Category Archives: Dioramas

Gird Your Loins, Joeheads—Toylanta 2019 is Just Around the Corner—and it’s BIGGER Than EVER!


Beloved GIjOE and Toy Show Set for March 8-10, 2019
We LOVE when our far-reaching corps of fearless Field Reporters do our work for us. In this case, “Mighty” Marten Jallad recently contacted the news desk here at The Joe Report and submitted the following article he’d written about this year’s upcoming Toylanta. As expected, it is thorough—and EXCELLENT. Thank you, Marten. Enjoy, everyone!
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Marten Jallad (Photo: Marten Jallad)

“Earlier this year (in March) TOYLANTA (perhaps known better as “Joelanta”) will celebrate its 18th year of spreading the love of all things toy-related. The show—as many of you already know—was initially created as a one-day event for local GI Joe and one-sixth scale collectors and GI Joe has remained the heart and soul of the show. The show has, however, continued to attract more and more varieties of toys, from the 1960s to present, and this explosion has led to changes, and at times, growing pains, as the show has now transformed into a multi-day convention under the banner—TOYLANTA.” 
“One thing that has been key to our continued growth and success is the vision that show co-founder, Buddy Finethy, put fourth; to host an event by collectors FOR collectors to celebrate our love of collecting and the creative process behind enhancing and displaying our “precious plastic.” The amazing thing, from my perspective, is that that warm and friendly social atmosphere has transcended all the different groups that have now found a home at the convention, including Transformers, Star Wars, GI Joe RAH, and toy collectors in general. I truly love hearing folks say that everyone is so friendly, from the staff, to the vendors and the general public. Toylanta is a place for us to forget about the daily hardships of life and instead, to celebrate our mutual love of the wonder of brightly colored toys that allowed us to use our imaginations during endless hours of play.”
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The Hunt is On! Fans and toy collectors searched for their own personal “toy treasures” in one of the spacious dealer rooms of Toylanta 2018. (Photo: Marten Jallad) Click to enlarge.

“TOYLANTA now encompasses approximately 20,000 square feet with around 250 tables of toys, comics and pop culture. Events include panels, creative demonstrations, live music, Parachute Drop, film festival, EJ’s Lobby Swap, Pop Culture Car Show, State of the Hobby panel discussions, a live auction and custom figure and diorama contests, not to mention social events (held each night) for the three nights leading up to the convention. This year, we are also moving the custom area to a bigger space to accommodate MORE dioramas, and are thrilled to have actor-artist-GIjOE RAH creator, Larry Hama, and GIjOE Classic Collection artist, Larry Selman, in attendance for autographs, prints, etc.”
“The creative team has been hard at work on this year’s Joelanta 12” exclusive: The Mountain Man.  He will add to the rich history of the 12 (and counting) one-sixth scale exclusives. The World Famous EJ, King of the Lobby Swap, has also been working on his 5th annual Lobby Swap exclusive.  We can’t wait to see what his creative kit-bashing mind has come up with. We are also excited about our second RAH-style exclusive.”
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Seen any Beavers? Meet the “Mountain Man” of Toylanta 2019 (Photo: Marten Jallad)

“I’m often asked how we’re able to put together such a big event—year after year—that attracts so many people from around the country—and the world. The key, I think, is all of the dedication and commitment we receive from so many helpers and friends, both locally and online. Our local GIjOE Collector’s Club fan group meets together once a week at different people’s homes to share a meal, talk toys and enjoy each other’s company. This has been happening for over a decade! We are also bound to a higher goal of opening a Toy and Diorama Museum somewhere in the greater Atlanta area (as TOYLANTA is part of the nonprofit Cody Lane Memorial Museum). It has been a very challenging endeavor, but one that we are dedicated to making a reality.”
“We encourage others to start a local fan group, hold a swap meet, or even start a show of their own in their local community. We are VERY proud of all the other cool shows out there, like the DFW GI Joe and Action Figure Show, the Kentuckiana GI Joe Toy Expo, the Augusta Toy and Comic Show featuring Joefest, and the upcoming Harrisburg Action Figure and Toy Show. Various members of the TOYLANTA crew have lent their talents and given creative and organizational input to assist those other ventures also be successful. Together, we believe we can continue to grow our hobby and keep that spark of creative sense of wonder and play alive in us all. We’ll see you all March 8-10, 2019!” —Marten Jallad, Toylanta
Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and admiration go out to Marten and everyone at Toylanta who helps bring GIjOE fandom this truly wonderful event—every—single—year. You guys are the BEST!
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REJOICE!—Biggest 1:6 Scale Movie EVER—”Welcome to Marwen”—Premiering in U.S. Theaters Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Welcome to Marwen”—First Cast Interviews!

