“GIjOE Dreams” can range from the fanciful to the farcical; and one of the most commonly reported of these toy-related visions comes in the form of a “wishful thinker” scenario, wherein the collector imagines a blissful dream of discovering that his (or her) favorite toys have returned to store shelves and are once again available for sale. (Sigh… Keep dreaming, bud!) (Fantasy photo composite: Mark Otnes)
Is THIS Toy Heaven?— Blink and you might miss it. The plain-looking exterior of the Lanard Toy Store located in Sugar Creek, Missouri, belies the myriad toy treasures that await within, especially during its almost mythical, annual “Lanard Warehouse Sale.” (Photo: Google Earth) Click to enlarge.
Have you ever dreamt about GIjOEs or other toys? You know the kind of dreams we’re talking about; wherein you’re walking down the aisle of a toy store and are delighted to discover all of its shelves jammed tight, floor-to-ceiling, with thousands of NEW action figures, vehicles and related equipment sets? Well, it turns out that such a collector fantasy has finally become—a REALITY.
We’re referring to a real-life toy sale held once a year inside the nondescript brick building of the Lanard Toy Store, located at 106 North Sterling Avenue in Sugar Creek, Missouri. Sugar Creek is a sleepy (yet magical) suburb of Kansas City, and until Christmas Eve, between the hours of 9AM and 6PM on weekdays and 12PM to 4PM on Saturdays and Sundays, the town’s tiny toy store will be jammed to its rafters with enough items to make every toy collector’s favorite fantasy come true. To learn more about this amazing event, we contacted Rob Buzan (of the famous Joeaday website found HERE) and he kindly wired us this exclusive intel:
GIjOE expert, Rob Buzan, of joeaday.com. (Photo: Rob Buzan)
“I found out about this annual sale years ago (early 2000s) via various GI Joe message boards. Lanard had been producing the CORPS! line of action figures since 1986. Their original releases copied the 80s GI Joe line in construction style, marketing concept (individual characters with specialties and code names) and scaled vehicles. Over the years, their line evolved to include adventure, police and rescue themes and also introduced 12-inch figures (called the Ultra CORPS!) with cloth outfits.
When the small GI Joes switched from an o-ring design to a simpler swivel joint construction, Lanard followed suit. This style has continued as the standard, until ball jointed legs were introduced in 2015. Most every year, the overseas HQ sends a shipping container to the local warehouse. The stock usually includes items that are overstocked, old-stock, international, or even damaged stock that can’t be sold in stores. I’ve even found packaged samples and quality control samples over the years. The international variants are some of the most interesting items. Hope this helps you out. If your readers need any more info, let me know.” —Rob Buzan, joeaday. com
A short drive to make your toy dreams come true— Sugar Creek and the Lanard Toy Store are only a quick (18 minute) drive from the heart of Kansas City, MO. (Graphic: Google Maps)
Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Rob Buzan for his timely and informative reportage and for the wonderful “on the scene” video he also provided regarding this event (see below). Rob was one of the first to break the news regarding this exciting sale and has been reporting on it annually since 2010! He continues to provide the entire GIjOE collecting community with all the latest and greatest intel (especially fans of the smaller scale figures) and if you haven’t discovered Rob’s excellent website, we highly recommend you pay it (and him) a visit (HERE). For now… Enjoy Rob’s video:
This 1860s Civil War-era poster hoped to recruit troops and instill patriotic support for the North. In 2014, free of the corporate influence and guidance of Hasbro, disparate groups of GIjOE fans also find themselves “rallying around” their favorite scales (1:6 or 1:18) or favorite eras (Vintage Military, AT, RAH, etc.) through the increased use of “closed groups” on Facebook. (Photo: bentley.umich)
Time was, TV viewers who stayed up to 1AM (typically after a Late, Late Movie) would witness a station announcing it had reached the end of another “broadcasting day,” listen to the national anthem and then stare at a test pattern before finally switching off their set. Click to enlarge. (Photo: celiabullwinkel)
Some Herald “Unlimited Choices” While Others Decry Increased Splintering of GIjOE’s Fan Base
Remember when watching TV was as easy as 1, 2, 3? We do. 50 years ago there were only the 3 major TV networks, and a handful of independent stations vying for our attention. Such concentration of viewership resulted in a shared national identity that provided citizens with familiar reference points of culture and debate. Now, with the addition of thousands of new satellite and cable TV channels, the minds of many have begun “going their own way,” dividing the medium’s previously unified audience. Intriguingly, GIjOE fandom can now be said to be following a similar path. Only in this case, it’s the internet that (counterintuitively) risks splintering fan factions, threatening to pull collectors in so many directions that previous collecting group dynamics may soon become a thing of the past. Admittedly, with all the wonderful things the ‘net has done to bring Joeheads together, it’s hard to imagine that the very same medium could now be working against them. But recent developments reveal—the damage may already be done.
