Category Archives: Dioramas

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

johnkolb

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.

exclusivebanner

minirounds6

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.

malecomment

“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.”

CH-53E Super Stallion AST-1

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!”

minirounds9

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.”  

minirounds1

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).”

minirounds3

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)

minirounds2

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)

minirounds4

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! 

minirounds10

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.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

“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

scalemodelexpo1

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.

scalemodelexpo2

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:

malecomment

“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!”

scalemodelexpo3

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.

Tagged , , , , , ,

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

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

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

Customizer of 1:6 Scale and founder of the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

exclusivebanner

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

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

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

malecomment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

toddzingales7

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

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

toddzingales6

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

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

toddzingales8

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

Underwater Mayhem— Todd's

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

toddzingales13

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

toddzingales11

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

toddzingales12

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

toddzingales2

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

toddzingales5

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

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

Tagged , ,

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

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

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

exclusivebanner

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

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

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

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

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

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

malecomment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch it,

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

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

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

That's right,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sdfg

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

In the Army, fellow soldiers always

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

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

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

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

Tagged , ,

Bugger! 1:6 Scale WWII War Comedy, “Jackboots on Whitehall,” Bombs at the Box Office———Costing $6,000,000 & Netting Only———(Wait for It)———£20,776*

* (Sources quoted for these figures: Wikipedia and boxofficemojo.com)

Designers of the lobby poster for the 2010 UK film, “Jackboots on Whitehall,” made the regrettable decision to prominently feature the film’s poorly sculpted action “puppet” of Winston Churchill (heavily retouched) as its main focus. As fond as we are of “Ol’ Winnie,” this choice was a clear marketing blunder—one of a MANY misguided creative decisions by the filmmakers. (Graphic: Matador Pictures)

The goblinesque, open-mouthed and oddly colored headsculpt of the film’s 1:6 scale Joseph Goebbels “puppet” was not particularly well-done OR funny-looking. And during most of its scenes, it simply stared blankly ahead, rarely moving and never closing(?) its mouth. It’s inconceivable that the filmmakers couldn’t mine comedic GOLD out of a character who was Germany’s Minister of Propaganda. The jokes practically write themselves! (Photo: Matador Pictures)

The Story of the Most Expensive 1:6 Scale Film Ever Made—and Why it Failed So Miserably.

womancomment

“You can have a million dollar, 20 million dollar, or 60 million dollar budget, and if you don’t have a good script, it doesn’t mean a thing.” —Tippi Hedren

Imagine if you will, the following 1:6 scale dream scenario: You’re a pair of young brothers living in the UK who are both GIjOE/Action Man fans, as well as aspiring (though largely inexperienced) filmmakers. Your joint dream is to blow away all the do-it-yourself, stop-action GIjOE videos found on YouTube and produce a big-budget, shown-in-the-theater feature film using your favorite 12-inch heroes in lieu of real actors; sort of a 1:6 scale WWII fantasy brought to life up on the big screen. A lofty and admirable goal? YES!

The only problem(s)? Well, as we said, you’re both still young. That’s not necessarily an insurmountable botheration, but with it comes a certain lack of experience, an immaturity of talent and untested creative judgement. And, like most young people, you likely have little (or no) money and very little history of business (or filmmaking) success. To top it all off, this will be the FIRST real film you’ve ever made. The search for funding is bound to be an uphill struggle, and with so many self-created obstacles, it seems you and your brother would be lucky to find someone who’d offer to give you cab fare, much less fund your idea for a 1:6 scale “puppet” movie. But never fear, my friends…

Regardless of those “roadblocks of reality,” someone with really deep pockets finally comes along and decides—for whatever reason—to give you $6 MILLION DOLLARS to make your dream movie. Here’s the money, fellas. Go ahead. Wow! The sun is certainly shining on you, now. Sounds like a dream come true for any pair of ambitious young Brits, right? Well, maybe not. Be careful what you wish for. After a year or so of hard work, you might just find your investor’s wallet $6,000,000 lighter and your IMDb filmography listing one of the biggest (and dullest) box-office BOMBS of all time.

Achtung! Despite this clever opening title gag (promising "Glorious Panzervision"), the 1:6 scale action-comedy, "Jackboots on Whitehall" falls flat from the very first scene. (Screenshot: Flatiron Film Co.)

Achtung! Despite this clever opening title gag (promising “Glorious Panzervision”), the 1:6 scale action-comedy, “Jackboots on Whitehall” falls flat from its very first scene. We would have loved to have seen this concept explored further. Imagine what “Panzervision” might’ve been! (Screenshot: Flatiron Film Co.)

malecomment

“Well, there’s no question that a good script is absolutely essential, maybe THE essential thing for a movie.”
Sydney Pollack

The faces behind the puppets—

The faces behind “Jackboots”— The McHenry Brothers of the UK (above) showed Action Man fans in the UK how to spend $6,000,000 to make a bad movie featuring 1:6 scale action figures. (Photo: ReviewFix)

If you’re not already aware, the fantasy scenario we’ve laid out above is all too real. Jackboots was indeed the co-creation of two (real) young British filmmakers, better known today by their collective appellation—the McHenry Brothers. We won’t recount their full backstory here, that’s already been done numerous times around the internet (see HERE and HERE, for just two examples), but it’s clear that the two never fully grasped how poorly they had written their screenplay. In one telling interview exchange with ReviewFix, Rory McHenry’s answer (sadly) reveals their cineaste naiveté:

malecomment“Review Fix: If you could change ONE thing about the film, what would it be
—and why?

Rory McHenry: More explosions. There were a lot more sets and London monuments we could
have blown up!”

<shaking our heads now> Anyone who’s seen Jackboots knows that “more explosions” would have done NOTHING to improve the film. The reasons for its failure are mainly script-oriented—not in its pyrotechnics. It also suffers from poorly sculpted heads—but we’ll get into that a bit later.

It's common practice for filmmakers and distributors of a failed project to try and recoup their investment  by renaming a film, revising its promotional graphics or remarketing it to unsuspecting audiences overseas. Unfortunately, it's doubtful such efforts will ever help put  Jackboots on Whitehall "back in the black." (Photo: Amazon)

It’s common practice for filmmakers and distributors of a failed project to try to recoup their investment by renaming a film, revising its promotional graphics and/or remarketing it to unsuspecting audiences overseas. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful such efforts will help put Jackboots on Whitehall “back in the black.” (Photo: Amazon)

As Fans of all things 1:6 scale, our hopes and expectations for 2010’s Jackboots on Whitehall (JOW) were actually quite high. After all, with so much money being thrown at it, it would HAVE to be great. Right? Wrong. As it unspooled on the screen before us, our high hopes were quickly dashed and we found ourselves sinking lower and lower into our seats. What a disappointment!

Unlike standard moviegoers, we were willing to look beyond JOW’s obviously boring script and lackluster characters, preferring to focus instead on its specific use (and choice) of 1:6 scale vehicles, props and action figures. Even with our lowered expectations, we have to admit this film is B—A—D. The only enjoyment we got out of it was playing “Name That 1:6 Scale Prop.” Whenever something new came on the screen, we’d blurt out things like, “That’s a Dragon ammo box!” or “I’ve got one of those (fill in the blank)!”

It quickly became apparent that any GIjOE, Action Man or Dragon action figure fan with a practiced eye would actually enjoy viewing this film more—with the sound turned OFF. That may seem like an odd thing to say, but believe us when tell you, you won’t be missing anything important. JOW’s story, dialogue and voice-work are all complete throwaways (but hey, the music’s pretty good).

asdf

A Bad Day for Richard Dawson? No, it’s just another subpar headsculpt that’s actually more distracting than it is funny. Mon dieu! (Photo; Flatiron Film Co.)

What WILL appeal to 1:6 fans, is studying what’s been put up on there on the screen. After all, that’s where all the money went, and for 91 minutes, you’ll enjoy seeing how much 1:6 scale wackiness someone can set up and film for $6.000,000. If you can overlook the poorly sculpted characters, we suggest you focus more on the superbly crafted backgrounds, RC tanks, trucks and other vehicles, and just enjoy watching a 1:6 scale world being brought to life. Yes, most of the scenes fall completely flat, but then one suddenly comes along that really grabs your attention. For example, the number of Dragon SS German action figures used in the final Scotland battle sequence alone, is staggering. The studio’s prop department P.O. must’ve kept the folks at Dragon Models busy (and financially in the black) for a VERY long time. Gott im Himmel!

The difference is striking

In the film’s opening scene, an alternative Battle of Britain finale is underway, focusing on England’s two remaining fighter pilots as they attempt to fend off another bombing blitz by Goering’s Luftwaffe. Played seriously, the sequence feels as if it was made for another movie entirely. Much of the rest of the film is played for slapstick and silly laughs, making this scene seem completely out-of-place. Ultimately, the film’s failure boils down to its poorly written script. Its characters NEVER connect with the audience in any appreciable way, thereby dooming Jackboots on Whitehall to failure. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

malecomment

“It’s possible for me to make a bad movie out of a good script, but I can’t make a good movie from a bad script.”
George Clooney

A review in the Guardian UK, summed up the problems with this 2010 film, declaring it as:

malecomment

“Amiably intentioned but desperately weak in terms of script. Writer-directors Edward and Rory McHenry have poured an enormous amount of effort into the animatronic creations and models, but long, long minutes go by without anything resembling a good joke or a funny idea, and things frankly get very dull. It’s a shame, because this labour of love shows obvious creative potential, but the screenplay needed serious work.”

