Category Archives: Famous Names in GIjOE

After 80 Years, UK Community Designates Palitoy’s “Old Toy Factory” (The Birthplace of Action Man) As a Revered “Green Plaque” Commemorative Site

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Three Cheers for Palitoy! Former employees of the beloved UK toy company raise a rousing “Hip, hip, hooray!” at the site of their former business, whilst receiving the Leicestershire County Council’s honorific of “green plaque” commemorative status. (Photo: Leicestershire County Council) Click to enlarge.

Our good buddy, Bob Brechin, wrote in to us again today to share another tidbit of good news from that “old country across the pond.” Bob was clearly (and rightly so) bursting with pride, as he told us all about the recent Leicestershire County Council’s (LCC) decision to commemorate the site of the original Palitoy toy factory building, known to millions of fans around the world, as the “birthplace” and former home of —you guessed it—Action Man! According to the LCC website:

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“A former factory in Leicestershire which created popular children’s toys such as Action Man, Tiny Tears dolls and Star Wars figures was honoured with a green plaque. On Thursday, 2 November, the plaque was installed at the Coalville Business Park, in Jackson Street, Coalville, where the toy factory once stood. The company manufactured some of the most popular toys in Britain from 1937 to 1985 – before it ceased trading. Palitoy not only helped to stoke children’s imaginations with its classic toys and figures it also helped to put Coalville on the map.”

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“Two Bobs” for Action Man! These two talented gentlemen have every reason in the world to be proud of Palitoy’s newly acquired “green plaque” status, and of their own individual accomplishments as well! From left we have Bob Brechin, former chief toy designer, and on the right, Bob Simpson, the company’s former managing director. (Photo: LCC) Click to enlarge.

It’s obvious to fans living here in the U.S. (and elsewhere around the globe), that local UK community support (and thanks) for the men and women who helped bring Action Man and other great toys “to life” remains very strong. And while those lucky few in attendance at Palitoy’s recent green plaque ceremony may now largely be members of the “silver-haired set,” it’s good to know that their children and grandchildren will be able to look up at that plaque and remember all the wonderful toys created there (by their loved ones) for many generations to come.

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Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council (Photo: LCC)

womancomment“It is fantastic to see that 80 years on, there is still HUGE support from the people of Leicestershire.” —

It should be no surprise then too, that Bob Brechin, ever the promotor of all things Palitoy and Action Man, was the man originally behind all of the efforts required for gaining the beloved Palitoy company its esteemed honor of “green plaque” status. According to Brechin:

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“It is 80 years since Palitoy toys were first made in Coalville and I thought the famous toy company should be celebrated with a green plaque at this special time.” —Bob Brechin

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and congratulations go out to Bob Brechin for his heads-up intel on this story, and to the wonderfully generous Leicestershire County Council for their excellent photos, and to all of the other past employees of Palitoy. You’ve all done so much—to bring so much joy—to so many people. Go, Action Man! And… Hip, hip, HOORAY for Palitoy!

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Rudy Panucci’s Video Recap of 2017’s Kentuckiana GIjOE Toy Expo Held August 5th in Louisville, KY

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Toy Expert and Pop-Culture Blogger, Rudy Panucci (Photo: Rudy Panucci)

Bottom Line: Here’s another great video from the MASTER of pop-cult videos—Mr. Rudy Pannuci! Our sincerest thanks to Rudy for taking the time to cover this year’s EXPO and for his production of yet another superb video review. Be sure to leave any comments or compliments you may have for this famous “PoPCulteer” on his blog found HERE and keep up-to-date with future Rudy videos by subscribing to his YouTube channel HERE. Go, Rudy! Go, JOE!

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FLASH!———JoeCon 2017 12″ Convention Set Box Art Finally Revealed: Larry Selman Strikes Again!

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TWICE as NICE— As this photo of page 3 of the May 2017 issue of the GIjOE Collector’s Club magazine excitedly reveals, fans can expect to receive two more Larry Selman masterpieces on the box made for the JoeCon 2017 12″ convention exclusive 2-figure set. Click to enlarge.

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Burnin’ ’em Back to Hell— This Marine Jungle Fighter is clearly taking no prisoners tonight. But who’s that angry guy behind him? Absolutely SUPERB artwork by Larry Selman. Click to enlarge.

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It’s his, AT LAST!— This scene of the Jungle Adventurer, clearly thrilled at his discovery of the mystical Serpent Scepter, is wonderfully brought to life by master artist, Larry Selman. WOW! Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: We couldn’t find any images of this new box elsewhere online, so we just snapped some quick pics of the club’s magazine page (p.3) that shows the artwork. And yes, once again, Classic Collection master artist, Larry Selman, has produced two exceedingly wonderful paintings for yet another exciting set. Are you planning to attend this year’s convention? If not, you can still order one of these sets online HERE, to be mailed to you after the event. Go, Joe! Go, Larry!

