Category Archives: Sales & Events

First Pic! 2015 JoeCon’s 12″ Exclusive Revealed

A rough prototype pic of the box for the JoeCon 2015 12" exclusive set

Geronimo! A rough prototype pic of the box for the JoeCon 2015 12″ exclusive set. (Photo: GIjCC)

The GIjOE Collector’s Club finally revealed today (in a newly released PDF file) that it is definitely creating an exclusive 12-inch figure for fans and collectors of the original 1:6 scale line. It’s yet another parachute-themed set, this one dubbed “The Adventures Of G.I. Joe Test Pilot featuring Fantastic Freefall and Descent into Darkness.” <phew!> The cover of the set’s box (currently only visible in this low-resolution version) looks like it will be quite a nice tribute to the old “red top” boxes from 1969, combining an action photograph of the figure as it parachutes down with artwork of his ’60s jet fighter going down in flames behind him. According to the club’s description:

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“This set commemorates the very short run of the 1969 “Adventures Of” series and features a 12” G.I. Joe Adventurer in a reproduction of a “red-top” long box along with his tan cap and pants, white t-shirt, dog tag, Label revolver, brown shoulder holster, and brown boots. He also comes with a reproduction Fantastic Freefall parachute accessory set and a new Descent into Darkness night-ops version of the same parachute accessory set.* All of these items will be packaged together in a display box featuring art from the “Adventures Of” era.” ($340 for members, $410 for non-members)

Bottom Line: The GIjOE Collector’s Club is famous for its outstanding 12-inch convention exclusives. Oddly, their description didn’t list the Freefall pilot’s key piece of equipment, his distinctive gold, white and black helmet with “G.I. Joe” stenciled on it, but we’re sure that’s going to be included (right?). Anyway, let’s hope so. All in all, this appears to be real winner (if only it wasn’t so EXPENSIVE). One final thing to remember: As the club continues phasing out 12-inch collectors, the quantities of their 1:6 scale products are sure to become more and more limited. Therefore, we recommend you keep your eyes peeled for future updates regarding its availability. We can’t wait to see some more (sharper) photos of the actual set. Should be VERY cool! Go, JOE!

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Auction STUNNER! Don Levine’s CIA-Commissioned 1:6 Prototype Osama Bin Laden Action Figure Sells For $11,879.00 to Anonymous Collector

The figure's COA from the Nate and

The winning bidder of Don Levine’s controversial prototype Osama Bin Laden action figure also received a COA from the NDSA (and Levine’s estate) confirming its unusual history. (Photo: NDSA)

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The official bid window at the NDSA auction website revealed the final selling price of Levine’s Osama Bin Laden prototype was a staggering $11,879. WOW!

Even in Death, “The Father of G.I. Joe,” Don Levine, Continues to Make Action Figure History

When the auctioneer’s hammer finally came down on Don Levine’s prototype Osama Bin Laden action figure, its sale netted Levine’s estate the tidy sum of $11,879.00. As most collectors of 1:6 scale GIjOEs already know, the CIA-commissioned origins behind Levine’s most controversial creation have been well-documented here on The Joe Report, but this recent chapter in its unique history will undoubtedly make Don’s OBL figure even more intriguing to fans. After the auction ended, we asked NDSA copywriter/rep, Ian Gould, for a comment and he replied:
Ian Gould, NDSA copywriter and company rep (Photo: Ian Gould)

Ian Gould, copywriter, Nate D. Sanders Auctions (Photo: Ian Gould)

“I can’t reveal the identity of the final buyer, unfortunately. Generally, the bidding of the prototypes went fairly quietly. We received a few bids right at the end, 7 in total. The Osama Bin Laden figure was publicized in a number of media outlets, so when it sold for over $11,000, we thought that was pretty impressive. Russell Brand even did a bit about it on his show.”
British comedian, Russell Brand, relishes discussing the OBL action figure in a video recently released on YouTube. (Photo: Russell Brand)

British comedian, Russell Brand, clearly relished discussing the OBL action figure and its auction in a video recently released on YouTube. (Photo: Russell Brand)

Bottom Line: While Bin Laden’s real-life actions created misery for untold millions, it’s comforting to know that the sale of this OBL prototype has yielded the family and estate of (a truly wonderful man) Don Levine, a modicum of financial benefit. Finally, there’s been a (mostly) funny video (see below) made about this whole affair by British comedian, Russell Brand. Whatever your opinion of Brand and his views, his hyperactive dissection of Gould’s copywriting and description of the OBL figure is pretty darn funny. Thankfully, Ian can clearly take Brand’s ribbing, as he described the comedian’s video about his writing this way:

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“It was pretty cool, indeed. You never know what’s going to happen at this job!”
 (Editor’s Note: Our thanks go out again to Ian Gould at Nate D. Sanders Auctions for his generous contributions to this article. You ROCK, Ian!)

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Don Levine “Prototype” Auctions Continue with Controversial, CIA-Sanctioned 12-Inch (1:6 Scale) Osama Bin Laden “Devil-Eyed” Action Figure

Ugh. What an ugly mug! Will someone please buy this pathetic loser and then strap a M-80 to his back and do him a favor by blowing him up ala Sid and "Combat Carl?" (Photo: NDSA)

Ugh. What an ugly mug! Will someone please buy this pathetic loser and then strap an M-80 to his back and do us all a favor by blowing him up ala Toy Story’s Sid and (the late) “Combat Carl?” THANK YOU. (Photo: NDSA)

Don Levine, "The Father of GIjOE" (Photo: topnews) Don Levine, "The Father of GIjOE" and the creator of 3 Osama Bin Laden "Demon-Eyed" action figures for the CIA. (Photo: topnews)

Don Levine, “The Father of GIjOE” and the creator of 3 Osama Bin Laden “Devil-Eyed” action figures for the CIA. (Photo: topnews)

Horrific, Historic Prototype Toy Currently Up For Sale to the Highest Bidder

Here we go again! In an unexpected follow-up to the recent Don Levine family estate auctions of assorted “prototype” GIjOEs, the family has now decided to sell Levine’s highly controversial “Devil-Eyed” Osama Bin Laden action figure. As readers of The Joe Report will undoubtedly recall, we described these unusual “face changing” figures in an in-depth, shocking “tell-all” article, revealing Levine’s previously unimagined, unheard of connections—with the CIA. We highly recommend you reread that article (found HERE) before considering the placement of any bid(s) for this undeniably unique (some say abhorrent) Levine collectible. According to the auction company’s official description, this figure is further described as:

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Perfect for Target Practice, this front view of Levine's OBL prototype reveals it would make a perfect target for repeated "plinking" with your pellet rifle or .22. If there's anything left, we recommend you dip it in hamburger grease and toss it over the fence to the neighbor's pit bull. When he's done with it, we're sure some road construction crew would LOVE to let your borrow their steamroller and make a plastic pancake out of it. Enjoy! (Photo: NDSA) Click to enlarge.

Target Practice, anyone? This front view of Levine’s OBL prototype reveals it would make a perfect target for repeated “plinking” with your pellet rifle or .22. If there’s anything left, we recommend you dip it in hamburger grease and toss it over the fence to the neighbor’s pit bull. When he’s done with it, we’re sure some road construction crew would LOVE to let you borrow their steamroller and make a plastic pancake out of it. Enjoy! (Photo: NDSA) Click photo to enlarge.

“Scarce and nearly unbelievable prototype of Osama Bin Laden doll intended for use in Arab countries in order to persuade children from idolizing the terror leader. This prototype was covertly designed for the C.I.A. by Donald Levine (the creator of the iconic G.I. Joe doll) in 2005 for an ”influence operation”, intended to strategically distribute a scary depiction of Bin Laden to children, ideally to dissuade them from joining a terrorist group such as Al Qaeda. The project was discontinued after the prototypes were developed, with this prototype being one of just three in existence. The other two remain either at C.I.A. headquarters or the Pentagon.

This back view reveals more detail of OBL's outfit. Why you'd care is beyond us, but this is what this cowardly killer looked like from behind. (Photo: NSDA) Click photo to enlarge.

This back view reveals more detail of OBL’s “hideout” outfit. Why anyone would care is beyond us, but this is what the cowardly killer looked like from behind. (Photo: NDSA) Click photo to enlarge.

The doll’s permanent head is a look-alike representation of Bin Laden, and comes with a removable head featuring a depiction of Bin Laden as a ”demon”. The removable head is a frightening representation of Bin Laden, with his face painted bright red with black facial features and bright green eyes. The doll wears traditional Islamic garb, a white removable five button robe over a four button white tunic with a mock collar, with off-white cloth pants and a pair of black mock velcro boots. The doll is affixed to a silver and white metal stand, with a clasp to the doll’s midsection allowing the doll to be displayed standing up. Measures 12” tall. One small glue stain to the right bottom of the robe, and to the back of the removable head. Near fine. From the estate of G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine with a COA from his son.”

In this screenshot from Disney's Toy Story, neighbor psycho, Sid, has strapped an M-80 to the back of his hostage GIjOE, er... "Combat Carl" with the intention of blowing him to smithereens. (Photo: Disney)

In this screenshot from Disney’s Toy Story, neighbor psycho, Sid, has strapped an M-80 to the back of his hostage GIjOE, er… “Combat Carl” with the intention of blowing him to smithereens. Will Levine’s OBL prototype face a similar fate or enjoy a comfy life in some collector’s display case? We shall see! (Photo: Disney)

Bottom Line: Yes, we know there are fans out there with 1:6 scale Himmler and Hitler figures in their display cases, professing that it’s better to remember history than to risk repeating it. We get that, we really do. We agree with the statement 100% and don’t begrudge ANY collector the right to decide what to collect or what not to collect. And we’re only half-heartedly kidding when we talk about using such culpable, repugnant and reprehensible historical figures as “target practice.” We know that if any 1:6 scaler is willing to spend these high 3 and 4-figure dollar amounts for 1:6 scum and villainy, it’s not likely he or she would want to go out in their backyard and destroy it, watching their new figure (and investment) go up in smoke. But just imagine… Imagine if such a figure as this OBL were given to a NYC fire department. Or to an NYPD precinct. Wouldn’t THAT be so much more satisfying than placing it in the back row of a dimly lit display case? Can you imagine what those REAL men would do with one of these pathetic, albeit rare, prototype OBL figures? We’re sure they would have no end of deliciously destructive ideas. THAT would be a sight to behold. And to videotape. And to play over and over again! (Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in adding Osama to your own 1:6 scale “Murderers’ Row,” we recommend you visit the NDSA auction website HERE and place your bid. It’s already up to $2,500!)

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Goodbye, G.I. Joes———National Club Continues to “Thin Down” Its Supply of 12-Inch G.I. Joes That Have Been Out of Production for Many Years

Where have YOU been, Scuba Joe? When was the last time you saw this "Perilous Rescue" set in stores or for sale over at the club's website? Thought so. It's sudden appearance today, still NMIB is a real eye-opener for fans and collectors who thought the only place left to find such 1:6 treasure was ebay or from other fans at conventions. As of today, this sharp-dressed sailor was ready for a new owner. Initerested? Simply visit the club's online store and pick him up! (Photo: GIJCC)

Where have YOU been, Scuba Joe? When was the last time you saw this “Perilous Rescue” set in stores or for sale over on the club’s website? We thought so. Well, its sudden appearance TODAY, still NMIB and available, is just one of many eye-openers for fans who thought the only place left to find such 1:6 treasure was on ebay or at collector conventions. But as of today, this sharp-dressed sailor is still waiting for a new owner. Interested? Visit the club’s online store HERE and pick him up before he’s “thinned” out! (Photo: GIJCC)

CLUBlogo_blkIs the GIjOE Collectors’ Club getting out of the 12-inch market altogether?

Or…is what’s happening now down in Dallas simply a matter of routine house-keeping for the good people at Fun Publications, Inc.? In what’s being described as an attempt to “thin down some of the archives,” the nation’s largest club for GIjOE fans has been sending out regular messages to its membership announcing its sale of an ever-growing numbers of 12-inch figures, uniforms and accessories, many of which haven’t been seen outside of an ebay auction for many, MANY years. And while not specifically a “sale” per se (there are no discounted prices), this recent push by the club reveals a concerted effort to clear out the remainder of NMIB 12-inch merchandise that few knew were still in stock—anywhere. In fact, according to a message sent out today by GIjCC President, Brian Savage:

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

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

“More items have been added to the Archive Sale! We have one more upload next week and that will be the end of the items in the Archive Sale for a while (until we do a physical inventory of what is left – there may be (also maybe not) some more items not listed correctly on the logs).”

Sure sounds like inventory “house-cleaning” to us. As to WHY the club has begun this intriguing (non-sale) sale, Savage states:

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“We are running out of room in the warehouse and we have decided to ‘thin’ down some of the archives. We have been keeping too many of each product for future use/reference and now it is time to reclaim the space! We have been at this for about 20 years, so there is quite a lot of different items to choose from… some retail… some sold out exclusives and convention items! However… we don’t have many of any of these products! Some are the only one left!”

We snapped this photo of our new Coastie Harbor Security Guard, guarding the reference books on in our office with his deck-mounted .50 cal. What a great figure! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

You better step off, dude! We snapped this photo of our new Coastie Harbor Security Guard guarding the reference books in our office with his deck-mounted .50 cal. Thanks, GIjCC! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Can you imagine being on this “cleaning detail?” What fun! Wouldn’t you like to open unmarked boxes and discover long-lost GIjOE treasure? (Psst! Hey, Brian! Need some free labor? Where do we sign up?) Savage continues:

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“We will be putting up a batch of products each week for a few more weeks.  This is a very slow process as we have to go through each storage box and verify what is really there. So, to make this even more fun we are including with each of these products, the below Certificate of Authenticity which if you look closely, has the embossed 1926 Corporate Seal of Hassenfeld Bros. Inc. Providence, RI. We came across this one of a kind item from a collector. We thought you would enjoy having a commemorative imprint from it. This is the FIRST corporate seal that was created when they incorporated in 1926! Check out the items now! Don’t wait… these items will go quickly~ Thanks for your support! —Brian”

Bottom Line: We’re not exactly sure what this latest sale of 12-inch vintage swag truly portends, some believe it means the club is about to abandon 1:6 scale for good. But we’ve already hurried over and relieved Brian of some of his 12-inch “burden,” picking up a SWEET 10th Mountain Division Snow Trooper and a NMIB Coast Guard Harbor Security figure, complete with .50 cal. deck gun and mount. The club’s COA was, to put it mildly, unimpressive, but the Hassenfeld stamp was intriguing. Of course, we freed our new recruits from their cardboard prisons immediately and put them to duty in our office. Isn’t it a thrill to be the one who gets to de-box and pose a new Joe for the first time—EVER? Of course it is! HOOah! Go, Joe! Thanks, Brian!

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Stunning Final Bids Made Yesterday For Don Levine’s “One-of-a-Kind” G.I. Joe “Prototypes”

While not everything sold, many items in the recent Don Levine Family Estate auction brought top dollar from GIjOE collectors. (Photo: BDentertainment)

While not everything sold, many of the items offered in the recent Don Levine Family “prototypes” auction in CA brought in top dollar bids from avid GIjOE collectors. (Photo: BDentertainment)

When the hammer finally came down on yesterday’s GIjOE “prototypes” auction held at the swanky Nate D Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles, the final bid prices paid for (at least two of) the pieces came as a great surprise to many Joe fans, collectors and historians. Here are the results:

A GIjOE "Dream Date" Barbie combo set? With a Naval Cadet figure? Heck yeah, we'd buy that! Opening bid for this  unusual "one-of-a-kind?" $3,500! (Photo: NDSA)

GIjOE “Dream Date” Barbie prototype (Photo: NDSA)

GIjOE “Dream Date” Barbie Prototype Set, Final Bid Price: $4,375.00

Of all the items up for auction in this sale, we felt this particular one had the strongest chance of pulling down some serious cash. But it’s interesting to point out that on this item, despite its obvious rarity and unassailable provenance—there was only 1 bid! Unlike over on ebay, at an auction house, whatever bid you offer registers immediately as the highest bid. The new owner of this piece clearly decided that his (or her) “ceiling” bid for the Joe and Barbie set was $4, 375, and since no other bids came in, that amount became its final selling price. Is it worth it? Yup. Collectibles are worth whatever fans are ultimately willing to pay for them, and this item’s highly popular cross-branded theme and professional prototype packaging makes it a VERY desirable GIjOE/Barbie collectible.

While this figure is certified as being owned by Don Levine, an "Action Soldier" it is obviously not. Rather, it appears to some sort of Adventure Team "kit bash" created using a '70s fuzzhead Commander figure and an Air Force jumpsuit. (Photo: NDSA)

Don Levine’s “Action Soldier” prototype (Photo: NDSA)

“Action Soldier” Prototype Figure, Final Bid Price: $2,625.00

Whoa. This final sale price on this Joe will definitely have collectors buzzing, either with admiration—or contemptuous disbelief. Just looking at it, this prototype “Action Soldier” appears to be a simple combination of a fuzzhead figure, AT Commander’s jacket, USAF orange jumpsuit and boots. This is something any Joehead can duplicate in a matter of minutes. We’re not saying it isn’t exactly what it was represented to be, but for what the buyer receives, the final purchase price of $2,625 seems waaaay high (to us). The biggest surprise about this guy was how fiercely he was fought over. When the dust finally settled, there had been a total of TWELVE (12) bids placed for this one (fairly ordinary looking) 12-inch Joe. WOW!

This one is VERY intriguing. And the stains on his sweater add even more mystery to its origins and purpose. (Photo: NDSA)

Prototype Action Man (Photo: NDSA)

Prototype “Action Man” Figure
Final Bid Price: $625.00

Okay, we were honestly “on the fence” about this figure. Its Levine Family provenance and stained sweater struck us as LIKELY to be what it was claimed to be—a prototype for Action Man—but again, without the COA, it seemed fairly basic and uninteresting. Regardless, someone out there in Joe-Land offered up $625 and earned the right to become its new owner. Again, there was only ONE bidder, and although that bidder had no way of knowing he (or she) would be bidding alone, that person could have saved him or herself $125 by bidding only the reserve price of $500. Oh well, live and learn!

Bottom Line: These figures will all undoubtedly find good homes with some seriously deep-pocketed GIjOE and Action Man fans, but we can’t help but wonder whether or not, in these particular cases, if they overpaid (in some cases, dramatically) for what they received. Let’s hope they’ve done their research (and know more than us) and placed their bids with due diligence. A word of reassurance on this matter came to us today from NDSA copywriter, Ian Gould, who states:

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Ian Gould, copywriter (Photo: Ian Gould)

Ian Gould, copywriter (Photo: Ian Gould)

“I’ve been dealing with the sale pretty much since its inception and have talked with Nan Levine a lot about each piece. She seemed to know a lot about each piece, and told me that they were all indeed original prototypes. She was familiar with everything that he had, and Donald had these identified as prototypes, or original designs.

So yes, it is difficult to know exactly where all of the items come from, but the markings on each indicates each item’s provenance (i.e. where they came from). I understand the hesitation in proclaiming them as true ‘prototypes’, hence the fairly low reserve set on each. The Action Man one is probably the biggest steal of any, as she told me it really was the original. It would obviously help to have Donald around to validate the claim, but no matter.”

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Heads Up, G.I. Joe Fans ‘n Collectors———Unusual “One-of-a-Kind” Prototypes From Don Levine’s Personal Collection Now Being Auctioned Off

A GIjOE "Dream Date" Barbie combo set? With a Naval Cadet figure? Heck yeah, we'd buy that! Opening bid for this  unusual "one-of-a-kind?" $3,500! (Photo: NDSA)

A GIjOE “Dream Date” Barbie combo set—with a Naval Cadet figure? Heck yeah, we’d buy that! Be sure to click this photo to enlarge (and read their untold, unsold story on the back). (Photo: NDSA)

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Nate D. Sanders, Auctioneer (Photo: NDSA)

Nate D. Sanders, Auctioneer (Photo: NDSA)

FLASH! GIjOE History For Sale—Only 1 Day Remaining

We were surprised to learn today that Don Levine’s wife and widow, Nan Levine, is currently auctioning off more of Don’s rare GIjOE prototypes and other “one-of-a-kinds” at the Nate D. Sanders Auctions (NDSA) facility in Los Angeles, CA (and on their website online). Fortunately, Nate wrote in to The Joe Report today juuust in time for his exciting news to make it into today’s issue. Here’s what Nate had to say about the auction:

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“Rare” and “One of a Kind” are not words we throw around lightly here at Nate D. Sanders Auctions. We try very hard to reserve those hallowed words for pieces that truly fit that description. We can confidently call the G.I. Joe prototypes we are putting up for auction on October 30th ‘rare’ and ‘one of a kind,’ because that really is what they are. Nate D. Sanders Auctions is excited to announce that we will be auctioning off several museum-quality G.I. Joe prototypes owned and designed by G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine. This is a dream come true for any toy collector, as Mr. Levine is widely considered to be one of the most prolific toy designers of all time. All of the items come directly from his estate. Mr. Levine had a storied career as a toy designer for Hasbro and its UK distributor Palitoy from 1959 until his recent passing this past May.”

As to the GIjOE-Barbie combo set shown above, Sanders provided the following intel:

malecomment“This is the original prototype designed and created by G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine, in its original packaging taken by Levine to the pitch meeting for the idea, at the offices of Hasbro executives. Ultimately, though, the ”dream date” never occurred, as Hasbro was unable to get licensing rights from the Mattel toy company for the production of the Barbie doll.

The back of the box reads: ‘This is the ultimate to collectors’ fantasy come true! / Everyone who ever grew up playing Barbie or GI Joe during the mid-1960’s imagined what it would be like if these two American icons ever went out on a date. Well, here’s the answer to their dreams. Dream date is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Barbie and GI Joe collectors to add a very special piece of toy history to their collections.’

The bottom reads: ‘The Story / It’s June week at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Midshipman, GI Joe, has asked the most beautiful girl in America to the Cotillion Ball. Barbie is dressed in a mid-1960’s prom dress. GI Joe is dressed in his full-dress service academy uniform. Before the dance is over, will he and Barbie take a stroll in the moonlight along Flirtation Walk?’

G.I. Joe wears the aforementioned navy blue white and gold Naval Academy uniform, complete with a long sword housed in a bright blue sheath affixed to the doll’s belt. Barbie wears the mid-1960s pink prom dress, complete with pearl necklace and earrings. She wears pink elbow length gloves, and the dress has a white ‘fur’ collar. Measures 10.25” x 15”. Slight wear to the box, as it was opened at the Hasbro pitch meeting. Very good condition. From the estate of G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine and with a COA from his widow.”

While this figure is certified as being owned by Don Levine, an "Action Soldier" it is obviously not. Rather, it appears to some sort of Adventure Team "kit bash" created using a '70s fuzzhead Commander figure and an Air Force jumpsuit. (Photo: NDSA)

While this figure is certified as being owned by Don Levine, an “Action Soldier prototype” it clearly is NOT. Rather, it appears to be some sort of Adventure Team amalgam, created with a ’70s fuzzhead Commander and an Air Force jumpsuit. (Photo: NDSA)

Caveat Emptor! We’re not sure if it’s a matter of Nan Levine not knowing about what she’s endorsing, or whether Nate’s auction company is simply in error, but some of the items in this auction aren’t exactly what we’d describe as “prototypes.” The soldier and Action Man figures look a lot more like kit-bashed “representations,” created out of already existing uniforms and figures. Conversely, the GIjOE and Barbie combo set and that remote-controlled figure appear to be real “finds,” Joe history-wise. But we’d advise caution and careful consideration about the others before placing your bid(s). Here are some more of Nate’s intriguing descriptions:

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“One of a kind ”Action Soldier’ G.I. Joe prototype from 1964, with original hair flocking. This is one of only a handful of original prototypes personally designed by G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine for Hasbro in 1964. Hard plastic prototype features bearded soldier wearing removable burnt orange flight suit, which zippers from the waist to neck and contains ”G.I. Joe / By Hasbro / Hong Kong” written on the label. A four pocket green military coat with three snaps covers the flight suit, and the soldier wears brown mock lace up combat boots. To the inside label of the military jacket reads: ”G.I. Joe / By Hasbro / Japan”. Embossed to the figure’s backside is the original copyright from 1964. Measures 11” tall. One snap missing on green jacket, and minor soiling to the flight suit. From the estate of G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine and with a COA from his widow.”

This one is VERY intriguing. And the stains on his sweater add even more mystery to its origins and purpose. (Photo: NDSA)

This figure is VERY intriguing. But also questionable. Bid with caution. (Photo: NDSA)

Crikey! The World’s FIRST Action Man?

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“One of a kind ‘Action Man’ prototype from 1966, with original hair flocking. The manufacture of this figurine was personally overseen by G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine in 1966 for Palitoy, the British distributor for the Hasbro toy company at that time. Included is the original picture booklet from the Action Man series, which was the British version of the popular G.I. Joe series. The booklet contains pictures of the entire Action Man action figure series from 1966. The prototype wears removable black combat boots and is clothed in an olive-green sweater with matching cargo pants with a removable khaki colored belt. A small lever to the back of the neck allows the figure’s blue eyes to move from side to side. A copyright is written to the prototype’s back which reads: ‘Made in England by Palitoy / Under license from Hasbro / 1964.’ Measures 11” tall. Small stains to the chest of the sweater. From the estate of G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine with a COA from his widow.”

With its wood and styrofoam base, the accuracy of this set's status as a "prototype" seems highly likely. (Photo: NDSA)

With its unpolished wooden base, handcrafted styrofoam “debris” and wife-signed COA, the likelihood of this being Levine’s 9/11 firemen set prototype seems undeniable. (Photo: NDSA)

Of course, Levine’s “retirement days” were anything but, as he was constantly occupied with creating new prototypes for historic one-of-a-kind action figures. For example, post 9/11, he worked with both Target and Hasbro to create a short run of superb “Top Line” NYPD and FDNY sets. Here’s how Sanders describes Levine’s 3-figure 9/11 FDNY prototype (see photo above):

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“One of a kind ‘Real American Heroes’ prototype scene, representing heroic firefighters at the site of the 9/11 tragedy. The scene depicts three first responders, manufactured in the style of G.I. Joe dolls. The firefighters stand on an artistic representation of the World Trade center rubble. The three struggle to maintain their balance on the rubble, which is made of gray painted styrofoam affixed to a wooden base.

Firefighters wear blue t-shirts underneath black firefighter overalls with neon green striping to the cuffs. The middle firefighter wears a removable black firefighting jacket with neon green striping across the chest and elbows, as well as striping across the cuffs and bottom of the jacket. The removable jacket velcros to the neck. All three firefighters wear removable black and neon green firefighting hats with clear plastic visors.

Base measures 12.5″ x 9.25″. Scene measures 13″ tall. Weighs 3 lbs. 8 oz. Middle firefighter has disconnection between the knee and the calf, which does not affect the integrity of the look of the scene. Very good. From the estate of G.I. Joe Creator Donald Levine and with a COA from his widow.”

Are these the first-ever Cyborg GIjOEs? Quite possibly. So COOL! (Photo: NDSA)

Are these the first-ever Cyborg GIjOEs? Quite possibly. Click to enlarge. (Photo: NDSA)

This closeup of the back of one of the remote-controlled prototypes is a real mind-blower. Absolutely BREATHTAKING! (Photo: NDSA)

Plug me in, Joe! This closeup of the back of one of the remote-controlled Joes is sooo interesting! (Photo: NDSA)

A Pair of Remote-Control Prototype GIjOEs? Affirmative!

Without a doubt, the most unusual and unique items in this auction are a pair of prototype GIjOE figures that utilize remote control. Yes, you heard us right. Remote control! Let’s jump right to Nate’s fascinating description of a truly historic pair of ground-breaking GIjOEs:

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“One of a kind pair of G.I. Joe prototype dolls, including original remote control. First prototype is a representation of a member of the ‘NYPD Emergency Service Unit,’ who wears a full Emergency Service Unit uniform, including a removable black velcro bulletproof vest. The exceptionally detailed uniform includes a variety of removable miniature plastic weapons, including a combat rifle, shotgun and ‘Glock’ handgun affixed to the right thigh as well as two grenades affixed to the rear waist. The black uniform features a removable gas mask along with the removable vest, and the doll wears knee and elbow pads. The head is covered by a removable lycra hood. Soldier holds a flashlight in his left hand, and there is a removable walkie-talkie affixed to a case which attaches to the left side of the bulletproof vest. Wiring component that controls lights on his uniform is housed in a black pack with ”NYPD Police Emergency Services Unit” written in white lettering, affixed to the prototype’s back. Red shotgun shells are attached to the doll’s left leg as well as to the upper back. Second prototype is an army soldier, wearing a green and brown camouflage uniform. Soldier also wears a green beret and black gloves, and holds a handgun in his right hand. Battery components for the remote control (fully operational allowing movement of the soldier) are held in an olive-green backpack, as well as on two waist packs which rest on his rear end.”

The Hunchback of GIjOE Fame. The prototype remote-controlled Army Joe (utilizing an Action Man head) seems somewhat hunch-backed due to the hefty size and weight of his electronics-filled backpack. "Esméralda!" (Photo: NDSA)

The Hunchback of GIjOE Fame? This closeup of Levine’s prototype Army figure reveals that in addition to its remote-control electronics, it was kit-bashed together using a ’90s Action Man headsculpt set atop a 21stCT body and uniform, making it look somewhat “hunch-backed.” Esméralda! (Photo: NDSA)

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“Either doll fits into black plastic footholds which are affixed to the brown wooden base. The black silver and red ‘Futaba’ brand remote-control has two metal knobs which control the camouflaged doll’s extremities. Set also includes an extra pair of black combat boots. The prototypes measure 12” tall. Included base measures 4.5” x 6”. Remote control measures 7” x 2” x 6”. Entire set weighs 4 lbs. 5 oz. Near fine. From the estate of G.I. Joe creator Donald Levine and with a COA from his widow.”

Bottom Line: There’s more, but of the items included in this auction, the pair of remote-controlled prototype figures and the GIjOE-Barbie combo set strike us as the most collectible. Action Man fans will probably disagree after studying that AM prototype, but that’s understandable. Our sincerest thanks go out to Nate Sanders and Ace Field Reporter, Ian Gould, for providing us with this exciting news. We close with one more quote from Nate, who informed us:

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“We are also auctioning off several other Levine owned pieces, including a set of 11 dolls from the Dolly Darling series, and more G.I. Joe prototypes. Your inner child is very, very excited. To buy, consign or sell GI Joe memorabilia, please email me at Nate@NateDSanders.com. Thanks!”

Achtung! After Being Stored and Forgotten in a Cellar For Decades, 1,000 Vintage N.O.S. Hasbro “Action Team” and Mattel “Big Jim” Figures and Equipment Sets Finally To Be Sold to the Public

Imagine finding original factory shipping cartons from the 1970s, FULL of vintage, NOS, NMIB action figures and their related uniform and equipment sets. Well that fantasy recently became a REALITY in Germany, where nearly 1,000 items of unsold, unopened nostalgic treasure was recently found and will be brought to auction in October, 2014. (Photo: Uwe Winkler)

We’ve heard of “holding back stock,” but THIS is ridiculous: Imagine finding a mountain of original factory shipping cartons from the 1970s, all FULL of vintage, NOS, NMIB action figures and their related uniform and equipment sets. Sounds like a toy lover’s dream, right? Well, that exact fantasy has recently became a hardcore REALITY in Germany, where a horde of almost 1,000 items of never-sold, never-opened, nostalgic treasurse has been discovered and will be put up for sale—for the first time EVER—during a worldwide auction to be held on October 18, 2014. (Photo: Uwe Winkler)

Auctioneer Uwe Winkler (Photo: Landsberger Spielzeugauktion)

Toy auctioneer Uwe Winkler of Germany. (Photo: Landsberger Spielzeugauktion)

Donnerwetter! Time Travel IS Possible.

In a stunning revelation made today by famed toy auctioneer Uwe Winkler, a horde of long-ago forgotten (vintage) Action Team and Big Jim action figures and related equipment sets have just been discovered in Germany and are about to be sold to the highest bidder(s) in an upcoming worldwide auction. Regular readers of The Joe Report will be excused if they feel a sense of deja vu, because this event seems reminiscent of a similar find (detailed HERE) in which we reported on the discovery and sale of another unbelievable cache of NMIB GIjOEs, ones that had been hidden away in a museum—in Dearborn, Michigan—since 1965!

With almost 1,000 items in the NOS auction, Winkler dumped out a pile of assorted pieces to serve as an example of what might be expected. Keen-eyed collectors will spy items from Action Man, Action Team, Big Jim, and many others. What a find! (Photo; Landsberger Spielzeugauktion)

Holding the Past in Your Hands: With almost 1,000 items in the NOS auction, it’s impossible to show them all here. Nevertheless, Winkler has dumped out a pile of assorted pieces to serve as an example of the treasures included. Keen-eyed collectors will spy items from Action Man, Action Team, Big Jim, Mr. Double Action, Fighting Furies and many other action figure lines. You could stock an amazing recreation of a 1970’s toy store if you bought them all! Click to enlarge. (Photo; Landsberger Spielzeugauktion)

If you wanted to buy a brand new GIJOE in 1974-77, one of your best bets was an "Action Team" figure from Germany. Click to enlarge. (Photo: at-hq.blogspot)

If you wanted to buy a brand new GIJOE in 1974-77, one of your best bets was an “Action Team” figure from Germany. Click to enlarge. (Photo: at-hq.blogspot)

Apparently the Unimaginable
—Is Now Imaginable!

What makes Winkler’s upcoming NOS sale so exciting is the untouched, never-sold, mint-condition of the items being offered. You can tell by looking at their packaging that they simply haven’t been handled or probably even touched for decades. These are highly desirable vintage ’70s toys that have never been owned by any child or adult toy collector; never been played with, and never even exposed to sunlight. In fact, many items are still packed in their original factory shipping cartons. Holy minty-fresh, Batman! For action figure collectors, handling such “virgin” vintage merchandise—manufactured over 40 years ago—is about as close an experience to time travel as we could ever hope to experience. Hello, Marty McFly?

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Imagine being able to hold vintage perfection— This photo of NOS, NMIB ’70s Big Jim figures reveals picture-perfect packages with razor-straight, crease-free flaps and no bent corners or scuffed windows. There are multiples of numerous extremely rare Mattel figures including Big Jim, Big Jeff, Dr. Steel, etc. These would instantly make everything else in your current Big Jim collection look worn and OLD by comparison. What a Time Tunnel trip! Click to enlarge. (Photo: Landsberger Spielzeugauktion)

We asked Herr Winkler to fill us in on his backstory and this upcoming NOS auction. He replied:

If you can make to Germany to attend the auction in person (lucky!), here's what the auction room looks like. Have fun! (Photo:

If you can make to Germany to attend the auction in person, this is what the auction room will look like. But don’t worry. If you can’t attend in person, you can still view the catalog online and place your bids via phone or email. Have fun! (Photo: Landsberger Spielzeugauktion)

“After leaving the Army, I studied economics and business taxation and worked as a tax consultant. I am now the owner of the auction house Landsberger Toy Auctions in Germany / Bavaria where I’ve sold vintage toys since 2000 (as a sole proprietor), mainly tin-toys and die-cast cars from the 1940s to the 1960s. During my 31st auction (April 2014), I offered many mint and boxed action figures from Mattel (Big Jim) and Action Team (Hasbro’s German GIjOE) and will do so again in my 32nd Toy Auction on October 18th, 2014. I am happy to offer almost 1.000 items from the 1970s. We present every lot in a high-quality catalog, fully pictured on the internet, and give bidders the opportunity to place their bids by phone, email, writing, or in person.

As to this upcoming toy auction, the consignee is an elderly gentleman. He told me that he bought all of these toys in the 1980s from a wholesaler (in Germany) and then stored all of them in his cellar—for decades! On the one hand, he likes old toys. On the other hand, he’s expected an increase in value over time. He also told me that he has a lot of early Star Wars Figures from Kenner from the 1970s and 1980s. But that’s a story for the future. I’ll keep in touch!” —Uwe Winkler, Germany

Bottom Line: It boggles the mind how almost 1,000 unopened, NOS (new old stock), NMIB (new mint in box) Action Team and Big Jim toys from the 1970s were squirreled away in an old man’s cellar in Germany and are only now (finally) emerging for a modern-day resurrection and resale. Gott im Himmel!—That’s almost 40 years!

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Ailing James DeSimone Chooses to Speed Up Sale of G.I. Joe Collection, Selling All in Final Auction

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

“I most likely will not live long enough to deal with selling single items.”
James DeSimone

In a sad scenario that thousands of toy fans and GIjOE collectors will have to face someday (some sooner than others), GIjOE’s #1 Fan,” James DeSimone, is currently in the process of divesting himself of his beloved vintage GIjOE collection. It’s a depressing and devastating process that most of us don’t even want to consider, but when someone you know personally (or someone famous such as DeSimone) is facing this issue, the rest of us are forced to take heed.

As we reported back in October of 2013 (see HERE), Mr. DeSimone, perhaps the world’s best-known GIjOE fan, advocate and collector, recently suffered a heart attack and felt he needed to begin selling off items from his famous toy collection in order to help pay medical bills, etc. With the able aid of his son, Jonathan DeSimone, the two began the slow and arduous process of placing small groups of related items up on ebay. Now, almost a year later, the ailing DeSimone has decided to speed up the divestment process dramatically by putting ALL of his remaining GIjOE items up for sale in one big, final auction. This decision prompts the question that most of us dread considering…

Need some vintage backpacks? How about some pup tents? Now's your chance! (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Need some vintage backpacks? Or pup tents? James DeSimone’s collection has at LEAST a couple a dozen each! Click to enlarge. (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

What should WE do with our GIjOE collections when we’re…”Done?”

Unfortunately, there’s no single, clear-cut “collection divestment strategy” that applies to everyone’s needs. Most collectors will try to sell their collections, but others may not have the requisite time, ability or desire. Fortunately, there are other options one can consider, including the following four methods:

Willing It to Descendents: This is an easy choice to make. But is it the best option for everyone? Should collectors declare everything in their wills as inheritance to be divided equally among potentially apathetic and/or openly disinterested relatives or offspring? Perhaps not. GIjOE fans care too much about their collections to dispatch them off to an unknown fate, and would prefer to see them go somewhere they know they’ll be appreciated—and loved. If your family never cared much about your “doll collection” before, then they’ll probably resent having to pay inheritance taxes on them, and/or having to cart them off to Goodwill. Surely, there must be a better way!

With over 100 figures, we couldn't begin to show them all, but here's a nice group of vintage sailors, just waiting for the loving attention and TLC of a devoted collector! (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Some of DeSimone’s vintage sailors, just waiting for the loving, restorative attention of another devoted GIjOE fan to come along. Could that person be YOU? (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

There's enough medical supplies and equipment here to outfit your next MASH diorama. WOW! (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Look at all this AWESOME vintage medical equipment! Click to enlarge. (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Donating to Museums: Okay, how about donating your collection to a toy museum? Unfortunately, there are only a handful of such places around the country (you can probably count them all on your fingers). And even if you do find a reputable museum that’s willing to accept and care for your pile of precious playthings, how many other collections could they hope to absorb afterwards, before having to turn away the rest of us? There are at LEAST hundreds of thousands of GIjOE/Action Man/Action Team/Geyperman collectors around the world. Oh well, have you considered…

With over 100+ figures in the auction, we can't show them all to you here. But take a look at this second batch of vintage sailors and everything they come with. Click to enlarge! (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

With over 100+ figures in the auction, we can’t show them all to you here. But take a look at this second batch of vintage sailors and everything they come with. Click to enlarge. (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Throwing it Away: Sacrilege? Well, yes. But let’s face it, depending on the collector’s age, physical health and subsequent mental state at the time, he or she may simply decide to put everything out on the curb—with their TRASH. As inconceivable as that nightmare scenario may sound, it happens ALL THE TIME. Just imagine what’s buried out there in our landfills. It’s enough to break your heart! Your smartest move is, of course…

Selling it Piecemeal—or All Together: Fortunately, most collectors will never drag their collectibles to the curb, but opt instead to deal with the hassle of selling their beloved treasures to the highest bidder—until their patience and/or time runs out. Let’s face it, setting up and organizing large collections at flea markets or posting it all online and then spending precious life hours/weeks/years haggling over prices is a tedious game for the young (and healthy). Unfortunately for Mr. DeSimone, the luxury of TIME is one he apparently no longer enjoys. According to the auction description written by his son, Jonathan (edited for length):

Jonathan DeSimone, son of James DeSimone (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Jonathan DeSimone, son of James DeSimone (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

“My Dad, James DeSimone, has failing health. He actually flatlined (died) for 10 whole minutes! But yes, he still functions (somewhat) OK. We are selling what he has valued and kept of his GIjOEs. As you know, the stories are legendary of the tons of stuff Dad has traded over the years. Nothing rare, just good ol’ common stuff you played with as a child.

We have 50 photographs…If you go to Dad’s website at GIjOEInformation and look, he still has 2 or 3 of the 8′ long diorama boards and the 8′ long ship. If you buy this collection, those items are included ONLY if you want to pay to ship them. Nothing… is duplicated or photographed twice.”

Selling off a collection often provides unique insights into a collector’s personal preferences as well. One such intriguing example is revealed below:

“There is so much stuff that it was hard to sort it all out in advance. For instance—Jeep shells. We kept finding more and more! Dad couldn’t buy them fast enough or get enough of them, so they are in several different pictures.

When DeSimone found something he liked, he often bought multiple copies of it, as this photo of assorted vintage weapons reveals. (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

DeSimone clearly likes 1:6 scale ordnance and collected multiples of 5-star Jeep shells, ammo boxes, grenades, mortar rounds, bazooka shells, etc. BOOMMM!! (Photo: Jonathan DeSimone)

Fascinating! Why James DeSimone has such a yearning for tiny 1:6 ordnance remains a mystery, but the proof of his attraction to them is obvious. Additionally, the condition of the items in his collection reflects his personal approach to their care, use and display. While many fans take pride in storing their collections in airtight, dust-free, glass cabinets, DeSimone clearly preferred to play with his GIjOEs in giant indoor and outdoor dioramas. Jonathan confirms this view, stating:

“A lot of stuff has years of dust on it. We can assure you Dad never repaired, doctored or cleaned a single thing. There was tons of stuff on the ship diorama. Most of it is dirty, from 20 years of dust exposure and neglect, plus the past 2 years since Dad’s health issues.”

Bottom Line: DeSimone’s collection is known worldwide and despite its current “dusty” condition, is highly regarded for its authenticity and vintage, unaltered status. Here’s a direct link to the auction. It’s not likely to remain unsold as collector interest appears to be widespread, strong and growing. Expect many “snipers” to jump in with deep pockets on the last day. But we recommend you also heed this final bit of “insider-intel” from Jonathan:

“We have just started to reach out to Dad’s numerous contacts and collectors. A collector from Ohio is coming out to see the collection next week so we reserve the right to end this auction at any time. We are hoping that there is one person out there that understands the magnitude of what it took to collect and obtain all this stuff and appreciate what it means to also lay claim to owning the world’s largest diorama of GIjOEs.

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“Lucky Shot Scale Leather” Creating 1:6 Holster Rigs and Related Accessories for 12″ G.I. Joes

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Lt. Colonel Aaron Luck, US Army (above), attended Joelanta 2014 and provided passersby with the rare opportunity to observe him while working, as he created actual examples of his superb 1:6 scale holster rigs and related miniature leather goods. Luck even brought his sewing machine along to stitch his tiny creations together as fans looked on in amazement. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This elaborate 4-gun rig really caught our eye. Look at all the perfect stitch work and complex assembly. Absolutely perfect! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This elaborate 4-gun rig really caught our eye. Look at all the perfect stitchwork and complex assembly. Absolutely perfect, Aaron! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Active-Duty Army Officer Stuns Joelanta Attendees With Live Sewing and Assembly Demonstrations

“Even I can do better than THAT!” —Aaron Luck

The more customizers we meet in this hobby, the more diversity we discover among their talents and creative use of materials and techniques. Indeed, if you search the “customizers” category here on The Joe Report, you’ll be rewarded with numerous articles on talented individuals, including a few dubbed as “masters of metal,” a “3D printing pioneer,” various traditional modelers working in styrene plastics, molds and resins, and even one amazing man working exclusively with wood and other “found” materials.

You may think we’ve covered them all. But as Yoda would say… “No. There is… ANOTHER.” Meet Lt. Col. Aaron Luck (active-duty, US Army). Aaron’s impressive military resume is about a mile long, but in brief (according to the LinkedIn website) Luck is currently serving as the “Deputy Chief of Combat Operations Division at Joint Space Operations Center,” and was educated at the “Naval Postgraduate School (and) United States Military Academy at West Point.” It’s not mentioned in his resume, but Luck also happens to be an avid GIjOE fan and collector, and in his spare time, enjoys creating 1:6 scale miniature leather goods—out of real leather—for use with 12-inch GIjOEs and related action figures. HOOah!

When he's not creating accessories for use with GIjOE and other 1:6 scale action figures, Luck is busy defending the United States of America. Here, Luck wears his "class A" US Army uniform during a ceremony held recently at the Joint Space Operations Command at Vandenberg AFB near Lompoc, CA. (Photo: Chad Miller)

As a real-life “GIjOE,” Luck proudly serves his country as an officer in the United States Army. Here, he’s shown wearing the Army’s impressive “class A” dress uniform at a ceremony held at the Joint Space Operations Command at Vandenberg AFB near Lompoc, CA. (Photo: Chad Miller)

A giant "Men of Honor" action figure customized into an oversized Air Commander (humorously) holds up a poster showing various gun rigs and other 1:6 creations offered from Aaron's "Lucky Shot Scale Leather." (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A giant “Men of Honor” action figure customized into an over-sized Air Adventurer (humorously) holds up a poster showing various gun rigs and other 1:6 creations offered by “Lucky Shot Scale Leather.” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As I walked up to Luck’s dealer table at Joelanta 2014, he struck me as focused and methodical. At first, I thought he was repairing something, but then I learned he was busy CREATING something instead—a miniature 2-gun holster rig! Transfixed, I was soon joined by other fans, and we all continued to watch in rapt admiration as Aaron worked. I eventually saw that each tiny piece of (real) leather is cut out (by HAND), then carefully and skillfully stitched together using Aaron’s trusty, old-fashioned sewing machine. Finally, to finish each rig off properly, Luck carefully attaches tiny metal buckles and rings until the final 1:6 scale product looks completely realistic.

This unusual black double-rig is for a 1:6 scale "Jango Fett" Star Wars action figure. Luck created this outstanding accessory (from scratch)—during the first day of the show—in just under 4 hours. WOW!!!! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Luck created this unusual “Jango Fett” black double-rig (from scratch) during the first morning of Joelanta 2014. That’s EVERYTHING, cut, sewn, and buckled—in under FOUR hours! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

I asked Luck to comment on how he became interested in creating 1:6 holster rigs and he told me:

“About a year and a half ago, I was looking at that shoulder rig that came with the Mademoiselle Marie figure. While “serviceable,” it was bad enough that I immediately thought, ‘Even I can do better than THAT.’ So, I started making some of my own, posting pictures of the results on various GIjOE forums and Facebook. Other collectors liked what they saw and told me, ‘Hey those are great. Make me one!’ It spread from there. I just want to help other fans finish their figures!”

All of Luck's creations all completely handmade. Look at that unusual 4-gun righ on the leather-clad female spy in the foreground. And check out Bruce Willis' extended side-holster. AMAZING work! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Luck’s creations are all meticulously handmade and VERY correct. From left to right, a “cross-over’ 2-gun rig, another intricate 4-gun rig and Bruce Willis’ “Mare’s Laig” side-holster. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bottom Line: How cool is this? In what other hobby can you get something hand-created for you by the Deputy Chief of Combat Operations Division at the Joint Space Operations Center? Just think about THAT, my fellow Joeheads! If you need to “finish a figure” and would like more information on Lucky Shot Scale Leather, you can contact Aaron directly via email HERE, visit his website HERE, or “like” him on Facebook HERE. We’d “like” to offer our own sincerest thanks and gratitude to Luck for his lengthy and illustrious military service and to his recent (and outstanding) contributions to the 1:6 scale collecting hobby. OOHrah! Go, Army! Go, Aaron!

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“Super-Collector” Irving Santiago Awarded “GIjOE Special Forces” Ring by Hasbro Toy Company Executive, Kirk Bozigian

Irving Santiago during the Lobby Swap at Joelanta 2012. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A closeup of one of the racks of merchandise Irving had for sale. Each vintage box had the correct vintage figure inside. It was a dream come true!
(Photo: Mark Otnes)

I recently met Irving Santiago at the 2012 Joelanta GIjOE Show in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the unofficial “Lobby Swap” and he was presiding over a large rack of vintage 12″ GIjOEs, many in their original boxes. I asked him if he had a Bulletman for sale and he quickly replied, “Oh, sure. I’ve got two of those.” Hoo-yeah. Paydirt!

After chatting a while, I learned that Irving is in sales in Miami, and has been a die-hard GIjOE fan and collector for over 35 years. You might even call him a “Super Collector,” because during that long period, he’d gathered together what is now surely, one of the world’s largest GIjOE collections ever assembled by one individual. A huge fan of all sizes and incarnations of GIjOE, Irving told me…

“At the height of my collecting, I had over 14,000 of the smaller figures and over 3,000 vehicles. I even owned TWELVE of the giant USS Flagg Aircraft Carriers. Whether it was big or small, vintage or new, if it was GIjOE-related—I wanted it, collected it and owned it!”

A closeup of Irving’s unique “GIjOE Special Forces” ring, awarded to him by Hasbro’s Kirk Bozigian. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Over those years, Irving’s collection grew so large that eventually, Hasbro’s Vice-President of Boys Toys Marketing, Kirk Bozigian heard about it and rewarded Irving for his fanatical customer loyalty by giving him a unique class ring with the words “GIjOE Special Forces” engraved in a circle around a blue jewel. Irving proudly wears that ring to this day.

Irving’s dealer area ran “wall-to-wall” at this year’s Joelanta. It was an amazing opportunity for Joe fans looking for vintage figures. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Somewhat stunned by the huge numbers in his collection, I snapped a few more photos, thanked him politely for his time and continued on my way. The next day, I saw Irving again. This time, he had set up the LARGEST dealer area at Joelanta. I call it an “area” because his merchandise racks literally lined up “wall-to-wall” in the main dealer’s room. He had hundreds and hundreds of GIjOEs for sale.

Bottom Line: Sadly, I couldn’t afford Irving’s Bulletman this year, so I just watched helplessly while other fans approached his astounding “Joe Bazaar.” We all stood there, mouths agape, literally overwhelmed by the sheer number of vintage 12″ boxed figures in front of us. It was quite a breathtaking display. Congratulations on your special ring, Irving. And best wishes, my fellow fanatic! (Hopefully, Bulletman played it smart and kept his head down so I can snag him next time!)