Category Archives: Aircraft & Watercraft

Messerschmits! 12 O’Clock High!—1:6 Customizer Creates WWII Aerial Combat Diorama Featuring 2 Waist-Gunners Defending a B-17 “Flying Fortress”

budbrown7

Here they come! Stay sharp! We’ve got to get through! This realistic 1:6 scale WWII B-17 battle diorama was created and customized by Bud Brown of California, and the ProSeries waterslide decals (shown on the aircraft’s outer hull) were provided by Patches of Pride (natch’). All this pic needs now are some special “FIRE” effects so that the .50 cal looks like it’s really “spittin’ HOT lead!” Absolutely outstanding customizing and pics, Bud. Keep up the great work! (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

Man, oh MAN. Some 1:6 scale custom dioramas are SO accurate and thrilling to look at that they make you DROOL with envy. This is one of them. Looking at the photo above, you can practically FEEL all the tension and energy of that moment. And, as we all know, it was life-or-death—EVERYDAY—for Allied and Axis combatants over the skies of Europe during WWII. Do you ever stop to think about the horrors endured by all the young flyers during that extremely dangerous air campaign? Well, if you’re not thankful for your comfy life of freedom now (would you even EXIST today if Germany had won?), then think about just ONE of the shocking B-17 bomber statistics from that war—as recounted to us by the dedicated aircraft historians at the Spitfire Association:

malecomment

“In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England. In 1942-43, it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe.”

“Statistically IMPOSSIBLE” to complete. And yet they went up anyway—time and time again. And this was the result of just ONE mission! Are you paying attention now? Good. Those heroes DESERVE our attention. While Hollywood movies thrill and excite viewers, the terrible truth was—and forever will be—REAL war is HELL. Millions of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters DIED protecting and preserving freedom around the world. Thankfully, the creation, sharing and commemoration of those heroes—in 1:6 scale dioramas—is a growing and popular hobby. When customizer Weldon “Bud” Brown II wrote in recently (see below) to share some pics of his latest custom 1:6 creation, needless to say, we were thrilled. Here’s Bud’s letter—

malecomment

weldonbudbrownII

Weldon “Bud” Brown II

“Attached are some finishing touches on my B-17 waist-gunner display. The bomber jacket patch is fantastic. I placed the decals on the plane fuselage. I made both the YANK mag and the Bible. I also put in the pin ups (one is my wife), along with a liberators war poster and a German aircraft identification poster. Now if I could just find some expended .50 caliber ammo for the floor. Thanks Mark and Patches of Pride. You have great stuff!”
Bud Brown
budbrown4

History comes ALIVE— On your shelf? Yes! And what a conversation starter. Bud’s 2-figure, B-17 waist-gunner diorama makes viewer’s eyes POP and their jaws DROP. (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

budbrown10

Details DO make the difference!— In this closeup, you can see Bud’s handmade YANK magazine, a Bible and some pin-up photos. There’s also a couple of parachutes, some oxygen bottles and even a thermos for coffee. Out-STANDING attention to detail. (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

budbrown11

This reverse-view shows an ammo belt, Bud’s “Liberators” poster, and the gunner’s step-decks to help stabilize their balance and aim. (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

budbrown13

Durable and Desirable— Large, textured cloth patches for the backs of 1:6 scale bomber jackets are available HERE from Patches of Pride. Bud chose the ever-popular “Straight Shooter” version (for obvious reasons). ZING! (Photo: Bud Brown)

budbrown1

Avoid “Friendly Fire”— Bud’s German aircraft ID chart helps his waist-gunners to tell friend from foe. So cool! (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

budbrown2

Providing backup— Another view from tail-gunner #2. (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

budbrown12

Pulled Back a Bit— Fully revealed, you can now see that Bud has only one small section of the hull of a B-17 represented. To display a full-sized 1:6 scale B-17 in his office would be, let’s say, “uncomfortable.” HA. But this is MORE than enough fun for a work space! (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

budbrown14

Adorning Armored Aircraft— This reverse angle clearly shows the exciting Patches of Pride ProSeries waterslide decals Bud chose to use on his custom diorama. The 4 swastikas indicate the number of confirmed “kills” for that gunner. The “Benito Finito” cartoon decal (found HERE) was first seen on Allied Jeeps after the Italian campaign. They look GREAT on aircraft, too! (Photo: Bud Brown) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks go out to Bud Brown for his generous contributions to this article. Customizers of 1:6 scale continue to “push the envelope” and amaze us with their creations.