At times, the film does LOOK very impressive, especially when you consider that, for the most part, what you’re viewing has all been handcrafted at tiny 1:6 scale. So, rather than dwell anymore on what’s WRONG with Jackboots, let’s discuss some things its two creators got RIGHT…

Turn Her Into the Wind! The bridge set of the Hindenburg’s Command Gondola was one of the film’s best 1:6 scale creations. The figures chosen to crew the zeppelin were also well-detailed and featured above-average headsculpts. Unfortunately, this sort of excellence was diminished almost as soon as it was established, by other, more poorly crafted characters. D’oh! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Tell us when to laugh— Clearly patterned after goggle-eyed character actor, Marty Feldman, "Igor" is played 100% for laughs and receives absolutely NONE. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Tell us when to laugh— Clearly patterned after goggle-eyed character actor, Marty Feldman, “Igor” is played 100% for laughs and receives absolutely NONE. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

The Hindenburg Command Gondola

Whenever JOW’s prop or set departments did something particularly well, it was immediately noticeable to the viewer (especially to us “1:6 scalers”). After all, in this sort of production, the camera is only a few feet or inches away from its subject, and at that close range, there’s no way to hide poor design or workmanship. One of the film’s standout sets is its Command Gondola for the Hindenburg. Replete with girders, rivets, finely detailed control panels and stylish slanted observation windows, this stellar creation is clearly the film’s best and most memorable.

In addition, the movie’s costumers took the time and effort to detail some of the film’s better looking figures—the zeppelin’s crewmen—by using excellent 1:6 scale (Dragon) figures and uniforms (see photo above). It’s a shame they receive such a short amount of screen time and the unfunny “Igor” (right) is featured instead.

The attention to detail of the Hindenburg's Command Gondola extended to the outside as well. OUTstanding! (Photo: Click to enlarge.

The careful attention to detail of the Hindenburg’s Command Gondola set extends to its exterior as well, as this screenshot reveals. Superb craftsmanship! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

1:6 Scale Fans would have to give this scene, where the Hindenburg's tail gunner sprays hot lead down on the crowd below with his twin machine-guns, an A+. Even his expression is perfect, sort of a business-like, squint. (Photo: Flatiron) Click to enlarge.

Die, Britisher Pigs! 1:6 Scalers would have to give this scene—where the Hindenburg’s gondola gunner sprays hot lead down onto the crowd below (with twin machine-guns, nonetheless)—an undeniable A++. The sound effects, spitting flames, everything is perfect. Even his grim, determined expression is spot-on. This murderous, squinting Nazi is all-business and well portrayed. (Photo: Flatiron) Click to enlarge.

A smaller scale model of the Hindenburg was created and used for the faraway flying shots seen in the film. This excellent model is only about 5′ long. Wunderbar! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

The Hindenburg was easily handled and retouched due to its small scale. Here, propmasters repair a small nick in the underside of the Command Gondola. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Propmasters hang the Hindenburg from its wires in preparation for filming its scenes. Note how the delicate tail fin  and nose sections are protected with styrofoam blocks during this delicate procedure to prevent any damage in case it is dropped. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Careful, Boys! Propmasters gingerly hang the Hindenburg from wires in preparation for filming. Note also how they’ve chosen to protect its delicate tail fins and nose section with styrofoam blocks so as to prevent any further damage to the delicate model. Jah! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

The Battle of Britain Opening Scene

Almost a separate movie, Jackboots’ opening Battle of Britain sequence, featuring two stalwart RAF pilots attempting to fight off the Luftwaffe, was very well filmed and executed. The filmmaker’s wise use of superbly sculpted Dragon action figures, outfitted in excellently detailed pilot uniforms, combined with in-flight shots of scale models of Spitfires and Heinkel bombers, helped to make the scenes largely believable and entertaining. Here are some “behind-the-scenes” pics of the action:

Similar to the Hindenburg, slightly smaller scale Spitfires were used for the flying scenes shown at the opening of the film. Closeups of the cockpit were done in a separate, full 1:6 scale model. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Similar to the Hindenburg, slightly smaller-scale Spitfires were used for the flying scenes while closeups were taken of a separate 1:6 scale model of the cockpit. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Getting up close to the Spitfire pilots required very tight shots on a 1:6 scale mock-up of the plane's cockpit. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Filming closeups of the 1:6 scale Spitfire pilots required very close lens work  (and sharp focus) on a partial 1:6 scale mock-up of the plane’s cockpit. This also enabled puppeteers to move the figure’s hands and head from below, while staying carefully “out of shot.” (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

The Invasion of LondonWith 1:6 Scale RC

In another excellent sequence that will undoubtedly get “2 thumbs up” from all 1:6 scalers, the City of London is invaded from below by tanks and trucks full of German soldiers. After burrowing their way up through the street using a creatively conceived “drilling” tank, the Nazis begin to mercilessly mow down any and all Brits they can find, giving the McHenry boys plenty of opportunities to blow things up and fling bloody body parts all about the set. What fun!(?) Anyway, here some more pics:

Heavy Armor!

Holy, Heavy Armor! The construction and use of fully RC 1:6 scale tanks is a well-established hobby enjoyed by thousands of fans. We weren’t surprised then, that Jackboots contained numerous excellent RC tank scenes. We would’ve loved to have seen even MORE! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

In a method similar to that used for the Spitfires, puppeteers utilized a separate tank turret to maneuver the tank commander puppets from below. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

In a method similar to that used for the Spitfires, puppeteers utilized a separate tank turret to maneuver the tank commander puppets from below. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

We absolutely LOVE this 1:6 RC truck. Just look at the size of this beauty. Sadly, it drives from right to left and...that's about it. What a waste of a fine machine! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

We absolutely LOVED this superb RC troop truck. Just look at the SIZE of that beauty! Sadly, it drives from right to left and…well, that’s about it. What a wasted opportunity. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

This photo gives you an idea of just how large the London Invasion set really was. AMAZING! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

This photo gives you an idea just how BIG this particular Jackboots set really was. The building facades in the background were not in full 1:6 scale, but that didn’t really matter to the viewer’s eye. What an AMAZING creation. Imagine “playing” with this! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Duck and Cover! As we now know, the filmmakers wouldn't build a set if they weren't going to blow it up, and blow it up they did—REAL good! BA-ROOOOMMM!!! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Duck and Cover! As we now know, the McHenry’s wouldn’t build a set if they weren’t going to blow it up, and they blew ’em up—REAL good! BA-ROOM!!! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Blimey—The Palace and Number 10 Never Looked Better, Guv’nah!

As we stated earlier, Jackboots’ propmasters and set builders truly shined during the film’s production, especially in their creation of outstanding room interiors and realistic building exteriors. Probably the best examples are the street exteriors at Winston Churchill’s residence, Number 10 Downing Street, and then later, an interior room at Kensington Palace. The scenes required both sets to be built at full 1:6 scale, and as such, they were MASSIVE as well as exquisitely detailed. Of course, much of it was destined to be blown up, but while they stood, the sets were two of the nicest 1:6 scale architectural dioramas ever created. Here are some pics taken during shooting:

Absolutely Breathtaking! The 1:6 scale build-up of #10 Downing Street was an absolute masterpiece. It's a shame the film's script wasn't half as good as its sets. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Absolutely Breathtaking! The 1:6 scale build-up of #10 Downing Street was an absolute masterpiece. It’s a shame the film’s script wasn’t half as good as its sets. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Inside Buckingham Palace, the Third Reich's goon squad celebrate their victory by playing with the "spoils of war" found inside yet another marvelous interior set created by the film's set builders.Out-STANDING! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Inside Buckingham Palace, the Third Reich’s goon squad celebrates their victory by playing around with the “spoils of war” they find inside. Be sure to enlarge this picture to get a better idea of just how MASSIVE this interior set was. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

This closeup reveals how expertly the set builders matched textures and recreated other room details at perfect 1:6 scale. WOW! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

This closeup reveals how expertly the set builders matched textures and recreated other room details at spot-on, near perfect 1:6 scale. Simply superb! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

The propmasters and set builders probably BOTH had a fun time constructed Winston Churchill's hidden weapons storage, cleverly hidden behind a giant wall map in his study. Dedicated 1:6 scalers could probably recreate this scene, item for item. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

The propmasters and set builders probably BOTH enjoyed constructing and then detailing Winston Churchill’s hidden weapons armory, cleverly hidden behind a sliding wall map in his office. Dedicated 1:6 scalers could probably recreate this scene, item for item! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Another attempt at humor using an effeminate Hitler in an Elizabethan dress falls flat with nary a giggle. Monty Python-esque comedy this is NOT. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Another attempt at humor using an effeminate Hitler in an Elizabethan dress falls flat with nary a giggle. Monty Python-esque comedy this is NOT. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

