Category Archives: Vehicles, Aircraft & Watercraft

Robert Jason, Master Customizer of 1:6 Scale Vehicles, Completes M-16 Halftrack With RARE “Quad Browning M2 .50 Caliber Machineguns”

Four, count 'em, FOUR .50 caliber machine-guns mounted on a rotating turret make this stunning custom halftrack by Robert Jason a big, BAD mutha! (Photo: Robert Julie Kostick)

There’s four, count ’em, FOUR .50 caliber machine-guns mounted on a rotating turret in the back of this stunning M16 halftrack customized by Robert Jason. Imagine all the firepower GIjOE could pour onto the enemy with this baby. Brrrrrrappp!!! (Photo: Julie Kostick) Click to enlarge (and drool).

Master customizer Robert Jason (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Master customizer Robert Jason poses with his latest 1:6 creation. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Picking Up Where Hasbro Left Off

When you look around at all the new 1:6 scale vehicles still being produced nowadays, especially custom ones, such as those being built by master customizer, Robert Jason (previously profiled HERE), you begin to realize the tremendous amount of lost profits Hasbro decided to leave behind when it chose to abandoned its 12-inch GIjOE line. Utilizing one of Hasbro’s M3 Marine Tank Destroyers, combined with a stunning array of FOUR .50 caliber machine-guns mounted on a rotating turret, Jason has created an all-new and exciting variation that any Joe fan around the world would LOVE to add to his collection.

For Hasbro, producing this same vehicle would have been a fairly simple product extension to bring to the market, but in their absence, it’s comforting to know there are still fans and customizers out there who are able to fill this niche so ably. In fact, upon learning of this particular custom vehicle, we were stunned that Jason had decided to put it up for sale over on ebay HERE. Of course, that’s great news for us collectors, but it must’ve been a difficult decision to make on his part. We asked Robert to recount his memories concerning the creation of this superb custom, and he kindly replied:

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“In response to several requests from fellow collectors, I attempted to recreate a 1:6 scale US Army WWII M16 Halftrack .  To my knowledge and extensive research, no one is producing this model in 1:6 scale.  After much web-surfing and research, I discovered that most pieces for the intricate turret configuration had to be scratch built.”

This view of Robert's M16 reveals its amazing "Quad" firepower. AWESOME. (Photo:

Prepare to be BLOWN AWAY, Fritz!  This view of Robert Jason’s custom M16 reveals its amazing “quad” firepower and how one seated gunner could UNLEASH HELL. (Photo: Julie Kostick) Click to enlarge.

“The basic Hasbro M3 GI Joe Marine Tank Destroyer was used as a platform for this M16. The Hasbro halftrack is not a true 1:6 scale vehicle for 12-inch figures; it comes up a little short. So, consideration had to be given to ensure the Quad Browning M2 .50 cal machine guns, the turret and the gunner all look good, as well as fit within the scale of the Hasbro Halftrack.  I think I have come very close to accomplishing this feat.”

As seen from above, the armored halftrack and it massive Quad rig would be an obvious TERROR on any battlefield. (Photo: Julie Kostwick)

As seen from above, Jason’s armored halftrack and it massive quad gun rig would be an obvious TERROR when deployed on any battlefield. (Photo: Julie Kostick) Click to enlarge.

Armorpax (UK) did a special pre-purchase production-run a couple of years ago on the M16 turret set. It came out beautifully! However, the run was limited, required a huge amount of casting and was very expensive. Regardless, it looks dead-on perfect at 1:6 scale. Dave at Armorpax is uncertain if it will ever be made again.”

If you were the enemy, this is the view you most certainly did NOT want to see. But for fans of 1:6 scale, this angle is SWEET! (Photo: Julie Kostick) Click to enlarge.

If you were the enemy, this is a sight you definitely did NOT want to see. But for fans of 1:6 scale, this view of “Big Bertha” is ABSO-FREAKIN’ SWEET! (Photo: Julie Kostick)

“I also purchased the cast ‘tombstone’ ammunition magazines from Dave for this project as well as the accurate vehicle tie-down and armored windshield components. Then, to top it all off, I marked it with the excellently produced, totally accurate WWII-era decals made by Mark over at Patches Of Pride. I think it came out well and hopefully, others will too. Thank you for your interest and please support our veterans. We owe them everything!” —Robert Jason

Every Detail is Accounted For— As always, Robert has included all sorts of tiny details the average customizer would've left out, including ephemera like magazines, cigarettes, maps, etc. OutSTANDING! (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Every Detail is Accounted For—Robert has even included tiny details such as 1:6 scale ephemera (i.e. magazines, cigarettes, maps, etc.). OutSTANDING! (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Bottom Line: Robert Jason continues to surprise and amaze us with the top-of-the-line 1:6 scale custom vehicles he creates and sells. Remember! If you’re interested in purchasing this one-of-a-kind masterpiece, it’s for sale RIGHT NOW over on ebay HERE. Good luck and happy bidding!

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Whirr-Click!——— “Basic” 1:6 Scale G.I. Joe Action Figures Are Continually Being Improved With Assistance From New and Varied Technologies

Get a Grip— The transition from stiff, unusable “nose-picker” hands to vastly more versatile “Kung-Fu Grips” marked one of the first and most significant advancements for GIjOE (and action figures in general). The ability to actually HOLD a weapon or piece of equipment is now considered vital to any figure’s “playability.” (Photo: Wikipedia)

Enhancing Action Figures Has a Long and “Gripping” History

Since the earliest halcyon days of GIjOE and Action Man, fans have long dreamt of ways they could improve the world’s most popular action figure. After all, more movement plus more features equalled more fun, right? And let’s face it, as popular as they were, our first 12-inch heroes had obvious physical limitations. Their ping-pong ball hip-sockets meant that Joe couldn’t really sit down. He mostly had to slump down into his 5-star Jeep driver’s seat, unless he adopted some sort of splayed-leg yoga stance (one that hardly looked very “military”). And he couldn’t even hold his trusty .45 sidearm for more than a few minutes before it popped out of his rigid, “nose-picking” hands. How embarrassing!

It’s true that those early Joes could stand up unassisted for days (weeks even), while waiting patiently for their owners to return. But let’s face it, that was about all they could do. We eventually learned that if we left a Joe alone for too long, he might suffer the ignominy of a “shelf-dive,” plummeting helplessly to the floor below. Moving, posing and “acting out” our action figures by hand was clearly required, and voicing Joe’s innermost thoughts by shouting out phrases for him like, “Let’s take that hill!” became standard practice for children all around the world. (No complaints here.)

Indeed, playing with the first GIjOEs proved to be a physical and mental exercise, requiring the use of both hemispheres of a child’s brain; the right-side for creativity and imagination’s sake (i.e. “Let’s attack that bad guy’s fort!”), and the left-side for learning what things were and what they actually did (i.e. “Daddy, What’s a mine detector?”). As a result, by the end of the day, many children had practically written a novel’s-length adventure in their heads, all played out before them with 12″ action figures in their bedrooms, living rooms and backyards. It seemed the less a “basic” GIjOE could do for itself—the more WE had to do for it. And we LIKED it!

Ever since the introduction of GIjOE in 1964, fans and collectors like Jerry Seinfeld (above) have played with action figures one way—by moving all the parts with your hands and mouthing their dialogue with your own voice. "Mission Completed. Back to base, Joe!" Over the last 50 years, regular advancements have been made to 12-inch action figures and many of today's 1:6 scale  are (Photo: NBC)

Mission Completed! Back to Base, Joe! Since the introduction of GIjOEs in 1964, action figure fans like Jerry Seinfeld (above) have played with their action figures just one way—by moving all the “points of articulation” with their hands and by mouthing imaginative dialogue with their own voices. (Photo: NBC)

Change is Good— During the 1970s, Hasbro and Palitoy tinkered with the basic figure adding kung-fu grip hands, eagle-eyes, metal arms, bionic legs  and much more. There seemed to be no limit to where Joe could go! (Photo: Hasbro)

Change is Good— During the 1970s, Hasbro and Palitoy regularly tinkered with the basic 12″ figure, adding kung-fu grip hands, eagle-eyes, metallic arms, bionic legs and much more. There seemed to be no limit to where Joe could go in the future! (Photo: Hasbro)

How Far Can 12-Inch Action Figures “Evolve?” Let’s Go to the Tape:

Over the next 50 years, Hasbro and Palitoy attempted to enhance our 1:6 scale “play experience” with a wide (and WILD) variety of inventive and creative product improvements, including such things as “lifelike hair and beards,” “eagle-eyes,” “atomic-powered” limbs, the ability to grasp and hold objects with a powerful “kung-fu grip,” and the use of hidden levers to quickly move arms with “pistol drawing action” or to execute a perfect military salute. But technological improvements made to our 12-inch heroes weren’t limited to mere physical alterations or enhanced movement. There were also advancements created—in sound.

Until 1967, the earliest GIjOEs were all silent heroes, unable to utter even a single command for themselves. It was up to WE THE PEOPLE to provide their voices, creating subtle changes in inflection or accents for each figure. As we all know, the first actual “Talking” GIjOEs utilized a very clever pull-string record technology that required no batteries. The problem was, over time, their commanding voices all became garbled and incomprehensible. If the string broke off, for all intents and purposes (for little kids, at least) that Joe was immediately deemed unrepairable and became demoted to the ranks of their older, non-talking, “silent corps.”

Now Hear This—The 1970s Talking Commander GIjOE remains of the most popular pull-string figures ever made. Years later, the GIjOE Collector's Club would release reproductions utilizing new chip technology mated with old-fashioned pull-string technology. FanTASTIC! (Photo: ebay)

Now Hear This—The 1970s Talking Commander GIjOE remains of the most popular pull-string figures ever made. Years later, the GIjOE Collector’s Club would release reproductions utilizing new chip technology mated with old-fashioned pull-string technology. Fan-TASTIC! (Photo: TylerJ)

Speak up, Soldier!— Hasbro's Talking Duke GIjOE combined lip movement (controlled by pushing a button on his chest) with sound. Reviews were mixed and there were no more push-n-talk figures released. (Photo: Hasbro)

Speak up, Soldier!— Hasbro’s Voice FX Duke GIjOE combined lip movement (controlled by pushing a button on his stomach) with sound. Reviews were mixed but the figure remains popular with collectors. (Photo: Hasbro)

As the decades passed and toy technologies advanced, talking GIjOEs would return in many different variations. His original pull-string voice box was swapped out for a newer, higher-tech, battery-powered, digital version (i.e. the Navajo Code Talker, etc.), and while its sound quality was clearly superior, many fans missed pulling out that ol’ neck-string, and felt that somehow (regrettably) a bit of GIjOE’s “charm” had been lost. (It’s amazing what things people miss!)

Hasbro took 12″ GIjOEs about as far as they thought they could be taken (technologically) in 2003 when they combined the ability to control their mouths with a synchronized digital voice in the unique Voice FX Duke figure (above and right). Many believed this VFX Duke was going to be a real “game changer,” but fans were not impressed and sales were sluggish. Hasbro began to see the end of the road ahead for 12-inch Joes and further attempts to improve, upgrade or enhance the line slowed to a crawl.

But then a funny thing happened..

With necessity being the mother of invention, 12″ fans (who realized they were being left to own devices) and competitors of Hasbro (who sensed unclaimed profits) continued to evolve 1:6 scale products on their own, picking up where Hasbro left off. Over the last decade, talented 1:6 scalers around the world have stepped up and proven themselves to be a very creative and inventive lot, essentially advancing “basic” 12-inch action figures into astounding, semi (and fully) animatronic versions of their former selves. All on their own, RC fans (who were already building model airplanes, cars and tanks) have begun adding miniature robotic 1:6 scale action figures to their creations to increase their realism and “play-value.” (There’s that term again!)

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Go Coast Guard! Hasbro chose to add “Pistol Drawing Action” to its Cold Water Immersion Diver figure, in yet another attempt to expand the capability of its basic 12-inch GIjOE. (Photo: ebay)

Unfortunately for short-sighted Hasbro, rather than partnering with various RC firms or spearheading its own new line of 1:6 GIjOE brand RC tanks, aircraft, vehicles or robotic action figures, it has inexplicably chosen to turn its back on millions (perhaps billions!) of dollars in potential profits. Rather than leading the toy industry towards a high-tech future heralding all-new 12-inch action figure toys, it’s decided to forgo participation altogether in Joe’s latest and most miraculous incarnation—and evolution.

Watch Your Back, Hasbro.
The Future is Already Here!

While we’re sure their competitors (Dragon, Armortek, Hobbico, etc.) are enjoying all the 1:6 product profits Hasbro is leaving on the table, it remains a mystery why the creator of GIjOE wouldn’t at least pursue unclaimed licensing profits. A simple stroke of their mighty corporate pen could surely cement deals with strategically selected smaller businesses, all eager and VERY willing to spread the GIjOE 12-inch brand name into all-new markets in a whole new era. Clearly, the futures of both hobbies (1:6 scale action figures and RC models) are immensely compatible and interwoven. In fact, nowadays, the only “hands on” interaction required to make your 1964 GIjOE drive a tank, Jeep or Kubelwagen (or even row a boat!) are YOUR hands placed on the buttons and toggle switches of an RC control panel. The possibilities are limitless! To get a better idea how far this technology has advanced, take a look at the smooth realism and interaction of these two remote-controlled Dragon tank crewmen. You can almost imagine their conversation as they scan the battlefield looking for enemy forces!

Nearly Perfect? This superb Talking Action Man represents a trifecta of technological enhancement, featuring three of the most sought-after improvements prized by collectors today, including original kung-fu grip hands

Nearly Perfect in Every Way This superb vintage Talking Action Man possesses nearly all of the technological enhancements collectors want today, including a fully flocked head and beard, original kung-fu grip hands, poseable “eagle-eyes,” and an original pull-string talking mechanism. The “playability” of this figure is through the ROOF. It doesn’t get much better than this! (Photo: ebay)

exclusivebannerEXTRA! EXTRA! Creating a Better Action Man—One Fan’s Amazing Story:

While we’re all aware of the improved and enhanced 1:6 scale action figures currently being offered by companies such as Dragon, Hot Toys and Sideshow, some may not be aware of similarly wonderful creations being built by individual hobbyists around the world. So to wind up today’s article, we thought we’d introduce one such “maestro of miniaturization,” the creator of that unbelievable 1:6 scale robotic RC rowboat Action Man (shown in the video at the top of this article). His name is Jason Quayle and he generously wrote in to provide the following exclusive intel:

Action Man fan and master model boat builder, Jason Quayle, of the UK. (Photo: Manx Model Boat Club)

Action Man fan and master model boat builder, Jason Quayle, of the UK. (Photo: Manx Model Boat Club)

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“Thank you for taking an interest in my Action Man model rowing boat. I am a member of the Manx Model Boat Club in the UK. I have been building and sailing model boats for the last 25 years or so. I probably have about 12 or 15 model boats which I have built and which I sail on a regular basis. 

About 3 years ago, I decided to have a go at building a radio-controlled model rowing boat from scratch. I did a bit of research on the internet and found that there are quite a few people who have built similar projects – some of which are very good and some not quite so good.

Using these ideas as inspiration, I started looking around for a suitable figure to use as the rowing man and I dug out my old Action Man figures from the attic. These figures had been in my attic for many years and haven’t been used since I was a kid.

I decided to strip one down and take it apart to see how everything fit together and to see how much space there was inside (the Action Man) to fit servos and electronics (playing around with Radio Control and electronics is another one of my hobbies).”

Row, Row, Row Your Boat! Action Man works hard to cross the Thames, whilst ably and remotely controlled by master model boat builder, Jason Quayle of the UK. Absolutely SUPERB! (Photo: Manx Model Boat Club)

Row, Row, Row Your Boat! Action Man works the oars of his new rowboat as he smoothly crosses over the Thames, all whilst ably (and remotely) controlled by master model boat builder, Jason Quayle of the UK. Absolutely SUPERB in every way, Jason. We are GOBSMACKED! (Photo: Manx Model Boat Club)

“Having  established that everything would fit, I started building the model which took about 7 or 8 months to complete. I then took a further 6 months to fit my Action Man with all the radio control equipment and electronics that would make him work. 

The rowboat model is totally scratch-built, so I had no instructions and had to design everything as I went along. There was quite a bit of ‘trial and error’ required before I managed to get the rowing action to work properly and look convincing on the water.

The electronics are all based around a programmable micro controller called Picaxe. This micro controller reads inputs for the radio control receiver for speed and direction and then converts them to outputs which drive the servo motors. There are 5 servos altogether – 2 servos to drive each oar, 2 servos to raise and lower each arm, 1 servo to move his back and 1 servo to rotate his head.

The oars can be controlled independently which allow the boat to be steered just like the real thing. I’ve displayed this model at several shows and it always ‘turns heads’ with members of the public because it is such an unusual model. I hope this all makes sense.
Regards —Jason Quayle, UK”

Atten-HUT! After 50 years waiting, it was a pleasure to be able to FINALLY purchase a GIjOE that could actually salute his superior officer. A long time coming, this marvelous Dress Marine could instantly snap a salute by the owner simply pushing down on a lever in his back. The white gloved hand was a nice touch as well. OOHrah! (Photo: ebay)

Atten-HUT! This marvelous Dress Marine GIjOE came with “Real Saluting Action” and could instantly “snap a sharp one” whenever you pushed down on the lever in his back. Those white-gloved hands were a nice touch too. OOHrah! Semper Fi! (Photo: ebay)

Bottom Line: Despite Hasbro’s ongoing apathy, the 12-inch action figure is FAR from being “retired” from the toy world. Frustrated GIjOE fans continue to patronize hundreds of smaller, forward-thinking 1:6 firms that show little intention of slowing production of their own 12-inch product lines any time soon. And as a toy “platform,” the basic 1:6 scale figure’s versatility and profit potential has been well-proven over the last 50 years, creating BILLIONS of dollars of profits for its creators (the biggest of course, being Hasbro). Therefore, rather than focus on that toy giant’s somnambulistic lulls, we look forward to reporting on whatever new projects (and products) individual fans and companies are introducing to our great 1:6 hobby. After all, remember what they said about Steve Austin (the Six Million Dollar Man) after he crashed?

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“We can rebuild him. We have the technology.”
Oscar Goldman, Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI)

If you’re still a “doubting Thomas,” have a look at what Quayle’s Action Man is able to do:

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Mysterious “Project: HERCULES” Excites Fans of 1:6 Scale Worldwide———Purpose of “X-1” Unknown

Due to a current news "black-out" and strictly enforced "no photos" policy recanted enacted by the ground crew at the Patches of Pride launch site, we're unable to bring you a better image of the upcoming "Project: HERCULES. Just WHAT are we looking at? The boys in our photo lab have done their best to clear up this image, taken last night in total darkness using a long-range telephoto lens and night-vision filter. The best consensus we can reach is that it appears to show some sort of canister, possibly a fire extinguisher and most likely, the helmet of the test pilot of the enigmatic "X-1." Unfortunately, we can't be sure of either assessment, but those are our best guesses. (Photo: TJR)

We’re in the Dark Due to a current news “black-out” and strictly enforced “no new photos” policy recently enacted by the ground crew over at the Patches of Pride launch site, we were unable to bring you a better image of their upcoming “Project: HERCULES than this. So… WHAT exactly are we looking at here? The boys in our photo lab have done their best to enhance and clean up this image. It was taken last night in total darkness using a long-range telephoto lens and night-vision filter, but the best consensus we could reach is that it appears to show some sort of spray canister, most probably a fire extinguisher and what looks like a flight helmet, quite possibly that of a test pilot of the mysterious “X-1.” This leads us to believe that whatever the X-1 may be, it’s operable at night, even in total darkness. Unfortunately, we can’t confirm any of these assessments at this time. (Photo: TJR)

A recently posted sign warns photographers to keep their lens caps on. ARGH! (Photo: Tracey Evans)

No Pictures! A recently posted sign warns news photographers approaching the Project: HERCULES launch site. (Photo: Tracey Evans)

Little more than a week away from its official “launch date” on December 22, 2014, a mysterious new product line is generating genuine intrigue and debate among fans of 12-inch action figures who are eager to learn the answers to its many secrets. Officially and enigmatically dubbed “Project: HERCULES” by its creators at 1:6 accessories manufacturer,  Patches of Pride (PoP), the specific nature and potential usage of the new line remains largely unknown and has actually puzzled fans of the renowned company— for almost 3 YEARS.

You read that right. After some digging, reporters here at The Joe Report discovered that the origin of Project: HERCULES actually dates back to 2011, when PoP first released a free, daily, online photo-comic entitled, “A Joe a Day” (AJAD). According to PoP company rep, Mark Otnes, the figures featured in the strip were his 7 original, childhood GIjOEs that had been stored in his brother’s home for over 40 years. After they’d been returned to Otnes (that year) over Christmas, “Mark’s Magnificent 7″ were quickly reassigned as a time-travelling team of military heroes who join up with members of his Adventure Team and embark upon a cross-country road trip, all the while protecting the contents of The Commander’s mysterious briefcase, containing what is only known only as— “Project: HERCULES.”

In this frame from Mark Otnes' "A Joe a Day" photo-comic serial, the mysterious "football" briefcase contains the secrets and answers to the mysterious "Project: HERCULES." Unfortunately, the serial has not yet been concluded. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

What’s inside the “Football?” In this frame taken from Otnes’ “A Joe a Day” photo-comic serial, a briefcase known as the Commander’s “Football” containing top-secret materials related to the mysterious “Project: HERCULES” is removed from a team member’s backpack for examination. Unfortunately, the serial has yet to be concluded and the football’s contents remain unknown. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

While Otnes’ intriguing AJAD storyline has yet to be completed and hence, the exact nature and capabilities of Project: HERCULES are known to no other, it’s expected that the answers to many a fan’s questions will be revealed with the imminent release of these new PoP products. Suspense continues to build as the company’s “countdown” (to the product launch) continues, and a slow trickle of “sneak pics” make their way to eager fans trolling for clues over on PoP’s Facebook page (HERE) and/or VIP Customer Mailing List (HERE). With the release of each new tantalizing image, debate is stirred anew, resulting in heated conjecture among collectors, including the following:

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Renowned GIjOE collector and customizer, Angelo D'Annibale (Photo: Angelo D'Annibale)

Angelo D’Annibale

“I’m getting hopes up for some sort of helipad or jet pack. Can’t wait to see more!”Angelo D’Annibale

Kyle Knox (Photo: Kyle Knox)

Kyle Knox

“Driving me crazy! But I have an idea. A space capsule akin to NASA’s Orion.”
Kyle Knox

Lyle "Bigfoot" Button (Photo: Lyle Button)

Lyle “Bigfoot” Button

I was thinking some kind of unmanned drone, but now I’m not so sure.” —Lyle Button

Good ideas all, gentlemen! But we believe renowned GIjOE fan and collector, Scott Turnbull may have come closest to deciphering the various clues and “sneak pics” of Project: HERCULES with THIS intriguing supposition:

Scott Turnbill

Scott Turnbill

“Something tech-ish, I’m sure, which hits the sweet spots of my collections! Maybe a temporal experiment…”
Scott Turnbull

Bottom Line: We asked PoP’s secretive “Commander-in-Chief,” Mark Otnes, if he had any further comment regarding the upcoming Project: HERCULES, and he declined, citing his company’s official “news blackout” until December 22nd. Despite Otnes’ intransigence, we intend to forge ahead on this matter and promise to apprise our readership of any and all fresh intel as it becomes available. —Editor

Since last week, PoP has begun giving away free 1:1 scale "Project: HERCULES" t-shirts to lucky winners over on its fan page on Facebook HERE. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

FREE T’s! PoP has begun giving away free 1:1 scale Project: HERCULES “ground crew” t-shirts to lucky winners on its Facebook Fan Page. Wow! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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“Tankers” Lining Up To See “FURY” November 2014

Tank, starring James Garner (Photo: Imdb)

Tank (1984), starring James Garner was an enjoyable “tank fantasy.” (Photo: IMDb)

Among the vast pantheon of GIjOE collectors, there’s a die-hard subset of fans who also know a great deal about military history and the mighty armored tanks that command such a prominent role on the battlefield. We’re referring, of course, to those ardent armor aficionados appropriately (and affectionately) known as, “Tankers.” If you’ve never heard of, or used this particular appellation before, Tankers are those zealous individuals who can accurately recite the names, weaponry, and firepower stats of practically anything heavily armored or tracked. From the smallest Kettenkrad tractor to the largest modern Abrams M1A2 (and everything else in-between) their knowledge—is unassailable.

Many Tankers are also big military history buffs that can wax rhapsodic for hours about WWII’s Montgomery and Patton, recount battlefield strategies, the proper deployment of tanks during a “Blitzkrieg,” the rise and fall of Rommel’s vaunted Afrika Korps, clashes between SS Panzer Divisions and Russian Red Army T-34s at Stalingrad and Kursk, the pivotal Battle of the Bulge, the use of tanks in the Pacific theater against Japan, North Korea, North Vietnam, and most recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wherever they’re deployed, tanks often prove to be THE deciding factor between a battlefield victory—or ignominious defeat. Not surprisingly then, films about tanks are almost invariably larger than life, exciting—and FUN.

Battle of the Bulge, starring Henry Fonda (Photo: Imdb)

Battle of the Bulge (1965), starring film icon Henry Fonda was good—but not great. This movie BEGS to be remade. (Photo: IMDb)

Why are we bringing this up now? Because recently, Tankers, GijOE fans and amateur military historians have all begun to discuss the impending release of a new “tank-centric” motion picture called, “Fury,” which depicts the WWII exploits of a battle-hardened U.S. Army 2nd Armored Division tank crew (watch the film’s trailer at top). As you are undoubtedly already aware, movies about (or utilizing) tanks, are not unheard of in Hollywood, but pickings can be slim. As a result, fans of this particular genre typically have to wait about a decade or two between decent offerings.

But even if the script stinks (Tank Girl, anyone?), there’s just something about a tank movie that makes it hard to dislike. Let’s face it, they’re BIG. They’re brash. And well…they’re BEAUTIFUL! For alpha-male / leading man-type actors, to have a good tank movie “in your quiver” is a rare accomplishment, nowadays; worthy of more than just a little braggadocio. OOHrah!

Some of the better tank flicks that come to mind include Sahara, starring Humphrey Bogart, Saving Private Ryan starring Tom Hanks, The Battle of the Bulge, starring Henry Fonda, Tank, starring James Garner, Patton, starring George C. Scott and most recently, Fast ‘n Furious 6, with Vin Diesel. (Take a moment to enjoy the first 3 video clips of this article before proceeding.)

Fury stars well-known Hollywood heart-throb, Brad Pitt (last seen in the farcical Inglorious Basterds) and according to the brief description we found over on the Huffington Post:

Sahara was a highly underrated 1943 tank film starring Humphrey Bogart. (Photo: IMDb)

“Pitt stars as a sergeant named ‘Wardaddy’ who leads a tank crew of American soldiers into Germany. (Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena and Shia LaBeouf are Wardaddy’s longtime battle comrades; Logan Lerman plays the group’s newcomer.) The whole thing looks comfortably familiar — a beat from “Inglorious Basterds” here, some from “Saving Private Ryan” there — but it’s never not compelling. “Fury” is set for release on Nov. 14, meaning it could either become one of Sony’s year-end awards contenders or simply a solid money-maker for the studio. Or maybe both: The last time Pitt and Sony teamed up for a film, it was 2011’s “Moneyball,” which earned $74 million at the North American box office and six Oscar nominations.”

Patton, starring George C. Scott, featured numerous tank scenes. (Photo: IMDb)

Patton, starring George C. Scott, featured numerous tank battle scenes. (Photo: IMDb)

It’s been quite a while since Tankers have seen a really good tank movie. It’s about time our heroes of the armored divisions were featured on-screen again. Heck, we were even excited to see that Abrams tank in the first episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Although it saw no “battle action,” it served as a main prop and temporary place of safety for the show’s beleaguered hero. Tank fan hopes are high that Fury will be a solid, well-researched and realistic tribute film to all the men who fought, died and served in the U.S. Army or Marine Corps tank divisions. Curious about what our fellow GIjOE fans are hoping to see (or NOT see) in this upcoming film, so we posed the question to everyone’s favorite GIjOE fan and resident tank expert, Dave “Tanker” Matteson (of Alabama), who kindly offered the following observations:

Dave "Tanker" Matteson in his Joe Room. (Photo: Dave Matteson)

Dave “Tanker” Matteson in his GIjOE Room. (Photo: Dave Matteson)

“Shermans and Tigers and Shermans, Oh my! I was asked by Mark to watch the trailer and then give my opinion on the upcoming movie, “FURY.” Am I qualified to review this movie? I believe so! Most people know me as “Tanker.” I spent time as a tank crewman in M1A1 tanks, about 8 years to be exact, as well as being a ‘tread head’ since the age of 8. For those who have seen Fury’s trailer (at the top of this article), the Sherman M4A2E8’s and the M4A3 are all, in fact, REAL. And yes, the Tiger Tank is also VERY real. All of the tanks used in this film are on loan from the Bovington Tank Museum in England where David Ayer, the film’s director, did most of his research.

The research Ayer undertook takes us back to WWII and inside a Sherman tank where its crew LIVED. Before filming, the crew was treated to a mini ‘Armor School’ where they had to learn the job of being a tanker. Then, once on the set, Brad Pitt actually lived with his crewmen in the tank they crewed for the duration of the filming of the battle scenes, totaling some 30 days.

Everything you’ll see onscreen is as close to real as it gets. This film is going to be for Tankers what Saving Private Ryan was to Rangers and Paratroopers. Generally, movie trailers are what doesn’t make the film. The good thing is, I have been following this production VERY closely, and it is definitely on the money. Being a tanker was the best job I ever had!” —Dave “Tanker” Matteson

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Dave Matteson for his help with this article. We are FIRED UP about seeing Fury on the big screen this November. Until then, we leave you with this full-length tank episode of “Lock-n-Load,” starring everyone’s favorite Gunnery Sergeant, R. Lee Ermey. So, go grab a cup of Joe, put your feet up on the desk—and Enjoy!

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“First-Time” G.I. Joe Collector Creates Working 1:6 Scale USCG Helicopter———As His Ceiling Fan!

Holy Rotors, Batman! Imagine "flying" this stunning 1:6 scale USCG HITRON "Fast Attack" Littlebird helicopter INSIDE your home—with just the flip of a switch. For creator/customizer, Tom McMurray, that's now become a daily reality. Lower the rescue diver! Aye-aye! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

Semper Paratus! Imagine “flying” this stunning 1:6 scale USCG HITRON “Fast Attack” Littlebird helicopter INSIDE your home—with just the flip of a switch. For creator-customizer Tom McMurray, that dream is now a daily reality. Lower the Rescue Diver, Joe! Aye-aye, Sir! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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When we first heard that retired US Coast Guardsman and GIjOE “newbie,” Tom McMurray, had converted a beat-up, 1:6 scale 21stC Littlebird into a working, (fully electrified) USCG helicopter CEILING FAN, we knew immediately that fans around the world would want to hear all about it. After contacting McMurray, he graciously agreed to the following exclusive interview and also (very generously) provided us with these exclusive photos and video clips. Enjoy!

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After completing the Littlebird’s custom paint-job and applying decals from Patches of Pride, McMurray begins work on the helo’s custom wiring and lighting. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

Tom McMurray (Photo: Suzanne McMurray)

Tom McMurray (Photo: Suzanne McMurray)

TJR: Congratulations on your superb 1:6 scale custom helicopter, Tom. Could you tell us first—what inspired you to take on such a challenging undertaking?

TM: “I was medically retired out of the U.S. Coast Guard (just shy of 40 years) as a Petty Officer 1st Class Port Security and Small Arms Instructor and wanted a project that would take time and represent my career. I wandered across a Littlebird over on e-bay. It was blue and not in very good condition. But over the following months, I picked up various parts one at a time and pieced it all together.”

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This early test revealed exterior running lights and spotlights working perfectly. Interior lighting would also be added, illuminating the ‘Bird’s instrument panel and cockpit. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: How long did this project take you to complete?

TM: “I started in December of 2013 and finished it in July of this year (2014). I have close to 400 hours altogether put into this project. The hardest part was getting the stripes on the Littlebird to be exactly 67 degrees (as required by the Coast Guard). The painting pattern is correct and was used on an experimental chopper by HITRON for fast attack on “Go-Fast “ (drug-smuggling) boats down in Florida.”

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The longer you look, the more custom details you see! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: After completing the helo’s tricky (and beautiful) paint-job, what did you work on next?

TM: “Well, as you can see, the exterior utilizes a waterslide USCG decal set (found HERE) that I picked up from Patches of Pride (PoP), and the cockpit uses one of their “Complete Cockpit Conversion Kits” (found HERE). I then further modified the instrument cluster and all of the gauges by drilling small holes behind the decals and then giving each gauge its own colored led light, sealed in behind it.”

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Great closeup showing Tom’s disassembled cockpit firewall and the addition of new decals, a fire extinguisher, custom helmet paint, seat cushions, etc. Great improvements! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: That clearly elevated your Littlebird to a higher level. What else did you add?

TM: “If you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see that the pilot has a small laptop mounted on the console, and both of the interior spaces are lit by a red LED for night-vision. I also added all of the required exterior lights, a working high power spotlight and a working FLIR lamp underneath. The ‘float’ is required on any USCG chopper that works off the coasts, so I hand-fabricated that. Also, the .50 cal Barrett on the port side is mounted on a stanchion built into the deck. Finally, I cut all of the windows down halfway except the main hatch, which I mounted in the opened, rescue position.”

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Peek into the finished cockpit and you’ll go GA-GA over all of its details, back-lit gauges, and additional 1:6 scale props such as flight charts and maps. Stunning work, Tom! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

TJR: You’ve impressed us enough already, but here’s where your story gets REALLY interesting. Tell us about converting your 1:6 scale USCG Littlebird helicopter—into a ceiling fan.

TM: “To mount it to the ceiling fan, I filled the upper engine compartment with a 2-part epoxy and let it dry around the threaded accessory lamp-post. Then, I took the lamp section off of the bottom of the fan, filled the extra cover with epoxy, attached it to the main fan motor with screws and let the finished project sit supported on top of a 10-ft ladder overnight to cure. My wife, the electrician, the contractor (that had just finished the room) and myself, all had our fingers crossed when I lit-‘er-up. Voila! SHE FLIES!!!! And not a shudder or vibration.”

Holy Rotors, Batman! Imagine "flying" this stunning 1:6 scale USCG HITRON "Fast Attack" Littlebird helicopter INSIDE your home—with just the flip of a switch. For creator/customizer, Tom McMurray, that's now become a daily reality. Lower the rescue diver! Aye-aye! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

The accuracy and realism of Tom’s working ceiling fan helicopter are striking. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

 TJR: Tell us about your interest in GIjOEs and 1:6 scale vehicles. What else have you created?

TM: “Believe it or not, these are the first GIjOEs I have ever owned. Honestly! As you can see, I made a lot of changes, but after 37 years in the Coast Guard, I didn’t need much help. And now, I’m looking for my NEXT project. Thanks for all the parts, decals and help Mark.” —Tom McMurray

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At night, Tom’s “heroic helo” creates a colorfully realistic light show. COOL! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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Tom’s custom-mounted .50 cal Barrett sniper rifle can stop a high-speed boat with one well-placed shot through the engine block. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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Another view of Tom’s USCG Littlebird in action. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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Lowering a Rescue Diver down with Tom’s custom harness and pulley system. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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The realistic lighting on Tom’s custom helo makes for exciting “night-ops” action. (Photo: Tom McMurray)

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At rest, you can see that the blades of Tom’s fan were also custom painted to perfectly simulate the rotors of a real USCG HITRON helicopter. Amazing work, Tom. Congratulations! (Photo: Tom McMurray)

Bottom Line: McMurray’s 1:6 scale custom Littlebird helicopter is one of the most impressive we’ve ever seen. His attention to detail and accuracy reflect his many years of experience and service in the Coast Guard, and his inspired conversion of a typically static-display model into a working ceiling fan is truly remarkable. Our sincerest thanks to Tom for his service to our country and for his generous contributions to this article. Enjoy a video of Tom’s helicopter in action below:

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Customizer Creates 1:6 Scale Replica of 1942 Harley-Davidson Army Prototype “Model XS”

Robert Jason's custom 1:6 scale 1942 Harley-Davidson prototype NAME XS motorcyle and rider, fully finished and detailed with custom sidecar, tires and much more. AMAZING! (Photo:

They don’t get any rarer than this. You’re looking at a one-of-a-kind, 1:6 scale, museum-quality replica of a prototype 1942 Harley-Davidson motorcycle (that never made it into mass-production). Created by professional modeller and customizer Robert Jason, the Model XS “hog” comes complete with a vintage GIjOE outfitted as a US Army courier rider and a fully detailed custom sidecar. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Customizer Bob Jason (Photo: Bob Jason)

Customizer Robert Jason (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Motorcycle History in Perfect 1:6 Scale

Artist and master modeller, Robert Jason of Florida, widely renowned for his creation of ultra-detailed and historically accurate custom 1:6 scale trucks and Jeeps, is now trying his hand at creating custom, one-of-a-kind, 1:6 scale motorcycles. The results are, needless to say, VERY impressive. Regular readers of The Joe Report will recall that we profiled Mr. Jason previously, in an article published back in September, 2013 (see HERE). At that time, we discussed in detail (and highly praised) Robert’s artistic skills and incredible work on what are now known as his “commemorative customs.”

Until recently, Jason limited himself to the “heavy vehicle” category that reminded him so much of the machines his Father and Uncle had fought in during the war. Now, with the addition of 1:6 custom motorcycles, Jason is expanding his scope and revealing a willingness to work on other sizes and types of WWII vehicles. It’s hard to believe, but most (if not all) of Robert’s masterpieces end up being sold to the highest bidder on ebay (see current auction listing HERE). As he told us before:

Another closeup showing the miniature Harley-Davidson manual. Out-STANDING! (Photo:

Details such as this outstanding custom 1:6 scale Harley-Davidson maintenance manual (included) help to “tell the story” of Jason’s vehicles. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

“Whenever I build one of these custom vehicles, I use actual WWII combat museum photos to be as accurate as possible. When I first started selling them, I discovered there was a need (and market) for reasonably priced 1:6 scale custom vehicles for serious collectors.Yes, there are much higher priced all-metal kits that are extremely well detailed, but one must have model-building experience and the time required to assemble them, and as you know, TIME is often very hard to come by!”

Opposite view showing dual rifle scabbards, two seats, radio, saddlebag and unique "tractor" tires. (Photo:

This opposite view shows the motorcycle’s two rifle scabbards, its independent twin seats, field radio, saddlebag, deep-tread “tractor” tires, and decals from Patches of Pride. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Curious about the origins and details of Jason’s miniature motorcycle masterpiece, we consulted his unofficial “Director of Marketing,” Julie Kostick, who kindly replied:

Robert Jason's "Director of Marketing," Julie Kostick. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Julie Kostick. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

“This is a one-of-a-kind, original 1/6th scale model of a rare prototype motorcycle that never went into full production (the piece is signed by the artist). It was created using a Hasbro GIjOE US Army WLA 45 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle as a stock base, and has dual rifle scabbards, an M1 carbine and a Thompson .45 cal. sub-machinegun, plus a field radio, canteen, shovel, map, flashlight and saddle bag. It even has a Harley-Davidson Military Motorcycle Operation and Maintenance Manual!

It also comes with an original 1964 GIjOE action figure,  dressed in a period-correct WWII US Army uniform with goggles, helmet, holstered .45 cal. 1911 pistol, motorcycle riding boots and gloves. Wherever your interest lies, be it vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles, WWII history, memorabilia, or GIjOE, this one-of-a-kind piece of art is a MUST for your collection!”

This closeup reveals the M1 carbine and Thompson machine-gun in their

This closeup reveals the M1 carbine and Thompson machinegun snug in their (not identical) scabbards. Words simply fail. WOW! (Photo: Julie Kostick)

This closeup shows the addition of the correct hosing, wiring, decals and custom paint and weathering. Superb! (Photo:

Closeup revealing Jason’s addition of hosing, wiring, decals and paint weathering. (Photo: Julie Kostick)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest congratulations go out to Robert Jason for his latest amazing 1:6 scale achievement, and our thanks go out to his “Director of Marketing,” Julie Kostick, for her generous assistance with this article. To watch a video showing the only known surviving example of this motorcycle (on display at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI), click on the link below:

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Kentuckiana G.I. Joe Club Continues Tradition of Outdoor Water-Rocket Parachute Launches, This Time With 1:6 Competitor: Captain Action!

This photo (taken during a previous club meeting) reveals jugs of water and other related launch detritus used to repeatedly provide thrust for the 1:6 scale parachute GIjOE missions. Out-STANDING! (Photo: KYGIJCC)

This photo (taken during a previous club meeting) reveals jugs of water and other related launch “technology” used to repeatedly provide thrust for the 1:6 scale parachute GIjOE (and CA) missions. Out-STANDING! (Photo: KYGCC)

God Speed, Captain Action!

In an egalitarian display of homemade model rocketry and outdoor “playsmanship,” members of the Kentuckiana GIjOE Club (KYGCC) gathered recently at a local park (covered in beautiful bluegrass, natch!) to launch one of GIjOE’s buddies (longtime sales competitor, Captain Action) high into the sky. As one club member stomped furiously on a pressurizing pedal, others stepped back warily. While children, unsure of what would happen next, took protective cover behind their parents. Finally ready, the launcher uttered his fateful countdown: “3-2-1, Liftoff!”

WHOOOSH!!!!!! Sitting atop a highly pressurized water-bottle rocket, Cap was sent soaring into the wild blue yonder, reminding all who witnessed the exciting event that day that: Toys were meant to be PLAYED WITH! After exhausting his craft’s harmless H2O fuel, Cap’s ‘chute popped open and he floated gently back to Earth.

While clearly pleased with the flight’s results, KYGCC club rep, Stephen Sherman, revealed that the group’s primary goal that day was actually to test the viability, strength and functionality (or lack thereof) of Cap’s vintage 1967 parachute. He described the successful mission this way:

“This past weekend, the Kentuckiana GIjOE club got together for one of our periodic Joe paratrooper water-rocket launches. This year, we decided to let Captain Action take his turn in the rocket. The jump was performed by Cap’s Playing Mantis stunt double, but his parachute was a 100% 1967-vintage ‘free’ 4-foot parachute. It still works!

KYGCC members gather underneath the park's pavilion to discuss and prepare for the day's events. (Photo: KYGCC)

KYGCC members gather beneath the park’s pavilion to discuss the day’s events. (Photo: KYGCC)

The Kentuckiana GIjOE Club has a long history of successful water-rocket-propelled parachute missions. If you haven’t seen it, you won’t want to miss the inspiring video (shown below) of their amazing 2009 launch of a GIjOE Mercury Astronaut strapped into a Space Capsule. Take a look:

Prior to his launch atop one of the club's famous "water-rockets," the astronaut GIjOE steps from his owner's superb custom Astronaut Support Vehicle. Amazing work, guys! (Photo: KYGCC)

Prior to his launch atop one of the club’s famous “water-rockets,” this GIjOE Astronaut steps out of his superb custom ASV. (Astronaut Support Vehicle). Absolutely amazing work, guys! (Photo: KYGCC)

Bottom Line: As the club’s newest mission video reveals, Captain Action’s launch was an unqualified success (just look at the altitude he achieved). It warms our hearts to see Cap’s vintage parachute still returning him safely to Earth nearly 50 years after its production. For more information about the creative, “play-oriented” Kentucky division of the GIjOE Collector’s Club, we recommend you visit the KYGCC Facebook page HERE. Go, Kentucky Joeheads! Go, JOE!

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1:6 Scale Custom Stuart Tank by Ryan Nagata

In this screenshot from a video released by the Replica Prop Forum (RPF), professional Prop Master, Ryan Nagata, poses with some of his 1:1 scale custom ray guns at a 2012 "prop party" convention held in California. (Photo: RPF)

In this screenshot from a video released by the Replica Prop Forum (RPF), professional Prop Master, Ryan Nagata, poses with some of his 1:1 scale custom ray guns at a 2012 “prop party” convention held in California. (Photo: RPF)

21st Century Toys—Taken to the Nth Degree

It’s Thursday, so that means it must be—Tank Day! And what better way to celebrate Tank Day than by remembering the superb 1:6 scale Stuart tank produced by 21st Century Toys? You know the one. Right out of the box, that heavy, plastic beast of a machine was a ton-o-fun for GIjOE and RC fans alike. Its wheels, treads, and opening hatches were all were nicely done, but ardent “tankers” couldn’t help but want—more.

Fortunatley, along came highly talented, professional “prop master,” Ryan Nagata. Ryan’s experience in creating impeccable recreations of famous movie props made him a superbly qualified candidate to take the Stuart to the next, higher level. And so, after properly researching the extensive WWII history of 21st’s spunky “iron coffin,” Ryan soon had his own Stuart transformed to an astonishingly accurate replica with heretofore unimagined levels of detail and realism.

Ultimately, “tanks” to the internet (Ha!), Mr. Nagata’s intricately customized Stuart quickly became world-famous. It’s now an unbelievable example of a rolling, smoke-belching, gun-firing work of miniature military ART. Beautiful to behold and thrilling to operate, it’s the sort of tank all GIjOE fans dream of adding to their collections. According to Nagata:

“This is a 1:6 scale model of a WWII Stuart tank I built for an upcoming project. This one has all the bells and whistles including proportional steering, a working turret, recoiling gun barrel, a mini smoke generator to simulate exhaust, working head and tail lights, and an animatronic commander and driver.”

Bottom Line: Absolutely amazing work, Ryan. Thank you for inspiring so many fans and showing us what a 21st Century Stuart CAN become if we take our time to do—it—right. Imagine all the “backyard battle action” that “tankers” could enjoy with this beauty! If you’d like to see a video of Ryan discussing his professional prop creations, go HERE. If you’d like to see Nagata’s tank as profiled on the Patches of Pride site, go HERE. If you’d like to learn more about the man himself, visit Ryan’s personal website HERE.

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Pennsylvanian Creates 1:6 Scale Version of “Space Chariot” ATV from “Lost in Space”

Here it comes! Customizer Gary Stair's "Space Chariot" plows relentlessly through the arctic snow in search of another adventure. VRROOM!!! (Photo: Gary Stair)

Here it comes! Customizer Gary Stair’s “Space Chariot” plows relentlessly through the arctic snow in search of another sub-zero adventure. This is ALL hand-built, folks. WOW! (Photo: Gary Stair)

Among the world-wide cadre of 1:6 scale customizers and kitbashers, renowned Captain Action enthusiast, Gary Stair, continues to grow in fame, leading the way with his ever-expanding, highly inspiring “fleet” of hand-crafted and scratch-built 1:6 buildings, aircraft, and vehicles. Stair’s latest creation will be instantly recognizable to fans of the classic ’60s sci-fi TV program, “Lost in Space” (LIS), as the show’s unforgettable “Space Chariot” ATV (see photo of original version below).

Don West and Judy Robinson discuss where they can go to be alone ("I think I saw a good spot behind that rock, Judy), while the far more famous, "Space Chariot" waits patiently in the background of this scene from "Lost in Space." (Photo: CBS)

In a scene from Lust in Space, Don West and Judy Robinson discuss where they can go to be alone to perform another one of Don’s 20-minute “undergarment inspections.” Don: “I think I saw a good spot behind that rock.” Judy: “But Don, is this really necessary? It’ll be our third ‘inspection’ today. Are there REALLY such things as ‘invisible space ticks?” Don: “Of course! And the only way to find them is by FEEL. Trust me, I’m a major. I know all about ente—, entemol—, BUGS and such.” (Photo: CBS)

The LIS Space Chariot was just one of FOUR iconic machines created for the show. The other three were, of course, the “Jupiter 2″ (a flying saucer), the iconic “Robot B9″ (Warning, Will Robinson!) and the “Space Pod” (very similar to ones seen in the film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The LIS Space Chariot made its first appearance during the best year of the show, Season 1, and led the lost Robinson family through a dangerous battle with a giant cyclops and across an ocean with a raging cyclonic whirlpool (it was QUITE the exciting time for the Space Chariot).

Stair's Space Chariot enables his explorers to conduct dangerous missions in frozen wastelands, searching for lost UFOs and other mysterious objects. (Photo: Gary Stair)

Stair’s Space Chariot enables his explorers to conduct dangerous missions in frozen wastelands, searching for lost UFOs and other mysterious objects. (Photo: Gary Stair)

Stair’s Space Chariot is not a “bolt-for-bolt” recreation of the one on the show. Rather, it is a wholly unique and exciting custom in its own right. Here’s how Stair describes his one-of-a-kind ATV:

Toy collector and customizer, Gary Stair, PA. (Photo: Gary Stair)

Renowned 1:6 toy customizer, Gary Stair, PA. (Photo: Gary Stair)

“Hello, fellow customizers! This is my new, scratch-built, 1:6 scale “Chariot,” ala the one shown on TV’s “Lost in Space.” It’s chocked FULL of extra features, including: a domed canopy top, a top-side luggage rack, 2 side ladders, a front radar dish, front canopy lights, rear space for the ER1 (environmental robot), a sliding side door, 2 rear lab stations, an elevated center platform (to give better access to the domed top), lighted(!) interior control panels, arm rest tables for computer laptops, an overhead solar shade with tie-down straps for windy conditions, side and rear platforms for easy access (and extra carrying capacity), a rear top-side spotlight, extension power cable, de-icer hose, soil drill and front power-loader bars (to carry heavy equipment, ‘natch!).”

Gary Stair's custom 1:6 scale "Space Chariot" ATV provides a sweet ride through the arctic snow for Captain Action and his second-in-command, Major Stair. (Photo: Gary Stair)

3/4 view of Gary Stair’s 1:6 scale “Space Chariot.” (Photo: Gary Stair)

Side view of Gary Stair's 1:6 scale "Space Chariot." (Photo: Gary Stair)

Side view of Gary Stair’s 1:6 scale “Space Chariot.” (Photo: Gary Stair)

Back view of Gary Stair's 1:6 scale "Space Chariot." (Photo: Gary Stair)

Back view of Gary Stair’s 1:6 scale “Space Chariot.” (Photo: Gary Stair)

“My custom Chariot even has a couple of nifty ‘homage’ additions, including a Lost in Space (2nd Season) laser rifle, and a Star Wars Droid (he seems to have a little R2D2 in him). I hope you enjoy my latest creation and these recent ‘arctic mission’ photos. In other photos (not shown here) I’ve added even more homages to Lost in Space by including a damaged weather station and giant Cyclops footprints. Yikes! Time to call for reinforcements!”

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Gary Stair for being such a regular contributor to The Joe Report and sharing these amazing new photos of his latest 1:6 scale creation. Absolutely top-notch!

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Canadian “Master Miniaturist,” Mike Conrad, Creating Meticulously Detailed 1:6 Scale Custom Weapons, Equipment and Vehicles———Out of Wood!

“Woodworking Wonder” Mike Conrad, poses humorously for an exclusive photo taken for The Joe Report. While wielding a hammer, dremel tool, hot glue gun and a tube of…something, Conrad pretends to be working on his latest creation, an amazingly detailed 1:6 scale water-cooled machine-gun, constructed predominantly out of wood and tiny pieces of metal and rubber. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Mike Conrad's superbly handmade, 1:6 scale WWII "walkie-talkie" is absolutely perfect in every way. Once it's been painted and decaled, it will be...AMAZING. (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Mike Conrad’s superbly handmade, 1:6 scale WWII “walkie-talkie” is almost completed. Once it’s been painted and decaled, it will look… AMAZING. (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Self-Taught 1:6 “Woodworking Wonder”

At a time when most customizers of 1:6 scale action figures, vehicles, weapons and related equipment are working with high-tech aids and materials such as 3D printers (see our previous article HERE), complex resin compounds (see HERE), electro-static flocking machines (see HERE), styrene plastics (see HERE), and even metals (see HERE), longtime modeler and customizer, Mike Conrad, of Ontario, Canada, has decided to eschew modern methods and materials and return to “the craftsman’s roots” by working predominantly—with wood. For even the most talented 1:6 customizers however, working with wood is believed to be severely limiting. Outside of a pile of campfire logs or some tent poles, there would seem to be little else that 1:6 scalers could convincingly create out of the material. Conrad dispels such notions.

This closeup reveals Mike's small work area where he is completing the assembly of one of his 1:6 scale (wooden) machine guns. Simply amazing! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

This closeup reveals Mike’s small work area where he is currently completing the final fit and assembly of one of his 1:6 scale (wooden) machine guns. Simply amazing work! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

A breathtaking closeup of the front sprocket and tread assembly of a 1:6 scale M3 Stuart Tank, currently being constructed by Mike Conrad completely OUT OF WOOD. Are you amazed yet? If not, wait until you see the NEXT photo! (Photo: Mike Conrad) Exclusive to The Joe Report.

A breathtaking closeup of the front sprocket and tread assembly of a 1:6 scale M2A4 Stuart Tank, currently being constructed by Mike Conrad OUT OF WOOD. Are you blown away yet? If not, wait until you see the NEXT photo! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

How is Such Fine Work Possible?

Typically, when you think of wooden toys, you think of standard flea-market finds such as wagons, horses, choo-choos and other such simplistic children’s fare. But Conrad’s work isn’t made for children. Rather, each piece is a miniature work of military fine art, replete with perfectly defined parts and realistic details. The fact that nearly everything is made out of wood is literally mind-boggling. It’s the kind of 1:6 custom work you have to see up close and in-person to believe. We asked Mike to tell us about himself and his background, expecting the requisite story of intensive training and years spent apprenticing with master woodsmiths and artisans. Surprisingly, he replied:

“I was born and raised an Air Force “Military Brat.” Our family packed up and moved away from friends and familiarity every 4 years. In 1982, we moved to Lahr, West Germany. I was 12 at the time. Shortly after we arrived, I happened upon something that a lot of us built as a kid (when the costs were cheaper)—an almighty, 1/35th scale TANK. I fell in love! My passion for model-building snowballed from that point on to include planes, ships, submarines, corvettes and most recently, 1/6th scale WWII.”

This stunning rear-view of the M3 Stuart's sprocket gears and tread assembly is an absolute MIND-blower! Can you (in your wildest dreams) imagine making all of this BY HAND and out of WOOD? Fantastic work, Mike! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

(Here’s the photo we warned you about.) This stunning rear-view of the M2A4 Stuart’s sprocket gears and tread assembly is an absolute MIND-blower! Can you imagine (in your wildest dreams) the talent required to make all of this BY HAND—and out of WOOD? Simply exquisite work, Mike! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Another view of the tread assembly reveals a flexible, underlying rubber belt, sandwiched with perfectly spaces wooden blocks. Can you imagine all the careful planning and painstaking detail work required to create this masterpiece? (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Another view of the tread assembly reveals a flexible, underlying rubber belt, sandwiched with perfectly spaced wooden blocks. Can you imagine all the careful planning and painstaking detail work required to create this masterpiece? (Photo: Mike Conrad)

“Of course, while growing up, we never had much money, so when it came to model building (or as I like to call it now, ‘model creating’), I had to make do with whatever was available at hand. Whenever images or ideas were in my head, the next step was scrounging and hunting for the various parts and pieces in my Dad’s parts bins in the basement and garage. (Thanks, Dad!). I’ve always been good at picturing the finished product from all sides and how to go about building or creating it. I have never had any formal training in model building or painting, but I’ve won numerous awards for my ‘Creature Creations and Prop Building,’ having also worked for a professional theater In Halifax.

Withe the main tread assembly and lower hull in place, Mike begins adding the upper armor and turret, cannon and top .50 caliber machine gun. Yes, it's ALL made of wood. Imagine how great this will display when it is completed! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

With the main tread and lower hull assemblies in place, Mike begins to add the upper armor sections, turret, main gun, etc.. Yes, it’s ALL made out of wood. And YES…it will be R/C! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Piece by piece, bit by bit, Mike cuts, shapes, sands and carefully assembles and fits each and every part of his amazing, wooden creations. Here, he attaches a perfectly carved call-button to the side of his new 1:6 scale walkie-talkie. WOW! (Photo: Mike

Piece by piece, Mike cuts, shapes, sands and carefully assembles each and every tiny part of his amazing, 1:6 scale wooden creations. Here, he attaches a perfectly carved call-button to the side of his new 1:6 scale walkie-talkie. WOW! (Photo: Mike

Simply Fascinating!

Despite a lack of any formal art education, Mike has clearly become a VERY talented and gifted artist. And his decision to work in wood makes his creations all that more special. We confessed to Conrad that we were surprised he had chosen to create his 1:6 scale customs out of wood, when there were so many other more “toy-like” materials available. He replied:

“I’ve used anything and EVERYTHING I could find; from the wood panels off the sides of a small tangerine box (see my current .30 cal machine-gun project), to the hardwood dowels I found at local Dollar Stores (those stores are a good hunting ground for bits and pieces, by the way). No matter what materials (or media) you decide to use, I say to kids out there… Put down that video game controller or cell phone. Scrounge around the house. Raid your Dad’s parts bins. Use your imagination. And for Pete’s sake… START CREATING!”

Holy Hot Lead! Words cannot do justice to Mike’s 1:6 scale miniature M1917A1 water-cooled Browning machine gun. Here it is in its pre-paint status, revealing all of its superbly handcrafted and intricate parts. Next up, the weapon’s water tank, ammo box and ammo belt. Hooah! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Conrad's wooden creation of the lighter, more manueverable Browning 1919A2 air-cooled machine gun and tripod would look right at home in any miliatry museum (or the hands of a 1:6 scale action figure). Just wait until it's painted! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Conrad’s 1:6 wooden creation of the lighter, more maneuverable Browning 1919A2 air-cooled machine gun and tripod would look right at home in any military museum (or in the hands of a 1:6 scale action figure). And just wait until it’s painted. Yessiree! (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Going Against the Grain

Of all the materials to work with in 1:6 scale, it seems that wood would be the most artistically challenging and work-intensive. But such thoughts don’t appear to concern or deter Conrad, who describes his preference for wood thusly:

“Well, the idea of working with wood came to me just because of the simple fact that (in my head) I’m always looking for other uses for house-hold materials, and there was always scrap wood sitting around in the garage, basement, etc. And of course, it was FREE.

Personally, I find that wood is very easy to carve. If I make any mistakes—there’s always good ol’ wood filler that I can make myself out of sawdust and glue. It’s also non-toxic (and FREE). I hate waste, so I try to find uses for EVERYTHING. Gimme a dremel tool and some wood and I can make practically anything. I’ve actually just finished carving out the button for my new U.S. walkie-talkie.”

Another view of David's unfinished tank shows it beginning to come together nicely. Can you imagine the satisfaction of building something this cool from SCRAPS of wood you find around the house? WOW. (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Another view of Mike’s unfinished tank shows it’s beginning to come together nicely. Imagine the satisfaction of building something this cool from scraps of wood you find lying around the house? WOW. (Photo: Mike Conrad)

“I’m also building a 1/6 M2A4 scale tank, all out of wood, using wooden packing crate boxes for oranges that I picked up from the grocery store and some other scrap wood I found lying around. If the tooth of a gear ever breaks, I can just cut out a new sprocket, because—it’s FREE! I just rough cut the circles out on my band-saw, then spin them using my drill press and a long nut and bolt, using it like a wood lathe. Whatever I make is just for my own personal collection. I’ve never really thought of any other options, such as selling them. But if such an offer ever came up, I’m sure I would consider it!”

The first call comes in on Mike's new handcrafted 1:6 walkie-talkie: "Hello? What's that you say? You want to buy Mr. Conrad's 1:6 scale wooden tank? HA. Get in line, fella!" (Photo: Mike Conrad)

(The first call comes in on Mike’s new handcrafted 1:6 walkie-talkie): “Hello? What’s that you say? You want to BUY Mr. Conrad’s 1:6 scale wooden tank? HA. Get in line, fella!” (Photo: Mike Conrad)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to Mike Conrad for his contributions to this article. His extensive use of wood as a customizing material gives his 1:6 creations a unique tactile and artistic esthetic that few others can claim. And Mike’s suggestion of using inexpensive (i.e. FREE) supplies is great advice for hobbyists of all ages. There’s no better way to begin an artistic pursuit than boldly jumping in and spending practically nothing. He’s also living proof that you don’t have to have a formal or expensive art education in order to begin creating your own 1:6 scale masterpieces. Remember, anything created by you becomes an instant keepsake and family heirloom, possessing far greater memories of satisfaction and accomplishment than ANY mass-produced hunk of plastic. So, as Mike likes to say… “For Pete’s sake, start creating!”

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