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

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

hammer

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)

pickingupthepieces

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:

malecomment

benzigterman

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.

Tagged ,

RC Hobby Shocker!—Hobbico Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection As Declining Consumer Interest Continues to Impact Already Struggling Toy Industry—Softening Drone Market Also Cited

hobbico

How the Mighty Are Falling— As this aerial view reveals, the Hobbico headquarters building located in Champaign, IL, is literally MASSIVE in terms of its size and employment. Unfortunately, declining consumer interest in its RC hobby products has now forced the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in US Federal Court. At this location alone, 332 Hobbico employees currently face (possible) termination. Other toy and hobby companies are similarly threatened, and many toy industry observers have begun to wonder if an entire leisure pastime (playing with toys) has begun to die a slow death—one GIANT business at a time. (Photo: Google Earth) Click to enlarge.

Downward “Domino Effect” From Falling Toy and RC Sales Being Felt Industry-Wide

hobbicologo

First, Toys ‘R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (see HERE). Then, Hasbro and Mattel both raised their own corporate “red flags,” warning of impending financial difficulties (see HERE). And yesterday, Hobbico, the LARGEST hobby product distributor in the United States, announced that it too, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection against its own horde of (unhappy) creditors. In an article published in today’s News-Gazette, reporter Ben Zigterman reveals the shocking financial figures:

malecomment

“In its filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, Hobbico said it has an estimated 200 to 999 creditors, $10 million to $50 million in assets, and $100 to $500 million in liabilities.”

Fans and Collectors of 1:6 Scale Should Take Heed

Ouch! Those numbers sting. With a mere $10-50 million in assets and a debt of as high as $500 million, the future of Hobbico does indeed look bleak. And if an RC-industry giant such as Hobbico fails, it’s death knell must certainly serve as some sort of “canary in the coal mine” warning to our own (beloved) 1:6 scale hobby. Seriously, if you think about it, there is actually very little separating the two hobby’s fields of interest For example…

We love our 1:6 scale action figures, vehicles, dioramas, and the imaginative world of indoor and outdoor playtime they inspire, correct? Well, all of that joy overlaps (in many cases) with very similar products (and activities) provided by our compatriots in the RC hobby world. For many on both sides, the activities of our two related “communities” are conveniently, inextricably, and forever—linked. The truth is undeniable. RC tanks, planes, boats, cars, drones and other such vehicles are ALL a common sight at today’s GIjOE-centric toy shows. And why not?

3carsmain

A Perfect Blend of Two Hobby Worlds— As this photo clearly demonstrates, the combined use of RC vehicles and action figures has always been a “no-brainer.” (Photo: Ron Stymus)

Sadly, today’s article in the News-Gazette also goes on to report:

malecomment

“…it is possible that there will be a permanent shutdown of all Hobbico operations and locations and the permanent termination of all Hobbico employees…” —Howard Salazar, HR Director, Hobbico

Surprisingly, decreasing sales of RC drones are also (partially) to blame for Hobbico’s current financial dilemma. Only a couple of years ago, the prevailing belief was that RC drone sales would continue to skyrocket well into the future. Unfortunately, it appears that the public’s interest in this relatively new market segment has already begun to wane. According to Salazar:

malecomment

“After a strong prior year, a softening of the overall drone market in 2016 led to substantial declines in sales for Hobbico.”

Bottom Line: Despite the country’s current robust economy, the end (sadly) appears to be coming soon for both Hobbico and Toys ‘R Us. Hopefully, other toy and RC industry giants will hear the bellwether ring of these impending business closures and make whatever strategic corrections are necessary to ensure their own survival.

Tagged ,

1:6 Customizer, Gary Stair, Inspired By the Work of Wayne Faucher, Creates His Own Versions of Captain Action Battle Armor and 1960s Jet-Packs

garystair58

Creative Minds Think Alike— Inspired by the masterpieces of 1:6 scale wizard, Wayne Faucher, fellow customizer, Gary Stair (of Pennsylvania), combined another assortment of unrelated parts (including a set of Hulk Buster armor, a plastic Easter egg, a Star Wars figure and a Classic Collection GIjOE headsculpt) to create his own unique “B.A.D.A.S.S.” custom toy for use with his favorite hero—Captain Action. Out-STANDING work, Actioneer! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge (and drool).