“Tricking the Eye” With Scale

Occasionally, the filmmakers had to fudge a shot through tricks of perspective or the use of even smaller scale models. For example, the Hindenburg miniature (as shown above) was clearly NOT a 1:6 scale model. But at only about 5′ long, its shorter length must’ve made it much easier to film. Although the McHenry Brothers could’ve probably built a bigger one, that would’ve been quite a costly undertaking. And in the end, only its command gondola was really needed for scenes and closeups utilizing the 12″ action figures.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There’s certainly a lot to like about Jackboots, but (sadly) there’s also a lot to dislike. After seeing all of the excellent 1:6 scale aircraft, tanks, trucks, building exteriors, room interiors and intricately detailed miniatures created for the film, the expertise and professionalism of the studio’s art department is undeniable. But whoever signed off on the awful headsculpts used to depict its main characters truly did the film a disservice. Indeed, the filmmakers would have been well-advised to have sought out superior sculptors in what has become a VERY specialized art form. As any toy manufacturer will tell you, the facial sculpt of an action figure is THE crucial factor determining its success or failure. Kids and adults alike can look at the face of a toy and tell you in a second if they don’t like it. And if they don’t like it, they’re not going to buy it. That spells disaster for a toy company. The same truism can be applied to the “puppets” used in this film—and to the project that suffers because of them.

Rory McHenry places the unsightly and decidedly unfunny “Igor” figure into position in the superb Hindenburg Command Gondola set in preparation for filming a scene. Not surprisingly, the differences and inconsistent quality of artistry between such key sets and figures proved to be a major distraction (and disappointment) for the audience. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

We're not sure exactly what we're supposed to make of the unusual headsculpt used for the town vicar. And the painting is decidedly crudely done as well. Was it supposed to be Jack Nicholson as the Joker? Or was he caught in a wind-tunnel? Is it an alien? Whatever the inspiration, his startled "eyebrows up, mouth full of teeth" expression never changes throughout the film and it's hard to comprehend WHY. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

We’re not sure what we’re supposed to make of the unusual headsculpt created for the town vicar. Was it supposed to be Jack Nicholson as the Joker? Or was he caught in a wind-tunnel? Whatever the inspiration, his startled “eyebrows up, mouth full of teeth” expression never changes throughout the film. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

In the Eye of the Beholder?

It’s hard to say why the filmmakers used so many bad headsculpts. Such decisions are clearly, very subjective creatively; one person’s impression of what “looks good” or “bad” can differ greatly from that of another. Perhaps the difference rests with experience. As life-long 1:6 scalers, it may be that our eyes for 1:6 sculpts are better trained or “sensitive” to quality, because we’re more used to working at that size.

Whatever the reason, in the end, the filmmaker’s inability to utilize top-notch figures throughout the film clearly hurt it visually, making it look—at times—quite amateurish; hardly what you’d expect from such a big-budget feature. Whenever one of the poorly crafted figures is up there (see at right), you almost want to WINCE. And again, without a good script to engage (or distract) us from such a “mixed bag” visually, the audience of Jackboots is left with very little to root for (or care about).

malecomment

“Give me a good script, and I’ll be a hundred times better as a director.”George Cukor

On the set of Jackboots on Whitehall, the two young writer-directors take a break while considering the next shot. Looking at this picture of the young, handsome brothers, it's interesting to consider—what were they thinking about at that moment? Were they overwhelmed by the enormity of responsibility involved with shooting such a big-budget film? (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Under Pressure to Deliver— On the set of their first film production, 2010’s Jackboots on Whitehall, the writing-directing team of Ed (l) and Rory (r) McHenry take a break to consider their next move. Looking back at this photo of the handsome brothers (now), we have to wonder—How did they handle the pressure during the shoot? Were they overwhelmed by the responsibility of co-helming a big-budget feature? What toll did its failure take on them personally—and financially? (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Roll 'em Out! Ed and Rory practice "marching" a rack full of SS stormtroopers, their feet nailed to a platform with oblong wheels to simulate the slight up-down motion made while walking (or marching). (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Roll ’em Out! Ed and Rory practice “marching” a rack full of SS stormtroopers, their jackboots secured to a platform with oblong wheels to simulate the up-down motion made while walking (or marching). By the way, we counted 84 Germans on this rack ALONE! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

In a nod to ancient Roman formations, multiple racks of German SS troops are set up to begin the assault on Hadrian's wall. The studio built the massive set all indoors. AMAZING! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

 Looking like Roman Legions, multiple “racks” full of German troops stand ready to assault Hadrian’s wall during the film’s climatic battle sequence. This isn’t CGI, folks. Those were all Dragon action figures set up on an indoor soundstage. AMAZING! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Despite the availability of Pak 40s and other 1:6 scale artillery pieces made by 21st Century Toys and Dragon Models, (for some reason) the filmmakers decided to produce a series of under-scaled artillery pieces, instead. Don't look too closely, they're not very accurate. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Despite the availability of Pak 40s and other 1:6 scale artillery pieces made by 21st Century Toys and Dragon Models, (for some reason) Jackboots’ filmmakers decided to utilize these under-sized pieces, instead. Perhaps to squeeze more into the frame? (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

"Marching" racks full of SS troopers was also used for scene where they parade through London. You have to admire the effort (and $) that went into producing this shot in 1:6 scale. What a colossal undertaking! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

“Marching” racks full of SS troopers were also used in a scene where they parade triumphantly through London. It’s a SHAME that the filmmakers didn’t figure out a way to have them all GOOSE-STEPPING during this sequence (another missed opportunity). That would have been AMAZING! Still, you have to admire all the effort (and $) that went into producing this shot at 1:6 scale. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Unfortunately,"Daisy," a character the filmmakers had hoped would connect with the audience failed to do so in any appreciable way. We admire the craftsmanship on this figure, although it's largely a fashion Barbie with slight alterations. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

I’m not Barbie! Oh wait… “Daisy,” was a character the filmmakers stated they had hoped would connect with the audience, and yet she fails to do so in any appreciable way. Could it be because they used a common, high fashion Barbie doll with little to no alterations? This smooth, featureless face looks more like a mannequin than any “living” character. This is a face we’ve seen MILLIONS of times. YAWN. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Surprisingly, in a 2010 interview with Suchandrika Chakrabarti, the brothers took much the same position as their critics, stating their belief that the film’s story and characters were paramount, while all the rest (explosions, etc.) was “just background.” Nonetheless, once filming began, their combined inexperience (at that time) was clearly unable to produce the results of their original stated intentions. Here’s what they had said:

malecomment

 

“What we started to learn, as we got through principal photography, and a lot of the prep, up until 6 months ago, the nebulous concept of the film was going to be the characters and the love interest between Chris and Daisy, and everything around that, tanks, guns, explosions, is just background and to make it an exciting movie, but the main thing in this is that the puppets are becoming real people.”

Is THIS the face of a Hero?

Is THIS the face of a Hero? It is if you’re the star of Jackboots on Whitehall. The headsculpt for “Chris,” while not the worst of the bunch, was still only AVERAGE. We wonder how many the filmmakers went through before they selected this one? (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Unfortunately, the McHenry’s stated goal of their characters “becoming real people” was never achieved. Far from it, in fact. Their character’s trite, unoriginal dialogue and the awful screenplay they portrayed was, well, as DULL as dishwater. Seeking out the assistance of a professional screenwriter (with a proven track record) would have been money well spent in those early stages. Instead, the brothers turned only to each other creatively and so the results must be laid squarely at their doorstep. In a separate interview (HERE), Ed McHenry confirmed their writing process when he revealed:

malecomment

“The fantastic thing about making a film like this is that you can play around with the script – there’s no need to lip-synch, so Rory and I just sat in our living room with the lines on a laptop and rebuilt the dialogue. Everyone who joined the cast brought something new, so we were literally rewriting the script up until the last day of editing.”

Ouch. While such improvisation and endless rewriting is not unheard-of or uncommon, even the most ultra-talented film auteurs would consider making a big-budget movie that way akin to walking on hot coals or performing a dangerous high-wire act. One misstep—and it’s OVER.

malecomment

“I only sound intelligent when there’s a good script writer around.” —Christian Bale

You can see what the filmmakers were going for in a scene like this, where the three main "baddies" gather 'round a war-planning table to plot strategy. Unfortunately, their unfunny dialogue coupled with an erratic mixture of visual miscues (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

You can see what the filmmakers were going for in a scene like this, where the three main bad guys (Goering, Himmler and Goebbels) gather ’round a war-gaming table to discuss strategy. It’s a shame they had nothing original to say or do (where are the 3 Stooges when you need them?). The dialogue they did “speak” wasn’t witty OR funny, and their stiff, barely movable bodies end up producing something akin to a bad puppet show. And remember—we’re FANS! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Barbie looks very S&M in her skin-tight Nazi uniform and high-heel Jackboots as she sprays the defenders perched on Hadrian's Wall with her submachine gun. And yet...these scenes could have been SO much better. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.) Click to enlarge.

Barbie looks very S&M in her all-black leather-n-mesh Nazi ensemble (with high-heel jackboots) as she casually massacres defenders atop Hadrian’s Wall. Actually, two Barbies were strapped onto an RC Kettenkrad and then driven around the set for about 30 seconds of mayhem. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

goering

Bite Me! As this closeup of Goering’s rather roughly hewn (and poorly painted) headsculpt reveals, the directors chose to also (inexplicably) give him the metal teeth from 007’s arch-nemesis, “Jaws,” resulting in yet another uninspired sight-gag that fails to produce even a chuckle. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

From the store to the big screen— 1:6 scalers will recognize this RC Mercedes that appeared in stores a few years back. It works well in the movie and actually has many other effects not shown in the film (see THIS VIDEO for more details). (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

From the toy store to the big screen— 1:6 scalers will undoubtedly recognize Goering’s RC Mercedes that was sold worldwide back in 2009. It looked great in the movie and actually has many other interesting “effects” not revealed in the film (watch THIS VIDEO for complete details). (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

jackboots21

The film’s opening credit sequence features some (passable) artwork that reminded us (a little bit) of the old “Andy and George” GIJOE comic book ads of the 1960s. Unfortunately, this artwork was not nearly as well drawn, and so the camera (wisely) pans quickly over each frame. Again, a few bucks spent on a professional (i.e. more talented) comic book artist would’ve been $ well spent. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

asdf

In a glimpse of what could have been, the figure created for “Major Rupee” sported a carefully tailored uniform, properly fitting pistol belt, shoulder strap, rifle sling and turban, which all combined to create a sharp-looking figure that immediately grabs your attention. Unfortunately, his eyes were poorly painted. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

Considering Future Possibilities

As we wind up our coverage of this, the most expensive 1:6 scale movie ever made, we wanted to confirm that YES, we understand hindsight is 20-20, and NO, we’re not purporting to be experts on filmmaking. But since it’s been 5 years since Jackboots debuted (and disappeared) with barely a ticket sold at the box office, 2015 seems as good a time as any to discuss the reasons behind both its critical and financial failure.

It’s also important to remember how—and by whom—this film was made. The McHenry’s were self-admitted rookie filmmakers, yet they showed MASSIVE cojones in pitching (what was barely) an idea, securing (so much!) funding, and writing and directing their first-ever film project. Despite the fact that Jackboots went down in cinema history as a total box-office bomb, you have to credit the two young men for all their hard work, and for even attempting such a project.

Having Said All That…

We can’t help but consider what COULD have been created if perhaps a more experienced filmmaking team had been “green-lighted” with such a rare and momentous opportunity. Think about it. What would YOU do with a $6,000,000 budget? Let’s play a quick game of “Consider the Possibilities.” It may help us all to better grasp the enormity of this particular film’s oh-so-regrettable failure.

The FUTURE of Adventure Team animation? Animator Dana Rausch's "sample reel" has shown just how GREAT an Adventure Team serial could be. If only...(Photo: Dana Rausch)

Is this the face of the FUTURE of Adventure Team animation? Animator Dana Rausch’s sample AT video shows just how GREAT an Adventure Team series could be! (Photo: Dana Rausch)

How About an CGI-Animated “Adventure Team” TV Series?

If the stiff, “puppet-like” movements of the characters in Jackboots showed us anything, it’s that (perhaps) making a film with action figures isn’t the best idea, after all. Instead, maybe creating an animated series based on (but NOT utilizing) action figures is, in fact, a better way to go. And if that is indeed the case, then it’s easier to envision an Adventure Team-based series, loosely patterned after the old Jonny Quest cartoons by Hanna Barbara.

For a glimpse into this exciting possibility, look no further than the sample AT video (above) created by animator Dana Rausch. You could even end each episode with a “cliff-hanger” ending that would leave audiences eagerly waiting for the next episode (same bat-time, same bat-channel). Hasbro would be happy too, as the new show would undoubtedly spur all-new demand for AT-related products. Can you say, “revitalized brand merchandising?” (Psst! There’s no charge for this unsolicited advice, Hasbro. Feel free to “steal” whatever you like and run with it. We won’t complain!)

The '60s classic adventure series, Jonny Quest, created a template of science, action and adventure that would apply well to GIjOE and his Adventure Team. Would someone please convince Hasbro to attempt funding such a project? (Art: Steve Rude)

Mixing the Formula For Success— The ’60s classic adventure series, Jonny Quest, created a template for intrigue and adventure based on science, cultural differences and ACTION that would translate well to a new TV show based on GIjOE and the Adventure Team. Perhaps the (obviously) “gutsy” McHenry Brothers will try to convince Hasbro to green-light an AT idea for their next project? (Art: Steve Rude)

What Did UK Action Man Fans Think of “Jackboots?”

You’d think spending $6 million dollars to make a movie featuring 1:6 scale action figures in the UK would be well-known by Action Man collectors actually LIVING in the UK. But you’d be wrong. This film was such a dud that even today, very few UK AM fans can recall that it even existed. To investigate this conundrum further, we contacted the one man we knew would have the answers: famed action figure dealer, Gareth Pippen of Pippens Toys (UK). Gareth owns and operates his own action figure toy store in Glasgow, Scotland, and we were sure that he’d know all about UK’s Jackboots. Imagine our surprise when he admitted:

malecomment

“I have never heard of it, to be honest. But if I were to guess, does it have something to do with British comedian Jack Whitehall and WWII? Okay… I just googled it… I’m WAY off.”
sdfg

Figures Don’t Lie— When in doubt, go to the official record. In this case, it’s from the UK film industry’s website “boxofficemojo,” which keeps files on all of that country’s releases dating back many years. We searched through 2010 and there it was: Jackboots on Whitehall. After 2 weeks in release, it had grossed only £7,847, down 98% from the week before. Now, THAT’S a “nose dive!” After an equally short run in Spain, the film was removed from theaters altogether. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Since so few fans actually paid to see Jackboots during its original theatrical release, it can be hard to track down individuals to provide reviews today. Fortunately, a handful of them had the foresight to post their thoughts (while they were still fresh in their minds) on the IMDb website, after seeing the film back in 2010. It’s quite revealing to read those reviews today. For example:

malecomment

“Went to see this at the weekend after watching the trailer online. I could have walked out after 15 minutes and I wouldn’t have cared less about how the film ended. The dolls themselves looked very silly, no real emotion and the comedy was very dull. The only time I laughed was right at the end of the film, a long time to wait for a laugh. I can appreciate the hard work which has gone in to creating the landscapes and models etc. However, it still doesn’t make up for the fact that there is no real plot to the film and some of the voice acting is embarrassing. PS: I really, really wanted to like this film. (Just watch the trailer.)” —Thommaryjane

The goof-ball American fighter pilot was another waste of time, predictable and completely unfunny. However, the back of his jacket revealed some nice detailing work, unlike the front, which was a hodgepodge of pilot's pins and other silliness. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

The American fighter pilot character lampooned in Jackboots was another complete misfire, wholly predictable and unfunny. However, the back of his jacket revealed some nice detailing work, unlike the front, which was a hodgepodge of pilot’s pins and other insignia. (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

malecomment

“Post modern comic allusions here (Lethal Weapon, etc) are uneven and haphazard at best. What makes me wonder most is how this amateurish production got a hold of an array of such top-notch A-list talents to do voices. Ewan McGregor, etc. They must have promised them a Pixar-caliber animation. Terribly disappointed.” — smeg-4-brains

For some reason, some of the better head sculpts were used for background characters that had little or no lines of dialogue. We caught a screenshot of this impressive looking (though oddly long-haired) SS stormtrooper during a quick camera pan-by of the troops. Why couldn't the same high quality have been applied to all faces of the main characters? (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

You Lookin’ at Me? For some reason, some of the better head sculpts were wasted on background characters that had little or no lines of dialogue. We snapped this screenshot of an impressive looking (though oddly long-haired) SS stormtrooper during a quick camera pan-by of the troops. He’s probably grumpy that he hasn’t had a decent haircut in months. HA! (Photo: Flatiron Film Co.)

malecomment

“If you only care about the puppetry and what not, yeah, you might like it. If you expect it to be funny like either Team America or Robot Chicken, I think you’ll be hugely disappointed. I was. Most of the attempts at humor just fell flat on their face. There are a few funny things here and there that got a smile out of me, but overall it was boring as hell…” —astralace69

womancomment

Seriously don’t bother. It’s *beep* And I mean that in the nicest way possible. As a lover of all things WWI-WWII comedy / humor (related), it’s *beep.* Avoid at all costs.boobookitty

Tagged , , ,

5th Grade Teacher is Also a Master Customizer and Creator of 1:6 Scale “Natural Environment” Props, Structures and Dioramas For G.I. Joes

Angelo D reveals how he manages to store extra figures and props above and below his current diorama display table. Absolutely ingenious! (Photo: Angelo )

Angelo D’Annibale of New York reveals how he utilizes a wide and DEEP display table (much like a model railroader) to arrange and display two levels of indoor dioramas, while simultaneously storing extra 1:6 scale figures, vehicles and props on the shelf up above. Ingenious! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

One of D'Annibale's handcrafted bamboo cages works perfectly with this "Capture of the Pygmy Gorilla" scene. Outstanding! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

One of D’Annibale’s handcrafted bamboo cages works perfectly with this “Capture of the Pygmy Gorilla” scene. Outstanding! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“What an incentive positive feedback is!”

—Angelo D’Annibale

Years of Collecting Frustration Finally Give Way to an Adulthood Full of Creative Achievement

Many of the master customizers profiled here on The Joe Report stand out not only for their expertise, creativity and artistic prowess (they ALL have those in spades), but also for their uncanny ability to incorporate natural “found” objects and materials into the creation of ultra-realistic 1:6 scale miniature dioramas. Rather than buy everything pre-made and display something everyone else already has, they prefer to put their imaginations and creativity to the ultimate test—customization.

If you’re unaware, examples of found materials would include such items as scraps of wood, rope, metal, riverbed gravel, boulders, stones, sticks, straw, sand and even good ol’ fashioned dirt. Yes, we said DIRT. Remember when playing down in the dirt seemed as natural as breathing? Well, for many GIjOE fans, customizers, and kitbashers of 1:6 scale, that feeling has never gone away!

A "recycled" child's backyard swingset, once repainted and detailed is transformed into a stunningly realistic 1:6 scale WWII bridge photo op. WOW! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo’s “recycled” backyard swing set, once repainted and detailed, is miraculously transformed into an uber-realistic 1:6 scale WWII bridge—and a GREAT place for photos. (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

What? Don't you have your own realistic 1:6 foot-bridge? If not, why not MAKE one? Look at what Angelo did with simple scraps. WOW! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

What? You say you don’t you have your own realistic-looking 1:6 scale foot-bridge? Why not MAKE one, just like Angelo? WOW! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

But of course, there’s nothing wrong with utilizing modern or “artificial” materials as well, including items such as styrofoam blocks, paper towel rolls, sheets of styrene plastic, tin cans or any cheap “junk” you can find at a local dollar store. In fact, developing a keen eye for what qualifies as usable 1:6 scale props and building materials is one of the defining traits and hallmarks of a budding “master miniaturist.”

The outstanding customizer we’re profiling today is Angelo D’Annibale of upstate New York, who has really begun to make a name for himself in the 1:6 scale community. Photos his unique “natural” creations have been setting fan forums on fire and prompting many to attempt to duplicate his distinctive handcrafting techniques. We tracked Angelo down recently and asked him to share his backstory regarding his GIjOE collecting addiction, customization methods and display techniques. He generously replied:

“I was born in 1969, so I missed the heyday of GIjOE. By the time I was old enough to understand and play with GIjOEs, the 12″ figures were very hard to find. I recall many afternoons watching in horror as my older cousins tortured poor Joe and used fireworks to maim and disfigure the toy I so badly wanted.”

What an evocative, realistic scene. Superb camera placement and use of perpective, Angelo! At first glance, you'd swear this was a real horse and rider on a REAL bridge. (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

What an evocative, realistic scene. Superb camera placement and use of perspective, Angelo! At first glance, you’d swear this was a real horse and rider on a REAL bridge. (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“I was determined to have one of my own. Since my cousins littered the grass and sidewalk with disembodied Joe parts, I was able to collect the results of their carnage, one piece at a time. And like a young Dr. Frankenstein, I’d soon pieced together my own, 12-inch, 1:6 scale ‘FrankenJoe.’ In 1978, my family made an overseas trip to Italy. We needed to bring some gifts for my male cousins, so we went shopping at a local Schenectady ‘Two Guys’ department store. Unfortunately, GIjOEs were absent from most store shelves by that time and any hope I had of finding one on the store shelves was non-existent.”

Add another bridge and you double the detail and level of realism. Superb! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

D’Annibale’s custom bridges, roadways, vehicles and figures create unique worlds of imaginative play. Imagine the possibilities! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“I searched for something that would be small enough to place in a suitcase, yet cool enough for my young Italian cousins. As I rounded the next aisle, I was stunned when I saw what I thought was a figment of my imagination— AT G.I.JOEs! It couldn’t be! I had to be dreaming! But no (thankfully), I wasn’t dreaming. There were indeed, several AT figures, in their coffin boxes(!), just waiting for me up there on the shelves. I could hardly contain my excitement! My parents agreed to buy them, they fit perfectly in my suitcase and they definitely had that “cool” factor I had hoped for.”

Annidale proves you don't need a fancy "art studio" or garage to create in 1:6 scale, just desire—and TALENT! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

D’Annibale proves you don’t need a fancy “art studio” or garage to work in 1:6 scale, just desire, determination—and TALENT! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

A closeup of Angelo's new

This closeup of Angelo’s newest structure reveals the use of appropriately sized pieces of bamboo, a variety of wood scraps, string, scaled maps, photos and other props. WOW! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

Cheap "dollar store" items such as skulls and alien monsters can also be painted and detailed to work perfectly in D'Annibale's dioramas. (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Cheap “dollar store” items such as skulls and alien monsters can also be painted and detailed to work perfectly in D’Annibale’s dioramas. (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“My lucky cousins in Italy (Sergio, Rocco and Victorio) all got their GIjOE gifts, but I didn’t get one! My mother told me, ‘These are for family. Not for you.’ I was devastated. Here had been a perfect chance to own my very own, brand-new-in-the-box GIjOEs, but now it appeared that dream would NEVER come true. Of course, two days after arriving in Italy, those new Joes had all lost their pistols, clothing, and one had even plunged to his ultimate demise from the third story of our apartment complex onto the top of my uncle’s car. After that experience, I vowed that I would someday own my own GIjOEs and that I would take VERY good care of them.”

Inspired by the ammunition cart by Dragon (on the right), D'Annibale decided to make one of his own (left). OutSTANDING work, Angelo! Which one do YOU prefer? (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Inspired by the ammunition cart made by Dragon (above, right), D’Annibale decided to make his own (above, left). OutSTANDING work, Angelo! Which one do YOU prefer? (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

The comic that "started it all" for Angelo. Issue #5 of Marvel's GIjOE. (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo has a very special attachment to this specific issue of Marvel’s “GIjOE” comic book series and credits it with reigniting his love for the action figure line as he entered adulthood. (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“Fast forward 4 years: My parents enjoyed taking long Sunday drives up to Lake George. The car ride was usually boring to me, so I asked for a comic book to read from the local Del Gros Deli convenient store (Sgt. Rock, Sgt. Fury, and The Haunted Tank were all my favorites). That particular Sunday, though, something else caught my eye: a new title showing a tank moving through a park, with men running from it with the name ‘GIjOE’ in bold letters at the top of the cover. I grabbed it and savored every page as we drove to Lake George that day. When I finished reading, I realized that this was the 5th issue. I had missed 4 already! Finding those back issues took some time, but I eventually managed it and purchased every issue from that day forward. Even while I was away at college in Central New York, my mom would go to a comic book store and buy me the latest issue.”

Angelo's creativity doesn't stop at structures or custom figures. He also enjoys building and detailing custom 1:6 scale vehicles, such as this superb German halftrack. AchTUNG! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo’s creativity doesn’t end with structures and custom figures. He also enjoys building and detailing 1:6 scale vehicles, such as this superb German halftrack. AchTUNG! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

How about a custom truck, converted from a 21stC Patton staff car? If you want it, BUILD IT! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

How about this cool, 1:6 scale custom truck, up-converted from a 21st Century Toys Patton Staff Car? Superb work, Angelo! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“I can still remember the comic’s 6th issue in particular. It has such a cool cover! It depicted a medic (Doc) sitting behind a Snow Trooper (SnowJob) on a snowmobile. I thought how cool it would be if they actually made these Joes into toys. Well, the next Sunday, we were at Mohawk Mall and I (of course) had to visit the Kay B toy store. While walking down the action figure aisle, what did I see? A GIjOE ‘Polar Battle Bear!’ That SAME snowmobile on the cover!”

This closeup of Angelo's halftrack reveals he also chose to detail the vehicle's interior with weapons, a floor mat, radioman's chair and assorted other details. (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

This closeup of the interior of Angelo’s halftrack reveals he detailed it with weapons, tripod, ammunition, wooden floor mat, radioman’s chair and other details. EXCELLENT! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

Angelo briefly collected the 3.75" version of GIjOE but soon realized it limitations and refocused his efforts on 1:6 scale. (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo also collected 3.75″ GIjOEs (his first, shown above), but eventually refocused his efforts on finding the original 12″ versions. (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“Thus began my renewed obsession with collecting GIjOE toys. I collected many of the new 3.75″ figures, vehicles and accessories, even when I was getting too old to enjoy imaginative play. I simply had to have them. I had missed out on collecting Joes the first time around. I wasn’t going to let that happen again.

But then interestingly, I did lose interest. Those new GIjOE weapons were all pink(?) and orange and blue, and the 3.75″ figures and vehicles just didn’t have the same appeal to me as the original 12-inch versions. It almost seemed (to me) as if Hasbro was trying to end the GIjOE line. So eventually, I just stopped collecting. To make matters worse, the Marvel GIjOE comic series had ended too!”

asdf

Angelo created this outstanding (and unusual) outdoor diorama with a clever combination of dollar store tiki poles, plastic plants, Mayan calendar disk, working waterfall and…an egg? Yes, here, Joe prepares to examine the mysterious orb before whatever giant creature laid it returns and stomps him into the ground. Both frightening—and WEIRD at the same time. Look out, Joe! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

SUCCESS! Angelo's first 12-inch GIjOE was this veteran Adventurer who now mans the lofty perch atop the AT training tower. Go, JOE! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

SUCCESS! Angelo’s first 12-inch GIjOE was this veteran Adventurer who now mans the lofty perch atop D’Annibale’s AT training tower. Go, JOE! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“A few years later as I was walking through the mall (again), I stopped by the Kay Bee Toy Store, just for old times’ sake. Sure enough, as I rounded the corner I saw what looked like a 12″ GIjOE. Yes! But while the lettering on the package said GIjOE, the packaging and figure inside seemed…odd. Something just wasn’t right. First of all, Joe’s hands were HUGE. He had a giant, oversized weapon that made weird noises and lit up. And his face…well, it just wasn’t the same. His body was built more like…a Barbie…with little to no articulation. ‘That’s pretty lame,’ I thought to myself. But I ended up buying one anyway. As we all know now, that particular Joe’s name was ‘Duke.’ But he wasn’t the Duke from the 3.75″ line, nor was he a 12″ GIjOE (at least like the Joes I remembered).”

The lower-level diorama currently on display in Angelo's Joe Room is this superb homage to the Battle of the Bulge. (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

The lower-level diorama currently on display in Angelo’s Joe Room is this amazing homage to the famous WWII battle known as The Battle of the Bulge. (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

One of Angelo's upper-level dioramas features this exciting Search for the Mummy's Tomb set-up. (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

One of Angelo’s upper-level dioramas features this exciting Secret of the Mummy’s Tomb set-up. (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“More figures from the unusual “Hall of Fame” line soon appeared, but I simply had no interest in them. However, later on, when other toy companies began getting into the 1:6 scale market, such as 21st Century Toys (and their awesome WWII stuff) and Dragon (even better detail, articulation and realism), I quickly developed a WWII action figure obsession that has continued to this day.

During WWII, my Uncle John had fought in the Ardennes. He fought with the 28th Infantry Division and his weapon was an 81mm mortar. I would talk to my uncle about the war and he would tell me stories. Some were sad, some were funny, and some were downright SCARY. For example…”

Angelo's Uncle John as he appeared during WWII. (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo’s Uncle John as he appeared during WWII. (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“One tale I remember quite vividly was about how one night while asleep, he was awoken by hands that were feeling about his boots. He looked up and was startled to see a large Moroccan soldier holding a BIG knife—and smiling.

The soldier was identifying Uncle John (in the dark) as an Allied soldier by feeling the leggings and laces of his boots. If the boots had been the smooth leather type of a Nazi…then the end of his story would not have been so pleasant!

Inspired, I chose to create my first 1:6 scale diorama about my uncle. It would be for his birthday and I wanted to give him something different—something SPECIAL.”

Angelo's custom figure and diorama of his Uncle John, preparing to load a mortar round into his weapon. SUPERB! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo’s custom figure and diorama of his Uncle John, preparing to load a mortar round into his weapon. How great is THIS?! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“I selected a Dragon figure that I thought looked like him during the war, found a mortar that could almost pass for an 81mm mortar and used an old picture frame to build a mortar pit. To finish it all off, I added real twigs, straw and sand using techniques I’d seen and read about in various military modeling magazines (see photo at right).

I began to focus on collecting WWII figures and vehicles of the European Theater and quickly amassed quite a sizable collection. Soon, I had TOO many things and nowhere to display them. And I’m the sort of collector who’s always felt that toys left in their boxes would have a sad, ‘unloved’ existence. Something had to be done!”

With Angelo's ultra-wide display table, he can even accommodate an entire Italian piazza, or courtyard. Look how BIG this is! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

With Angelo’s ultra-wide display table, he can even accommodate an entire Italian piazza, or courtyard. Look how BIG this is! Click to enlarge. (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

A closeup of Angelo's city center reveals the use of real mini-bricks, a candlestick holder converted into a table, complete with record player and cards. FanTASTIC! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

A closeup of Angelo’s diorama reveals his use of real bricks, miniature statuary, a candlestick holder that’s been converted into a table, a custom 1:6 scale record player and playing cards. Fan-TASTIC! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

Now THIS is powerful. The use of that scale-correct T-Rex head charging Angelo's Mobile Support Vehicle is simply breathtaking! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

WOW. The use of a giant (scale-correct) T-Rex head charging towards Angelo’s Mobile Support Vehicle is simply breathtaking. Look out, Joe! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“Fortunately, our home was over 125 years old and in a few years we decided to put on an addition. You can imagine my excitement! I drew up plans and designed how I wanted to set up the new 20′ x 20′ room. I added built-in tables as well, because I knew I wanted to showcase as much as possible, especially the GIjOEs that started it all for me—the Adventure Team!

The main table in my new Joe Room is currently dedicated to my favorite, the ‘Search for The Stolen Idol’ Adventure Team set. I installed a wallpaper mural that had a huge Buddha on it as the backdrop and designed the rest if the display table around it. The other tables are ‘fluid’ and allow me to change their set-ups to display a wide variety of scenes and figures.”

Large props like this Mayan calander can be used to create almost "instant dioramas." Plunk it down amidst rocks, plants and dirt, and you're good to go—EXPLORING! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Large props like this Mayan calendar can be used to create almost “instant dioramas.” Plunk it down amidst rocks, plants and dirt, and you’re good to go—EXPLORING! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

Making the most of current outdoor conditions, D'Annibale routinely stages excellent "photo ops" such as this exciting snow rescue scene. (Photo: Angelo Annidale)

Making the most of current outdoor conditions, D’Annibale routinely stages excellent “photo ops” such as this exciting Snow Rescue Adventure. (Photo: Angelo D’Annidale)

“I continually look for new ideas online, especially over at The Trenches and Patches of Pride. I’ve discovered that there is a huge following for GIjOE and that what people are doing with 1:6 scale customs is amazing. Last year, I saw a post on the Trenches about a rope bridge that someone had made out of a wooden laundry drying rack. Boy, that was cool! A few days later, I was at one of my favorite spots for finding diorama ‘stuff’ (a local $1 store) and I found some bamboo garden stakes. They were the perfect diameter to make an AWESOME bridge. It would be some work, sure, but I was up to the challenge.”

If you can dream it, you can do it! Angelo's handcrafted, 1:6 scale bamboo and rope bridge sure verify that. Simply mind-BOGGLING! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo’s handcrafted, 1:6 scale bamboo and rope bridge verifies the veracity of that age-old customizing truism: If you can DREAM it—you can BUILD it! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“First, I cut the bamboo into 4” lengths and then drilled tiny little holes into each one. I was determined that my bridge would be big—REALLY big. I have a small creek in our backyard and I thought, ‘Hmm, if I could just make it long enough, I could stretch it all the way across (it’s 10 feet wide so that’s a ton of bamboo)!

Well, after cramped hands, and many bamboo splinters, I finished the bridge. I was SO excited. Cut to A.C.Moore, another awesome store for dioramas. I am looking at the plastic animals that they have and spot what appears to be a gorilla that is (almost) 1:6 scale. I thought, it’s ‘GIjOE AT Pygmy Gorilla’ adventure time!

This incredibly powerful image was created with Angelo's outstanding bamboo/rope bridge...and a rubber gorilla. But BOY, is it GREAT! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

This powerful image of Angelo’s 1:6 scale Pygmy Gorilla was artfully posed and photographed utilizing his outstanding bamboo bridge—and a little rubber gorilla. Simple? Yes. But BOY—does it look GREAT! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“When I got home, I ran to the backyard with iPad in hand and after taking a bazillion pictures, I decided to share what I had created. I post the bridge with Joe and the gorilla on The Trenches…and I received a great deal of positive feedback! What an incentive positive feedback is! You want my advice? SHARE what you have, what you have done, and what you are proud of. People should see what you can do!”

Angelo's scratch-built wagon is a real show-stopper. He researched it, planned it—and MADE it! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo’s scratch-built wagon is a real show-stopper. How did he do it? First he researched it, then he planned it—and then MADE it. Any more questions? (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

“I constantly search the internet for pictures of WWII scenes and I look through magazines every time we go to Barnes and Noble. I can’t believe all the talented individuals out there! The One Sixth Division and Sixth Army Group are two online forums that have given me MANY ideas and inspired me to create ever-better dioramas. Nevertheless, I feel my work pales in comparison to some of the more talented folks whose work I have witnessed and have to give them all credit for helping me.”