One BILLION Joeheads=$$$! In a strategy primarily geared at selling and increasing its ad revenue, Facebook’s “mining of data” has earned its creators less than glowing reviews among its members. Is the use of “closed groups” part of their Master Plan? (Photo: thehappyblogger)
For Example: When discussing GIjOEs, what topics do you consider to be off-limits? Are certain words or phrases unacceptable for use in a GIjOE fan forum? Where do your personal “tolerance thresholds” for opposing opinions begin—and end? Tough questions all, we grant you; some requiring serious introspection. But for fans of GIjOE, the answers used to be very simple—NOTHING. We used to be too busy being fascinated by each other’s Joe-knowledge to be offended by an occasional off-color remark. Regardless of personal scale and era preferences, fans (in the past) loved ALL GIjOEs (yes, some more than others) and were always happy to support one another’s differing tastes and/or viewpoints. What’s happened to change all that? Surprisingly, some say—Facebook.
Good People—Good Times. As always, whether or not a GIjOE fan is accepting of others depends primarily on who he or she is on the INSIDE. Tolerance of differing opinions and collecting preferences may come easily to some, but not so, to others. Here, outgoing and popular GIjOE collector and advocate, Ace Allgood (right) greets a friend during a previous Joelanta show. (Photo: Mark Otnes)
This screenshot of Facebook’s GIjOE Discussion group reveals a specific list of “things to think about before you post” (i.e. rules and regs).
So what’s the problem? We’re still all GIjOE fans and we’re still just talking about toys, right? Well, maybe not. The introduction of Facebook’s numerous “closed group” GIjOE fan forums has led to an unexpected “splintering” of the hobby. While most fans enjoy the closed groups simply as yet another place on the ‘net to share their fandom (and let their “geek flags fly”), others see them as a way to suppress dissenting opinion. Of course, the level of closed-group moderation (i.e. censorship) has always varied from group to group and moderator to moderator. But in today’s increasingly segmented, politically corrected and word-sensitive society, it’s not unusual for an unsuspecting Joehead to stumble into a group of fans who are more than willing to lead him (or her) into an abyss of dispute—over a simple WORD.
Formerly impervious to trivial disagreements, some fans (nowadays) appear to have developed a decreased tolerance for opinions that don’t immediately coincide with their own. Nowhere online is this evolving phenomenon more apparent than in the closed groups on Facebook. If you don’t know how such groups operate, pay heed: First, you request (or are invited) to join. Then, if you’re accepted, you learn whether the group is moderated or not and its particular “rules” for posting. To remain a member, you must abide politely by its restrictions or risk getting unceremoniously cut (i.e. “black-listed”) from the group’s roster by its all-powerful moderator. If this all sounds a tad Orwellian or close-minded, it can indeed feel so at times. But as one might expect, experiences vary from group to group and depend entirely on the mindsets of the individuals clustered within. Your level of enjoyment (or disappointment) will vary accordingly.
