Category Archives: GIjOE Films and Movies

Unbelievable———Archive of Rare 1960s G.I. Joe TV Commercials Discovered By Vintage3DJoes.com

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50 Year-Old Treasure Trove of Vintage GIjOE Advertising— A cache of B&W and color film reels of 1960s-vintage GIjOE TV commercials—still in their original boxes—was recently rediscovered by the daughter of the films’ director. According to Matt McKeeby, efforts are now moving forward to raise the funds required to restore and digitize the films with plans to ultimately host and share the videos with the public on McKeeby’s famed GIjOE reference website, Vintage3DJoes.com. (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

Director of GIjOE’s First TV Commercials to Be Commemorated w/Restoration of His Films

Catching Up With This Story— Before we reveal the latest, EXCLUSIVE intel, let’s review the background regarding this exciting and evolving story. Regular readers of The Joe Report will undoubtedly recall our previous articles detailing the superb work and service continually being provided to the 1:6 scale GIjOE collecting community by Matt McKeeby (NY) and how, for the last 3 years, McKeeby has been hard at work researching, compiling and documenting Hasbro’s vintage ’60s-’70s lines, one carefully photographed figure at a time, then posting his amazing 360º (rotating) images over at Vintage3DJoes.com for free and public enjoyment (24/7).

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Prepare to FIRE— Have you ever wondered if your Green Beret Machinegun emplacement set was complete? Now you can view the entire set and all its parts in 360º rotating images at Vintage3DJoes.com. Ba-RROOMM! (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

McKeeby’s professionally produced website quickly become one of the 1:6 hobby’s highest-ranked, must-see, go-to, photo reference points on the web; garnering both the site, and McKeeby, well-deserved reputations for providing GIjOE fans with undisputed “expert advice” regarding the compilation of an accurate and complete 12″ collection.

But Wait! There Was More

We also reported on McKeeby’s subsequent discovery, digitization, and professional restoration of a handful of previously unknown vintage GIjOE TV commercials from the 1960s (see that story HERE). McKeeby’s stunning finding jolted an increasingly blasé GIjOE collecting community, surprising many of its so-called “experts,” and those who had simply grown complacent in the belief that they’d already “seen it all,” regarding Hasbro’s vintage Joe commercials. Oh, how wrong they (and we) were all proved to be!

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In today’s exclusive story— McKeeby blows away all previous fan expectations by revealing the true fate of all those “lost,” vintage, GIjOE TV commercials. Most of us had long ago given up any hope that they existed at all, believing such advertising gems were routinely tossed out, or had simply been destroyed by some indifferent advertising agency. But thanks (again) to Matt McKeeby, an exciting new discovery of a “cache” of such films is about to shock and AWE the entire GIjOE collecting community. We’ll let Matt take the story over from here, in his own words, in an exclusive, first-person account you’ll only find HERE on The Joe Report. Enjoy!

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GIjOE fan, collector, historian and “curator” of Vintage3djoes, Matt McKeeby. (Photo: Matt McKeeby, Vintage3DJoes)

 

Archive of rare 1960s GI Joe Commercials Found! —By Matt McKeeby

“The origin of this cache of commercials is a remarkable one.  The daughter of the films’ director contacted me on Facebook over a year and a half ago.  She had gone on line to look up GI Joe, wanting to see if her father was mentioned anywhere.  There is lots of history about folks like Don Levine, Sam Petrucci, and others at Hasbro, but the name Herb Dietz wasn’t mentioned. She wanted to know if anyone had heard of him, as he was the man responsible for creating the first commercials that the publicized the brand, the films that made ‘G.I. Joe, G.I. Joe, fighting man from head to toe…’ a jingle sung by tens of thousands of boys in the mid-sixties.”

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From the Desk of Herb Dietz— In this “Partial Credit and Client List” provided by Dietz’ daughter, we can see that Hasbro was indeed a client of renowned ’60s GIjOE TV commercial director, Herb Dietz. This is one more exciting piece of GIjOE’s historic provenance—confirmed! (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

“Unfortunately, the message languished in my ‘other’ folder and wasn’t checked for over a year.  When I first saw it last August, I was excited to find out what she had to say.  We got in touch over the phone, and she shared that as a child her father, a World War II veteran, had gone into the film industry in New York, eventually founding the firm Lane Cole Dietz with buddies he had met during the war. (An interesting aside, he eventually married his sweetheart who had become so annoyed to be left behind when he enlisted, that she signed up herself, becoming a military police woman if the Women’s Army Corps, making her a real ‘G.I. Jane.’)”

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On the Set— Director, Herb Dietz (above left, w/glasses), is shown preparing a bag (of money?) for a shot in some unidentified (non-GIjOE) 1960s TV commercial. (Photo: Dietz Family)

Herb’s military experience, as well as his skills as a commercial filmmaker for accounts such as the American Red Cross, Mack Trucks, Pepsi, and many other major companies, made him a natural to work producing and directing these spots.  The early work sold the realistic detail of G.I. Joe heavily, segueing from stock footage of WW II and Korea era stock footage into dioramas of boys playing with our beloved toy.  His daughter was on the set for several of the shoots and remembers getting to take home G.I. Joe figures and accessories, all of which are now gone.  That is particularly sad, as many early issue and rare prototypes were on the set.”

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Military Man Turned Media Man— GIjOE’s first TV commercial director was previously in the Army, as shown in the small photo above (Dietz is wearing the helmet w/goggles) and in a post-war newspaper clipping. His military background served him well during his later years with GIjOE. (Photo: Dietz Family)

“She had contacted Hasbro to see if they were interested in obtaining the films, but received no reply.  After a couple of months discussing them, her interest in making her father’s legacy known became a driving force in our discussions.  Our initial plan was to create a DVD of the commercials, along with a short film detailing her dad’s work.  Hasbro, while willing to allow the commercials to be digitized, was not happy with the idea of ‘unofficial’ product being released.  That moved us to an effort to get them out free of charge to fans everywhere, along with the mini documentary about Herb Dietz via the Vintage3DJoes.com website.”

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There’s a LOT for Matt and Ace to Work With— Building a documentary of Deitz’s work on the early GIjOE commercials will include reels and reels of vintage spots, photos, news clippings, family memories and much more. What an outstanding idea for GIjOE-related project! (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

“Commercial filmmaker and G.I. Joe fan, Ace Allgood, will be working to arrange for a top-notch company to digitize the shorts, while I work on the Herb Dietz story with his daughter.  The hope is that we will be able to begin releasing the work in the early summer.  Unfortunately, digitization will not be free, so I may need to do some fundraising to defray the cost, and hope Joe fans will step up to contribute to the cause in order to make the films free to all.

What’s there?  Along with photos and clippings about Dietz’s work, the core of the archive is twenty-six 16mm film positives of commercials from 1964 through 67, the heyday of the military era.  A number of them are out there already, but generally in low quality multi-generation dubs.  Having just reviewed the first few frames of each, I can confirm that there are many not yet in circulation, including commercials for the Soldiers of the World, the cadet sets, and many more.  

One is intriguingly titled “Adventure Packs” and may be from the first release of the Talking Adventure Packs.  The condition looks good, but it will be hard to tell about sound and color quality until they have been professionally evaluated.  If you need a ‘fix’ in the meantime, visit the commercials page on Vintage3DJoes.com to get a feel for what’s ahead, and stay tuned to the site, Facebook, and the Joe Report for updates on the process and potential fundraising efforts. 

Digitization and sound/color work will run around $1600. I will get the work done regardless, but if any fans want to support the project, they can help by making a donation on the Vintage3DJoes website at the page found HERE. Any one who donates will be given credit for their assistance on the website when the commercials are released.” —Matt McKeebyVintage3DJoes.com

Bottom Line: Time and time again, Matthew McKeeby’s masterful research, methodology and assurance of excellence, has proven him to be one of 12″ GIjOE fandom’s foremost “curators” and historians. His unusual discoveries constantly surprise, intrigue and impress collectors all around the world. Our sincerest thanks to Matthew for all of his generous contributions to this article. If you’d like to make a donation to help ensure his important work can continue, please go HERE.

Bob Brechin, Chief Designer for Palitoy, Goes “On the Record” to Discuss the Creation and Evolution of Palitoy’s “Action Man” in the UK

Happy Birthday, Son! DVD creator, Tony Roberts, added numerous moments of supplemental material by utilizing adult (and child) models, then dressing them in period clothing with retro hairstyles and having them reenact moments all too familiar to fans of GIjOE and Action Man. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Happy Birthday, Son! For his superb DVD, “The Story of Action Man,” director Tony Roberts filmed numerous retro-recreations, including this realistic sequence of a young boy opening a brand-new Deep Sea Diving equipment set on his birthday. To recreate such nostalgic scenes, Roberts utilized adult and child actors and dressed them in period clothing. Then, during editing, he faded the color and added numerous “old film” special effects to complete the illusion. The final moments were indeed, VERY familiar to fans and collectors of both GIjOE and Action Man. Out-STANDING work, Tony! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

The Story of Action Man has been faithfully recounted on a superb 2013 DVD by Australia's Tony Roberts. (Photo: ebay)

The Story of Action Man was faithfully recounted in a superb 2013 DVD by Australian Tony Roberts. (Photo: ebay)

Exclusive Insights From One of the “Founding Fathers” of Palitoy’s Iconic (UK) Action Man

When Bob Brechin (the former Chief Designer for Palitoy) wrote to us recently to discuss his memories of the history and development of Action Man and his involvement with “The Story of Action Man” DVD (a wonderfully informative film produced by Tony Roberts), we grabbed our reporter’s pads and pencils and stood up at attention. We knew whatever Brechin had to say, it would be coming “straight from the top.”

If you aren’t already aware, Brechin is the UK’s equivalent of America’s iconic toy creator and former top Hasbro executive, Don Levine (now deceased) and is without a doubt, one of the 1:6 scale hobby’s most beloved “Founding Fathers.” To millions of collectors around the world, Bob is especially admired for all the work he did EXPANDING the Action Man line. So many new uniforms, equipment sets and vehicles were introduced during his tenure that it literally boggles the mind. When his email “blinged” into our inbox, we couldn’t wait to read what UK’s toy legend had to say!

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Bob Brechin, former Chief Designer of Palitoy, took time out to write to The Joe Report recently with more of his personal memories and insights into the creation of the iconic Action Man toy line in the UK. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Bob Brechin, former Chief Designer of Palitoy, took time out to write to The Joe Report recently to avail its readers of his personal memories of the evolution of the Action Man toy line. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Here’s what Brechin wrote to The Joe Report:

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“Having just read your feature by Mike talking about  the VAME show on 6th of June and noticing the post he included about the showing of the ‘The Story of Action Man’ (see HERE, ed.) I thought I would follow that up and tell you more about it…

About this time of the year (50 years ago), the management at Palitoy were negotiating with the Hassenfeld Brothers for the license to market in the UK what was controversially called ‘a rugged doll for boys’ by its inventor, Stan Weston. Having seen the success of G.I. Joe in the States, the company saw the potential in the toy and (like the Hassenfeld Brothers), ignored comments such as, ‘boys will not play with a doll.’

Action Man was

Palitoy’s Action Man built on the excellence of early GIjOE products, revising them with a decidedly British twist. Many of the UK-themed figures, sets and vehicles were never offered in the U.S. and are passionately sought after by fans on “both sides of the pond.” (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“So confident was the company (Palitoy), that marketing plans were decided and Toy Fair catalogues were printed before the licence was agreed and signed very late in 1965. The ink had barely dried when the toy was launched at the British Toy Fair the following January. As you are aware, it went on to be an enormous success; collecting The Toy of the Year award in its first year and later being voted The Toy of the Decade in 1980.

Although Action Man was still selling well, in 1984 General Mills decided to cease production because plans were afoot to get out of the toy business. The design and development department was closed down and the following year Palitoy became Kenner Parker and the intentions of the new company was to distribute American developed products only, throughout Europe. The intellectual rights to Action Man were passed over to Hasbro and as we know they resurrected the 12” toy in the late 90’s.”

In this scene from Robert's DVD, Bob Belchin reminisces about the early days of Action Man production at Palitoy. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Remembering When— In this scene from Tony Robert’s DVD, Bob Brechin reminisces about early product concepts and the development of Action Man at Palitoy. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“I joined Palitoy in 1967, a year after the launch, right through until its demise in 1984. Throughout that time, I was the lead designer for Action Man, helping to transform what was essentially G.I. Joe in Palitoy packaging into a British phenomenon. I also led a team that developed the range ‘Action Force’ before we were aware of Hasbro’s intentions to develop the same range of 3 3/4 “ action figures that was to be  a “resurrected” G.I. Joe.

It was later that we introduced some Hasbro product into the Action Force range that saved us from some big tooling investment. Action Force was very popular (after the conceptual repositioning in year 2) and money for new tooling was forthcoming. One of my proudest designs was the ‘Roboskull,’ which  seems to be very popular with the fans in the States.”

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Collect Them All! AM collectors such as Daren Millar (shown here in a screen capture from Tony Robert’s DVD), fill their shelves at home with Action Man. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“After leaving Palitoy, I remained in toy design and development and it was during this period I became aware of the collecting mania that had grown. My first real awareness was when I took my (old) boss Bill Pugh, who conceived the ideas to give Action Man ‘realistic hair’ and ‘gripping hands’ (kung-fu grip to G.I. Joe fans ), to an Action Man collector’s show at the Tank Museum in the south of England.

He was totally amazed with the whole collecting scene as we walked amongst the tanks (many from WWI) and the Action Man displays. Sadly, shortly after our visit he passed away. But I was pleased to be able to show him a glimpse of the love that collectors have for a toy that we were able to play a part in bringing to the nation.”

Details REALLY Do Make the Difference! This super closeup of the Action Man astronaut window box set will make any fan drool with envy and LUST. WOW! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

Details REALLY Do Make the Difference. This closeup of a NMOC vintage Action Man astronaut suit equipment set would make any fan drool with envy. WOWZA! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“Since that immersion into the Action Man collecting community, I have been approached by individuals and groups for my thoughts and to attend meetings as a guest. I was involved in the production of the book ‘Action Man: The Official Dossier’ by Ian Harrison, writing the foreword as a dedication to Bill Pugh.

It was with some interest later, in July 2011, when I received an email from a curator at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnall Green, London, that a collector wanted to talk to me about a film he was making about the history of Action Man. After some thought, I told the curator that this person should contact me. Apparently, he took three days composing his email to get it right because he didn’t want to lose me. (He didn’t.)”

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Tony Roberts, director of “The Story of Action Man,” poses with some of his personal Action Man collection at home in Perth, Australia. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“Tony Roberts lives in Perth, Australia. He emigrated there from England when he was a young boy. Whilst in England, he was given an Action Man as a present and fell in love with it straight away. Every birthday and Christmas, he had to have something Action Man as a present and little did he know—he was building up his collection!

When his family moved to Australia, Tony’s love for the toy did not wane and his collection grew. When he grew up, he wanted to emulate his hero, so joined the Australian Army. After serving his time, during which he was seriously collecting, he move back to England and joined the British Army.”

With a Face Like THIS— It's easy to understand how millions of young children would be inspired to emulate their real-life heroes. Go, Action Man! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

With a Face Like THIS— It’s easy to understand how millions of young children would be inspired to emulate real-life heroes with really cool action figures. Go, Action Man! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“The London Iranian Embassy Siege, that began on 30th April 1980 and was so dramatically ended by the SAS on 5th May, resulted in Palitoy fast-tracking an Action Man version. It must have also inspired young Tony because later when he was serving with the British Army, he applied for the famous SAS. He was rejected; but Action Man doesn’t give in; so he reapplied and was successful.

After serving with the regiment in the Middle East, Tony took on the role as a security consultant, managing a team that was protecting politicians, industrialists and aid-workers who were part of the operation trying to rebuild Iraq after the conflict. Still collecting Action Man and sending them back home, during this time in Iraq he developed his other love of film-making.”

Now THAT'S a box! The dramatic, bullet-ridden Action Man logo was sure to stir the passions of young Brits, eager for some serious play ACTION! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

Now THIS is a box! And that dramatic, bullet-ridden Action Man logo surely stirred the passions and imaginations of many young fans; eager for some serious backyard ACTION! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“Many of his films that were shot from the dashboard of his Humvee received high praise from his colleagues and they would invariably ask for a copy to take with them when their tour of duty ended. When Tony’s own time came, he was unsure of what to do next. Many of his chums were taking up roles on merchant ships protecting them from pirates around the horn of Africa. Tony wanted out; but still unsure of where his life should go.

One day he had a thought. ‘People keep telling me my films are good, they always ask for a copy. That would be an interesting and different career move.’ But he needed a subject. ‘Well, I have this wonderful and almost complete collection of Action Man. The history of the development of the toy would make a great film.’ Bingo!”

Gotten himmel! The photography in Tony Robert's DVD is truly outstanding. By combining closeups with lavious backgrounds, the final effect was quite cinematic. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

Gotten himmel! The photography in Tony Robert’s DVD is truly outstanding. By combining closeups with lavish backgrounds, the final effect is quite cinematic. (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

“On his return to his home in Perth, he eagerly set to work building dioramas and began shooting. He needed to flesh out the film with face-to-face interviews with some of the people involved in Action Man’s ‘story,’ so yet another return trip was made to England so as to track them (including myself) down.

Tony’s email convinced me with its sincerity and enthusiasm that I should help him with this film. After all, there were plenty of books out there on the subject already, but no definitive story for the screen. So, we spoke on the phone and agreed that he should travel up from his family’s base in the south to Coalville, the old home of Palitoy.”

Don't Forget GIjOE! The original 12-inch action hero also features prominently in the Robert's film. After all, with Hasbro's creation, Action Man may never have existed! (Photo: Tony Roberts) Click to enlarge.

Don’t Forget GIjOE! America’s original 12-inch “Movable Fighting Man” also features prominently in Tony Robert’s DVD, “The Story of Action Man.” OOHrah! (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“In the meantime, I contacted some old ex-colleagues. A room at a local hotel was booked for a couple of days so that Tony could conduct his interviews before he went off to a show to conduct similar interviews with collectors. A few months later, he returned with the first draft of his film.

I arranged with Snibston Discovery Museum (only a stone’s throw from the old Palitoy factory) to show the film there to all those involved, including their friends and family. The attendees were very impressed and thoroughly entertained. From their comments, he returned to Australia and re-edited the film before finally offering it for sale as a DVD from his website.”

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Set to Close Soon? The Snibston Discovery Museum faces an uncertain future. (Photo: SDM)

“The Snibston Discovery Museum is due for closure at the end of July due to the county council having to make cuts in its budget as a result of the national government’s austerity programme. It is a tragedy that such important places that are guardians of local and national heritage are being closed. 

Coalville, as its name suggests, was a coal mining town that grew from humble beginnings and now has a population well over 30,000. The Snibston museum celebrates this industrial heritage, but also is home for other interesting collections; one of which is the TOYS that were once made at Palitoy!”

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Bob Brechin remains hopeful that things will work out for the Snibston Discovery Museum, but made alternative arrangements at a local theatre for showing Tony Robert’s film. (Photo: Tony Roberts)

“My plan WAS to celebrate Action Man’s 50th anniversary at Snibston, so as to promote the toy AND the museum together. But with its closure imminent, an alternative venue was needed. Since the Century Theatre is also part of the Snibston establishment, I have arranged for the Story of Action Man to be screened there, instead. 

The showing will help kick off Action Man’s 50th Anniversary, and enable the people of Coalville to see it—especially those that worked at Palitoy and their family and friends. Collectors and fans are particularly welcome. This is a one-off, non-profit event with a £3 ticket price to cover the use of the theatre.”

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Action Man on the BIG Screen— What better way to see a film about the creation and evolution of your favorite action figure than on a giant movie screen? Go, Action Man! (Photo: Century Theatre)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and best wishes go out to Bob Brechin for his generous contributions to this article, and to Tony Roberts and all of the other Action Man fans living in the UK, Australia, and elsewhere around the world, as they prepare to celebrate their 1:6 scale hero’s fantastic 50th Anniversary. If you can make the trip to Snibston on July 4th, be sure to attend the film’s showing at the Century Theatre. For complete showtime information, go HERE.

FLASH! THIS JUST IN (6-12-15):

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“Hi Mark, I just read the feature you included on The Joe Report. The only thing I must take issue with is putting me up on the same pedestal as Don Levine. I don’t think I deserve that. If Don was in the gold medal position he was up there with Bill Pugh. I would have been lower down (silver medal?).

If you want to make your feelings known about the closure of Snibston, the HOME of Palitoy and Action Man toys, please write to Nicholas Rushton, Leader of the Council, Leicestershire County Council, County Hall, Leicester, LE3 8RA.

Keep issuing great stories about G.I. Joe (and Action Man). I will keep you posted on any 50th news!”Regards, Bob Brechin

FLASH! THIS JUST IN (6-13-15):

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“Hello again Mark, I have reread the article in The Joe Report and you say that the Century Theatre was the alternative for celebrating the 50th anniversary of Action Man. I also reread my email to you and could see how you misunderstood me. Century Theatre is not an alternative for the celebrations.

It was always the intention to show the film in the theatre but follow that up with a 50th anniversary show in the museum next year. The theatre had a reprieve but the closure of the museum is still imminent so hence a need for an alternative for next year.” —Bob Brechin

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Joelanta 2015 Releases New Promo Commercial

GIjOE fans and video producers, Lisa and Tim Weedn (Photo: Tim Weedn)

GIjOE fans and animated video producers, Lisa and Tim Weedn (Photo: Tim Weedn)

Bottom Line: Every year at Joelanta, thousands of fans gather to celebrate everyTHING that’s wonderful about GIjOE and the action figure and toy hobbies in general. One subset of fans who attends also arrives bearing freshly pressed DVDs loaded with entertaining “Joe Videos” they’ve produced over the past year, eager for their official worldwide debut at the famous Joelanta Film Festival. One such filmmaking couple is Tim and Lisa Weedn, whose delightful animated video projects never fail to amuse their audiences. If you haven’t seen their work before—hit the play button above!

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Remembering the Amazing “History of Joelanta”

Today, we turn over the reins of The Joe Report to Marten Jallad, a longtime member of the Atlanta GIjOE Collector’s Club and one of the chief organizers of its upcoming Joelanta GIjOE and Action Figure Show (being held in Atlanta, GA, this coming March 13, 14 and 15th). Today, Marten’s going to reflect on the origins and history behind this incredibly popular GIjOE event. Take it away, Marten!

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GIjOE fan and collector, Marten Jallad (Photo: Marten Jallad)

Marten Jallad, GIjOE fan and co-organizer of Joelanta 2015 (Photo: Marten Jallad)

The History of Joelanta
by Marten Jallad, 2/27/15

Why start a toy show anyway?

Well, back around the late 1990s, GI Joe fans Buddy Finethy and Brian Becker realized that there must be more than just buying GI Joes off the shelves, so they decided to start the Atlanta GI Joe Club. By setting up at local toy shows and word of mouth, membership grew. Buddy also realized that so many of the local members may never be able to have the ability to attend one of the yearly national shows, so together with Jim Marianetti and Lanny Lathem they put on the very first Joelanta in May of 2001.

I don’t think that any of us who have been involved actively in its organization or who have attended as a patron every year could have ever imagined what the event would grow to become. Joelanta has not only grown to be the largest one sixth scale vintage GI Joe show in the country, but now it offers so much more. For example:

The Joelanta Film Festival

The Cursed Chest from artist Adam Hughes was one of the first entries into what has become the Joelanta Film Festival. Each year, many (often hilarious) action figure fan films are submitted and shown at the show. Some favorites including 2006 winner Plastic Chef  and All My Li’l Ninjas (shown above) by Jack Walsh. Government Issue Joseph episode #20, The Revenge of Sarah, films from Tim Weedn, Mike Trout and countless more. One year, we even debuted a seldom seen (ahead of their time) show called Pak Rats, that featured both Buddy’s and David’s collections!

E.J. White (l) charming an attendee at this year's Joelanta event in Atlanta, GA.In honor of the show's "Chronus Adventurer" exclusive, E.J. was sporting an 1880s top hat with exotic, "steampunk" goggles.

E.J. White (l) charms an attendee at Joelanta 2013. In honor of that show’s “Chronus Adventurer” exclusive, E.J. was sporting an 1880s top hat with a pair of exotically styled “steampunk” goggles. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

E.J. White’s World Famous Lobby Swap

You really have to experience this in person to see what all the fuss is about, but I’ll try and describe the event. As the momentum builds on Friday, as folks who have purchased Commander’s packages prepare for registration, the excitement is palpable. Everyone wants to start buying toys! Around 6pm-ish, all Commanders and dealers will start to bring down a tub of stuff for sale—and it begins! As the MC, EJ (one of Joelanta’s original members and founder of this event) will open the Lobby Swap up. Some dealers will set up displays in their room and make $1000’s before the show even starts. The event has spurned a couple a couple of T-shirts and Lobby Swap tote bags. This year, EJ is cooking up something extra special with a very limited run (20) Lobby Swap exclusive figures. (You may want to get on the list for this one!)

Bryan Tatum, mans his wares at 2013's Joelanta Lobby Swap event. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bryan Tatum, selling some of his Joe-stuff at 2013’s Joelanta Lobby Swap event. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The Joelanta Parachute Drop

The parachute drop is a MARVEL as the atrium turns into this huge frenzy of kids of all ages hurling their favorite Joes off any one of the 15 floors. It’s always fun to see the reaction of other hotel guests as they observe in amazement at the spectacle. Everyone is always holding their breath that none of the parachutes will fall down the elevator shaft, which a number of them have over the years (see 2012’s video below).

Bambi Lynn of Radio Cult (Photo: D. Glen McNeill)

Bambi Lynn of Radio Cult (Photo: D. Glen McNeill)

The Radio Cult Concert

There’s nothing like enjoying great music with your friends but that gets even better when your friends become part of the act. There’s always a rendition of Crocodile Rock by Captain Fantastic himself Mr E.J. White or David Lane and Mike Gardner jamming out, Don Coffee belting out Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” We really didn’t know how it would go over the first time but everyone had such a great time that it has now become a mainstay event .

Joelanta’s Custom Figure, Vehicle and Diorama Contests (with PRIZES!)

There has been such an amazing array of talented creators over the years and although largely one sixth scale, a surprising variety of items have been featured recently including some amazing Monster High customs. This part of the show is growing and we will be displaying all of this year’s entries in their own room for Joelanta 2015.

Patches of Pride was one of the sponsors of the Custom figures and Dioramas competition at Joelanta 2014. (Photo: Mark OTnes)

Patches of Pride is one of many sponsors that provide prizes for the winners of Joelanta’s custom figure and diorama competitions. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

For King and Country! Customizer extraordinaire, Mark Cole, created this outstanding custom British Soldier for the competition at Joelanta 2014. OutSTANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

For King and Country! Customizer extraordinaire, Mark Cole, created this outstanding custom British Soldier for the competition at Joelanta 2014. OutSTANDING work in every way! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Mike Gardner discusses some of the techniques and methods he uses to create his 1:6 scale masterworks. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Mike Gardner discusses some of the techniques and methods he’s used to create 1:6 scale dioramas during a special panel discussion held at Joelanta 2014. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Joelanta’s Annual “Large Diorama”

Steve Bugg, Mike Gardner, Caleb Brown and Eric Nowles have been wowing the crowd with such notable dioramas as The Battle of Stalingrad, Wild West Ghost Town, a War of the Worlds-inspired Martian Walker, a Medieval Castle with a battle between knights and a skeleton army, Frankenstein’s Windmill, a Civil War train called “The General,” and the list just goes on and on. These spectacular dioramas are one of the main reasons why the show has become a leading supporter of the Cody Lane Foundation, a 501©3 non- profit organization with an ultimate goal of having a Toy and Diorama museum to preserve and share these magnificent works of art. The creators of these works also host special panel discussions to reveal their building and customizing “secrets” and answer questions from fans interested in building their own 1:6 scale dioramas.

Master diorama builder Steve Bugg (above) debuted his astonishing 1:6 scale "Battle of Atlanta" diorama at Joelanta 2014. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Master diorama builder Steve Bugg (above) debuted his astonishing 1:6 scale “Battle of Atlanta” diorama at last year’s Joelanta 2014 event. Look at those spiked barricades. OUCH! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

It's a Feeding FRENZY! As this closeup of master diorama builder Mike Gardner's tribute to the TV series, The Walking Dead

Feeding FRENZY—Joelanta 2014’s large diorama” was created by master customizer, Mike Gardner, who orchestrated this astounding tribute to AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Atlanta GIjOE Club logo

Atlanta GIjOE Club logo

The heart of Joelanta is—and will always be—the camaraderie between all the folks who come from all over the country to visit with friends. Joelanta has become one large family gathering that continues to grow with new members, as the show has now morphed with the addition of The Great Atlanta Toy Convention to include special guests, a pop culture car show and many special panels throughout Saturday and Sunday. For more information, please visit www.joelanta.org and like us on Facebook at Joelanta and The Great Atlanta Toy Convention HERE. Thanks—and GO JOE! —Marten Jallad

Bottom Line: We’d like to thank Marten for providing all the text and intel for this article and for all the hard work he continues to put into organizing and hosting Joelanta. A quick shout-out of thanks should also go to Jim Marianetti, Lanny Lathem, Buddy Finethy, David Lane and all of the other wonderful members (and families) of the Atlanta GIjOE Collector’s Club. Without their combined efforts, hard work, volunteer spirit and gung-ho enthusiasm, there would be no Joelanta. You’re all the BEST!

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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.

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“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.)

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“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).

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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.)

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“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:

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“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).

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“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:

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“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:

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“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.

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“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.)

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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.)

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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.)

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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:

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“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.”
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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:

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“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.)

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“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.)

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“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

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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

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Cinematic Stunner!———National Film Board (NFB) of Canada Restores 1966 Grant Munro Film, “Toys”

For the first time in 48 years, the faces and clothing of the young children in the 1966 short film, Toys, are clearly visible, almost startlingly so. The newly restored film is a timeless treasure of 1:6 scale animation and is held in the highest esteem by GIjOE fans worldwide. (Screenshot: NFB)

For the first time in 48 years, the faces and clothing of the young child actors featured in the 1966 short film, Toys, are clearly visible, almost startlingly so, with fully restored color and clarity. A timeless treasure of 1:6 scale animation, the film is held in the highest esteem by GIjOE fans worldwide. (Screenshot: NFB)

Grant Munro, animator, filmmaker, director. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Grant Munro, animator, filmmaker, director. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Classic Animated Short Film Featuring 1:6 Scale GIjOEs Lovingly Restored to Unbelievable Clarity

GIjOE fans have long considered the 1966 stop-motion animated short film, Toys, to be a premier example of movie-making’s most painstaking and patience-testing art form. If you’re not already aware, “stop-motion animation” requires frame-by-frame photographing of miniature action figures that are posed entirely by hand, with each movement carefully repositioned in minute increments that are then captured one—click!—frame at a time (i.e. Rankin/Bass’ Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer or Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit).

As you might expect, such a slow and deliberate filmmaking technique can become very tiresome and only the most patient animators attempt it; with far fewer ever truly mastering the art form’s many intricacies and requisite disciplines. Yet there’s one man who’s clearly mastered this arduous method, and that’s Canada’s renowned filmmaker and Toys director, Grant Munro (91), who proved long ago he is a MASTER animator—especially of GIjOEs!

You’ve Seen “Toys” Before—But NEVER Like This.

Munro’s Toys has long held a proud place in the pantheon of 1:6 scale animation, ever since its original debut back in 1966. Unfortunately, over the last four decades, GIjOE fans have had to placate their penchant for the legendary short by viewing it from grainy, third or fourth generation VHS copies, replete with annoyingly garbled audio and static-strewn imagery; much like watching ’60s reruns on an old-time television set without an antenna (not a pretty sight).

Finally! We can SEE! The crystal clarity of a recently restored master print of Grant Munro’s 1966 Toys, reveals numerous vintage toys that fans had been unable to see previously whenever watching badly distorted VHS copies of the film. For example, did you ever notice that Herman Munster doll sitting on the right-hand side? Or how about Chatty Cathy, waving to us from the back row? And what about that Thompson machine gun with a scope in the foreground? WOW! (Screenshot: NFB) Click to enlarge.

Fans of Grant Munro's animation can now purchase this excellent collection of his work on DVD over at Amazon. Click here to order.

Fans of Grant Munro’s animation can now purchase this excellent collection of his work on DVD over at Amazon.

As if in answer to our prayers, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has recently and lovingly restored Munro’s Toys and the results look as if they were shot only yesterday. Here’s how the NFB website describes their mission:

“We are Canada’s public producer and distributor, and this is our online Screening Room. We offer free streaming of documentary and animated films as well as interactive stories, all of which explore the world we live in from a Canadian point of view.”

The bomb bursts were real. The explosions were real. The smoke and fire? All real. Munro spared no effort to recreate the devastation that could created when 1:6 scale warriors go to battle. (Photo: NFB)

In Grant Munro’s “Toys,” the explosions were real. The smoke and fire? Also, VERY real. Munro spared no effort or expense to create the actual devastation of an all-out 1:6 scale WAR. (Screenshot: NFB)

The Marine Corps Field Medic saw a lot of action tending to the wounded, until he too, succumbed to the battle's maelstrom of munitions. (Screenshot: NFB)

Munro’s Marine Corps Medic saw a lot of action in Toys (as he tended to the wounded) until he too, ultimately succumbed in the battle’s “maelstrom of munitions.” GIjOE collectors, take note: Despite the commonly held belief that stress cracks in GIjOEs are due to the AGE of our vintage figures, it’s interesting to note that even this brand-new (at the time) 1966 GIjOE had already developed a severe stress crack near his left wrist (see photo above). Fascinating! (Screenshot: NFB)

Due to the numerous quick-cuts of the film, the "enemy" was often hard to determine. Nonetheless, severe and ominous lighting was applied to the German soldiers, creating a menacing and threatening presence. (Screenshot: NFB)

Achtung! Due to Munro’s choice and use of a quick-cut editing style, it was difficult to determine who was the “enemy” or “hero.” However, Grant did apply severe and ominous lighting to the German soldiers, giving them an added element of menace and threatening intent. Yikes! (Screenshot: NFB)

The film's restoration was so complete, that you could almost count each freckle and hair on the children's heads. Out-STANDING!

Look at those freckles! This film’s restoration was so complete and so perfect, that now you can see practically every adorable hair and freckle. Out-STANDING job, NFB! (Screenshot: NFB)

That giant REMCO tank looks right at home with all those GIjOEs. Say, we never saw that Sea Sled down there! And where do we get one of those rotating displays? Cool! (Screenshot: NFB)

That giant REMCO tank looks right at home with those GIjOEs. Say, we never saw that Sea Sled down there before! And where do we get one of those nifty toy store rotating display platforms? How cool is that?! So much to see and so much to love. Toy fans, REJOICE! (Screenshot: NFB) Click to enlarge.

This closeup reveals a superb 5-star Jeep with working recoilless rifle and spotlight. Oh, YES! (Screenshot: NFB)

Head to the Front, Men! This closeup reveals a superb 5-star Jeep with working recoilless rifle and spotlight and GIjOEs representing all military branches. YES! (Screenshot: NFB)

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Holy Hidden Treasures, Batman! This view of the left-hand side of the toy store display reveals a previously unrecognizable Batman plush figure hanging from the wall and affords a better view of many other previously unidentifiable toys. Fascinating! (Screenshot: NFB) Click to enlarge.

As the battle raged on, the expressions of the children switch from happy to concerned to clearly disturbed by the chaos and "killing" they're imagining. Munro's clever use of "freeze-frame" images such as this one enhance the emotional impact of the viewer. (Screenshot: NFB)

As the battle raged on, the expressions of the children in Toys switch from happy to concerned to clearly disturbed by the chaos and “killing” they were witnessing. Munro’s use of “freeze-frame faces” (such as this one) increased the emotional impact on the viewer. (Screenshot: NFB)

But What Does It All Mean?

Debate over Munro’s original intent behind Toys has continued to rage over the many decades since its release. Was the filmmaker trying to convince his audience that so-called “war toys” are all bad? Or that playing with them would somehow result in innocent children becoming warlike or warmongering? OR…was the film simply an exercise in producing a stop-motion animated fantasy; created mainly to demonstrate the many techniques possible in the genre? The answer is probably a little of both. Regardless, as action figure fans rediscovered the film in the 1990s, it began to resurface at toy shows around the world. Fans began to sell (or give away) bootlegged copies of Toys—first on grainy VHS tape and then later on DVDs. Finally, with the advent of the internet, it is now readily accessible online where viewing the ’60s classic is as easy as clicking on a link (conveniently provided below).

Raise your hands if you remember burning, blowing up or otherwise mangling and destroying a GIjOE or other toy as a kid. Likewise, Munro actually burns, melts and destroys several of the Joes shown in Toys, complete with added (horrific) sound effects. Aaaaaugh! (Screenshot: NFB)

Raise your hands if you remember burning, blowing up or otherwise mangling and/or destroying a GIjOE or other toy as a kid. Yup. Us too! Likewise, Munro burns, melts and destroys several of the Joes shown in his 1966 short film, Toys, complete with added (horrific) sound effects. Aaaaaugh! (Screenshot: NFB)

Goodbye, GIjOE! What happens when you soak a GIjOE in lighter fluid and set him on fire? Oh, the HORROR! (Screenshot: NFB)

Goodbye, GIjOE! What happens when you soak a Marine GIjOE in lighter fluid and set him on fire? First, his helmet melts all over his face turning him into a 1:6 scale version of the “Little Green Army Men,” then… well, thing gets progressively worse from there. Oh, the HORROR! (Screenshot: NFB)

Wake up, Kids! Eventually, the "spell" that had fallen over Munro's kids breaks and happiness returns. Cheerful music plays, giggles continue and the obvious love and rapt desire the little boys hold for the fully restored GIjOEs remains firmly intact. Go, JOE! (Screenshot: NFB)

The Nightmare is Over! Eventually, the dark mood breaks and happiness returns. Cheerful music plays again, giggles and laughter are heard and the obvious love and rapt desire children hold for the toy store’s (fully restored) GIjOEs remains intact. THIS is the REAL dream! (Screenshot: NFB)

This gas-powered Cox Stuka came to life, its machine-guns spitting bullets at the enemy down below. To create this effect, Munro attached simple firework sparklers to the plane and "flew" it towards the camera using fishing line. Ingenious! (Screenshot: NFB)

Spittin’ Flame! In Toys, this gas-powered Cox Stuka comes to life, its machine-guns spitting bullets down at the enemy below. To create this effect, Munro attached simple firework sparklers to the plane and “flew” it towards the camera with fishing line. Ingenious! (Screenshot: NFB)

Bottom Line: Over the years, the legend behind Munro’s Toys has continued to grow until it is now considered by GIjOE and animation fans alike to be an undeniable stop-motion masterpiece. While Munro’s original intended message for Toys may have been anti-war, GIjOE fans today appreciate it more for its animation achievement and as a sort of “time capsule tribute” to imaginative fantasy play with “America’s Movable Fighting Man.” While we all agree with its undeniable message that “War is Hell,” we can’t help but grin with delight as we watch Munro’s toys burn and melt each other with brutal abandon. So many of us did similar things as kids! Our sincerest thanks and best wishes to Mr. Munro for all of his superb contributions to the world of movie-making, stop-motion animation and his unintentional homage to GIjOE fandom. Alright then, Joeheads—Let’s roll this masterpiece!

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G.I. Joe Character is the Heroic Lead in Pixar’s New “Toy Story of Terror” Special on ABC-TV; Short-Sightedness by Hasbro Prevents Credit.

GIjOE fans will instantly recognize that Pixar's "Combat Carl" was patterned after a AA Classic Collection "blockhead" sculpt, with the simle addition of a Carl Weather's moustache. The vest appears to be a police-style vest with zipper, shotgun shells and 2 vintage style, silver grenades. (Photo: Pixar)

GIjOE fans will instantly recognize that Pixar’s “Combat Carl,” as depicted in the recently arired, 30-minute Halloween-season TV special, “Toy Story of Terror,” was clearly patterned after an AA Classic Collection GIjOE “blockhead” figure. Keen-eyed observers will also notice that GIjOE’s trademark facial scar has been omitted and that a Carl Weathers moustache has been added (see comparison photo of an actual GIjOE below). Carl’s vest appears to be a police-issued zip-up, complete with shotgun shell bandolier and 2 vintage WWII Army-style, silver “pineapple” grenades. HOOah! (Photo: Pixar)

A quick, 5-minute, kit-bashed, "Combat Carl" (minus the Carl Weather's moustache) reveals his origins were not too difficult to discern. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A quick, 5-minute, kit-bashed, “Combat Carl” (minus the Carl Weathers moustache) reveals his origins were not too difficult for GIjOE fans to discern. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The “Masters of Missed Opportunity” Strike Again

Imagine creating the world’s most popular toy; an iconic action-figure line enjoyed by millions of boys and girls around the world. Now imagine refusing to allow a major Hollywood film company the rights to use the name of your toy in a movie (thereby giving up millions of dollars worth of free advertising), SIMPLY because the storyline indicates that the toy will be blown up with a firecracker by one of the characters in the film.

Now—imagine, many years later, your toy is being portrayed as the heroic star of yet another top-notch Hollywood production. But because you STILL refuse to allow the filmmakers to use the toy’s name, you (still) get ZERO credit for having created it, and for its heroic portrayal in the new film. D’oh!

In this screenshot from the scene in Toy Story, Andy's evil neighbor, "Sid," prepares to blow up a 12-inch GIjOE with a firecracker. Because of Hasbro's objection and subsequent refusal to grant permission to use its GIjOE brand name, Pixar was forced to change the action-figure's name to "Combat Carl." One of the classic corporate blunders of all-time, Hasbro's decision would cost them untold amounts of free advertising.

In this screenshot from Toy Story, Andy’s evil neighbor, “Sid,” prepares to blow up a 12-inch GIjOE with a firecracker. Because of Hasbro’s objection and its subsequent refusal to grant permission to use the GIjOE brand name, Pixar was forced to rename the iconic action-figure “Combat Carl.” Hasbro’s decision would prove to be one of the classic corporate blunders of all-time, depriving the company of untold levels of free advertising.

What a HUGE missed opportunity! By now, your publicists, PR people, and advertising execs must all be pulling their hair out in frustration. Who are we talking about? Why, the “Masters of Missed Opportunity” themselves, of course—Hasbro. Would someone PLEASE stop the insanity?! The toy company’s board members must all be kicking each other’s backsides for what has to be one of the biggest “bonehead” corporate decisions of all time. How (and why) the suits at Hasbro repeatedly backhand such easy opportunities to promote GIjOE (and recruit a whole new generation of fans for their venerable toy brand) simply boggles the imagination.

In this screenshot, GIJOE, er...sorry..."Combat Carl" co-starred with the "Green Army Men" in a series of short Toy Story "bumpers," to be shown between TV programs.

In this screenshot, GIJOE, er…sorry…”Combat Carl” co-stars with Toy Story’s “Green Army Men” in a series of short “bumpers,” to be shown between TV programs.

“Combat Carl Never Gives Up.
Combat Carl FINDS a Way!”

In stark contrast to Hasbro’s lackadaisical handling of the GIjOE brand, Disney’s new “Toy Story of Terror” (TSOT), was a masterstroke of media manipulation and branding reinforcement. The latest in the beloved Toy Story canon, TSOT was a blissful return to American television of yore. For 30-minutes, fans could put their feet up, share the couch with loved ones of ALL ages, and enjoy a top-notch quality program—together—as a family.

The resulting “feel good” emotional impact of the show was immediate and powerful. No matter what your age, it made you want to get up, run out to a store, and BUY SOME TOYS! It’s a shame that most parents were probably hearing, “Mommy, can I get a Combat Carl?” instead of “Can I get a GIjOE?” If Hasbro isn’t careful, Disney’s “Combat Carl” brand could someday usurp Hasbro’s hard-won “GIjOE” brand awareness in the minds of many children.

In this screenshot from Toy Story of Terror, “Combat Carl” assumes command of the toys and helps lead them to safety. When “Little Carl” doubts they can do it, “Big Carl” reminds him to “Find a Way!”

Carl Weathers (shown above in "Predator"), provided both the physical inspiration and voice-talent for the latest incarnation of Pixar's "Combat Carl" action figure character. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Carl Weathers (shown above in “Predator”), provided both the physical inspiration and voice-talent for the latest incarnation of Pixar’s “Combat Carl” action figure character.
(Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Taking Charge and Getting it Done

If you haven’t seen Toy Story of Terror, all of the original film’s stars reprise their roles, including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn and Joan Cusack. But this time around, the big news (for GIjOE and action-figure fans) is the addition of action-film superstar, Carl Weathers. You may remember Weathers as “Apollo Creed” from the Rocky film series, or as the treacherous CIA agent, “Dillon,” from the Schwarzenegger blockbuster, “Predator.” In Toy Story of Terror, Weathers absolutely steals the show by voicing the role of Combat Carl.

Yes, yes, we ALL know… Combat Carl is really a GIjOE. And as Joeheads remember (with a head-shake and an eye-roll), Pixar was originally going to call their Combat Carl character “GIjOE.” Can you imagine how great that would’ve been? It would’ve opened up a world of other opportunities for the filmmakers, such as the Mobile Support Vehicle, an ATV, etc. But sadly, Hasbro, in its short-sighted and limited wisdom, refused to grant Pixar permission. According to the official Pixar website:

In Pixar's Toy Story of Terror, the GIjOE-based character, "Combat Carl" was depicted in both scales. In this screenshot, the larger, 1:6 scale version, urges on his smaller buddy, reminding him that "Combat Carl Never Gives Up!"

In Pixar’s Toy Story of Terror, the GIjOE-based character, “Combat Carl” was depicted in both scales. In this screenshot, the larger, 1:6 scale version, urges on his smaller buddy, reminding him that “Combat Carl never gives up!”

“In the DVD commentary for Toy Story, John Lasseter mentions that he had actually wanted to use a G.I. Joe in the film, but Hasbro was upset that they were going to have Sid blow it up and wouldn’t let them use it.”

Bottom Line: It’s obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes that Combat Carl is GIjOE, 100%, through and through. From the tip of his Classic Collection “blockhead” noggin’, to the soles of his rubber boots, he represents a massive missed opportunity for infinite product and brand expansion. For Hasbro’s poor handling of GIjOE in this regard, we give them our lowest rating of ZERO diamonds. For Pixar’s handling of Combat Carl and the new Toy Story of Terror, we give them our highest, 5-diamond rating (♦♦♦♦♦). If you haven’t seen it, BUY IT when it becomes available. It’s worth every penny!

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“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” Was It Worth The Wait? Fans say “YES!” And “NO!” And…“Who Cares?”

Snake Eyes and The Rock shoot at stuff in GIjOE: Retaliation. Will that be enough reason for you to buy a ticket? (Photo: Paramount)

Snake Eyes and The Rock shoot at stuff in GIjOE: Retaliation. Will that be reason enough for fans to buy tickets? Early box office receipts are running high, despite the films dismal reviews. (Photo: Paramount)

Bruce Willis in GIjOE: Retaliation. (Photo: Paramount)

Bruce Willis and…some guy. (Photo: Paramount)

“My kids LOVED it like crazy, which means Joe is looking towards the future when it comes to doing things.” —DaSmokeEater

After a 9-month delay…

GIjOE: Retaliation, the second Paramount film based on Hasbro’s GIjOE franchise has finally been released into theaters. Early box office receipts are good, but GIjOE fans and general audiences appear to be less than thrilled with the newly “retooled” 3-D version. In case you don’t remember the studio’s reasons for delaying the film, according Niall Browne over at ScreenRant:

“GIjOE Retaliation received scores in test screenings that ranged from ‘mediocre to bad.’ The decision was made to delay the release, reshoot, and then convert the film to 3D. The reason given for the 3D conversion was that the lucrative ticket price could maximize foreign box office revenue and make the film more profitable.

Iron Man 3 has also filmed new scenes and altered its storyline somewhat so as to cater to foreign audiences, creating multiple versions of the same movie. (Photo: marvel.com)

Iron Man 3 has also filmed new scenes and altered its storyline so as to increase appeal to foreign audiences, thereby creating multiple versions of the same movie. (Photo: marvel.com)

There you have it. GIjOE: Retaliation wasn’t delayed to make it better. It was delayed and converted to 3-D to make it more profitable to foreign audiences. Yes, it’s common knowledge that studios now openly tinker with their franchise and “tent pole” movies, often creating entirely new characters, scenes and storylines to specifically target overseas markets.

“It is not a terrible movie if you go in having low expectations.” —HippoJoe

In a similar example, Iron Man 3 (IM3) was also in the news recently for having filmed a variety of all-new scenes in China solely for the purpose of appealing to—and appeasing the sensitivities of—Chinese audiences. Why? The allure of burgeoning profits from Chinese ticket sales has simply grown too great for Hollywood to ignore. (Read the entire story of IM3’s multiple versions over on CraveOnline HERE.) 

“The best part of ‘GIjOE: Retaliation’ was eating at The Varsity afterwards.” —ToysGottoGo

Some hot chick named Adrianne Palicki portrays "Lady Jaye" in the film. Mmm...girls with guns! (Photo: Paramount)

Adrianne Palicki portrays “Lady Jaye” in the film. Mmm…girls with guns! (Photo: Paramount)

But back to GIjOE: Retaliation. It seems Paramount realized the movie was going to bomb (no pun intended) and felt it needed to do whatever it could to rescue whatever profits it could. Mr. Browne’s article appears to concur with this viewpoint, saying…

“This line of reasoning equates the release delay to the cash-grab attempt so many fans saw it as. With this delay, the studio and toy company are clearly doing everything they can to secure SOME kind of profits from this venture.”

Costs and Profits

OF COURSE it’s about money! Whether or not a movie’s actually any good is now of secondary importance. Fortunately for Paramount, GIjOE: Retaliation is enjoying a strong start financially. According to Brooks Barnes, the film’s receipts are healthy and online to recoup investment:

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” was a burly No. 1 at North American theaters over the Easter weekend, validating an unusual decision by Paramount Pictures to delay its release so that it could rework parts of the plot. ‘Retaliation,’ which cost at least $130 million to make, took in about $41.2 million over the weekend, for a total since opening on Thursday of $51.7 million. Overseas, the movie — originally planned for release last summer — generated an additional $80.3 million in ticket sales.”

The Cobra Commander walks ominously around his headquarters. Does it get foggy behind that visor? (Photo: Paramount)

The Cobra Commander walks ominously around his headquarters. We gotta admit, that giant COBRA logo on the wall and ol’ “Chrome Dome’s” helmet look pretty spiffy! (Photo: Paramount)

Of course, some GIjOE fans could care less about the current GIjOE movies. Kent Williams, for example, offers up his own alternative ideas and opinions, saying:

“Honestly, I have absolutely ZERO interest in the ongoing RAH movie saga. It has absolutely nothing to do with what I consider ‘real’ GIjOE and caters only to the 3-3/4” fans. You want to make a GIjOE movie? How about showing how a bunch of regular ‘Joes’ became involved with the ADVENTURE TEAM?

Bottom Line: There seem to be few surprises regarding the new GIjOE: Retaliation. Joeheads may not agree with Hollywood’s depiction of our favorite action figures, but as the old Latin sayings tell us, “Cuique Suum” and “Caveat Emptor!” Fans like Williams might be more interested in independent fare such as the famous “bootleg footage” of that outstanding Adventure Team animation. If you don’t remember what we’re referring to, click HERE or on the video clip below: