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!