Angelo also built this smaller pull-cart, but it is no less detailed or well-made than the wagon. Absolutely WONDERFUL! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo also built this smaller push-pull cart, but it’s no less detailed or in any way inferior to the larger wagons. He even made the little potatoes himself. WONDERFUL! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

It's amazing what Angelo can do with a rather lame Max Steel helo, some flat-black paint and a lot of creativity. WHOOSH! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Wouldn’t you buy one of these if Hasbro offered it? WOW! It’s amazing what Angelo can do with just an old Max Steel helo, some flat-black paint and a dash of creativity. WHOOSH! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

Do you walk past cool props like this Buddha head and not give them a second thought? Well, slow down and THINK. How cool is THIS?! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Do you ever walk right past nifty props like this garden Buddha head? What a great piece for outdoor adventures! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

It's amazing how effective 2-D wallpaper backdrop can be to create an instant mood for your foreground action. (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

It’s amazing how effective a simple 2-D wallpaper backdrop can be in creating an instant mood for your GIjOE’s 1:6 scale foreground action. Superb! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

Take time to take it all in: The palm trees, the walls, the desert, the camel, the pyramid, it's a MAGNIFICENT! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

That’s right…Take all the time you need to take this all in: The palm trees, the walls, the desert, the camel, the pyramid, it’s all MAGNIFICENT! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

Planet of the Apes? Angelo's jungle bridge masterpiece is the stage for a tense stand-off between a mighty silverback gorilla and Adventurer Joe (who's beginning to question hi decision to bring a camera instead of his trusty sidearm). D'oh! (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Planet of the Apes? D’Annibale’s stunning 1:6 scale jungle bridge provides the perfect setting for a tense stand-off between his “Pygmy” Silverback Gorilla and intrepid “Adventurer Joe” (who’s now beginning to question his decision to pack a camera INSTEAD of a .45 sidearm). D’oh! (Photo: Angelo D’Annibale)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Angelo D’Annibale for his help with this article. Normally, we’d close with a few witty words of summation, but today we turn it over to Angelo, who writes:

“Hello Mark, I wanted to end by thanking you again for allowing me the opportunity to share what I have done. I feel very strongly about the 1:6 hobby and wanted to share how it all started with me and where it has gone. Thanks for all you do for the hobby with your sites. Have fun, be creative, ask questions, look and research, and always (and most importantly)—NEVER grow up!” —Angelo D’Annibale

Tagged

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?

Tagged ,

“Chef Gina’s” Specializes in Preparing 1:6 Scale Food & Drink for G.I. Joe, Action Man & Barbie

It takes a master chef to prepare these dishes in real-life. It takes a master craftsman and ARTIST to recreate them convincingly at tiny 1:6 scale! This close-up of a 1:6 FEAST is but a small sampling of the extraordinary miniature food and drink products offered by Chef Gina LLC. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Gina King, creator of highly-detailed 1:6 scale food and drink miniatures. (Photo: Gina King)

Gina King, creator of highly-detailed 1:6 scale food and drink miniatures. (Photo: Gina King)

“The majority of our customers are adults who make dioramas for military displays.” —Gina King (aka “Chef Gina”)

Come and Get It—In 1:6 Scale!

Spunky entrepreneur and 1:6 scaler, Gina King, of North Ridgeville, Ohio, wrote into The Joe Report recently to advise us that she’s been creating and selling her own line of miniature food and drink props since 1999, and that her products are ideal for use in any sort of GIjOE-related diorama requiring such items. Our imaginations immediately raced with thoughts of the Joes sitting around our offices and their “pals-n-gals” all set up in historic WWII sidewalk cafe dios, pulling all-night K-P in the Mess Hall kitchen, throwing darts down at the local pub with “me mates,” or just hangin’ and chillin’ in a cool 1:6 scale game room, playing pool and drinking beer. Oohrah!

Adventurer Joe reaches for one of the superb miniature lemon wedges on his fried fish fillet, saying,

Joe reaches for one of the superb miniature lemon wedges on his fried fish fillet while muttering, “I specifically said, NO lemons!” Very accurate 1:6 scale. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

After conversing back-n-forth, Gina kindly offered to provide The Joe Report with some free samples for our (and our reader’s) close-up perusal, and we couldn’t resist setting up a quick, impromptu “photo-shoot” with some hungry and thirsty GIjOEs, so as to demonstrate the exact scale and details of her superb products.

After inspecting the samples, we knew we wanted to learn more about Gina’s amazing “minis” and were just about to ask her if she would consent to an interview when our crack research staff discovered she had just completed a similar interview in the January 2013 issue of Dolls Magazine (DM). It seemed pointless to make Gina “chew on” and “spit out” the same faux food information twice (HA), so we’ve adapted and edited down the most pertinent passages of her DM interview and “re-run” them for you below. Our sincerest thanks to Dolls Magazine and Gina for allowing us to re-share this information with you here again today. Enjoy!

This ultra close-up reveals almost mind-numbing detail. Imagine how real Gina's

This ultra close-up reveals almost mind-numbing detail. How does she do it? Frankly, we don’t really want to know, because it might “spoil the magic” of her miniature masterpieces. Imagine how real Gina’s “faux food” will look in YOUR next 1:6 scale diorama. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

You can almost TASTE this superb Carrot Cake made by Chef Gina. The colors, the textures, the icing, it's ALL perfect at 1:6 scale! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

You can almost TASTE this superb Carrot Cake made by Chef Gina. The colors, the textures, the icing, it’s ALL perfect at 1:6 scale! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

DM: In addition to sculpting miniature food, are, or were you also a chef or “foodie” in real life?

“Yes. I have an Associate’s Degree in Applied Business with a major in Culinary Arts. My specialty was high volume cooking for up to 30,000!”

DM: Your website says you’ve been “Chef Gina” since 1999. How did the business get started?

“Chef Gina’s started on Ebay in 1999. The idea behind making doll food was originally my mom’s idea. In 1999, I was laid off from a job and my mom said, ‘Gina, I always wanted play food for my Barbie’s. Why don’t you make food for Barbie and try selling it on eBay?’ I said, ‘Mom, that’s stupid. Barbie doesn’t even eat. Who’s going to buy that?’ That Easter, my mom gave me a basket full of clay. We worked hours through the night ‘cooking up’ scrumptious food! When the business started to grow, we eventually created our own website (HERE).”

Chef Gina's beverages are the most realistic we've EVER seen at 1:6 scale. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Chef Gina’s beverages are the most realistic we’ve EVER seen at 1:6 scale. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Yes, your eyes ARE deceiving you! Although you would swear these are real, 1:1 glasses, they are actually in 1:6 scale. Are you officially

Yes, your eyes ARE deceiving you! Although you would swear these are real, 1:1 beverages, they are actually in 1:6 scale. Are you officially “blown away” by Chef Gina’s work yet? If not, take a good lonnng look at this side-view close-up of the two glasses. You can see all sorts of realistic tiny carbonated bubbles and ice cubes. To us, the goblets even look like they’re “frosty cold.” WOW! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

On a diet? Is Gina's carrot cake too

On a diet? Is Gina’s carrot cake too “heavy” for you? This Joe selected a less-caloric Jello 1-2-3 dessert with a perfect swirl of whipped topping. Gina’s real-life experience in the food industry is an obvious contributor to her superb miniature recreations. You have to KNOW food to make it look this good—at ANY scale! Mmm (Photo: Mark Otnes)

DM: Are you a doll collector yourself? If so, for how long? And what kind of dolls do you collect? (How many do you think you own?)

“I am a doll (and action figure) collector. I’ve been collecting since I was a child and now have 140 dolls. My collection ranges from vintage Kellys, Barbies, and GIjOEs, to My Scenes, Bratzs, Genes, Tonners and American Girls. Most of my dolls are out of the box; because I use them for displays.”

This extreme close-up of the Jello 1-2-3 (with Cool Whip) reveals about as much as you'll ever need to know. It...is...GREAT. Look at the attention to detail on that spiffy little swirl! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This extreme close-up of the Jello 1-2-3 (with Cool Whip) reveals about as much as you’ll ever need to know. Look at that spiffy swirl! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

DM: Is Chef Gina’s a sole-proprietor operation, or is there someone else involved in the business?

“Chef Gina’s is a LLC. Including myself, there are four people involved: James, my brother, is the set and design manager. He can design and build anything! A lot of his work has appeared in magazines. Peggy, my mom, you’ll see at conventions and doll shows. And my husband Kelly does all the behind-the-scenes work.”

DM: How would you describe the Chef Gina’s business? Is it just food for dolls or is it something much more? How would you explain it to someone who is not familiar?

“Chef Gina’s is a global brand. We make and sell realistic play-food for fashion (1:6 scale) and larger sized dolls as well as life-sized. At this time, our brand can be found online and in three stores. In addition to providing adult collectors with accessories for their dioramas, our products also influence the creative, young minds of children.”

DM: Is being “Chef Gina” your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?

Chef Gina’s is not my full-time job, even though I do put in full-time hours. My main profession is top secret….I basically sit in a “bat cave” waiting for the call!”

