marwen also includes a cast of dozens of wildly diverse 1:6 scale action figures (yes, “dolls” too) that come to life and act out their own fantasy story set against (who else?) a heartless band of nazis. Should be both touching—and a hoot!

Yes, Toys CAN be “Dark”— No one said that toys should all be like Teddy Ruxpin or the Cabbage Patch Kids. That’s fortunate, because the 12-inch action figures starring in “Welcome to Marwen” are called upon to portray a decidedly ADULT-themed storyline of war, hate, sex (and more!), all whilst good battles evil over control of an imaginary town in WWII Belgium. Meanwhile, Steve Carell’s real-life character, Mark Hogancamp, recuperates from a hate-crime beating, battles PTSD, and jousts quixotically with his own real-world demons of fear, loneliness and insecurity. Check out today’s review in the New York Times (see photo above). (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line:  Marwen’s premiere is truly exciting news for legions of GIjOE fans, 1:6 customizers (and kitbashers) who will probably leave work early today to check out the film ASAP. Reviews have been largely positive, though mixed, while some—like the one in today’s New York Times—expressed that the fantasy-side of the film may be somewhat overwhelming. GIjOE fans may differ in that assessment. We say—can there ever be TOO MUCH 1:6 scale action on the big screen? We think not! If nothing else, the film promises to be a visual FEAST, as we watch our beloved toys becoming fully-animated by Hollywood’s special effects masters.

The Joe Report is sponsored by Patches of Pride. All products are proudly made and/or assembled in the USA.

Finally, here at The Joe Report, we also have a special reason for being proud and happy about today’s film’s release—our longtime (and sole) sponsor, Patches of Pride (a well-known 1:6 scale patches, decals and accessories producer), has some of its patches (and other products?) featured in the film. Exactly what will be included we’re not quite sure, but expect many an “eagle-eyed” PoPster to be carefully searching the production’s costumes, props, backgrounds and closeups for any signs of a familiar PoP product. Go get your ticket NOW—and ENJOY!

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“Welcome to Marwen” Sneak Preview Nets Mixed Reviews From Two Members of The Sly Fox Club

“Not-so-undercover agent” Brian Otnes, aka as one as one of the three “PoP associates,” poses for a quick snap next to a stand-up display for “Welcome to Marwen” before entering the theater to attend the film’s sneak preview last night—somewhere in Austin, TX. (Photo: Kim Otnes) Click to enlarge.

As we teased about late last night, Patches of Pride (PoP), the creator of (some of) the 1:6 scale patches used in the film “Welcome to Marwen,” had dispatched three of its most trusted associates to an early sneak-preview screening at a theater somewhere in Austin, TX. It turns out the three “associates” in question are actually family members of PoP’s head-honcho, Mark Otnes, and as such, were only too happy to be sent on a quixotic search for evidence of the use of PoP’s products in the production. Reviews of the film were mixed, but “sightings” of the company’s tiny patches were confirmed and unanimous. Of the three PoP associates who attended last night’s showing, The Joe Report was able to track down two of them, and both were able to provide us with their reactions to the movie itself as well as recounting experiences of attending the event.

Intrepid TJR Field Reporter and PoP Associate, Brian Otnes (Photo: Brian Otnes)

We begin the first of our two exclusive interviews with Brian Otnes (BO)—

TJR: How were you able to see “Marwen” ahead of its release this coming Friday?

BO: “We’re members of “The Sly Fox Club” (see website HERE) and we received three FREE tickets from them.” 

TJR: Lucky you! Well, the #1 question fans of Patches of Pride have been asking is—do Mark Otnes or PoP receive any sort of screen credit at the end? Yes or No?

BO: “No. We stayed all the through (the credits) to see if there was one, but there was no credit line for either. Did the movie producers promise one?”

TJR: No, that was always just “pie-in-the-sky” thinking. PoP never expected any official credit.

BO: “Well, it’s interesting—if you watch it, they have a whole lot of modeling credits. Some of the people you may recognize, who knows, but they’re probably all Hollywood-based people.”

Screenshot from a Welcome to Marwen preview (Photo: Universal) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Any “sightings” of PoP products in the film?

BO: “Yes, a few. But Steve Carell’s character was the only American figure we saw, the rest were all Nazis and then the girls. I wondered about the Jeep too, but wasn’t sure if PoP had anything to do with it.”

TJR: Probably not. But two of the patches on Carell’s action figure are clearly PoP’s and the sergeant chevrons on the “G.I. Julie” doll are also PoP’s, as are—quite possibly—some of the German figures’ patches. We won’t be sure until we get to see the film ourselves (this Friday). You saw PoP’s other patches though, right?

BO: “Oh yeah. We saw them—for sure! Now let me ask you something—one of the Nazis has a stylized swastika tattoo on his arm. I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, so I’ll be careful of what I reveal here, but there’s a shot toward’s the end of the movie where Steve Carell is shown putting a waterslide decal—of the same swastika—on a figure’s arm.  It’s an actual decal like PoP’s ProSeries decals, along the lines of a custom decal that Patches of Pride would be able to make. Watch for it! You get to see him actually apply it to the arm. I was thinking, Oh! I hope that’s PoPs, because that’d be a PERFECT promo for them!”

TJR: Very exciting! PoP does create a TON of custom waterslide decal orders, body tattoos included, but I can’t recall creating that particular design, so I’d have to say I doubt PoP created it. But who knows? We won’t know for sure until we see the movie on Friday!

BO: “Well, I’m sorry if it turns out it wasn’t PoPs, but that’s something the movie people probably had to create themselves or special order—from somebody, somewhere.”

TJR: Agreed. Hogancamp is a real 1:6 kitbasher too; a real scrounger. Perhaps he found the decal included with an old model kit somewhere. We really can’t say for sure at this point.

BO: “I guess not. We looked VERY closely for anything else that could’ve been made by PoP. We were hoping maybe some more American soldiers would come in, but it was always the girls who saved him.”

TJR: Well, the original working title was “The Women of Marwen,” until October, I believe. Somewhere along the line they decided to change it to, “Welcome to Marwen.”

BO: (Laughs) “Frankly, I don’t think either one of them are a particularly good title.”

TJR: What was your personal reaction to the movie? Good? Bad? Or..?

BO: “I didn’t particularly care for the movie. We all like Steve Carell and were pulling for it to be a good movie and for us to enjoy it and all, but it just wasn’t that good. Fans of Patches of Pride will be very interested in Hogancamp’s modeling of the city and all the photos he takes, and his show at a gallery. The transitioning between the real world and the doll world was very well done too, but I think they could’ve done it just ONCE and it would’ve gotten the point across. It would have been better as a conventional drama, one wherein you see him dealing with his PTSD after the assault, and his daily life after it all happened. The going back and forth between his two worlds was just done too many times and didn’t really help the story.”

TJR: Very interesting observations. Thanks for all the great intel, Brian!

Our second exclusive interview is with Laurel Wilson (LW)—

TJR Field Reporter, Laurel Wilson of Austin, TX (Photo: Laurel Wilson)

TJR: Please tell us about your not-so-secret “mission” yesterday to the movies.

LW: “We went to see “Welcome to Marwen” with a particular mission in mind. Our mission was to pay extra close attention to the dolls in the story and to look for anything that might’ve been made by Patches of Pride (yes!). Then, we stayed through all the credits, but (sadly) we didn’t see any mention of Mark Otnes or Patches of Pride (whimper). I guess they couldn’t give credit to everyone, but PoP’s contributions WERE very important to the film, too!” 

TJR: What were your impressions of the film?

LW: “Overall, I liked it. It took me a while to ‘get’ where the story going and what it was going to be about. The main character was always having fantasies, making the plot a bit difficult to follow, at times. It turns out the film is based on a real story and that the characters are all based on real people. They also transitioned from the real world to the imaginary world of Marwen a bit too often. What would’ve worked better, I think, would’ve been to have spent longer in each world, instead of jumping back and forth so much. You know, give viewers a feeling for what was REALLY going on in this man’s life, not so much the fantasy storyline. It could’ve been improved as a film, but to me, it was a very INTERESTING story and we’re taken along on the journey of this man’s return—to the world.” 

Bottom Line: With only two days to go until it’s premiere, “Welcome to Marwen” looks to be an exciting and (hopefully) enjoyable film for fans and customizers of 1:6 scale action figures. Our sincerest thanks today to Mr. Otnes and Mrs. Wilson for their generous contributions to this article.

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Exclusive Sneak Peek of “Welcome to Marwen” Has Been Granted to 3 “Associates” of the Film’s 1/6th Scale Patches Producer—Patches of Pride (PoP)

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Hunker Down, Jerry! Movie “bootleggers” ply their illicit trade primarily in big cities (where nobody really cares) and badly videoed DVDs are sold openly on downtown street corners. Here, Jerry Seinfeld timidly demonstrates the act of video “bootlegging” in a screenshot taken from an episode of his 1990s hit TV series, Seinfeld. Patches of Pride is not bootlegging “Welcome to Marwen,” but it did dispatch two “associates” to see the new movie during a “members-only” sneak preview on Tuesday night. (Photo: CBS TV)

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“G.I. Julie” sports a set of US Army sergeant chevrons from Patches of Pride on her custom fatigue-dress. (Photo: Universal) Click to enlarge.

No Bootlegging Allowed, Jerry!

We all know that “Welcome to Marwen” premieres in 3 days (nationwide) this coming Friday. But what would you say if we told you that Patches of Pride (PoP) has close “connections” with a couple of people who will see the movie much sooner than that—AND—will report their findings and opinions back to PoP (and the rest of the 1:6 scale universe) exclusively on tomorrow’s edition—of The Joe Report? Pretty cool surprise, huh? How is this even possible, you may wonder? Stay tuned, loyal PoPsters, because all will be revealed tomorrow (Wednesday).

Bottom Line— Fret not dear readers, nothing illegal is going on and no plot “spoilers” will be revealed to you ahead of Friday’s eagerly anticipated premiere in theaters nationwide. BUT— you can bet that our two trusty PoP “associates” will be watching the credits rolling at the end of the film VERY carefully and will report their findings here tomorrow—good, bad, or otherwise. See you Wednesday!

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Welcome to Marwen’s Steve Carell and Director Robert Zemeckis Conduct Pre-Release Interviews

Bottom Line: Many “deep” questions are answered in these excellent pre-release interviews INCLUDING—does Steve Carell wear high-heels in this movie? It’s time to find out—NOW. Enjoy!

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“Welcome to Marwen”—First Cast Interviews!

There was an official Hollywood premiere of the upcoming film, “Welcome to Marwen” Monday night, and for the first time, the film’s director, stars, and others were allowed to speak publicly about the the various parts they played in in its production. Most of the questions asked were pure “fluff,” but look for brief moments of clarity from director Robert Zemeckis and star, Steve Carell. Interestingly, Carell reveals he felt the “doll” representing him was TOO good looking, stating—

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Can a headsculpt be TOO handsome? 1:6 scale recreation of actor Steve Carell (Photo: Universal)

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“It’s crazy! Because it’s just so much better looking than me. They roll it out, I’m like, all right, yeah! I can dream. Pretty cool!” —Steve Carell

Bottom Line: We’re getting excited! Only nine (9) more days until the film’s official release date of December 21st. If you can’t wait, we recommend checking out Patches of Pride’s exciting “Ten Prizes to Marwen” contest giveaway (exclusively on Facebook) HERE as they continue to celebrate an unofficial “countdown” to the premiere by giving away 1 prize-a-day—for 10 days straight! HOOyeah!

