Tag Archives: Joelanta

WOWZA! Rudy Panucci Recaps Toylanta 2018 (Video)

Bottom Line: Another great video review from the Popculteer himself, Rudy Panucci. Enjoy!

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KY Man Builds Real Wooden Boxes & Crates at 1:6 Scale For Use With 12-Inch G.I. Joe Action Figures

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Holy Supply Depot, Joe! These 1:6 scale ammo, food and equipment crates were all handcrafted out of wood by one very talented and generous GIjOE fan—Danny Garrett. OOHrah! (Photo: Danny Garrett)

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Danny Garrett in his workshop. (Photo: Danny Garrett)

And Then He GIVES THEM AWAY!

For 35 years, Danny Garrett (KY) has been faithfully serving his local community as a professional nurse; spending the last 10 years in the high-pressure environment of his hospital’s “ER,” or Emergency Room. Fortunately for Garrett, whenever the daily drama of his real life becomes too stressful, he can retreat to a cozy workroom at home and enjoy—the World of 1:6 Scale!

After hours spent cutting, sanding, shaping, gluing and detailing a variety of tiny wooden boxes for use with 12-inch action figures, the cares and pressures of his real-life work day begin to melt away. Turning his talented hands from patient care—to creating 1:6 scale accessories—is clearly beneficial to Garrett as an individual both creatively and therapeutically. But the very same thoughtful and giving personality that’s served Danny so well throughout his career in nursing, also prevents him from keeping (most of) his amazing creations. That’s right. Danny GIVES AWAY his superb miniature masterpieces to fellow fans and collectors of GIjOE. We asked Danny to elaborate and he replied:

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Ding Dang It! I'm going to GIVE THEM AWAY if I want to! (Photo: Danny Garrett)

He’s Determined— Danny’s going to GIVE AWAY his creations—and dude, YOU can’t stop him! (Photo: Danny Garrett)

“I received my first GIjOE back in 1965. I was soon making scenes with him and his friends, Stoney Smith and Johnny West. Now I make dioramas with Joe and all his friends. I find myself being absorbed with dioramas as a release from the crazy world of the ER. It’s also a good way to support the GIjOE hobby and my fellow ‘Trenchers.’

My wife’s grandfather taught me to do wood-working, so I use the same techniques in making my boxes/crates. His advice was, once you set up a jig or pattern, it’s just as easy to make a dozen as it is to make one. So, I make more and bring them to Joelanta and give them away.

Now I have the whole family involved in building and finding objects to use in the next one. The grandchildren come over to see what ‘PawPaw’ is making now and give their suggestions. 

I first started giving away wooden boxes at Joelanta back in 2011. I’m always glad to see a smile whenever someone gets something free. So each year, I bring the fruit crates and something new to give away. The best is when you give one to a kid and see their smile. Thanks for your interest!” Danny Garrett, KY

Garrett's work is SO much BETTER than than any cheap plastic versions mass-produced over in China. In the photo shown above, Danny carefully "reimagines" numerous raw pieces of wood into all-new accurate 1:6 replicas of munition boxes, crates and loading pallets. SUPERB! (Photo: Danny Garrett)

Danny’s work is SO much BETTER than any cheap plastic versions mass-produced over in China. In the photo shown above, he carefully “reimagines” numerous raw pieces of wood into all-new accurate 1:6 scale replicas of munition boxes, crates and loading pallets. SUPERB! (Photo: Danny Garrett)

EXCLUSIVE JUMBO PIC— Garrett graced us with these superb samples of his work at Joelanta 2013. The fit, finish and quality are all TOP-NOTCH. For a super closeup of these intricate boxes, crates and pallet, click to enlarge. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

EXCLUSIVE BONUS “JUMBO” PIC— Garrett graced us with some superb samples of his work at Joelanta 2013. Their fit, finish and quality are indeed, TOP-NOTCH. Click to enlarge. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Depending on their contents, some of Danny’s creations receive added details such as labels, rope handles and even custom paint jobs. (Photo: Danny Garrett)

