Convention gives G.I. Joe action figures a hero’s welcome

Posted Monday, Sep. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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G.I. Joe aficionados want the public to know something important about the action figure.

First, it’s not just about the doll. G.I. Joe represents an elite squad of highly trained commandos considered by many to be one of the best.

That information was relayed at the DFW G.I. Joe and Action Figure Show Saturday at the Grapevine Convention Center.

The show was sponsored by the Dallas/Fort Worth G.I. Joe Collectors Club, the local chapter of the International G.I. Joe Collectors Club.

“As the name of the show states, this show is just not solely about G.I. Joe but about his action figure friends as well,” member Keith Holmes said.

Holmes, who designs databases, said his collection features more than 100 pieces. He displays them in a media room and around his Flower Mound home. His wife, Frann is also on board, especially because his interest takes them to conventions across the country.

Like many club members, Holmes had a few action figures as a child, partly due to his father’s career in the military.

But when he left Kingsville for college at Baylor University in Waco, he gave his childhood collection away.

Later in life, Holmes said he became intrigued in the childhood toys again because they allowed him to create his own stories.

He began collecting them and started attending conventions that offered camaraderie.

“You can learn everything, from how to make dioramas to how to weather uniforms, as well as swap and sell,” said Holmes, 50.

Asked about the appeal of collecting, Holmes said, “It’s an escape from everything else that is going on in the world.”

Michael Milstead, former club president and an administrator in the special education department for the Dallas school district, said his was a similar experience of collecting memorabilia, then giving it away to attend college and taking an interest again years later.

“It’s the magic of being able to see something in the movies or something you read and being able to display it in your office,” said Milstead, 43, of Grand Prairie.

The second annual show is a highlight for the local club, which was founded in 1999.

“We are a group of collectors of G.I. Joe and various other action figures who meet monthly in the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Milstead said. “We are also customizers, diorama builders and retailers of 1/6th- and 3 3/4-inch scale action figures.”

Why do they collect? Mainly nostalgia, said Milstead, who is also a history and movie buff.

“Bottom line, given the diversity of our group, we seem to collect a little of everything from high-end vintage 12-inch G.I. Joes to the latest 3 ¾-inch Star Wars action figures hitting the marketplace currently,” he said.

“The nice thing about our group is that all periods, scales and genres are represented, such as historical, fantasy and sci-fi. If you can name it, we probably have a member who collects it.”

Club activities include competitive diorama building, custom figure contests, community service, monthly swap meets and field trips.

Milstead said although there was a fee for vendor space and admission, he said they expected to break even for the convention this year.

“We’re not in it for profit,” Milstead said. “It’s basically a show for the fans. I get the joy and fun of seeing the fans come together.”

The event drew people from all walks of life, including Brian Caldwell, a graphic design and art history professor at Oklahoma State University.

He had two entries in the diorama contest, taking G.I. Joes and upgrading them and placing them in intricate scenes.

“This is my release,” said Caldwell, 40, from Okmulgee, Okla.

“It’s just to show off what I can do. It’s a cool next step up from just showing it on a shelf.”

Buying and selling is a popular reason to attend shows, and Toby Wallace, 34, of McKinney, was no exception.

He had a mission: to find a full G.I. Joe USS Flagg set that includes a massive aircraft carrier. He found one for what he said was a bargain at $700.

“I came looking for this. It’s the Holy Grail. This is what I came for. I love it. I’m blown away,” said Wallace, a television master control operator. “This was a ridiculously good deal.”

The seller, H.D., Patterson, didn’t mind parting with it.

“I have nine more at home,” said the 35-year-old mechanic from Oklahoma City.

Patterson said he’s “in it for the fun of it.”

But fun has its price.

“I’ve got the lot insured for $96,000,” the collector said.

Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367

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