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Stan Weston, The Inventor of G.I. Joe, Dead at 84

It Was His Idea— Stan Weston (at 82) holds up a copy of Hasbro’s original 1964 GIjOE Action Soldier, a product line produced from Weston’s original concept which he created and sold to the company in 1963. When the copyrights to GIjOE expired in 2020, Weston hoped to reclaim control over his creation in a court of law. It is unclear whether or not the lawsuit will continue. (Photo: Stan Weston)

As reported May 8, 2017 in the Hollywood Reporter:

“Stanley Weston, inventor of the G.I. Joe action figure and a pioneer of the licensing business, died May 1 in Los Angeles, his daughter, Cindy Winebaum, announced. He was 84.

Weston was born in Brooklyn in 1933 and served in the Army shortly after the Korean War ended. When he returned home to New York, he found a job with the advertising agency McCann Erickson and enrolled in night courses for an MBA at New York University, where he had studied as an undergraduate.

Weston soon discovered a talent for the up-and-coming licensing and merchandising industry, and he struck out on his own to found Weston Merchandising.

When Mattel’s Barbie dolls were introduced in 1960, Weston realized boys were an untapped market for the doll industry after noting that many of them played with Ken dolls. He conceived of the idea of a military action figure and in 1963 sold what would become G.I. Joe to Hasbro. The runaway hit would go on to be one of the most enduring toy lines in history, spawning hit TV shows and films as well.

Weston later renamed his company Leisure Concepts, which would represent clients such as Charlie’s Angels-era Farrah Fawcett, Nintendo and the World Wrestling Federation, as well as TV shows including Alf and Welcome Back, Kotter. His other notable achievements include helping create the 1980s animated phenomenon ThunderCats.

In 1989, he was among the inaugural class for the Licensing Industry Hall of Fame, which includes notables Walt Disney, George Lucas and Jim Henson.

Weston is survived by his brother, his three children and five grandchildren.”

Bottom Line: Stan Weston came up with the original idea for the GIjOE toy. He quickly sold the rights to Hasbro. Don Levine (see Levine’s obituary article HERE) took the idea and made an American toy icon that will probably live forever in some form or another. At this moment, we’re not sure whether Weston’s lawsuit to recoup trademark rights to GIjOE (see that article HERE) will continue in the courts, but whenever those plans are made public, we’ll pass the information on to you ASAP. Our sincerest condolences to Stan’s family. Rest in Peace, Mr. Weston and THANKS!

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U.S. Army Paratrooper Who Modeled For Photos in 1962-63 Believes the Images Taken of Him Were Used To Create the Iconic Headsculpt of G.I. Joe

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Well, Hello Joe! At first glance, Phil Iverson’s resemblance to the original (1964) GIjOE headsculpt seems obvious—even strikingly so. It should be no surprise to learn that the former US Army paratrooper firmly believes the iconic action figure’s “first face” was based on photographs taken of him in 1962-63 by a representative of Hasbro. As fans well know, theories have long postulated that the original GIjOE’s face was an almagam of various Medal of Honor winners—not based on the likeness of any one individual. Unfortunately, the head’s sculptor (subcontracted by Hasbro) provided inconclusive comments about the use of reference photographs before passing away in 1996. (Photo: Courtesy of Phil Iverson)

Did a Signed Contract Enable Hasbro to Legally Recreate Soldier’s Visage in 1:6 Scale?

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There Was Something About His Face— As kids, we all knew IMMEDIATELY that GIjOE was a tough, good-looking dude, and that his sublimely heroic countenance was perfect for untold adventures of imagination. With or without that facial hair, GijOE was definitely ‘da man. HOOah! Go, JOE! (Photo: Sears Roebuck & Co.)

For over 5 decades now, GIjOE fans and collectors around the world have been asking the same question: Did some unknown individual’s face serve as reference (or inspiration) for the original ’64 GIjOE headsculpt? Or, was Joe’s famous noggin (as many still believe) actually a magnificent mélange of various Medal of Honor winners? Depending on how one views the newly uncovered facts, photos, and first-person account of former U.S. Army soldier, Phil Iverson, the truth may now be a little more…


plau·si·ble

ˈplôzəb(ə)l/
adjective

 1. (of an argument or statement) seeming reasonable or probable. “a plausible explanation”


When PFC Phil Iverson was first told by an unknown U.S. Army sergeant (in 1962-63) to report to HQ and have his picture taken in khaki uniform and cap, he replied, “Yes, Sergeant!” PFC Iverson’s photographic mission seemed simple enough, but unbeknownst to the 21-year-old paratrooper of the 101st Airborne Division, he was (possibly) being tasked to be an artist’s model who’d provide reference for a sculptor creating the most popular toy soldier face ever—G.I. Joe.