Bottom Line: It was a pleasure to meet Danny at Joelanta 2013. He certainly surprised me when he reached out for my hands and then loaded them up with the FREE swag shown in the photo above. What a talented and generous guy! The patients at his Kentucky hospital are certainly lucky to have such a caring and thoughtful person looking after their needs. Our sincerest thanks and best wishes go out to Mr. Garrett for his assistance with this article and for all that he’s doing (and done) for the 1:6 scale collecting and customizing hobbies.

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Remembering the Amazing “History of Joelanta”

Today, we turn over the reins of The Joe Report to Marten Jallad, a longtime member of the Atlanta GIjOE Collector’s Club and one of the chief organizers of its upcoming Joelanta GIjOE and Action Figure Show (being held in Atlanta, GA, this coming March 13, 14 and 15th). Today, Marten’s going to reflect on the origins and history behind this incredibly popular GIjOE event. Take it away, Marten!

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GIjOE fan and collector, Marten Jallad (Photo: Marten Jallad)

Marten Jallad, GIjOE fan and co-organizer of Joelanta 2015 (Photo: Marten Jallad)

The History of Joelanta
by Marten Jallad, 2/27/15

Why start a toy show anyway?

Well, back around the late 1990s, GI Joe fans Buddy Finethy and Brian Becker realized that there must be more than just buying GI Joes off the shelves, so they decided to start the Atlanta GI Joe Club. By setting up at local toy shows and word of mouth, membership grew. Buddy also realized that so many of the local members may never be able to have the ability to attend one of the yearly national shows, so together with Jim Marianetti and Lanny Lathem they put on the very first Joelanta in May of 2001.

I don’t think that any of us who have been involved actively in its organization or who have attended as a patron every year could have ever imagined what the event would grow to become. Joelanta has not only grown to be the largest one sixth scale vintage GI Joe show in the country, but now it offers so much more. For example:

The Joelanta Film Festival

The Cursed Chest from artist Adam Hughes was one of the first entries into what has become the Joelanta Film Festival. Each year, many (often hilarious) action figure fan films are submitted and shown at the show. Some favorites including 2006 winner Plastic Chef  and All My Li’l Ninjas (shown above) by Jack Walsh. Government Issue Joseph episode #20, The Revenge of Sarah, films from Tim Weedn, Mike Trout and countless more. One year, we even debuted a seldom seen (ahead of their time) show called Pak Rats, that featured both Buddy’s and David’s collections!

E.J. White (l) charming an attendee at this year's Joelanta event in Atlanta, GA.In honor of the show's "Chronus Adventurer" exclusive, E.J. was sporting an 1880s top hat with exotic, "steampunk" goggles.

E.J. White (l) charms an attendee at Joelanta 2013. In honor of that show’s “Chronus Adventurer” exclusive, E.J. was sporting an 1880s top hat with a pair of exotically styled “steampunk” goggles. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

E.J. White’s World Famous Lobby Swap

You really have to experience this in person to see what all the fuss is about, but I’ll try and describe the event. As the momentum builds on Friday, as folks who have purchased Commander’s packages prepare for registration, the excitement is palpable. Everyone wants to start buying toys! Around 6pm-ish, all Commanders and dealers will start to bring down a tub of stuff for sale—and it begins! As the MC, EJ (one of Joelanta’s original members and founder of this event) will open the Lobby Swap up. Some dealers will set up displays in their room and make $1000’s before the show even starts. The event has spurned a couple a couple of T-shirts and Lobby Swap tote bags. This year, EJ is cooking up something extra special with a very limited run (20) Lobby Swap exclusive figures. (You may want to get on the list for this one!)

