Category Archives: Dealers

James DeSimone Make Guest Appearance on A&E’s “Storage Wars” As a G.I. JOE “Super Collector”

Bottom Line: In this 2-minute clip from an episode of the A&E program, Storage Wars, one of the show’s contestants(?) purchases a storage locker for $750, then discovers it contains a 1985 GIjOE USS Flagg aircraft carrier. She then takes it over to James DeSimone for his professional, expert estimation of its value. There are some quick, fleeting views of the assembled ship, plus a few shots of James’ RAH figures placed atop its deck and arranged around it for maximum display effect (making this an official “Joe Sighting”). The Flagg’s box is included as well, but it appears to be pretty banged up. Was this particular Flagg worth what James declares? YOU be the judge. Enjoy!

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John Kolb, Retired U.S. Marine Corps Helicopter Pilot, Making 1:6 Scale Collectible “Minirounds”

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Miniature Metal Munitions Master— Retired USMC Captain, John Kolb (shown here in his workshop), holds up a piece of aluminum he’s begun shaving and shaping down into what will ultimately become one of his exclusive “miniround” miniature artillery shell collectibles. (Photo: John Kolb) Click to enlarge.

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Pop-a-Top (or not)— John’s “Mini M107” is available in two versions, standard or bottle opener. (Photo: John Kolb)

1:6 Scalers are all about realistic detail. In that regard, you won’t find more realistically detailed 1:6 scale ordnance for your GIjOE’s artillery pieces than those currently being created and sold by former USMC helicopter pilot, John Kolb. We stumbled across John’s outstanding work on the internet recently and were absolutely floored by what we had discovered—highly accurate, all-metal, perfectly detailed, 1:6 scale miniature (non-functioning) replicas of U.S. military artillery ordnance. OOHrah!

Judging by the closeup photos on John’s “Minirounds” website (see HERE), Kolb has achieved the highest possible level of realism and quality at 1:6 scale. Much like fellow 1:6 scale artist/artisan, Jonathan DeGuzman (see HERE), Kolb is also working with real metals, carefully handcrafting each and every item in his own workshop, all by hand. In the following interview, exclusive to readers of The Joe Report, John kindly “reveals all” regarding his exciting new line of “Miniround” products. Enjoy!


TJR: Hi John! Thanks so much for taking time out to discuss your work today. Please tell us all about “Minirounds,” what you do there, and how you came upon the idea to create miniature metal ordnance collectibles in 1:6 (and other) scales.

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“Minirounds is a micro company; just me actually; specializing in the replica ordnance market. I recently retired in March of 2015 from the Marine Corps where I flew CH53E/D helicopters as an Officer and worked as an electronics technician as an Enlisted man. I knew that I didn’t want to fly when I transitioned and had a few career options to choose from—one of them being research and product development and the other, dentistry.”

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Preparing to Lift a Humvee— Before John Kolb began creating 1:6 scale ordnance collectibles, he piloted CH53E/D “Super Stallion” helicopters like this one for the United States Marine Corps. Thank you so much for all of your service, John. OOHrah! Semper Fi! (Photo: DOD) Click to enlarge.

TJR: R&D and Dentistry? Those both sound like challenging and lucrative career options. So what made you decide to create a military miniatures and collectibles business instead?

“It actually all hinged on a long conversation with my wife (who is a physician). She asked one very important question, ‘Do you have a burning desire to be a dentist?’ I replied, ‘No. Not really, but it’s a good profession that pays well.’ She then asked, ‘Okay, what do you have a passion for?’ I explained this concept of product development and selling a variety of widgets. She replied, ‘Great, let’s do that!’, and that was the genesis of a significant career shift.”

TJR: Very cool! It’s wonderful that you have your wife’s full support. So, how did you get started?

“After browsing countless online forums and trying to figure out how to do ‘this,” I soon realized that I needed to purchase some modeling software (Solidworks) and machines (Haas). I called Solidworks and was very impressed with their responsiveness and willingness to help Vets out.  They actually gave me a student version for just $150.00 because I was a veteran. Great company!”

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Get Down! Those papers on your desk wouldn’t dare fly or “blow away” when being held down by a paperweight as impressive as THIS! Kolb’s larger (non-1:6 scale) products are still miniatures (approximately 12″ tall), but their larger size makes them a superb (and attention-getting) collectible for any former artilleryman or militaria collector. Out-STANDING! (Photo: John Kolb)

TJR: How did you make your decisions regarding those machines, equipment, etc.?

“I really liked what I had read about Haas CNC machines from a variety of users, so before transitioning my savings into these machines, I chose to pay them a visit.  I intentionally underdressed and feigned a level of naivety. I showed up for one of their demo days at their manufacturing plant in Oxnard, CA.  From the time I walked into the door, I was treated like I had just purchased a $250,000.00 machine, even though I was just a visitor.  I was sold on the company and since that visit, I’ve purchased a TL2 lathe and TMP-2 mill.  Once again, they are a great AMERICAN Company.”

TJR: How about ideas? What made you think of making miniature artillery rounds?

“At my final duty assignment, I sat next to an Artillery Officer.  He knew that had a lathe and asked if I could replicate a 155mm Howitzer round.  I said sure, as long as I had either a blueprint or an actual round to model.  He tracked one down for me and as they say, ‘the rest is history.’ It has been an interesting journey, both challenging and the most rewarding profession that I’ve had to date.”  

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This is 1:6 scale! (Photo: John Kolb)

TJR: Could you walk us through the process of making one of your 1:6 scale munitions?

“Sure! First, the projectile body starts as 12-foot billet of aluminum that is cut down to a 4.1-inch slug.  The first cycle cuts the bottom profile, then drills and taps a 3/8-inch x 16 TPI hole.   Next, the front profile is cut and the hole for the fuse is drilled.

The copper rotating band is turned to the correct outside diameter followed by the gas ring groove and it is cut to length.  Next, the fuze is cut from a solid billet of aluminum.  The profile is turned, followed by a grooving cycle to give the back of the fuze its shape. 

The copper ring is then joined to the body, masked and then painted. Next, the masking tape is removed and the bottle opener body is joined to the projectile body.  The fuze is epoxied into place and the graphics are printed (view our production video below).”

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Real Metal is Unmistakable— This super closeup of one of John’s minirounds reveals the real copper ring section. Absolutely stunning realism! (Photo: John Kolb)

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Miniature Metal Masterpiece— John even creates tiny screw-in, screw-out detonator fuse tips, or ogives, for each of his excellent “minirounds.” Great for your GIjOE EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) squad! (Photo: John Kolb)

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Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em— John also offers a 1:6 scale version of the 155H Smoke Projectile. On a real-life battlefield, these babies are great for creating huge volumes of smoke, providing visual cover for the movement of advancing troops. This 1:6 scale version…will look good in your diorama. Hey, it’s non-functional! (Photo: John Kolb)

TJR: Wow. Your work is mind-boggling. All the steps required and the level of detail you achieve—your products are clearly the best of the best. How about custom work? Are your designs customizable in any way, or are they all set in stone, so to speak?

“I’ve made modifications of the original bottle opener design to accommodate the model industry for different applications.  I try my best never to say no, because you never know where the next day will take you. If there is anything you need, please contact us and I’ll do my best to make it happen. Semper Fi!”
John Kolb, Minirounds

Bottom Line: John Kolb’s new “Minirounds” have clearly raised the bar of 1:6 scale achievement as high as it could ever possibly go. Many of his products may be too large for use in GIjOE-sized dioramas, but his smallest, the shells shown in this article and their bottle-opener counterparts, would make absolutely fan-TASTIC additions to any artillery or ammo dump diorama. At $20 a pop, the price, as they say, is right.

Also, our sincerest thanks go out to Capt. Kolb for his service to our country and for his contributions to the 1:6 scale collecting and customizing hobby. It’s our considered opinion that no collection or display of GIjOE or Action Man artillery soldiers (or Marines) would be complete without at least 1 or 2 of John’s miniature masterpieces completing the scene. We highly recommend that you pay John a visit at his website and contact him personally with any questions regarding his fine products. Go, John! Go, Minirounds! 

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Reality in Miniature Doesn’t Come Cheap— The price list on Kolb’s “Minirounds” website proves you’re getting what you pay for; handcrafted, all-metal, highly detailed, professionally created (non-functional) replicas of U.S. military ordnance at various scales. GIjOE fans will be most interested in the 1:6 scale “Mini-Mini M107” and the “Mini-Mini M110A2,” costing $20 and $25 each, respectively. You can even get them made as bottle openers. Out-STANDING! (Photo: John Kolb) Click to enlarge.

 

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“Scale Model Expo” in Ohio Provides Affordable Alternative For Fans of 1:6 Scale Who Are Unable to Attend This Year’s JoeCon 2016 or Joelanta

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Aching! Lock unt Load! This screenshot from a Fox19 News video reveals a closeup of Dick Schauerte’s outstanding 1:6 scale WWII German anti-tank gun, just one of many inspiring pieces fans can see on display—FREE of charge—at this weekend’s Scale Model Expo in West Chester, OH, March 5 & 6, 2016.

Let’s face it… This year’s location of JoeCon 2016 in Loveland, Colorado, is a going to be a lonnnng haul for many of us, and Joelanta, as great as that show is (and it IS great!), can also set fans back a fair amount of change, simply to attend. When you factor in hotel stays, food, fuel, entrance fees and other related expenses, going to our hobby’s “main events” each year can put quite a dent in a collector’s wallet. But do those financial realities mean fans have to sit on their hands, year after year? Absolutely not!

There are always ways Joeheads and 1:6 scalers can save money and make hobby-related excursions more affordable and “attendable.” Carpooling, for example, can save fuel expenses. Shared hotel rooms (do you snore?) can cut back dramatically on lodging. And low-budget meals (yes, we mean McDonalds) or “brown-bagging it,” can really streattttch your convention dollars.

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He’s Gettin’ the Word Out— In this screenshot, fan, collector, customizer, and “Scale Model Expo” organizer, Keith Davis, discusses the creation of 1:6 scale custom projects during an exclusive interview with Fox19 News. Working with local media outlets is a proven way to boost show attendance.

Fortunately for fans on a budget, alternatives to expensive shows abound. The best, of course, are the ones that don’t charge ANY attendance or dealer table fees. Are there such events? Indeed! One such stellar (and affordable) example is this weekend’s Scale Model Expo located in West Chester, Ohio. According to the Expo’s page on Facebook:

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“FREE ADMISSION to the Scale Model Expo! Regular admission rates apply to the Train Journey and the A-Maze-N Funhouse. Exhibiting Large scale models of R/C Steam and Electric Boats, G-Scale Live Steam Trains, R/C Airplanes, Automobiles, Military Vehicles and Equipment, Military Figures, Large 1/6th Scale WWII Military Dioramas, Stationary Steam engines and much more.

Participating Groups: Cincinnati Scale Modelers; Cinder Sniffers Inc.; Greater Cincinnati Garden Railway Society; Sixth Scale Collectors Club of Cincinnati; Sycamore Modelers; Maritime Modelers and more. Representatives of the Veterans Administration will be present to provide assistance to veterans in reference to available benefits. 25 cent hotdogs (all through March at EnterTRAINment Junction!”

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Shows are Great For Recruiting— In another interview with Fox19, SSCC member, Dick Schauerte, expressed his hopes that the show would help “draw more people into our club and get younger people involved,” to help grow the hobby in general and to support Entertrainment Junction.

Bottom Line: As well as the various show-saving methods discussed above, we also suggest you keep your eye on hobby magazines, Facebook, and online fan forums. All of them typically contain “upcoming event calendars” that provide VERY handy information. Our own Joe Report calendar (see at the bottom of this page) is a great place to start. And don’t forget to check your local newspapers for toy and “model shows” in your area. Hopefully, you’ll be able to attend either the Scale Model Expo, Joelanta, or JoeCon in 2016, to help you get your 1:6 scale “fix.” Our best wishes go out to the organizers of this weekend’s show in Ohio. It sounds like you’ll have a BLAST! To view the entire Scale Model Expo interview video on the Fox19 News website, go HERE.

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“G.I. Joe Repair Shop” Owner Hopes His Business Will Help Revitalize “Empty” Downtown of Lone Wolf, Oklahoma———Daughter Paints G.I. Joe Murals

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The Last Place You’d Expect to Find a G.I. Joe Museum— If you don’t take your foot off the pedal, it’s all too easy to zip right through the small town of Lone Wolf, OK, little realizing you’re also passing by one of the SWEETEST little museums ever dedicated to America’s Movable Fighting Man. So, SLOW DOWN, pahduh! Maybe if they painted their water tower Adventure Team yellow..? (Photo: Nick Vitale)

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Neil Vitale, owner, operator and curator of the GIjOE Repair Shop (and museum) located in Lone Wolf, OK (Photo: Nick Vitale)

Living’ the G.I. Joe Dream—In Lone Wolf, OK

Sometimes we come across fans or collectors who are truly living the “GIjOE dream.” Typically, they’re the sort of individuals who, through a combination of hard work and dedication, are now able to comfortably display, professionally repair, and profitably sell—GIjOEs. After years of effort, they’ve finally achieved 1:6 fandom’s most highly sought-after “collecting trifecta,” and now own and operate a GIjOE-related business.

Indeed, even after decades of diehard collecting, many collectors continue to dream of a well-appointed “Joe Room,” or the space required to simply de-crate and display a burgeoning collection. Many others yearn for the knowledge and/or talents required to repair, reflock or repaint, old or broken action figures. For most of us though, it’s TIME and money that remain the most restrictive factors, and so it’s always heartening to learn when another fan has broken through those barriers; purchased his own building, and is now refurbishing it into a growing, downtown Joe-business. We’re referring (of course) to renowned GIjOE expert—Neil Vitale.

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Welcome to Neil’s Place— You’re looking at the Main Street entrance to an actual “brick-n-mortar” GIjOE store now located at 1107 Main Street in downtown Lone Wolf, OK. If you love Joes, this is THE place to hang out on weekends, get something repaired, or buy-n-sell. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Formerly of Connecticut, Neil recently moved his family (and impressive vintage GIjOE collection) to the far-flung reaches of Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. A pediatrician by profession, Nick commutes daily to the nearby Air Force town of Alton for his practice, before returning home again to his family and favorite hobby—GIjOE. In the following interview (given exclusively to The Joe Report), Vitale reveals the full “inside” story behind his exciting new “GIjOE Repair Shop.” Enjoy!

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TJR: Thanks for taking time to talk to us today, Neil. Please tell our readers how you came up with the idea for your GIjOE business and how you got the ball rolling on such an ambitious project.

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Dr. Neil Vitale, Pediatrician and GIjOE businessman (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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NV: “The GIjOE Repair shop was an outgrowth of my ebay store. I started putting together vintage GIjOE sets in 2009 and have sold over 500 in the last 7 years. I did this in my basement in Connecticut. We had recently moved to Lone Wolf, Oklahoma from Connecticut to be closer to my wife’s family and during the transition, I had all my Joe stuff in storage for about a year. While working in Oklahoma (I’m a Pediatrician), it became clear that there were a lot of empty buildings in our downtown area that people were only using for storage. Lone Wolf is a farming community of about 450 people and the downtown area is dying. So I purchased the old Flower Shop and decided to use it for Joe storage and a place to build and sell my Joe’s.”

TJR: Fascinating! What happened next? How does your new business work?

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“I found a few display cases in the surrounding communities to temporarily display the Joe’s before I sold them. It was great, because I was able to have an enormous space for my Joe’s and my wife was happy to get them out of the house. I call it the “GI JOE Repair Shop” and we buy pieces and parts off of ebay and then complete the sets to resell them, just like I did before in Connecticut.”

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Main Street Visitors— Fans and customers browsing Neil’s new store/museum. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

TJR: What was the inspiration for the way you’ve decorated your business’ interior and exterior?

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“In Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma (about 120 miles away), there’s The Action Figure Museum. They have a special section on military and GIjOE figures. We went in there and it turned out to be a pretty cool museum. Their GIjOE/military section had some neat dioramas, but not many actual vintage GI Joe’s. So, I decided that Oklahoma needed a stand alone GI JOE display.”

TJR: Sounds cool! What sort of plans do you have for future displays, etc.?