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

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

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

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

 

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One-Sixth Scale Shell-Shocker— New M3 Lee/Grant Medium Tank From Armortek Will Blow You Away!

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Batten down the hatches—for BATTLE. Armortek’s all-new, all-metal M3 Grant-Lee tank looks heavy enough to CRUSH all enemy forces, much less blow them away. (Photo: Armortek) Click to enlarge.

Some things look too good to be true. In this particular case, something VERY good is also something very true—and very real. So get a grip on your nearest GIjOE or Action Man fellow customizers, because what you’re looking at (above) is also —in 1:6 scale. That’s right. This stunning, steel-plated behemoth is actually something your GIjOEs, Action Man (Men?) and other 1:6 military action figures will feel “right at home” in whilst reenacting WWII’s deadliest 1:1 scale tank battles (see historic intel by Wikipedia HERE). According to Armortek’s, Kian Shroff:

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Kian Shroff, Owner of Armortek in the UK (Photo: TMM Photography)

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“I was reading The Joe Report online magazine and thought your readers may be interested in our latest release a M3 Lee Medium Tank from WWII. In case you do not know about Armortek, we are the world’s leading manufacturer of 1:6 scale metal model kits. Our kits weight 120lbs upwards and take about 200 hours to assemble. I have attached our press release as well as some images – feel free to use these on your website. Let me know any questions you may have.” Kind regards, —Kian Shroff

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Side view dimensions of the Armortek M3 (Art by Armortek) Click to enlarge.

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Top view dimensions of the Armortek M3 (Art by Armortek) Click to enlarge.

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Front view dimensions of the Armortek M3—AWESOME! (Art by Armortek)

According to Shroff and Armortek’s official press release:

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Kian Shroff at Armortek’s headquarters, UK (Photo: TMM Photography) Click to enlarge.

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Winchester, UK
17th September 2018:

Armortek (www.armortek.co.uk), the world’s leadingmanufacturer of 1:6 scale metal model kits announces the launch of their latest products – the iconic M3 Lee/Grant medium tanks. Used by the Americans, British, Australians, Indians and the Russians during World War II, the M3 medium tank was most effective in matching and even beating the German firepower in the North African campaign and was a vital “stop-gap” until the M4 Sherman tanks made their debut. In keeping with previous Armortek releases, the Armortek M3 Lee and Grant medium tank kits are a result of detailed research and measurements of a full-scale vehicle. Made predominantly from CNC machined aluminium and steel, the kits feature scale thickness armour, prototypical suspension and can be remote control enabled.

Containing over 2,000 parts (with more than 200 unique components), the M3 medium tank kit will take about 200 hours to build. The M3 Lee/ Grant from Armortek measures 94cm (37”) long and 44cm (17”) wide and stands 48cm(19”) tall. They will weigh approximately 80kg (180 lbs) in their remote-controlled configuration. The kits are manufactured in a small batch as Limited Editions and each one comes with a serial number and certificate of authenticity. Option packs can be added to the kits to provide them with remote-controlled drive, turret turn, gun elevation and slew, realistic sounds and exhaust smoke.

Armortek is a family owned business operating from its state-of-the-art factory in Hampshire, UK. Research, design and manufacture of the kits are all done in house. Armortek has been producing 1:6 scale all metal model kits for over 15 years and, in that time, has produced over 20 different WW1 or WW2 kits for hobbyists, engineers and collectors across the world. For sales information, please email us at sales@armortek.co.uk. For further press information, please email us at press@armortek.co.uk.”