To celebrate our discovery of Chef Gina's outstanding 1:6 products, we

To celebrate our discovery of Chef Gina’s outstanding 1:6 products, we “opened the tap” and told the Adventure Team they could take the rest of the day off. The Land Adventurer and Man of Action take notice of the Sea Adventurer’s “two-fisted” drinking style. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

(Chef Gina's LLC logo)

(Chef Gina’s LLC logo)

Bottom Line: The final results of our inspection are in: the products from “Chef Gina’s LLC” are of absolute top-notch quality and are sure to please even the most demanding detailers and creators of 1:6 scale dioramas. We absolutely LOVE their 1:6 scale mugs of beer, jello desserts, and dinner plates full of food. They’re superbly detailed, durable, and just a lot of fun to play with. The prices too, seem VERY fair for all the detail and professional-quality workmanship you receive. Our sincerest thanks to Gina King for providing all the free samples and for the “heads up” on her fascinating (second) full-time job. What a great business. Go, GINA!

1/6th UK Collectors Club Hosting “Welsh Action Figure Show” on October 27th in Chepstow, UK

Entrance to the "Severn Bridge Social Club" in Chepstow, UK. (Photo: Google Maps)

Entrance to the “Severn Bridge Social Club” in Chepstow, UK. (Photo: Google Maps)

ukshowposterPip-pip! Cheerio!
And all that sort of ROT!

Have you ever wondered where fans in the UK go to get a fix of their favorite 1:6 scale hero, “Action Man?” No? Well, we’re going to tell you anyway (HA). On Sunday, October 27th, they’ll be gathering “en masse” at the Severn Bridge Social Club in Chepstow, England, to attend “The Welsh Action Figure Show” (WAFS). The WAFS is an annual buy/sell/trade event that’s hosted by members of the UK 1/6th Collectors Club. Admission is only £2, and free parking is provided around the facility. Club rep, “Dandare01” posted the following intel:

“There is an action figure fair on Sunday, 28th October, 2012. It’s at the Severn Bridge Social Club, Chepstow, and starts about 09:30am for early birds at £5, and 10:30am for everyone else at £2. You can get breakfast and lunch too, all at a good price.

You can take figures, vehicles and dioramas to display, or enter the competition. In addition to the traders, I’ll be there with some 1/6th Armour. It would be great to meet some of you and to see your kitbashes, figures etc.Once again, Barry Pippens and Alan Hall will be there, so we should have access to the latest figures, plus various VAM and Dragon (DID etc…) dealers.”

Venue details:
Severn Bridge Social Club, Bulwark Road, Bulwark, Chepstow, Gwent, NP16 5JN, 01291 622980

This dealer's table at last year's Welsh Action Figure Show was full of NMIB figures. Bring money! (Photo: Dandare01)

Organizer Alan Dawson’s table at last year’s show. Tip: Bring money! (Photo: Dandare01)

Absolutely beautiful Dragon German tank in desert colors. BLIMEY! (Photo: Dare

Absolutely beautiful Dragon German tank in DAK desert colors. BLIMEY! (Photo: Dandare01)

Superb British Lorry with detailed paint-job and canvas top. Outstanding! (Photo: Dandare01)

Scratchbuilt 1-ton Land Rover with detailed camo paint and canvas top. Outstanding! (Photo: Dandare01)

Another dealer table full of 1:6 at the 2012 Chepstow show. (Photo: Dandare01)

Dealer Alan Hall of the “Modeler’s Loft “at the 2012 WAFS show. (Photo: Dandare01)

Stunning lineup of British soldiers and a (custom?) armored vehicle. (Photo: Dandare01)

21st Century Toys Bradley FV converted into a British Army Warrior. (Photo: Dandare01)

Another amazing British military vehicle spotted at the 2012 show. (Photo: Dandare01)

Scratch-built Jackal Patrol Vehicle at the 2012 show. WOW. (Photo: Dandare01)

Bottom Line: The 2013 WAFS show looks like it will be a great opportunity for Action Man, Dragon, and GIjOE fans to get together and share the “best of the best. A special THANKS to UK’s own, Alan Dawson, for his help with this article. ” Hmm…now where are our passports?

Newly-Published “Sector 6” Fan Fiction Utilizes 1:6 Scale Action Figures; Inspired by Format of WW2 German Propaganda Magazine, “Signaal”

libro-abierto_0

Professionally designed and printed, the first issue of Oscar Aguado Garcia’s Sector 6 is an outstanding example of 1:6 scale “fan fiction.” (Photo: Oscar Aguado Garcia)

signaal

A typical issue of the propaganda magazine, Signaal (1940-1945), depicted happy, healthy Wehrmacht troops, ready and able to defend the Third Reich against its enemies. (Photo: ioffer)

First, a Short History Lesson…

During the second World War, print publications proved to be some of the most effective ways to reach out and “touch” the hearts and minds of a civilian population. Germany’s answer to the Allied Forces newspaper Stars and Stripes was its own political publication titled “Signaal.” Signaal was a slick little propaganda magazine, professionally designed and chocked full of articles and heroic imagery depicting the “supremacy” of German armed forces.

While one might suspect Signaal was a product of Joseph Goebbels and his vaunted Propaganda Ministry, it was actually created and controlled entirely by the German Army or “Wehrmacht.” Everything within its pages was carefully selected by Wehrmacht staffers to portray an idyllic and heroic vision of German troops as they fought to defend the Third Reich from advancing allied troops and the “Bolshevik hordes” (that would be the Russians).

sector6a

Oscar Aguado Garcia poses on the set of a Spanish TV show prior to being interviewed about his new fan-fiction book, Sector 6. (Photo: Oscar Aguado Garcia)

Looking past the patently obvious hyperbole of its contents, Signaal has long been regarded by historians as one of the better sources of photographic reference about the Wehrmacht during WWII. It even featured a full-color centerfold! If we ignore the political slant of its articles, the LOOK of the magazine was undeniably clean, crisp—and effective.

2013 “Fan Fiction” Inspired by 1940’s Design

Over 68 years later, Oscar Aguado Garcia, an action figure fan and collector from Spain has just created an all-new publication entitled Sector 6. Clearly inspired by the Wehrmacht’s wartime design of Signaal, Garcia’s new work of “fan fiction” is a faithful (and expensive) recreation, but with a unique twist: All the soldiers depicted in his photos…are in 1:6 scale! Utilizing an excellent selection of Dragon and other high-end figures, Oscar has essentially produced an all-new version of a vintage Signaal magazine. In an interview with The Joe Report, he describes Sector 6 this way:

samplepage

Sample page of Sector 6 (Photo: Oscar Aguado Garcia) Click to enlarge.

“Sector 6 was inspired by World War II propaganda magazines, specifically the German magazine, Signaal. The title comes from an abbreviation of ‘Sector 1:6,’ referring to the scale that we all love to work with. Inside, action figures from the Second World War rewrite history from their own unique point of view, creating fictional war scenes in an exclusive selection of over 300 photographs (246 colour and 55 black-n-white.)

Sector 6 was designed to look like the vintage WW2 magazine and its contents are based on different articles, some of them true, others fictional, and others in-between. With a total of 82 pages, 14 articles (1 romance illustrated by pictures), 1 DIY, and (as in the original Signaal) adverts of various products, the publication measures 210 x 275,5 mm, and is a very high-quality product.”

sector6c

In this screenshot, Oscar reacts to a question from a TV show host during an appearance on Spanish television promoting his new book. (Photo: YouTube)

adpage

As in Signaal, Garcia’s Sector 6 also includes humorous advertisements for products such as suppositories, typewriters and boots. (Photo: Oscar Alguado Garcia) Click on image to enlarge.

Fan fiction is a very narrow niche extension of action figure collecting. It requires creativity, artistic ability and graphic design experience just to get a project off the ground. Then, passion, patience and yes—MONEY—are also needed to see it through to its completion. We began to wonder about all the hard work and financial risks involved and asked Oscar to share his thoughts on those topics, as well as on any other projects he’s currently working on. To that, he replied:

“Sector 6 is actually the culmination of an 8-year ‘game’ I have been playing where I act as a war correspondent and my collection of action figures are the characters or ‘stars’ in the war. But I want to make clear that unlike the original Signaal, my book has NO such ideological intentions. On the contrary, I criticize and parody such propaganda.

I also have other projects in the Blue Division Museum and at the trade exhibition “No sólo Militaria.” But, as I am the only worker there, my biggest efforts are now focused on selling out the first printing of Sector 6 and then releasing numbers 2, 3 and so on.”

Bottom Line: Currently, Sector 6 is only available in Spanish, and there are no plans to release it in English. But that doesn’t really matter to us here at The Joe Report. We believe the publication’s original Spanish version will be the best and most collectible. If you’d like to purchase a copy of Sector 6 for your “Joe Library,” we recommend you visit the official Sector 6 website HERE and contact Garcia personally via email HERE.

Bottom, Bottom Line:  We just received a complimentary copy of the Sector 6 book. It is absolutely PHENOMENAL. Far and away better than we could have ever imagined. And it’s LONG too (80 pages)! Top-notch, professional graphic design, layout and photography all throughout. Chocked full of inspirational outdoor diorama set-ups and photos. Yes, it’s all in Spanish, but who cares? We’ve never seen a 1:6 scale photo-book as cool as this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.