Bryan Tatum, mans his wares at 2013's Joelanta Lobby Swap event. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bryan Tatum, selling some of his Joe-stuff at 2013’s Joelanta Lobby Swap event. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The Joelanta Parachute Drop

The parachute drop is a MARVEL as the atrium turns into this huge frenzy of kids of all ages hurling their favorite Joes off any one of the 15 floors. It’s always fun to see the reaction of other hotel guests as they observe in amazement at the spectacle. Everyone is always holding their breath that none of the parachutes will fall down the elevator shaft, which a number of them have over the years (see 2012’s video below).

Bambi Lynn of Radio Cult (Photo: D. Glen McNeill)

Bambi Lynn of Radio Cult (Photo: D. Glen McNeill)

The Radio Cult Concert

There’s nothing like enjoying great music with your friends but that gets even better when your friends become part of the act. There’s always a rendition of Crocodile Rock by Captain Fantastic himself Mr E.J. White or David Lane and Mike Gardner jamming out, Don Coffee belting out Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” We really didn’t know how it would go over the first time but everyone had such a great time that it has now become a mainstay event .

Joelanta’s Custom Figure, Vehicle and Diorama Contests (with PRIZES!)

There has been such an amazing array of talented creators over the years and although largely one sixth scale, a surprising variety of items have been featured recently including some amazing Monster High customs. This part of the show is growing and we will be displaying all of this year’s entries in their own room for Joelanta 2015.

Patches of Pride was one of the sponsors of the Custom figures and Dioramas competition at Joelanta 2014. (Photo: Mark OTnes)

Patches of Pride is one of many sponsors that provide prizes for the winners of Joelanta’s custom figure and diorama competitions. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

For King and Country! Customizer extraordinaire, Mark Cole, created this outstanding custom British Soldier for the competition at Joelanta 2014. OutSTANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

For King and Country! Customizer extraordinaire, Mark Cole, created this outstanding custom British Soldier for the competition at Joelanta 2014. OutSTANDING work in every way! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Mike Gardner discusses some of the techniques and methods he uses to create his 1:6 scale masterworks. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Mike Gardner discusses some of the techniques and methods he’s used to create 1:6 scale dioramas during a special panel discussion held at Joelanta 2014. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Joelanta’s Annual “Large Diorama”

Steve Bugg, Mike Gardner, Caleb Brown and Eric Nowles have been wowing the crowd with such notable dioramas as The Battle of Stalingrad, Wild West Ghost Town, a War of the Worlds-inspired Martian Walker, a Medieval Castle with a battle between knights and a skeleton army, Frankenstein’s Windmill, a Civil War train called “The General,” and the list just goes on and on. These spectacular dioramas are one of the main reasons why the show has become a leading supporter of the Cody Lane Foundation, a 501©3 non- profit organization with an ultimate goal of having a Toy and Diorama museum to preserve and share these magnificent works of art. The creators of these works also host special panel discussions to reveal their building and customizing “secrets” and answer questions from fans interested in building their own 1:6 scale dioramas.

Master diorama builder Steve Bugg (above) debuted his astonishing 1:6 scale "Battle of Atlanta" diorama at Joelanta 2014. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Master diorama builder Steve Bugg (above) debuted his astonishing 1:6 scale “Battle of Atlanta” diorama at last year’s Joelanta 2014 event. Look at those spiked barricades. OUCH! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

It's a Feeding FRENZY! As this closeup of master diorama builder Mike Gardner's tribute to the TV series, The Walking Dead

Feeding FRENZY—Joelanta 2014’s large diorama” was created by master customizer, Mike Gardner, who orchestrated this astounding tribute to AMC’s The Walking Dead. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Atlanta GIjOE Club logo

Atlanta GIjOE Club logo

The heart of Joelanta is—and will always be—the camaraderie between all the folks who come from all over the country to visit with friends. Joelanta has become one large family gathering that continues to grow with new members, as the show has now morphed with the addition of The Great Atlanta Toy Convention to include special guests, a pop culture car show and many special panels throughout Saturday and Sunday. For more information, please visit www.joelanta.org and like us on Facebook at Joelanta and The Great Atlanta Toy Convention HERE. Thanks—and GO JOE! —Marten Jallad