Many fans are angry and dumbfounded by Hasbro’s lackadaisical treatment of their beloved GIjOE brand and franchise. According to one fan’s scathing review of a new GijOE: The Rise of Cobra video game: “G.I.Joe deserves more than this, here we have yet another ‘straight-to-the-bargin-bin’ Movie Tie-In game. With a broken camera, repetitive game play and poor graphics, you’ll swear the game is a plot by Cobra Commander to cause pain to those dumb enough to buy it full price.” Feel free to disagree, but be careful WHERE you post your thoughts over on Facebook’s “closed groups.” (Photo: angryjoeshow)
Mark Otnes (l, back), editor and main writer of The Joe Report, holds up his GIjOE space capsule and astronaut on Christmas morning, 1967. Otnes found himself the focus of an online dispute recently that seemed to highlight a schism between fans. (Photo: TJR)
Intriguing Schism Between GIjOE Fans Revealed By Response to Article on The Joe Report
Read the Fine Print—Those who don’t read and/or follow a closed group’s “rules and regs” before placing posts may suddenly find themselves the target of angry and derisive rejoinders from the group’s membership. Even innocent blunders, like the use of an “offensive” term (which vary from group to group) can come to back to bite their authors—hard. For example, your own friendly neighborhood blogazine, The Joe Report (TJR), and its main article writer, Mark Otnes, recently found themselves at the center of an online social media storm in which members of Facebook’s leading 3.75″ GIjOE group,GIjOE Discussion, unleashed a torrent of posts critical of Otnes’ reportage of a recent article, and his use of the term, “Hasblow,” when posting to the group. For example:
“When people use the word ‘Hasblow,’ I just assume that they are mentally retarded. Thus far, I have not been proven wrong.” —Jay B., GIjOE Discussion
The Confusion Re: “Elizabeth,” the “Hasbro Toy Shop” and “Hasblow”
The October 6th article that drew so much attention from the group initially was in fact, one of our shortest. It concerned an equally short email we’d received from a Hasbro customer service rep confirming the complete disappearance of all GIjOE products from the Hasbro Toy Shop (HTS) website. One of the main points of contention the GIjOE Discussion (GD) group members had with Otnes’ article was his insistence that the HTS was part of Hasbro. For some reason, they believed the store to be an independent business and not connected with the toy company in any way. According to this adamant GD group member:
“HTS is not a division of Hasbro, it is a private company that just licenses the Hasbro name to sell their mass market products online.”
—Kevin G., GIjOE Discussion
WRONG. To settle this issue, we contacted HTC rep, “Elizabeth” again, both to confirm her own physical reality (machine or human?) and to clarify HTC’s official status. She stated:
“I am a Consumer Service agent at Hasbro, not an automated system. We read and respond to each email received from our consumers. As for Hasbro Toy Shop, the site is part of Hasbro. We feature some of our more popular toys for sale on the site. The reason we do not sell all products is we simply do not have the warehouse capacity to house the 1000’s of products Hasbro makes. As for the GI Joe exclusive toys, that line cannot be sold by us, the product were made only for Toys R Us. I hope this helps.”
—Elizabeth, Customer Service Agent, Hasbro
So…Elizabeth is a real person, works at Hasbro, and confirms that the Hasbro Toy Shop is part of Hasbro. Points proven. We stand by our article and its simple premise: GIjOE is NOT being sold by Hasbro’s own online outlet store: the Hasbro Toy Shop. Otnes was not discussing “exclusive” GIjOE brand toy sales at Toy’s ‘R Us—or anywhere else. (Editor’s Note: It was also strongly suggested—by a GD member—that we double-confirm the store’s status by also contacting Hasbro’s PR firm. We did so. But after a week, they have yet to reply to our inquiries.)
“Get with the program, ya ancient dinosaurs!!!”
—needagungho, GIjOE Discussion
The title of the first issue of this new GIjOE comic book (“The Fall of GIjOE”), strikes fans as all too appropriate, mirroring as it does, GIjOE’s current fall from grace at Hasbro. Read more HERE. (Photo: IDW)
Claiming the High Ground—and Then Abandoning It
Debate about Otnes’ article (and the appropriateness of “Hasblow”) aside, comments like the one above (from another GD member) indicate a somewhat hypocritical, “have-it-both-ways” mindset. In other words, when a closed group objects to the use of an “offensive” term (from one of its own members) and then responds with a slew of their own (such as this group’s description of 12-inch fans as “dinosaurs, mentally retarded, brats,” etc.) then its easy to question their purported sincerity and desire to spare the feelings of others. We’re all Joeheads, but it’s important for members of closed groups to adhere to their own rules, or risk igniting yet another, intra-fan “flame war.”
“If I see someone seriously use ‘hasblow’ or ‘hasblo’ or ‘hazblow’ or any other variation, I immediately discount anything they have to say.” —Troy O., GIjOE Discussion
And finally, here’s two more Joeheads who wanted to provide some slightly more in-depth, well-considered commentary on this whole “3.75-inch versus 12-inch” collecting schism thingy:
“I’d feel worse for them (12″ collectors) if the bulk of that part of the community didn’t take a figurative crap on any 12” product that’s been released in the last 15 years. … The 12″ camp continued to desert the GIJCC because they DARED to place the 4″ figure fans on equal footing and now doesn’t understand why the Club swings so heavily that way …
Make no mistake, I know some GREAT fans of the 12″ Joes—but 12″ fans who contribute to growing (or even maintaining) interest in their hobby are few and far between, and these Patches of Pride guys—who can’t even accept that GI Joe has been a predominantly 4″-scaled toy line for, oh, 32 years now—aren’t going to accomplish much with this sort of guerilla journalism.”
—Mike I.D., GIjOE Discussion
“Hasbro was VERY clear on its plans for GI Joe nearly 8 months ago, which didn’t include 12″ for a very important reason: 12″ is DEAD, or at least the 12″ figures collectors want. … And every attempt since in bringing back 12″ has been met with retail failure (all THREE TIMES in 10 years!).
… Ultimately, this blog (The Joe Report) … shows a real lack of knowledge on the current toy market or even the brand itself. Anyone following GI Joe over the past 5 years (much less 10) could have likely seen the trends that bring us to where we are now.”
—Steevy M., Hisstank.com
Finally, we were also taken to task by one high-ranking Joehead who insists we mispronounced the cheerful yell of support for our favorite action figure, stating:
“I hate when people say, Go Joe! It’s Yo Joe!
Dumb ass!” —sbartek1974, Hisstank.com General
The first. The original “Sandbox” newsgroup was part of the early “Wild West Days” of the Internet for all GIjOE fans. It was a text-only, unmoderated environment that led to thousands of unedited posts, many leading to lengthy, heated, online arguments, aka “Flame Wars.” (Art: Daryl Williams)
Bottom Line:Thanks to the gated-community mindset and feelings of supposed safety fostered by Facebook’s new closed groups, the old “Wild West Days” of free-ranging arguments and flame wars between fans are largely a thing of the past; and the older, unmoderated, text-only forums, such as the venerable wide-open Sandbox,have now become veritable ghost towns (see story HERE).
Nevertheless, as the quotes above show, verbal attacks on fellow fans still occur, even within these new closed groups, and chastised members may find themselves feeling as if they’ve unwittingly traded some of their 1st Amendment freedoms for a false sense of online peace and quiet; essentially “preaching to a choir” of like-minded souls, where nary a dissenting word —is allowed to be heard.
P.S. All this kerfuffle over “Hasblow,” has us genuinely curious. What’s YOUR opinion about the disputed term? Please vote below, so Joeheads of all stripes will finally know. Thanks!
Thank You and Happy New Year! Just a quick note to wish all the faithful readers and fans of The Joe Report a great big “THANKS!” for all of your support and help during 2013. It’s been a wonderful year for us here at TJR and we look forward to an even better one in 2014. If you’re interested in reader stats and blogazine number-crunching, the good folks at WordPress.com have prepared a spiffy little 2013 “annual report” for us. Here’s an excerpt:
“The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. The Joe Report was viewed about 140,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it!”
PRIZE ALERT! Surging statistics are good, but giving (and getting) FREE stuff is even better! So think back… Were YOU a commenter (aka an “eagle-eyed Field Reporter”) to The Joe Report in 2013? If so, you may now be eligible to receive one of our FREE “Faithful Fan” surprise gifts. To see if you’ve won a prize, simply view our annual report HERE. If your name is listed as one of our “5 most active commenters” of 2013, leave a comment on this post stating as such, and we’ll send you your free prize ASAP. What a great way to start out the New Year. And thanks again to everyone for your support. See you all in 2014! —Mark Otnes
“Playscale Miniaturist” Raquel Castro used her assortment of Ken dolls to model three of the six new 1:6 scale Christmas scarves, currently available at most Target store locations. (Photo: Queli)
A closeup of Target’s new “Drink Scarf Set” containing 6 holiday-patterned 1:6 scale scarves, perfect for GIJOE, Action Man and yes, even Barbie! (Photo: Queli)
THIS JUST IN…THIS JUST IN…
We love receiving hot tips from our ever-growing pool of dedicated and keen-eyed 1:6 scale TJR “Field Reporters.” This time, intrepid investigator and moderator of the famous “In the Pink” Barbie forum, Raquel Castro, sent us the following breaking intel which should set many of you scrambling for your car keys and credit cards. Here’s what Raquel had to say:
“Dear Mark, I have been reading The Joe Report for some time now and I really enjoy it. I’m a dedicated ‘playscale miniaturist’ and am always interested in finding new ‘minis’ for my 1:6 scale dolls. Just recently, I found these miniature Christmas scarves at Target in their seasonal section (the one with all the paper plates and cups).”
The other three Target scarves look great on these Barbies. Imagine them on your GIjanes! (Photo: Queli)
“I apologize that there are no Joes in any of my photos. I wasn’t thinking in terms of your blog when I took them. I’ve never sent The Joe Report any photos before because I’ve always felt that my 1:6 scale ‘finds’ were more geared toward Barbies and not GIjOE action figures. However, from now on, I will let YOU and your readers decide if something I find is ‘Joe-worthy’ or not. Thanks again for your wonderful blog. Keep up the good work and have fun with Joe!”
These four new copper cookware Christmas tree ornaments are now available from Williams-Sonoma and include a skillet, colander, baking pan and jello mold. MUCH better than your old cheap, pink plastic kitchenware. Eh, Barbie? Imagine how the cooks working down in GIjOE’s “Mess Hall” will react when they see THESE miniature metal masterpieces. Mmm, GOOD! (Photo: Queli)
The miniature cookware are being sold as Christmas tree ornaments, but have far greater 1:6 potential. (Photo: Queli)
Real Copper 1:6 Scale Cookware
In addition to the nifty 6-pack scarf set, Raquel sent in photos of some beautiful miniature copper cookware in PERFECT 1:6 scale. As is often the case this time of the year, the cookware is actually being sold as Christmas tree ornaments, but fans and collectors of 1:6 scale will want to pounce on these four new pieces for use in their next food-related diorama. Imagine the realism they’ll bring to a mess hall, general store, or camping diorama. Too cool!
Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to TJR field reporter, Raquel Castro, for her keen and quick “heads-up” regarding these exciting new 1:6 items. Be sure to pick up a 6-pack of mini-scarves the next time you’re in Target, or some of those superb copper cookware ornaments in Williams-Sonoma (also available online HERE). Happy hunting!
Prototypes of Hot Toys’ new 1966 Batman and Robin action figures look ready to defend Gotham City from all evil-doers. The two were shown to the public for the first time today. (Photo: TBD)
Toy collector and blogger, Alex Teo. (Photo: Alex Teo)
This Just In…
Thanks to famed action figure collector and blogger, Alex Teo, fans now have their first clear look at the new 1:6 scale Batman and Robin action figures from Hot Toys. Teo found this pic taken at the San Diego Comic Con and quickly posted it online over at his superb blog,Toy Haven. The picture reveals each figure comes with multiple sets of hands, and we love that Robin has been properly scaled to Batman and is not quite so tall. And is that a BOMB peeking up in the foreground? YES! Bottom Line: Fans can stop holding their collective breath—These figures are really coming! Thanks for the pic, Alex!
UPDATE: At first, we thought Alex snapped this pic. But we were in error. According to Alex:
“The pic was taken by someone who has been to SDCC. Credit has to be given to the photographer who took it and shared these on the world wide web 🙂 I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more pictures over the next few days on the internet.”
In a recent article, renowned seer and soothsayer of all things pop culture, Rudy Panucci (shown above), warns that action figure collecting may be entering its “dark days.” (Photo: shoutandholler)
A sign of the times? In this telling photo, nephews of GIjOE fan and collector, Rudy Panucci, reveal they have little interest in traditional toys or action figures, preferring to look at various handheld electronic devices instead. (Photo: Rudy Panucci)
Longtime broadcaster, pop culture writer, and Charleston, WV “Joe-lebrity,” Rudy Panucci, has just penned a wonderful article over on the PopCult Toybox that we know you’ll enjoy reading entitled, “Are We Entering the Dark Days of Action Figures?” In it, Panucci tackles many of the difficult questions fans of toys and action figures have long been discussing (high prices, future of the hobby, fewer children playing with toys, etc.). We found the article to very well researched, expertly written and highly enjoyable (if somewhat “sad” in parts).
After all, it is depressing to think of today’s (and future) children not growing up playing with toys as fun as GIjOE. But look around you. You can see it happening already. Rising childhood obesity rates and other inactive lifestyle-related issues are telling indicators that children’s behavior and play patterns are changing. So much so, in fact, that many kids today appear to have forgotten HOW to play. Panucci’s article really hits home when he reveals the following personal insights:
“After watching how my nephews play with toys, I have a bad feeling that recent generations of kids aren’t going to have much of an attraction to action figures at all. I was struck by how they were glued to their touch screen devices. The seven-year-old explained iPad Minecraft to me while the two-year-old watched Elmo videos on YouTube. They weren’t really interested in action figures…”
Bottom Line: <sigh> If you have any children, nieces or nephews, this timely article may be of even greater interest. Hopefully the future of action figure collecting and “childs play” is not as bleak as it appears. Regardless, we highly recommend that you jump over to Rudy’s famous “PoPCult Toybox” website found HERE and read the complete article. Keep the faith. And Go, Rudy! err… JOE!