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The Likeness is VERY Close— As these side-by-side closeups help confirm, it seems quite likely that freelance sculptor Phil Kraczkowski utilized the reference photos he (or a Hasbro rep) had taken of Phil Iverson. Even GIJOE’s iconic facial scar was placed on the same cheek (right-hand side). Coincidence? Perhaps. Perhaps not! (1:6 scale paratrooper cap patch courtesy Patches of Pride.) Click to enlarge.

exclusivebannerAn Exclusive Interview With the Man Who May Be the “Original Face” of GIjOE—Phil Iverson

In the following exclusive interview, Phil Iverson relates exactly how he was photographed and why he believes his 21-year-old face was ultimately utilized as visual reference/guidance material by sculptor, Phil Karaczkowski, during the latter’s creation of the iconic, 1964 G.I. Joe headsculpt.

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Senior Citizen Joe— Phil Iverson (76), is considered by many to be the model used for the “original face of GIjOE.” He’s shown as he appears in 2016. If  you’ve ever wondered what GIjOE would look like as a senior citizen…here you go! (Photo: Phil Iverson)

“I enlisted in the service in 1961, went through basic training, MP school, and was sent to Fort Campbell, KY, to go through paratrooper jump school with the 101st Airborne. Sometime in 1962-63, a sergeant I had never seen before came into our barracks and told me to put on my uniform and double-time it over to the headquarters building to get my picture taken. 

So… I went over to HQ and up to an empty 2nd floor office that was not being used. I remember it had a reception counter in front and empty office space in the back. I went in and there was a man sitting next to a camera. I don’t know who he was, but he had black hair and looked to be about in his 30s.”

(The man Phil refers to here was most likely Hasbro’s Don Levine or the largely unsung sculptor of the original ’64 GIjOE head, Phil Karaczkowski. For more information on Mr. Karaczkowki and his hugely important role in GIjOE’s early history, please watch the video clip provided below. —Ed.)

“He looked me up and down for a moment and said (pointing), ‘You have to sign that release, right over there.’ He was referring to a form he’d placed on the left side of the counter. So I did as he said,. I went over to it—and I signed it. What it said, I have idea. I didn’t read it. In the Army, you’re trained to do what you’re told. 

As I was signing the form, I laughed and said, ‘Sure! I’ll sign. Nobody will ever want to use MY picture.’ That seemed to get his attention and he gave me sort of a double-take, you know, like he suddenly had a much greater interest in me.

He said ‘Stand right there’ and I did. I remember I was standing in front of a plain backdrop. He took a couple of pictures, front and side stuff, you know, and that was that. I walked out without any further comment from either of us.”

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The Artistic Genius Behind GIjOE— Freelance sculptor, Phil Karaczkowski, was the largely unheralded creator of the iconic, world-famous 1964 GIjOE headsculpt, receiving only $600 for the assignment. Here, he stands next to some life-sized examples of his work, bronze busts of other famous Americans. Was THIS the man who took reference photos of Phil Iverson back in 1962-63? (Screenshot taken from a video produced by DoubleACS TV, Attleboro Access Cable System, Inc.) Click to enlarge.

“The next day, while I was sitting on my bunk relaxing in the barracks, another sergeant (that I’d also never seen before) came in and said, ‘Here’s a copy of one of those pictures they took of you yesterday.’ I took it, said, ‘Thanks,’ and he left. The next time I went home on leave, I gave the photo to my parents.

Well, I didn’t see that photo again until 2002. My mother had just passed away and we were going through her belongings. When I saw the photo again, I thought to myself, ‘Boy, that sure looks like GIjOE!’ A lot of other people I’ve shown it to also agree that it was probably used for GIjOE, but I don’t have a copy of the release I signed or any other definitive proof.

I am reminded of another occasion, long ago, just a little after 1964. I had gone to a birthday party for some kid, and at the party he received a new GIjOE. Everybody was standing around looking at it, because it was a new thing at that time, you know…and they were all saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute, Phil. That’s YOU!‘ 

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A Real GIjOE On Duty— The only other photo Phil Iverson owns from his time in the Army is this rather dramatically lit nighttime image taken while on guard duty at the entry gates of the base. It confirms Iverson’s PFC rank and position as a Military Police (MP) officer and 101st Airborne Division paratrooper (see 101st AD helmet emblem and basic jump wings pinned above left pocket). The mystery is, Phil has no recollection of when this photo was taken by the Army (understandable, since he was on duty at the time), nor of how it came to be in his possession. Cue the Twilight Zone music! (Photo: Phil Iverson)

By this time in Phil’s story, our curiosity was well piqued. We began to dig deeper for more facts:

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Author-GIjOE historian, John Michlig. (Photo: John Michlig)

TJR: Most fans believe the definitive history of GIjOE was detailed in a book authored by John Michlig entitled, GIjOE: The Complete Story of America’s Favorite Man of Action. After checking through its pages, we were unable to locate any mention of you, or of any reference photographs being taken (of anyone) for use in creating the original 1964 GIjOE headsculpt.

“No. Well, that’s probably because he (Michlig) wrote that book before he knew anything about me, my story, or the pictures. But with GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary approaching, I looked Michlig up on the computer and found his website and phone number. I thought, ‘What the heck?’ and I called him. I told him that I thought my picture was used for the ’64 headsculpt of GIjOE and he seemed kinda bored, sorta like he didn’t believe me. 

I told him I also had a facial scar—on my right cheek. That fact seemed to pique his interest. Then I asked him to take a look at my photos on Facebook. He did, and while he was looking, I could hear him in the background going, ‘Whoa!’ Finally, he said, ‘Send me ALL the stuff you’ve got! I did, and he called me back later to say, ‘Oh yeah. That picture of you was definitely used somehow for GIjOE.'”

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Derryl DePriest. (Photo: Derryl DePriest)

TJR: Interesting! Has anyone else in the GIJOE pantheon agreed with your supposition?

“Well, I called the GIjOE Club a few years ago. They agreed totally that the picture had to have been used in some way for GIjOE. But they also advised, ‘Let’s keep this confidential.’ Then I called and spoke with Hasbro’s Derryl DePriest. He was also very nice, but mostly noncommittal, and only said, ‘We don’t have any information that goes back that far.’ That’s about all I have right now.”

TJR: Okay, so while many people agree there’s a strong resemblance and a high likelihood that the photos taken of you were used by Hasbro or Phil Kraczkowski, there’s still no definitive written or oral proof (other than yours) to attest to that fact. No contracts. No testimonials. Nada. Did you ever consult a lawyer about this matter?

“Yes. A lawyer I consulted asked me if there was any kind of heading on the release form I signed and I told him no; not that I knew of, or remembered seeing. I read about Stan Weston in the California Daily News. He’s in his 80s now, and I understand he’s still trying to recoup some copyright possession of GIjOE (see The Joe Report’s coverage of that story HERE). But I have no goals or ambition to gain financial benefits from Hasbro. They’ve made about a billion dollars on GIjOE, but I’ll never see any of it. I’d just like to get this historical information out there. I’m sure most fans and collectors have never heard about these early model photos before.”

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Comfortable Working at Any Scale— GIjOE’s sculptor, Phil Kraczkowski, working in his studio. (Screenshot taken from a video produced by DoubleACS TV, Attleboro Access Cable System, Inc.)

TJR: Did you ever try to reach the actual sculptor of that first GIjOE head, Phil Kraczkowski?

“Yes, I did. But he had already died and his girlfriend has sold off everything he had. His records are all gone now. I know this, because I also talked to his nephew.”

TJR: That’s a shame. Tell me, do you remember how you got your own facial scar?

“Oh yeah. I was in 8th grade. They were making a ball field in the back of the grade school. We got a bunch of people together and they gave us all shovels. I was standing there and this kid picked up a shovel of dirt, swung it and hit me right in the cheek. I had to have about 20 stitches! After 50+ years, you’ve got to look really close to see that scar now, but I still have a Selective Service card (from 1958) that says ‘Identifying Marks: Scar on right cheek.’ HA!”

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You May Fire When You Are Ready, Gridley!— Indeed, like the famous US Navy quote, a few years later, Phil Gridley Iverson would indeed be firing weapons for his country—but not for the Navy. Iverson enlisted in the U.S. Army instead. Intriguingly, his 1958 selective service registration card already mentioned the defining physical characteristic of any true GIjOE, his “scar on right cheek.” Coincidental? Yes. Fascinating? OH, YES! (Photo: Phil Iverson) Click to enlarge.

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That Famous Scar— You can’t miss it on this page in a 2014 issue of Boy’s Life magazine. (Photo: Carin Reddig)

TJR: Very interesting. And actually, that little card is yet another tiny bit of evidence supporting your story. Of course, we all remember Don Levine’s account regarding the addition of a scar and reverse thumbnail to the original GIjOE. It was done so that Hasbro’s new action figure would have unusual physical characteristics that would help strengthen its copyright protection.

“Yes, that’s right. And the scar is visible in the photo (of me) that I believe Hasbro and/or Kraczkowski used. If you look at that photo and then at a ’64 GIjOE—they’re identical. Funny thing, I have another photo of me, taken by the Army, where it’s obvious that they chose to airbrush-out the scar. But to me and to everyone else I’ve ever shown this material to, the conclusion remains obvious. They all say the same thing. That original GIJOE ’64 headsculpt—is ME!”

TJR: Your theory seems to be, at the LEAST, quite plausible. And it does appear that you were unwittingly immortalized in plastic. Whether or not any of it was Kraczkowski or Hasbro’s intent remains to be determined. What have you been doing since those bygone days?

