Welcome to the amazing
hand-built 1:6 structures of
I do not often get to hang out
with people who like GiJoe.
Mind you, I have not gotten
around a lot on the web either, nor into the Sandbox
until just recently. And I only get onto the computer once-in-a-blue-moon.
As to my GIjOEs, it is the usual story-- I
had some as a kid from Hasbro's earliest days, eventually lost
them all to the passing of time, lamented them, found them again
during the 90's, etc.
That said, I am not really a collector
(in my own eyes), just someone who likes 12" action figures
and has kept adding pieces here and there. And until recently,
there was no real theme to what I had. But when I became hospitalized
in February of this year (lousy stomach!) I had a lengthy recovery
period and turned my attentions back to GIjOE.
I eventually decided to go with an arctic-themed
collection, and since there are so few pieces in this genre,
I'm kitbashing most of what I need as I go. The three AT Arctic
Rescue Force guys in their modern snow gear (see photo below)
are an example of that.
By trade, I used to be an IBM-trained computer
systems engineer. I had to give that up after the first time
I was hospitalized. These days I'm a writer and occasional teacher
and lecturer on the art and business of writing fiction. I hope
you enjoy my pictures and the descriptions of these projects.
I have ALWAYS had a love
affair with the Canadian Arctic. I had the usual Joe stuff--a
couple of Joes with parkas and rifles and skis and snowshoes--
and decided to do up my own Inuit action figure (and really,
shouldn't there be one??).
The Inuit figure is an
ongoing effort, but even at this early stage he goes great with
the growling polar bear--a fine addition to my set.
I hope that this Christmas I receive a 1:6 scale wolf and sled
dog to add to my set, so he'll have more wildlife to interact
photos below you'll see the 1:6 scale arctic house I designed
While researching through
my old National Geographics, I could not help but notice the
government-issue pre-fab housing in the background of several
pictures, which led me to wonder if my Arctic Joes should not
have one to call their own. I'm still looking for a 1:6 scale
stove/heater, and sketching out the oil tank that should be standing
just outside the building. (Again, some day!)
I needed a "tin
metal" roof, but my metal-working skills are nonexistent,
so I replicated the typical metal roof with standing seams using
black plastic sheeting cut to scale and affixed to the roof sheathing
using construction adhesive (the plastic was loathe to adhere
using anything else). The idea was to make an actual waterproof
roof, and I got it--it actually sheds water very nicely. It's
one thing to draw up plans and daydream over them--it's another
to actually get something like this built and see just how huge
a thing the finished project is. As a result, I've had to turn
my attentions to sketching up a display/storage cabinet that's
big enough to hold it!
No Bathroom?" I actually considered installing one (along with
the necessary pipe runs) but could not find a toilet in 1:6 scale.
[Yes, I'll bet someone in the Sandbox knows of a source, but
I could not find one at the time I laid out the plans...] Or,
as my son put it, "Bathroom? Oh, the outhouse is out back."
I had to rip down and
cut-to-scale all of the studs, joists and rafters I used, running
them out of much thicker pine stock. (Kind of makes me sound
like Norm Abrams.) I'm no carpenter, however, so it was a lot
of hand work along with the use of an old, wobbly table saw.
Considering my previous attempt at a Joe House was a cutting
up a cardboard box when I was like 10 years old, I had a lot
to learn on the job with this project.
I figured that the tiny
pieces would be the "make-it-or-break-it" details,
and I was stumped at crafting miniature baseboards and beaded
stock. The trim you see around the door and windows came from
an eBay store -- "Manchester Dollhouse and Wood Works"
-- which for my money is one of the best places you can go to,
to find trim. I cannot recommend them too highly. They turn out
1:6 scale stock trim that is absolutely terrific.
The problem was, the
trim was only a tiny part of it--everything else had to be crafted
by me, by hand. The front door hinges, for example, came from
a MICHAEL'S craft store--by way of some $1 balsawood jewelry
boxes, which I bought solely for their hinged lids, since I could
not find any source of 1:6 scale hinges anywhere else. The ceiling
"drywall" is balsa sheeting, glued in place; the ceiling
joists have such a long span that I was afraid of bending them
out of shape by hammering in the scale nails (the nail gun was
not reliable at sinking the nails in fully). The sidewalls were
a lot more structurally sound and less prone to warp under impact,
so the "drywall" used on the interior walls was all
nailed into place.
The large parts -- the
joists, rafters, sills and such -- were ripped down from much
larger wood stock. The outer "1/4-inch plywood sheathing"
is made from 1mm thick Birch Aircraft Plywood (used in making
flying model aircraft). The "1-1/2-inch thick subfloor and
underlayment" is made of 1/4" thick marine-grade plywood
with structural bracing framed by 1/4-inch-thick maple wood sheeting.
The floor planks were originally going to be balsawood strips
but the balsa turned out be too soft for a house that will see
play-use, so I had to obtain birch stripwood and cut it down
into planks and stained to resemble solid pine flooring.
The walls were built
up exactly as a real studwall would be, one board at a time,
and then stood up onto the rimjoists. The exterior sheathing
is cut to scale, with the seams covered by wood strips as in
the pre-fab original. The studs that make up the walls were all
nailed together, and the sheathing and plywood sheets then in
turn nailed to the studs, using "3-inch framing nails"
which are actually 9/16 Brad Nails shot in using a Craftsman
Easyfire staple/nail gun (and when it sometimes failed to insert
the nails fully into the wood, nailed VERY CAREFULLY using a
tack hammer). It took a lot of time, but the entire substructure
of the house is actually nailed together with 1:6 scale nails.
It's almost impossible to see, especially with the paint on,
but I'm damn proud of it. (Would I do it again? Good god, no...!
It took forever!)
The pink insulation foam
in the walls and the attic is anti-static foam sheeting used
around computer chips. The overhead light in the ceiling is from
a flashlight and is actually internally wired to the wall switch
by the door, and although it *can* be made to light up, the result
is so feeble that I gave up on making it a permanent part of
the house. You'll notice there are power outlets in the walls;
these are crafted from computer cuircuit board sockets and are
all wired through the studwall with cables running into the attic,
where I planned to hide the batteries inside a trunk or box,
Like the overhead light, this part of the house got shunted aside
when the project ran overbudget. Still, the sockets are in place,
as is the lightswitch and wires. Maybe some day... I took the effort
pretty seriously, shooting for something museum-quality in detail.
Although my wife regarded it more as an obsession with architecture
than with me making something useful. (Or, as she eventually
put it, "So when do I get a *Barbie* house?")
any questions or comments to webmaster Mark Otnes, at 303 E.
Sherwin Drive, Urbana, IL 61802, or Phone: 217-337-1706 or Email: