“Welcome to Marwen” Sneak Preview Nets Mixed Reviews From Two Members of The Sly Fox Club

“Not-so-undercover agent” Brian Otnes, aka as one as one of the three “PoP associates,” poses for a quick snap next to a stand-up display for “Welcome to Marwen” before entering the theater to attend the film’s sneak preview last night—somewhere in Austin, TX. (Photo: Kim Otnes) Click to enlarge.

As we teased about late last night, Patches of Pride (PoP), the creator of (some of) the 1:6 scale patches used in the film “Welcome to Marwen,” had dispatched three of its most trusted associates to an early sneak-preview screening at a theater somewhere in Austin, TX. It turns out the three “associates” in question are actually family members of PoP’s head-honcho, Mark Otnes, and as such, were only too happy to be sent on a quixotic search for evidence of the use of PoP’s products in the production. Reviews of the film were mixed, but “sightings” of the company’s tiny patches were confirmed and unanimous. Of the three PoP associates who attended last night’s showing, The Joe Report was able to track down two of them, and both were able to provide us with their reactions to the movie itself as well as recounting experiences of attending the event.

Intrepid TJR Field Reporter and PoP Associate, Brian Otnes (Photo: Brian Otnes)

We begin the first of our two exclusive interviews with Brian Otnes (BO)—

TJR: How were you able to see “Marwen” ahead of its release this coming Friday?

BO: “We’re members of “The Sly Fox Club” (see website HERE) and we received three FREE tickets from them.” 

TJR: Lucky you! Well, the #1 question fans of Patches of Pride have been asking is—do Mark Otnes or PoP receive any sort of screen credit at the end? Yes or No?

BO: “No. We stayed all the through (the credits) to see if there was one, but there was no credit line for either. Did the movie producers promise one?”

TJR: No, that was always just “pie-in-the-sky” thinking. PoP never expected any official credit.

BO: “Well, it’s interesting—if you watch it, they have a whole lot of modeling credits. Some of the people you may recognize, who knows, but they’re probably all Hollywood-based people.”

Screenshot from a Welcome to Marwen preview (Photo: Universal) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Any “sightings” of PoP products in the film?

BO: “Yes, a few. But Steve Carell’s character was the only American figure we saw, the rest were all Nazis and then the girls. I wondered about the Jeep too, but wasn’t sure if PoP had anything to do with it.”

TJR: Probably not. But two of the patches on Carell’s action figure are clearly PoP’s and the sergeant chevrons on the “G.I. Julie” doll are also PoP’s, as are—quite possibly—some of the German figures’ patches. We won’t be sure until we get to see the film ourselves (this Friday). You saw PoP’s other patches though, right?

BO: “Oh yeah. We saw them—for sure! Now let me ask you something—one of the Nazis has a stylized swastika tattoo on his arm. I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, so I’ll be careful of what I reveal here, but there’s a shot toward’s the end of the movie where Steve Carell is shown putting a waterslide decal—of the same swastika—on a figure’s arm.  It’s an actual decal like PoP’s ProSeries decals, along the lines of a custom decal that Patches of Pride would be able to make. Watch for it! You get to see him actually apply it to the arm. I was thinking, Oh! I hope that’s PoPs, because that’d be a PERFECT promo for them!”

TJR: Very exciting! PoP does create a TON of custom waterslide decal orders, body tattoos included, but I can’t recall creating that particular design, so I’d have to say I doubt PoP created it. But who knows? We won’t know for sure until we see the movie on Friday!

BO: “Well, I’m sorry if it turns out it wasn’t PoPs, but that’s something the movie people probably had to create themselves or special order—from somebody, somewhere.”

TJR: Agreed. Hogancamp is a real 1:6 kitbasher too; a real scrounger. Perhaps he found the decal included with an old model kit somewhere. We really can’t say for sure at this point.

BO: “I guess not. We looked VERY closely for anything else that could’ve been made by PoP. We were hoping maybe some more American soldiers would come in, but it was always the girls who saved him.”

TJR: Well, the original working title was “The Women of Marwen,” until October, I believe. Somewhere along the line they decided to change it to, “Welcome to Marwen.”

BO: (Laughs) “Frankly, I don’t think either one of them are a particularly good title.”

TJR: What was your personal reaction to the movie? Good? Bad? Or..?

BO: “I didn’t particularly care for the movie. We all like Steve Carell and were pulling for it to be a good movie and for us to enjoy it and all, but it just wasn’t that good. Fans of Patches of Pride will be very interested in Hogancamp’s modeling of the city and all the photos he takes, and his show at a gallery. The transitioning between the real world and the doll world was very well done too, but I think they could’ve done it just ONCE and it would’ve gotten the point across. It would have been better as a conventional drama, one wherein you see him dealing with his PTSD after the assault, and his daily life after it all happened. The going back and forth between his two worlds was just done too many times and didn’t really help the story.”

TJR: Very interesting observations. Thanks for all the great intel, Brian!

Our second exclusive interview is with Laurel Wilson (LW)—

TJR Field Reporter, Laurel Wilson of Austin, TX (Photo: Laurel Wilson)

TJR: Please tell us about your not-so-secret “mission” yesterday to the movies.

LW: “We went to see “Welcome to Marwen” with a particular mission in mind. Our mission was to pay extra close attention to the dolls in the story and to look for anything that might’ve been made by Patches of Pride (yes!). Then, we stayed through all the credits, but (sadly) we didn’t see any mention of Mark Otnes or Patches of Pride (whimper). I guess they couldn’t give credit to everyone, but PoP’s contributions WERE very important to the film, too!” 

TJR: What were your impressions of the film?

LW: “Overall, I liked it. It took me a while to ‘get’ where the story going and what it was going to be about. The main character was always having fantasies, making the plot a bit difficult to follow, at times. It turns out the film is based on a real story and that the characters are all based on real people. They also transitioned from the real world to the imaginary world of Marwen a bit too often. What would’ve worked better, I think, would’ve been to have spent longer in each world, instead of jumping back and forth so much. You know, give viewers a feeling for what was REALLY going on in this man’s life, not so much the fantasy storyline. It could’ve been improved as a film, but to me, it was a very INTERESTING story and we’re taken along on the journey of this man’s return—to the world.” 

Bottom Line: With only two days to go until it’s premiere, “Welcome to Marwen” looks to be an exciting and (hopefully) enjoyable film for fans and customizers of 1:6 scale action figures. Our sincerest thanks today to Mr. Otnes and Mrs. Wilson for their generous contributions to this article.

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Exclusive Sneak Peek of “Welcome to Marwen” Has Been Granted to 3 “Associates” of the Film’s 1/6th Scale Patches Producer—Patches of Pride (PoP)

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Hunker Down, Jerry! Movie “bootleggers” ply their illicit trade primarily in big cities (where nobody really cares) and badly videoed DVDs are sold openly on downtown street corners. Here, Jerry Seinfeld timidly demonstrates the act of video “bootlegging” in a screenshot taken from an episode of his 1990s hit TV series, Seinfeld. Patches of Pride is not bootlegging “Welcome to Marwen,” but it did dispatch two “associates” to see the new movie during a “members-only” sneak preview on Tuesday night. (Photo: CBS TV)

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“G.I. Julie” sports a set of US Army sergeant chevrons from Patches of Pride on her custom fatigue-dress. (Photo: Universal) Click to enlarge.

No Bootlegging Allowed, Jerry!

We all know that “Welcome to Marwen” premieres in 3 days (nationwide) this coming Friday. But what would you say if we told you that Patches of Pride (PoP) has close “connections” with a couple of people who will see the movie much sooner than that—AND—will report their findings and opinions back to PoP (and the rest of the 1:6 scale universe) exclusively on tomorrow’s edition—of The Joe Report? Pretty cool surprise, huh? How is this even possible, you may wonder? Stay tuned, loyal PoPsters, because all will be revealed tomorrow (Wednesday).

Bottom Line— Fret not dear readers, nothing illegal is going on and no plot “spoilers” will be revealed to you ahead of Friday’s eagerly anticipated premiere in theaters nationwide. BUT— you can bet that our two trusty PoP “associates” will be watching the credits rolling at the end of the film VERY carefully and will report their findings here tomorrow—good, bad, or otherwise. See you Wednesday!

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Welcome to Marwen’s Steve Carell and Director Robert Zemeckis Conduct Pre-Release Interviews

Bottom Line: Many “deep” questions are answered in these excellent pre-release interviews INCLUDING—does Steve Carell wear high-heels in this movie? It’s time to find out—NOW. Enjoy!

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“Welcome to Marwen”—First Cast Interviews!

There was an official Hollywood premiere of the upcoming film, “Welcome to Marwen” Monday night, and for the first time, the film’s director, stars, and others were allowed to speak publicly about the the various parts they played in in its production. Most of the questions asked were pure “fluff,” but look for brief moments of clarity from director Robert Zemeckis and star, Steve Carell. Interestingly, Carell reveals he felt the “doll” representing him was TOO good looking, stating—

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Can a headsculpt be TOO handsome? 1:6 scale recreation of actor Steve Carell (Photo: Universal)

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“It’s crazy! Because it’s just so much better looking than me. They roll it out, I’m like, all right, yeah! I can dream. Pretty cool!” —Steve Carell

Bottom Line: We’re getting excited! Only nine (9) more days until the film’s official release date of December 21st. If you can’t wait, we recommend checking out Patches of Pride’s exciting “Ten Prizes to Marwen” contest giveaway (exclusively on Facebook) HERE as they continue to celebrate an unofficial “countdown” to the premiere by giving away 1 prize-a-day—for 10 days straight! HOOyeah!

 

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It’s Over—The Final (Ever) G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Newsletter Has Been Published and Mailed (Sniff?)

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The Final Issue— There will be no more. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Club Members Will NOT Be Allowed to Renew For 2019

Down in our mail room today, we received shipment of a rather poignant publication—the FINAL issue of the official membership magazine of the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club (GIJCC). To be honest, we’re not going to miss it. Not one bit! Despite Fun Publication’s best efforts over the years, we remain firmly on the side of Joe-fandom that has long argued the club’s newsletter has always been steered in the wrong direction, content-wise, and have considered it as (basically) one BIG “missed opportunity” for GIjOE-fandom (sorry!).

Yes, we know economics drive business. We understand also why the club had to make the decisions they did. But in our ideal (fantasy) universe (where we get everything we want), we firmly believe(d) that the official newsletter of our “hallowed” GIjOE Collector’s Club should have been something altogether different—and in so MANY ways. Of course, discussing all those sorts of ideas, especially now that the club is “kaput,” is all water-under-the-bridge, Monday morning quarterbacking type of thinking— i.e., it’s ultimately pointless.

Continuing our theme of complete honesty on this topic, for 12-inch GIjOE collectors, the average “read time” of each issue was typically just under a minute, often before the magazine was (sadly) tossed straight into a trash can or recycling bin. Yes, for fans of the “little Joes,” there was always more content of interest, as those members were the magazine’s primary demographic and intended “readership target.” And some members, despite openly caring little for the publication, readily admit they’ve kept every issue (show of hands, please) and even bagged them and put them in magazine files. Will missing issues command larger prices now? That remains to be seen.

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Goodbye “Regular Joes”— The back page of the final issue of the GIjCC newsletter features the last-ever comic photo-strip of the popular 12-inchers fondly known as the “Regular Joes,” created by the creative team of Dave Pisani and Tod Pleasant. We’ll probably miss their funny misadventures more than anything else the club has ever published! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Fortunately for 1:6 scalers, the magazine’s (final) guest reporter, Greg Autore did an admiral job penning an article entitled, “GIjOE Classic Collection—The Final Figures.” It—is—GREAT! We only wish Greg had submitted it to us HERE at The Joe Report, first (so we could’ve gotten the scoop, HA!). And bonus spoiler— Autore’s supporting photos even show some GIjOE products we’ve NEVER seen or heard of before. That sort of Joe-history revelation is ALWAYS exciting. OOHyeah! It’s hard to believe that this is the end of the GIjOE club (at least in print form). It remains to be seen now, how long the club will keep its website up and running. Once all remaining club merchandise is sold, there’ll be little incentive to keep paying for the site’s upkeep and maintenance. Regardless of the date of the club’s “ultimate demise,” our sincerest THANKS go out NOW (again) to Mr. Savage and the GIjCC. You guys RULE! Go, JOE!

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Dec. 7, 1941—A Day That Will Live in INFAMY

We will NOT forget— Japan attacking Pearl Harbor, HI, Dec. 7, 1941. (Photo: US Navy)

Bottom Line: Please take a moment to remember the Americans who died in on this day in 1941.

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He’s BAAAAAAACK— “Stretch Armstrong” Returns

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Yank Him—He STRETCHES. Stretch Armstrong is available (again) in stores and on online. How far can YOU pull him—before he pops? Do you dare try? (Photo: Jazwares)

Now THIS is a fun toy. All it asks of you is to use your imagination (remember doing that?), stretch out its muscular arms and legs as far as you can pull them, and then chuckle and laugh as they slowly return to normal. Such was silly ol’ “Stretch Armstrong;” so simple a concept, and yet so popular with kids (and adults!) of all ages. We’re about a year late announcing it, but we felt that ol’ Stretch’s return to retail in 2016 deserved at least a quick mention here on The Joe Report, and for those of you who were born too late to enjoy the hilarious pleasures of owning a Stretch Armstrong for yourself—well—Wikipedia is only too happy to provide the following helpful intel:

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“Stretch Armstrong is a large, gel-filled action figure first introduced in 1976 by Kenner. In 2016, at the New York Toy Fair, Hasbro announced the return of the Stretch Armstrong toy in its original 1976 design. Stretch is an action figure shaped as a short, muscular, man with blond hair wearing black trunks. The doll’s most notable feature was that it could be stretched from its original size of about 15 in (0.38 m) to 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m). If a tear did develop, it could be fixed with an adhesive bandage. Information on how to repair Stretch was provided in the toy’s instruction booklet that was originally inside his box.”

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Twist him. Bend him. STRETCH him. That’s what he loves! (Photo: jazwares) Click to enlarge.

“The Stretch Armstrong toy concept was created by Jesse D. Horowitz, the industrial designer for Kenner’s R&D group. The idea was approved for development by the head of R&D, Jeep (James) Kuhn, vice president of Kenner. The ‘stretch man’ idea as it was called was pursued with two different bodies in mind. One was a sumo wrestler and the other was an All-American blond hunk. Horowitz sculpted the models himself instead of hiring a freelancer. The sumo man was too bulky and large, so the All-American body was cast by Kenner’s model maker Richard Dobek, and the resultant resin model was taken to a latex doll manufacturer in New Jersey, where the first bodies were dipped.”

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Look for THIS BOX— Stretch wants YOU to find him. Happy hunting! (Photo: jazwares) Click to enlarge.

“Originally, springs were thought of as the way to stretch the man. However, they were thought to be too awkward and stiff, too difficult to insert and would likely pierce the skin. Kuhn, a chemical engineer, pursued a liquid sugar idea which eventually proved successful. Tremendous quantities of Karo corn syrup were purchased from an A&P supermarket. The syrup was boiled down to get the proper viscosity. Kuhn and Horowitz flew to Kenner’s headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and presented the concept to Bernie Loomis, Kenner’s president. He loved it and so a toy icon was born.”

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YIKES!— Seriously, can a toy get any better than this? WOW! (Photo: jazwares) Click to enlarge.

“The original Stretch Armstrong figure was conceived and developed by Bill Armasmith, and was in production from 1976 until 1980. The original 1970s toy commands high prices on the secondary collectors’ market, selling for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of US dollars. Through storage and play, the figure could become damaged and rendered useless. There are still original Stretch Armstrongs that have survived the passing of time and are remarkably preserved through sheer luck or being stored at the correct temperature. The figure keeps best at room temperature.

Stretch Armstrong was reissued in the 1990s by Cap Toys, with a canine sidekick, ‘Fetch Armstrong,’ The reissue stretch Armstrong had a more comical exaggerated face (a huge genial smile) and had on a vanity T-shirt and shorts. This new reissue figure was introduced in 1993 and 1994 version exist with slightly different art work. He also has an evil brother named Evil X-ray Wretch Armstrong who has a skull face, sports a mohawk, and also stretches. Wretch Armstrong seems to be a redesigned, smaller remake of Stretch X-Ray but in reality looks nothing like the 1970s version. Evil X-ray Wretch Armstrong is only 7 inches tall whereas Stretch X-ray was over 12 inches tall.” —Wikipedia

Bottom Line: Owning a Stretch Armstrong is considered to be a “must” among most vintage toy and/or action figure collectors. He still looks cool, “plays” cool, and IS cool. We recommend that you get yourself a Stretch for Christmas (and maybe his evil foe, “Vac Man,” too) over at the whimsical website called “Things You Never Knew Existed” found HERE. Walmart had him on sale for a while. Search around for the best deals and maybe you’ll STRETCH your budget as far as it can possibly go. HA. (Stretch would approve!)

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Non-Electric Flocking Techniques Help Lyle Kozak Create Truly Unique 1:6 Scale GIjOE Headsculpts

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As real as it gets— Combine high-end headsculpts with E. Lyle Kozak’s superbly intuitive hair-n-beard flocking and you get near-REALITY at 1:6 scale. Can this figure speak, too? WOW! (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak)

exclusivebannerGet’cher Hair On!— We’ve talked about talented “flockers” in the worldwide 1:6 scale community before, from a Brazilian builder of an amazing one-of-a-kind, life-sized Falcon action figure (HERE) to a professional flocking business in the U.K. appropriately called “Flocktastic” (HERE), to gutsy, yet admitted “amateurs” in the U.S. who eschew expensive flocking devices and yet still manage to produce outstanding quality-flocked heads using only ordinary, non-electric supplies.

One such highly talented “amateur” flocker is Edward Lyle Kozak. Better known to his friends, family and fans online as E. Lyle Kozak, or simply Lyle, Mr. Kozak has taken the teachings of a VERY basic video tutorial provided by Bob “the Barber” Rodden (still found in the “tips-n-tricks” section of the Patches of Pride website HERE) and has elevated Rodden’s simple process to an astonishing level, creating amazing, 1:6 scale, facial-hair ART. Fortunately (for the subscribers and readers of The Joe Report), Mr. Kozak has kindly consented to provide us all today with an exclusive insight into his stunning “forays into flocking.” Take it away, Mr. K!

Edward Lyle Kozak, displays his unique “mini-me” Santa GIjOE, complete with matching Santa hat and (a tad-too-long) suit coat. (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak)

“Have ya ever thought about re-flocking an old GIjOE Adventure Team figure? Or giving your figure some unique new character? Me too! I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s and my fascination with GIjOE started when I was very young. My brother had many of the Adventure Team figures and accessories. I received a few of my own at the very end of the AT line. I was so obsessed with AT GIjOEs that for many years growing up, I thought you had to have a beard to be a soldier! From there, I went on to Super Joe and then on to the RAH line. My two favorite toys growing up were the Fisher Price Adventure People and the Adventure Team. For many years, I was buying and trading figures and always wanted to learn how to repair damaged or missing flocking on their heads. It would take me a LOT of research to find reliable references on how to flock a Joe and where to get the right materials (it’s easier now).”

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Classic Adventure Teamers, RESTORED— There’s nothing cooler than giving new flocks to vintage A-Teamers from the 1970s. If these guys could speak, they’d probably scream out, “THANK YOU, Lyle! Thank you for restoring our thinning hairlines and making us YOUNG and VIRILE again!” We’d have to agree. That is SUPERB hair-restoring flocking work, Mr. K! (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak) Click to enlarge.

“After many late nights (and 12AM cups of coffee), one day, purely by chance, I was looking for some replacement AT decals for a recently acquired yellow ATV, and as I looked through the Patches of Pride (PoP) website, I found a link that said, “How to flock your heads in 10-15 minutes.” Wha..? After all my searching— FINALLY—there it was, right in front of me (see HERE). Other than all those great decals, and awesome and unique accessories, PoP also offers TONS of cool diorama and customizing tips and ideas.”

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Fancy Foreign Facial Flocks— Lyle’s battlin’ Brits are now sporting some SERIOUSLY sassy whiskers. Blimey, Guv’nah. Long live the Queen! (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak) Click to enlarge.

“The process demonstrated on PoP’s website by Bob Rodden is a VERY basic way of flocking without spending a lot of money on an expensive electrostatic machine. Bob’s process works just fine and that is exactly how I’m doing all my heads now; with just a few minor changes to the process. Here are the specific changes I have implemented into the process that I learned from Bob and PoP.

  • I pretreat the heads with a PVC pipe cleaner that removes oily residue from handling and helps to promote better glue adhesion (found at local retailers).
  • I also found a good, affordable, and not-too-smelly adhesive that works great but can also be easily removed with rubbing alcohol.
  • The first type of glue I use is Loctite GO2 Glue. This glue is a little thicker and spreads on nicely over the head and has a long enough pot life (dry time) to be able to cover the head and flock.
  • The other glue I have recently started to use is Clear Gorilla Glue. This is a little thinner than the GO2 glue, but they both held up the same in dry testing and at holding the flock on.”

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Flocking Adds Character— Hit the ice, Adventurers! (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak)

“In my search for flocking knowledge, I eventually found a wonderful company called “Just Flock It” that produces GIjOE-appropriate flocking in a multitude of colors and lengths—just PERFECT for any and all crazy customs that might come to mind (see their website HERE). I have to say too, the customer service and availability at Just Flock It is top-notch and I have never had a single issue with their products or service.”

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Ho, Ho, HAIRY— With flocking projects, if you can THINK it, you can probably DO it. Lyle’s short-bearded “Santa Joe” is a perfect example. (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak)

“I’ve also found the Flock Concepts blog which has a ton of info on adhesives, fibers, flocking machines, and anything else you can think of re: flocking. The blog is run by Ray Cairo, a really cool guy who also flocks as a side business. He dyes and cuts most of his own flock and has mastered how to mix colors to get correct blends that match vintage figures. HERE‘s the link to Ray’s blog.”

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Artistic Hair Design— Lyle’s expert mixture of gray and black flocking impart a distinctive look and “age” to this “angry” AA headsculpt. (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak)

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Grizzled Greatness— Varied follicle heights and subtle color differentiations combine to imbue this custom head with a WORLD of personality. AMAZING work, Lyle! (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak)

“A few more things to keep in mind when you’re flocking:

  • Don’t rush it, take your time, practice, and it will become easier.
  • The straight colors are ok, but mixing them makes them really POP!
  • It doesn’t take very much glue or a lot of flock to cover one (1) head.
  • Once you learn the basics, the possibilities are endless!

For more information, please visit my flocking page on Facebook HERE. Enjoy!”

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EE-YUCK! Adding flocking to this “Walking Dead” headsculpt has made it almost TOO real to look at. Wow. VERY CREEPY, Mr. K! (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak)

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Goin’ Gray? This Sea Adventurer looks like the man in charge. His encroaching gray provides distinction as well as “aging” him beyond his blonder subordinates. THIS IS A MASTERPIECE of 1:6 scale flocking. Just look at that face! (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak)

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Redheads RULE!— This tough guy looks like someone you’d want “watching your back” whenever you got in a tough scrape. Lyle’s perfectly blended redhead coloration goes superbly with his eye and eyebrow colors. (Photo: E. Lyle Kozak)

Bottom Line: Customizers such as Mr. Rodden and Mr. Kozak are truly inspirations to us all. Their ventures into the fantastical world of flocking continues to reveal to us that—with very little expense and (a little) trial and effort—all our customizing “dreams” really CAN come true. Keep up the great work, guys. An especially big THANK YOU too, to Mr. Kozak, for sharing all of his flocking intel with us today. You are the MAN, sir!

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The Coolest of the Cool— Hasbro’s James Bond UK Secret Agent 007 Figures From the ’90s Now Highly Sought-After by GIjOE and Action Man Collectors

Holy, WOW! The play-value of this Goldeneye Action Man figure is simply through the ROOF. Seriously, what kid wouldn’t want to untie this super-spy and then immediately begin playing with it and creating some super-secret adventures? So COOL! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Today’s Top-Secret Intel comes to us from The Joe Report’s highly respected and well-reknowned ace field reporter, “Wild” Bill Underwood, who generously provides us with the following text and superb(!) color photographs. In this article, Bill takes us on a nostalgic look back at Hasbro’s James Bond 007 Action Man figure sets from the 1990s. We weren’t even aware some of these existed until Bill brought them to our attention. And their packaging BLOWS US AWAY! —Enjoy! (The Editor)

“Wild” Bill Underwood, GIjOE and Action Man fan and collector (Photo courtesy: Bill Underwood)

By Bill Underwood 

“In 1993, Hasbro re-launched Palitoy’s Action Man (AM) brand (the UK version of GI Joe) with a new body design that featured less articulation than the original figures from the vintage 1960s-70s era. Not surprisingly, many vintage 12” collectors were unimpressed by AM’s new heavily muscled body, oversized head and undersized feet. But kids seemed to like him and (those shortcomings aside) AM “soldiered on” nicely until 2006 – when the line was finally discontinued (again).

One of the more interesting chapters in this resurrected AM story was a limited-edition run of six James Bond AM figures inspired by the blockbuster films, including Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, GoldenEye, The World is Not Enough, and Tomorrow Never DiesEach figure set features an Action Man suited up as 007 from one of the films—and Hasbro did a pretty decent job recreating the outfits.”

007s Out-of-the-Box Lineup— All six of the Action Man 007 figures proudly protect the fireplace mantle in Bill’s home from dastardly super-villains. Hot stuff! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

“My favorite is Bond’s Royal Navy (Blue # 1) dress uniform from You Only Live Twice. For the record, Commander Bond also donned this uniform for The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never DiesHasbro also recreated some of the gear from these films—like Bond’s spear gun from Thunderball and the GoldenEye apparatus from the Pierce Brosnan film. The most impressive all-around set (for both outfit and gear) is The Spy Who Loved Me, with its near-perfect recreation of 007’s snow ski suit (and gear) from the film’s exciting opening sequence.” (see below)

He Must Ski to Live— In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond struggles to evade a passel of pursuing bad guys by out-skiing them down a treacherous mountain slope. Look at the fit, the color and the coordinated details of this outfit. We’d buy this RIGHT NOW! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

“The strongest feature of these sets is the packaging – which is simply OUTSTANDING. Each box features beautiful original art work with extras goodies inside, like scene storyboard cards and 35mm film cells taken from the movie. My greatest ‘complaint’ with these sets is the size of Bond’s Walther PPK. It’s just too big. Even for AM’s already meaty mitts. Fortunately, two of the Pierce Brosnan sets feature a different Walther model that fits more comfortably in his hands.”

The Right Gun for any Odd-Job— Fans of 007 know that Bond prefers certain weapons over others, so it’s important to nail those details. We DIG this headsculpt! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

“I understand that these sets weren’t highly coveted by vintage Action Man (VAM) collectors, and that’s a shame, because they’re really quite cool. Yes, we also know that in recent years, other companies have produced more impressive 1:6 Bond-inspired action figures (i.e. Sideshow and Big Chief); but while those sets are ultra-realistic, they’re also ultra-pricey. I have a warm spot for these AM Bonds by Hasbro. Maybe it’s the hybrid aspect that appeals to me—in that they’re not exclusively Action Man—or Bond. They’re both. Then again, maybe I just can’t resist anything that combines two of my favorite hobbies—collecting AM figures and watching Bond films!”

Mind-Blowing Boxes— Many GIjOE and AM collectors would love to pick up these 007 sets just for their unique and outstanding packaging. This superb one from Thunderball combines vintage ’60s artwork from the original movie poster (and soundtrack album) with all-new artwork from the ’90s, and it does it flawlessly. GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

“If you’re interested in picking up any of these bad boys (and who isn’t?), I would recommend lurking on eBay. Prices there have generally ranged from $35 to $60. One caveat though—if you purchase the Thunderball set (shown above and below) make sure that the rubber skindiving jacket is intact—BEFORE finalizing your purchase. The first set I picked up looked fine from the front, but (sadly) it was deteriorating in the back. Good luck AM and Bond fans—and Happy Hunting!” —Bill Underwood

Rubber Suit Awareness— Look out for dreaded “rubber rot” when picking up one of the Thunderball figure sets on eBay. This suit looks fine from the front, but… (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Movie Minutiae— Back panels of the boxes are crammed with movie trivia regarding each of the six sets, souvenir film clips, scene and figure pics, etc. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Box Me Up, Baby! This box gets our blood burnin’ for Bond! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

The skiing Bond figure out of the box and all set up. WOW! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Bond’s a Bad-A**!— And this Goldeneye box deserves a Gold medal for package design. And look— Hasbro added a GIjOE/Action Man scar to his cheek! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Lead will FLYTomorrow Never Dies was just one big shoot-out. Notice how in the artwork, Bond’s tuxedo is MUCH more form-fitting than its AM toy-version? We suggest  you get out your needle and thread and get to work. Baggy jackets are NOT allowed. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Dressed to Impress (and to KILL)— Regardless of how he’s dressed, 007 is always ready to mete out justice to his enemies. Yes, by 2018 we’ve seen better suits, but this tuxedo is actually pretty nice and can always be “tailored” to improve its fit and appearance. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Nyet! Window Boxes are NOT Better, Comrade— Some of the AM Bond’s packages were relegated to less-collectible, standard window boxes that featured far less artwork and thus had far less shelf appeal. The unique Russian blue uniform on this Action Man has OODLES of customization potential, but this set’s plastic window box is boring and “toss-able.” (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Da!— The Russian-uniformed Bond inside the window-box package. Check out the highly detailed star patch and ID cards. VERY nice. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Bill’s Favorite Bond Figure— is the one from You Only Live Twice where 007 is dressed in his Royal Navy uniform as “Commander Bond.” Out-STANDING! Where else are you going to find a RN dress cap with all that detail? Sadly, Hasbro went with a window-box for this figure, cramming all the cool artwork off to the sides, making the package less exciting overall. But—the cap, uniform and figure, all make this unique set a definite “keeper” for your AM/Bond collection. (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Welcome aboard, Commander Bond— This closeup of the AM Bond figure in his Royal Navy dress uniform and cap looks VERY cool. That cap is an EXCELLENT miniature replica of the real thing (note the crown above the anchor). A few minor tailoring adjustments to his uniform and this figure will soon be ready for a full-dress inspection. All hands on deck! (Photo: Bill Underwood) Click to enlarge.

Open Wide, Mr. Bond— Another (big) advantage to full-box packaging is that its front flap opens up to provide MORE opportunities to display supporting graphics and text re: the figure and its contents. And that background behind the figure looks like a miniature diorama. VERY nice. Now THIS is the way to display a figure, NMIB. Be sure to click this pic for a closeup! (Photo: Bill Underwood)

Bottom Line: What FUN stuff. We’re big fans of Action Man and James Bond, so these figures are right up our collecting alley. Our sincerest thanks go out to Bill Underwood for all of his generous and wonderful help compiling the material for this article. You are the MAN, Bill! —The Editor

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“Superheroes” Pay Their Final Respects to Stan Lee

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Melody Mooney in a posed studio portrait depicting her unforgettable (and squeaky-clean) superhero character, Hygena. (Photo: SyFy)

It seems like just yesterday, but Stan Lee’s wildly popular “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” reality-TV competition on the SyFy Channel actually ended back in 2007. Since that time, The Joe Report has done its best to keep up with the heroic cosplaying contestants who made their famous (and sometimes infamous) superhero debuts on that program. To date, we’ve published four exciting contestant interviews, and (when time permits) we hope to conduct even more. Until then, we’ll leave you with this quick compilation of the final thoughts of (some of) the heroes who’ve posted their thoughts and best wishes for ol’ Stan to read during his heavenly journey across the “cosmic rainbow bridge” to infinity. Enjoy—and Excelsior!

“People always ask me what Stan Lee was really like. My small intersection with his large amazing world made me feel like I really could be a superhero. He was a legendmaker, a storyteller, a champion for the little guy, the underdog, and their rise to greatness. He was funny and wise and a true believer in the magic of a good cape, a good tag line, and a world where we all could be super. My heart feels very broken today, but boy, did Stan leave this world so much better than he found it. Excelsior and thank you, Mr. Lee!” —Melody “Hygena” Mooney


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Stan Lee reacts to the “loud-n-proud” primal-scream of  Mary Votava’s “Monkey Woman.” (Photo: Syfy)

“A brilliant light has left the world. You will be greatly missed, Stan. Love and Excelsior forever!” —Mary “Monkey Woman” Votava


Season 2 WWTBASH winner, Jarrett “The Defuser” Crippen was ready to fight crime, “anyplace, anytime.” (Photo: giligula)

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“Rest In Peace, my friend. You’ve earned it more than most. It was my honor to work with—and for—you for so many years.” —Jarrett “The Defuser” Crippen


Tonatzin Mondragon shone as the radiant “Lemuria.” (Photo: F. Scott Schafer)

“Thank you so much Stan. You gave me so much. I hope you are united with your wife and loved as much as you were in this life. To my superhero family I love you all and I am sorry for this loss.” —Tonatzin “Lemuria” Mondragon


The beautiful Aja De Coudreaux championed the use of recyclable materials (items found in the trash) to create a uniquely memorable superhero she dubbed, “Basura.” (Photo: violet photography.com)

“Excelsior, Stan Lee. Thank you for believing in me and the character I created. Thank you for the stories you gave us all.” —Aja “Basura” De Coudreaux


Stan the Man Lee and Dapper Dan Williams— Super-Friends to the very end! (Photo: SyFy)

“Stan Lee has always been an idol to me ever since I was a kid. To me, he was the personification of a comic book legend and every time you heard his iconic voice you knew you were in for some superhero fun! Stan made my childhood dreams come true when he chose me as a Superhero for his TV show, ‘Who Wants To Be A Superhero?’ I was given the chance to be Parthenon, an out and proud gay superhero on a national stage, for which the show (and I) were nominated for a GLADD award, which was the SyFy Channel’s first-ever nomination for any gay award!

This picture (above) is from the Red Carpet Premier Party for our show. It was one of the happiest nights in my life and it is how I choose to remember Stan. I truly thank Stan for all that he has done and he will be truly missed.” —Dan “Parthenon” Williams


WWTBASHs obviously over-qualified and undeniably AWESOME Steel Chambers appeared as the imposing “Iron Enforcer,” a conflicted hero-villain. (Photo: SyFy)

“Rest in peace, superhero story genius, Stan Lee.” —Steel “Iron Enforcer” Chambers


Darren Passarello’s exciting “Nitro G” held great promise as a superhero character, but (unfortunately) he was all-too-quickly eliminated from Season 1’s competition. (Photo: SyFy)

“No one ever thinks it will hurt as much as it actually does, epesically when it’s supposed to happen…but ya know what? It does…it really, really does. All day everyone has been sending condolances and asking questions. I’ve thought really hard about the words I would say to sum up what I’m feeling. The thing I will miss most is never hearing something so mundane as ‘Nitro G, where is your hat?’ Ya know something Stan, you WERE Peter Parker in the Spider-Man films. Make Mine Marvel!” —Darren “Nitro G” Passarello


Handsome and Heroic—but VERY unlucky. Most famous for being the FIRST contestant eliminated from the show, Tobias Trost’s “Levity” superhero held great promise that was—sadly—never to be revealed. (Photo: SyFy

“I only met him 3 times, but he was always lovely to me and remembered that I was on his show once. He lived a long and fruitful life, and we have a TON of amazing Marvel heroes and movies and cameos and awesomeness.” — Tobias “Levity” Conan Trost


Sexy Tonya Kay showed superhero fans how to WHIP IT—Whip it GOOD! (Photo: SyFy)

“It was my honor to meet you and work with your ‘Old Hollywood’ flair. You were a class act, Stan Lee. Rest In Peace. —Tonya “Creature” Kay

The following two BONUS testimonials are

The hilarious and unforgettable Chris Watters appeared as “Major Victory” in Season 1 of WWTBASH. (Photo: SyFy)

“I always equated meeting Stan Lee with meeting my wife. It was April 4, 2006 when I met Stan and Jennifer Mae. A producer named Jeff brought her over and introduced us in our Superhero identities. ‘Major Victory this is Diamond Girl.’ We hit it off and kept in touch. From that day on, we were together.

We met on April 4th, got married on April 4th, and we both met Stan Lee on that rainy April 4th in 2006. We both wanted to leave the audition because we felt like we did not belong, but when they lined us up to meet Mr. Lee, we calmed down.

Stan was generous with his time and had great anecdotes for everyone participating in the process. He was, and will always be, a great person full of creativity and love. The best thing I remember about Stan was that he was an incredibly fast walker. Probably why he lived so long!” —Chris “Major Victory” Watters


As fellow contestant E. Quincy Sloan looks on, Stams faces Stan Lee during eliminations. (Photo: Syfy)

“I didn’t post anything publicly, but of Stan’s passing I would say that he left behind an incredible legacy, and I was honored to be a part of it—in a small way.” —Chelsea “Cell Phone Girl” Stams

Bottom Line: The passing of comics legend Stan Lee has left a gaping hole in the hearts of millions, but he will forever be remembered for his countless contributions to the world of entertainment and yes—to literature. There were many more contestants on “Who Wants to be a Superhero?,” but (unfortunately) some have become increasingly difficult to locate or contact. Nevertheless, our sincerest thanks to those contestants (shown above) who took the time to provide these salutes and homages. It is greatly appreciated. —Excelsior!
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