Category Archives: Museums and Attractions

“G.I. Joe Repair Shop” Owner Hopes His Business Will Help Revitalize “Empty” Downtown of Lone Wolf, Oklahoma———Daughter Paints G.I. Joe Murals

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The Last Place You’d Expect to Find a G.I. Joe Museum— If you don’t take your foot off the pedal, it’s all too easy to zip right through the small town of Lone Wolf, OK, little realizing you’re also passing by one of the SWEETEST little museums ever dedicated to America’s Movable Fighting Man. So, SLOW DOWN, pahduh! Maybe if they painted their water tower Adventure Team yellow..? (Photo: Nick Vitale)

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Neil Vitale, owner, operator and curator of the GIjOE Repair Shop (and museum) located in Lone Wolf, OK (Photo: Nick Vitale)

Living’ the G.I. Joe Dream—In Lone Wolf, OK

Sometimes we come across fans or collectors who are truly living the “GIjOE dream.” Typically, they’re the sort of individuals who, through a combination of hard work and dedication, are now able to comfortably display, professionally repair, and profitably sell—GIjOEs. After years of effort, they’ve finally achieved 1:6 fandom’s most highly sought-after “collecting trifecta,” and now own and operate a GIjOE-related business.

Indeed, even after decades of diehard collecting, many collectors continue to dream of a well-appointed “Joe Room,” or the space required to simply de-crate and display a burgeoning collection. Many others yearn for the knowledge and/or talents required to repair, reflock or repaint, old or broken action figures. For most of us though, it’s TIME and money that remain the most restrictive factors, and so it’s always heartening to learn when another fan has broken through those barriers; purchased his own building, and is now refurbishing it into a growing, downtown Joe-business. We’re referring (of course) to renowned GIjOE expert—Neil Vitale.

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Welcome to Neil’s Place— You’re looking at the Main Street entrance to an actual “brick-n-mortar” GIjOE store now located at 1107 Main Street in downtown Lone Wolf, OK. If you love Joes, this is THE place to hang out on weekends, get something repaired, or buy-n-sell. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Formerly of Connecticut, Neil recently moved his family (and impressive vintage GIjOE collection) to the far-flung reaches of Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. A pediatrician by profession, Nick commutes daily to the nearby Air Force town of Alton for his practice, before returning home again to his family and favorite hobby—GIjOE. In the following interview (given exclusively to The Joe Report), Vitale reveals the full “inside” story behind his exciting new “GIjOE Repair Shop.” Enjoy!

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TJR: Thanks for taking time to talk to us today, Neil. Please tell our readers how you came up with the idea for your GIjOE business and how you got the ball rolling on such an ambitious project.

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Dr. Neil Vitale, Pediatrician and GIjOE businessman (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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NV: “The GIjOE Repair shop was an outgrowth of my ebay store. I started putting together vintage GIjOE sets in 2009 and have sold over 500 in the last 7 years. I did this in my basement in Connecticut. We had recently moved to Lone Wolf, Oklahoma from Connecticut to be closer to my wife’s family and during the transition, I had all my Joe stuff in storage for about a year. While working in Oklahoma (I’m a Pediatrician), it became clear that there were a lot of empty buildings in our downtown area that people were only using for storage. Lone Wolf is a farming community of about 450 people and the downtown area is dying. So I purchased the old Flower Shop and decided to use it for Joe storage and a place to build and sell my Joe’s.”

TJR: Fascinating! What happened next? How does your new business work?

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“I found a few display cases in the surrounding communities to temporarily display the Joe’s before I sold them. It was great, because I was able to have an enormous space for my Joe’s and my wife was happy to get them out of the house. I call it the “GI JOE Repair Shop” and we buy pieces and parts off of ebay and then complete the sets to resell them, just like I did before in Connecticut.”

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Main Street Visitors— Fans and customers browsing Neil’s new store/museum. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

TJR: What was the inspiration for the way you’ve decorated your business’ interior and exterior?

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“In Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma (about 120 miles away), there’s The Action Figure Museum. They have a special section on military and GIjOE figures. We went in there and it turned out to be a pretty cool museum. Their GIjOE/military section had some neat dioramas, but not many actual vintage GI Joe’s. So, I decided that Oklahoma needed a stand alone GI JOE display.”

TJR: Sounds cool! What sort of plans do you have for future displays, etc.?

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“I shifted from selling Joes to creating a GIjOE display for Vintage 1964-1969 Joes. I still sell the 1970-76 figures to help with funding, but my goal is to have one of each Joe from the original vintage era and put them on display in one part of the shop. I have 75 on display so far. The missing Joes are the the rare and expensive ones (i.e., the Nurse, Jungle Fighter, later MPs etc.) I’ll eventually get to them!

The other part of the shop will be a 150 square foot diorama of the Normandy invasion with about 40 vintage Joes (American and German) and only genuine Hasbro equipment. I hope to have it ready for our town’s Fourth of July parade. We had nearly 100 people come in the shop that day last year and that was before the diorama! The name of the shop will be changed to The GI JOE Repair Shop and Museum this Spring.”


THIS JUST IN—THIS JUST IN—THIS JUST IN—THIS JUST IN

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Art Major, Rosie Vitale, blocks in colors as she begins work on the door-sized GIjOE mural for, appropriately, the front door of her Dad’s “GIjOE Repair Shop” in Lone Wolf, OK. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Beautiful Art Major Making Beautiful Murals in Oklahoma

In a related story, we were understandably curious as to the identity of the talented individual or individuals responsible for all the wonderful GIjOE artwork and murals seen inside and outside of Neil’s new store and museum. We asked Vitale for further intel on the matter and he replied:

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“My daughter, Rosie Vitale, is an art major and she was recruited to paint our three murals. The first is the advertisement for the talking GIjOE. The second is a mash-up of Action Sailor box art. The third is the Action Soldier Box that we used for our front door. She’d blocked out the pictures first, then use acrylic paints and let her talent take over. The two wall murals took about a week each to complete and the door, 4 days. They look AMAZING in person!”

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Remembering Petrucci— In her left hand, Rosie holds a color print of the original GIjOE Action Soldier box artwork created by famed illustrator Sam Petrucci (in 1964) and refers to it for guidance and inspiration while creating her own, greatly enlarged copy. Absolutely AMAZING! (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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Vintage VICTORY— Rosie’s finished painting, ready to greet customers. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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Action Sailor Artwork— Rosie Vitale continues to adorn the walls of her father’s store with additional murals. This one was also inspired by the 1964 paintings of Sam Petrucci. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

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Go, NAVY! Rosie’s completed Action Sailor mural is an undeniable eye-catcher and one of the three that fans will see when they visit Neil Vitale’s GIjOE Repair Shop. (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Finally, Neil offered the following hopes for his business’ effect on downtown Lone Wolf, saying:

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“We are now one of the few businesses on main street in Lone Wolf. And I’m pretty sure this is the largest collection of vintage GIjOEs on display ANYWHERE in Oklahoma. With the addition of the the diorama, I am hoping to attract some attention and maybe get a few people to come by and stop in Lone Wolf, rather than just drive on through.” —Neil Vitale, The GIjOE Repair Shop

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The Doctor Will See You Now— Neil Vitale poses alongside the “first four” of his many vintage GIjOEs in a photo taken exclusively for The Joe Report. Neil’s got the prescription—for FUN! (Photo: Neil Vitale)

Bottom Line: We were THRILLED to learn of Neil’s success and the creation of his all-new GIjOE-related business in Lone Wolf, OK. Imagine if this sort of business model was copied in other towns and cities across the country (and around the world!). How cool would that be? We also want to thank Neil and Rosie Vitale for their generous assistance with this article, and wish them both all the best in their future endeavors. Go, Neil! Go, Rosie! Go, JOE!

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Fuggedaboutit! Far From Being “Inactive,” South Jersey Division of the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club is Still a “Very Active Group”———Even After 14 Years!

The Fun with Joe Never Ends Even as adults, members of the South Jersey Division of the GIjOE Collector’s Club still love playing with GIjOEs out in their backyards. Here, during one of their diorama contests, members have set up multiple battle scenes depicting a 1:6 scale MASH tent, a flame-throwing Stuart tank, 1:6-scale palm trees and much, much more. Shown above are members John DiMatteo (standing) and Chris Mazzotta (kneeling). Absolutely FAN-tastic! (Photo: Carl Farrell) Click to enlarge.

As this map of New Jersey reveals, there are actually many different regions of the Garden State. We used to live smack dab in the middle (there in Somerset) and the South Jersey Division of the GIjOE Collector’s Club is clustered only a short drive down the NJ turnpike. (Photo: bestofnj.com)

Good news for “Garden Staters”

Apparently, all is not as quiet in the world of GIjOE local club fandom as we had been led to believe. Quite the contrary, in fact. Imagine our excitement and surprise when we learned of the existence of yet another local club division that we never knew existed—until a couple of days ago! Unlike many of the disbanded or inactive local clubs, the South Jersey Division of the GIjOE Collector’s Club has clearly not given up the ghost and continues to meet the needs of local Joe fandom in that part of the country. In fact, according to a recent communiqué we received from Carl Farrell, the secretary of this newly “rediscovered” and venerable division:

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“I’m sorry for the delay in my response for information about our club. I was away when I first received your request and had an unexpected delay in returning home. Anyway, here is the story of the South Jersey Division of the GIjOE Collectors Club: In the summer of 2001, I contacted the GIjOE Collectors Club/Master Collector down in Texas and expressed my interest in starting a local club. They sent me all the club start-up package along with a list of names and contact information of GIjOE/Master Collector members in the South Jersey area. I contacted 19 people on that list and in November of 2001 we had our first meeting with 9 members.”

EVERYONE takes “the Turnpike” Residents of New Jersey regularly ask “What exit do you take?” as a form of shorthand to quickly determine where a person lives. The NJ turnpike is the state’s primary NE-SW artery that EVERYONE has to take to get anywhere—even GIjOE club meetings! (Map: rutgers.edu)

“The South Jersey Division (SJD) has been active full-time from 2001 to the present. Over the last 14 years, we’ve lost a few members and picked up a few new ones. We started this year (2015) with 11 members on our roster and we typically average an attendance of 4-5 members at meetings. We are a very active group. We meet bi-monthly on the second Sunday of the month at a member’s home.”

Good friends, GREAT times At a recent meeting of the SJD held January 18, 2015, club President Scott Murray (left) and members Carl Farrell (center) and John DiMatteo (right) pose for quick pic with some of their new 1:6 scale GIjOE acquisitions. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Carl Farrell)

“Our activities include a family picnic every September, three or four field trips a year to museums, action figure conventions and sales, and to collectible shops that are within a day’s travel. We also sponsor public diorama contests with a local collectibles shop and donate GIjOE figures and accessories to local holiday toy drives.”

Picnic Prizes Galore— According to the SJD club Secretary, Carl Farrell: “This pic shows the Picnic Prizes from our 2014 picnic. The ‘mother club’ down in Texas treats us very well. They’ve sent us GIjOE figures and related accessories every year to use as door prizes at our family picnic!” (Photo: Carl Farrell)

“One of the projects we’re most proud of is a large glass-cased diorama designed, built, installed and donated to the Forgotten Warriors Museum at the Naval Air Station in Cape May, New Jersey, in 2010. All of the figures and material to make the diorama were donated by the entire club membership. Each member kicked in figures and purchased materials to make this project happen.We also have diorama and photo contests in-house, between our members.”

Remembering Vietnam Vets— Members of the SJD work to assemble a 1:6 scale diorama in a display case before presenting it to the Forgotten Warriors Museum in Cape May, NJ. (Photo: Carl Farrell)

“Most of our members are serious 12″ GIjOE collectors. We all own personal collections of 12”  GIjOE figures and accessories ranging from 30 to over 130 figures. My personal collection of 126 figures includes 5 original GI Joe figures from 1964 when I was a child (the pride of my collection is the GIjOE Hard Hat Diver).”

Hello, Charlie! This closeup of the club’s final Vietnam War diorama reveals GIjOEs on the far right about to liberate and rescue a caged American POW. Superb work, gentlemen! (Photo: Carl Farrell)

“Finally, our club’s website is hosted through Comcast along with our email found HERE. You will see something there too, that I forgot to mention: Our club President, Scott Murray, makes excellent custom boxes for GIjOE action figures! Thank you once again for contacting us and for including the South Jersey Division of the GIjOE Collectors Club on The Joe Report. Sincerely, Carl FarrellSecretary, SJD”

Remembering “Forgotten Warriors”— Members of the SJD enjoy combining their love of GIjOE with their interests in military history and get together for regular field trips to nearby museums, battlefields and other related attractions. During this visit to the Forgotten Warriors Museum in Cape May, SJD members Carl Farrell (seated, left), Luther Mathis (center) and John DiMatteo (right) pause to discuss the museum’s compelling exhibits and various 1:1 scale militaria they’d seen. (Photo: Carl Farrell)

The South Jersey Division GIjOE Club logo (Graphic: SJD)

The South Jersey Division GIjOE Club logo (Graphic: SJD)

Bottom Line: The South Jersey Division is one of the most inspiring and efficiently run local GIjOE clubs we’ve seen in a long time. It’s a relief to learn of the existence of yet another division that’s continuing to “fight the good fight” for Joe-fandom—BIG time—and that it serves the needs of its membership so well. Our sincerest thanks too, go out to Carl Farrell for providing the information and photos for this article, and our best wishes to all of the past, present and future members of the SJD. Do we think their die-hard group of GIjOE collectors would ever disband? As Joeheads and (former) New Jerseyans ourselves, we can honestly say—Fuggedaboutit!

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G.I. Joe’s Cousins, the “Little Green Army Men,” Inducted Into National Toy Hall of Fame in NY

Ah, Little Green Army Men. <sigh> Don’t get us started… Oh, well. You already have. Millions of us grew up playing with these versatile little toys. Typically, they were sold in big bagged sets, with simple cardboard product cards stapled at the top. But this wasn’t a toy we bought for its package design. Looking through the clear bag, you could see all that you needed to know. Some even came with a tank or two (those were the best), or maybe even a little Jeep. I remember spending entire mornings with friends, setting up all the figures (loved those mine-detector guys) in strategic battlelines and then using various homemade projectiles such as rubber bands or “catapults” made out of rulers and bean-bags to try to knock them back down again.

Too grown up to play with toys? Why not become one? Yes, the popularity of the Little Green Army Men has even reached fans of Cosplay, or "costumed play." Yes, that's a REAL person you're looking at, dressed up as a sharp-shooter. Unbelievable! (Photo: like cool)

Too grown up to play with toys? Why not become one? Yes, the popularity of the Little Green Army Men (LGAM) has even reached fans of Cosplay, or “costumed play.” Yes, that’s a REAL person you’re looking at, dressed up as a LGAM sharp-shooter. Unbelievable! (Photo: like cool)

Simple. Cheap. And FUN! As this vintage bag of LGAM reveals, the card at the top was just something to hang the bag of swag by. We could clearly see what we were buying, and didn't really require further inticement. That card went right in the trash. (Photo: ebay)

Simple. Cheap. And FUN! As this vintage bag of LGAM “U.S. Soldiers” reveals, the card at the top was just something used to help hang this “bag of swag” on a peg. Kids could clearly see what they (er…their Mom) were buying, and didn’t really require any further enticement. (Photo: ebay)

We’d take turns lobbing our “objets d’ordnance” at them until a winner was finally decided, or our Mothers called us in for a bologna sandwich, bag of Fritos and Twinkies lunch, which we proceeded to wash down with refreshing cherry Kool-Aid made with REAL sugar. And yet somehow—we survived to tell the tale!

Properly fortified, we’d return to our living room devastation and consider building “forts” out of pillow cushions, or adding the sic-fi effect of a “giant soldier” or two, using such figures as 12-inch GIjOEs or Major Matt Mason’s friend, Captain Lazer (yes, we grew up in the 1960s). Anyway…

Bottom Line: Our bags full of “little green army men” gave us HOURS and HOURS of enjoyable, creative play and memorable entertainment for less than the price of hamburger. It’s no wonder then (to us) that they were just inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY. Those tough little toys came through for us time and time again. They deserve this honor and have EARNED it many times over. Thanks, guys! Congratulations!

(Editor’s Note: If you’ve forgotten how fun these toys can be, we recommend you watch the short video clip above. It’s a scene from Toy Story featuring the voice of R. Lee Ermey and is sure to put a smile on your face.)

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Shades of “Indiana Jones”———After 49 Years Locked Away In a Museum Storage Room, a Collection of Vintage, Unopened G.I. JOEs Is Discovered And Then Sold on Ebay To Anonymous Collector For $5,977!

The end of the "Dearborn Joes" Action Soldier box reveals the original price paid for this "Lost Joe" by the museum's 1965 curator. (Photo: City of Dearborn)

The bottom panel of this Action Soldier box from the “Dearborn Joes” collection reveals the original price paid for this “lost”action figure. Welcome Home, Soldier! Click to enlarge. (Photo: DHM)

Absolutely MINT USAF equipment set. Wow! (Photo: City of Dearborn)

Absolutely MINT USAF equipment set. Wow! Click to enlarge. (Photo: DHM)

Treasure Trove of ’60s NRFB Vintage Figures and Equipment Sets Sold to Highest Bidder

Heads up, Treasure-Hunting Adventurers! Another stunning “Lost GIjOE Collection” has been discovered. Just when we thought every possible GIjOE action figure from the 1960s and ’70s has been accounted for, along comes another WILD story like this. AND… In a clear and definite indication that vintage, NRFB (unopened) GIjOEs are still commanding hefty respect (and even heftier prices) among collectors, their recent sale at an auction conducted by—get this—the City of Dearborn, MI, sold the entire 33-item lot for—$5,977.78!

The Indiana Jones-ish story behind this astonishing vintage GIjOE discovery is as intriguing as the identity of its new anonymous owner. Fans and potential buyers were immediately enthralled by the collection’s ebay listing description which dropped the following enticing hints:

A mint, unopened "Combat" set from the collection. Click to enlarge. (Photo: City of Dearborn)

An NRFB “Combat” set from the “lost” collection. Click to enlarge. (Photo: DHM)

“The City of Dearborn is listing a collection of unopened, original GIjOE Action Figures and accessories. The collection was found at the Dearborn Historical Museum (DHM). There are 33 pieces in total; 30 of which are from 1964; 1 piece is from 1965; and 2 pieces are from 1996. The collection ranges from GOOD to MINT condition.  The pieces are UNOPENED! An appointment can be made to view the collection.”

That would have been a cool experience for any collector of vintage GIjOEs. Imagine going into the curator’s office of the museum and being allowed to handle 33 items untouched by human hands since 1965. What a TRIP! Just looking at the photos of the items arrayed on a table is enough to give most fans goose-pimples. Here are some more photos provided by the museum:

Some, but not all of the collection displayed on the curator's desk at the museum. Oh, MAMA! (Photo: City of Dearborn)

Some (but not all) of the collection displayed on the curator’s desk at the museum. All untouched, unused and PERFECT. You can’t get closer to a time-machine than this! (Photo: DHM)

Of main interest to most fans, the three un-played with GIjOE Action Soldiers stand ready for action in a diorama display about the Korean War which, unfortunately, the museum's previous curator never created. These poor guys spent the next 5 decades in the darkness of their boxes, locked away and forgotten. (Photo: City of Dearborn)

Of main interest to most fans and collectors, the 3 stars of the “Dearborn Joes” collection would have to be this amazing trio of never-played-with GIjOE Action Soldiers. The poor guys spent almost 5 decades, untouched, in the darkness of their boxes, locked away—and forgotten. (Photo: DHM)

Beautiful, unused, unopened Air Force equipment sets from the Dearborn Joes collection. Out-STANDING! (Photo: City of Dearborn)

Do you have your “drool cup?” You’ll need it when you look at these beautiful, unused, unopened GIjOE Air Force sets from the “Dearborn Joes” collection. WOW! (Photo: DHM)

So…what exactly was included in this amazing vintage GIjOE discovery? According to the DHM:

“The following is a line by line listing of each piece in the collection:

Action Soldier:  1964 (7512 x 350) BIVOUAC
Action Soldier:  1964 (7517 x 400) Command Post
Action Soldier:  1964 (7500) Action Soldier (Blonde Hair)
Action Soldier:  1964 (7500) Action Soldier (Red Hair)
Action Soldier:  1964 (7500) Action Soldier (Brown Hair)
Action Soldier:  1964 (7502 x 350) Combat
Action Soldier:  1964 (7501 x 350) Combat
Action Soldier:  1964 (7530 x 350) Mountain Troops
Action Soldier:  1964 (7525 x 100) Ike Pants
Action Soldier:  1964 (7524 x 180) Ike Jacket
Action Soldier:  1964 (7523 x 120) Duffle Bag
Action Soldier:  1964 (7523 x 120) Duffle Bag
Action Soldier:  1964 (7707 x 100) Helmet
Action Soldier:  1964 (7526 x 120) Helmet and Small Arms
Action Soldier:  1964 (7527 x 180) Ski Patrol
Action Marine:  1965 (7719 x 400) Medic
Action Marine:  1964 (7701 x 400) Communications
Action Marine:  1964 (7701 x 450) Beachhead
Action Marine:  1964 (7704 x 160) Flags
Action Marine:  1964 (7721 x 180) First Aid
Action Marine:  1964 (7715 x 100) Fatigue Pants
Action Marine:  1964 (7714 x 120) Fatigue Shirt
Action Marine:  1964 (7507 x 100) Helmet Set
Action Marine:  1964 (7708 x 100) Tent Camouflage
Action Sailor:  1964 (7607 x 300) Navy Attack
Action Sailor:  1964 (7618 x 120) Machine Gun
Action Sailor:  1964 (7610 x 100) Attack
Action Sailor:  1964 (7619 x 120) Dress Parade
Action Pilot:  1964 (7801 x 325) Survival
Action Pilot:  1964 (7812 x 180) Communications
Action Pilot:  1964 (7813 x 160) Air Police
Other: 1996 (27596/27519) Dress Marine – Caucasian
Other: 1996 (27635/27541) Battle of the Bulge Soldier – Caucasian

These items are in USED condition and HAVE NOT BEEN authenticated or certified, and are being sold as is.”

The Marines Have Landed! Look at these beautiful Marine equipment sets that were included in the "Dearborn Joes" collection. SEMPER FI! (Photo: City of Dearborn)

The Marines Have Landed! Look at all of the beautiful, untouched USMC equipment sets that were included with the “Dearborn Joes” collection. SEMPER FI! (Photo: DHM)

As might be expected, fan reaction to this stunning auction was brisk and the bidding was fierce. Curious about the origins of this unique vintage lot and the addition of the two ’90s figures, a storm of buyer questions ensued. Eventually, the City of Dearborn posted an addendum to their original auction listing, revealing the following additional intel:

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The Army Bivouac set was a simple but popular equipment set that evokes instant memories with millions of GIjOE collectors. Click to enlarge. (Photo: DHM)

“Quite a few people have been interested in the story behind this collection. Here it is:

In 1965, the museum curator purchased the GIjOEs (31 of the pieces) in order to make a Korean War Exhibit at our museum. The curator was very fond of collecting various items for the museum. Unfortunately, he did not keep very good inventory lists. The exhibit was never actually put on display. As a result, the Joes and their accessories were left in their packaging and placed into a box. This box was then put into one of our storerooms (of which we have three buildings of items yet to be inventoried). After they were placed into storage, they were FORGOTTEN.”

Jack Tate, curator of Dearborn Historical Museum (Photo: DHM)

Jack Tate, the current curator of the Dearborn Historical Museum. (Photo: DHM)

“Several months ago, our current curator began to inventory the storage buildings. He happened to find the box and was quite surprised at what was inside. He found our 33-piece collection. Thirty 1964 pieces, one 1965 piece and two 1996 pieces. At some point, someone (who knew the collection existed) added the two pieces from 1996 to the box. However, the story behind those pieces is not known.

The 31 pieces from 1964 & 1965 have been together since their purchase date in 1965.  After doing research on the Joes, The City decided that they do not really hold any historical value for the Museum and therefore should be sold to a collector who can properly appreciate them.”

The Dearborn Historical Museum in Dearborn, MI. What other secrets await to be discovered within? Pay them a visit today! (Photo: DHM)

The Dearborn Historical Museum in Dearborn, MI. What other secrets await to be discovered within? Pay them a visit—today! (Photo: DHM)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and best wishes to Mr. Tate and the Dearborn Historical Museum. Their recent house-cleaning has released some wonderful vintage items back into the GIjOE collecting community. Hopefully, the lucky new owner of this collection will keep his (or her) “Dearborn Joes” together and continue to share the story of their unique history and rediscovery with the world. It’s always exciting to learn that such miraculous “finds” as this still occur, so PLEASE—if you were the winning bidder, leave a comment here on The Joe Report sharing your own account of this event, especially as regarding your plans for that wonderful trio of NRFB Action Soldiers. Go, JOE!

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Official Hasbro Commemoration of G.I. Joe’s 50th Anniversary Appears Unlikely; Company Inaction Creating Alternative Fan-Celebrations

Speak out! Determined to "spread the good word" about GIjOE on its 50th Anniversary, faithful fans such as Tearle Ashby are taking advantage of opportunities to discuss, display, and demonstrate the original and BEST version of "America's Movable Fighting Man" to audiences at libraries, schools, and even museums, such as Tearle's recent appearance at the in Sarasota Springs, NY. (Photo: Richard Goldenberg)

Speak out! Determined to “spread the good word” about GIjOE on its 50th Anniversary, faithful fans such as Tearle Ashby (above) are taking advantage of opportunities to  display, demonstrate, and discuss the original and BEST version of “America’s Movable Fighting Man” to groups at libraries, schools, and even museums. Here, Tearle recounts the history of GIjOE at a recent appearance at the New York State Military Museum in Sarasota Springs, NY. (Photo: Col. Richard Goldenberg, Joint Force Headquarters)

Clearly, GIjOE still has plenty of fans at "Boy's Life" magazine! This page is just part of some great coverage he recently received in the February 2014 issue. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Carin Reddig)

Clearly, GIjOE still has plenty of fans at Boy’s Life magazine. This page is just part of the great coverage he recently received in the February 2014 issue. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Carin Reddig)

Disgruntled GIjOE Fans “Refuse to Forget”

Riddle Me This, Batman: What are collectors of 1:6 scale GIjOEs to do—in 2014? With few new 12-inch releases planned, even the simple act of going out to a toy store to pick up a “50th Anniversary Commemorative GIjOE” has been taken away from them. What are fans to do when Hasbro—GIjOE’s own creator(!)—barely acknowledges the iconic 12-inch line’s existence anymore, much less celebrates (in any appreciable way) its half-century of sales and enduring popularity?

Fortunately, despite Hasbro’s laissez-faire attitude towards its former flagship brand (many would argue that Lego has now assumed that mantle), “Joeheads” around the world have begun demonstrating that they are not yet ready to lay down and surrender. In fact, many are viewing 2014 not as the END of the epic GIjOE saga, but as the end of its beginning; preferring to look forward instead—to the NEXT 50 years of collecting!

GIjOE collector and "advocate," Tearle Ashby, poses proudly with members of his superb 1970s Adventure Team at a special "50th Anniversay" exhibit held in the museum in Sarasota Springs, NY. (Photo: Col. Richard Goldenberg, Joint Forces Headquarters)

GIjOE collector and advocate, Tearle Ashby, poses proudly with members of his superb 1970s Adventure Team at a special “50th Anniversary” exhibit held this month in the New York State Military Museum in Sarasota Springs, NY. (Photo: Col. Richard Goldenberg, Joint Force Headquarters)

No room for Joe? While we're being somewhat melodramatic, there's no denying that toy store shelves will feel barren and dull without 12-inch GIjOEs in 2014. (Photo: Ross Franklin)

No room for Joe? While it may seem a bit melodramatic, there’s no denying that toy store shelves will seem barren and dull without 12-inch GIjOEs in 2014. (Photo: Ross Franklin)

The “Bare-Shelved Realities” of 2014

As with the first so-called “end of GIjOE” in 1978, the current disappearance of 12-inch product from store shelves and its subsequent evaporation from Hasbro’s line-up en toto, leaves little doubt that “America’s Movable Fighting Man” is (once again) entering a period of corporately-forced “product retirement.” Anxious fans and collectors are already wondering, how long will Joe be away this time? Of course, no one outside of Hasbro’s boardrooms can answer that for sure, but it probably will be quite a while before we see 12-inch GIjOEs on store shelves again.

Nevertheless, a handful of resolute Joeheads have begun showing that they simply “refuse to forget” GIjOE, especially during its all-important 50th anniversary. In fact, in ever-increasing numbers, die-hard fans have begun creating their own unique ways and means of celebration, pushing past the apathetic executives of “the big H” to post their ideas on public forums such as Facebook, The Trenches, and The Sandbox. Supporting businesses too, have begun to chip in their own celebratory products and ideas. For example…

Opinions about the club's JoeCon 2104 exclusive have been strong, running against box's lack of an illustration, preferably from renowned Joe artist, Larry Selman, to its blatant use of the "Codename" tag made famous by Joe's competitor, Captain Action.

Opinions about the GIjOE club’s box design for its 2014 12-inch exclusive range from disappointed to mixed. Probably for budgetary reasons, the club chose to go with an all-black box with red logo, completely devoid of any supporting photos or illustration. As the theme is supposed to be based on a Green Beret figure, it’s a shame they didn’t commission a special 50th Anniversary painting from renowned Classic Collection artist, Larry Selman. In addition, the use of “Codename” surprises many, as it was most recently made famous by Joe’s 12-inch competitor, Captain Action. Stranger and stranger! (Photo: CIGCC)

The GIjOE club's "official" 50th Anniversary t-shirt looks fine, but the logo chosen is from the 1980s-'90s. A minor point? Or a major mistake? The answer depends on your scale allegiance and/or preference for accuracy. (Photo: GIJCC)

Every 50th anniversary deserves a t-shirt, and this is what the club came up with. We suppose it’s okay, but the logo depicted is from the 1980s. Is that a minor point or a major mistake? The answer likely depends on your scale preference and/or penchant for accuracy. To be honest, we’re not too thrilled. (Photo: GIJCC)

The GIJCC Has Become “The Tip of the Spear”

In the absence of any official leadership from Hasbro, “spearheading” GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary during 2014 has fallen to the independently-run GIjOE Collector’s Club (GIJCC). Their upcoming JoeCon 2014 in Dallas,TX, with its 12-inch “Codename: GIjOE” exclusive 2-figure set (see HERE) is the closest thing fans will see resembling anything “official” being produced for Joe’s 50th Anniversary.

Depending on your perspective, this “passing of the torch” to the club can seem like a good thing or a bad thing. They (the club) have made no bones about their desire to merge the worlds of RAH and Cobra with that of the Vintage and Adventure Team fans, skewing conventions more and more towards collectors of “the little Joes” over the years. Indeed, with each passing JoeCon, collectors of 12-inch figures have felt more and more sidelined. At last year’s event in Indianapolis (see complete review HERE), it was almost embarrassingly one-sided.

The GIjOE Collector's Club is the only known businesses creating and selling officially licensed "50th" merchandise such as tees and caps. Attendees of this year's JoeCon can get them at the convention, and leftover copies are typically sold from the club's website. (Photo: GIJCC)

The GIjOE Collector’s Club is the only known businesses creating and selling officially licensed “50th” merchandise such as tees and caps. Attendees of this year’s JoeCon can get them at the convention, and leftover copies are typically sold from the club’s website. (Photo: GIJCC)

Remember toothat the club’s convention figures are NOT created by Hasbro. They are completely designed and created by the club (under license from Hasbro) and always in VERY limited quantities. Bearing all this in mind, as the Codename: GIjOE 12-inch sets are the only “official” figures being produced for Joe’s 50th, they’re bound to sell out quickly. If you can afford to pick one up, we recommend that you (and Mr. Mastercard) act sooner, rather than later.

In lieu of Hasbro’s lack of 50th products and obvious corporate indifference, numerous “unofficial” items have begun to circulate among fans in celebration GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary. For example, copies of this superbly made commemorative t-shirt are currently being given away for FREE to the lucky winners of Patches of Pride’s “Operation: Joe Karma 2014″ prize giveaway. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

In lieu of Hasbro’s lack of 50th products and obvious corporate indifference, numerous “unofficial” items have begun to circulate among fans in celebration of GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary. For example, copies of this superbly made commemorative t-shirt are currently being given away FREE to lucky winners of Patches of Pride’s “Operation: Joe Karma 2014″ prize giveaway. WOW! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“Unofficial” Celebrations Led by Fans Hoping to “Spread Joe Karma”

Independent 1:6 scale-related businesses and GIjOE fans are, of course, free to celebrate GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary in any way that they choose, as long as they do it in ways that don’t enable them to profit from the sale of items that may infringe upon the intellectual property or trademarks of Hasbro. One such “unofficial” effort comes to us from Patches of Pride owner, Mark Otnes, who has created nifty little “unofficial” 50th t-shirts and is giving them away as part of a unique promotion dubbed, “Operation: Joe Karma 2014.” When pressed for details, Otnes replied:

“GIjOE has given so many people so much pleasure for so long, that we were as shocked as anyone when Hasbro decided to let its 50th anniversary pass by practically unnoticed. So we thought giving away ‘freebies’ every day during 2014 could be the start of some sort of an ‘unofficial’ celebration. We hope fans enjoy the gifts and will spread their own ‘Joe Karma’ around as a result.”

Volunteering Your Time—For GIjOE!

It’s always a good idea to help spread some “Joe Karma” around, any way that you can. And one of the best ways fans are helping to celebrate GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary is by sharing their collection and passion for the hobby with others; hauling the best of their collections out to libraries, VFW halls and even museums; speaking about Joe collecting, and giving of their TIME—for Joe.

One example that stands out so far this year, occurred February 8th at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY. According to the official press release we received from Colonel Richard Goldenberg of the NY Army National Guard:

“…to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of GIjOE, Tearle Ashby, who provided the figures for our ‘Toys and Tanks’ display, including vintage GIjOE, reproduction figures from the Timeless and Classic collections, 21st Century Toys, BBi, Dragon and others, will speak about GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary in a program at the museum on Saturday, Feb. 8th. Here’s another open invitation for GIjOE collectors in the Northeast to make the trip to Saratoga Springs, view the exhibit and maybe look up Tearle and give him incentive to start a Capital Region GIjOE collector’s group!”

Sure, WE know how cool GIjOEs and other 1:6 action figures are. But what about all those poor souls who don't know anything about our amazing hobby? Imagine the THRILL and surprise unsuspecting passersby must feel seeing displays such as this for the first time. Volunteer to show YOUR collection at a library, school, or museum near you TODAY! (Photo: Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

Educational, exciting and eye-popping! Imagine the THRILL of seeing displays such as this one for the first time. In honor of GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary, why not volunteer to show off YOUR collection at a nearby library, school, or museum? (Photo: Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

Depending on the facilities, sharing your collection can be as "low tech" as bringing a few figures to your child's classroom, or "top-level" as this museum display featuring dust-proof plexi display cases, poster-sized blow-ups of vintage catalogs, and television displays running DVDs of original commercials or GIjOE documentaries. Fantastic! (Photo: Lori Van Buren / )

Depending on the facilities, sharing your collection can be as “low tech” as bringing a few figures to your child’s classroom, or as “top-level” as this museum display featuring dust-proof plexi display cases, poster-sized blow-ups of vintage catalogs, and television displays running DVDs of original commercials or GIjOE documentaries. You’re only limited by your imagination! (Photo: Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

The sincerity and detmination "not to forget" GIjOE's 50th Anniversary is written all over Tearle Ashby's face, as he speaks at a recent gathering in New York to discuss the impact GIjOE has had on his life, and that of millions of other fans around the world. (Photo: Col. Richard Goldenberg / Joint H)

The sincerity and determination “not to forget” GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary is written all over Tearle Ashby’s face. What an inspiring fan! (Photo: Col. Richard Goldenberg / Joint Force Headquarters)

Bottom Line: Hasbro and the GIjOE Collector’s Club are both businesses first and foremost, each making their respective decisions based upon what they believe will generate the most profit revenue. Fans may be disappointed by some of their decisions, but business—is business. The passions and emotions of devoted fans cannot move mountains, nor can they alter these immutable facts. BUT…there are many things you CAN do in 2014 to celebrate GIjOE’s 50th Anniversary. For example…

Create a custom figure of a relative or famous military hero. Customize a vehicle or build a diorama. Take photographs of your efforts and share them with your family, friends and fellow fans. Display your collection at libraries, toy shows, schools and museums. Act as a local “advocate for GIjOE” like super-fan, Tearle Ashby (shown at right) and give a talk about the 1:6 scale hobby. Hand out any “extras” (gear, figures, etc.) that you may have as free gifts to others in a generous show of “Joe Karma.”

Whatever you choose to do, if you’re waiting for Hasbro to hold your hand in 2014, you can stop waiting. According to all trusted and currently available sources, other than the activities being planned for this year’s JoeCon 2014, nothing further of an “official” nature is being prepared to celebrate GIjOE’s 50th. For simple business reasons, the “Big H” has decided to take a very laid back attitude toward GIjOE’s anniversary, and that’s just a fact fans will have to live with. But we can still REFUSE—to forget. Go, JOE!

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Real-Life “Adventure Team” Succeeds in Raising Downed WW2 German Bomber From Ocean Floor

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This painting shows how a recently recovered Dornier Do-17 bomber would have appeared before being shot down by RAF fighters during WW2’s “Battle of Britain.” (Artwork: hyperscale)

Search for Last Dornier Do-17

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Diving in the depths of the ocean and raising massive WW2 aircraft from the bottom is no easy task. It requires a strong, determined team of men, and serious high-tech diving gear. (Photo: RAF Museum)

Rugged, muscular crewmen wearing yellow reflective vests and hard hats work to assist deep-sea divers (clad in black rubber suits) with heavy compressed air tanks and bright yellow pressure helmets. To the eyes of any GIjOE, Action Man or Geyperman fan, this exciting scene seems VERY familiar. But no, this isn’t an action figure fantasy or 1:6 scale diorama. It’s a real-life adventure!

The daring men we’re referring to are not action figures, but an authentic, modern-day “Adventure Team,” comprised mostly of British deep-sea salvage divers and support crewmen. Their mission? To raise the sunken fuselage of a WW2 Dornier Do-17 bomber—the LAST one known to exist in the world—and return it England.

Welcome to the English Channel, aka “Göring’s Graveyard”

Originally loaded with thousands of pounds of high-explosives, the fearsome German warplane never managed to complete its deadly mission to destroy targets inside England. Instead, riddled with bullets by RAF fighters during the “Battle of Britain,” the bomber belly-landed onto a beach and then sank 50 ft to the bottom of the English Channel.

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One of the divers rests for a moment before going back down to the wrecked bomber. His diving gear can weigh almost 200 pounds and standing on deck for long periods can be difficult. (Photo: RAF Museum)

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Remains of the bomber’s fuselage arranged on the deck of the salvage ship. (Photo: RAF Museum)

After 73 years resting (and rusting) on the ocean floor, the world’s last-remaining Do-17 was gently raised with massive cranes, placed gingerly on the deck of the salvage ship and taken back to the very land it had once been sent to destroy.

Bottom Line: The Do-17’s air crew had been accounted for as POWs in Canada, so this particular plane was determined by the British government not to be “a war grave.” Permission was granted for its recovery, and what remains of the bomber will be displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum in London. For additional photos and information, we recommend you visit the RAF Museum website found HERE.

Tearle Ashby’s G.I. Joe Collection to be Exhibited in ‘Toys and Tanks’ Holiday Display at NY State Military History Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY

GIjOE collector, Tearle Ashby, sets up his F-15 Strike Eagle cockpit diorama in the musuem. (Photo: US Arrmy)

GIjOE collector, Tearle Ashby, is shown setting up his F-15 Strike Eagle cockpit diorama for a public display in the New York State Military History Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY. (Photo: US Army)

The unique museum display will feature figures from Tearle’s collection both in and out of the box, set up in realistic settings and poses. (Photo: US Army)

We receive a lot of emails here at The Joe Report, but when a U.S. Army colonel wrote in recently, we sat up extra straight and paid very close attention—yes, SIR! Col. Rich Goldenberg, the Public Affairs Officer for the Joint Forces HQ – New York National Guard of the Albany, New York area, wrote in to tell us about a new GIjOE exhibit currently on display at the New York State Military History Museum. We’re always thrilled to hear such news, and affirmed we would help pass it on to the rest of the GIjOE community. According to the Colonel…

“Our New York State Military History Museum has added a rotating exhibit of GIjOE from a local collector here in upstate New York. Many thanks to Tearle Ashby from Ballston Spa for lending his collection, his time and many of his Mint-in-Box items now opened and on display in Saratoga Springs. This is actually the second time that Tearle has provided his collection for public display. During the holiday season of 2004, it was first shown to the public to great reviews. Thought that readers of the Joe Report might be interested!”

Ashby’s vintage GIjOEs on display in the museum. Lookin’ sharp! (US Army)

According to an advance press notice from readMedia, the exhibit is titled, “Toys and Tanks” and is intended as a temporary holiday display, officially opened to the public on Tuesday, Dec. 11 (yesterday). The notice went on to say…

“The display will be a two-part exhibit featuring rare and vintage 1960s and 1970s GIjOE figures and accessories from collector Tearle Ashby’s extensive collection and military model dioramas of New York National Guard units which fought in World War II from the exhaustively researched collection of retired New York Army National Guard Lt. Col. Paul Fanning. Both are Malta residents. The GIjOE section of the exhibit will include a video of period GIjOE commercials. A rare 1944 newsreel of the 27th Division in the Pacific will also be part of the exhibit.”

NYS Military Museum curator Courtney Burns assists Ashby with the arrangement of his collection. (Photo: US Army)

NYS Military Museum curator Courtney Burns assists Ashby with the arrangement of his collection. (Photo: US Army)

Ashby's Tom Hanks figure has been set up and is ready for his moment in the museum's spotlight. (Photo: US Army)

Ashby’s Tom Hanks figure has been set up and is ready for his closeup in the well-lit museum exhibit. (Photo: US Army)

Ashby poses his figures inside a B-17 gunner diorama. (Photo: US Army)

Ashby poses his figures inside a B-17 gunner diorama. (Photo: US Army)

Bottom line: If you’re a GIjOE fan or collector and live anywhere on the East Coast, this sounds like a great road trip the whole family would enjoy. Hop in your car, go see a great Joe collection and help support the U.S. Army National Guard’s outreach efforts in that part of the country. If you’d like to learn more about Tearle Ashly, the Poststar wrote a terrific interview article about him HERE. Congratulations, Tearle. Best of luck with the exhibit. And thanks again for the intel, Colonel. Go, JOE! Go, ARMY!