Bottom Line: Please take a moment to remember the Americans who died in on this day in 1941.
Bottom Line: Please take a moment to remember the Americans who died in on this day in 1941.
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:
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!)
Get’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!
“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).”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
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!
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 Dies. Each 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.”
“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 Dies. Hasbro 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)
“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.”
“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!”
“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
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
Some things look too good to be true. In this particular case, something VERY good is also something very true—and very real. So get a grip on your nearest GIjOE or Action Man fellow customizers, because what you’re looking at (above) is also —in 1:6 scale. That’s right. This stunning, steel-plated behemoth is actually something your GIjOEs, Action Man (Men?) and other 1:6 military action figures will feel “right at home” in whilst reenacting WWII’s deadliest 1:1 scale tank battles (see historic intel by Wikipedia HERE). According to Armortek’s, Kian Shroff:
“I was reading The Joe Report online magazine and thought your readers may be interested in our latest release a M3 Lee Medium Tank from WWII. In case you do not know about Armortek, we are the world’s leading manufacturer of 1:6 scale metal model kits. Our kits weight 120lbs upwards and take about 200 hours to assemble. I have attached our press release as well as some images – feel free to use these on your website. Let me know any questions you may have.” Kind regards, —Kian Shroff
According to Shroff and Armortek’s official press release:
17th September 2018:
Armortek (www.armortek.co.uk), the world’s leadingmanufacturer of 1:6 scale metal model kits announces the launch of their latest products – the iconic M3 Lee/Grant medium tanks. Used by the Americans, British, Australians, Indians and the Russians during World War II, the M3 medium tank was most effective in matching and even beating the German firepower in the North African campaign and was a vital “stop-gap” until the M4 Sherman tanks made their debut. In keeping with previous Armortek releases, the Armortek M3 Lee and Grant medium tank kits are a result of detailed research and measurements of a full-scale vehicle. Made predominantly from CNC machined aluminium and steel, the kits feature scale thickness armour, prototypical suspension and can be remote control enabled.
Containing over 2,000 parts (with more than 200 unique components), the M3 medium tank kit will take about 200 hours to build. The M3 Lee/ Grant from Armortek measures 94cm (37”) long and 44cm (17”) wide and stands 48cm(19”) tall. They will weigh approximately 80kg (180 lbs) in their remote-controlled configuration. The kits are manufactured in a small batch as Limited Editions and each one comes with a serial number and certificate of authenticity. Option packs can be added to the kits to provide them with remote-controlled drive, turret turn, gun elevation and slew, realistic sounds and exhaust smoke.
Armortek is a family owned business operating from its state-of-the-art factory in Hampshire, UK. Research, design and manufacture of the kits are all done in house. Armortek has been producing 1:6 scale all metal model kits for over 15 years and, in that time, has produced over 20 different WW1 or WW2 kits for hobbyists, engineers and collectors across the world. For sales information, please email us at email@example.com. For further press information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks to TMM Photography, Kian Shroff (and everyone else) at Armortek for their generous assistance in the creation of this article. Can YOU assemble one of Armortek’s amazing new M3 Lee/Grant tank kits? Isn’t it time you found out? Whichever Armortek product you build, it’s sure to became THE stellar attraction of your 1:6 collection. For more information, visit Armortek’s website HERE or their fan page over on Facebook HERE.
We LOVE miniature 1:6 scale video games. Fortunately for this holiday season, a batch of approximately 10 new ones are now appearing in stores across the U.S., primarily from the good folks at My Arcade. These new games are currently priced between $25 and $35 (each) depending on where and WHEN you buy them. Our advice? Watch your local big box stores like a hawk. Also, browse online at Walmart.com, Amazon, etc. Whenever you see a game’s price dropping, JUMP on it! These are popular little items with a wide variety of collectors and ordinary consumers, so they typically don’t last on shelves for long—virtual or otherwise.
Bottom Line: We’re hoping someone comes out with a miniature version of the original “Pong,” “Robotron,” or maybe even “Zaxxon.” Those were three truly iconic arcade games from back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Remember, watch those stores and look out for sales. Happy Hunting!
Bottom Line: As Hasbro has turned its back on GIjOE fandom and the once venerable toy line continues its slow fade into pop-culture obscurity, “sightings” of the original 12-inch action hero are becoming increasing scarce—practically nil, in fact. Imagine our excitement here in the halls of The Joe Report then, when on October 28, 2018, “America’s Movable Fighting Man” was mentioned once again (albeit fleetingly) on an episode of the immortal TV quiz show, Jeopardy, (yes, it’s still hosted by Alex Trebek). So cool! A great big THANK YOU goes out to NBC TV and to Mr. Trebek for doing their best to help keep “the spirit of Joe” alive. You guys (and gals) are the BEST. Go, JOE!
The Truth is Already Out There—But Will its Inclusion Hurt Box Office Receipts?
This is all public knowledge, but please stick with us. If you’ve seen 2010’s fantasy-documentary, Marwencol, or read the 2016 hardcover book, Welcome to Marwencol, then you undoubtedly already know that real-life artist-photographer, Mark Hogancamp—the lead character depicted in Robert Zemeckis’ upcoming motion picture, Welcome to Marwen (played by actor Steve Carell)—enjoys wearing women’s high-heel shoes and stockings. There. We’ve said it. Hogancamp’s “most shocking” true-life personality “spoiler” has now been re-revealed.
What isn’t known to many however, is whether Zemeckis feels that Hogancamp’s cross-dressing is “script-worthy” enough to be included in his latest release. Would such intimate insight detract from the film’s main storyline—a man struggles with PTSD after a brutal beating by creating fantasy photo-stories with 1:6 scale action figures and dolls—or enhance it? Is cross-dressing simply too “racy” a topic for the holidays, only to end up on the cutting room floor? Time—as they say, will tell.
For those who are unaware of the differences between “cross-dressing” and the better known term, “transvestism,” we consulted that oracle of all knowledge and things online—Wikipedia—which (rightly or wrongly) defines the two (oft-misunderstood) terms thusly:
“Transvestism is the practice of dressing and acting in a style or manner traditionally associated with the opposite sex. In some cultures, transvestism is practiced for religious, traditional or ceremonial reasons.”
“Cross–dressing is the act of wearing items of clothing and other accoutrements commonly associated with the opposite sex within a particular society. Cross-dressing has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, and self-expression in modern times and throughout history.”
Okay, that cleared it up (right?)— Regardless, questions with serious financial implications remain— Will audiences harbor negative feelings about Hogancamp’s cross-dressing? And IF the topic is included in the film (we still don’t know if it will be) and “word gets out,” will that affect ticket-buying, movie-going audiences who DO harbor negative feelings about the subject and thereby cause them to stay home? You can bet the entire entertainment industry will be paying VERY close attention to this film when it premieres in theaters across the country on December 21st.
Fortunately for Zemeckis and his film—
A cross-dressing dance act dubbed Junior New System (JNS) has just come to the rescue. This all-male, high-heeled dance troupe from the Philippines, recently broke onto the U.S. national scene during a series of high-energy (and high-heeled) appearances on NBC TV’s ratings-smash hit, America’s Got Talent. Their success appears to have made men-wearing-women’s-shoes a little less “offensive” in many viewer’s eyes, and much more “publicly palatable” as well. During their aggressive, athletic performances, the JNS men routinely and effortlessly switch between wearing traditional high-top sneakers to high-heel stilettos. Then, to everyone’s surprise, they proceed to perform powerful BACK-FLIPS, landing solidly on their traditionally unsteady and pointy “pumps,” without suffering any apparent missteps or twisted ankles. It has to be SEEN to be believed!
As we stated at the outset, the subject of Hogancamp’s cross-dressing is largely “old news” to (most) 1:6 scalers, and has had little—to ZERO—bearing on the 1:6 community’s admiration and regard for the man’s artistic talents. His skills as an artist, photographer and customizer are obvious and beyond question. But how will non-hobbyist ticket-buyers react? That remains to be seen.
Finally, other media outlets are also discussing this subject, largely reflecting the opinion that Hogancamp’s cross-dressing SHOULD be included in the film’s final script. The New York Times discussed it in an article HERE, and we found an overseas article about it in the UK’s The Telegraph, HERE. Clear “rumblings” of social expectation could be heard. Here’s one such quote:
“The real truth behind Mark’s near-fatal attack is not something you’ll find in the trailer – he was set upon after admitting in the bar that he was a cross-dresser. When the film’s first American trailer landed, there was enough social-media kerfuffle to suggest that eliding this part of the story may well cause significant controversy.” —The Telegraph, UK
Bottom Line: If the official Welcome to Marwen trailers are any indication of its final content, then it appears Mr. Hogancamp’s propensity for feminine footwear will NOT be made into much of an issue for the film. But, if you search the ‘net for further clues provided by Zemeckis himself, you CAN find short, inconclusive snippets about its inclusion (or exclusion) from the script. Make of the following quote what you will (especially the last line), but here’s his most telling —yet noncommittal—comment so far:
“We can’t give everything away. There’s a lot more story than we were able to include. You’ve got to let the audience see something that they don’t know about.” —Robert Zemeckis, director, Welcome to Marwen