APRIL 7, 2017
RECOMMENDED READING FOR 1964-1969 VINTAGE G I JOE COLLECTORS
The most important ingredient to being a successful vintage 1964-1969 G I Joe collector is knowledge. The only way to gain the needed information is to read ALMOST everything you can get your hands on. The vintage GIJoe hobby is now over 25 years old. It has also been a long time since anyone has published a book on the subject. There used to be a lot of books, literature and information websites on vintage G I Joe. In the internet age everyone figures they can just google GIJoe and everything they need to know will just magically appear on their screen. Nothing could be farther from the truth when it comes to GIJoe from 1964. Gathering all of the information you need will not be easy. Part of the fun of collecting G I Joe is the discovery and the chase of vital information you need to make good buying decisions.
The toughest part of being a vintage G I Joe collector is deciphering fact from fiction; separating speculation from common hobby philosophy. You can literally get a dozen different opinions from conversations with a dozen different collectors. You can read the dozen or so books written about G I Joe over the years and you will often find yourself more confused than enlightened. There are a few websites claiming to be information sites but none of them really do much more than scratch the surface.
The biggest frustration for a G I Joe collector is that there is not one all encompassing book or source of information as there is in most other hobbies. A new collector trying to gather information can quickly became frustrated and confused. In time, the picture can become much more clear as the pieces of information fall in place in your brain but generally after spending hundreds of hours searching. After collecting vintage GIJoe over 20 years I believe this to be the main reason so many people came into and then quickly left the vintage GIJoe hobby. Many people started buying, got lost or frustrated or even got cheated because they didn't know enough to be successful collectors.
Why do I tell you all of this? I am trying to hammer into your head that the simplest thing a vintage G I Joe collector can do is to read! Reading and gathering information is your best tool for success! Learning should be the first thing you do after deciding you want to collect anything. It takes a LONG time to gain a really clear picture of the vintage GIJoe hobby. Trust me, I have been collecting vintage GIJoe for over 20 years and I am STILL searching for some information.
BEFORE you spend a bunch of money on vintage GIJoe items you must educate yourself with the written information available. If you educate yourself you will make better buying decisions. Educating yourself sufficiently BEFORE YOU COLLECT will help you enjoy your collection more and for a lot longer time. I have seen dozens of vintage G I Joe collectors who jumped in head first without knowing much and just ended up frustrated and selling everything they bought, usually for a lot less than they paid. It is only logical to spend a reasonable amount of money gathering a sufficient library before you spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a vintage G I Joe collection.
There is quite a bit of information in books published over the last 20 years. Many of the terms and concepts brought forth in these books have been adopted into the G I Joe hobbyist's vocabulary. Many of the ideas from book to book are similar, especially the basic information. As collectors search for more in-depth information, the lines become fuzzy and guess work takes the place of more factual information. Because of the wealth of inaccurate information in so many books, a short review on all of the material known to date will follow below. This information should be helpful to collectors as they start on their quest for knowledge.
VINTAGE GIJOE LITERATURE
Some of the simplest material to read about vintage GIJoe available is found in the numerous books, catalogs and documents published by Hasbro. The most honest and unbiased information you can get is from these little books that were made during the production of GIJoe, when it was just a toy. There will be a complete vintage paperwork section for this site one day and it will include all of the items noted below. There are TONS of great paperwork items from the painted hair era that can provide at least some insight about G I Joe. There may be a few photos or descriptions that might be inaccurate but at least you know that those books were published to provide as much information as possible to the kids who played with GIJoe. They had no other motive than to sell you as much of the original GIJoe by Hasbro product line as possible.
ARMY, NAVY, MARINE and PILOT MANUALS - These little books are loaded with information on how to properly outfit a vintage GIJoe in his gear. They have lots of little tidbits that can prove quite useful in your search for vintage uniforms and gear. Review them several times until you feel like an expert. You can pick up these old vintage books for only a few bucks, even in dead mint condition and are a MUST HAVE FOR ALL G I JOE COLLECTORS. The wider manuals are 4" x 4" flat and were included with most boxed and carded equipment sets. The narrow manuals are 3-1/2" x 4" and were included with all boxed figures. The narrow manuals are slightly more desirable to have and worth the few bucks more than the wider manuals, especially if you want to eventually collect the original vintage GIJoe boxes. It is important to note that the narrow and wide manuals have identical content.
The GIJoe ARTWORK CHECKLIST BROCHURE and the GIJoe OFFICIAL GEAR AND EQUIPMENT MANUAL- These 2 sided brochures are something everyone should be familiar with. Both brochures were included in most vintage packages and boxed figures. If you were born around 1960 and had painted hair GIJoes when you were a kid like me then you have probably already spent countless hours staring at every picture and drawing. I recommend reading these over and over until becoming VERY familiar with these great brochures. It is also suggested to pay particular attention to the Hasbro part numbers and contents of each set provided on both brochures as they can provide a checklist for your collection. These are also both VERY inexpensive to buy today and a MUST HAVE FOR ALL G I JOE COLLECTORS.
Speaking of checklists, this website has a couple of invaluable checklists, ready for you to download in PDF format. A logical approach to GIJoe collecting to use checklists to keep track of what you have and what you are looking for. You can also modify these lists in any way or shape you might need. If you think you have come up with a useful idea then please feel free to pass it on to me. Definitely a GREAT tool for reading are these checklists which have a link off the front page of this website.
A large amount of helpful information can be gathered from the catalogs Hasbro produced each year. It can not be stressed enough how important all of this vintage information can be to the average collector. BEFORE YOU SPEND HARD EARNED MONEY ON G I JOE BOOKS IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU BUY COPIES OF THE HASBRO CATALOGS FROM EACH YEAR LISTED BELOW FIRST! These catalogs were originally believed to be RETAILER'S CATALOGS but if you look carefully at the JOIN THE CLUB brochures you will see that a new GIJoe club member got one of these catalogs with a club package. This was probably the case in 1964 and 1965, especially given the large number of these catalogs in circulation today. From 1966 through 1969 the catalogs become increasingly difficult to find and probably were only available to toy retailers. The 1968 and 1969 catalogs look very much like business publications as they have the names, addresses and phone numbers of official dealers of Hasbro GIJoe from around the world. There may be special variations of these catalogs but as far as I know the photos and information in the ones below are the same across the product line.
The GIJoe 1964 HASBRO CATALOG - A MUST HAVE FOR ALL VINTAGE G I JOE COLLECTORS! This catalog is fortunately quite easy to come by in the way of a nice color reproduction and it has the word REPRINT printed right on the cover making it easy to recognize as a reproduction. A genuine 1964 catalog is quite hard to find and will usually cost quite a few bucks. The 1964 catalog is the most important of all the vintage catalogs as it contains the only photographic evidence of many of the true first issue figures and accessories. Used in the diorama photos are some of the most desirable of the first issue variations like the green on green camouflage radio, the brass collar entrenching tool, the cloth cartridge belt and many first issue uniforms. More information on these items will eventually be covered in the first issue section in the advanced collectors identification guide on this INFOSITE.
The GIJoe1965 HASBRO CATALOG - This is also an easy to find catalog. The cover does NOT say anything about it being a reproduction so please be careful when you are buying a catalog of this year. The REISSUE catalog has much larger than normal notebook punch holes than a genuine vintage catalog. Regardless of which one you buy they are well worth the money. Included in this catalog are everything from 1964 and the large selection of items added to the GIJoe product line in 1965 like the 5 Star Jeep and the Ski Patrol sets. A genuine catalog is also fairly easy to come by and lately they sell for well under $100 for a nice clean copy.
The GIJoe 1966 HASBRO CATALOG - This is a very elusive catalog to find and one of the most important years in the development of the GIJoe product line. This catalog has not been reproduced professionally and there are very few genuine catalogs in circulation. There is no catalog which has a better cover photo than the 1966 catalog. This photo is also key evidence to a number of puzzles in the hobby which will be gone into detail later in the "yet to be developed" variation section of this INFOSITE.
The GIJoe 1967 HASBRO CATALOG - Fortunately this catalog has been professionally reproduced by GIJoe book author Jeff Kilian. The copies are also clearly marked as a REPRINT and are highly recommend to purchase. 1967 is a year in which many vintage collectors consider the golden era of GIJoe (and for most toys for that matter). 1967 was a year in which many new sets were introduced and at almost the end of the painted hair GIJoe era. Many of these sets were made in limited quantities because of declining sales, are still quite difficult to find today and expensive to add to your collection. A vintage 1967 catalog is also very difficult to find and will set you back several hundred bucks if you buy one in nice condition. Get your information correct on these 1967 sets and get a copy of this catalog. Interesting to note that several packages are pictured in this catalog that were never produced. If you are a vintage package collector you need to be cautious when you make your packages wanted to buy list.
The GIJoe 1968 HASBRO CATALOG - This is a VERY easy to obtain catalog because TONS of copies were professionally reproduced by an unknown source. These reproductions are cheap enough and easy enough to buy and are clearly marked REPRODUCTION. This catalog is good to add to your arsenal of information but it is a bit lacking in written content. The catalog holds particular interest to vintage package collectors as almost the whole GIJoe product line was repackaged and sent to stores with a new fresh "photobox" look. A genuine vintage 1968 catalog is EXTREMELEY tough to find and actually includes the whole Hasbro product line. The section which has been reproduced is only the small 14 page GIJoe section. There are several cool looking photos in it so it is recommend to buy this year's catalog as well.
1969 HASBRO CATALOG - This catalog is undoubtedly the most difficult of all the vintage Hasbro catalogs to obtain. A vintage copy will costs several hundred bucks and there are probably less than a dozen in circulation. This catalog has also never been professionally reproduced. I would venture a guess that over 90% of vintage GIJoe collectors have ever laid eyes on this vintage catalog. This is an important catalog as it contains many clues to the changes that occurred in the painted hair product line on figures, uniforms, accessories and packages. Few collectors know and no book explains that the "ADVENTURES OF" GIJoe figures and accessory sets were IN ADDITION TO the regular line of military GIJoe items. Most collectors think that the whole GIJoe line was transitioned into the RED TOP BOX items in 1969 but this catalog CLEARLY SHOWS the "ADVENTURES OF" items ONLY IN THE LAST FEW PAGES of the catalog!
BOOKS ON COLLECTING GIJOE
Here is a list and a quick synopsis of most of the books written on the subject of GIJoe.
The New Official Identification Guide to GIJoe by James DeSimone, 1994 - THIS IS A MUST HAVE FOR ALL GIJOE COLLECTORS as it was the first book to really SHOW EACH AND EVERY GIJOE ITEM IN COLOR. The format of the book is brilliant although some of the dirty and wrinkled uniforms should never have been photographed . James' book is a direct reflection on the way he collected and almost everything photographed was from his personal collection. For the time he wrote the book it is amazingly complete for both painted hair and fuzzy hair GIJoe. The most logical of book formats lists each set numerically (Hasbro set numbers) and chronologically (by year released) and in full color as most collecting books should be done. Each item is laid out to assist collectors in identifying what a vintage GIJoe uniform or accessory should look like. There are a few little errors and omissions but for the most part these are minor. The biggest error I can point out now relates to the goggles that come with the Action Sailor L.S.O. set. DeSimone's book shows amber goggles with a white strap which is DEFINITELY NOT CORRECT. The proper L.S.O. goggles are clearly shown in the photo of the window box on my Action Sailor guide section, the correct ones are GREEN WITH BLACK TRIM AND A BLACK ELASTIC STRAP. These same correct goggles are ALSO CORRECT FOR THE DESERT PATROL JEEP DRIVER. There is a lot of confusion on this goggles issue in the vintage G I Joe hobby but my photo of a vintage sealed package will hopefully put anyone's concerns to rest. Back to the book....There is nothing written in DeSimone's book other than a few notes from James; it is simply a great PHOTO IDENTIFICATION GUIDE (which would have been a more appropriate title). Buy this book....it will be the best money you ever spent on GIJoe, generally $10 or less and it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The Collectible GIJoe by Derryl DePriest, 1999 - THIS IS A MUST HAVE FOR ALL GIJOE COLLECTORS as it is the one book which really is what it was supposed to be; a true book for the vintage GIJoe collector. It covers the whole GIJoe painted hair and Adventure Team era and even includes a handy (although now out of date) price guide. The book is very well written and at a level which most people can breeze through in a few hours. Derryl injects a bit of his humor and a lot of his knowledge and expertise. The book helps recapture many of the great memories of the fun of playing with GIJoe. There are tons of color photos and many super close ups to REALLY help out collectors on important details. This book also is a direct reflection of the way Derryl collects as the photos are of his personal collection which I have personally seen and is MASSIVE. He does have a few little errors (like the wrong flamethrower with his Marine Jungle Fighter on the cover....ooops!) but unlike previous GIJoe authors, Derryl made sure he had the book properly proof read by knowledgable collectors (including yours truly) BEFORE it went to press. Most of the photos are of figures and uniforms which are not mint but most people will not even notice. Buy this book....it will be the 2nd best money you ever spent on GIJoe and it is alsoHIGHLY RECOMMENDED AND FUN TO READ!