“Well, I was in the Army for 3 years. I’m as patriotic as anybody who’ll ever walk the face of the Earth, but I didn’t want to go to Vietnam. So… after I got out of the service, I first went to work in a steel mill, then two years in a police department, then on to Commonwealth Edison electric utility for 30 years, and finally to a grocery store where I worked as a maintainance man for 14 years. I retired at 70 and am now 76. Oh! And I just had a heart-attack.”

TJR: Oh, No!

“Yeah, I’m afraid so. And I’ve lost 30 lbs since then. I got some stents and then I had to go to rehab at the local hospital. When I was there, they interviewed me and asked if anything interesting had happened to me in my life. I told them about GIjOE. The next day, everybody at the hospital knew about it. The nurses said their kids and some adults with GIjOEs wanted to bring them in for me to sign!”

Phil Iverson, Manteno, IL

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GIjOE: The Complete Story of America’s Favorite Man of Action (Photo: Chronicle Books)

Does Iverson’s theory about Hasbro sending someone to Fort Campbell, KY to take reference photographs for a new GIjOE action figure ring true to you? Well, there’s a lot of established precedent to back up his account. Many of Hasbro’s subcontracted artists, such as the famous Sam Petrucci and Larry Selman, were well-known for taking numerous resource photographs in preparation for their GIjOE-related art projects. It’s easy to conceive then, that Iverson’s mysterious “dark haired, 30-something” photographer was indeed Phil Kraczkowski. Sadly, the sculptor passed away in 1996 and didn’t mention taking (or using) reference photographs in John Michlig’s book:

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“People ask where my ideas come from. I say ‘from living so long.’ I’ve observed an awful lot of people, and I draw from that. In the case of GI Joe, I never sketched anything and I couldn’t use myself as a model because I’m not that handsome. Like a lot of the things I’ve sculpted, GI Joe came from within…Does GI Joe look a bit like John Kennedy? I’d done the Kennedy medal in 1961 and other full busts of him preceding the GI Joe project., so maybe the resemblance got in there subconsciously. I was thinking of a composite of people I know.”

Phil Kraczkowski, as quoted from John Michlig’s book, GIjOE: The Complete Story of America’s Favorite Man of Action

Bottom Line: The truth is out there…and probably rests somewhere in the middle. The idea that Kraczkowski created GIjOE’s 1964 headsculpt completely from his own imagination is certainly conceivable and believable. But taking reference photographs has been and will always remain a tried and true practice that commercial artists rely upon when facing impending project deadlines.

Whether or not Karaczkowski mentions the use of reference photos in Michlig’s book, Iverson’s interpretation of the events that occurred at Fort Campbell in 1962-63 fit perfectly within GIjOE’s early timeline. And SOME civilian clearly took reference photographs of Iverson and other soldiers on that day 50+ years ago. We have the physical proof staring back at us from Phil’s photo.

Nevertheless, pending any further clarification, conclusions drawn by anyone regarding the photographer’s actual intended purpose or use of his images remains (for now) mere speculation. Hopefully, someone out there will see this article and write in with further insight or intel. Our sincerest thanks and best wishes go out to Phil Iverson for his generous contributions to this article.

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

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

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Everything Must Go (Again!)———G.I. Joe’s “#1 Fan,” James DeSimone Will Definitely “Sell it All” at One Final Estate Sale to be Held at His CA Home

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The more you look, the more you’ll want to buy— There are literally piles upon PILES of vintage toys, action figures, vintage cereal boxes and much more, crowding the Burbank, CA home of renowned pop-culture collector, James DeSimone. Dedicated fans will have a rare opportunity to paw their way through this “Mecca of Merchandise” during his May 1st estate sale. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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A Lifetime of Collecting— DeSimone’s passion for toys began when he was a child (above). Now, it’s time to let it all go. (Photo: James DeSimone)

If at first you don’t succeed in getting rid of your life-long GIjOE and vintage toy collection via local toy shows, online sales or auctions, then try, try again; this time with an estate sale held—at your own home! Yes, once again, the man whom Hasbro deemed “GIjOE’s #1 Fan,” James DeSimone, is preparing to put (what remains) of his massive vintage toy collection up for sale—at an estate sale—on May 1st, 2016.

Buyers and collectors will have to travel to James’ home in Burbank, CA, but this time they’ll be rewarded for their efforts by being allowed to dig through decades of collectible treasures, piled high up to the sky (or at least to James’ garage ceiling), and inspect each and every item up close and personal before deciding on a purchase. But remember, estate sales are “first come, first served,” so you better get there early (with cash in hand) if you want the best chance at snagging those long, lost toys of your childhood. According to the sale’s information page HERE, this is what to expect:

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“GIJOE and Vintage Toy Estate Sale!! Featuring the sale of the collection of James DeSimone, consisting of GIJOE plus thousands of other TOYS from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, including: 1000s of 1960s GIJOE accessories. 1000s of 1980s GIJOE accessories. 1000s of 1960s Ken/Barbie accessories. 1/6 scale vehicles, 1000s of VINTAGE toys by Gilbert, Marx, Tonka, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Topper, Kenner, Ideal, Hasbro, Mattel, Mego, Aurora, Batman, James Bond, Captain Action, Space toys, GIRLS toys, tools, Playsets, all kinds of TV/movie character toys and figures, toy cap guns, models, food and advertising toys, games and the list of different stuff goes on and on! NOTE THE DIFFERENT LOCATION FOR THIS EVENT: 1524 Broadway Burbank, CA 91504 Hours are 8AM to 5PM. Come take pictures with a replica 1966 Batmobile! This is a special one time event held at this location, don’t miss it!! The show will return to the Ramada Inn for the December show.” If you have any questions, please email: jamesdesimone@hotmail.com

exclusivebannerWhat we’re observing is that a collection as large and diverse as DeSimone’s is proving to be quite the challenge for him (or anyone) to disperse. In the beginning, James utilized his CA GIjOE shows, then held an auction (see HERE) and now, will try selling the remainder of his 1950s, ’60s and ’70s vintage toys at his upcoming estate sale. Regarding this unique event and its impact on his life, James graciously provided the following insights—exclusively to readers of The Joe Report:

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“GIJOE’s #1 Fan,” James DeSimone (Photo: James DeSimone)

“Hi Mark (et.al), Forgive me. I just don’t have the ability to do much anymore, including long responses. But I owe you at least that for all your support. It may take a few hours to write this all to you. The doctors are telling me to handle my affairs, and my body agrees. I want to live long enough to see my daughter (shown below) graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 7 weeks.

Yes, everything is going. Fortunately, I dont need the money. I need peace of mind, knowing that my family doesn’t have to deal with all this. It’s interesting you should mention Hasbro’s #1 fan. I was just wondering about that. It has the prototype 12″ Duke body and a custom head Hasbro made and gave me, a hand-cast prototype 3 3/4″ Duke, a #1 production 3 3/4″ Soldier; both of which Hasbro gave me. In addition, a Hasbro employee watch, ring and a gold dogtag, all of which Hasbro gave me. I think I would like to sell it all as a set (as it was presented to me) to one person who will appreciate it and won’t use it for target practice! (lol)”

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Proud Papa— DeSimone in a recent photo with his son, daughter and wife. (Photo: James DeSimone)

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“As for how I feel… I once wrote a story about Artie Rickun, a friend and toy dealer from Milwaukee, at one time had 10,000+ packaged GIjOE items! He told me that once I had kids, nothing else would matter to me. Having died once already, I consider myself fortunate to have had a little time to plan. So no, it is of no great loss to see it all go. Very little matters to me anymore. Hopefully, I will get some joy out of seeing someone buy something from me, like that all too familiar feeling of finding a GIjOE at a garage sale!”

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James with “The King”— DeSimone (left) poses for a quick pic with fellow toy dealer, Artie Rickun, at a toy show in the early 1980s. Rickun had just purchased a warehouse full of over 15,000 vintage boxed and packaged GI Joes and accessories. Holy inventory, Batman! (Photo: James DeSimone)

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“All of my toys used to be upstairs on the second level. For the past couple of months, volunteers have been helping me bring it all downstairs so that it will be accessible to foot traffic. Right now, its all a mess. I thought I would have a couple months to sort it all out, but my energy level is non-existent now and I haven’t been able to do very much. Thankfully, I’ll have volunteers helping the week before the sale to set it all up in my home.”

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Horses, Horses, Horses— Johnny West and MARX fans take note… There will be a LOT of vintage “Best of the West” for sale at DeSimone’s estate sale. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Oh, Ken. You’re such a DOLL— There will also be boxes full of vintage Ken dolls, carrying cases and related ephemera. Study these photos carefully! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Beam me up! What set did this interesting Star Trek bridge come from? It appears to come with railings and perhaps chairs, as well. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Dusty but DELICIOUS— That vintage “Bop-a-Bear” target set is certainly dusty, but we bet if you took a vacuum cleaner with a brush hose attachment, it would clean up like new in seconds. We also see GIjOE, Major Matt Mason and more in this pic! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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You want more? James has MORE! Vintage toy-aholics will be drooling at this estate sale. How much of this wonderful stuff do YOU remember? (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Lookie there! There’s a Sky Rail set! Boy, those are getting hard to find. Enlarge this pic and start hunting for YOUR childhood favorites! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Take your covered wagon to the Beauty Parlor— Whoa… check out those cool, retro Barbie beauty parlor hair dryers and chairs. Or, are they space helmets? Or…? You’ll only find out if you’re there in person! Too cool for school, dude! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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All will be revealed, May 1st! Remember that vaunted (haunted?) secret shelf James built in his garage to house his overflowing toy collection? What did he store up there? At one time it held parts of his massive GIjOE diorama. Now, it looks like there’s some vintage missile launcher sets from REMCO. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of this sale! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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On and on it goes— Click each pic to enlarge and DROOL. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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How keen is YOUR toy eye?— We spy a 60s “Tiger Joe” tank, an in-the-box Rockem’ Sockem’ Robots game, some vintage Transogram games and much more. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Put ’em up, Pahdnuh!— A tub full of vintage cap pistols and their VERY rare holsters is sure to get cowboy/cowgirl hearts a-beatin.’ Yeeee-HAAAAA!!!!!! (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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Toy Heaven is (apparently) a dusty garage— Vintage Barbies, ’60s space toys and much more will be sold at James DeSimone’s house on May 1st, 2016. (Photo: James DeSimone) Click to enlarge.

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“GIjOE has provided me with a great life; a life that most people could only dream of. But, GIjOEs are only toy possessions, none of which matters anymore, simply because I cant take them with me. I have raised 2 of the greatest kids a man could ever hope for. I share a love with a woman which is the stuff epic novels are written of. And I have made my peace with God. —James DeSimone

Bottom Line: This certainly sounds (and looks) like “no-miss” event, especially if you’re within driving distance of southern California. Our sincerest thanks (again) to James DeSimone and his wonderful family for all of their contributions to the vintage toy and GIjOE collecting hobbies. Take care and We wish you all the BEST!

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A Ride With Greatness———Chung Kim’s Exclusive In-Car Interview With “Classic Collection” G.I. Joe Artist-Illustrator Extraordinaire, Larry Selman

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Ready to Fly— GIjOE B-17 Bomber Crewman (Art: Larry Selman)

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath, sit back and just CHILLAX. Even with yesterday’s jarring news that the GIjOE Collector’s Club and its “JoeCons” will soon be no more, there’ll still be a plethora of GIjOE-related shows for fans and collectors to attend for the foreseeable future, especially in fan-rich, high-population states such as Georgia, California, Ohio and Texas. In addition to those events, GIjOE “expatriates” and Action Man fans living in countries such as the UK, Mexico and Brazil have long proven that they can survive (and yes, THRIVE) without control from a so-called “official” GIjOE or Action Man fan organization, and that they will continue to do so for many years to come.

So… Let’s all just take a moment to regroup, relax and enjoy some insightful “insider-intel” from ace TJR field reporter, Chung Kim, who graciously provided the following exclusive interview with GIjOE Classic Collection artist, Larry Selman; conducted interestingly enough, during a car ride through the streets of beautiful downtown Atlanta, GA, in the waning hours of Joelanta 2016. Enjoy!

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Intrepid TJR Field Reporter, Chung Kim (Photo: Chung Kim)

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“I attended JOELANTA 2016 this past weekend. I enjoyed myself. I experienced a truly one of a kind moment when I (and my friend Scott Norris) had the opportunity and pleasure to ride with Mr. Larry Selman. He is the artist responsible for the painted artwork used by Hasbro for their line of GI JOE Classic Collection figures. After the show ended, a number of attendees usually go out to a nearby restaurant as a post-show ritual for dinner, conversation, and to also watch THE WALKING DEAD. I’m not that familiar with the Atlanta area, so Buddy Finethy arranged for me and Scott to ride along with Mr. Selman.

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Larry Selman, renowned GIjOE packaging illustrator and artist (Photo: Larry Selman)

He drove us to the post-show dinner at Mellow Mushroom Pizza. During the ride there, I apologized in advance to Mr. Selman for going into fanboy mode and asked him some questions about how he came to the opportunity of creating some truly memorable artwork on the GI JOE Classic Collection box covers.” He told me prior to his involvement with Hasbro, he was primarily known for doing western-themed artwork and the opportunity presented itself for him to create a variety of painted artwork used for the GI JOE Classic Collection boxed figures. This was during a time when Hasbro had an actual art department dedicated to the GI JOE product line. His personal favorite GI JOE Classic Collection artwork is the one used for the Blue Angels Pilot figure. In addition, when he did the artwork for the series of Classic Collection figures based on real life Medal of Honor recipients, he told me that the artwork used to portray the real life HOH recipients had to be approved by the actual recipients (who were still alive at the time) or through their estate/family.”

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Whoosh! Selman’s outstanding artwork for GIjOE’s Blue Angel Pilot box. (Art: Larry Selman)

“In particular, he told me how he spoke with Audie Murphy’s son and the discussion they had with regards to appearance and depiction of Audie Murphy used on the box cover for the figure as well as some historical references and research he performed to capture the action moment that earned Audie Murphy the MOH.”

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This will BLOW YOU AWAY— Can you imagine a better way to decorate the wall of your Joe Room than a new 2016 calendar (available HERE) from famed GIjOE artist, Larry Selman? His stunning painting of MOH recipient, Audie Murphy (above) was featured for January. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“Given how my collecting niche is 1:6 scale female figures, I asked him about the background behind the artwork used for the GI JANE figures produced by Hasbro under the Classic Collection line. It turned out he used a variety of female models. In particular, he told me how he used a number of female models carrying a guy on a stretcher a number of time in order to capture the visual used for the artwork on the GI JOE Vietnam Nurse figure.

