Hollywood Came-a-Calling—Creator of 1:6 Scale Accessories Asked to Produce Miniature Props for Use in Upcoming 2018 Film, “The Women of Marwen”

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Meet Steve’s “Little Women”— Actor Steve Carell sits on a park bench in Vancouver, Canada, while taking a break from shooting his upcoming (Nov. 2018) film, “The Women of Marwen.” Alongside him sits a “Jeep-full” of miniature female co-stars, some (possibly) sporting tiny 1:6 scale patches or other accessories created by Mark Otnes of Patches of Pride, (Photo: Universal) Click to enlarge.

Steve Carell Pic to Feature Products Produced by 1:6 Company, “Patches of Pride”

This isn’t a “big story” by any means, but here it is, nonetheless: Patches of Pride (PoP), the well-known and respected producer of 1:6 scale miniature products (typically utilized by collectors and customizers of GIjOE action figures), has recently received (and shipped out) several mass orders of patches, armbands and other related accessories to various film industry costuming businesses in both Canada and Hollywood. Normally, that would be “non-news” to the public; the sort of boring, internal sales information typically only of interest to the businesses and individuals involved.

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Actor and toy collector, Steve Carell (Photo: Universal Pictures)

But in this case— the film industry costumers in question happened to be working on a new movie project that should hold GREAT interest for fans of 1:6 scale. In fact, the Canadian and LA costumers we’re talking about have been tasked with creating miniature 1:6 scale uniforms that will be utilized in an upcoming Universal production entitled, “The Women of Marwen” (aka “TWOM” see HERE). From what we can gather online, TWOM is being directed by “Back to the Future” auteur, Robert Zemeckis and stars actor, comedian, and action figure fan, Steve Carell, of “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” fame. The products ordered from Patches of Pride would be used to accessorize miniature costumes and military uniforms worn by some of the film’s “smaller stars.” We tracked down PoP’s head honcho, Mark Otnes, and asked him how he felt about undertaking this exciting new foray into movie prop production. He replied:

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“Well, I think it’s overstating it a bit to say that Patches of Pride has moved into ‘movie prop production.’ Yes, it is exciting to think that something we’ve created may appear ‘up there on the big screen,’ but this was probably just a one-time deal for us—unless they do a sequel. I’m a HUGE fan of both Zemeckis and Carell. Just knowing that they’re working on a film project together with 1:6 scale action figures is VERY cool news. And I LOVED Carell’s take on the societal pressures and ‘trials and tribulations’ faced by action figure collectors in ‘The 40 Year-Old Virgin.’ You could FEEL his pain at the thought of selling his beloved collectibles. Hilarious!

As to my business’ involvement with this new film, ‘The Women of Marwen,’ I simply filled a number of orders that came in from new customers located in Canada and Los Angeles. That’s it. At the time, they were very nice and notified me that the patches and other products they were ordering were for something they called, ‘an untitled Robert Zemeckis project.’ I knew who Mr. Zemeckis was, but I didn’t know that this so-called ‘untitled project’ was going to be a film. I just learned that fact recently, myself! I’d thought it was going to be a TV documentary on WWII or something like that. But hey, a Steve Carell movie sounds a WHOLE lot cooler!

And keep in mind that I also don’t know if anything I made for them will actually appear on-screen in the movie, or if PoP will get any sort of credit. Most likely not. You know how unpredictable filmmaking can be. Our products may just be used in test shots or scenes that end up on the ‘cutting room floor.’ However it all works out, you can bet that I’ll be watching the movie VERY closely for any signs of my work. Everything we sell at Patches of Pride comes from original art files that I’ve created. That way, I can easily recognize my work whenever and wherever I see it. If someone uses ANY of our products on their custom figures or vehicles, I can tell. I know ALL of the (thousands) of PoP products by heart—AND by sight.”

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Bottom Line: This sounds like it’ll be a really cool flick and a wonderful opportunity for Zemeckis, Carell and Patches of Pride as well. We wish all concerned with this project the very best of luck. “The Women of Marwen” is scheduled for a November 2018 release. If any further information becomes available before that time, we’ll be sure to share it with you here on The Joe Report ASAP. Will any of Otnes’ 1:6 scale products actually end up on screen? Stay tuned!

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Beware!— Dead-Eyed “Zombie Joe” Has Arrived

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The Walking Dead— Right out of the box, this new “black & white” 12″ club exclusive figure from the GIjOE Collector’s Club strikes many as, well, “DEAD” looking. It may be hard to see from this photo, but in person, our newly nicknamed, “Zombie Joe,” has a gray body that also (inexplicably) has a greenish hue to it, adding to its already moribund effect. Combined with EXTREMELY droopy eyes, ol’ “ZJ” appears destined to “haunt” collector’s shelves—or parts bins. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Is this REALLY the FINAL “membership exclusive” figure for fans of 12-Inch GIJOEs?

It’s rare that a package containing a brand-new GIjOE shows up, unannounced, in our company’s mailroom; but today was just such an occasion. Typically, such unplanned, “surprise” events have been met with grand celebrations among the overworked staffers here at The Joe Report, but sadly, today, that was not to be the case. When the receptionist dropped the morning mail onto my desk—I literally JUMPED out of my chair. I saw the box from the GIjOE club and immediately buzzed everyone’s intercom, calling for an urgent “all hands on deck” meeting in the conference room.

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Ol’ “Dead Eyes”— Without a doubt, “Zombie Joe” wins the prize for having the DEADEST-looking eyes of ANY GIjOE brand action figure ever made. Depending on the steadiness of your hand and the fine point of your paintbrush, corrections CAN be made. But if you’re one of those fans who are “artistically-challenged,” you may just have to LIVE with it. CREEPY! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Standing elbow to elbow, we happily ringed around the massive, oblong conference table, our hands wringing and our breath held “in toto” in silent, anxious anticipation. As we all knew, first glimpses and first impressions were EVERYTHING whenever a new Joe joined our ranks, and this unusual figure would prove to be no exception. The room fell DEATHLY quiet (a term that would prove to be quite apropos) and as the plain, “coffin-style” mailing box was finally opened, the first, HONEST reactions from those present plunged wildly from eager, ecstatic anticipation—to stunned, silent SHOCK. A “temp” from the upstairs steno pool audibly gasped. A copywriter, unsure of exactly how she might describe or “spin” what she seeing, simply giggled. One of our “street-wise” freelance photographers actually seemed to recoil—but in what? Fear? HORROR? It wasn’t exactly clear. Finally, someone managed to speak up and blurted out, “What IS that thing?”

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Super Surfer Shorts— The BEST thing about the new 12-inch exclusive figure from the GIJOE Collector’s Club is—without a doubt—his classic GIjOE logo boxer shorts. The vintage logo imprinted on them looks FANTASTIC and these nifty new “jams” will undoubtedly become highly-prized collectibles on their own, despite the “less-than-lively” figure they adorn. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: Hello there, Zombie Joe! What stared up at us from that cardboard coffin box was indeed a shocking sight to many. It can only be described as some sort of gray/greenish “corpse-like” figure. Comparisons to zombies and TV’s “The Walking Dead” quickly come to mind, but the most common appellation that came up among our group was “lifeless.” Of all the GIjOEs we’ve ever seen, and believe me, we’ve seen a LOT of them, this is the most… DEAD looking. Oh well, a “dead” GIjOE will certainly find a place in many sci-fi or other such 1:6 scale custom dioramas. If you can think of a good use for this figure, please let us know. Without his “black & white” uniform, he’s quite literally, “lifeless.” But heck, a Joe is a Joe—is a JOE. We’ll take ’em ALL!

 

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Hobbico Pre-Auction Stunner—Cross-Town Competitor Horizon Hobby Declares It Will Purchase Major Assets of Struggling RC Co.

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Meet the New BMOC in RC—Horizon Hobby. (Photo: Cameron Suhadolnik)

If Successful, “Purchase Would Close on April 6”

In a quick follow-up to our previous post about the fall of Hobbico, one of its main RC industry competitors, cross-town rival, Horizon Hobby, has made a substantial offer that may pave the road to Hobbico’s final financial destination. According to Ben Zigterman of the News-Gazette:

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Ben Zigterman, reporter for the News-Gazette (Photo: Ben Zigterman)

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“CHAMPAIGN — Hobby-product distributor Hobbico has found a buyer for its remote-control business: cross-town competitor Horizon Hobby. Horizon Hobby has agreed to buy several units of Hobbico for a combined $18.8 million…‘We believe this transaction, if completed, will further strengthen Horizon’s position as the market-leader in the RC industry,’ Horizon Hobby President and CEO Joe Ambrose said in a statement. ‘Horizon and Hobbico have served many of the same retailers and customers for years. Upon completion of this transaction, Horizon will work to provide a smooth transition within the industry.’ If completed, Horizon will be buying Hobbico’s Great Planes and Tower Hobbies divisions, as well as brands including Axial and Arrma. Hobbico had been asking for at least $22 million for these companies. The purchase won’t include Estes, United Model, Revell US or Revell Germany.

Additionally, ‘Horizon will not be assuming any of Hobbico’s debts or other liabilities in this transaction,’ Ambrose said. Following the auction, where Horizon would be the stalking-horse bidder, the purchase would close April 6. With a stalking-horse bid, the potential purchasers essentially set the floor bid of the auction in exchange for certain protections. If Horizon isn’t the successful bidder, it will receive a break-up fee of 3% of its base bid, or $540,000.”

Bottom Line: Once all of the auctioneering and legal “smoke” has finally cleared, it appears certain that Horizon Hobby will emerge the only so-called “winner” in this calamitous scenario. Hobbico was asking for $22 million, but $18.8 million comes pretty close. After the sale closes on April 6th, Horizon assumes the mantle of BMOC (Big Man on Campus) among all remaining companies in the RC hobby’s industrial complex. A big shout-out of THANKS to Ben Zigterman for his excellent reportage on this story. And we’d also like to wish everyone at Hobbico and Horizon all the best and sincerely hope that Hobbico is the LAST major (toy-related) company “domino” to fall.

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This is Gunna Be BRUTAL—The Hard Truths & Facts Behind the Demise of Retailing Giant, Toy’s ‘R Us

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In a fictional parallel to the real-world woes currently facing 31,000 Toys ‘R Us employees, Jack Nicholson’s character in the film, Broadcast News (1987), waits and watches, while all around him, fellow co-workers receive their pink slips during a company-wide, mass layoff. (Photo: 20thCF)

Bottom Line: Today, we’re keeping it VERY simple and jumping straight to the “bottom line.” Here then, is the so-called, “red ink,” regarding the harsh facts and realities of this sad event (as they are currently known to us) according to a story today on CNN:

  1. The news that Toys “R” Us is closing might conjure up wistful childhood memories for shoppers. But for the chain’s 31,000 U.S. employees, it means they’re out of a job.

  2. Mass layoffs are usually softened with a severance package, but Toys “R” Us employees won’t get any because of bankruptcy laws. They will get benefits such as health insurance and matching 401(k) payments from the company.

  3. Workers were promised 60 days pay, which is required under federal law, and they’ll receive that pay even if they don’t work the full two months.

  4. Traditional retailers are on the ropes, with a record 7,000 stores closing last year, according to Coresight Research. That’s more than triple the number of closings in 2016.
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Dance, Action Man, Dance—New Commercial for UK’s “Money Super Market” is Absolutely “EPIC!”

In yet another superb “sighting” of GIjOE and Action Man in the “mainstream media,” UK’s “MoneySuperMarket” website has just aired a brand-new TV commercial for its business—starring—the many and varied heroes of the vintage Action Man toy line-up. There’s even a ’60s Barbie “Action Girl” thrown in for good measure. According to an article over on the Campaign website:

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“The latest ad in MoneySuperMarket.com’s epic campaign stars Action Man. The Hasbro action figure is so overcome by his savings from Moneysupermarket that he rallies the troops to dance in the desert, even stripping down to his blue underpants. The ad is set to ‘90s classic ‘Finally’ by CeCe Peniston. It was created by Mother, the brand’s outgoing agency – and the joyful creativity of the spot makes it even more bittersweet that the two are parting ways.”  

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Jazz Hands!— Instead of a “Kung-Fu Grip,” this Action Man soldier shows viewers what his computer-animated “jazz hands” can do, while striking a pose on the main contents page of the UK “MoneySuperMarket” website. Out-STANDING! (Photo: MSM) Click to enlarge.

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“I’ll put you right through, sir!”—Characters from the TV commercial also appear throughout the MoneySuperMarket website, such as British Barbie (shown above) fielding incoming messages from prospective customers. Blimey, how great is THIS? (Photo: MSM) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: This new commercial is without a doubt the most advanced combination of stop-motion and computer animation since GIjOE’s last appearance in a superb (2016) TV commercial for Subaru (see HERE). Who knew Action Man was so good at dance choreography? It’s time to get out some of your figures and “Pump up the JAMS!” Enjoy!

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Selling “All Assets” to Highest Bidder—Hobbico Prepares to Take the Next (and Saddest) Step in its Own Arduous Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Proceedings

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It’s Hammer Time!— Everything at Hobbico must GO, and go it shall, to the highest bidder at an auction being held March 29th in Chicago. Will the RC giant survive? (Photo: auctionclipart.com)

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Picking up the Pieces— What will remain for RC fans after Hobbico’s demise? Repairing a crashed 1:6 scale RC vehicle or plane may get a LOT more expensive once the company has liquidated all of its assets and parts become scarce. (Photo: rcplanecrashes.com)

While news of the imminent collapse of Toys ‘R Us continues to dominate national news headlines, another more local, but no less important story, is shaking fans and collectors of 1:6 scale RC aircraft and vehicles to their very core. We’re talking again, of course, about the upcoming demise of Hobbico, (formerly) one of the RC hobby’s leading manufacturers and distributors. Hobbico’s troubles hit very “close to home” around here. That’s because they’re headquartered just a few miles up the road from our offices here in central Illinois, Champaign-Urbana (C-U) to be exact. As such, we see and hear news that is related to Hobbico probably a little more often than the rest of the country, but the impending loss of ANY 1:6 scale product manufacturer—and employer—will undoubtedly send economic “ripple effects” outside of our local community, into the worldwide “toy economy” as well. Today’s updates come to us from News-Gazette reporter, Ben Zigterman, who provides the following intel on the company’s upcoming liquidation auction:

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Ben Zigterman, reporter for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette (Photo: Ben Zigterman)

“Having filed for bankruptcy protection in January, Hobbico plans to auction its assets March 26 in Chicago in a bid to find a buyer. The hobby-product distributor, which employs more than 300 people in the county, placed ads Wednesday in The News-Gazette and USA Today with notices of the auction, as required by the bankruptcy process. In the past couple days, former employees also told The News-Gazette they had received notices about the auction, which will be followed by a hearing on March 28. When Hobbico filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it said it had added too much debt and faced ‘an increasingly competitive industry, market headwinds and a series of one-off events with key suppliers.’ It also said that it had an estimated 200 to 999 creditors, $10 million to $50 million in assets, and $100 million to $500 million in liabilities. In recent court documents, Hobbico also indicated it had $114 million in revenue in 2017, down from $175 million in 2016. Hobbico asked for a minimum bid for all the assets at $38 million, or less than that for different parts of the business, according to court documents.”

hobbicologoBottom Line: This latest, saddest phase of Hobbico’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy saga parallels the similar travails currently going on at Toys ‘R Us, which is unsettling to many, to say the least. The March 26 auction up in Chicago will completely hand the reins of Hobbico over to whomever (or whatever) “new ownership” may step in, and those new owners must then decide the fates of hundreds of hard-working employees and what—if anything—can (and will) be done to keep the company afloat.

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Hot Pics!—March 2018 Issue of G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Newsletter Reveals Images of Their Upcoming “B&W TV Edition” Club Figures and JoeCon 2018’s “Green Beret Machine Gun Outpost” 2-Figure Set

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FIRST Look at the Club’s “LAST” 12-Inch Set?— This image is the first pic released by the GIjOE Collector’s Club that reveals (some) of the artwork that will adorn the boxes of their upcoming 2-figure 12″ exclusive set created for attendees of JoeCon 2018. As usual, this military masterpiece comes to fans hot off the easel of “Classic Collection” maestro, Larry Selman. (Click to enlarge).

Lay Down Suppressing Fire!— This first pic from the cover of the March 2018 issue of the GIjOE Collector’s Club “Official Magazine” is one we’ve been waiting for for a lonnnng time. It’s Larry Selman’s latest (and perhaps FINAL) painting for a GIjOE product, the cover art for the “Green Beret Machine Gun Outpost” 12″ figure set to be released this coming June at JoeCon 2018 in Chattanooga, TN. As we expected, the artwork ROCKS and the two Special Forces soldiers shown are clearly “in it” and fighting for their lives defending their sandbag-ringed outpost. If you look carefully, you’ll get a pretty good idea of all the equipment that will included in this set. HOO-ah!

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Completely Black-n-White (Almost)— Is it really, physically possible to create ALL of these figures and ALL of their equipment SOLELY in black and white shades and hues? The ad copy above states this is a “color image,” and we do indeed seem to detect a faint tinge of green in the skin-tone of a couple of the figures. The copy also states that these are “preproduction figures,” so let’s hope this issue is corrected before the final figures are made. We wouldn’t want our action soldiers and marines to look queasy, now would we? (Unless they “glow-in-the-dark!”) (Photo: GIJCC) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: If this really is the final year (and final convention) for the GIJCC, then it appears they intend to go out BIG TIME with some truly collectible products. Hopefully, any color or tonal imperfections in the plastics and other materials can be worked out before the “B&W TV Editions” are released. We can’t wait to see more pics of the Green Beret set’s box and contents, either. We’re sure it’ll all look AMAZING. Stay tuned for additional intel as it becomes available.

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A Real Pain in the Wallet—Hasbro and Mattel’s Stock Values Take Immediate Hit After News of Toys ‘R Us’ Imminent Liquidation Announced

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Stop the Madness— It’s like dominos—If Toys ‘R Us fails or “falls down,” then toy manufacturers too, may begin to fall—like dominos. And if that actually happens, we’ll all have to start buying those wooden “educational toys” peddled at local farmer’s markets. Oh, nooooo!!! (Graphic: dreamtime)

And so it begins— Yesterday’s news of Toys ‘R Us “facing its finality” sent immediate shockwaves throughout the toy industry, reflected most clearly by a corresponding drop in both Hasbro and Mattel’s share values. Hasbro survived yesterday’s economic “ripple effects” better than Mattel, dropping -2.06%, while Mattel fell a whopping -7.11%—in just 1 day! According to MarketWatch: 

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“Mattel’s stock has tumbled 36.6% over the past 12 months and Hasbro shares have lost 4.1%, while the S&P has gained 15.8%.”

Bottom Line: Ouch. Anyway we look at it, while the economy and stock markets continue to perform strongly, the toy industry is now officially headed in the other direction. Fortunately for both Hasbro and Mattel, the stock market closes today at 1PM, hopefully shielding them from any further losses—at least until Monday. Stay tuned. We may need to revisit this topic frequently.

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Toys ‘R Us Preparing to Call it Quits in the U.S. Toy Business—Complete U.S. Liquidation Coming Soon

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If every one of his stores close, Toys ‘R’ Us’ mascot, “Geoffrey” may soon be a homeless company mascot. (Graphic: Toys ‘R’ Us)

Attempts to “Find a Buyer” Evaporated

Prepare for the end, boys and girls…

It appears that Toy’s ‘R Us (TRU) has failed in its ongoing efforts to restructure its debt and will be forced into complete liquidation of its assets as early as next week. This will include the closing and selling off of its entire chain of U.S. retail stores. The profound economic “ripple effects” that will occur are sure to hit toy manufacturers hard, as well as an untold number of smaller toy companies and distributors. According to today’s article in the UK’s Daily Mail:

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“It’s anticipated that toy manufacturers will suffer if Toys ‘R’ Us does liquidate in the U.S., as the company accounts for about 15 per cent of American toy sales. In addition, Toys ‘R’ Us was known for giving small companies and new products a chance, whereas other toy-selling retailers, such as Walmart and Target, prefer to go with tried-and-true merchandise.” —UK Daily Mail

Bottom Line: There’s not much more we can say on this matter at this point. Toy fans around the U.S. are surely aghast at the prospect of losing ALL of its Toy’s ‘R Us stores. We thought at least a few would remain open, but that appears to be wishful thinking on our part. If you’d like to read the entire article in today’s UK Daily Mail, jump HERE now.

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The Future of Toymaking?—Hasbro’s New “HasLab” Crowdsourcing Initiative Attempts to Raise Funds For Production of Star Wars’ “Jabba’s Sail Barge”

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Will They Succeed?— This computer-rendering of HasLab’s (first-ever) crowdsourced toy project, “Jabba’s Sail Barge,” reveals the incredible potential for similar collector-driven toy projects in the future. But questions remain: Will HasLab succeed? Is crowdsourcing the future of toy production? Will fans be able to sustain “toys” that costs them $500 a pop? (Photo: HasLab) Click to enlarge.

In what may be the clearest view yet of toy-making’s future, Hasbro has just launched its new “HasLab” crowdsourcing initiative. The goal of this particular collector-funded toy project will be to locate and sign up at least 5,000 fans who are willing to pony up $500 each for an exclusive, 4-foot long (compatible w/3.75″ figures) “Jabba’s Sail Barge” from Star Wars. A prototype shown at Toy Fair and all of the computer renderings online look absolutely GORGEOUS. If Star Wars toys are your thing, you should watch HasLab’s customer recruitment video shown below.

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Aiming High— HasLab’s new business model may reflect the future of “high-end” collectible toy production. The potential for such crowdsourced toys would seem to be sky-high. (Photo: JpM)

haslablogoBottom Line: If this approach to “high-end” toy production is successful for Hasbro, you can expect to see similar efforts forthcoming from other toy manufacturers in the future. Perhaps Hasbro would even consider creating something new, big and amazing for 12″ GIjOEs? How about an updated, more realistic version of a 1:6 scale USAF Crash Crew Truck? Joe fans can dream, too!

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