Headquarters Quarterly Magazine Volumes 1 THROUGH 10 by Joe Bodnarchuk, 1992-1994 - Back in the early days of collecting there were some really great people who cared so much about the GIJoe hobby they actually produced informative magazines and newsletters for collectors. The one that stood out above the rest was the 10 issue full color magazine produced by Joe Bodnarchuk for his GIJoe Fan Club. This man was a true authority on GIJoe and had insight about first issue and package collecting long before anyone had any clue about it or before any GIJoe books were written. IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO FIND AND BUY ALL 10 ISSUES for your library of information. These issues are small and should only set you back a few bucks a piece but they are loaded with information. You can find some copies of these magazines for sale here and there, maybe even on eBay. These magazines have great color photos, good pricing information (which still holds up to today's standards), handy checklists and a cool look into the hobby of vintage GIJoe collecting in it's earlier days.
GIJoe, The Story Behind The Legend by John Michlig - This is the book which came with the Masterpiece Edition reproduction GIJoe figures originally sold in 1996. I do recommend this book for everyone although make sure you do not pay much for it. The story is an easy read and will help you understand some of the history of GIJoe. This book is only half of the story but is entertaining and fun. I do recommend this book for those who want a good historical perspective on how GIJoe got his start. This book has eight different slip covers, one for each service and each comes with a Caucasian and an African Amercian GIJoe on the cover but each has an identical book inside.
Action Figures of the 1960's by John Marshall, 1998 - This is a book which only has a small section on vintage GIJoe. If you are a cross over collector it also has sections on Captain Action, Major Matt Mason, Stony Smith and a bunch of other action figures. Mildly entertaining with some fair photos and fun reading. If you can find this book cheap then it is an ok addition to your library but don't go out of your way to buy it.
Tomart's Price Guide to GIJoe by Jeff Kilian, 1993 - This is a good old book that is worthwhile if you don't have to spend too much money on it. Kilian has a limited amount of information inside BUT he pictures a lot of the old vintage packages. He does cover all of the GIJoe's made through 1993. This book is quite detailed on the 3-3/4" GIJoe line and covers all of the little vehicles which most books do not. The book contains pricing information but all of it is greatly outdated. Other than the 3-3/4" GIJoe section, the book is only good for the photos.
Tomart's Encyclopedia and Price Guide to Action Figures, 1996 - This book is only of interest to vintage GIJoe collectors because of the 16 page color photo section in the back. A lot of the photos are reprinted from Kilian's version of the Tomart's guide. Buy this one only if you can't find the first edition by Kilian.
Field Manual for Collecting GIJoe from 1963-1969 by Hal Fowler, 1992 - This is a nice little book in an Army Manual format. Hal Fowler is a great guy and a knowledgable collector. He made this book almost totally at home and put a lot of written information in it. There are quite a few black and white photos inside but most everything is simple basic info. Try to grab this book IF you are a newer collector AND if you can get it cheap.
Collectible Male Action Figures by Paris and Susan Manos, 1990 - This was probably the first book written on GIJoe that was worth buying. The photos are great but the written content is extremely limited. This is an interesting book if you are a crossover action figure collector as it also covers Action Man, Captain Action and Ken. The book even has a limited amount of info and pictures of the Action Team and other European GIJoe product line. If you can find this old book it is worth spending a few bucks on.
GIJOE Value Guide 1964-1978 Dolls, Gear and Equipment by Carol Moody, 1989 - This was THE FIRST BOOK on vintage GIJoe but this book is good only for entertainment value. It is only a VERY rough guide and doesn't even cover all of the painted hair or AT era figures and sets. Many of the diagrams are hand drawn and not done very well. A cute book and probably very enlightening for the time but don't go out of your way to find it. I do give this particular book credit for saving me making a huge mistake and selling my original childhood GIJoe collection. You can read that story on my ABOUT ME page on this INFOSITE.
A BIG WARNING ABOUT ALL OF THE SANTELMO BOOKS. I personally knew, spoke with and visited with Vincent Santelmo back around the hey day of the GIJoe hobby in the years before the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened. I visited with him at his home in New York and we spoke on the phone over 100 hours. We went over lots of information, told stories of great vintage GIJoe finds, great Joe scores and the GIJoe hobby in general. I sent him lots of photos of my findings and documentation of inaccuracies in his previous books. I pleaded with him to truly straighten out the whole narrative of vintage GIJoe and to make his books genuinely helpful to collectors. He agreed to do this and to use the information I provided him to put into his next book, the one written about below in 1999. He promised me to turn over a new leaf and I gave him permission to use my name in his book as long as he fixed everything he had messed up in his Encyclopedias. I immediately regretted my decision as he took most of the information given him and wrote exactly the opposite of the truth. Vincent proved to me that he was nothing but a liar and was only interested in forwarding his own personal agenda of making as much money as possible on his GIJoe collection.
Over the years I have conversed with hundreds of collectors of vintage GIJoe, mostly over the telephone and email. I have crossed paths with dozens of people who all had similar stories of their hobby dealings both good and bad. Many of these people had bad stories about them being cheated by Santelmo. A lot of people had their priceless personal childhood collections bought by Vincent for VERY little money. Usually there was one or two rare items worth hundreds of dollars that he gave them less than $20 for. That was the norm in the early days of collecting by a lot of dealers of vintage toys. If you are an author and claim to be an expert then a higher moral compass should have been used. The worst part of his claiming to be an expert was that it could not have been farther from the truth. Santelmo had never taken the time or the resources to fully explore the whole GIJoe product line. He also lacked the integrity and good common sense to truly be an authority on vintage GIJoe. With all of that background information, here are my reviews of Vincent's books.
The Complete Encyclopedia to GIJoe 3rd Edition by Vincent Santelmo - This 2001 book is the third installment to what could have been the all inclusive GIJoe book that many people were hoping for. The book is massive and includes all eras of GIJoe from painted hair era all the way through the modern 12" garbage that Hasbro produced in China. This book could have been great as Vincent takes great photos of truly pristine GIJoe figures and uniforms and is a real artist. The problems with this book are numerous and justifies a more complete error correction page to be done some time later. Suffice it to say that it will do the average collector no good at all to buy and read this book. THIS BOOK IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR THE BEGINNING OR INTERMEDIATE COLLECTOR. I suggest you get a copy of this book ONLY IF YOU ARE AN ADVANCED COLLECTOR who will be able to tell the difference between fact and fiction on their own. This book has AT LEAST 48 different pictures (including the hat and cloth cartridge belt on the cover) just in the painted hair GIJoe era that are fraudulent and meant to deceive the casual observer. Vincent explains the photos as "adding life to the book". The pricing guide is TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY FILLED WITH EXAGGERATIONS both on the high and low side and is ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS TO EVERYONE! The information inside the book is presented without specifying fact from speculation or theory. Vincent's historical compilation of the history of GIJoe is as complete as anyone has ever published though. Vincent puts all of the pieces together and writes up the accounts of his meetings very well. He spent many hours with most of the Hasbro creative team from 1963-64 and gives most of the original FATHERS AND MOTHERS OF GIJoe their proper respect and credit. BUT, the historical aspect of this book is all that is credible. If you have a copy of this book already then I suggest you use it to start a fire in your fireplace or use it in the restroom if you are out of toilet tissue! Does that let you know clearly enough how I feel about this book?
The Complete Encyclopedia to GIJoe 1st and 2nd Edition by Vincent Santelmo- These books are both now obsolete and a total waste of money with the release of the 3rd edition in 2001. Don't worry, you didn't miss anything with these either as they had a boatload of errors as well.
The Official 30th Anniversary Salute to GIJoe by Vincent Santelmo, 1994 - This is now pretty much a time most vintage GIJoe collectors want to forget and this book is almost as worthless as the 1st and 2nd edition Encyclopedias. Mildly entertaining if you can find it and only for some good photography but don't go out of your way to buy it.
GIJoe Official Identification and Price Guide 1964-1999 by Vincent Santelmo, 1999 - This book is a TOTAL JOKE, an abomination and almost completely worthless. Again, Vincent is an artist and takes great photos and this book has a bunch of them. The problem here is the written content and photo captions; it is as confusing as anything you will ever read. The captions for a lot of the photos are incorrect as the book was obviously never properly proof read. The content presented, especially about first issue items and pricing is wrong on almost every item. The biggest problem posed by this book is that people actually believe everything in it to be nothing but facts. When collectors read and hear things enough times they eventually believe it all. I can guarantee that A LOT of the information in this book is DEAD WRONG! Take a look inside this book and I am ashamed that my name was used inside as a source. Vincent took everything I suggested to him and wrote exactly the opposite. THIS BOOK IS ONLY RECOMMENDED FOR THE MOST HARD CORE VETERAN COLLECTORS. DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SOLID UNDERSTANDING OF VINTAGE GIJOE ALREADY. This book would also be a good fire-starter candidate if you are low on kindling.
Warman's GIJoe Field Guide by Karen Obrien, 2006 - If it wasn't bad enough that we have Santelmo's misguided books then this book complicates the story even further. This book was a great idea right up to the part where they copied every photo and each error filled heading underneath each photo. The information and photos in this book are the exact same ones as in the previously mentioned 1999 Santelmo disaster. All of the photos are shrunk down so you can't even see what they were trying to show you to begin with. The pricing guide is again a regurgitation of all the erroneous information written in Santelmo's book. Some of the prices in this and the 1999 books are off by a factor of TEN. For example, Vincent may write in his price guide that certain things are worth $150 when they should be priced at $1500. Overpricing everything could be understandable since everyone is entitled to their opinion. BUT, WHY underprice AND overprice items by such drastic amounts? One could speculate that Santelmo had ulterior motives and that his information is biased and based on what he already owned and what he still wanted to buy. One could also speculate that he meant to mislead collectors and unsuspecting sellers, suckering them in to sell HIM stuff at dirt cheap prices. All of this is just conjecture on my part and again only one man's opinion. Most importantly, DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS BOOK REGARDLESS OF HOW CHEAP YOU CAN FIND IT FOR! Maybe all of the bad karma that Krause Publications created by putting the Santelmo books in print is coming back to haunt them; they recently had to discontinue one of their long running magazines, the TOY SHOP. Good riddance to them all and hopefully this continuous barrage of bad information will come to an end.
There might be a few other books on closely related topics like Action Man and Action Figures but the above covers most of the books and information that will be helpful to the vintage GIJoe collector. There will hopefully be a more complete review on the important books on this INFOSITE soon. I hope to include an item by item error correction page for the major books with information that every serious collector should know. Someone has finally got to tell GIJoe collectors the truth, regardless of how much it hurts them. I know a lot of bad buying decisions have been made over the years. Now is the time to correct all of the mistakes. I have been collecting since 1994 and I made a lot of mistakes as I built up my collection because it was so hard to find accurate information. I am also tired of seeing the wrong information being spread around and becoming fact, especially when people use the wrong information in their online sales listings.
WAKE UP G I JOE COLLECTORS AND FACE THE TRUTH!
BE PROPERLY EDUCATED ON THE GIJOE HOBBY!
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APRIL 7, 2017