 

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It’s Over—The Final (Ever) G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Newsletter Has Been Published and Mailed (Sniff?)

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The Final Issue— There will be no more. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Club Members Will NOT Be Allowed to Renew For 2019

Down in our mail room today, we received shipment of a rather poignant publication—the FINAL issue of the official membership magazine of the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club (GIJCC). To be honest, we’re not going to miss it. Not one bit! Despite Fun Publication’s best efforts over the years, we remain firmly on the side of Joe-fandom that has long argued the club’s newsletter has always been steered in the wrong direction, content-wise, and have considered it as (basically) one BIG “missed opportunity” for GIjOE-fandom (sorry!).

Yes, we know economics drive business. We understand also why the club had to make the decisions they did. But in our ideal (fantasy) universe (where we get everything we want), we firmly believe(d) that the official newsletter of our “hallowed” GIjOE Collector’s Club should have been something altogether different—and in so MANY ways. Of course, discussing all those sorts of ideas, especially now that the club is “kaput,” is all water-under-the-bridge, Monday morning quarterbacking type of thinking— i.e., it’s ultimately pointless.

Continuing our theme of complete honesty on this topic, for 12-inch GIjOE collectors, the average “read time” of each issue was typically just under a minute, often before the magazine was (sadly) tossed straight into a trash can or recycling bin. Yes, for fans of the “little Joes,” there was always more content of interest, as those members were the magazine’s primary demographic and intended “readership target.” And some members, despite openly caring little for the publication, readily admit they’ve kept every issue (show of hands, please) and even bagged them and put them in magazine files. Will missing issues command larger prices now? That remains to be seen.

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Goodbye “Regular Joes”— The back page of the final issue of the GIjCC newsletter features the last-ever comic photo-strip of the popular 12-inchers fondly known as the “Regular Joes,” created by the creative team of Dave Pisani and Tod Pleasant. We’ll probably miss their funny misadventures more than anything else the club has ever published! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Fortunately for 1:6 scalers, the magazine’s (final) guest reporter, Greg Autore did an admiral job penning an article entitled, “GIjOE Classic Collection—The Final Figures.” It—is—GREAT! We only wish Greg had submitted it to us HERE at The Joe Report, first (so we could’ve gotten the scoop, HA!). And bonus spoiler— Autore’s supporting photos even show some GIjOE products we’ve NEVER seen or heard of before. That sort of Joe-history revelation is ALWAYS exciting. OOHyeah! It’s hard to believe that this is the end of the GIjOE club (at least in print form). It remains to be seen now, how long the club will keep its website up and running. Once all remaining club merchandise is sold, there’ll be little incentive to keep paying for the site’s upkeep and maintenance. Regardless of the date of the club’s “ultimate demise,” our sincerest THANKS go out NOW (again) to Mr. Savage and the GIjCC. You guys RULE! Go, JOE!

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Dec. 7, 1941—A Day That Will Live in INFAMY

We will NOT forget— Japan attacking Pearl Harbor, HI, Dec. 7, 1941. (Photo: US Navy)

Bottom Line: Please take a moment to remember the Americans who died in on this day in 1941.

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He’s BAAAAAAACK— “Stretch Armstrong” Returns

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Yank Him—He STRETCHES. Stretch Armstrong is available (again) in stores and on online. How far can YOU pull him—before he pops? Do you dare try? (Photo: Jazwares)

Now THIS is a fun toy. All it asks of you is to use your imagination (remember doing that?), stretch out its muscular arms and legs as far as you can pull them, and then chuckle and laugh as they slowly return to normal. Such was silly ol’ “Stretch Armstrong;” so simple a concept, and yet so popular with kids (and adults!) of all ages. We’re about a year late announcing it, but we felt that ol’ Stretch’s return to retail in 2016 deserved at least a quick mention here on The Joe Report, and for those of you who were born too late to enjoy the hilarious pleasures of owning a Stretch Armstrong for yourself—well—Wikipedia is only too happy to provide the following helpful intel:

