Category Archives: History and Related Trivia

Happy “Victory in Europe” (VE) Day!

Bottom Line: The freedom-loving peoples of the world have so much to be thankful for, especially to the men and women of the “Greatest Generation” who responded to the allied call to subdue and defeat Hitler’s Nazi forces, the military might of the Empire of Japan, and all the other axis nations of WWII. Please, don’t let this day go by without giving thanks to at least ONE veteran of the armed forces. Thank you, ALL Veterans!

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(Photos: AP)

Miguel Tavarez—Master of Miniaturization—Creates Astonishingly Realistic (1:6 Scale) Diorama of U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) Paratroopers in Action

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Bring it On— In a stunning display of 1:6 scale artistry, customizer Miguel Tavares has recreated a battle scene from the Korean War featuring two figures from the U.S. Army’s 2nd Ranger Inf. Co. (Airborne). This closeup of the Master Sergeant reveals he has been authentically detailed with correct unit insignia and helmet emblems produced by Patches of Pride. (Photo: Miguel Tavares) Click to enlarge.

Expert Modeler Depicts Soldiers of “Forgotten War’s” All-Black, All-Ranger Regiment

Welcome to 2017, 1:6 Scalers!

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Immortalized on the Cover—UK hobby industry magazine, Military Modelling (vol. 41, issue no. 1) celebrates the skills of master modeler, Miguel Tavarez, by splashing his work (deservedly so) on the front cover of its most recent issue. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Military Modelling)

It’s a brand-new year and the guys and gals at The Joe Report felt like kicking things off with a BIG photo-story about a new, rising talent among the 1:6 scale customizing community—Miguel Tavarez. Tavares is a master modeler and 1:6 customizer of the highest degree, and in recognition of his superlative skills, the UK hobby magazine Military Modelling recently published an article about his work, even going so far as to feature a photo of his new (2-figure) paratrooper diorama on the publication’s cover.

The remarkable diorama in question depicts two African-American U.S. Army paratroopers of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) during the Korean War. They’ve just completed a jump and one soldier appears to have suffered a hard landing or been otherwise wounded. His Master Sergeant has rushed to his side, all the while gazing grimly skyward as he watches other Rangers still descending.

This 1:6 scale masterwork is both wonderful and inspirational to behold. Action figure customizers and diorama builders around the world would probably pay good money just to take a 1 hour class from this talented artisan. If fact, we felt Miguel’s Ranger dio achievement was so important, that it was worthy of further mention and praise beyond just the pages of a UK hobby magazine. Therefore, despite any repetition, we’ve wholeheartedly chosen to share it here, too—on The Joe Report!

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A Bad Time for a Sprain— What a superb choice of headsculpt! This figure’s excellent facial expression perfectly captures so much emotion at once. The frustration, pain, and yes, even anger, at being hurt before even getting to fire a shot, must surely be a severe disappointment to this Ranger. After training for months, making dozens of practice jumps, and going through everything required to become a U.S. Army Ranger, to be sidelined and/or hobbled like must be quite a blow. Let’s hope this brave paratrooper’s leg is only sprained and not broken. Go, Rangers! Go, ARMY! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

 Details Do Make the Difference

When you study Miguel’s custom figures, you quickly discover that he is zealously devoted to both military accuracy and authenticity, as well as the execution of professional, almost extreme modeling detail. Take a (very close) look at those hands (the fingernails!), the figure’s wrinkled and “weathered” uniforms, their weaponry, equipment, and even the stones and grass on the ground cover beneath their feet—it’s all been magnificently painted and otherwise realistically executed. HISTORY—has been brought back to life in three dimensions: visibly, tactilely—and in miniature!

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As Real as it Gets— The mind boggles looking at the reality of this ground cover. Make special note of Miguel’s careful selection of the grass and tiny white flowers. Where other customizers would choose or create plantlife that is oversized, Tavarez has ensured that even the tiny flowers are correctly scaled to match his diorama. Un-freakin’ believable! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

It’s Okay to Seek Outside Help

Tavarez has also taken the trouble (and expense) to commission custom waterslide decals and cloth patches from renowned miniatures manufacturer, Patches of Pride. All of their tiny products are carefully researched and recreated from scratch, so their inclusion helped to elevate this unique diorama to undisputed “masterpiece” status. Custom works of such high caliber are truly rare, and this one solidifies Miguel’s well-deserved reputation as a master modeler of 1:6 scale.
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Let’s Get a Move On, Ranger!— Staying out in the open for too long after a combat jump can be an invitation to disaster, as this Master Sergeant clearly knows. This side view of their combined poses demonstrates that there is a clear sense of urgency and peril to their situation. Just LOOK at all the amazing detail! The patches, helmet emblems, ammo bandolier, boots…WOW! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez)

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Miguel describes the inspiration behind his 2-figure Ranger diorama:

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Cheers, Customizers!— Miguel Tavarez raises a cold one in toast and tribute to other members of the 1:6 scale community in this exclusive photo taken for readers of The Joe Report. His outstanding customs are providing inspiration to thousands of fellow kitbashers around the world. (Photo: Miguel Tavarez)

“This diorama is about two African-American Rangers during the Korean War. The Korean War is often referred to as “ the forgotten war” because of the lack of public attention it received both during and after the war, and in relation to the global scale of World War II, which preceded it, and the subsequent angst of the Vietnam War, which succeeded it. After finishing my last 1/6th dio, I was looking for a new project to do, and so I decided to read up on the Korean conflict and see if I could find a subject to recreate within my own little 1/6th scale kitbashing ‘world’.

I came across a book on a very fascinating unit of a segregated, all-black elite Ranger company that had fought with distinction during the first 2 years of the “Forgotten War” in Korea. I had previously done a WWII 761st African-American tanker before, so I became keen on creating something that would also honor this all-black Ranger company—the 2nd Ranger Infantry Co. (Airborne).”

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Don’t Forget the Base— Yes, you can simply set your figures on a table, but the creation and use of a custom base beneath their feet helps add geographical texture and context, as well as increasing the realism of your tabletop diorama scene. Beautiful! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

“As I mentioned before, they were an African-American unit at a time when the U.S. military was slowly being integrated after years of racial segregation. President Truman’s executive order 9981 in 1948 changed that. But the reality was that the desegregation policy was yet to come into full compliance. Segregation was still being practiced right into the Korean War.

White high-ranking officers who did not support desegregation would funnel the colored troops into units such as the 2nd Ranger Co. in the first several years of the war. But 1950s racial issues aside, the ‘Buffalo Rangers,’ as they were known, gave a good account of themselves in the Korean War until their deactivation in 1951.”

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Remembering and Honoring Our Heroes (in 1:6 Scale)— This 3/4 front view shows off the entirety of Miguel’s amazing custom diorama and reveals that he included an actual Ranger pin down in the bottom righthand corner. Congratulations on a great job, Miguel! (Photo: Miguel Tavarez) Click to enlarge.

These “Buffalo Rangers” participated in “Operation Tomahawk” on March 23rd 1951. This operation was historic for two reasons; one, it would be the first time a Ranger unit participated in an Airborne combat jump. Secondly and more importantly, it would be the first combat jump for black troops in the U.S. military. Attached to the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (its parent unit), it would make this historic jump in ‘Operation Tomahawk’ into North Korean and Chinese-held territory!” —Miguel Tavarez

Bottom Line: Miguel’s work is AWESOME. That’s the bottom line. Our sincerest thanks go out to Mr. Tavarez for sharing these photos of his work and for the exclusive account of his inspiration for this piece. As of the date of this article, you could still buy a copy of the issue of UK’s Military Modelling magazine featuring Miguel’s amazing work HERE.

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Remember Pearl Harbor Day Today—Ceremonies Will be Livestreamed on Numerous Websites

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Horror, Death and Destruction—In this historic photo, the Battleship USS West Virginia has already been sunk and continues to burn during the deadly attack on U.S. ships, installations and personnel at Pearl Harbor, HI, Dec. 7, 1941. In the background is the Battleship USS Tennessee. It would be damaged, but somehow remained afloat and was later repaired and modernized. (Photo: US Navy)

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In this full-color recreation of the attack, (a scene from the Hollywood film, Pearl Harbor), a stricken U.S. battleship lists severely to port as its sailors struggle to hold on. (Photo: Touchstone Pictures)

Bottom Line: Clear your desks, gather around, and REMEMBER with us the terrible events of this historic day back in 1941. Fortunately, there will be numerous websites providing LIVE streaming coverage of the memorial ceremonies taking place in Hawaii today. Here’s an article showing a complete list of those streaming sites and here’s a direct link to the DOD website as well. Please remember the time difference. If you don’t see an image, try the other links. Our sincerest thanks to everyone involved in providing live coverage of this important event available today.

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

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

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

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

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


plau·si·ble

ˈplôzəb(ə)l/
adjective

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Derryl DePriest. (Photo: Derryl DePriest)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TJR: Oh, No!

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

Phil Iverson, Manteno, IL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G.I. Joe Marine “Sighting” Discovered in Un-Aired SNAFU Bloopers From R. Lee Ermey’s “Mail Call”

If you enjoy watching military documentaries, films, and television programs, and/or anything that features America’s favorite USMC senior drill instructor, R. Lee Ermey, then you’ll DEFINITELY want to see his hilarious collection of SNAFU bloopers and deleted scenes that were never aired publicly on the History Channel TV show, Mail Call. Here are some screenshots from the video:

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YOU are a disgusting Fat Body! R. Lee Ermey’s “Mini-Lee” voices his displeasure regarding the physical condition of the Pillsbury Dough Boy in a deleted scene from Mail Call. (Photo: The History Channel)

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Mini-Lee orders a vintage GIjOE Marine to hit the deck (and give him 25) in one of many scenes from the show utilizing 1:6 scale action figures. Out-STANDING. OOHrah! (Photo: The History Channel)

Bottom Line: If you’re a GIjOE or R. Lee Ermey fan (and who isn’t?), then you’ll want to skip forward to the hilarious 5-minute compilation of Ermey’s “extra-salty” Mini-Lee outtakes, beginning at the 33:57 minute-mark. From that point, you’ll be able to enjoy watching Lee’s (decidedly adult-language) action figure take part in some exciting adventures as well as putting some disgusting “fat bodies” in their place, including the Pillsbury Doughboy and a vintage GIjOE Marine. Enjoy!

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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.

Attention G.I. Joe Ephemera Collectors———One of the Earliest Known Articles Mentioning G.I. Joe Discovered in July 1964 Issue of LOOK Magazine

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Lookin’ Good, Proto-Joe! This photo of one of the first prototype U.S. Army GIjOEs, is likely a Hasbro “stock shot” taken at the 1964 Toy Fair and appeared in the July 1964 issue of LOOK magazine. Dubbed “model GI” by the magazine, this figure is (likely) one of the earliest appearances of GIjOE in popular media (i.e. media outside of Hasbro’s control). Remember, at this early time of the year in 1964, GIjOE was still largely unknown and unavailable in stores. Christmas was still 6 months away! (Photo: LOOK)

“Tough, Movable Action Figures” w/ “Battle-Incurred Facial Scars” are… “For Women Only?”

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Look for this issue— Within the pages of the July 1964 issue of LOOK magazine (on page M15, to be exact), you’ll find the previously unknown half-page article. (Photo: Mike Lynch)

If you’re one of those odd animals out there that enjoy collecting GIjOE ephemera (go ahead, raise your hand), it’s likely your pulse races at news of the discovery of anything PRINTED that describes or depicts GIjOE action figures, vehicles or equipment. And the older and lesser known that ephemera is, the more desirable it must surely become, as well.

If you’re not aware, “Ephemera” refers to fragile collectible or historic items, typically made out of paper. At the time of their creation or publication, such items were not expected to be kept, stored, or survive, for very long periods. Rather, they were meant to be read, utilized (if possible) and then tossed in the trash—never to be seen again.

Examples of GIjOE ephemera then, includes such collectibles as product instruction sheets, brochures, posters, newsletters and old “Andy & George” comic book ads. But what must be among the rarest of them all, are news articles mentioning or featuring the toy line in adult and/or general audience (i.e. non-toy industry) publications. One such “find” of publication ephemera is an unusual discovery made yesterday by The Joe Report’s very own research staff; a half-page, “for Women only(?)” article, that originally appeared in the July 1964 issue of LOOK magazine.

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Is THIS the first-ever media appearance of GIjOE’s scuba diver? Perhaps. But what we find more interesting is the use of a photo backdrop behind the figure. Such a professional set-up (in 1964) confirms that the image was likely provided by Hasbro for press release purposes. (Photo: LOOK)

How the LOOK Article Was Discovered

We were holed up in our musty research library last week (i.e. my comfy living room chair watching TV), as our faithful research staff (me, myself and I) was flipping through piles of old magazines we’d recently unearthed (er…I’d purchased at a local garage sale) when suddenly we (I) came across an unassuming, half-page article in an old, yellowing copy of the July 1964 issue of LOOK magazine.

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With all his cool equipment, it’s interesting that LOOK magazine decides to focus on the USAF pilot’s “jump boots.” What the…? This definitely looks like a Hasbro-supplied pic. (Photo: LOOK)

Bottom Line: Such a GIjOE ephemera finding would normally not be that unusual, but after rechecking the date of the article’s publication, we realized that this piece could actually be one of the EARLIEST known mentions of GIjOE ever made, especially out in the wider, “popular press.” Remember, GIjOE was introduced at Toy Fair in NYC Feb. 9, 1964—just 5 months earlier!

BONUS: Here’s the entire article as it appeared in LOOK. What a “time tunnel” trip. Enjoy!

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Joe’s History BEGINS— Here’s the entire “For Women Only” article that appeared in the July 1964 issue of LOOK magazine introducing GIjOE “action figures” from “Hassenfeld Bros., Inc” (Scan: Mark Otnes)

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“Action Flo” TV Commercial & Print Ad Campaign For Progressive Insurance is Parodying G.I. Joe

New Insurance Company TV Commercial Mimics 1960s and ’80s G.I. Joe Ad Campaigns

As readers of The Joe Report know all too well, GIjOE “sightings” in media and pop-culture are often found in unlikely or unexpected places. Most show our friend Joe way off in the background somewhere, or only mention him by name, as in the aforementioned scene of Cheers (see HERE).
It must be even rarer then, to discover parodical sightings wherein Hasbro’s GIjOE is being used to promote the products and/or services of another company altogether. But insurance? Really? We have to admit we didn’t see this one coming. (Please view the 30-second spot above.)

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Look Out COBRA…er, High Insurance RatesProgressive’s On Its Way! Fans of the 1980s “GIjOE: Real American Hero” Saturday morning cartoon will recognize this opening shot from the Progressive commercial showing vehicles zooming overhead. Excellent mimicry of the RAH! (Photo: Progressive)

Indeed, the commercial in question is for Progressive Insurance (PI) and it will undoubtedly strike nostalgic chords with millions of Joeheads of all ages. Even if you’ve never seen this spot before, if you grew up during the 1960s, ’70s or ’80s, you’ll instantly recognize it as a not-so-subtle homage to Hasbro’s GIjOE promos of the past, mimicking their gung-ho music, animations, and voice-overs.

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They’re Ready to FIGHT—For lower rates! This screenshot from PI’s “Action Flo” commercial reveals various characters in poses similar to those depicted in ’80s RAH GIjOE spots. (Image: Bigshot)

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery— If so, Hasbro should be thrilled with this new parody by PI. Indeed, if you leave the sound on your computer turned OFF while watching the commercial, it’ll appear as if the subject(s) being promoted is indeed, action figures and toys. However, with the volume turned ON, you can enjoy its true intent and the spot’s tongue-in-cheek narration, which reveals the humorous truth behind “Action Flo” —Psst…she’s selling insurance!

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Oh no! In this screenshot from the commercial, fans of 1960s GIjOE commercials will recognize the surprised, mouth-agape expression of these two kids who’ve just discovered that their GIjOE businessman is now “up to his neck in operating costs.” The horror! Absolutely HILARIOUS.

What we enjoy most about Progressive’s new “Action Flo” ad campaign (and this commercial, in particular) is that it seamlessly and expertly combines elements from all eras of GIjOE advertising. For example, this PI spot opens with a hard-charging, GIjOE RAH-esque ’80s animation sequence, which then segues smoothly into excellent live actor portrayals (ala Hasbro’s 1960s and ’70s ads) of children playing with both “Action Flo” and GIjOE-type figures, somewhere in backyard America.

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Lookout for the birdbath, Joe! In this screenshot, a 1:6 scale lawncare worker runs into a customer’s birdbath. Hey, Joe! Damaging the customer’s property requires the services of a insurance company!

PI’s beloved TV spokeswoman, “Flo,” makes her usual cameo appearance towards the end of this spot, giving her new Action Flo toy line (i.e. Progressive Insurance) a big thumbs up. Just after the director calls out “Cut,” she finds herself being hilariously “dissed” by a smart-alecky kid who apparently has some “pull” with the smoothy maker over at the production’s crafts services.

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The “Bad Guy” of the spot is the homeowner whose birdbath was damaged. He yells, “Now you’re gunna pay!” and is an interesting one-of-a-kind creation, custom-made from multiple sources.

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GRRR!!! This closeup screenshot reveals the Bad Guy’s hand-painted head sculpt. Excellent!

We want those toys! Action figure fans and collectors of advertising will undoubtedly be impressed by the quality of the Action Flo toy line and all of its superb, blister-packed accessories. Sadly, it doesn’t appear the toys are destined for mass-production—yet. We were able to locate a couple of “promotional” copies, but the majority of what you see onscreen, is not even real. According to a recent Bernstein & Andriulli article on this topic:

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“If you can believe it, what you see aren’t actual toys. They’re CGI composites. ‘The original intent of this wasn’t to make a toy, it was just to make a series of print ads,’ says Klim Kozenevich of Bigshot. ‘But because of how our process works, action figures are possible.’ Does that mean this is going to turn into an action figure? Plenty of people are asking for them, but we can’t know for sure. For now, we have to satisfy ourselves admiring the detail and variation that Bigshot Toyworks and Progressive brought to the range.”

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Yes, This “Action Flo” is REAL— She sold recently on eBay for $104.01. Most likely she was a VERY limited production promotional piece made for a limited purpose and not sold at retail. (Photo: eBay)

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Standing Tall— You gotta admit, this line of (non-existent) “Action Flo” toys has been superbly executed. Simply Out-STANDING work, Bigshot! (Photo: Progressive)

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Who ‘dat? This closeup screenshot reveals one of the Joes was (most likely) based on Hasbro’s Ulysses S. Grant figures. The gloves are crudely made, but only appeared on-screen for a split-second.

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Here’s another REAL “Action Flo” (not a CGI rendering) that you may never be able to actually own. Again, this was most likely a VERY limited promotional prototype. (Photo: eBay)

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Not-so-Good-Buddy— Trucker Flo seems to be the least inspired prototype. Fairly dull.

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Here’s the back panel which helps prove these actually existed, at least in prototype form.

Stop Teasing us, Flo! The print ad campaign carries through with "photos" of the action figures. Progressive, you're such a tease! (Photo: Bigshotklim)

Stop Teasing us, Flo! The print ad campaign carries through with “photos” of the (currently non-existent) action figures. Progressive, you’re such a tease! (Photo: Bigshotklim)

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Creative designer, Klim Kozenevich, gives the prospect of (someday) seeing Action Flo in toy stores a big thumbs up. For now, you can only contact Progressive—and hope! (Photo: Klim Kozenevich)

For those of you who are diggin’ the “Action Flo” toy line and want to know if you can buy them NOW, we offer one little ray of hope. When asked by one fan whether they were actually going to make the toys, Bigshot’s Klim Kozenevich optimistically opined:

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“You would have to contact Progressive to get the information on where and when you can get a Flo Figure.”

 

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Look closely, this is NOT real— It’s a CGI illustration of a fantasy product. Amazing! (Art: Bigshot)

Bottom Line: This new “Joe sighting” is a fast-paced and fun homage to GIjOE from beginning to end and has something for fans of all eras. As for the Action Flo figures, at this time, it’s not certain whether or not they’ll ever make the transition from fantasy CGI to reality, but if they ever do, it appears some of the line’s accessories are close to 1:6 scale. The “Log Haulin'” metal helmet (see above) looks especially promising. Our heartiest congratulations to everyone at Progressive and Bigshot Toyworks for their superb work on this campaign. Go, JOE! Go, FLO!

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Today’s Pearl Harbor Memorial Ceremonies Are Viewable Via Worldwide Live-Streaming Coverage

Of course, no Hollywood movie could ever truly capture the holocaust of events inflicted upon Americans during the actual surprise attack. (Photo: US Navy)

The Japanese surprise attack on American forces, Pearl Harbor, HA, Dec. 7, 1941. (Photo: US Navy)

Bottom Line: Watch LIVE coverage of today’s memorial ceremonies via THIS streaming video link.

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G.I. Joe’s “#1 Fan,” James DeSimone, Announces Dec. 6 Show in Burbank, CA Will Be “Our Last”

DeSimone's magnificent self-published guide to vintage 12-inch GIjOEs has become required "reading" for all Joeheads. (Photo: James DeSimone)

DeSimone’s magnificent self-published (1994) guide to collecting vintage GIjOEs has long been required “reading” for fans. (Photo: James DeSimone)

In a blunt and slightly mournful official press release, famed GIjOE historian, author and collector, James DeSimone, announced that his upcoming December 6th toy sale being held in Burbank, CA “will be our last GIjOE Show.” The sad announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise to readers of The Joe Report. Most of you already know that, for decades, DeSimone has been hosting GIjOE and vintage toy collecting shows in major cities on both the east and west coasts; and that most recently (primarily for health reasons), he’d begun hosting them closer to his home in California. In our last article on DeSimone’s evolving story (see HERE), we reported that he was steadily selling off his vast, personal collection, both at toy shows and during one “final auction.” Now down to the very last pieces, he intends on going out with a positive attitude, declaring the event will be:

“Our last GIjOE show. Come say good-by to your friends…and buy some Christmas gifts. Come have a fun time with your fellow collectors!!!” —James DeSimone, CA

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We reached James recently at his home in California, and he generously provided some additional and exclusive behind-the-scenes intel re: this announcement. answering the following questions:

"GIJOE's #1 Fan," James DeSimone (Photo: James DeSimone)

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

TJR: Can you tell us why this will be the LAST James DeSimone GIjOE and vintage toy collecting show?

malecommentJD: “It’s simply too much for me to handle, Mark.”

TJR: What are your plans for the future, then?

JD: “I want to spend what time I have left, traveling. I’ve been to over 1,000 cities, all 50 states, and 44 countries on 6 continents. I have just over 200 days of cruising (on the high seas) so far, with a goal of 366.”

TJR: Is there any place you’re still hoping to visit?

JD: “I am working on going to Antarctica.”

TJR: Is there anything further you’d care to share with GIjOE fans and collectors at this time?

JD: “I still have lots of loose, common, 1964 GIjOE combat equipment for sale. Spread the word!”

TJR: Will do. Thanks again for everything. Take care and best of luck with the show!

JD: “Thank you for your support and concern, Mark.”

Ramada Inn, Burbank, CA (Photo: Ramada Inn)

Ramada Inn, Burbank, CA (Photo: Ramada Inn)

Bottom Line: As always, we wish Mr. DeSimone all the best and a “Bon Voyage” in all his future travel and life adventures. If you’re able to attend, here are all the other details for his upcoming and “final” GIjOE Toy Show: Sunday, Dec 6, 2015. Place: Ramada Inn Hotel, 2900 San Fernando, Burbank, CA. Early Bird admission is at 7AM for $10. General admission is $5. Spaces with NO tables (bring your own table) are $50 each and you can paypal: batkave@hotmail.com.

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