Category Archives: Customizing Tips & Tricks

Miguel Tavarez—Master of Miniaturization—Creates Astonishingly Realistic (1:6 Scale) Diorama of U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) Paratroopers in Action

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Bring it On— In a stunning display of 1:6 scale artistry, customizer Miguel Tavares has recreated a battle scene from the Korean War featuring two figures from the U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Inf. Co. (Airborne). This closeup of the Master Sergeant reveals he has been authentically detailed with correct unit insignia and helmet emblems produced by Patches of Pride. (Photo: Miguel Tavares) Click to enlarge.

Expert Modeler Depicts Soldiers of “Forgotten War’s” All-Black, All-Ranger Regiment

Welcome to 2017, 1:6 Scalers!

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Immortalized on the Cover—UK hobby industry magazine, Military Modelling (vol. 41, issue no. 1) celebrates the skills of master modeler, Miguel Tavarez, by splashing his work (deservedly so) on the front cover of its most recent issue. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Military Modelling)

It’s a brand-new year and the guys and gals at The Joe Report felt like kicking things off with a BIG photo-story about a new, rising talent among the 1:6 scale customizing community—Miguel Tavarez. Tavares is a master modeler and 1:6 customizer of the highest degree, and in recognition of his superlative skills, the UK hobby magazine Military Modelling recently published an article about his work, even going so far as to feature a photo of his new (2-figure) paratrooper diorama on the publication’s cover.

The remarkable diorama in question depicts two African-American U.S. Army paratroopers of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) during the Korean War. They’ve just completed a jump and one soldier appears to have suffered a hard landing or been otherwise wounded. His Master Sergeant has rushed to his side, all the while gazing grimly skyward as he watches other Rangers still descending.

This 1:6 scale masterwork is both wonderful and inspirational to behold. Action figure customizers and diorama builders around the world would probably pay good money just to take a 1 hour class from this talented artisan. If fact, we felt Miguel’s Ranger dio achievement was so important, that it was worthy of further mention and praise beyond just the pages of a UK hobby magazine. Therefore, despite any repetition, we’ve wholeheartedly chosen to share it here, too—on The Joe Report!

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A Bad Time for a Sprain— What a superb choice of headsculpt! This figure’s excellent facial expression perfectly captures so much emotion at once. The frustration, pain, and yes, even anger, at being hurt before even getting to fire a shot, must surely be a severe disappointment to this Ranger. After training for months, making dozens of practice jumps, and going through everything required to become a U.S. Army Ranger, to be sidelined and/or hobbled like must be quite a blow. Let’s hope this brave paratrooper’s leg is only sprained and not broken. Go, Rangers! Go, ARMY! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

 Details Do Make the Difference

When you study Miguel’s custom figures, you quickly discover that he is zealously devoted to both military accuracy and authenticity, as well as the execution of professional, almost extreme modeling detail. Take a (very close) look at those hands (the fingernails!), the figure’s wrinkled and “weathered” uniforms, their weaponry, equipment, and even the stones and grass on the ground cover beneath their feet—it’s all been magnificently painted and otherwise realistically executed. HISTORY—has been brought back to life in three dimensions: visibly, tactilely—and in miniature!

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As Real as it Gets— The mind boggles looking at the reality of this ground cover. Make special note of Miguel’s careful selection of the grass and tiny white flowers. Where other customizers would choose or create plantlife that is oversized, Tavarez has ensured that even the tiny flowers are correctly scaled to match his diorama. Un-freakin’ believable! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

It’s Okay to Seek Outside Help

Tavarez has also taken the trouble (and expense) to commission custom waterslide decals and cloth patches from renowned miniatures manufacturer, Patches of Pride. All of their tiny products are carefully researched and recreated from scratch, so their inclusion helped to elevate this unique diorama to undisputed “masterpiece” status. Custom works of such high caliber are truly rare, and this one solidifies Miguel’s well-deserved reputation as a master modeler of 1:6 scale.
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Let’s Get a Move On, Ranger!— Staying out in the open for too long after a combat jump can be an invitation to disaster, as this Master Sergeant clearly knows. This side view of their combined poses demonstrates that there is a clear sense of urgency and peril to their situation. Just LOOK at all the amazing detail! The patches, helmet emblems, ammo bandolier, boots…WOW! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez)

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Miguel describes the inspiration behind his 2-figure Ranger diorama:

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Cheers, Customizers!— Miguel Tavarez raises a cold one in toast and tribute to other members of the 1:6 scale community in this exclusive photo taken for readers of The Joe Report. His outstanding customs are providing inspiration to thousands of fellow kitbashers around the world. (Photo: Miguel Tavarez)

“This diorama is about two African-American Rangers during the Korean War. The Korean War is often referred to as “ the forgotten war” because of the lack of public attention it received both during and after the war, and in relation to the global scale of World War II, which preceded it, and the subsequent angst of the Vietnam War, which succeeded it. After finishing my last 1/6th dio, I was looking for a new project to do, and so I decided to read up on the Korean conflict and see if I could find a subject to recreate within my own little 1/6th scale kitbashing ‘world’.

I came across a book on a very fascinating unit of a segregated, all-black elite Ranger company that had fought with distinction during the first 2 years of the “Forgotten War” in Korea. I had previously done a WWII 761st African-American tanker before, so I became keen on creating something that would also honor this all-black Ranger company—the 2nd Ranger Infantry Co. (Airborne).”

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Don’t Forget the Base— Yes, you can simply set your figures on a table, but the creation and use of a custom base beneath their feet helps add geographical texture and context, as well as increasing the realism of your tabletop diorama scene. Beautiful! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

“As I mentioned before, they were an African-American unit at a time when the U.S. military was slowly being integrated after years of racial segregation. President Truman’s executive order 9981 in 1948 changed that. But the reality was that the desegregation policy was yet to come into full compliance. Segregation was still being practiced right into the Korean War.

White high-ranking officers who did not support desegregation would funnel the colored troops into units such as the 2nd Ranger Co. in the first several years of the war. But 1950s racial issues aside, the ‘Buffalo Rangers,’ as they were known, gave a good account of themselves in the Korean War until their deactivation in 1951.”

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Remembering and Honoring Our Heroes (in 1:6 Scale)— This 3/4 front view shows off the entirety of Miguel’s amazing custom diorama and reveals that he included an actual Ranger pin down in the bottom righthand corner. Congratulations on a great job, Miguel! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

These “Buffalo Rangers” participated in “Operation Tomahawk” on March 23rd 1951. This operation was historic for two reasons; one, it would be the first time a Ranger unit participated in an Airborne combat jump. Secondly and more importantly, it would be the first combat jump for black troops in the U.S. military. Attached to the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (its parent unit), it would make this historic jump in ‘Operation Tomahawk’ into North Korean and Chinese-held territory!” —Miguel Tavarez

Bottom Line: Miguel’s work is AWESOME. That’s the bottom line. Our sincerest thanks go out to Mr. Tavarez for sharing these photos of his work and for the exclusive account of his inspiration for this piece. As of the date of this article, you could still buy a copy of the issue of UK’s Military Modelling magazine featuring Miguel’s amazing work HERE.

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1:6 Scale Baseball Caps and Related Sports Gear Revisited——Outfitting Your G.I. Joe For Game Day

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Vending Machine NFL Caps for GIjOE— These NFL team logo caps look great on any 1:6 scale action figure. Minor paint overspray can be easily touched up. (Photo: Bryan Mays) Click to enlarge.

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Play Ball! This closeup reveals the 1:6 scale MLB batting helmets produced by Rawlings—perfect for 12-inch GIjOEs. Go, RANGERS! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

If you’ve been with us since 2012, then you may recall that the first-ever article published HERE on The Joe Report was a short account regarding the discovery of a 30-piece set of 1:6 scale MLB baseball batting helmets at a local Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Champaign, Illinois. Manufactured by Rawlings, the tiny helmets (see at right) proved to be a huge hit with GIjOE kitbashers (and sports fans), and the article itself helped us to “kick off” the collaborative and informative nature of this beloved online blogazine.

Today, another faithful follower and “eagle-eyed TJR field reporter” helps us revisit that self-same first topic, reminding us of both past and present 1:6 scale sports headgear and jerseys, including some new hats that he found recently—in a vending machine. According to Bryan Mays:
“I love The Joe Report and how creative all the folks out there are, as well as all the great GIjOE history your blog has uncovered. Your TJR ‘Christmas List’ article a few years back (see HERE) really got me hooked, especially when I saw that photo of a GIjOE holding a toddler’s corn-popper Christmas ornament made by Hallmark. Right then, I knew that Joe Report readers were my kind of people! I wanted to drop you a line and see if you or your readers knew of any NFL gear (or even MLB or NHL for that matter) that would fit our 1/6th scale buddies. I am passing along what little I’ve learned on this subject as well, which admittedly, isn’t too much, but here we go:
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What Team Does YOUR Joe Support? Outfit your GIjOE sports fan with one of these new 1:6 scale NFL team caps found both in vending machines and websites online. Their quality may not be perfect, but with a little touch-up paint, the will be! (Photo: Bryan Mays) Click to enlarge.

A few years back, I bought several hats out of a vending machine that do fit 1:6 scale GIjOEs (see above). They are still available online (HERE) as ‘Premium Football Caps Vending Capsules.’ The hats themselves sometimes have a bit of paint overspray, but they were only $1 from that vending machine, so no biggie.
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Have it YOUR Way— These nifty 1:6 scale football player jerseys were distributed by Burger King a few years ago and can still be found numerous places online. Take care when putting these on your GIjOE however, as those neckholes can be very tight. (Photo: IMGUR) Click to enlarge.

I also found that those Burger King NFL jerseys from about a decade ago (see above) do not work easily with 1:6 GIjOEs—at least not without some modification. Right out of the bag, their neckholes are simply not large enough to fit over Joe’s noggin. You’ll need to either enlarge the neckhole by stitching and sewing, or remove and reinstall Joe’s head in order to get the jersey to go on the figure.
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Higher Quality, But Untested— Have you tried these caps on a GIjOE? If so, we’d love to hear from you. They look GREAT! (Photo NFL store)

I’ve haven’t had time to test those the new NFL MadLids football team ballcaps (see at right), but they’re starting to hit Target stores now and look to be very detailed, even including a little New Era logo. I also haven’t tried any of those Upper Deck mini jersey offerings, neither NHL nor MLB. It is possible they will have the same (tight) neck issues as those Burger King ones. I’d be interested in hearing if any other Joeheads have tried them and/or if they know of any other ballcaps or sports jerseys that work well with 12″ GIjOEs. 
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How Great is THIS? Imagine all the action figures you could outfit with these great NFL “Mini Jerseys.” We’re not sure when they came out, or if they’re still available, but hopefully, they’ll easily fit onto GIjOE without any major modification. It’d be a shame to have to alter them. Of course, if you can yank off and replace your Joe’s head, then any tight neckhole problem is moot. If you know more about this exciting line, please write in. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks! (Photo: Upper Deck)

Happy holidays to all, and thanks again for putting out such a great site, Mark! I hope my article is enough on-topic to be of interest/help to you and to the rest of the 1:6 scale community that loyally follows The Joe Report.” Sincerely—Bryan Mays
Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and best wishes go out to Bryan Mays for his generous contributions to this article. We had not heard of (or seen) many of the items described above. It looks like its time for us to start searching the ‘net (and our local stores) again. Happy Hunting!
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How To Create Realistic 1:6 Scale Rifle Slings For Use With Most Weapons———in 9 Easy Steps!

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1:6 Sling Perfection— This closeup of John B.’s Vietnam-era custom rifle sling reveals it is absolutely perfect in terms of color and detail. Learn how to create your own 1:6 slings in the photo-article provided below. (Photo: John B.)

We LOVE when our faithful readers do all the work for us. Today, intrepid TJR Field Reporter”John B.” provides the following step-by-step guide for creating your own 1:6 scale rifle slings. It is an out-STANDING and simple 9-step procedure that we recommend you print out and save for future reference. As for now…Please clear off your workstation and get ready to have some FUN. Heeeere’s… John B!

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“I wasn’t too happy with the slings that came with a number of the 21stC 1:6 Vietnam-era weapons, so I devised a way to make my own using colored cloth book binding repair tape and wire. I added some light weathering, which I think gives the tape a great canvas look, much more realistic than what originally came with the toys. I used my first new sling for a ’70s Vietnam-era weapon, but with some minor modifications, this procedure could be utilized to make slings for modern-day weapons, World War II, World War I, etc. This might be an old trick (that I just happened to reinvent), but if not, here are the pictures I took to help walk you through it. It’s really quite easy. Enjoy! —John B.

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Written and photographed by John B. Click to enlarge.

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Written and photographed by John B. Click to enlarge.

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Written and photographed by John B. Click to enlarge.

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Written and photographed by John B. Click to enlarge.

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Written and photographed by John B. Click to enlarge.

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Details Make the Difference— As this closeup of John B.’s custom Vietnam-era 101st AB MSG reveals, it’s the DETAILS that really help make the figure. Our eyes are instantly drawn in to those tiny, weathered patches, his amazingly realistic face sculpt, and yes, that beautiful little custom rifle sling. GREAT work, John! (Photo: John B.)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Mr. John B. and to all of the other generous, helpful (and very talented) customizers, reporters, and contributors to The Joe Report. You guys & gals are the best! If you have any questions about this tutorial, please contact John directly via email HERE. Thanks!

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Wayne Faucher Reveals First Pics of His Custom 1:6th Scale “Adventure Team Commando ATW”

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Ready for Bipedal Battle Action— Wayne Faucher’s custom ATW is a threatening, elevated platform for some serious AT firepower. (Photo: WFT)

You all know the drill. Every 6 months or so, customizer extraordinaire, Wayne Faucher, shows up here in the pages of The Joe Report to share some pics of his latest creative foray into 1:6 scale imaginative excellence. Today, he debuts pics of his new “Adventure Team Commando ATW,” a wondrous creation he upgraded from one of those Star Wars “Assault Walker” toys you’ve probably seen (and passed by) at Walmart many times. However great his efforts, Wayne is never one to toot his own horn, and describes this particular 1:6 custom project in an almost blasé manner, stating:
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Wayne Faucher (Photo: WFT)

“Just a bit of weekend fun here. Here’s the Adventure Team Commando ATW. This is a straight up repaint of a Star Wars Assault Walker (currently available on clearance at Walmart for $15). I really tried to find something to customize here, but when something is already this cool, there’s not much to do!

It’s colored it in the Adventure Team Commando Armored Division orange cammo I had already established with my Troublemaker last year. Along with my ATXO, it makes a welcome addition to my AT Commando line. And the price is unbeatable. The whole concept of the AT Commando is set in the early 70’s and $15 is about what this item would have cost back then! So, continuing the ‘What if Hasbro had decided to extend the military line INTO the Adventure Team run,” here then, is the ATW. Enjoy! —Wayne Faucher

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Look For This Box— Here’s what the toy package looks like. At first glance, you may think you’re only buying one of those barely poseable storm trooper figures, but upon further study, you see that you’re also getting the walker shown in the battle scene. TOO COOL! (Photo: Hasbro) Click to enlarge.

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One careful stroke at a time— Wayne proves you can still paint your toys the old-fashioned way—with a brush—and get GREAT results. (Photo: WFT) Click to enlarge.

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Powerful Decals— As a professional artist, Wayne’s skills enable him to increase his custom’s realism while simultaneously keeping the ’70s AT “toy-like quality” he enjoys. (Photo: WFT) Click to enlarge.

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Powerful Profile— From the side, you can see that Wayne went to great trouble to ensure certain details were painted with the appropriate colors. (Photo: WTF)

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Box ’em up REAL good!— As Wayne has proven time and time again, even though Hasbro has given up on GIjOE’s beloved “Adventure Team,” there’s nothing stopping its fans from making their own custom boxes for custom AT figures. So…let’s all get busy! (Photo: WTF) Click to enlarge.

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Back off, Bad Guys— There’s a new sheriff in town. And his name is “Adventure Team Commando!” (Thanks to “Wild” Wayne Faucher.) (Photo: WTF) Click to enlarge.

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Gettin’ SERIOUS— Wayne’s AT Commando force continues to grow. (Photo: WTF) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Once again, Wayne has officially BLOWN OUR MINDS here at The Joe Report, and we’d like to thank him sincerely for sharing these pics and for inspiring countless 1:6 customizers around the world. Absolutely SUPERB work, Wayne. If you’d like to contact Wayne, please leave a comment here with any kudos and/or questions. Thanks!

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Making Your Own (REAL) 1:6 Scale Doughnuts

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Homer knows doughnuts. (Art: Fox Television)

Bottom Line: Longtime GIjOE fan and collector, Frank Hollingshead, wrote in today with a link to the above video clip (in Korean!) showing how it is possible to make REAL fried doughnuts—in 1:6 scale! Other than the miniature loaves of bread that Patches of Pride has been selling for years (see HERE), we were unaware that any other REAL food could exist so sublimely in 1:6 scale. Thanks Frank! Mmm….Doughnuts.

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“Here’s a great step-by-step video demonstration on how to feed our hungry GIjOE ‘doughboys’ at the front. At least, it looks about 1/6 scale. Keep up the great work with The Joe Report and Patches of Pride!”
—Fighting man from head to toe, Frank Hollingshead

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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

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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:

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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).”

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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).”
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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)

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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

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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!

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Wayne Faucher’s Adventure Team Commando “ATXO Battle Armor” Based on Hasbro’s 18-Inch “Titan Hero Series Hulk Buster Armor” Figure

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Ready for Battle— Customizer extraordinaire, Wayne Faucher, picked up a set of Iron Man “Hulkbuster” armor at Walmart for $11 (on clearance) and proceeded to custom paint and convert it into the most distinctive and powerful-looking Adventure Team member we’ve ever seen. Absolutely AMAZING work, Wayne. GO, JOE! (Photo: Wayne Gaucher)

Once again, talented GIjOE fans are picking up where Hasbro has (inexplicably) decided to leave off, in terms of creatively customizing and outfitting the world’s most popular 12-inch action hero. In today’s example (of what Hasbro could have done), uber-customizer Wayne Faucher converted another Hasbro product, an 18-inch “Hulkbuster” toy, into a uniquely impressive set of custom “ATXO Battle Armor” for use with his AT Commando GIjOEs. Wayne also generously provided the photos and following commentary for this article—EXCLUSIVELY—for readers of The Joe Report. 

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Wayne Faucher (Photo: WFT)

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“I haven’t shown this around to many people (not posted on the Trenches or anywhere else) and I know you always enjoy a first look, so here’s a preview of my Adventure Team Commando ATXO Battle Armor. If you’re interested, it’s a simple modification of the Walmart 18” Hulk Buster toy. I redesigned the head (so our hero is visible), mounted some armament, and designed a color scheme to go with the rest of the AT Commando line. And the best part is, it was only $11 on clearance!

I figured the AT Commandos could use some more advanced brute force and firepower in their fight for justice, and this fit the bill perfectly. I’ve seen a number of repaints of this particular toy on line, so I’m certainly not the first to take a stab at it, but I wanted to incorporate mine into the ever expanding Commando series (see HERE). I used School Bus yellow to give it that industrial “bulldozer” look and trimmed it in the traditional AT black and red. Not a bad weekend’s work! “

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ATXO Battle Armor 3/4 front view (Photo: WEF)

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ATXO Battle Armor 3/4 rear view (Photo: WEF)

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ATXO Battle Armor rear view closeup (Photo: WEF)

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ATXO Battle Armor shoulder closeup (Photo: WEF)

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ATXO operator’s port and weaponry closeup (Photo: WEF)

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For his ATXO, Faucher choose the version of the Hulkbuster armor toys that you can actually open up and place your 12-inch figures inside. FANTASTICO! (Photo: Hasbro)

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“In case there’s any confusion, this is the version of the Hulkbuster that opens up so you can put a figure inside. I actually have a vintage G.I. Joe in mine now. I’m always trying to maintain that throwback quality to my imagined 70s toys. Thanks for looking!”

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Bottom Line: How inspiring! Wayne never ceases to amaze us with talent, generosity and skill as a 1:6 customizer. If you’d like to try your own hand at Faucher’s approach to customizing this toy, remember to look for the version of Hasbro’s Hulkbuster that measures approximately 18-inches in height and opens up in the front. That way, you can put your own 12-inch GIjOE “commando” inside! Our sincerest thanks to Wayne for all his help with this article.

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Hello, Goodwill!———Customizer Using “Recycled Items” Found in Area Thrift Stores to Create All-New 1:6 Scale Equipment, Vehicles and Dioramas

Getting in the Swing of Things— Creating cool 1:6 scale table-top diorama displays like this one just require a little time, talent and imagination—plus a trip to your local Goodwill for inspiration! (Custom and photo by Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

Getting in the Swing of 1:6 Scale Customizing FUN— Creating visually exciting (and humorous) 1:6 scale table-top dioramas, like this one by Todd Zingales, just requires a little time, talent and imagination—plus a trip to a local Goodwill or other thrift store for cheap “inspiration!” (Photo by Todd Zingales)

Customizer of 1:6 Scale and founder of the

Todd Zingales, 1:6 customizer of “recycled items” and founder of the “Underground Legion” on Facebook (Photo: Todd Zingales)

Underground Legion Creator “Having Fun and Using Imagination” Working in 1:6 Scale

What is it about GIjOE fans and collectors that makes them so talented and creative? Is it that they all grew up imagining and then reenacting exciting exploits and adventures in their living rooms, bathtubs, backyards and “outer space?” Did GIjOE’s original, wide-open “universe of possibilities” enable those fans to adeptly move in any creative direction they wished, ultimately producing versatile, open minds that are now able to produce their own custom action figures, equipment, vehicles and dioramas? The answers to all those questions is—of course—YES (duh).

“Joeheads” are indeed a talented bunch.
In fact, some of the most creative work being produced by anyone—in ANY hobby—is taking place on a daily basis in the workshops and “Joe Rooms” of fans around the world. Armed with well-honed imaginations, these amazing men (and women) rise above financial and/or physical limitations to utilize their unbelievable modeling and/or other artistic skills to show the rest of us how a child’s toy line can continue to be a worthwhile, entertaining and creatively satisfying pursuit for millions of individuals—many of whom are now well into their “mature” adult years. <snicker>

Readers of The Joe Report are already familiar with the names and faces of many 1:6 customizers. We regularly feature their myriad accomplishments within our pages, and proudly showcase their work in an ongoing effort to inspire and expand this segment of our beloved 1:6 scale hobby. Today we’ll discuss another talented customizer, Todd Zingales (shown above) of New Hampshire.

Holy, Hovercrafts! Todd built his own flying machine out of parts found around the house and from local thrift stores. AMAZING! (Photo: Todd Zingales)

Holy, Hovercrafts! Todd built his own NASA-AT flying machine out of spare parts and pieces found around his house and at local thrift stores. VRROOM! (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

Todd’s use of broken, cast-off, or otherwise unwanted items will remind many 1:6ers of a fellow customizing compatriot, Gary Stair, of Pennsylvania. As you may recall, Stair also prefers to work with older, broken, “cast-off” items; repairing and then combining them with “found” (i.e. free) objects or things he may have purchased for pennies on the dollar at local thrift stores. (See five previous articles on Stair’s works HERE).

Zingales’ and Stairs’ low-dollar approach to customizing should provide some comforting reassurance to other aspiring kitbashers out there who feel they can’t “afford” to customize their ideas. If you follow the example of these two talented penny-pinchers—you can make anything!

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We asked Zingales if he’d share his personal insights and inspirations for the 1:6 work he’s creating, and in the following commentary (exclusively to readers of The Joe Report), he replied:

Todd Zingales, 1:6 collector and customizer (Photo: Todd Zingales)

Todd Zingales, 1:6 collector and customizer (Photo: Todd Zingales)

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“I started a small company to make custom 1:6 scale custom items using recycled items that most people would just toss in the trash. When you look at the world with a 1:6 scale eye, it’s amazing what you can find that you can reuse. The base section of my first hovercraft is from an old slide projector part that was found at our local recycling center. The other pieces are a combination of hand-carved plastic items. The round, top section is from the top of a plastic tank I purchased at Goodwill. Most of the time when starting a project, I’m not really sure what the final design will be. Having fun and just using my imagination is how many items have ultimately been made.”

Need a mobile Adventure Team helipad? Make one yourself like Todd Zingales. WOW! (Photo: Todd Zingales)

Prepare to Land Hovercraft!— Do you need a mobile Adventure Team helipad? Make one out of broken and/or spare parts like Todd Zingales. WOW! (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

“I decided to make a second hovercraft with twin motors and make it a sit-down version instead. Each creation is custom painted using two types of paint to give it ‘texture’ and help hide the many colored plastic items that have been used.”

Prepare for Liftoff!— Each of Todd's creations are unique and reveal a keen eye for possibility. (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

Prepare for Liftoff!— Each of Todd’s 1:6 scale creations are unique and reveal he clearly possesses a keen eye for “recycling possibilities.” (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

“I also make many different items using broken GIjOE vehicles that I have found. Many of those items cannot be repaired due to the heavy damage to the item. Each project can take from 2 hours to 3 days. It all depends on the size of the craft.”

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Diggin’ all the Details— It’s amazing what you can do by amping up the detail level. In this case, the realism has been increased by (at least) 10-fold! (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

“Many people ask me why I sell my custom items. The answer is, to me, it has always been about the next build, not keeping everything I create. I also love that an item that is handcrafted is now part of someone else’s personal collection!”

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Planetary Rescue Vehicle— If you’re trapped on Mars and need medical EVAC, who ya’ gunna call? That’s for the new owner of Todd’s extensively customized MSV to decide. One thing we know for sure: its intricate and weathered paint job makes it appear as if its seen a LOT of life-saving action! The longer you look, the more you SEE. (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

“I have met some super people from Chicago to Denver and am part of many cool Facebook clubs as well. Creating custom 1:6 items is a wonderful hobby. You can see most of my custom creations on Facebook over at the Underground Legion.” —Todd Zingales

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Moon Buggy Mania— Simple and effective. {Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

Underwater Mayhem— Todd's

Alien Dune Machine— What an amazing paint job! (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

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Apollo Moon Mission Truck— Look at all the odds-n-ends Todd combined to create this unique vehicle. We especially like the green bubble window and that big exhaust stack running along the outside front-left. How cool would this look on a pebbly “lunar” surface? (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

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What’s INSIDE Todd’s Customs? Don’t forget to detail out the interiors of your custom vehicles. We’re not quite sure what Todd’s going for here (some kinda ramp, or something), but it looks freakin’ sweet. Let’s go dig up a UFO and capture that Moon-Man! (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

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Adding detail items like these clear crates (found in most office supply stores) enables your GIjOE astronauts to transport the special “moon gear” they’ll need on their next lunar adventure. How else can they do those icky alien autopsies? (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

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Adventure Team Jet, Anyone? Remember the MX-25 Attack Jet made for Max Steel by Mattel? Well, Todd converted his into an Adventure Team aircraft. WHOOSH! (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

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Umm…Can he get in here?— GIjOE scuba dude may be in for an unpleasant surprise. Small sharks can easily swim inside his new 1:6 custom shark cage! (Photo: Todd Zingales) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Take a good look at the everyday objects around you. Make mental notes of their sizes, shapes and potential usage. Don’t keep your creativity locked up in a “brain cage.” Let your imagination flow free and it’ll take you to wonderful places where you can create with your mind—AND your hands. Once you’ve produced something you’d like to show off, please contact us here at The Joe Report. We’d love to share it with the rest of the 1:6 world! Our sincerest thanks to Todd Zingales for his generous assistance with all the text and photos in this article. You can visit Todd over at his Underground Legion on Facebook HERE

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Collector & Customizer of 1:6 Scale Reveals Methods Used in Action Figure Photography

Steve Benson, former Army WHATEVER, poses with two of his subjects in his backyard training grounds. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Steve Benson, a lawyer living in Colorado Springs, CO (and a JAG officer in the Army Reserves), poses with two of his 1:6 scale grunts training on his backyard obstacle course. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson)

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Super Soldiers— Each of Benson's figure have been carefully and accurately outfitted for the most realism, right down to the smallest details, including tiny PT patches from Patches of Pride. EXCELLENT! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Super Soldiers— Benson’s action figures are realistically outfitted, down to the smallest details including ARMY t-shirts and reflective belt. Some even sport 1:6 scale cloth PT patches from Patches of Pride. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Customizer Puts “ACTION” Into 1:6 Scale Action Figure Photography

We’ve been admiring and following the work of 1:6 scaler, Steve Benson, for quite a while now, and thought that this would be a good time to share some of his recent figure and diorama photography with the rest of the world. In the following exclusive series of images, Benson utilizes a superbly hand-picked and hand-customized squad of soldiers; each carefully selected, dressed and prepped for the day’s main activity—outdoor PT.

Playing with GIjOEs and other action figures in the great outdoors is one of the most enjoyable activities fans can participate in AND capture in their own photographs. After all, GIjOEs are TOYS and they were meant to be played with in largely outdoor-based action scenarios, settings and environments. As a result, backyard play allows our imaginations to run free (see Tom RazoolyHERE).

Steve Benson’s action figure photography stands apart from others we seen by (somehow) putting LIFE into the figures themselves. You can almost feel their muscles straining and hearts pumping as they tackle various obstacles put before them in Benson’s backyard training course. We asked Steve if he would share some of his “secrets” for creating convincing ACTION photos with GIjOEs and he kindly replied:

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“My secret is a lot of patience, a lot of swearing, and a weekly therapeutic massage! I use figures with stiff joints and continue to work with them until they are posed exactly how I want them. Balancing them takes a lot of time and they try to fall over a lot in these gusting Colorado breezes. I hate setting up formations because if one falls down, half the company goes down with him! My back is usually plenty stiff after a detailed session like the ‘Tough One.’ Fortunately, I have two (10 and 14 year-old) daughters to assist me.”

Fall in! Eyes Front! Benson's squad prepares for a rigorous session of PT with a mohawked paratrooper drill sergeant. Notice the diversity of characters and attention to detail. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Fall in! Eyes Front! Benson’s eager squad of 1:6 scale soldiers prepares for a rigorous session of PT led by their (mohawked) paratrooper drill sergeant. Notice the diversity of characters and their accurate attention to detail. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

“My 17 year-old son has refused to participate until we switch to male soldiers engaged in combat operations. That will be coming reasonably soon, but I have to get O’Mara and Devereux (the two women) through Ranger School first, which I plan to have done by the end of July. After that, it will start getting rough with operations in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Sudan. I’m looking forward to it.”

Hit the dirt and gimme 25! The drill sergeant wastes no time in getting the soldiers warmed up and working. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Hit the dirt and gimme 25, maggots! Benson’s Army drill sergeant wastes no time in getting the other soldiers warmed up and working hard. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

“I only photoshop to change facial expressions (eyebrows usually) and to remove imperfections like dog hairs from my beagle or stray uniform threads that sneak into the photo. So far, I’ve never had to use any wires or special posing aids, except for the Littlebird chopper and the deployed parachute. I did use wires to hang those pieces and photoshopped them out of the pictures later.” —Steve Benson

Here then, is a sample sequence of some of Benson’s recent action figure photos. Enjoy!

All the way up, and all the way down! There's no substitute for proper form when doing pushups the ARMY way! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

All the way up, and all the way down! According to the Drill Sergeant, there’s no substitute for proper form when doing push-ups the ARMY way. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Leg scissor kicks work the abs and turn wimps into warriors! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Leg scissors work the abs and turn wimps into warriors! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Learning to work as a TEAM is essential in the military. GO, girls! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Learning to work as a team is essential in the Army. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

“Sgt T” instructs Chief Warrant Officer Devereux how to do a proper Army chin-up. And no, they’re not going to be easy, soldier. So… GET UP THERE! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

CWO Devereux show Sgt. T she's got what it takes and maxes out each rep. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

CWO Devereux show Sgt. T she’s got what it takes and maxes out each rep. HOOah! You GO, girl! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Devereux's determination is clear to those around her. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Devereux’s determination is clearly making her “ARMY STRONG!” (Photo: Steve Benson)

Hit that Wall! Devereux continues her way through the course and

Hit that Wall! Devereux continues to the next obstacle of her “Tough One” training (taking place in Benson’s backyard). Note the realistic stride in this pic. WOW! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

WOW! This is a very difficult pose to capture realistically, but Benson does so masterfully. Great job, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson)

This is a perfect example of the athletic and physical realism we were describing earlier. It’s very easy to believe this figure is actually jumping onto this obstacle. You can almost sense and FEEL her musculature making the effort. Such moments in time are VERY difficult to pose and capture in a way that convincingly “fools the eye.” Excellent work, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge (and STUDY).

Get up there! Go! GO! GO! Devereux refuses to quit. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Get over that obstacle—NOW! Devereux struggles but refuses to quit. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Almost...Don't Stop! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Almost over…Don’t Stop! Get off that obstacle! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Success! (Was there ever any doubt?) (Photo: Steve Benson)

Success! (Was there ever any doubt?) HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson)

What's next, Drill Sergeant? On to the rope and net climbing obstacle, of course! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

If you build it—they will TRAIN. What’s next, Drill Sergeant? Benson’s handcrafted climbing tower obstacle is an ominous 1:6 scale masterpiece. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Heads up! When the Drill Sergeants go over the basics of rope and net climbing, you'd better pay attention. They will NOT repeat themselves! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Heads up! When the Drill Sergeants go over the basics of rope and net climbing, you’d better be paying attention—they will NOT be repeating themselves. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Now, GO! GO! GO! Get up that rope! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.

Not ready? Too bad. Get up that rope NOW, maggot! (Photo: Steve Benson)

If you slip, it's a long way down. Keep going! (Photo: Steve Benson)

If you slip or fall, it’s a long way down (and embarrassing). So keep going! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Excellent! Devereux continues to excel on the course. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Excellent! Devereux continues to excel on the course. Go! Go! GO! (Photo: Steve Benson)

What's next? The course only gets more difficult! (Photo: Steve Benson)

What’s next? Failure is NOT an option, soldier! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Look out! One misstep and you'll pay for it in the field hospital for weeks. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Look out! One misstep and you’ll pay for it in a field hospital for weeks. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Now up the slanted ladder obstacle. Don't slow down! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Up the slanted ladder obstacle. Don’t look down! (Photo: Steve Benson)

You're at the Top! Now go over and start down the net -climb. Hurry! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Yes, you’ve reached the top! What do you want? A medal? Get over yourself and climb down off of the obstacle, soldier. MOVE IT! MOVE IT! MOVE IT! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Watch it,

Watch out, “Spiderwoman.” If you get tangled up in THIS web, it’ll make an easy target for an impatient Drill Sergeant to “pick you off” like an enemy sniper! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Good job! Now suit up and MOVE OUT to the next obstacle. (Photo: Steve Benson)

Good job, soldier! Now jump off and MOVE OUT to the next obstacle. Notice the natural, realistic posing of the action figures in Benson’s photos. He clearly has a GREAT “eye” for this type of 1:6 artistic pursuit. (Photo: Steve Benson)

That's right,

That’s right, soldier You’re going to learn to rappel—like a RANGER! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Remember what your Drill Sergeant told you and get down off of this obstacle—NOW! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Sgt. T’s eyes bore holes into Devereux’s skull as she prepares to step off the obstacle. Remember what your Drill Sergeant taught you soldier—and get off of this obstacle—NOW! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Rappelling requires training. And the Army is training soldiers to LEAD and WIN. Now MOVE OUT! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Rappelling requires training. And the Army trains its soldiers to LEAD and to WIN. Anytime, Sweetheart. We’re losing daylight. Now, MOVE!!!!! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Devereux and another soldier move over the side and begin a series of short hops, working their way down the obstacle. We love the upward angle you've chosen for this shot, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Devereux and O’Mara move over the side and begin a series of short hops, working their way down the obstacle. We love the upward angle Benson chose for this shot. (Photo: Steve Benson)

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Letting out lengths of line, the soldiers carefully focus on keeping correct rappelling postures so as to quickly and safely descend the obstacle. And take a good look at their highly accurate and realistic 1:6 scale harnesses and gear. Superbly staged photo, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson)

In the Army, fellow soldiers always

Good job! Soldiers always “have each other’s back” in the Army and are trained to keep a sharp eye out in case someone needs help. It looks like these two soldiers did just fine. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson)

1:6 scale photo Wiz, Steve Benson, poses next to some of the equipment he's built for his backyard

1:6 scale photo Wiz, Steve Benson, poses next to some of the equipment he’s built for his backyard “training” photos. This shot helps give a sense of scale. He’s even installed a RANGER plaque at the very top to provide inspiration to his rope climbing soldiers. Fan-TASTIC work, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson)

Bottom Line: Who knew that an Army JAG lawyer would also be a natural photographer of 1:6 scale ACTION? If you’d like to see more of Benson’s work, we highly recommend the new Facebook page he’s created for his miniature heroes found HERE. It’s chocked FULL of great pics and adventures. Our sincerest thanks go out to Steve Benson and his daughters for their generous contributions to this article and for sharing these exclusive and wonderful photos. Go, ARMY!

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Pin THIS! Tiny 1:6 Scale Clothespins for G.I. Joe

How small can we go? At (almost) 1:6 scale, you can fit quite a lot of these tiny clothespins in your hand. They're made of real wood and metal. They really work. And they look GREAT! Available in many arts-n-crafts stores including Michaels and Hobby Lobby. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

How small can we go? At (almost) 1:6 scale, you can fit quite a lot of these tiny clothespins in just one hand. And yes, they’re made of real wood, real metal, and they really work. And they look GREAT! Available now in many arts-n-crafts stores including Michaels and Hobby Lobby. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Another quick heads-up for all you customizers of 1:6 scale dioramas out there. Intrepid TJR Field Reporter, James Long, wrote in to us today with some interesting intel and pics of, well, a rather ordinary household item. But what makes this particular “sighting” of interest to us (of course), is that the items in question are in 1:6 scale. And as we all know, customizers of 1:6 scale don’t care WHAT an item is; if it’s in 1:6 scale—we’re DEFINITELY interested!

In this closeup of the product recently found in Michael's, you can see that you'll receive 6 full-sized clothespins (give those to your children) as well as

In this closeup of the product Long found recently in Michael’s, you can see that you’ll receive 6 full-sized “glittery” clothespins (give those away to your kids) and 24 of the miniature (no glitter) versions in black, purple, orange and OD green. Keep those for your “Laundry Adventurer!” (Photo: James Long)

As you can tell by looking at these pictures, in this specific case, the items in question are—hold onto something—tiny wooden clothespins! Yes, we’re about to enter the exciting world of GIjOE doing his weekly laundry. What? You didn’t think his clothes washed themselves, did you? Perhaps if we called Joe a “Laundry Adventurer” or labeled his next mission “The Search for the Lost Socks,” it’d help make this product announcement a little more exciting. According to Long:

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“My wife and I were at Michael’s yesterday, and we spotted something that might make a good addition to your next article on 1:6 scale items and be useful as props for Joe dioramas—clothes pins! Okay, they’re actually just slightly larger than 1:6 scale, but they’re close enough that most people won’t complain. They come with some larger clothespins that aren’t of much use for Joe, but for $1.99 on clearance, I wasn’t going to argue!

It’s a Michael’s exclusive item (according to the back of the packaging) and as you can see in the attached photo (shown below, ed.), they work quite well. Yes, even GIjOE now has the drudgery of doing his laundry. Enjoy!” —James Long

James Long's "Laundry Adventurer" pins up some of his laundry at AT headquarters using his new clothespins. Go, JOE! What a hero! (Photo: James Long)

How’s it Hanging, Joe? James Long’s AT “Laundry Adventurer” pins up some of his laundry recently using the new clothespins Long found at Michaels. What a hero! (Photo: James Long)

Bottom Line: In the photo shown above, Joe’s new miniature clothespins appear to be in accurate 1:6 scale. And the fact that they’re not made of stiff (pink) plastic and that they’re fully functional makes them even more appealing to 1:6 scalers and diorama builders who wish to recreate this exciting…uh…dangerous(?)…looking scene. Anyway, Happy Hunting!

Joe prepares his new EOD robot for use in searching suspicious cars and packages. (Photo: Sean Huxter)

Joe’s EOD robot. (Photo: Sean Huxter) Click to enlarge.

WIN A FREE E.O.D ROBOT!

Here’s How: In this exciting TJR “Bonus Contest,” be the first person to guess EXACTLY how many of the 1:6 scale clothespins are being held in the hand in the photo at the top of this article and you’ll win the FREE 1:6 scale EOD Robot shown at right (GIjOE figure not included).

To enter, simply leave a comment to this article, here on The Joe Report, and when the first correct answer appears, we’ll announce the winner. Please limit yourself to one entry per day. If you don’t hear from us via email, feel free to try again the next day until a winner is named.

International fans are also welcome to participate. The (1) prize will be shipped to the (1) lucky winner completely free of charge. Best of luck to all. Ready? Go!!!!!!

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