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A Bridge Too FAR OUT, Man!— How about a REAL metal and wooden bridge for your tanks to cross over your backyard streams and rivers? Armortek makes them too! The products shown above were on display at Armortek Open Day 2017. WOW! (Photo: TMM Photography) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to TMM Photography, Kian Shroff (and everyone else) at Armortek for their generous assistance in the creation of this article. Can YOU assemble one of Armortek’s amazing new M3 Lee/Grant tank kits? Isn’t it time you found out? Whichever Armortek product you build, it’s sure to became THE stellar attraction of your 1:6 collection. For more information, visit Armortek’s website HERE or their fan page over on Facebook HERE.

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Grab That Greasy Joystick, Joe—It’s Arcade Time!

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Boxed up FUN— The games still in their original packaging. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

We LOVE miniature 1:6 scale video games. Fortunately for this holiday season, a batch of approximately 10 new ones are now appearing in stores across the U.S., primarily from the good folks at My Arcade. These new games are currently priced between $25 and $35 (each) depending on where and WHEN you buy them. Our advice? Watch your local big box stores like a hawk. Also, browse online at Walmart.com, Amazon, etc. Whenever you see a game’s price dropping, JUMP on it! These are popular little items with a wide variety of collectors and ordinary consumers, so they typically don’t last on shelves for long—virtual or otherwise.

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Battery Hogs?— These new games really need the juice, four AA batteries to be precise. Ouch! Remember to always REMOVE batteries when not in use! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

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Better Designed— Last year’s smaller, simpler, “one size fits all” cases from Basic Fun (shown on the right) don’t compare with this year’s bigger, better, more accurate case designs from My Arcade (shown on the left). Even the buttons and joystick sizes are more accurately scaled to fit 1:6 scale. EXCELLENT! Regardless, both games will still ROCK in GIJOE’s arcade! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

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A Back to Back, “Pac to Pac” Comparison— The new Pac Man game case from My Arcade (as shown on the left) is clearly more stylish and faithful to the original game’s design. The smaller, (boxier) case from Basic Fun (on the right) was good—but it wasn’t great. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

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Raise ’em up so Joe can PLAY— To save money, the makers of these miniature arcade games chop off the bottom halves of the cases where in the real-world, all of the game’s computer “innards” were stored. To make up the resulting height deficit, we recommend that you create some sort of a base to raise the games back up to Joe’s level (see our previous article HERE). (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: We’re hoping someone comes out with a miniature version of the original “Pong,” “Robotron,” or maybe even “Zaxxon.” Those were three truly iconic arcade games from back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Remember, watch those stores and look out for sales. Happy Hunting!

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Yikes!—Tis the Season for Some Scary Skeletons!

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Nice kitty…Good kitty. This giant saber-toothed cat looks to us to be one of the better offerings this year. Simply amazing details from tail to fangs! (Photo: Keith Davis) Click to enlarge.

No flesh? No worries. These skeletal creatures are scary enough!

Your GIjOE museum and fantasy dioramas all need skeletons, right? Well, thanks to the impending Halloween season, stores throughout the U.S. (and beyond) have begun ramping up their supply to meet the growing demand. Besides all of the trick-or-treaters and Halloween home decorators, GIjOE fans and customizers too, now have their eager “eagle-eyes” set on picking up at least ONE of these amazing skeletal “beasties.” According to intrepid TJR Field Reporter, Keith Davis:

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Keith Davis, fan, collector and customizer of all things 1:6 scale (Photo: Fox 19 News)

“Wanna try something new in 1/6 or other scales!?! How about going prehistoric, or Jurassic, or Bedrock? I found these recently at Home Depot, and the bigger ones at Big Lots. The smaller ones go for around $40, the bigger ones are over $100. I think all of them have light-up eyes and maybe sounds, too. Even Barbie had the Flintstones. You could make one heck of a diorama with this stuff! —Keith Davis

We concur with Keith. Simply place one of these massive, menacing monsters next to ANY scale GIjOE and your imagination immediately runs WILD with all sorts of fun diorama possibilities. Let’s take a look at some of the other creepy critters that Keith has tracked down in Cincinnati’s “Concrete Jungle” of brick-n-mortar stores—

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Horns. Teeth, and TERROR! A herd of skeletal dinosaurs. (Photo: Keith Davis) Click to enlarge.

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Life-sized sitting dogs and some spiky mini-triceratops. (Photo: Keith Davis) Click to enlarge.

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This closeup reveals the quality to be better on some than others and the prices to be fairly consistent. The wiring must be hidden inside the bones, somewhere. (Photo: Keith Davis) Click to enlarge.

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With real BITING action! If you look closely, these red-eyed T-Rex skeletons appear to have working jaws for added realism. VERY cool! (Photo: Keith Davis) Click to enlarge.

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A size for every diorama— Don’t like small? How about LARGE? (Photo: Keith Davis) Click to enlarge.

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How about a big, bad, DRAGON? Check out that wingspan! (Photo: Keith Davis) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to keen-eyed Keith Davis for his generous contributions to this article. In the past, such skeletal “decor” items have ranged from the junky to the banal (skeletal rats, really?). But these new dinosaur, saber-toothed cat, and horned dragon skeletons VASTLY open-up possibilities for 1:6 scale (and other scale) dioramas. So—GO GIT ‘EM!

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New (Almost) 1:6 Scale Stand-up Arcade Games at Walmart Really Work and Are Ideal For Use With 12″ G.I. Joes—Plus (Get This), They’re Only $20!

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Zap those aliens, Joe! Moving beyond fantasy into 1:6 scale reality, the new “Arcade Classics” video game toys from Basic Fun are PERFECT for use with 1:6 scale GIjOEs. They look real. They sound real. They play real. Heck, these ARE real games. Wow! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Creation of 1:6 Scale Arcade Dioramas Now Easier and Less Expensive—Holy, Atari! 

During a quick trip to Walmart today, I discovered an outstanding set of 4 miniature stand-up arcade games (toys), and thanks to the miraculously technological times we’re living in, these new mini games aren’t just inert, display-only models; no, they actually function. That’s right, you can PLAY these miniaturized versions of classic arcade games, while your GIjOEs stand up in front of them (just like YOU used to) and play right alongside you—How cool is THAT?!

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We found FOUR, but there’s MORE— Yes, it’s true. Further research has revealed there are at least THREE more games in this amazing new toy line. Most of the 7 games can now be found at Walmart stores—and their website online (HERE). (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

The four games I picked up (shown above) are all vintage arcade classics, including: Centipede, Frogger, Q-Bert and Asteroids. If you were a teenager back in the late 1970s or early ’80s, these games will surely be familiar to you and bring back LOTS of memories. They’re top-notch, quality-made products by Basic Fun, and are numbered 3, 4, 5 and 6. Of course, those numbers made me think that there might also be a #1 or 2 (maybe even a 7!), so I quickly jumped on the internet when I got home and found out that—sure enough—mini-versions of Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man and Space Invaders are also available.<sigh> (I guess I need to get out the credit card—again.)

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Is Pac Man Going to be Pricey? We searched for the #7 game, Pac Man, online today, and found it at Walmart.com for $20, but also over on ebay—listed at $35! It looks like the price gougers have spotted a good thing and are already jumping on it. Why? Well, take a good look at that video screen. It’s showing the FULL-COLOR graphics of the original Pac Man, NOT cheap-o black-n-white LCD screens like those released by other companies. Our GIjOE’s “man cave” has GOTTA have this one, too. WOCKA-WOCKA-WOCKA! (Photo: ebay) Click to enlarge.

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Hey Shorty, Where’s Your Bottom Half?— Obstensibly to save on production costs (the licensing fees were probably enormous), Basic Fun shaved the height of each game by approximately 50%. Fortunately, the other dimensions are less notably out of scale and the height issue can easily be rectified by creative, capable 1:6 scalers. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

It’s Like They Just Cut ‘Em in Half!

Right out of the box, you’ll notice that these games looks SHORTER than 1:6 scale—but are they really? They’re actually pretty darn close in terms of monitor screen size and case width. Our best guess is that in order to save $ on manufacturing, Basic Fun decided to shave down the HEIGHT of each game by about 50%. That means dedicated 1:6 scalers (like YOU) are going to have to come up with some sort of “make do” solution in order to raise the games back UP to their “proper” height. (Insider tip—I just sold a REAL, vintage 1970s Robotron arcade game and it stood about 6′ tall. That’s the same respective height of a 1:6 GIjOE. So…if you shoot for a 12″ overall game height, you’ll be pretty darn close at 1:6 scale).

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BONUS PLAY! During our online searches of the many mini gaming systems now available, we also came across this “Multicade 230” toy from SoundLogic XT SEE HERE. The 230 is similarly sized and will look just fine sitting alongside the games from Basic Fun. Note: Its dimensions are slightly taller, so whatever base you construct to increase its height (up to 12″) will only need to be about 4″ or so. Yes, the joysticks and buttons of ALL of these games are oversized for 1:6 scale, but we’re betting Joe’s Kung-Fu Grip can handle ’em. And check out that FULL COLOR screen! (Photo: Walmart)

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Super Side View— The Multicade 230 has a great profile with AWESOME graphics. You’ll want to display this one so you can see it from the side as well as the front. (Photo: Walmart)

Height and Scale Improvements are EASY to Make

For 1:6 scalers, ALL of these games come up short— in terms of height. Fortunately, replacing any of that “missing” height is easily rectified. All you have to do is construct some sort of a nondescript box or base (in shiny or flat black) to make up for the missing dimensions. For Basic Fun games, your base will need to be about 6″ tall, 3 1/2″ wide and 2 1/2″ deep. For the Multicade game, your base will only need to be about 4″ high. Suggestions for “construction” materials include: a sheet of styrene plastic, wood (at Hobby Lobby or Michaels), or possibly some “letramax” mat board (stiff, all-black cardboard that has a flat, non-reflective finish, also sold at most art and/or hobby stores).

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Build-a-Base Tips— If you decide to go with the simplest and most basic construction method for your game base(s) (using Letramax mat board), might we suggest that you use a sharp x-acto knife when making the cuts, AND… instead of cutting out each individual side panel, cut JUST SHORT of going all the way through. Leaving that “little bit” of mat board UNCUT provides you with a hidden “hinge” on the inside, thus enabling you to FOLD and create the various box sides without having to tape or glue them together. Yes, you’ll have to glue the box’s final connecting edges together in order to complete and hold its boxy shape, but that’s it. ENJOY! (Photos: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Once you’ve selected a material for your base, all you have to do is fold, shape, glue, and possibly paint it until your “base box” is finished. Then, set your game up on top of it. The final 12-inch height of your game will make it look FANTASTIC alongside 1:6 scale action figures and in their respective dioramas. Your mind will soon be racing with ideas for dios, including such videogame-appropriate locales as pool halls, bars, pizza joints, mall arcades, basement game rooms, “man caves,” and much more.

Bottom Line: As well as looking great with GIjOE, these mini arcade games are really FUN toys, too. Their gameplay is truly retro and just as challenging as you remember. The stickers and graphics on each game cabinet look SUPERB, so there’s no worries or problems there. Plus, all of the gaming sounds, play action, joysticks and button movements are natural and fully functional. Play them all at once and it sounds JUST LIKE the arcades of your youth (see video above for audio-visual demonstration). Buy just one and set it up in the corner of a room diorama, or buy them ALL and recreate your favorite teenage hangout (Gold Mine Arcade, Northcross Mall, Austin, TX, 1978, here I come—again!). Whatever you do, my 1:6 collecting friend—Just “Git ‘er Done!”


UPDATE as of 12-12-17: As shown above, game #7 in the Basic Fun line-up is Pac Man—again. Why repeat Pac Man? Well, it turns out Pac Man #1, which was released along with #2, Space Invaders, were both inferior products, featuring sterile b&w LCD screens and unrealistic, what we would call “FLAT” cabinetry. It’s as if Basic Fun wanted you to lay those first two games down flat on a table while playing them. Of course, GIjOE fans want these miniature replicas to stand UP and look like they did originally back in the arcades of our youth.

So… just so you know, we recommend that you forget about tracking down games #1 and #2, they don’t really fit into this newer, vastly improved line. Spend your time picking up #3, 4, 5, 6 and #7. Remember, the new Pac Man (#7) comes with correctly shaped cabinetry and FULL COLOR game graphics—just like the original. YES!