On the flip side, around the time the Vietnam Nurse figure came out, the focus on artwork presentation on the box packaging was beginning to change to a marketing perspective in terms of product packaging, size, and display visual, where the artwork was no longer a concern. This was primarily due to retailers requesting greater display and packaging efficiency.”

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The Beginning of the End— According to Selman, Hasbro’s desire for GIjOE paintings was “beginning to change” around the time he completed this masterful depiction of US Army nurses in Vietnam. As a result, many of the pieces he created for the toy company were (sadly) never used. (Art: Larry Selman)

“I asked Mr. Selman if doing artwork for toys like GI JOE and others from that period is now a ‘lost art;’ because nowadays, the display box and packaging for most toys found at large mass retailers are usually devoid of any real and true artwork and simply a clear packaging that shows the toys with very basic and minimal visual graphics and not any true artwork. He agreed, because back then, the artwork used on the GI JOE Classic Collection figures was also a visual, attention-generating selling point of the figure as well.

Mr. Selman attended past JOELANTA conventions where he is a featured guest. He autographs the GI JOE Classic Collection boxed figures featuring his art. In addition, his table features a variety of prints featuring his artwork, of which he’ll also autograph. I found him to be very approachable and his experiences and insight with Hasbro were very enlightening.” —Chung Kim

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Chung Kim for his excellent reportage today, and to Larry Selman (once again) for all of the superb artwork he’s created utilizing military and western subject matter and themes. If you’re a Selman fan (and who isn’t?) HERE again is Larry’s official website.

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Bummer!———It’s Official: The G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Is “Not Taking Any New Memberships”

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Where will fans go in 2017? GIJCC founder Brian Savage meets with collector’s during last year’s JoeCon 2015 in Springfield, IL. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Well, this is a sad day. According to an official post from the GIjOE Collector’s Club on Facebook:

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“Thank you to each and every one of you that has supported us over the last 20 years. We have a great 2016 planned, with the FSS 4.0 currently shipping and info on FSS 5.0 right around the corner!  In regard to memberships, some quick follow ups. If you are a member as of March 16th, 2016 you will be able to purchase the FSS 5.0. If your membership expires during the time period when the 4.0 or 5.0 are shipping, you STILL can pay the installments (if that is the option you selected) and you will receive all your figures as you normally would.

As far as concerns over auto renewals after March 16th. As we have said, we are not taking any new memberships after this date, so there are no auto renewals as there will be no memberships to renew. With less than 3 days left to sign up for the GIJCC though, don’t miss this last opportunity to be part of the Club that has been a part of G.I. Joe for 20 years! You can sign up HERE.

Finally, back to the very first point. Thank you! Thousands upon thousands of you have supported the Club over the years and right now, as of today, the GIJCC is as strong as it ever has been! That is because of all of you, your love for 12 inch G.I. Joe, the Real American Hero line and everything in-between! So many of you truly enjoy what the GIJCC offers and enjoy what we do and none of what we have done would have been possible without you. You are an amazing fan base and thanks to all of you who continue to have an important impact on the hobby! You all are what makes this fun to do!” —The GIjOE Collector’s Club

Bottom Line: We want to thank Brian Savage and all of his wonderful staff for the many years of superb service they’ve provided to fans and collectors of GIjOE and GIjOE-related action figures. Our sincerest and best wishes to all of them in all of their future endeavors. Go, GIjCC!

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Savage Reissues Cryptic Statement Many Believe Foretells the End of Fun Publications’ Operation of Official G.I. Joe Collector’s Club, Stating, “All Memberships Will End December 31, 2016”


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adjective, 1. having a meaning that is mysterious or obscure.


In an official statement received from the GIjOE Collector’s Club today, Brian Savage concluded a rather routine update of the registration progress at JoeCon 2016 with the following statement:

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Brian Savage, GIjOE Collector’s Club (Photo: GIJCC)

“Please note the following:  March 16 is the last day you can join the GI Joe Collectors’ Club.  If you are interested in receiving the discounts for GIJoeCon, the 2016 FREE figure(s) or in FSS 5.0 you will need to be an active member as of March 16.  All memberships will end December 31, 2016.

We appreciate your support over the last 20 years.” —Brian Savage

Bottom Line: Yes, we’ve reported on the rather unclear phrasing of Brian’s press releases before (see HERE), but with the addition of this new “We appreciate your support” line, it’s beginning to look more and more like this be the final year for the GIjOE Collector’s Club; at least in its current form as operated by Savage and Fun Publications. At the moment, we’re not sure when (or if) Brian will issue a clarification, but we promise to keep a sharp eye on the situation and pass along any updates ASAP. Stay tuned!

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