Like birds of a feather, customizers of 1:6 scale do indeed, “flock together.” In today’s exclusive, generously penned and provided to us by 1:6 customizing expert, Gary Stair (PA), we learn exactly how the work of one creative genius can quickly influence the work of many others. In the following two examples, Stair reports how his own custom work (as of late) has become greatly influenced by that of fellow customizer, Wayne Faucher; even to the point of requiring him to jump in his car and race over to Walmart, just to buy an Iron Man toy that was going on clearance. According to Stair:

exclusivebanner

malecomment

garystair

Gary Stair (PA) (Photo: Gary Stair)

“I want to be Wayne Faucher in my next life. I LOVE his 1:6 scale custom stuff! So much so, I often try to emulate him in my own 1:6th creations. The recent Joe Report article describing his amazing Hulk Buster figure (HERE) had me out of my house in minutes and ZIPPING over to the local Walmart; where low and behold—I found one LAST Hulk Buster (HB) figure still sitting on the clearance shelf. Thanks to Wayne’s tip, I snagged it for a mere $11 bucks—with an additional 10% off!

The HB was missing its helmet, but that didn’t stop me. I found a plastic easter egg (clear on one side, yellow on the other) to serve as a replacement, leaving only a few additional items to make it complete. (Hey Wayne—Can you tell what I did over the weekend?) After multiple hours of painting and assorted customizations that utilized all sorts of miscellaneous parts and “do-dads” (to create self-balancing rockets and heat-seeking missiles), I’d soon created my very own Captain Action B.A.D.A.S.S. (short for what else?): the BATTLE ARMOR DEFENSE AIRBORNE SURVIVABILITY SYSTEM. I also intend to install an Iron Man-esque chest light, utilizing one of those 1:6 scale desk lamps I’d purchased previously at a Dollar Store (see HERE).”

garystair62

EGGX-cellant! Gary’s superb solution to his missing helmet dilemma was to create one of his own using a 2-piece plastic Easter egg. Absolutely ALIENS-inspired! (Photo: Gary Stair)

garystair61

Custom Armor-O-ACTION! Gary’s decision to go with a metallic blue paint job gave his custom creation a definite Captain Action twist. Sweet! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge.

garystair60

Built For Battle— The back view reveals there are few if any weak spots in the Hulk Buster armor. The possibilities for customizing this “suit” are practically limitless! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge.

garystair59

As seen from the side— Gary’s Hulk Buster armor sports one of Cap’s logo stickers (just so Dr. Evil knows who’s about to deliver the HURT on his squishy-brain head) and you can also see how Stair’s unique “Easter egg” helmet was painted and utilized. COOL! (Photo: Gary Stair)

“To further demonstrate how Wayne’s creations have been keeping me up at night, I tried to replicate his outstanding Lost in Space jet-pack (shown in a previous Joe Report article HERE). I also really love the scene in Thunderball where Bond uses the same jet-pack system to make his getaway from SPECTRE bad guys (see video clip above). Thanks largely to Wayne’s inspiring examples, I now have a Sean Connery 007 figure flying high in my toy room with a Wayne Faucher-esque jet-pack (or at least my version of it).”
garystair56

Do you own a 1:6 scale jet-pack system for use with your custom Lost in Space or James bond figures? If not, WHY not? Just like Wayne and Gary, you can make one yourself! Hey, Gary, where’s the helmet? (Photo: Gary Stair)

garystair55

Prepare for Takeoff— Gary Stair’s custom jet-pack was created from an assortment of, as he likes to call them, “odds-n-ends.” WOW!!!!! (Photo: Gary Stair) Click to enlarge.

“I want to give major KUDOS to Wayne Faucher for all the inspiration he’s provided to me and other 1:6 customizers around the world. I hope The Joe Report will continue sharing examples of his amazing work of 1:6 seale ART well in the future. I know they’ve inspired MANY customizers to strive for greater achievements and help keep our beloved 1:6 scale “vision” ALIVE!” —Gary Stair, PA

waynefaucherheadshot

Wayne Faucher (Photo: WFT)

Bottom Line: Gary mentioned that he had grown up watching ARK II. We had never seen (or heard of) “ARK II” before, so we decided to check it out on YouTube today where we found the entire first episode (see link above). If you jump ahead to the 5:49 minute-mark, you’ll see the very same jet-pack system that Wayne and Gary have recreated so perfectly in 1:6 scale.

Wayne and Gary are both outstanding customizers and are leaders by example in our wonderful hobby. We hope these two “wizards” will stay in touch often, and that YOU too, will write in to us here at The Joe Report so that we can share YOUR creative projects with the world. Finally, a special note of thanks to Gary Stair for all his generous contributions to this article. Go, GARY!

Tagged , , , ,
Advertisements