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Yo Joe

Long before Pokemon came on to the scene, there was G.I. Joe, and I for one wanted to collect them all. I didn’t sadly, but not for lack of trying. In fact at one point I had a six figure a week habit. It was bad. I was an addict, but I refused to accept that I might have a problem. Just one more couldn’t hurt, right? It wasn’t always so bad. In the beginning I started small. One figure a week was all my paltry allowance would allow for. At first I was OK with this, but it didn’t take long before I started craving more. Unfortunately being that I was only ten money was a bit harder to come by. I thought about running a weekend lemonade stand, but realized those were usually only successful during the summer months and as it was fall I would still be every bit as broke as I was before. Factor in overhead costs and it seemed that it may be more trouble than it was worth. As I was about to give up hope, inspiration hit. What if, instead of buying lunch, I made my own secretly the night before? My parents, still assuming that I was buying hot lunch, would then hand over a dollar twenty five every day unaware that I had things covered. If I could pull this off it would give me more than enough money to buy a second figure at the end of every week. It worked flawlessly. For months I slowly built my army. Joe after Joe lined my drawers. I was in action figure heaven.



Of course most of these I would need to hide from my mother so she wouldn’t catch on to my master plan, but that aside the dream was real. Or it was until I began to realize just how fragile my G.I. Joe action figures really were. Sure they look tough, but as soon as you try to pose one doing a full split whilst also attempting to master the three hundred and sixty degree bazooka shot  they crumble. Legs began to slowly tear away from bodies. Arms, tired from throwing grenades, hung limply. It wasn’t long before my once glorious collection was reduced to rubble. With heavy heart I set up a cardboard box in my bedroom that served as a mass grave. With each new fallen hero I would say a few words before tossing their lifeless plastic bodies into their final resting place. It was sad, but I also knew that by the end of the week they could be replaced.


Airborne's 30 year old screws have seen better days.


My best friend sadly was not afforded this same luxury. He came from a much larger family where money was tight so the idea of new toys was something of a foreign concept. To him a new Joe was something to be revered rather than tossed about. He couldn’t quite fathom how I could be so reckless with my toys. Despite being nauseated by my wanton consumerism he still would make the trek with me each week to buy new figures. Eventually, tired of being left out, he asked if he could at least have my scraps. Looking back I wish I would have just used my money to buy each of us a figure, but greed consumed me so instead I let him take home the box of mangled Joe pieces. Aside from making an excellent prop for a Godzilla scene I wasn’t sure what good could come from a box of random action figure parts, but I would learn soon enough. Unbeknownst to me G.I. Joe figures are relatively easy to fix if you know what you are doing. My best friend knew what he was doing so for him a box of random parts meant all new toys. It took me awhile to catch onto what he was up to, but when I did I was utterly stunned.

“How?” I asked him stymied

Hesitant to tell me fearing I may renege on our previous arrangement, my friend kept mum. I begged and pleaded until he finally gave in. As it turns out there is a tiny screw on the back of each Joe. Once removed it is revealed that each figure is being held together by a tiny rubber O-ring. When a figure breaks more often than not you just need to replace the O-ring and you’re back in business. Of course not having any O-rings handy my friend showed me that a tiny rubber band could work just as well. With the O-ring replaced you could reattach the legs close the figure and voila. What once was broken beyond repair was now ready to do battle once more.


Picture of What you will need. 
I was utterly speechless, but I also had a new idea. One that could make us rich. Or at least fifth grade rich. Now also armed with the skills to fix G.I. Joe I suggested we offer up our services at school for the reasonable sum of two dollars a figure. We would split the profits fifty fifty. Of course any Joe that was broken beyond our ability would be turned away, but otherwise we were now accepting clients. Word traveled fast and we were soon inundated with orders. As it turns out I wasn’t the only one with broken G.I. Joe figures. Aside from the cost of a new screwdriver and a few bags of tiny rubber bands we were rolling in profit. So much so I was able to buy hot lunch again and still have the money to blow on new toys every week. Even my best friend could now get in on the action instead of just watching me. Both of our collections grew by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, caught up in the excitement, I got sloppy. Where I would once carefully hide each new figure, I now left them out in the open and unfortunately my mother caught on. Terrified I was stealing she demanded an answer. When I told her the whole sordid tale she was less than thrilled. She demanded we both stop immediately thus killing our dreams of becoming world famous Joe repairmen. It was a dark time, but over the course of a few weeks I did get another idea. Whilst true we were no longer allowed to continue fixing G.I. Joe for profit, my mother never said anything about creating our own custom G.I. Joe figures. That however is another story for another article.
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kidcoffee Posted on Oct 03, 2015 at 04:55 AM

@Rick Ace Rhodes I had almost forgot about the great Joe drought that hit just when I was starting to lose interest in toys. For me it's hard to imagine a time without Joe as they were so prevalent during my childhood. I'm glad to see they seem to be making a bit of a comeback although I think this line is more geared to nostalgic nerds such as myself still wanting to cling to their own childhood.

@mickyarber Thank you so much for the kind words. It means a lot. Looking back I wish I had thought to entitle this article O Joe as those little rings changed everything. Long forgotten fallen heroes restored back to their prime, and with the help of the Baroness' body I could finally custom craft myself a Lady Destro. It was too much fun.

mickyarber Posted on Oct 03, 2015 at 03:10 AM

Love this article. I remember when my Dad showed me how I could fix my GI Joes. He took me to our local hardware store and got me a little screw driver and a small bag of O-rings. I set up a little area in my room just for working on Joes. It wasn't long before I had my broken ones fixed, and then was onto making custom figures. Such good memories of those time. Really fun article.

Rick Ace Rhodes Posted on Oct 03, 2015 at 02:52 AM

Cool article. GI Joe was kind of foreign to me as a kid. Given the time period of my childhood, GI Joe wasn't making the rounds again until around when I stopped playing with toys.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 02, 2015 at 08:12 PM

I do hope so. I just wish I could recall more of my own money making schemes. Other than selling junk at yard sales, lemonade stands, and selling baseball cards.

kidcoffee Posted on Oct 02, 2015 at 07:58 PM

It was awful..or at least it was until I found out that G.I Joe's could be fixed. That was epic. I was never so lucky fixing MOTU figures, but those I tended to be more gentle with. In any event my mother liked to throw a wrench in most of my plans growing up, but I suppose we also shouldn't have been shaking down the neighborhood kids for their money. In any event this was just one of many schemes I ran as a child which I am sure will find their way into more articles.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 02, 2015 at 07:52 PM

Ahhh... the unbridled entrepreneurial spirit of our youth. When everything seemed like a perfect money making scheme. Here, at least it turned out to be the real deal. Too bad your mom had to go and be a spoil sport and catch on. LOL

Joes weren't the only figs to suffer this fate. He-Man also utilized the o rings in the legs. Very annoying and a cheap way to go.

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