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“I shifted from selling Joes to creating a GIjOE display for Vintage 1964-1969 Joes. I still sell the 1970-76 figures to help with funding, but my goal is to have one of each Joe from the original vintage era and put them on display in one part of the shop. I have 75 on display so far. The missing Joes are the the rare and expensive ones (i.e., the Nurse, Jungle Fighter, later MPs etc.) I’ll eventually get to them!

The other part of the shop will be a 150 square foot diorama of the Normandy invasion with about 40 vintage Joes (American and German) and only genuine Hasbro equipment. I hope to have it ready for our town’s Fourth of July parade. We had nearly 100 people come in the shop that day last year and that was before the diorama! The name of the shop will be changed to The GI JOE Repair Shop and Museum this Spring.”


THIS JUST IN—THIS JUST IN—THIS JUST IN—THIS JUST IN

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Art Major, Rosie Vitale, blocks in colors as she begins work on the door-sized GIjOE mural for, appropriately, the front door of her Dad’s “GIjOE Repair Shop” in Lone Wolf, OK. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Beautiful Art Major Making Beautiful Murals in Oklahoma

In a related story, we were understandably curious as to the identity of the talented individual or individuals responsible for all the wonderful GIjOE artwork and murals seen inside and outside of Neil’s new store and museum. We asked Vitale for further intel on the matter and he replied:

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“My daughter, Rosie Vitale, is an art major and she was recruited to paint our three murals. The first is the advertisement for the talking GIjOE. The second is a mash-up of Action Sailor box art. The third is the Action Soldier Box that we used for our front door. She’d blocked out the pictures first, then use acrylic paints and let her talent take over. The two wall murals took about a week each to complete and the door, 4 days. They look AMAZING in person!”

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Remembering Petrucci— In her left hand, Rosie holds a color print of the original GIjOE Action Soldier box artwork created by famed illustrator Sam Petrucci (in 1964) and refers to it for guidance and inspiration while creating her own, greatly enlarged copy. Absolutely AMAZING! (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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Vintage VICTORY— Rosie’s finished painting, ready to greet customers. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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Action Sailor Artwork— Rosie Vitale continues to adorn the walls of her father’s store with additional murals. This one was also inspired by the 1964 paintings of Sam Petrucci. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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Go, NAVY! Rosie’s completed Action Sailor mural is an undeniable eye-catcher and one of the three that fans will see when they visit Neil Vitale’s GIjOE Repair Shop. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Finally, Neil offered the following hopes for his business’ effect on downtown Lone Wolf, saying:

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“We are now one of the few businesses on main street in Lone Wolf. And I’m pretty sure this is the largest collection of vintage GIjOEs on display ANYWHERE in Oklahoma. With the addition of the the diorama, I am hoping to attract some attention and maybe get a few people to come by and stop in Lone Wolf, rather than just drive on through.” —Neil Vitale, The GIjOE Repair Shop

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The Doctor Will See You Now— Neil Vitale poses alongside the “first four” of his many vintage GIjOEs in a photo taken exclusively for The Joe Report. Neil’s got the prescription—for FUN! (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Bottom Line: We were THRILLED to learn of Neil’s success and the creation of his all-new GIjOE-related business in Lone Wolf, OK. Imagine if this sort of business model was copied in other towns and cities across the country (and around the world!). How cool would that be? We also want to thank Neil and Rosie Vitale for their generous assistance with this article, and wish them both all the best in their future endeavors. Go, Neil! Go, Rosie! Go, JOE!

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Shocker! “Project ARE” to Cease Production of Custom Clothing For Use w/ 1:6 Scale G.I. Joes

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Skip Are of Project ARE Action Outfitters. (Photo: Skip Are)

In a stunning announcement made today, renowned 1:6 scale clothing merchants, Skip and Robin Are, have declared that this coming March 15th will mark the end of their long-run 1:6 scale clothing business, Project ARE. No more will GIjOE fans and customizers be able to order one of their superb 2-piece lycra frog man suits, multi-colored t-shirts, perfect fitting pants or other assorted uniform pieces with the simple the click of a button. What was once one of the premier “go-to” resources for a multitude of collectors is sadly, calling it quits. Skip’s announcement is as follows:

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“Well, I wasn’t sure how or where to announce this, so I’ll start here. The recent death of my brother-in-law reminded Robin and me that life is short, and we still have many things we want to do. Unfortunately, we can’t do them and continue to make and sell our GIjOE items. After 2 decades in the hobby, we will stop taking orders for our sewn clothing on March 15th. We’ve had a great time and have made a lot of good friends. Thank you to all the wonderful customers we’ve had over the years. We have enjoyed the creative process, and every compliment we received both publicly and privately has brightened our days. Thank you all!”

Skip and Robin Are

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Robin and Skip Are pose with friend and fellow dealer, Barry Vedros (at left). (Photo: Barry Vedros)

projectarelogoBottom Line: This is sad news, indeed. Readers of The Joe Report will remember the previous article we did on Project ARE Action Outfitters (HERE) and the wide variety of products the talented Robin Are has been sewing (and selling) for collectors since 1996. Our sincerest and best wishes go out to both Skip and Robin in all their future endeavors. Their contributions to 1:6 scale GIjOE collecting, customizing and kitbashing were truly substantial and will be sorely missed.

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Mysterious “Project: HERCULES” Excites Fans of 1:6 Scale Worldwide———Purpose of “X-1” Unknown

Due to a current news "black-out" and strictly enforced "no photos" policy recanted enacted by the ground crew at the Patches of Pride launch site, we're unable to bring you a better image of the upcoming "Project: HERCULES. Just WHAT are we looking at? The boys in our photo lab have done their best to clear up this image, taken last night in total darkness using a long-range telephoto lens and night-vision filter. The best consensus we can reach is that it appears to show some sort of canister, possibly a fire extinguisher and most likely, the helmet of the test pilot of the enigmatic "X-1." Unfortunately, we can't be sure of either assessment, but those are our best guesses. (Photo: TJR)

We’re in the Dark Due to a current news “black-out” and strictly enforced “no new photos” policy recently enacted by the ground crew over at the Patches of Pride launch site, we were unable to bring you a better image of their upcoming “Project: HERCULES than this. So… WHAT exactly are we looking at here? The boys in our photo lab have done their best to enhance and clean up this image. It was taken last night in total darkness using a long-range telephoto lens and night-vision filter, but the best consensus we could reach is that it appears to show some sort of spray canister, most probably a fire extinguisher and what looks like a flight helmet, quite possibly that of a test pilot of the mysterious “X-1.” This leads us to believe that whatever the X-1 may be, it’s operable at night, even in total darkness. Unfortunately, we can’t confirm any of these assessments at this time. (Photo: TJR)

A recently posted sign warns photographers to keep their lens caps on. ARGH! (Photo: Tracey Evans)

No Pictures! A recently posted sign warns news photographers approaching the Project: HERCULES launch site. (Photo: Tracey Evans)

Little more than a week away from its official “launch date” on December 22, 2014, a mysterious new product line is generating genuine intrigue and debate among fans of 12-inch action figures who are eager to learn the answers to its many secrets. Officially and enigmatically dubbed “Project: HERCULES” by its creators at 1:6 accessories manufacturer,  Patches of Pride (PoP), the specific nature and potential usage of the new line remains largely unknown and has actually puzzled fans of the renowned company— for almost 3 YEARS.

You read that right. After some digging, reporters here at The Joe Report discovered that the origin of Project: HERCULES actually dates back to 2011, when PoP first released a free, daily, online photo-comic entitled, “A Joe a Day” (AJAD). According to PoP company rep, Mark Otnes, the figures featured in the strip were his 7 original, childhood GIjOEs that had been stored in his brother’s home for over 40 years. After they’d been returned to Otnes (that year) over Christmas, “Mark’s Magnificent 7” were quickly reassigned as a time-travelling team of military heroes who join up with members of his Adventure Team and embark upon a cross-country road trip, all the while protecting the contents of The Commander’s mysterious briefcase, containing what is only known only as— “Project: HERCULES.”

In this frame from Mark Otnes' "A Joe a Day" photo-comic serial, the mysterious "football" briefcase contains the secrets and answers to the mysterious "Project: HERCULES." Unfortunately, the serial has not yet been concluded. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

What’s inside the “Football?” In this frame taken from Otnes’ “A Joe a Day” photo-comic serial, a briefcase known as the Commander’s “Football” containing top-secret materials related to the mysterious “Project: HERCULES” is removed from a team member’s backpack for examination. Unfortunately, the serial has yet to be concluded and the football’s contents remain unknown. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

While Otnes’ intriguing AJAD storyline has yet to be completed and hence, the exact nature and capabilities of Project: HERCULES are known to no other, it’s expected that the answers to many a fan’s questions will be revealed with the imminent release of these new PoP products. Suspense continues to build as the company’s “countdown” (to the product launch) continues, and a slow trickle of “sneak pics” make their way to eager fans trolling for clues over on PoP’s Facebook page (HERE) and/or VIP Customer Mailing List (HERE). With the release of each new tantalizing image, debate is stirred anew, resulting in heated conjecture among collectors, including the following:

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Renowned GIjOE collector and customizer, Angelo D'Annibale (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

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“I’m getting hopes up for some sort of helipad or jet pack. Can’t wait to see more!”Angelo D’Annibale

Kyle Knox (Photo: Kyle Knox)

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“Driving me crazy! But I have an idea. A space capsule akin to NASA’s Orion.”
Kyle Knox

Lyle "Bigfoot" Button (Photo: Lyle Button)

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I was thinking some kind of unmanned drone, but now I’m not so sure.” —Lyle Button

Good ideas all, gentlemen! But we believe renowned GIjOE fan and collector, Scott Turnbull may have come closest to deciphering the various clues and “sneak pics” of Project: HERCULES with THIS intriguing supposition:

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“Something tech-ish, I’m sure, which hits the sweet spots of my collections! Maybe a temporal experiment…”
Scott Turnbull

Bottom Line: We asked PoP’s secretive “Commander-in-Chief,” Mark Otnes, if he had any further comment regarding the upcoming Project: HERCULES, and he declined, citing his company’s official “news blackout” until December 22nd. Despite Otnes’ intransigence, we intend to forge ahead on this matter and promise to apprise our readership of any and all fresh intel as it becomes available. —Editor

Since last week, PoP has begun giving away free 1:1 scale "Project: HERCULES" t-shirts to lucky winners over on its fan page on Facebook HERE. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

FREE T’s! PoP has begun giving away free 1:1 scale Project: HERCULES “ground crew” t-shirts to lucky winners on its Facebook Fan Page. Wow! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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UK’s Action Man Day 4 Toy Show Recap & Review

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Action Man fans browse the plentiful offerings for sale at the 2014 Action Man Day 4 toy show in North Weald, UK. Click on photo to see our exclusive “GigantaPic” enlargement. (Photo: Daniel Smart)

To gain further insight into how citizens of the UK celebrate and commemorate their country’s beloved 1:6 scale hero and icon, Action Man, we recruited two of our best overseas “Field Reporters” in Daniel Smart and compatriot Brian Crowe and asked each of them to file an independent recap and review of the Action Man Day 4 toy show held recently in North Weald. We begin with the show’s organizer Smart, who provided us with the following exclusive intel:

“Can I first say that I LOVE The Joe Report(!) and am truly honoured that you are interested in the Action Man Day that I host here in the UK. My name is Daniel Smart. I am married to my beautiful wife Charlotte and we have 4 lovely children. By day, I am a solicitor (Lawyer). But by night, I’m an Action Man collector.  I’ve been a collector of Action Man pretty much all my life, but became serious in collecting about 20 years ago.”

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Action Man fan and collector, Daniel Smart, holds up the promotional flyer he created for the Action Man Day 4 show as he poses alongside (some of) his outstanding collection at home. (Photo: Daniel Smart)

“With the advent of the Internet, I soon found my way onto forums, but was saddened by how a particular forum was uninviting and often remarked negatively towards people’s collections, especially those of the new collector. It was so bad, that I decided to set up a new forum that would welcome all collectors of Action Man, GIjOE and any other 1/6th scale figures. With the aid of two good friends of mine, Darral Rabone and Damian Cole, the Action Man Mobile Ops (AMMO) forum was born (see HERE).”

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Smart’s collection is displayed and protected within superb display cabinets from ARGOS (in the UK). The cabinets have glass doors which open easily and keep everything dust-free. (Photo: Daniel Smart)

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AM dealer, Stephen May, waits for customers during AMD4. (Photo: Daniel Smart)

“Soon after, the forum we left hosted their own Action Man Day. But again, it was only really open to its members, which again, we felt very sad about. That was when our Action Man Day was born. We thought, what if we held a day totally for Action Man, GIjOE and all his 1/6 cousins  and open it to the public? Well, at the first Action Man Day I hosted, I offered totally FREE tables to all sellers and we just crossed our fingers. What a day! It was totally packed with buyers and sellers. Bob Brechin (the chief designer at Palitoy) even came to sign anybody’s cherished Action Man new and childhood items.”

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Sarah Sturdy was selling vintage Action Man figures and equipment, as well as numerous AM coffee mugs, photos, posters and related pieces of artwork. Outstanding! (Photo: Daniel Smart)

“Since that first show, I am amazed at how it’s grown, from 8 sellers at our first to 26 at our latest one. In fact, the editor of a very big collecting magazine here in the UK (Rob Burman) was so blown away by the event, that he asked me to write an article about Action Man. It’s now become a regular column that runs the month before each event takes place and the money I receive from writing the articles helps fund—the NEXT Action Man Day!”

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Action Man dealer, Alan Hall, had a table overflowing with great things to buy. (Photo: Daniel Smart)

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I would also like to add that after hosting this great event I was lucky enough to be asked by James May (a ‘Top Gear‘ TV show presenter) to donate and take part in an upcoming ‘Toy Stories’ documentary to be aired on TV here in the UK in the Autumn (Fall) of 2014. I can’t say too much about this show, but I donated my own childhood 1966 painted-head Action Man figure to break the sound barrier and maybe even get launched into space. I was warned he may not make it back from the mission but what another great mission for the greatest Action Man that ever lived!”

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Action Man and GIjOE shows are all about the browsing. (Photo: Daniel Smart)

“I am so humbled by how much support I receive each year and it’s a pleasure to host such a wonderful day that seems to make so many people happy. I shall continue to host these days and already I’m planning something very special for the November Show. Please keep an eye on the AMMO forum and ALL other Action Man outlets!”
Daniel Smart, AMD4 Organizer, UK

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Barry Pippen of Pippen’s Toys, UK is a popular and frequent visitor to the U.S. Here, he “holds court” with his customers over in a corner of the AMD4 show. Psst! Hey, Barry! That AM mine-sweeper would command a hefty price tag here in the ‘States. See if it’ll fit in your carry-on bag! (Photo: Daniel Smart)

Brian Crowe, Action Man Collector, UK. (Photo: Brian Crowe)

Brian Crowe, Action Man Collector, UK. (Photo: Brian Crowe)

And Now, For Someone Completely Different…

For a second perspective on the recent AMD4 show in North Weald, we turn the helm of The Joe Report over to the reportage of respected Action Man fan, expert and collector, Brian Crowe (also of the UK). According to Brian’s unique view from the “Crowe’s Nest:”

“This now twice-yearly event has replaced what was known as the ‘Cheshunt Shows,’ which (in their day) were excellent for buying, selling and generally meeting up. They stopped as there seemed to be a tailing off of attendees and the costs of hiring a hall were rising. So, for a couple of years, people in the southeast were bereft of any type of show However, some members of AMMO were determined to revive a regular show and hence ‘Action Man Day’ at North Weald was born.”

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The spacious hall in North Weald was perfect for this year’s AMD4 event. (Photo: Brian Crowe)

“The atmosphere at these events is one of camaraderie and a genuine interest in not only Action Man but also other 1/6th scale figures as well. There is a mixture of commercial sellers such as Alan Hall, Barry Pippen and CBToycollectables, to just genuine collectors of Action Man who have either their collections up for grabs or have amassed boxes of ‘stuff’ and want to sell it on.”

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Both loose and boxed figures were available. And look at all those sled-dogs! (Photo: ammoman)

“You can pick up fully kitted-out figures for very reasonable prices, bodies (both vintage and 40th) for you to kit out yourself, or there are (my favourite) ‘Rummage Boxes’ full of odds-n-ends in varying condition ready for you to use in your own customizations.”

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After setting up for the AMD4 show, dealers then play a waiting game whilst customers carefully and deliberately choose from thousands of tempting items for sale. (Photo: Brian Crowe)

“Apart from the buying and selling, there is the opportunity to meet old familiar faces and also new ones from the various forums. You can swap tips, chat about your projects and collections over a cup of tea and toast, while posing for the odd photo as well. It is not often we get the chance to meet up like this and although you can have really good chat and knowledge sharing on forums, there is nothing like a real world face-to-face meeting. Hats off to the organisers of this event and may it long continue!” —Brian Crowe, UK

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Brand-new, MIB figures were neatly arrayed and available for sale. DROOL... (Photo: Brian Crowe)

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The AMD4 show was so popular, another is already planned for November! (Photo: ammoman)

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Buying, selling, or simply chatting about Action Man with your mates—It’s ALL good! (Photo: Brian Crowe)

Bottom Line: What a wonderful show! After reading this, there’s bound to be a great deal of jealous fans here in the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe, but we wish those who organize and attend these “Action Man Days” in the UK all the best. <sigh> And our special thanks to Daniel Smart and Brian Crowe for their generous contributions to this article. Go, Joe! Go, ACTION MAN!

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R2/CAE’s Efforts to “Expand the Brand” For Captain Action Resulting in Numerous Non-1:6 Scale Reincarnations———Fan Reactions Mixed

Tonner's new Lady Action DOLL would make GIjOE look like a runt. She tops in at a whopping 18" tall and features a large Barbie-like head, straight black hair, barely poseable body and mixed quality accessories and costume. Although some collectors of 1:6 scale Captain Action will want to "pick her up," the lanky "Lady A" is quite expensive, created mainly for static display and does little to advance the collection of 1:6 CA fans. (Photo: Tonner)

Tonner’s new 1:4 scale Lady Action DOLL makes a 1:6 scale Captain Action figure look like a runt! She tops in at a whopping 16-inches tall (17″ with hat) and features a large Barbie-like head, straight black hair, (barely) posable body and mixed-quality accessories and costume. Although some collectors of the original 12-inch Captain Action will want to “pick her up,” the lanky, leggy, 1:4 scale “Lady A” is expensive ($200) and is primarily intended as a static display “adult-collectible.” (Photo: Tonner)

Depending on Your Perspective, New CA Products Will Frustrate—or Delight

Captain Action (CA) is changing, and we don’t mean he’s changing into a new superhero costume. “Evolving” may be a more accurate description of what’s happening to the line, and not everyone is happy with the results. What are we talking about exactly? We’re talking about the creation of a multitude of new CA-related products, the majority of which do nothing to help outfit or accessorize your 1:6 scale action figures. We’re talking about product-line “brand expansion,” and Cap’s stuck smack in the middle of it.

Brand expansion involves the production and marketing of assorted ancillary or “offshoot” products in an effort to expand the brand awareness of a particular toy line (or company). It’s standard business practice, but when mishandled (or handled ineptly), it can become a major drain on creative resources and capital, potentially endangering a company’s most precious commodity—customer loyalty.

What does it cost to gain a new loyal customer—or to LOSE existing ones?

The old expression, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” is a time-honored truism in business. Yes, new customer acquisition is a good thing, but expecting existing customers to wait idly by while you cater to others is a risky ploy. Indeed, if a company’s brand expansion efforts are poorly executed, they can actually be counter-productive in the long run. Rather than build a brand up, they can just as easily dilute it or lead to its ultimate dissolution. Such strategy can become a dangerous row to hoe.

What do you get when you remove 91% of the fat from a hamburger and replace it with seaweed? A complete flop in the marketplace. What do you get when you remove 91% of the action figures, costumes and accessories from the Captain Action line and replace it with coffee mugs, dolls and comic books geared at very young children? That remains to be seen. Hopefully CA will not end up like McDonald's McLean DeLuxe sandwich which remains one of business' biggest product-extension blunders of all time. (Even its ads were lame.) (Ad: MeDonalds)

The McFlop: What do you get when you remove 91% of the fat from a hamburger and replace it with seaweed? A complete flop in the marketplace. What do you get when you remove 91% of the action figures, costumes and accessories from the Captain Action line and replace it with coffee mugs, dolls and comic books geared at very young children? That remains to be seen. Hopefully CA will not end up like McDonald’s McLean DeLuxe sandwich which remains one of business’ biggest brand expansion blunders of all time. (Even the ads were lame.) (Ad: MeDonalds)

Remember the disastrous marketing of “New Coke?” How about McDonald’s seaweed-based “McLean” sandwich? Both of those widely ballyhooed product “extensions” were complete and utter failures in the marketplace and cost the companies millions of dollars. Coke and McDonald’s bounced back of course, but they’re gigantic, well-resourced corporations. Smaller businesses are at a much greater risk financially with each new product launched. Fail—and you’re looking at dire consequences. Are you worried about the future of Captain Action yet?

Concerned CA Fans Largely Quiet—For Now

Captain Action’s original fans (1:6 scalers) are right to be concerned by the current corporate decisions coming out of Round 2 (R2) and Captain Action Enterprises (CAE) boardrooms. Instead of new (widely hoped for) “core products” (i.e. 1:6 scale CA uniforms, figures and accessory packs), all Actioneers are seeing now is the release of an endless line of CA brand extensions, most of which do little to satisfy the needs and wants of “core” CA collectors. Cap’s so-so sales at Toys ‘R Us (TRU), largely due to lackadaisical in-store promotion (no end-caps, signage, etc.), have seen the renewed line slowly disappear from store shelves, forcing CA to “retreat” to a handful of online outlets and independent comic stores (which are themselves, quite endangered). Round 2’s answer to all this? Extend the CA product line! Grasp for new customers! Expand customer demographics!

Captain Action coffee mug. (Photo: zazzle)

Captain Action coffee mug (Photo: zazzle)

Don’t get us wrong.Those are all admirable goals and we wish R2/CAE the very best of luck in every endeavour. But it’s easy to understand why existing fans and customers may be growing impatient or feel as if CA’s stewards are beginning to take advantage of their patience and good will. Instead of focusing precious company resources (like a laser beam) on creating new products for 1:6 scalers (CA costumes, vehicles, accessory sets), they’re expending it on what many believe to be questionable, almost “frivolous” extensions.

The “Something For Everyone” Strategy

R2/CAE’s current business practice reminds us of playing with a toy train. You know that it travels on a circular track, so if you’re willing to wait long enough, it’ll eventually have to come back around to you. Right? Eventually, fans of 1:6 scale Captain Action will get something new. They must! Until then, it’s just a matter of waiting for today’s “brand-expansion train” to roll on by…

CA coffee mug? Got it. CA comic books? You bet! Want ’em? Not really. Buy one? Maybe. (After all, nothing else is available.) R2/CAE clearly believes there’s enough room on the Captain Action Express for everyone. So what’s next, fellas? A box of Captain Action-shaped gummy bears? We’re sorry, but no matter how hard Cap tries, he can’t defeat Dr. Evil with little squishy candies.

    WTF? Another example of R2/CAE's recent attempt to extend Captain Action to a new demographic is its introduction of a (rather unusual) manga comic book entitled, Captain Action Cat. What can we say about this? The decision to pour untold amounts of company money into this "kiddie comic" MAY pay off, but again, most fans of 1:6 scale Captain Action will want nothing to do with it. They're not the target market. (Photo: CAE)

Another example of R2/CAE’s recent attempt to extend Captain Action to a new demographic is its introduction of a (rather unusual) manga comic book from Dynamite entitled, Captain Action Cat. What can we say about this? The decision to pour untold amounts of company money into this “kiddie comic” appears to be paying off, but again, most fans of 1:6 scale Captain Action will probably want nothing to do with it or the forthcoming Captain Action Cat toys from Titan Merchandise. (As much as we love comic books here at TJR, the appeal of this title is lost on us and clearly targeted to a different demographic, most likely to CA fans under the age of 10.) (Photo: Dynamite)

Predictably, 1:6 scalers were quick to pounce on this particular kitty. Here’s one fan’s thoughts:

“A word of advice, stick to 1:6 scale. I don’t know where you came up with that ‘Action Cat’ stuff (totally a bad idea). Focus on 1:6 scale! Continue with this silly Action Cat (and the 3 3/4″ junk) and Captain Action will quickly fade away—again.”  —William

Many versions of a Batman costume prototype have been shown, discussed and mocked up. Nevertheless, nothing definite has come forth. (Photo: R2/CAE)

Holy, empty boxes, Batman! Many new 1:6 scale costume prototypes have been shown, discussed and even mocked-up for presentation to the public at toy shows. But the likelihood of such “concept products” ever getting made now appears to be decreasing. (Photo: R2/CAE)

Playing “The Delaying Game”

We’re not privy to R2/CAE’s financial situation, but it’s as if they’re (almost desperately) throwing a handful of darts (all at once) at some sort of “customer demographic target” and hoping something (anything!) sticks in the bulls-eye. We understand the reasons behind such decisions, but 1:6 fans are beginning to sense a growing pattern of bait-n-switch. Whatever happened to that cool Rocketeer costume idea (see article HERE)? And what happened to the DC properties, especially the 1966-related Batman costumes (see article HERE)? And what about all the other Marvel costume sets that were dangled before collectors at trade shows? Where are they all now? Have they been sidelined indefinitely? Sadly, there’s little fans can do about ANY of this except keep their fingers crossed and wait. Meanwhile, company bosses and spokesmen attempt to stay ahead of the fray and soothe swelling customer angst by issuing placating posts on forums—such this one from CAE rep, Ed Catto:

Ed Catto of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises. (Photo: Ed Catto)

Ed Catto of Round 2 and Captain Action Enterprises holds a CA comic and model kit. (Photo: Ed Catto)

“Before the negative chatter starts up—this (Lady Action Tonner doll) is meant to build the CA brand and the excitement, and while Joe and I don’t necessarily think this will appeal to the majority of you guys (and girls?) on this list (the Captain Action Fan Forum), it’s kind of a different type of collectible. Although I will tell you all that when my wife saw the prototype, she said ‘Oh, this we could display in the living room.’ She hasn’t been eager to say that about ANY of my other CA/comic/toy stuff.” —Ed Catto, R2/CAE

This new comic title, "Codename: ACTION," is clearly targeted more to teens and young adults, demonstrating once again how R2/CAE is trying to touch upon every possible demographic and market segment. Here, CA is clearly being refashioned into a very James Bond type of hero, replete with guns, nubile women and action galore. Great for comic fans, not so great for 1:6 scale CA collectors. (Photo: R2/CAE)

Dynamite’s new Codename: ACTION comic book was created to appeal to teens and young adults in the hopes of recruiting new fans to the CA brand. But many existing CA customers wonder if such efforts actually help or hinder the production of the line’s 1:6 scale “core” products. (Photo: Dynamite)

Zica Toys released this cool computer-rendering of a proposed 3.75" Captain Action figure. Fans of smaller scale GIjOEs will definitely be interested, but efforts spent on this scale only frustrate collectors of 1:6 scale. Still, this little guy looks to have great "cross-over" potential and is likely to be well received if it makes it to final production. If this brand extension is successful, it will enable R2/CAE to gain market share among yet another "strata" of collectors. (Illustration: Zica Toys)

Zica Toys released this 3-D computer-rendering of a proposed 3.75″ Captain Action figure (shown larger than actual size). Fans of smaller scale figures will definitely be interested, but collectors of 1:6 scale may feel neglected again. Still, this little guy looks to have great crossover potential and is likely to be well received. If successful, Zica should enable R2/CAE to gain market share among yet another “strata” of collectors. (Illustration: Zica Toys)

Rise of “The Independents”

In addition to partnering with Tonner, Zazzle and Dynamite, R2/CAE has also teamed with a couple of independent toy makers, Zica Toys and Fresh Monkey Fiction, hoping their assistance will help shoulder the burden of CA’s brand expansion. The first agreement to be announced concerned a line of smaller, 1:18 scale CA figures to be produced by rising independent, Zica Toys. Zica’s recently released 3-D rendering (shown at right) of a proposed mini CA figure generated a great deal of positive “fan buzz” around the internet. According to Zica’s head honcho, Craig Owen:

“I’ve been given the ‘green light’ to officially spill the beans on our new Captain Action project. The format is 3.75″ scale done in the classic 80’s Hasbro GIjOE style. Starting out the line will include Captain Action, Action Boy, Dr. Evil and the Silver Streak! The press release says ‘Kenner’ style, which is incorrect. The original plan was to go that route, but I started to think the 80’s GIjOE style would be a better choice. Work is just starting on the project, but hopefully I’ll have some prototype shots to share fairly soon.” —Craig Owen, Zica Toys

In an independent effort to "expand the brand," a rubbery, barely poseable, but very muscular interpretation of Captain Action will be offered by newcomer, Fresh Monkey Fiction, IF...they can raise the funds via Kickstarter to create Cap and the rest of "Series 1" of their proposed, "Amazing Heroes" line of action figures. Good luck! (Photo: Fresh Monkey Fiction)

In another effort to “expand the CA brand,” a rubbery, barely poseable, but very muscular interpretation of Captain Action will be offered by newcomer, Fresh Monkey Fiction, IF…they can raise the funds via Kickstarter to create Cap and the rest of their proposed first series of “Amazing Heroes” action figures. (Photo: Fresh Monkey Fiction)

As cool as Zica’s proposed 1:18 line sounds, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that news of a new 3.75″ Captain Action has left collectors of the original 1:6 scale version feeling (predictably) frustrated and disappointed. The first question that came to the mind of many was, “What happened to Zica’s proposed line of 12-inch Action Jackson figures (see article HERE)?” We don’t know, but it appears to have stalled. Don’t let that surprise you. The truth is, smaller companies operate on MUCH slimmer profit margins and many new product ideas are scuttled before reaching final production.

And again, don’t get us wrong. We absolutely LOVE the look of Zica’s CA prototype, and they’re the only company to have ever even mentioned attempting a reproduction of Cap’s venerated Silver Streak vehicle—in ANY scale. For that reason alone, we wish Mr. Owen and his team at Zica all the best of luck.

Perhaps Mr. Owen should consider the modern entrepreneurial thinking of fellow independent toy maker, Fresh Monkey Fiction (FMF), which is also hoping to create it’s own miniature version of Captain Action (see photo at right) as part of a new “Amazing Heroes” line. FMF hopes to raise the required production funds by utilizing Kickstarter (beginning in July) in combination with the pre-order services of the Big Bad Toy Store (see HERE). By doing so, they effectively “hedge their bets” against failure and are saved the ignominy of a warehouse full of unsold figures and a bank balance pushed too far into the red. FMF founder Bill Murphy states:

Bill Murphy of Fresh Monkey Fiction (Photo: Bill Murphy)

Bill Murphy of comic and toy company Fresh Monkey Fiction (Photo: Bill Murphy)

“As much as we love Kickstarter, the reality is that  some folks are uncomfortable with using Kickstarter, so we wanted a way for those fans to get a hold of the figures. Joel at BBTS has been super supportive of the line, he reached out to us and made this happen.” —Bill Murphy, FMF

Then, the good folks at Big Bad Toy Store further clarified how the practice of gathering customers first and producing products second works by definitively stating on their own website:

“These figures are subject to a minimum order quantity (MOQ) in order to be manufactured. If the MOQ is not met between retailer orders and the Fresh Monkey Fiction Kickstarter campaign (which starts in July), the figures will not be produced and all preorders will be cancelled. Please spread the word and help Fresh Monkey Fiction reach their goal and put these great figures into production!” —BBTS

The fate of these four proposed "Amazing Heroes" action figures (including Captain Action) rests entirely on the results of a July 2014 Kickstarter campaign and customer pre-orders received by the Big Bad Toy Store website. Will these heroes make it to production? (Photo: FMF)

The fate of these four proposed “Amazing Heroes” action figures (including Captain Action) rests entirely on the results of a July 2014 Kickstarter campaign and customer pre-orders received by the Big Bad Toy Store website. Will these heroes make it to production? (Photo: First Monkey Fiction)

actionelitelogoRaising the Bar—and the Price—With “Action Elite”

Finally, Captain Action fans who can recall purchasing the original ’60s figures and costume sets from Ideal will need to prepare themselves for some severe “sticker shock.” Even fans from the 1990s who grew used to paying $30 to $40 for repro CA products from Playing Mantis may want to hold onto their wallets, because the suggested retail prices of 1:6 scale Cap stuff is about to go up—WAY up.

The original, 1960s Captain Action rocket-pack set included special gloves, helmet and rocket-pack. How might Go Hero toys, and Phicen Limited recreate this set for modern collectors? We shall see! (Photo: James DeSimone)

The original, 1960s Captain Action rocket-pack set included special gloves, helmet and of course, a rocket-pack. Fans are wondering how Go Hero Toys, Executive Replicas and Phicen Limited will reinterpret this set as a high-end “adult collectible.” We shall see! (Photo: James DeSimone)

In the steepest CA brand expansion ever attempted, a new line of 1:6 scale high-end figures, costumes, and equipment sets will soon be released under a new name: Action Elite, and is scheduled to appear sometime during the 3rd or 4th quarters of 2014 (although that seems overly optimistic to us). Created in joint cooperation by R2/CAE, Go Hero Toys, Executive Replicas and Phicen Limited, this new line of “adult-collectible” Captain Action figures is clearly a bit of good news for weary 1:6 scalers. Unfortunately, as we indicated, this all-new CA line will command significantly higher prices than anything that has ever been branded with Cap’s familiar “recycling triangle” logo. For more details on Action Elite, we first turn to a post by famed CA insider, Frank Bonilla:

“Go Hero will start with the Rocket-Pack Captain Action. It will be highly detailed. My guess is metal parts. Ed Catto said they want the parts to be interchangeable with vintage. Costumes will be from DC, Marvel, Dynamite, and Moonstone. The Go Hero costumes will be more detailed on a Hot Toys level. I think Action Elite will sell well because there are collectors who are willing to pay for that level of detail and their exclusivity may make them more valuable in the future.” —Frank Bonilla

Joe Ahearn, founder of Captain Action Enterprises (Photo: CAE)

Joe Ahearn, co-founder of Captain Action Enterprises (Photo: CAE)

R2/CAE founder, Joe Ahearn, provided further details in the company’s official press release, stating:

“Action Elite (AE) is an exciting new venture that will bring the Captain Action name to the boutique designer level of collectibles. We’ll now be able to offer high-end, museum quality items as part of the total Captain Action figure line. We’ll also use the opportunity to fill in a lot of the items on collectors’ wish lists.

Captain Action, Doctor Evil, Lady Action, and Action Boy will be redesigned using cutting edge tech, high-end bodies that reflect a collector’s quality, beyond the standard toy level.  This effectively creates an additional collector’s level for the line.”Joe Ahearn, CAE

Steve Forde, founder of Go Hero Toys (Photo: Steve Forde)

Steve Forde, founder/principal of Go Hero Toys (Photo: Steve Forde)

There it is! In the last line of Aherrn’s quote (above), he confirms his company’s desire to create “an additional collector’s level for the line.” Expand that brand! Not surprisingly, the founder of Go Hero Toys, Steve Forde, shares Ahearn’s fervent desire to grow CA’s brand. In a recently released statement, he declared:

“We’re dedicated to original pop-icons, especially those with historical credibility. Captain Action is the perfect fit because of its honored place in the world of 1:6 scale collectibles. It is a real joy to be able to pool our talents with the contagious commitment of Ed and Joe.  We’ve tried for years and finally the timing is perfect to develop the Captain Action brand into exciting NEW arenas.” ~ Steve Forde, Go Hero Toys 

goherotoyslogoWe caught up with Forde over on Facebook and asked him if he had any further intel regarding Action Elite, beyond what was contained in his company’s official press release. He graciously demurred, saying only:

“I’m leaving the announcements on that to Ed and Joe. We have some great stuff brewing and options that I think 1:6 scale fans are going to love. News is coming next week!” —Steve Forde, Go Hero Toys

Thank you for your comments. Keep 'em coming! (Photo: atomicreach)

1:6 CA fans are never shy about sharing their opinions about ANYTHING. (Photo: atomicreach)

As expected, a slew of anonymous collector comments have already been posted about Captain Action’s latest (and most expensive) brand expansion idea. Here are a few select fan-bites:

“As a lonnnng time Captain Action fan & collector, this news sounds extremely interesting. But if it’s done at the same pace as the regular line, it’s gonna be super slow (i.e., 2 costume sets a year)!”Ron

“I’m not sure how I feel about this. Very happy to hear a top of the line Action Boy body is coming, but more than a little nervous that I may have been priced out.” —Daniel

“I grew up with CA. I dabbled in the Playing Mantis revival, and was disappointed when it failed. I’ve also purchased all the recent CA sets. They were affordable and available locally. But you completely missed your target demographic! No 10-12 year-old boy alive today has any idea who these CA characters are. PLEASE consider interchangeable heads with Action Elite. CA as a character that ‘becomes other heroes’ (wearing a mask) is a lost cause. Stick with 1:6  scale and avoid ‘funny animal’ distractions.”Jon Rann

Fans of classic Cap, don't lose hope! This "Character Guide" of fully inked and colored CA art reveals an exciting and hopeful look at how the original Cap can be properly rendered for modern comics, toy packages and maybe even a "retro" comic book animated series, ala Jonny Quest. Keep your fingers crossed that this is what it would look like! (Photo: R2/CAE)

This superb “Character Guide” for CA comic artists nicely captures the look of a classic ’60s Captain Action. Yes, it would be great if Cap’s proposed animated TV series utilized this sort of artwork (ala Jonny Quest) but it’s not going to, so don’t get your hopes up, muchacho. (Photo: R2/CAE)

Bottom Line: R2/CAE is trying to remake and reintroduce a toy line from the 1960s so that it’s appealing to both nostalgic and future toy buyers. Let’s face it, ol’ Cap’s original fans are mostly in their 40s and 50s now, and today’s children have ZERO emotional connection with the line. If GIjOE, Action Man, Johnny West, Captain Action, or any other 1:6 scale toy of the past is to remain viable and profitable into the future, they must constantly be reinvented in order to reach ever-new market “segments.” Currently, fans of the original 1:6 scale version of Captain Action are worried about what the future holds for their spandex-clad superhero. Fortunately, Round 2 and CAE have demonstrated they have a keen business sense for the nostalgia toy market, and if their efforts to “expand the brand” of Captain Action are successful, they’ll ultimately be rewarded with multiple lines of income, diverse customer demographics, and the most important thing of all—happy customers. Let Justice Be Done!

Editor’s Note: What are YOUR thoughts on the various CA “brand expansion” products and methods detailed in this article? Leave your own comments below to become part of “the permanent record” here on The Joe Report. Only then…will Justice TRULY be Done!

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Joelanta 2014’s Indoor “Parachute Drop” A Popular Event For Fans, Families and Friends

Passing the torch— GIjOE fan and toy dealer, Ryan Bonavia (r), with his children Logan (11) and Ella (6), waiting for the beginning of Joelanta 2014's "Parachute Drop." (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Passing the torch—GIjOE fan and toy dealer, Ryan Bonavia (r), with his children Logan (11) and Ella (6), wait for the beginning of Joelanta 2014’s “Parachute Drop” in Atlanta, GA. This year, Bonavia chose to “sit this one out,” preferring instead to allow his children to perform the drops. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

GIjOE fan and toy dealer, Ryan Bonavia, bears more than a passing resemblance to the Simpson's "Dr. Nick Riviera," but both categorically deny being an "inept, quack physician." (Art: Matt Groenig)

Ryan Bonavia, bears a striking resemblance to The Simpsons character, “Dr. Nick Riviera” (above). But both men categorically deny being “inept, quack physicians.” (Art: Matt Groenig)

“This was Ella’s first parachute drop and Logan’s fourth. They had a blast and told me they can’t wait for next year. I’m a toy dealer, so I have to set up and work most of the time at these events, but they still love ‘coming to shows with Daddy.’ Gabriel and Logan just met here at the ‘drop’ but then hung out playing and customizing their figures. Joelanta’s always a fun show and we love attending!”
—Ryan “Dr. Nick” Bonavia

March 15th, 2014: In years past, grown men eagerly jockeyed for elevator space at the Marriott Century Hotel in Atlanta, GA, tightly gripping parachute GIjOEs in their hands and mentally rehearsing various “toss-n-release” techniques they hadn’t used since they were kids. Why? Because any chance to participate in a Joelanta “parachute drop” was a unique and special opportunity, and they weren’t going to miss it.

By contrast, at this year’s extravaganza, while (some) adults were participating, for undeclared reasons, the majority in attendance elected to “sit it out” and act instead in a supervisory role—for their children. Perhaps many (adult) “jump veterans” of past conventions had grown tired of the up-and-down elevator rides, or now simply preferred to watch from below. Whatever the reasons, it was obvious that an unofficial, unspoken “passing-of-the-torch” was underway.

New friends Gabriel Cauthen (l) and Logan Bonavia (r) discuss the best ways to hold and toss their GIjOEs to ensure they have a full 'chute deployment and a safe descent. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

New friends Gabriel Cauthen (l) and Logan Bonavia (r) debated the best ways to hold and toss their GIjOEs to ensure they had a full ‘chute deployment and a safe descent. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

All around us, “Elder” GIjOE fans (fathers, uncles, grandfathers, etc.) were handing over their beloved parachute Joes and reassigning the majority of the evening’s upcoming “drop missions” to a younger generation. Among the children especially, a palpable excitement and anticipation began to grow. For many of them, this would be their FIRST parachute drop, and the fact that their parents were letting them ride up and down the elevators unsupervised was also a very BIG deal.

La Familia Bonavia

The family of Toy Federation head honcho, Ryan Bonavia (see photo at top), was a perfect example of the evening’s more youthfully skewed dynamic. Ryan’s son Logan (age 11) and his daughter Ella (age 6) ran up to us, plaintively asking a variety of questions including, “How do I throw this?,” “How high up should we go?” and “What if the ‘chute doesn’t open?” We calmly answered their questions, and tried to reassure them of the likely results. Satisfied with our answers, they looked up to the top of the atrium again in eager anticipation. This was going to be COOL!

Similar to a fireworks display, as the Joelanta 2014 parachute drop commenced, fans turned their eyes skyward and "oohed and aahed" over the different shapes, sizes and colors of parachutes falling down around them. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Much like watching a fireworks display, when the Joelanta 2014 parachute drop commenced, fans turned their eyes skyward to “ooh and ah” over the different shapes, sizes and colors of parachutes falling down around them. It’s clearly a prime “photo-op” for everyone as well! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This is the vertigo-inducing view fans have when they look up in the triangular atrium at the Marriott. If you look carefully, you'll notice a yellow-parachuted GIjOE is drifting perilously close to "the void" of the three elevator shafts. This Joe did indeed, go into the void, and ended up snagged up on a cable. His ultimate fate remains unknown. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This is the vertigo-inducing view fans have when they look up in the triangular atrium at the Marriott. If you look carefully, you’ll notice a yellow-parachuted GIjOE is drifting perilously close to “the void” of the three elevator shafts. This Joe did indeed, go into the void, and ended up snagged on one of the cables. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A Perfect “Drop Zone” for GIjOE

Over the past 10 years, the Marriott Century Hotel’s massive indoor atrium in Atlanta has proven to be an excellent and (mostly) safe “drop zone” for the tossing of GIjOE USMC paratroopers, Army Golden Knights, and a wide assortment of Adventure Team and Action Man skydivers. Other than an occasional unopened parachute, or lost figure in an elevator shaft, hotel security has had little to complain about.

When tonight’s event was finally given a “GO!,” fans sat back and watched as elevators quickly filled up with happy children (and some adults), destined for the hotel’s top floor. Soon, GIjOEs of all sorts began drifting down, some snagging on plant boxes or wall sconces, but most successfully reaching the lobby floor where they were caught by some helpful fan, child, or hotel employee. Ryan and I smiled at each other as his children came back down and fed us continual updates on their success. Ella’s smaller parachute-toy had required some untangling and an occasional “search party” to find it, but otherwise, all went very smoothly.

Joelanta regular, Jack Hall (center), untangles the cords of an Adventure Team GIjOE parachutist he had just caught, so as to prepare it for return to its rightful owner. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Joelanta regular, Jack Hall (center), untangles the cords of an Adventure Team GIjOE parachutist he had just caught, so as to properly prepare it for return to its rightful owner. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bottom Line: As usual, a few errant figures disappeared into the hotel’s elevator shafts, but after an hour of safe, silly fun, most were reunited with their owners, and Joelanta’s 2014 parachute drop was declared to be an unqualified success. Our sincerest thanks and best wishes to Ryan Bonavia and his wonderful family for their participation and contributions to this article. After 10 years in the same location, Joelanta’s parachute drop has set the standard and become one of the hobby’s grandest and most enjoyable spectacles. If you’ve never experienced the simple pleasure of tossing, catching or watching a “flock” of parachute GIjOEs in free-falling action, then you need to get yourself out to next year’s Joelanta. GERONIMO!

You’re Never Too Old———70 Year-Old Retired Man “Getting Over Bout of Cancer” By Creating 1:6 Scale Miniature Dioramas For Fun and Profit

Mini dorama and display stand creator, Joe Hodge, mans his booth at Joelanta 2014. A quick glance at his products reveals superb craftsmanship. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Mini diorama and display stand creator, Joe Hodge, mans his booth at Joelanta 2014. A quick glance at his products reveals surprising and superb craftsmanship with myriad details. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Joe Hodge (70), stood with his hands on his hips, squinting with an inquisitive eye as he studied the crowd milling around him. He was behind his dealer’s table at Joelanta 2014, manning a booth full of his expertly assembled, hand-crafted, hand-painted and “ready-to-use” 1:6 scale miniature diorama scenes, all the while watching, waiting and wondering about the fans passing by.

“Hmm…This is a strange crowd,” he mumbled, to no one in particular.

Hodge knows crowds. He can read them like a book. He’s had a lifetime of experience selling to all sorts and sizes, from all around the country. After a stint in the Marine Corps, he worked over 40 years as a professional jacket embroiderer, creating custom-embroidered “show jackets” for owners and fans of collector cars and hot rods. He’d travel from one car show to another on the nation’s busy “car show circuit,” setting up huge dealer tents displaying an array of colorful jackets and then busily embroider elaborate designs of cars, logos and custom names, all made “while you wait.”

Nowadays, Hodge is supposed to be fully retired. But on this weekend, he’d decided to travel from his home in Fountain End, SC to attend the world’s famous Joelanta GIjOE and action figure show in Atlanta, GA, hoping as he said, “to earn a little spending money.” Joe also had some more “personal” reasons for being there. According to Hodge:

“I getting over a bout of cancer. I decided to start making these miniature 1:6 diorama scenes to keep my hands busy. The hardest thing about making ’em is finding a reliable source of materials. I’m always looking for good wood, styrofoam and other supplies. Sure, I’ll go to Hobby Lobby for the basics, and sometimes I find things at florists and hardware stores, but it’s a challenge! But all it is, is a hobby. I’m not getting rich doing this.”

As I was about to walk away, Joe stuffed his business card into my hand and said, "Here's how to reach me. I don't have a website, and I doubt I ever will!" (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As I was about to walk away, Joe stuffed his business card into my hand and said, “Here’s how to reach me. I don’t have a website, and I doubt I ever will!” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Intrigued by his story, I studied Hodges “stands” for a while longer and realized that they were ideal for anyone wanting to set up a mini-diorama scene that didn’t require much space on a display table or shelf. Imagine working days or weeks on a custom figure. What do you do with it then? Box it up? Put it in your attic? No! Either PLAY with the blasted thing or DISPLAY it proudly on one of Hodge’s excellent mini-diorama stands! Clearly sensing my thoughts, Hodge lamented today’s fans, saying:

People and kids today don’t want to PLAY with their toys anymore. But let me tell you—I’ve been playing with toy soldiers ever since I was a child—and I STILL play with ’em!” 

Bottom Line: Joe’s work is top-notch. And his personal example is very inspirational. We’re thrilled to see someone of his age still actively connected with the fun and creativity of the 1:6 scale hobby. Hopefully in the future, there will be thousands of similar “toy soldier” fans still playing with and customizing their 1:6 scale action figures—well into their 80s, 90s and beyond! Finally, if you’d like to contact Joe to place an order, remember that he doesn’t have a website, so you’ll need to pick up the telephone and call him on his old-fashioned “land line.” Remember those, buck-o?

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