UPDATE as of 12-14-17: We just learned that TWO MORE great games in the Basic Fun lineup have been released. They’re #8 Joust and #10 Rampage. Say, where’s #9? Our 1:6 arcade is really shaping up! See video review by madlittlepixel below:

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No Collection is Too Small— 1:6 G.I. Joe Enjoys Collecting (You Guessed It)—Action Figures!

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Collecting knows no size— Joe the Adventurer shows off a new (super-mini) HALO action figure, one of many such figures displayed on shelves throughout his home. (Photo: Queli Castro)

What do YOUR GIjOEs do when they return home from a mission? Some spend days, even YEARS, sealed up in depressing, air-tight storage containers, while others dutifully stand an interminable “watch” from the inside of locked, glassed-walled display cabinets. But for those fortunate few who are given freedom of movement by their (obviously imaginative) owners, the pursuit of personal hobbies and other pastimes is now becoming the norm.

For example, we recently caught up with one such fortunate 1:6 soul, a tiny toy collector known simply as “Joe,” whom, it turns out, is himself a 12-inch tall “fuzzhead” Adventurer! According to his owner, Queli Castro, of Chicago, Joe truly enjoys getting out of the house and visiting local stores to browse their aisles for the latest SUPER-MINIATURE action figures. Castro reports:
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“Hello Mark, Long time no chat. Yes, Joe collects action figures, and lately he’s added quite a few to his collection. I asked him if he’d pose alongside his collection for a few pictures and he kindly obliged (see attached images). In the wide view of his study (shown below), this is only PART of his growing collection. He’s always ‘rotating’ pieces in and out.”
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A flair for decorating— Joe’s study reveals an obvious talent for tasteful decoration. That mid-century modern coffee table, the high-back chair, and those attractive display shelves are ALL superb 1:6 scale furnishings. What a wonderful room. Go, Joe! (Photo: Queli Castro)

“Superman is Joe’s favorite. That one he’s pointing to (see below) is a actually a nano metalfig (.99 cents) from Walmart.”
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Great Caesar’s Ghost! Such amazing detail at such a small scale. (Photo: Queli Castro)

“Joe also collects Star Wars memorabilia and he just got this super-miniature x-wing fighter from Walmart on Force Friday. The two military HALO figures (behind the x-wing) are by Mega Construx. They have 11 points of articulation(!) and come with lots of detail, display stands, and extra pieces. They are wonderful!”
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WHOOSH!!! Joe’s mind is racing with all the possible Star Wars scenarios he could act out—in his imagination. He clearly believes in taking off his shoes, surrounding himself with his favorite toys, and having a GREAT time! (Photo: Queli Castro)

“Here (below), Joe poses with his new Alice in Wonderland and Buzz Lightyear figures. While both are very cool, these particular figures are for his children and he plans to put them both under the Christmas tree this year.”
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‘Tis the Season— Joe knows that the true meaning of Christmas is to GIVE, LOVE, and SHARE with others. We’re sure Alice and Buzz WON’T disappoint! (Photo: Queli Castro)

“All the figures in Joe’s display are about 2” high and were bought at Walmart, with the exception of the three up there on the top righthand shelf (i.e. Batman/Robin/The Flash) which all came from our neighborhood WalgreensI’m also providing some photos of the action figures in their packaging (see below) because things look a lot different after they’ve been taken out of the box. And finally…

Mark… I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and thank you for The Joe Report. 
I look forward to every ‘issue’ and you do a wonderful job with it. Keep up the good work. Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!” —Queli Castro, Chicago, IL

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Sergeant Forge HALO action figure (Photo: Queli Castro)

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Superman die-cast metal figure (Photo: Queli Castro)

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The FLASH action figure (Photo: Queli Castro)

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An Endcap Full of Ships— Star Wars mini vehicles for sale now at Walmart. These make out-STANDING miniature toys for GIjOE! (Photo: Queli Castro)

Bottom Line: We absolutely LOVE how this Joe decorates his 1:6 scale home with “super-mini” collectibles. Our sincerest thanks and best wishes go out to Queil Castro for providing all of these excellent photographs and for his very generous “field reporting” here at The Joe Report. You are the BEST, sir!Mark Otnes, Editor TJR

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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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