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“Stretch Armstrong is a large, gel-filled action figure first introduced in 1976 by Kenner. In 2016, at the New York Toy Fair, Hasbro announced the return of the Stretch Armstrong toy in its original 1976 design. Stretch is an action figure shaped as a short, muscular, man with blond hair wearing black trunks. The doll’s most notable feature was that it could be stretched from its original size of about 15 in (0.38 m) to 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m). If a tear did develop, it could be fixed with an adhesive bandage. Information on how to repair Stretch was provided in the toy’s instruction booklet that was originally inside his box.”

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Twist him. Bend him. STRETCH him. That’s what he loves! (Photo: jazwares) Click to enlarge.

“The Stretch Armstrong toy concept was created by Jesse D. Horowitz, the industrial designer for Kenner’s R&D group. The idea was approved for development by the head of R&D, Jeep (James) Kuhn, vice president of Kenner. The ‘stretch man’ idea as it was called was pursued with two different bodies in mind. One was a sumo wrestler and the other was an All-American blond hunk. Horowitz sculpted the models himself instead of hiring a freelancer. The sumo man was too bulky and large, so the All-American body was cast by Kenner’s model maker Richard Dobek, and the resultant resin model was taken to a latex doll manufacturer in New Jersey, where the first bodies were dipped.”

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Look for THIS BOX— Stretch wants YOU to find him. Happy hunting! (Photo: jazwares) Click to enlarge.

“Originally, springs were thought of as the way to stretch the man. However, they were thought to be too awkward and stiff, too difficult to insert and would likely pierce the skin. Kuhn, a chemical engineer, pursued a liquid sugar idea which eventually proved successful. Tremendous quantities of Karo corn syrup were purchased from an A&P supermarket. The syrup was boiled down to get the proper viscosity. Kuhn and Horowitz flew to Kenner’s headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and presented the concept to Bernie Loomis, Kenner’s president. He loved it and so a toy icon was born.”

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YIKES!— Seriously, can a toy get any better than this? WOW! (Photo: jazwares) Click to enlarge.

“The original Stretch Armstrong figure was conceived and developed by Bill Armasmith, and was in production from 1976 until 1980. The original 1970s toy commands high prices on the secondary collectors’ market, selling for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of US dollars. Through storage and play, the figure could become damaged and rendered useless. There are still original Stretch Armstrongs that have survived the passing of time and are remarkably preserved through sheer luck or being stored at the correct temperature. The figure keeps best at room temperature.

Stretch Armstrong was reissued in the 1990s by Cap Toys, with a canine sidekick, ‘Fetch Armstrong,’ The reissue stretch Armstrong had a more comical exaggerated face (a huge genial smile) and had on a vanity T-shirt and shorts. This new reissue figure was introduced in 1993 and 1994 version exist with slightly different art work. He also has an evil brother named Evil X-ray Wretch Armstrong who has a skull face, sports a mohawk, and also stretches. Wretch Armstrong seems to be a redesigned, smaller remake of Stretch X-Ray but in reality looks nothing like the 1970s version. Evil X-ray Wretch Armstrong is only 7 inches tall whereas Stretch X-ray was over 12 inches tall.” —Wikipedia

Bottom Line: Owning a Stretch Armstrong is considered to be a “must” among most vintage toy and/or action figure collectors. He still looks cool, “plays” cool, and IS cool. We recommend that you get yourself a Stretch for Christmas (and maybe his evil foe, “Vac Man,” too) over at the whimsical website called “Things You Never Knew Existed” found HERE. Walmart had him on sale for a while. Search around for the best deals and maybe you’ll STRETCH your budget as far as it can possibly go. HA. (Stretch would approve!)

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