“Put on some strong coffee Bazooka, it’s going to be a long night….
While on Instagram early last week (Therealjosegon) I was looking up #GIJoe to check out pictures from countless GI Joe fans around the world and by chance came upon a picture advertising a GI Joe Tribute Art show in a specialty retail store called BAIT located in Diamond Bar CA, and needless to say, my interest was piqued. I did a little researched on BAIT and learned that the event wasn’t just a GI Joe Tribute Art show to celebrate the theatrical release of GI Joe:Retaliation later this week, but was also a launch event for a new line of GI Joe designer vinyl 3″ mini figures from a designer group called “Loyal Subjects”. To mark the event, designer Les Schettkoe was to be on hand to sign figures for fans. That was enough to convince me to hop in my car and make the trip up to Diamond Bar!
I arrived a little early to scope out the store before the event and all I can say is WOW! The store combines fine art, pop art, fashion, collectibles, designer toys, video games, all rolled neatly into a superbly cool store. After wandering the store for a bit I headed up stairs to the gallery for the show. Again, WOW! The art was amazing! To augment the GI Joe experience, BAIT also had pieces from Hasbro, Sideshow, and Marvel Comics displayed alongside the art. Heck even, Optimus Prime made a cameo! There were many artist on hand who had their artwork featured in the show to talk GI Joe and art with fans and everywhere you looked there were groups of people recounting their childhood and discussing what GI Joe meant to them then and now. I got to mingle and chat with a few of the artist, but in particular with artist Kwestone, who had 3 art pieces on display. We had a lengthy conversation and shared more than a few laughs talking about everything from Joe, to DC Comics, to animation. Really talented guy! Here’s a picture of Kwestone standing next to his Baroness art piece
Unfortunately, not all artists were able to make the show and were sorely missed. Once such artist was Ray Leoncio, who had 4 mesmerizing prints featuring The Baroness, Scarlet, Lady Jay, and Jinx. I was able to chat a bit with Ray via email before the show and he graciously had set aside a full of set of prints for me! Thanks Ray!
A table was set up and it was time from Les to take center stage and begin his signing! Earlier in the evening, I picked up two of the blind boxed mini figures for Les to sign and was happy to open them and find Duke and Destro which made for the perfect Joe/Cobra combination. I was able to chat with him for a bit while he signed my figures and he was a really friendly and cool guy who was obviously very passionate and proud of his work.
The night saw a very healthy turnout and it was great seeing GI Joe fans from every walk of life enjoying GI Joe in new and exciting formats. I picked up a few amazing prints, made some new friends, and had a fantastic time! I personally love when GI Joe is presented as art – It’s events like this that take the brand to the next level and show that GI Joe can be so much more than a 12 inch or 3 3/4 piece of plastic, but rather a culmination of countless creators, artist, story tellers, product mangers, engineers, designers, all united to tell the story of a Real American Hero. Make sure you stop by the BAIT website at baitme.com to keep up with the latest in fashion, art and style and follow them on Twitter, facebook and Instagram!
Enjoy the gallery of pictures and say tuned for more! C’ya!
I’ve created a new category for your reading enjoyment simply titled, “Slightly Off Topic” in which I’ll be talking about subjects that have to do with collecting GI Joe but aren’t necessarily about the toys themselves. Hope you enjoy!
A couple of weeks ago I came across a tweet announcing a voice actor appearance and signing event in City of Industry at a toy/collector show named Frank and Sons. Southern California based pop culture fans are no strangers to F&S as the show has become somewhat of a weekend mini “Comic Con”. Artist, actors, professional athletes, wrestlers, reality TV stars, and comic book creators, have all made stops here for autograph signings and appearances. On the weekend of March 16, F&S was to host a special event called “Animation Toon Con”
I went to the F&S website, which can be found here and looked up the voice talent lineup for the event. One name stood out above the rest: Micheal Bell. Micheal Bell has had an illustrious voice actor career and has voiced literally hundreds of animation characters including Conrad “Duke” Hauser and Major Blood from the beloved GI Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon from the 1980’s.
Can you say “Road Trip!”
Bazooka and I jumped in a car on a sunny Saturday morning and off we were to the City of Industry to meet Michael Bell!
The parking lot was packed! I could tell this was going to be a popular event judging by the number of cars and crowds already there. 20 minutes later we where inside and I made a bee line to the signing event area and were greeted real versions of the Scooby Doo Gang’s Mystery Machine, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtle Van and Ratchet from the Transformers! it was so awesome seeing these iconic cartoon vehicles as real vehicles! The whole placed had a really fun vibe with families taking pictures with the car replicas and costumed characters that were mingling with kids of all ages. I finally spotted Mr. Bell near Ratchet and made my way over with a shiny new Duke reproduction card from the guys over at Beggars Canyon firmly in hand. I said, “Good morning Mr. Bell!” and he greeted back “Well, good morning young man and who might you be?” Just in that one spoken question I could hear Duke’s voice and I instantly became a bit starstruck! It was such a thrill to hear the voice of the character that I watched on TV all those years ago come from this demure and laid back gentleman standing there before me.
I introduced myself and told him that I have had traveled from San Diego to meet him – I thanked him for breathing life into a positive role model not just for me, but for a whole generation of kids who grew up watching GI Joe. And you know what? I think he was genuinely touched. He Shook my hand and thanked me for coming all that way just to meet him, and expressed gratitude for being a fan. we chatted a bit about his career, his time on the GI Joe cartoon, his daughter Ashley Bell who is starring in “The Last Exorcism Part II” and his convention appearances. He stated “When I did that (GI Joe), I could never of imagined I’d be here 30some odd years later talking about GI Joe” which I found amusing. I handed him the Duke card to sign and asked if he would be so kind as to pose with it:
It turned out to be an awesome experience meeting Mr. Bell, who could not of been nicer and more accommodating gentleman. After I said my farewell, I turned to leave and noticed a guy about my age standing behind me with a few Transformers for Mr. Bell to sign and a few guys behind him. I could tell Mr. Bell was going to be a busy guy that Saturday.
Till next time guy, C’ya!