Category Archives: Searching for “Lost” G.I. Joes

Catastrophic Capsule Failure Dooms Astronaut “Major Bob Tom” During “Mercury 10” Mission Commemorating Action Man’s 50th Anniversary

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Lost (From) Space— The whereabouts of the UK’s most famous 1:6 scale astronaut, Major Bob Tom, remain unknown. Did he survive his momentous fall? Can YOU help find him? (Photo: Rob Wisdom)

Final Fate and Location of Organizer’s Vintage Action Man Astronaut Remain Unknown

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Robert Wisdom, Action Man fan and collector (Photo: Robert Wisdom)

Bottom Line: A 1:6 scale “space mission,” designed to lovingly commemorate Action Man’s 50th Anniversary, has ended with mixed—some might say, heartbreaking—results. The goal was to lift a vintage Action Man astronaut figure (strapped securely into a vintage AM space capsule) up, up, UP through the stratosphere with the aid of a helium-filled balloon, and return him safely back down to the Earth (see our earliest coverage of this event HERE).

Designated “Mercury 10” by its organizers, the UK mission was masterfully coordinated by Rob Wisdom and funded primarily through donations raised in a surprisingly successful (10-day!) Kickstarter campaign (see that fundraising page HERE). Thankfully (for the thousands of AM fans around the world who were not able to attend), this mission’s breathtaking ascent, its startling final fate, and the frustrating field search for the intrepid (yet sadly, still missing) “Major Bob Tom,” have all now been preserved and presented in an excellent 25-minute video (see below). Enjoy!

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Identifying Marks— To help you find him, note that Major Bob Tom was bedecked in an original silver space suit with a union jack flag and custom “Mercury 10” patches from Patches of Pride—one was even placed on his helmet for maximum visibility. Also-fricken-TASTIC! (Photo: Rob Wisdom)

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A Perfect Fit— As this closeup reveals, the real cloth “Mercury 10” patches provided by Patches of Pride conform perfectly to the folds and sleeve of a vintage AM space suit. If you find an astronaut in a field in Britain, look for THIS patch. It’s only on the uniform of Major Bob Tom! (Photo: Rob Wisdom)

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“New” G.I. Joe Collector Recreates Childhood Christmas Photo of Himself———40 Years Later!

Todd Thibedeau of Oak Lawn, Illinois, on Christmas morning, 1900. Forty years later, Todd would recreate this exact image—with GIjOE. (Photo: Thibedeau Family)

Remember When— A happy Todd Thibedeau of Oak Lawn, Illinois, poses with his all-new Adventure Team GIjOEs on Christmas morning, 1975. Some forty years later, Todd has recreated this exact image—with the exact same lineup of vintage AT GIjOEs. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Thibedeau Family)

Do you remember when you first fell in love—with GIjOE? For many Joe fans, it was undoubtedly around Christmas-time, many, MANY years ago. Exciting “adventure” commercials were aired on TV during Saturday morning cartoons, spurring desire for GIjOE’s latest incarnations and prompting consumer “action” (i.e. sales). Fueled by sugary breakfast cereals (Quisp, Capt. Crunch, etc.), children would glue eager faces to their television screens and literally drool over the latest and greatest toys being offered that holiday season. Now, decades later, one adult GIjOE collector has decided to recreate his own (very) special childhood memory (and moment) by reacquiring a specific list of Adventure Team-related figures, equipment and vehicles. According to a recent Facebook post by Todd Thibedeau of Oak Lawn, Illinois:

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“I’ve been collecting GIjOEs for a short period of time (less than a year) and my thanks goes out to Christopher Tucci for reintroducing me to my best childhood memories. When Chris asked what I was going to focus on in my collection, I was all over the place, as there is so MUCH out there.

One thing I did tell him, is that I wanted to get things that I had had when I was a kid. Once I had found this old picture (see me above) I realized that I had found my collecting ‘goal.’ The last item I needed to recreate that picture arrived in the mail today!

In my short time collecting GIjOE, I’ve already acquired WAY too much and am still ‘all over the place’ in my collecting habits. However, taking this new photo (see me again, below) has been 40+ years in the making is a definite pinnacle—so far. One more special thanks to ‘Commander Chris’ for helping me reacquire the AT vehicles needed for this picture.” —Todd Thibedeau, Oak Lawn, IL

This item-by-item recreation of Todd's childhood photo is an amazing demonstration of how GIjOE fans and collectors may age on the outside, but inside they're still all kids at heart. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Todd

Reunited for New Adventures Todd’s item-by-item recreation of his childhood Christmas photo demonstrates the sort of determination and affection GIjOE fans still hold for their favorite childhood toys. While they may be aging on the outside, inside, they’re still kids at heart! (Photo: Todd Thibedeau)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest appreciation to Todd Thibedeau for sharing these wonderful images with us today on The Joe Report. If you’ve been able to recreate a similar moment-in-time in your life, please send it to us so that we can share it with the entire GIjOE collecting community. Thanks!

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SHOCKER! Secret “Hasbro Morgue” Contained Treasure Trove of Vintage ’60s & ’70s G.I. Joes

Floor to ceiling shelves filled this warehouse in Pawtucket, RI, with the entire history of GIjOE. Sadly, anything placed on the lower levels was likely destroyed during a major flood. What happened to the remaining vintage, NMIB sets remains to be fully determined. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Floor to ceiling shelving once filled this secret Hasbro warehouse (located somewhere in Pawtucket, RI) with multiple examples of the entire history of GIjOE product production. Sadly, any of the items placed on lower shelves were likely destroyed during a past major flooding incident. What happened to the remaining NRFB sets on the upper shelves is unknown. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Fan Suspicions CONFIRMED—Legendary Toy Storage Site DID Exist!

Here’s another of those “Just when you thought you’d heard it all” stories about GIjOE’s historic and colorful past. It’s an Indiana Jones-esque tale built on previously unconfirmed secondhand accounts of a fabled storage site or “treasure trove” wherein it was rumored that untold numbers of original, vintage GIjOE figures, equipment sets and vehicles were stored. The fanciful tale has been bouncing around the internet and GIjOE fandom for decades now, only to FINALLY be confirmed this week by famed Marvel inker and artist, Wayne Faucher.

Fans and regular readers of The Joe Report will recall our in-depth profile of Mr. Faucher (see that story HERE) as well as numerous articles trumpeting his outstanding accomplishments as a master customizer of 1:6 scale (see HERE). But now, with the release of this outstanding series of “Hasbro Morgue” photos, Wayne has entered yet another realm of GIjOE fandom, that of unofficial GIjOE historian. In an account over on The Trenches fan forum, Faucher first announced his exciting news, confirming the reality of Hasbro’s legendary toy “morgue,” saying:

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Artist and action figure customizer Wayne Faucher (Photo: Wayne Faucher)

Artist and 1:6 customizer Wayne Faucher (today) in his studio. (Photo: Wayne Faucher)

“Around 1990, I was given a tour of the Hasbro Morgue by an administrative employee who was about to retire. He knew of my interest in GI Joe so invited me to take a look. At the time, I was only interested in pre-AT Joe and was disappointed at the lack of the military line’s presence in the warehouse. I was told most of the older stuff had ‘walked away’ years before. I took some pictures, but really didn’t know the AT line that well. As a result, I didn’t know what was important from what was common. On top of that the focus was lousy. Of course, those were the days when you didn’t know that until your film was developed weeks later. If it makes you feel any better, think of this: Just before I left, I was asked ‘If I could have any one piece in there, what would it be?’ I replied, ‘There’s just so much, I could never choose.’ So I didn’t. How’s that for frustrating?”

Like an archeologist peeling back the layers of time— In the mysterious

Like an archeologist peeling back the layers of time— Faucher delicately lifts a bit of torn cellophane on this NRFB medic set to give it a closer examination. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

When asked about the location of Hasbro super-secret “morgue,” Faucher replied:

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“Well, I know it was in Pawtucket. Exactly where, I can’t recall. Of course, 25 years later, it may not be there anymore. It was a large warehouse; only a small section was dedicated to GI Joe. Mr. Potatohead and Lincoln Logs were well represented too. The last time I related this story (sans pics), someone mentioned a flood badly damaging the Hasbro Morgue. I have no idea if that was before or after I was there.”

Almost beyond imagination— So many vintage GIjOE toys, so little time. What an amazing memory! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Almost beyond imagination— Take a close look at the items on these pegs. So many vintage GIjOE toys! What an amazing vault of memories! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

When asked about his once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit Hasbro’s Morgue, Wayne said:

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“Honestly, these were just some old pics I found in a box yesterday. I wasn’t even gonna bother to put ’em up! But now that I think about it, I guess not many people were ever set loose in there with a camera. Now that I’m more into the AT end of things, I’m impressed myself. I wonder how many Magnum Power sets are in those stacks!? I believe the guy who brought me through there moved to Florida and has long since passed away, unfortunately. A very nice fellow who, despite being TOTALLY baffled by a grown man’s interest in this stuff, was willing to spend half a Saturday walking the aisles with me.”

On and on it goes— Where it stops, nobody knows! The amount of product stored in Hasbro's Morgue was staggering at the time of Faucher's visit. Today it must be almost like the Smithsonian! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

On and on it went— and where it stopped, nobody knows! At the time Faucher paid his visit (1990) the amount of vintage GIjOE products being stored in “Hasbro’s Morgue” was literally staggering. Today…who knows what remains behind those high-security doors? (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Faucher also speculated about the supervision of the toy warehouse, saying:

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“Though it was called ‘the morgue’ by employees, it was indeed an archive, though woefully incomplete by the time I got there. I had fully expected a complete collection, but found what was a mish-mash of Joe items. It wasn’t run like an actual archive and didn’t appear to be kept track of. At the time, my wife was Malcolm Forbes’ personal archivist, so she knew what it SHOULD have looked like. We were both pretty surprised at how incomplete and disorganized it seemed to be. Which leads me to wonder if there was indeed a flood (as others have said), it may have been before my encounter with the place, which would account for what was missing. I just don’t know.”  

Anybody need this set? Faucher holds up a mint, NRFB

Anybody need one of these? Faucher holds up a mint, NRFB “Eight Ropes of Danger” window-boxed equipment set. It is (or was) absolutely mint and PERFECT. (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Finally, one member of the Trenches forum named “BRJoe,” responded to the question of the current-day status of Hasbro’s Morgue with the following exciting (unconfirmed) update:

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“IT’S STILL THERE! My current vice president for the corporation I work for used to be a V.P. at Hasbro from about 2009-2012. When I told her I was a G.I.Joe collector, she said, ‘Well, you know near Hasbro’s headquarters in Pawtucket there are warehouses where they store three examples of every toy Hasbro has ever made!’ She had visited them a few times and said up until about 2010, a couple of the older warehouse areas weren’t even climate-controlled (no air conditioning) and that this was one thing she pushed to have corrected. Unfortunately, Hasbro has pretty tight security and these archive warehouses are not open to the public.”

Hammana-hammana-hammana! Who wouldn't LOVE to unbox and hold the contents of a NRFB GIjOE

Hammana-hammana-hammana Who wouldn’t love to examine the contents of an NRFB Sea Sled? And look! Someone actually wrote “morgue” on that Jeep box! (Photo: Wayne Faucher) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: What an exciting story! Wayne Faucher has become the “Indiana Jones” of GIjOE historians by confirming the existence of such an extraordinary toy “morgue.” Our sincerest thanks go out to Wayne for sharing all of this wonderful information and historic photographs with readers of The Joe Report—and the worldwide GIjOE collecting community. You’re the BEST, Wayne! PS: To view the entire collection of Faucher’s fabled photos, we recommend you visit the equally legendary, “Vintage3DJoes” website found HERE and prepare to be BLOWN AWAY!

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The World’s First G.I. Joe———Unique Arts’ All-Metal Wind-Ups Predated Hasbro Toy Line———By 20 Years!

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Not Quite “Eagle-Eyes”— But pretty cool-looking, nonetheless. This super-closeup of the first toy to EVER bear the name “G.I. Joe” reveals he wasn’t a plastic action figure made in Japan, but actually a pressed metal tin-toy manufactured in the U.S. toward the end of WWII; surprisingly—by a toy company legally designated as the “G.I. Joe Corporation.” (Photo: Ralph L. Tomlinson)

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Repro Boxes (such as the one shown above) for “G.I. Joe and His Jouncing Jeep” are expensive—almost as much as the toy itself! (Photo: ToyTent)

Does YOUR GIjOE Collection Start at the Very Beginning—Way Back in 1944?

The first-ever GIjOE toys didn’t fight Nazis or spandex-clad terrorist bad guys named “Cobra.” Rather, they drove odd, tractor-shaped Jeeps around in random, drunken circles, bumping into anything and everything in their paths. OR… they carried around (for whatever reason) suitcases full of puppies(!) as they briskly walked across the floor. It’s hardly the sort of “Capture Hill 79” action we’re used to, but that’s the way it was—back in 1944. Feeling confused? Don’t worry. If you’ve never heard of the “G.I. Joe and His Jouncing Jeep” toy before, renowned toy collector, Ralph L. Tomlinson (now deceased), one of the nation’s premier experts, described it as:

Ralph L. Tomlinson, Renowned toy collector. (Photo: Tomlinson family)

Ralph L. Tomlinson, Renowned toy collector. (Photo: Tomlinson family)

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“This lithographed tin wind-up toy was manufactured by Unique Art Manufacturing Company under license from the G.I. Joe Corporation. It features a spring-action mechanism that can be activated with a key.

The toy then comically jerks back and forth while the soldier is propelled forward, making his helmet fall over his eyes. This is one example of how many toy companies tried to capitalize on the United States patriotic mood after WWII.”

Driving a

Hold on Tight, Joe! Driving a “Jeep” that looks suspiciously like a tractor, the first-EVER G.I. Joe-branded toy was a cute little soldier doing his darndest to keep a “jet propelled” Jeep traveling at “supersonic speed” safely on the road. The toy’s pressed-tin construction, with bright litho painted graphics, assures that even 70 years after its construction—it still looks GREAT! (Photo: GunShyCC)

The G.I. Joe you never knew existed— G.I. Joe and

“Search for the Little Puppies” In this closeup of a GIjOE you probably never knew existed, Joe carries two baskets(?) full of forlorn looking puppies, complete with sad, hangdog expressions and bandaged noggins. Were they casualties of war? Poor Little Puppies! (Photo: ebay)

But Wait—There’s More. MUCH More…

The more we dig into the obscure origins of GIjOE, the more intriguing his history becomes. For example, while we’d known for many years that there was some old tin-toy called “G.I. Joe and His Jouncing Jeep” (see above), we’d never really given it much thought until now. D’oh! What a mistake. Yes, he’s pretty silly looking. The toy was targeted at very young children (3-5) as a pressed metal wind-up, and it didn’t seem to have much of a place in our modern GIjOE collections. In fact, other than winding him up and watching him go, there isn’t much else you can do with these earliest GIjOEs. But hold on there just a minute…

Thankfully, our intrepid TJR Field Reporter, Keith Davis, came across one of these gems of GIjOEs past in an Ohio antique store recently and wrote in to remind us of the importance of these very unique toys (by “Unique Arts”)—especially to collectors of all things GIjOE. An adamant Davis reminded us that there was indeed MUCH more to this old toy than we had imagined. And after providing some superb photos of his discovery, he urged us to delve even deeper into its past. We did. And here’s what we learned:

FIRST, we had no idea that these GIjOEs predated Hasbro’s “movable fighting man” by over 20 years. To be honest, their brightly colored litho graphics reminded us of post-war toys made in Japan, so we had mentally pegged them at around 1960 or so. How wrong we were! G.I. Joe and His Jouncing Jeep were first created and sold back in 1944.

SECOND (and even more surprising) was when we learned that these early GIjOEs were manufactured not just by Unique Art Mfg., but by a toy company called—wait for it—the “G.I. Joe Corporation.” Whoa!

THIRD and most important: It turns out that there was more than one variation of these 1944 G.I. Joe metal toys, thereby turning them into a legitimate toy LINE (albeit a very short one, consisting of only 2 products). The second figure was a wind-up walker (no vehicle) who’s taken it upon himself to rescue stray K-9 puppies. Yes, you read that right. Remember, these toys were targeted to very young children. So shooting and killing “bad guys” simply wasn’t on their radar yet (even in 1944).

On the flip side— G.I. Joe's Jeep is boldly described as having

On the Flip-Side— G.I. Joe’s Jouncing Jeep is boldly lettered with “Watch Joe Go” and as having “Atomic Brakes;” fully a YEAR before the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb. (Photo: GunShyCC)

We asked Davis if he could describe the condition of the Jouncing Jeep (the exact one shown in the photo above) that he’d found at that antique mall in Ohio and he kindly replied:

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“One of the big rear wheels keeps partly slipping off the drive axle, because the factory (at the time of manufacture) failed to crimp the axle’s outside end to keep the wheel from going over the end, and that makes the wheel very floppy.”
As seen from the front, the toy is clearly labeled

Instead of Being a “5-Star” Jeep, the first-ever GIjOE only rated a 3-Star version. Nevertheless, as seen from the front, this toy was clearly and boldly labeled “G.I. JOE,” making it a “must-have” for collectors. (Photo: GunShyCC)

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“The rest is in rather good, but NOT Perfect condition, probably because it wasn’t run very much due to that factory failure. Someone may have the skills to carefully crimp that axle and flare it back out as it should have been, but in the purist sense, this is the way THIS unit was from day one.”
THERE'S the payoff— On the back-end of the Jeep, the manufacturer and manufacturing date are clearly written. How COOL! (Photo: GunShyCC)

THERE’S the Payoff— On the back-end of the Jeep, the manufacturer and manufacturing date are clearly shown. How COOL! (Photo: GunShyCC)

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“Look closely at my photos, and you’ll see that there’s some wear and tear on this toy. There is a small amount of rust in some places as well, so keep that in mind when comparing these on the open market.” —Keith “GunShyCC” Davis
Bottom View of the

Bottom View of “G.I. Joe and his Jouncing Jeep” (Photo: Grand Old Toys)

An original Jouncing Jeep box, over 70 years old, has sharp, clear graphics and still makes an AWESOME display. (Photo: Grand Old Toys)

An Original Jouncing Jeep Box— Although it’s over 70 years old, this box still has sharp, clear graphics and would make an AWESOME display piece in any GIjOE collection. (Photo: Grand Old Toys)

The top panel view of the superb repro box by Toy Tent. (Photo: Toy Tent)

The top panel view of the superb repro box by Toy Tent. (Photo: Toy Tent)

The box for

This repro box for “G.I. Joe and K-9 Pups” is rather plain by comparison to the Jouncing Jeep version. (Photo: Toy Tent)

Bottom Line: These are cool GIjOE-related toys, especially if you can find ’em with their original boxes (or afford some reproductions). Our sincerest thanks to Keith Davis and Ralph L. Tomlinson for educating us on this largely unknown and earliest aspect of GIjOE history. Remember… shop around for the best prices and compare conditions carefully before you buy. It’ll save you a headache later. If you’d like to see these early GIjOE toys in action, we suggest take a look at these two cool videos (shown below). Enjoy!

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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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Collectors Group Learns to Apply “Teamwork Strategies” to Achieve Greater Success When Searching Flea Markets For “Lost” G.I. Joes

Searching for anything as small as a GIjOE at a flea market is much like looking for a needle in a haystack. But by applying various teamwork strategies, members of GIjOE collector clubs can efficiently "canvas" the giant sale events. This giant, hand-painted, vintage "freak show" banner heralding "Nina, the Headless Wonder" was visible to everyone from hundreds of yards away. Unfortunately, GIJoes are MUCH harder to locate. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This giant, hand-painted, freak-show banner heralding “Nina, the Headless Wonder” was easily spotted by attendees at the recent “Third Sunday Market” in Bloomington, IL. By contrast, locating 12-inch action figures at such massive public sales can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Again, "size matters" when you're looking through literally MILLIONS of objects for only a few certain ones. In this case, what looked like a GIJOE from across one of the pavilions, turned out to actually be an over-sized Douglas MacArthur doll measuring approximately 18" or more in height. While he was close, ol' MacArthur wasn't QUITE the sort of GIjOE we were looking for. Our search went on! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“Size matters” when you’re looking through literally MILLIONS of objects for only a few certain ones. We wondered why this “Joe” stood out so well from across the pavilion. It turns out he’s not a GIjOE at all, but rather an over-sized Douglas MacArthur doll measuring approximately 24″ or more in height. Definitely cool, but Ol’ Mac wasn’t exactly the type of GIjOE we were looking for. We decided to leave him for some doll collector or military history buff. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Learning to Search for “Lost” Joes—As a TEAM

Five months ago, we documented a typical search and rescue mission for a “lost” GIjOE. In that case, it was a Talking Adventure Team Commander in very good condition in his original box. Somehow, the poor guy had become trapped and “paralyzed” within a display case. Nooooo!!!!! When we learned he was going to be put up for auction, an urgent call went out for his immediate “rescue” and all loyal Joeheads in the area quickly came his aid (see story and photos HERE).

In this, the second of our “Searching for Lost GIjOEs” articles, we decided to tag along with members of the Central Illinois GIjOE Collector’s Club (CIGCC) and document their day at the Third Sunday Market (TSM). If you’ve never heard of it, TSM is a massive indoor-outdoor flea market held (as you might expect) every third Sunday of the month on the sprawling grounds of the massive Interstate Center in Bloomington, Illinois. With hundreds of dealers and thousands of buyers in attendance, we felt it would be a perfect opportunity to witness several successful GIjOE “search and rescue” missions. However, the day did not go quite as the club expected…

Big Crowds Mean Big Delays

Learn from the mistakes of others, dear readers. If you plan on attending a flea market, understand right off the bat that they are popular—and crowded—events. Allow plenty of extra time for travel, parking and dealing with the crowds. Originally, the members of the CIGCC had told us that they hoped to gather at the front entrance to the market at 9 AM. Unfortunately, heavy attendance created longer traffic delays in the parking areas, longer walk-up times and congestion.

As a result, club members arrived at widely different times, some over an hour later than the first. And repeatedly, rather than wait the morning away at the entrance, eager members (understandably) would begin the day’s search on their own, leaving latecomers to their own devices. Upon reflection, it would have been much better for everyone to rally at an outside location, such as a nearby Walmart parking lot, before driving the final mile to the market together, thereby ensuring everyone could park and arrive together (Oh well, live and learn).

So close! And yet... As we walked up, this Marine-Cowboy LOOKED like he might've been a GIjOE, but he turned out to be a Big Jim character or other something. Disappointed, we didn't stick around to find out. Adios, Cowboy! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

At first glance, this oddly attired “Cowboy Marine” looked like a GIjOE, but turned out to be some sort of smaller “Big Jim” character instead. Disappointed, we left the scowling (and handless) figure behind for someone else to “rescue” and continued searching for REAL GIjOEs. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Creating a Cell-Phone “Hotline”

After an erratic and disappointing start, the club regrouped and decided to utilize smarter and more efficient “teamwork strategies” to improve their search prospects. Early arriving members had already perused the grounds for over an hour and imparted their advanced knowledge to the newcomers much as a “scout”would do. Such intel can be an invaluable timesaver when facing a large, crowded sale.

Determined, the members dispersed and began their search anew. Spreading out through the masses of shoppers, the individual club members all shared one common goal: “Rescue Lost GIjOEs!” As we followed along, we noticed that their cell phones soon began to buzz back and forth. Whenever a member located a dealer with some sort of “lost Joes,” he described what the items were, and where they had been found.

If interested, the other members would quickly make a bee-line to the site. And if not interested, they would simply continue on their own way. As the club’s search party strategy began to play out, its cleverness became obvious in terms of both simplicity and efficiency. Cell phones were indispensable to the plan’s outcome and are a must-have tool for its successful implementation. Indeed, it was clear to us that being able to fan out and yet remain in constant contact with other members had given the club tremendous advantages over the search capabilities of an individual. One member put it this way:

“Flea Markets like this are just too big for us all to stay together. This one had 2 indoor pavilions, 4 outdoor pavilions and all of the surrounding grounds, FULL of booths and people sellin’. You have to use a cell phone if you’re going to stay in touch. Tell your readers to be sure they share their cell phone numbers with other club members so they can all keep each other updated.

For example, I just found a great booth waaay over there in the corner of this field, and it had about 20 Classic Collection Joes plus a bunch of Jeeps and other 1:6 scale vehicles and stuff. I put out a call, and suddenly —WHOMP! All the other club members descended on it like locusts. Now THAT’S successful teamwork strategy! “

This all-metal "footlocker" was misleading stickered as being "GIjOE" by its seller, but in actuality it was MUCH larger '60s-ish knock-off. Its condition and graphics were in pretty fair shape, and looking back at it now, we regret not making an offer for it. Oh, well! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As our search progressed, this all-metal “footlocker” caught our attention. It was misleading labeled as being “GIjOE” by its seller, while in actuality it was a MUCH larger ’60s-ish “knock-off” trunk. Its overall condition and graphics were pretty nice, and we regret not making an offer on it when we had the chance. Once cleaned up, it would have made a VERY cool “treasure chest” for any vintage GIjOE collection. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This elaborately carved wooden bench is actually in perfect 1:6 scale! It was missing only that one little piece in its back rest. The dealer told us it was a miniature music box and that it still worked. What a great prop this would make for any 1:6 diorama. His asking price? $400. Oh well... (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This elaborately carved wooden bench is actually in perfect 1:6 scale! It was missing only that one little piece in its back rest. The dealer told us it was a miniature music box and that it still worked. What a great prop this would make for any 1:6 diorama. His asking price? $400. Oh well… (Photo: Mark Otnes)

We found a few of these wooden doll swings for about $35 each, perfect for 1:6 scale figures. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

We found a few of these wooden swings for $35 each, perfect for 1:6 scale figures. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As members began to close in on GIjOE, CIGCC member, Brad Curry, was the first to hit paydirt when he snagged this superb Super Joe "Terron" monster for only $5. What a deal! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As members began to close in on GIjOE, CIGCC member, Brad Curry, was the first to hit paydirt when he snagged this superb Super Joe “Terron” monster for only $5. What a deal! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Finally! We discovered these two authentic, "Lost" GIjOEs in their old footlocker in a dealer booth in one of the outdoor pavilions. Yes, they had some broken hands, missing feet and patchy scalps, but the two veteran adventure teamers could've been easily repaired. Unfortunately, the owner was set at $175 and would accept nothing less. We whispered to the Joes told them "not to give up," and that "SOMEONE will rescue them soon." (It just wasn't going to be us!) (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Finally! We discovered these two authentic, “Lost” GIjOEs in their old footlocker in a dealer booth in one of the outdoor pavilions. Yes, they had some broken hands, missing feet and patchy scalps, but the two veteran adventurers could’ve easily been repaired. Unfortunately, the owner would only sell it all together at $150 and would accept nothing less. We whispered to the Joes to “not to give up hope” and that “someone will come along to rescue them soon.” (It just wasn’t going to be us!) (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Here's a nice little pile we located indoors, all reasonably priced. Remember, if you don't need it, don't just walk away. Call your fellow club members and then "Stand Guard!" (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Here’s a nice assortment we located indoors, all reasonably priced. Remember, if you don’t need something, don’t just walk away. Call up your fellow club members and then “Stand Guard!” That MIB Snake Eyes or Marine Corps Sniper might make someone in your club VERY happy! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Yet another booth under yet another outdoor pavilion produced yet another vintage footlocker with equipment and two MORE bearded adventurer Joes. The figures were in loose, but good condition. After doing some mental calculations on its worth, we were shocked when the owner said "$250, no less!" We notified other club members, but no one in our group was interested at that price. Regretably, we had to leave the two "lost" Joes to their uncertain future fate at the flea market. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Yet another booth under yet another outdoor pavilion yielded yet another vintage footlocker with equipment and two MORE bearded adventurers. These figures were in loose, but nice condition. It was marked at $200, and we were saddened when the dealer adamantly declared, “I’ll take $175, but no less!” We notified the other club members, but no one was interested at that price and we were forced to abandon the two “lost” Joes to their uncertain fate. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Success! The slightly smug, clearly contented expression on the face of CIGCC member, Tony Carducci, reveals his true inner feelings after "rescuing" two "lost" MIB adventurers from the "clutches" of a dealer at the Third Sunday Market in Bloomington, IL. Just before he made this score, Tony had sent out a call regarding another Joe sighting, bringing us over in time to capture this photo at Tony's "moment of triumph!" (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Success! The slightly smug, clearly contented expression on the face of CIGCC member, Tony Carducci, reveals his true inner feelings after “rescuing” two “lost” MIB adventurers ($9 each) from the “clutches” of a dealer at the Third Sunday Market in Bloomington, IL. Just before he made this score, Tony had sent out a call regarding another Joe sighting. We arrived in time to capture this photo of his “moment of triumph!” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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While not a GIjOE item per se, this beautiful, vintage Navy ship’s signal light would make a KILLER decor item for any respectable “Man Cave” or Joe Room. Before you move on, let your fellow club members know about it. OOH-rah! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Be Systematic. Be Savvy. Be Helpful!

As our time at the flea market wound down, the success of the club’s search strategy had proven itself time and time again. By using their cell phones like walkie-talkies, the members had been able to cast the widest possible “search net.” If we learned anything from observing the members of the CIGCC that day, it was that utilizing well-planned and smartly executed “teamwork strategies” is vital to a successful Joe-search. If you haven’t already, we highly recommend that you locate and join a local division of the official GIjOE Collector’s Club in your area. If there isn’t any, start up one of your own! And then, take advantage of your new club’s “strength in numbers.”

Bottom Line: Finding and rescuing any GIjOE figure, accessory or vehicle is always exciting. But sharing that feeling with others makes it doubly so. If you locate something you don’t need, don’t just walk away. Take a moment to use your cell phone and notify other club members as to its location. If you can, wait for them to arrive, even “standing guard” over it if possible. As they walk up, point the item(s) out, and enjoy the expression of delight as it spreads over their faces. You’ll be happy, and and your fellow Joeheads will be even happier. THAT’S what spreading “Joe Karma” is all about!

Searching for “Lost” G.I. Joes, Mission #1: “Rescue the Talking Commander!”

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A website confirmed that a “Talking GIjOE Commander” was to be auctioned off Sunday in Gifford, IL. This sounded like a job for yours truly, “GIjOE Rescue-Man!”   (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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The ad with its two, powerful words. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Two Little Words

Every year about this time, auction listings begin to appear in our local newspaper; sometimes so many that they seem to be proliferating like little rabbits. A couple of days ago, I came across a new listing for a general property auction (see photo at right). In the advert were two little words that caught my eye: “including GIjOEs.” Whoa! Hold the phone, Horatio! What did they mean by that? Are they old Joes? Big Joes? Little Joes? My mind began racing with all of the exciting possibilities. But I knew from previous experience that such sketchy descriptions were often misleading and could end up being ANYTHING; even a box of little green army men. I drummed my fingers in frustration and anticipation. I had to learn more.

This enlargement of the auction website photo appears to show a "healthy" Talking Commander. Only time and a closeup inspection would reveal the reality. (Photo: Gordyville Auctions)

This enlargement of the auction website photo appears to show a “healthy” Talking Commander. Only time and a closeup inspection would reveal the reality. (Photo: Gordyville Auctions)

Gathering Auction “Intel”

Preparing to attend an auction is like going into battle. First, you need to gather information or “intel” online about the items that will be up for bid. Second, you need to “marshal your forces” by going to an ATM to “load up” with the requisite moolah. And finally, you need to compute your “plan of attack” into a GPS, ensuring that you won’t end up lost out in the middle of some cornfield. You’ll want to make sure you arrive early enough for a “sneak preview” of the items being offered for sale. After scanning the auction photos online, I found only one photo of a GIjOE, but it was a Talking Commander in its original box, complete with paperwork and inserts. YES! My mission now had a clearly defined goal. I must:“Rescue the Talking Commander!”

Dedicated Joeheads will drive for hours if it means a "lost" GIjOE can be rescued. Fortunately, this trip would only take me 30 minutes through the Illinois farm country. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Dedicated Joeheads will drive for hours if it means a “lost” GIjOE can be rescued. Fortunately, this trip would only take me 30 minutes through the Illinois farm country. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Prairieland “Ponn Farr”

Outsiders see it as an obsession. But Joeheads refer to it as the “Thrill of the Hunt.” Whatever it is, I had it bad. Most GIjOE collectors seem to “catch it” about this time every year, when the snow begins to melt and “auction season” begins to heat up again across the U.S. I’m not talking about online auctions, where collectors can sit around for weeks waiting, just to have the object of their desire “sniped” away in the last seconds. I’m talking about real LIVE auctions, where buyers of every stripe, color, and description, gather together armed with wads of money in their pockets and wearing their best “poker faces.”

You Never Know What You’ll Find

At the auction site, door after door led into a variety of featureless metal buildings. There were no signs. No arrows. Nothing. Whatever treasures lay beyond remained hidden from view. The hunt continued! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This was the auction site. Door after unmarked door led into a variety of featureless metal buildings. There were no signs. No arrows. No directions. Whatever treasures lay ahead remained hidden from view. The hunt continued! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Auctions, Flea Markets and Garage Sales are all unpredictable “treasure hunts.” For example, about 15 years ago, I attended an auction with a similarly vague newspaper ad, and it turned out to be the lifetime accumulation of an old farmer who was liquidating his ENTIRE vintage 1960s GIjOE, Barbie and Soakie (’60s cartoon character bubble-bath bottles) collections. Would today’s auction contain the same sort of collectible “bonanza?” Maybe. (Maybe not.) I’ve learned that no newspaper ad (or website photos) EVER show everything sold at an auction. They can’t. There are always boxes of stuff that contain untold treasures inside, delightful surprises that you can only discover by being at the auction IN PERSON. As they say in the auction world, “You’ll never know, if you don’t go.”

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The Commander looked sad, almost pitiful, as he lay locked inside a glass and metal case. With no one to care for him, he seemed to stare forlornly up at the ceiling, as if wondering how he had ever gotten to such a lonely place. Surely the little boy who used to love and play with him all those years and adventures ago, would come back to “rescue” him from this awful fate. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Playing the Waiting Game

Auctions require a great deal of patience, and today’s event would be no exception. I pulled into a gravel lot surrounding an assortment of long, unmarked metal buildings. Typically, these buildings were used for horse shows, sales, and rodeos. Today, there would be no horses (unless they were of the miniature Breyer variety), but SALES were clearly on everyone’s mind. I could smell hamburgers cooking, and walked towards the aroma. Once inside, I saw the auctioneer’s PA-equipped truck parked among rows of tables piled high with goods (didn’t I tell you about the piles?). After a short search, I located the “missing” Commander. He was indeed a talker, complete with everything except the bottom of his box and some hair at the front of his forehead. I quickly calculated a bidding budget of $50 for the figure, not based so much on his actual value, but more so upon an assumption I’d be bidding against a bunch of non-Joehead farmer-types. I’ve seen them go ga-ga over die-cast John Deere tractors, but surely they wouldn’t bid more than $50 for a child’s “doll.” Right? I paced anxiously about the room while I waited for the auction to begin…

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Much to my chagrin, as soon as the auctioneer fired up his microphone, bidders started to cluster around the tables loaded with rare coins, toys and the display box containing “my” future Talking Commander. This didn’t look good. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

My Big Auction “Secret”

Auctions can drag on for a long time, depending on the crowd size, number of items involved and the speed of the auctioneer. But while daunting, such large public sales can also be quite rewarding. Here’s where the psychology and “secret” advantage of attending an auction in person begins to kick in: If you can afford the time, are patient, and there are no other bidders in attendance who are interested in the object(s) you’re interested in, you can end owning some extremely valuable items—for a song. Seriously, I’ve seen MANY lucky bidders pay just a few dollars for rare vintage furniture, toys, comics and other cool collectibles that were worth THOUSANDS, simply because no one else at the auction bid against them. Unfortunately for me, on this particular day, a great deal of fellow bidders had decided to “hang around.” Curse them all!

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Winning bidder, Brent McNamara (48), of Cerro Gordo, IL, shows off his new GIjOE Talking Commander outside the Gordyville auction building in Gifford, IL, Sunday, April 14, 2013. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Acting Like Kids Again

After 45 minutes of boring bidding on lots of old coins, pocket knives and watch fobs, my pulse began to race as the auctioneer FINALLY reached the GIjOE. You should have seen all the grown men in that building suddenly perk up. The feeling was palpable. They were acting like kids again. A chorus of “Pull his string! Let’s hear if he still talks!” arose from numerous faces in the crowd. Silence descended upon the giant room as the auctioneer’s helper slowly pulled out the Commander’s string. The tension was thick, when suddenly, the veteran adventurer LOUDLY declared, “I’ve got a tough assignment for you!” and the crowd erupted again with cheers. “Yayyyy, JOE!!! At that moment, I was sunk. Despite the figure’s age and imperfect condition, I knew this was one Joe who wasn’t going to sell cheaply.

Bottom Line: Bidding for the Commander started at $40, jumped quickly to $50, then $60, and climbed steadily until finally peaking at $130. I never even raised my hand! Ultimately, the Commander was snagged by Brent McNamara, a dedicated GIjOE collector from Cerro Gordo, IL. Brent spoke with me outside after his win, and revealed the following:

“I’m not a dealer or anything. I had all these Joes when I was a kid. Now I’m trying to get ’em all back. I only wished it hadn’t cost me $130 bucks! Oh well. The only reason I came today was for this little guy. And I don’t mind driving a long way. You know what I mean?”

I sure do. And I’m also happy (really!) that the Commander “went home” to such a nice guy and not to some ebay scalper. Congratulations, Brent. Keep “rescuing” GIjOES. And happy collecting!