Bottom Line: We’d like to thank Marten for providing all the text and intel for this article and for all the hard work he continues to put into organizing and hosting Joelanta. A quick shout-out of thanks should also go to Jim Marianetti, Lanny Lathem, Buddy Finethy, David Lane and all of the other wonderful members (and families) of the Atlanta GIjOE Collector’s Club. Without their combined efforts, hard work, volunteer spirit and gung-ho enthusiasm, there would be no Joelanta. You’re all the BEST!

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G.I. Joe Fan Sets New (Unofficial) World’s Record By Building World’s Tallest 1:6 Scale Fire Tower

Chris Rowland's unbelievable 1:6 scale fire tower (well, half of it anyway) dominates the entryway to Joelanta 2013. If you look carefully, you can see a few 12-inch GIjOEs placed on the tower for a sense of size and scale. OutSTANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This is only the top HALF of Chris Rowland’s incredible 1:6 scale fire tower (yes, you read that correctly). There are 2 larger bottom sections that normally go below these levels. Even at only half its full height, Rowland’s structure clearly dominated the entryway at Joelanta 2014. Look closely and you can see a few 12-inch GIjOEs placed on the tower to provide a better sense of its immense size and scale. Absolutely Phenomenal! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

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Chris Rowland, master carpenter and customizer. (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Chris Rowland, master carpenter and customizer. (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Blurring the Line Between “Real” and “Miniature”

GIjOE fan and collector, Chris Rowland of Macon, Georgia, strode purposely down the wide hallways of the Marriott Century Center in Atlanta. It was almost time for the world-renowned, 3-day Joelanta 2014 show to begin and Rowland was clearly a man on a mission. His mission? To set up one of the world’s largest and most detailed hand-built structures ever created—for use with 12″ GIjOE action figures.

A carpenter by trade, Rowland looks every bit like a man who works outdoors all day with his hands. He’s tall, fit, rugged and muscular, embodying the same sort of physical attributes one might also apply to his most recent custom creation: an astonishingly accurate 1:6 scale “Fire Tower.” Utilized in forests throughout the world, fire towers enable park rangers (as well as military and civilian “fire spotters”) to climb high above canopy level and sight smoke or forest fires in every direction (Smokey the Bear would be VERY proud).

A closeup of this section of the tower while still under construction reveals how the knowledge and skills gained being a real-life master carpenter can come in VERY handy when building such an intricate structure as a fire tower at 1:6 scale. AMAZING work, Chris! (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Like a GIANT Puzzle—This closeup reveals how the knowledge and skills Rowland acquired as a master carpenter came in VERY handy. The extremely complex 1:6 structure required the precision-cutting and custom-fitting of hundreds of different pieces and sizes of wood, painstaking assembled with wood-glue and tiny (scale-correct) nails and screws. After that, it would all be painted and then finished out with windows, furniture and miniature equipment. Absolutely AMAZING! (Photo: Chris Rowland)

The expression on Chris' daughter's face reveals her surprise as she poses next to the tower during its construction. NOTE: The top-most level and "Spotter's Shack" is still missing and would add even more height to Rowland's construction. (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Beauty and “The BEAST”—Posing next to the tower during an early phase of its construction, Rowland’s daughter expresses obvious surprise and disbelief at its size. NOTE: The uppermost (4th level) “Spotter’s Shack” is still missing in this picture and added even MORE height later. WOW! (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Has a World Record Been Broken—or Set?

At its fully assembled height (including the spotter’s shack) of 17′, Rowland’s amazing 1:6 scale fire tower is, indeed, an awe-inspiring sight. And we’re not sure, but we also believe that he may have unknowingly set a new world record for the tallest hand-built structure ever created for use with 12″ or 1:6 scale action figures. (Anybody have a Guinness book handy?)

Unfortunately for attendees of Joelanta 2014, the lower ceilings of the Marriott restricted the display of only 2 of the fire tower’s 4 sections, shortening it to half of its normal size. To assuage his obvious disappointment, show promoters decided to award Chris their highest possible honor—allowing him to display his massive creation at the event’s primary focal point, the “visual nexus” of Joelanta itself—the Main Entry Hall. It was high praise from his peers that Chris well and truly deserved.

Besides his obvious high accumen as a carpenter, Rowland also proved himself to be extremely knowlegable about his other passion—GIjOE—by winning the always ardous GIjOE Trivia Contest at Joelanta 2014. Here is poses with fellow contest winners,

Flexing Their “Mind Muscles”—Besides the obvious strengths and acumen he possesses as a carpenter, Chris Rowland (far right, above) also proved himself to be extremely knowledgable about his other great passion—GIjOE—when he became one of the top winners of Joelanta 2014’s famous “fan face-off” known as the GIjOE Trivia Contest. Here Rowland poses with fellow 2014 winners (from l) Robert Browning, Jack Hall, Doug Gamble, and Alex Massey. (Photo: Jack Hall)

He's going to need a bigger ladder—In this pic, Rowland takes a breather to show off additional progress and the completion of the tower's zig-zagging staircase. INCREDIBLE! (Photo: Chris Rowland)

He’s Going to Need a Bigger Ladder—Rowland and his tower’s “zig-zagging” staircase. (Photo: Chris Rowland)

Indeed, after enduring months of arduous construction, the enormity of such a LARGE custom project surprised even its creator. In an exasperated update posted on Facebook, Rowland admitted:

“I finally finished all the stairs! Over 150 steps. Glad to be done with that. Today I’ll put the tower back up to check how everything fits and I have some minor adjustments to one section. Considering math wasn’t my strong suit in school, it could’ve been a lot worse. The only bad thing about the build thus far is that I’m learning better ways to do things as I get closer to the top. They say hindsight is 20/20, and I have to agree. There’s going to be a lot of tedious measuring and cutting in my future.”

Getting His Exercise—Joe begins his 170-step climb to the top of Chris Rowland's 1:6 scale fire tower, aka the world's best 1:6 scale "Stair-Master!" (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Let’s Skip the Gym Today—Joe begins his 150-step climb to the top of Chris Rowland’s altitude-challenging fire tower, aka the world’s greatest 1:6 scale “Stair-Master!” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

How DId He Do It?—We're always interested in how these "Master Miniaturists" produce their handiwork. In this extreme closeup (taken from 3 inches away), you can see that Rowland has actually assembled some of the tower using tiny screws painted to match the tower's beams for a realistic metal effect. Superb! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

How DId He Do It?—We’re always interested in how “Master Miniaturists” produce their handiwork. In this extreme closeup (taken from just 3 inches away!), you can see that Rowland assembled sections of the tower using real screws painted to match the tower’s beams, creating a realistic metallic effect. Superb! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Rewarding Hard Work With Honor and Praise

Although Rowland was only able to display 2 of the tower’s 4 sections at Joelanta 2014, his one-of-a-kind handiwork was breathtaking nonetheless. After setting up, as a final touch, he carefully posed 3 GIjOEs along its railings and staircases to illustrate its 1:6 scale perfection.

Then, stepping back to take it all in, Chris crossed his arms in satisfaction and breathed out a long sigh of relief as fans began to slowly and respectfully gather around him. At that early pre-show hour, only dealers and event coordinators were allowed in the area, but to a man (and woman), they found themselves stopping dead in their tracks, eyes agog, and grinning uncontrollably at the sight of it all.

The comment heard most often was, “Can you imagine how big the entire thing must be?” Indeed. Heads shook in disbelief. Whistles of admiration echoed down the hallway. Envious murmurs, followed by repeated offers of congratulations, respect and outright astonishment were proffered to Rowland, as the reality of what we were witnessing sank in. We knew we were seeing something truly unique. This was a record-breaking MASTERPIECE of miniaturization!

Joe Scans the Horizon Looking for Smoke—The "gem" of Rowland's fire tower has to be its intricately detailed "Spotter's Shack" at the very top. Yes, it also features a fully decorated and realistic interior. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Joe Scans the Horizon Looking for Smoke—The “gem” of Chris Rowland’s fire tower has to be its intricately detailed “Spotter’s Shack” set atop the mammoth structure. And yes, the shack features a fully decorated and realistic interior. GIjOE is always prepared! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

This is AMAZING, isn't it?—Joe ponders the immensity and realism of his new fire tower while he looks down on attendees of Joelanta 2014. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

A View From Above—Joe ponders the immensity and realism of his new 1:6 scale fire tower while looking down towards attendees of Joelanta 2014. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

The Story Behind the Tower

We asked Rowland to recount the inspiration for his masterpiece and any additional insight he had about its construction and possible future. He kindly replied:

“As far as WHY I built it, let’s just say that I remember one near my house as a kid and thought it was UNBELIEVABLE. I’m a carpenter by trade, so finding the materials was no problem, and I’d been wanting to build one for a few years now. I’m always making things and I decided to combine my love for GIjOEs with my creative side. That’s all it took to get started!

Before beginning, I thoroughly researched fire towers online (to find a design that I liked) and then started in on all the math. The tower is about 90 ft. at 1:1 scale and is a little over 17 ft. at 1:6 scale. I’m not a modeller, so I’m sure I might offend some purists out there, but I built this thing to have FUN, not to win any awards.”

You Won't See THIS Anywhere Else on the Web—It's a very rare sight indeed, to look down upon the roof section of Chris' tower. Fans normally see this part of the structure only from below. Notice how even here, a place no one even sees, Chris has taken the time and effort to create a realistic metal roof with all the correct details. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

You Won’t See This Anywhere Else on the Web—It’s a very rare sight indeed, to look down upon the roof section of Chris’ fire tower. Fans would normally never see this part of the structure, but we caught this exclusive shot of it while Chris was disassembling and returning the sections to his U-Haul trailer. Notice how even here—a place no one even sees—Chris took the time to create an accurate, realistically peaked “metal” roof with all the correct details. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“The lookout building sits in the middle of the top platform and has a railing going all the way around. That was the trickiest section to build because the last section of stairs had to go through the tower and to the outside. I must say again that I wish I would have paid more attention in math class!

The handrails were a major pain to do too, but definitely needed. It’s all made entirely out of 90% recycled wood materials from a local sawmill, and held together with wood glue and 23-gauge brad nails. Before I built the little building on the top, I put all the sections together so there wouldn’t be any ‘bad surprises.’

Now that it’s completed, I’ll probably set up scenes and take more pictures. I also plan on having a zipline coming off of it somewhere and make a short video of Joe taking the plunge. Beyond that, I haven’t really given much thought to what else I’ll do with it.

I would probably give it away if it went to the right place. For now, it’ll just go back in my basement. It’s built in 4 removable sections that mortise together, so it stores away fairly easily. 

Finally, I remember that I couldn’t stop laughing as I stepped back and looked at it all for the first time. Yes, 17′ sounds tall, but standing right next to it is a whole different story. It…is…TALL. Now the fun really begins!” —Chris Rowland, Macon, GA

Bottom Line: Since “official” records are not actually kept regarding such things, we don’t really know if Chris Rowland has broken or set a new World’s Record with his fire tower, but it’s more likely than not that he has. Over the past few decades, we’ve witnessed hundreds of customizers around the world creating 1:6 scale trains, rail guns, aircraft, bunkers, vehicles and other GIjOE-related items of all sizes and types, but NOTHING quite as tall, elegant and intricate as Rowland’s tower. Our sincerest congratulations to Chris on his amazing achievement and our thanks too, for his generous contributions to this article. Absolutely SUPERB work, Chris!

 

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You’re Never Too Old———70 Year-Old Retired Man “Getting Over Bout of Cancer” By Creating 1:6 Scale Miniature Dioramas For Fun and Profit

Mini dorama and display stand creator, Joe Hodge, mans his booth at Joelanta 2014. A quick glance at his products reveals superb craftsmanship. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Mini diorama and display stand creator, Joe Hodge, mans his booth at Joelanta 2014. A quick glance at his products reveals surprising and superb craftsmanship with myriad details. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Joe Hodge (70), stood with his hands on his hips, squinting with an inquisitive eye as he studied the crowd milling around him. He was behind his dealer’s table at Joelanta 2014, manning a booth full of his expertly assembled, hand-crafted, hand-painted and “ready-to-use” 1:6 scale miniature diorama scenes, all the while watching, waiting and wondering about the fans passing by.

“Hmm…This is a strange crowd,” he mumbled, to no one in particular.

Hodge knows crowds. He can read them like a book. He’s had a lifetime of experience selling to all sorts and sizes, from all around the country. After a stint in the Marine Corps, he worked over 40 years as a professional jacket embroiderer, creating custom-embroidered “show jackets” for owners and fans of collector cars and hot rods. He’d travel from one car show to another on the nation’s busy “car show circuit,” setting up huge dealer tents displaying an array of colorful jackets and then busily embroider elaborate designs of cars, logos and custom names, all made “while you wait.”

Nowadays, Hodge is supposed to be fully retired. But on this weekend, he’d decided to travel from his home in Fountain End, SC to attend the world’s famous Joelanta GIjOE and action figure show in Atlanta, GA, hoping as he said, “to earn a little spending money.” Joe also had some more “personal” reasons for being there. According to Hodge:

“I getting over a bout of cancer. I decided to start making these miniature 1:6 diorama scenes to keep my hands busy. The hardest thing about making ’em is finding a reliable source of materials. I’m always looking for good wood, styrofoam and other supplies. Sure, I’ll go to Hobby Lobby for the basics, and sometimes I find things at florists and hardware stores, but it’s a challenge! But all it is, is a hobby. I’m not getting rich doing this.”

As I was about to walk away, Joe stuffed his business card into my hand and said, "Here's how to reach me. I don't have a website, and I doubt I ever will!" (Photo: Mark Otnes)

As I was about to walk away, Joe stuffed his business card into my hand and said, “Here’s how to reach me. I don’t have a website, and I doubt I ever will!” (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Intrigued by his story, I studied Hodges “stands” for a while longer and realized that they were ideal for anyone wanting to set up a mini-diorama scene that didn’t require much space on a display table or shelf. Imagine working days or weeks on a custom figure. What do you do with it then? Box it up? Put it in your attic? No! Either PLAY with the blasted thing or DISPLAY it proudly on one of Hodge’s excellent mini-diorama stands! Clearly sensing my thoughts, Hodge lamented today’s fans, saying:

People and kids today don’t want to PLAY with their toys anymore. But let me tell you—I’ve been playing with toy soldiers ever since I was a child—and I STILL play with ’em!” 

Bottom Line: Joe’s work is top-notch. And his personal example is very inspirational. We’re thrilled to see someone of his age still actively connected with the fun and creativity of the 1:6 scale hobby. Hopefully in the future, there will be thousands of similar “toy soldier” fans still playing with and customizing their 1:6 scale action figures—well into their 80s, 90s and beyond! Finally, if you’d like to contact Joe to place an order, remember that he doesn’t have a website, so you’ll need to pick up the telephone and call him on his old-fashioned “land line.” Remember those, buck-o?

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